With an ever-rising number of different career options and the constant desire to try new things, many working professionals shift their careers 5-7 times in their whole working lives. So, we can say that career change is more common now than it was a decade ago. Better pay, healthy work-life balance, improved job satisfaction; the reason could be anything to change career paths. But, finding the right career you love and later switching to it successfully can be the toughest and challenging phase of your life. And, if you don’t have a proper strategy planned out for a successful career change, things may just go downhill.
Rest assured, these micro-steps can help you successfully change your career path (even with no prior job experience) that suits your needs the best.
In this article, we will focus on
- Why you might consider a career change
- The benefits of finding a successful career path
- And the micro-steps you can take today to help push yourself one step closer towards your career goals
What Are The Top Reasons Why People Change Career Paths?
There are several reasons why people might want to change careers. It depends on each person’s decision and particular situations.
For instance, you might have loved your job ten years ago, but as time passes, your interests may change, and you may realize the current career you’re pursuing no longer serves you.
People usually decide to change careers for better pay. Research has shown that finance plays a significant role in job satisfaction. Consequently, it may lead one to stay in their current job (which already provides good pay to the employees) or encourage one to look for a new job role.
The Midlife Crisis Survey done by Joblist discovered the top 5 reasons why people change careers:
- 47% said it was for better pay.
- 39% said it was because the jobs they were working at were too stressful.
- 37% said that they wanted a better work-life balance.
- 25% of them wanted a new challenge.
- And lastly, 23% said it was because they were no longer passionate about their work field.
What Are The Benefits of Changing Careers?
Changing into a different career path isn’t a walk in the park. You may have to take a few leaps, a few unpaid internships, or some shadowing at times to find your passion. However, in the end, it will be worth it once you find the perfect job.
People who change their careers to a much better one end up making more money than they previously were making.
A similar survey done by Joblist reported the following about people who change their careers:
- 77% of them were much happier after changing their careers.
- 75% of them said that they were more satisfied after the job change.
- 69% of them were more fulfilled after the career change.
- 65% of them reported that their stress levels reduced significantly due to the change.
Micro-Steps To Take Today For A Successful Career Change
A career change may require you to invest both your money and time. Hence before making this decision, having a properly structured plan in your arsenal is a necessity.
The following micro-steps will help you make an informed decision and will gear you in the right direction.
1. Evaluate Your Current Job Satisfaction
You cannot shift to a new career path out of the blue. Before you do that, evaluating your current job satisfaction is a must. You can do that by keeping a journal to prepare points about what you like or don’t like about your current job.
Here are some prompts to help you with evaluation:
- How much have you grown since the time you started your job?
- Does the company promote a healthy work-life balance?
- Are your colleagues and co-workers inspiring to work with?
- Do your boss respect and values their employee’s work?
- Are you able to live freely out of your office hours?
- Do you learn something new every day?
Answer these questions, and if you come up with a positive answer for most of them, you may reconsider changing your career path.
However, if you find yourself answering negatively, it’s high time to make a firm decision and shift to a better career.
2. Assess Your Skills
Once you come up with a decision, it’s time to assess your skills that align with your next steps.
Here’s how to do self-assessment:
- Review your past successful roles, any projects you may have done.
- Check if you have done volunteer work or any other jobs to identify your interests and skills.
- Ask yourself whether these skills and values are addressed through your current career.
There are also free online tools and free career tests for self-assessment, or you may approach career counselors to gain clarity.
3. Plan Out Your Day To Better Manage Your Time
A career shift can be a tedious task, especially when transitioning to a different job role. To ensure that you’re one step ahead of your goals, always have small actionable steps to get your foot out the door.
If you want to change into a new career path successfully, always make sure to:
- Create an action plan for your day while keeping in mind the end goal.
- Determine what your primary goals and ideal timeline are.
- Assign yourself daily tasks to know what you will be doing when you sit down in front of your computer.
- Commit 10-15 minutes daily to connect with people on LinkedIn and engage with them.
You can also block time each day for building your soft skills as 67% of HR’s have reported hiring candidates with more vital soft skills.
