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How to change careers

If you’re trying to figure out how to change careers, we’ve got you covered. We explore everything you need to know about figuring out the right move, analysing your skills, and making the change into a new job.

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If you’re looking to move into a new field but aren’t sure where to start, our guide on how to change careers can help. We look at why you might want to change, the challenges you face, and the steps you need to take. 

For many of us, work plays a significant role in our lives. Whether it’s the grind of a 9 to 5, a shift pattern, or a more flexible arrangement, a lot of our time is dedicated to our jobs. As such, we often strive to find work that we enjoy or find fulfilling. With that in mind, we take a look at how to change careers. 

There are many factors that determine how easy it is to switch careers. Often, this can make it seem like a daunting prospect. However, by understanding the full implications and considerations, you can start planning for the move. We explore all you need to know, including the benefits and challenges, as well as how to decide on a career and gain skills and experience. 

Why change careers? 

The daydream of changing jobs is something that many of us experience. We might imagine ourselves in a role that’s more rewarding, high-flying, or better paying. Often, it might seem as though these musings are just pipedreams. Yet there are many reasons why you might consider changing careers:

To do something different 

Moving into a new field gives you the chance to try something new. No matter what stage of your career you’re at, you’ve likely still got a good few years of work ahead of you. How do you know what the right fit for you is without trying new things? Whether it’s pursuing a career abroad or moving into a field you’ve always wanted to explore, changing jobs can be a good choice. 

To challenge yourself 

Sometimes, we take the job and career path that’s easiest at the time. It makes sense, particularly when you’re trying to build momentum and save money. However, it’s possible to get stuck in the same old routine. A change of career can give you the chance to test and develop your skills in new ways. 

To fulfil your ambitions 

If you’ve always wanted to move into a particular field, changing careers is one way of reaching that aim. You might not be able to move straight into the job you’ve always dreamed of, but you can get closer to it by taking the step into something new. 

Your industry has changed 

Perhaps the role you’re currently in has undergone some changes recently. You might not have the progression route you once had, or your job may have changed beyond recognition. In such instances, a change can give your career a new lease of life. 

You don’t enjoy your job

If you find your current position stressful, boring, or otherwise unenjoyable, it could be a sign that a career change is needed. Exploring other roles and industries gives you the chance to find something better suited to your needs. 

Changing careers during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has meant a lot of us have faced changes and challenges. For the time being, life and work are very different than they were before. What’s more, many sectors have been negatively impacted, while others are crying out for new employees. During such uncertainty, some surveys have shown that half of UK workers expect they’ll make a career change in the next two years. 

As we explored in a previous article, since the start of the pandemic, the job market has changed significantly. Industries such as the hospitality and leisure sectors have been hit particularly hard. On the other hand, the care industry is desperately trying to fill vacancies. 

For those looking to change careers, you might need to upskill or take on some additional training to make the move. With our Step into Social Care course, you can explore whether the career change is right for you, and what skills you’ll need to transition over. 

If you’re just starting university, you’ll find our course on preparing for career success worthwhile. With it, you can make sure you focus on developing the skills that employers are going to find useful going forward.  

The benefits of changing careers

So, we know why you might want to consider changing your career. But what about the benefits of swapping job roles? As well as the personal achievements we’ve already mentioned, there are some other practical benefits that changing jobs can bring: 

Earning potential 

Entering into a new field can often bring with it a new pay scale that you can work your way up. Although in some instances, you may need to take an initial pay cut, this could then allow you to ultimately earn a higher salary. If you move into self-employment, the limit is determined by your hard work and success. 

A new set of skills 

Moving into a new role gives you the chance to build your skills and learn new ways of doing things. Whether it’s developing in general areas such as professional resilience or more job-specific abilities, you can expand your knowledge base. As you progress in your career, these varied skills could be highly sought-after by employers. 

A change of scenery 

As the old adage goes, a change is as good as a rest. If you’re feeling a little stagnant in your current role, a new career could give you the invigoration you need to kick-on. Although far from guaranteed, taking a different job could help with other areas of your life. 

New opportunities to network 

As we explored in our article on how to network, building professional connections has many benefits. When you change careers, you gain access to a whole new peer group and personnel structure. This expanded network can help you as you progress through the ranks in your new role. 

The challenges 

Of course, it’s not all plain sailing when it comes to changing jobs, otherwise, everyone would be doing it. There are some challenges that you may face when you’re looking and applying for new jobs. It’s worth knowing about some of the obstacles if you’re trying to change careers:

Increased competition 

Although many industries are eager to bring in new people, that doesn’t mean you’ll get a free pass. Changing jobs means going up against other candidates, many of whom will have gained skills and experience specifically for this role. Depending on the field, you could be up against fresh graduates or those similarly qualified. 

Skills gap 

Despite having experience in your field, this may not necessarily translate over into your desired industry. The skills gap means that there is a shortage of talented and qualified people. Bridging this gap may mean that you first have to train and gain experience before you can find a job you truly desire. 

Less relevant network 

When you change careers, you leave behind the network you have already developed. Although you’re not entirely removed from them, your old connections become slightly less relevant. You’ll need to work to build a new professional network, and won’t be able to reap the benefits until you do. 

