Time for a Change? Use This Step By Step Guide to Switching Careers

Few people stay on the same career path for their whole lives. What you thought you were going to do for the rest of your life when you were in high school, college or even halfway through your career isn’t necessarily what you will do. You could pursue a career in marketing but end up in teaching for twenty years. A mid-career change is all that uncommon, but it can be difficult to navigate. You might need to retrain, and how do you make sure you’re making the right decision? It’s tough enough trying to change jobs without attempting to transition into a completely new career. If you think your work life needs a major shake-up, follow these steps to make the move into a new career as seamless as possible.

Do Your Research
Before you make any big decisions, it’s vital that you do some thorough research on the career you’re interested in. You may have been drawn to a particular job, but you need to make sure that it’s for you. Perhaps you’ve been watching a medical drama and have a sudden urge to work in a hospital – but don’t go back into education until you know what you’re getting in for. As a basic start, you should look at job descriptions, such as the jobdescriptions.net business analyst job description. You can find out the skills and qualifications required for a particular role, the daily tasks involved and the salary range you can expect to find. You can also talk to people in the industry to get a real insight into your desired career. Find out how other people entered into the same job and the skills and experience they needed to get there.

Consider Your Funds
Something you’ll need to consider is how moving into a new career will affect your finances. If you have to go back to studying, will you be able to obtain funding or continue working at the same time? If you have a family, can your partner’s salary support you if you need to take time out from working? Retraining could cost you money, and it might take you a while to find employment even once you’re qualified. You need to examine your finances and decide whether you can afford to work part-time, take time out or take a salary cut when you begin your new career at the bottom of the ladder.

Create a Plan
Like any significant change in your life, a new career path is best obtained when you’ve mapped out a plan. You can start with your end goal and work backwards to find the steps you need to take to reach it. Look at how long it will take you to achieve each step and come up with realistic time frames for doing so. You should remember, however that just because you have a plan, it doesn’t mean you’ll be able to follow it exactly. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances getting in your way.

Train and Learn
Many people need to learn new skills or gain qualifications to move into a new industry. It can be difficult to retrain if you’re already working full-time and you want to be able to go seamlessly from one job to another. When you’re investigating the qualifications and skills required for your new career, check out different options for gaining them. You might need to do anything from taking a degree course to attending a night class, and you’ll need to work out how to fit them around your current job. However, you may decide to study full-time, but don’t forget to consider your finances.

Start Making Contacts
Contacts are important in any industry. It may be a cliche, but often it is who you know, and not what you know, that will help you get a foot in the door. Thanks to the internet, you don’t need to be able to make it to hundreds of networking events in order to meet people in your desired sector. There are lots of ways you can form new contacts online, including business-oriented sites like LinkedIn and more casual tools such as Twitter. However, getting out and meeting people in person is important too. You’ll make a greater impression when meeting people face to face, and you can have a more in-depth conversation. You might just meet someone who will keep you in mind when they hear of an open position.

Contacts in the industry will help you to learn too. Even experienced people are continually learning about their chosen profession. So you should use your networking as an opportunity to absorb as much as you can about how to be successful in your desired field.

Get Some Experience
When you have qualifications and contacts, you’ll need to gain some experience. Depending on the field you’re moving into, the experience from your current career could help towards getting you a new job. If you need to study for your new path, you might have a work experience component as part of your course. Don’t forget to include this on your resume, with information about your role and duties. You can also try approaching your current employer about work experience opportunities. This could include taking on new tasks or perhaps filling in for someone on leave.

Look for Work
Finally, it’s time to look for work. When you’re searching, keep in mind that you might have to accept a lower salary than you’re used to, until you build on your experience. However, you might be able to start in a position with a higher salary, depending on how big a move you’re making. Don’t forget to take advantage of the contacts you’ve gained to ask around for opportunities. Many positions are filled before companies have a chance to advertise them, due to recommendations and referrals. Although making the final move can be frightening, you have to do it eventually. When you’re settled into your new job, all the effort you put in will finally be worth it.

Photo by Inga Marchuk | Shutterstock

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