Career Change Advice: 10 Steps to Get You Started Down a New Path

If you’re considering a new career, getting the right career change advice will help. This section provides resources including tips on career aptitude tests, career change training, tips on writing a career change resume or career change cover letter and more to point you in the right direction.

different career optionsAt any transition point, people find themselves reevaluating what is important to them. This is especially true when you’re seeking a new job or have had some external change such as a layoff or when other realities of an economic downturn impact your current position. You may find that you are seeking more than a simple job change; you want to change your career.

And today, with the uncertainty of the current employment climate and with unemployment at its highest level in recent history, there are many people wondering what they will do next. Many people are looking to try something different, either because they have been laid off and do not see potential in their current careers or are simply want to find something more satisfying. These people are using their situation as an opportunity to get career change training and gain new skills.

Changing careers is more common than you might think. In fact, most people change career directions several times over the course of their working lives. As people grow and evolve, it is natural that they would find themselves with a career that might have been great 10, 15 or 20 years ago, but doesn’t quite fit now.

Whatever your situation, the thought of changing careers can be scary–it’s not easy to walk away from past stability and head boldly into the unknown. So as you consider making a career change, advice on making a smooth transition is important.

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As you think through changing careers, here is some career change advice that will make the transition as smooth as possible:

  1. Job Change or Career Change?

    First, identify whether it is truly your career or simply your job that you want to change. Your career is the accumulation of your experience over the long term and typically consists of a series of jobs. A job can change and stay within your chosen career. Ideally, your career should be in alignment with something you are passionate about and will grow and evolve over time. Career change advice can help here, seek the guidance of a qualified career coach if you need it.
  2. Plan Carefully for a Career Change.

    If it is truly your career you want to change, it is important to have a well-developed plan to make the change. You will likely need to put in a great deal of time and effort to make a switch from one career to another; Don’t rush into a change without solid career change advice and a well-developed strategy. Changing careers takes time and is often done gradually, so a plan of action will help keep you on track. Don’t get discouraged at the pace of change; a good career builder plan takes one step at a time.

  3. Take Time for Personal Reflection.

    As you consider a change, one of the most important bits of career change advice to consider is what you like and dislike. Sometimes this personal reflection takes time. Sit down and list the things you enjoy most, things you are passionate about. Consider the things you “grew out of” or left behind when you were a kid, teen or young adult. Look for the essence of those things and for threads of commonality. Take a career aptitude test or one of the available online career tests. Check out this article on a process you might use for finding the perfect career for you.

  4. Leverage Your Transferrable Skills.

    While you’re accessing the areas you are passionate about, you’ll also want to assess your skills. Your skills are different from the job titles you’ve had. Skills are transferrable to different jobs and different careers. Your ability to identify and articulate your skills will help you through your career change. Be sure to include skills that you have developed outside of your professional life including volunteer work, hobbies, sports or other life experiences. You’ll use these skills as a basis for a career change resume. Additional career change advice can be helpful here as you explore your strengths. Having trouble identifying skills? Use the worksheet here to start brainstorming.

  5. Take Advantage of All Your Networking Potential.

    This important career change advice can often mean the difference between a long journey and open doors. During times of change, your network is your most critical resource. Actively build it. Expand your current network by conducting informational interviews with key individuals and employers in your new field and joining professional organizations to meet new people in your new field of interest. Reach out to the career and alumni offices from your previous educational institution and the broad range of professionals that you are connected to in other ways. Engaging in conversation with new people and expanding your network will lead you to someone who might lead you to someone who might lead you to someone that can help. This is not the time to be shy. For more information on networking, click here.

  6. Find a Mentor and Seek Career Advice as Needed.

    Changing careers can be challenging. Create a support system for yourself by finding someone with experience in your new field who can help guide you, motivate you, provide career change advice and keep you focused on your goal when you get discouraged. Use or expand your network to find someone who might be willing to support you, even if just informally.

  7. Gain Experience in Your New Career before You Transition.

    Look for opportunities to gain valuable experience in a new area of interest even before you transition out of your current role. Consider opportunities to volunteer, get a part time job in your field of interest, pick up a side job or freelance opportunity or use your vacation time to explore new fields. You can also engage in career change training by expanding your knowledge and skills through college or vocational courses. Not only do these experiences prove valuable for your skills resume or career change resume, but they also allow you to meet people that can provide valuable career change advice along the way.

  8. Take Advantage of Career Change Resources.

    Your path to finding the right career for you will include exploration, contemplation, researching and a variety of other activities. When you are seeking career change advice, you will be amazed at the resources that are available. Spend some time taking a career test or two, going through a career assessment, identifying your skills and reviewing career options. Consider how they might fit with your personality. Evaluating your goals and lifestyle will provide insight into what kind of work you would enjoy most. The process is fun and if nothing else, you will find information about potential careers you can explore to see if they might be a fit for you.

  9. Consider Entrepreneurial Options.

    There are as many opportunities for owning your own business as there are personality types. Resources for identifying these opportunities abound. Today, more and more people are taking advantage of the online business model as a way to start their own business on their own time, right from home. Consider starting your own business as your primary career or as a way to transition from one to another.

  10. Be Patient and Flexible.

    Changing careers takes time and may require that you make concessions as you earn your stripes, so to speak. The smoothest transitions take place over time in a gradual manner.

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Good luck!

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