No guarantees 

Changing careers doesn’t bring with it any guarantees. You won’t necessarily be happier, more satisfied, have a better job, or earn more money. As with many things in life, there are risks associated with moving into a different job role. 

How to decide on a new career 

It’s one thing to know that you want to change careers, but an entirely different one trying to decide on what job you want to do. After all, the options seem almost endless. So how should you go about trying to pick a field to move into? 

There are several methods you can try when it comes to picking a new career. And, depending on your situation, you might want to experiment with a few of them: 

Identify your current skills 

Perhaps one of the most useful steps you can take is to identify the skills you currently have and how they could be applied elsewhere. This is so important, in fact, that we’ve dedicated a whole section to it further down. 

Think about your interests

What are some of the areas that you currently enjoy working in? Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? And do you have any current hobbies or side hustles that could benefit you in another role? These types of questions can help you narrow down your search for a new career, making it easier to count or discount your options. 

Do some research 

Even the most entrepreneurial people among us don’t simply dive headfirst into new ventures. Time spent researching the requirements, pros, cons, and available opportunities is essential. You want to make an informed decision and understand the necessities for moving into a new career.  

Take some courses 

If you’re trying to decide whether or not a career is the right fit for you, we have plenty of short courses that can help you to decide. For example, our course on how to become a lawyer looks at the skills and education you’ll need to join the legal profession. Similarly, How to Start Your Career in Game Development has info from industry experts and recruiters. 

Speak with your connections 

It’s likely that you know people across a whole host of different industries. Whether it’s friends, family members, or co-workers, you can ask them about their experiences. If they’re happy to talk about their job, you can ask them what they like and dislike, what they find challenging, and how they got to where they are. 

Identifying transferable skills 

When you’re working out how to change careers, one of the essential tasks is to identify your transferable skills. These are the abilities and know-how that you can bring with you from your current role to your new career. Depending on the type of change you’re looking for, you may be able to instantly identify a few. However, with a bit of know-how, you’ll be able to pick out many more. 

Hard and soft skills 

As we explored in our article on the hybrid jobs economy, many industries are looking for candidates with a range of different skills. LinkedIn recently analysed some of the hard and soft skills that are particularly in demand. When thinking about your own abilities, make sure to account for the job-specific knowledge as well as the more intangible stuff (communication, teamwork, etc.)  

Job profiles 

An excellent way to pick up on transferable skills is to look at job profiles in the industry you want to break into. Across these outlines, you’ll be able to identify the sorts of things that employers frequently look for. Compare this to your current profile and experience, and you’ll be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses among your existing skill set. 

Self-analysis

One of the skills you’ll need as you change careers is being able to sell yourself. To do so, you’ll need to spend some time on self-reflection, understanding what your own worth is. You need to show employers that you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Being aware of current digital workplace trends can help in this regard, as you can identify which you’re familiar with and which you aren’t. 

How to gain skills and experience 

As many a job seeker has encountered, most jobs require some level of experience. However, you can’t get the experience without a job. This is often particularly true when trying to make a major career change. 

When you’re writing job applications, you need to be able to demonstrate why you’re the ideal candidate for a particular role. There are several ways you can upskill and gain experience, even if you don’t yet have a job in that field: 

Internships 

Depending on what stage of your career you’re at, an internship could be the ideal way of gaining experience in your chosen industry. For those just starting out, it certainly makes sense. However, more and more established professionals are taking so-called ‘minternships’ to switch their professional paths. 

Freelancing 

If you’ve already developed some of the necessary skills to change careers, taking on some freelance work is a great way of using them. Whether it’s a side hustle or a more dedicated role, you can start building experience for your CV. Check out our article on how to become a freelance writer for more info. 

Learning 

For those who don’t quite have the necessary skills to change jobs, further learning might be an option worth exploring. Whether it’s a short online course, program, microcredential, or even a degree, you can bolster your CV and get some hands-on experience. 

How to change careers

As you’ve probably worked out by now, there are no hard and fast rules for changing careers. It is, after all, a highly personal choice. Depending on your ambitions and current situation, you may find it easier or harder to make the transition. However, no matter what stage of life you’re at, there are many different considerations to take into account. 

When it comes to how to change careers, we’ve covered most of the main points you need to bear in mind. Many of these focus on knowing what you want, what the risks are, and how to prepare yourself for the change. We can break this process down into a few steps: 

  1. Identify why you want to change careers 
  2. Weigh up the benefits and the challenges of moving jobs 
  3. Spend time deciding on which career you want 
  4. Identify your transferable skills 
  5. Work on filling the gaps in your knowledge and training 
  6. Be realistic about your choices 
  7. Be persistent in your job search 

These last two points are ones we haven’t so far touched on, but both are important. A career change can take a lot of time and effort. If you have your heart set on a particular route, you have to be realistic about how long it’s going to take you to reach that goal. In addition to the time, you also need to think about the work involved and the costs. 

As with most things in life, real change isn’t going to happen overnight. You’re going to need a lot of persistence to get to where you want. Focus on making gradual progress, and take time to analyse where you’re currently at, how far you’ve come, and how much you have left to do.

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