Taking these small actions every day will give you momentum and confidence eventually.
4. Write A Career Action Plan And Set S.M.A.R.T Goals
One of the main reasons people fail to change career paths with no job experience is because they fail to set S.M.A.R.T goals.
Statistics also indicate that people who set S.M.A.R.T goals achieve ten times more than those who don’t.
Consequently, this is one of the prime reasons you need to set goals you can achieve by creating an action plan for your career.
Generally, goals can be divided into:
- Short-term goals that can be achieved in less than a year.
- Long-term goals that you can accomplish within 1-5 years.
After this, create a career action plan which will guide you to achieve your short and long-term goals.
Ensure that you’re following these steps:
- List down all your goals, both short-term and long-term.
- Write the specific steps it will take you to achieve each of them.
- Don’t also forget to include the possible obstacles that may stop you from achieving them.
Proper goal setting will hold you accountable and measure your progress. Additionally, this will help you prioritize your ultimate goal of finding a new job or switching between jobs.
5. Consider The Career You May Venture Into
Put your thinking cap on and start researching career options based on your skillset.
These are the steps you could take on to consider careers that you want to step into:
- First, make a list of careers to explore by looking at jobs generated from the self-assessment test.
- Narrow down the list of occupations you may be interested in among those.
- You may research career options and discuss your skills with family and friends to get ideas.
- Seek professional assistance from a career counselor if you have doubts.
For whichever career you choose, you need to look at the job description and other requirements. You can find career information on Indeed or Glassdoor.
6. Improve High-Demand Skills
Even if you have no prior job experience, you can focus solely on skills that top recruiters look for in their candidate.
If you want to have a successful career change, brush up on top soft skills workplaces are looking for:
- Problem Solving
- Negotiation & Conflict resolving skills
- Leadership skills
- Emotional intelligence
- Analytical/Critical thinking skills
- Ability to work with team members
- Creative skills
- Self-Confidence and motivation
These skills will come in handy for anyone who’s on a job hunt.
7. Improve Your Hard Skills
Improving your hard skills is a non-negotiable whenever you’re shifting to a new career path. You can work on your skills by enrolling in a class to increase your educational opportunities.
According to Forbes, recruiters prefer candidates with the following hard skills:
- Artificial Intelligence
- UX Design
- Digital Marketing
- Cloud Computing
- Video Production
There are great online websites that already provide the courses listed above. Here are some online websites that offer courses:
8. Conduct Informational Interviews
When you’re shifting to a new career path, it’s always recommended to conduct an informational interview with the same industry professionals.
Since 1 out of 12 information interviews turns into a job offer, it’s safe to conclude that information interviews are viable ways to gain knowledge about the fields you wish to work professionally.
These are a few tips to keep in mind whenever you go for an informational interview:
- Research well about the company. 47% of recruiters won’t offer the job to a candidate if they are unaware of the company’s background.
- Dress properly as you’d have in any other interview.
- Prepare all the questions you want to ask beforehand.
- Be punctual with your timings.
- Note down all the answers on a diary.
- Ask about the growth potential and work culture of the company.
9. Join Professional Associations and Improve on Your Networking
There is power in your network much more than there is in searching for jobs online. As per the survey conducted by LinkedIn, 85% of jobs are earned by networking.
Networking can either be in the form of:
- Going online on professional sites like LinkedIn and connecting with others.
- Joining professional associations.
Professional associations help you stay current about your preferred career or industry trends while also enabling you to network with your future colleagues.
There are professional associations that offer:
- Networking sessions
- Educational opportunities
- Conferences and more for their members
Taking help from these associations will keep you on track in the future with your career shift.
10. Look For New Opportunities
Most of the time, grabbing that one opportunity gives you clarity over the type of career you want to venture into. Doing this also helps you build experience and provide you with networking and mentoring opportunities.
How to find new opportunities?
- Part-time employment
- Job shadowing
A career shift from one field to another you have no clue about calls for some hands-on training. You may also need to polish your already existing skills.
11. Organize Your Online and Offline Portfolio
Always organize your online portfolio before applying for jobs on online career portals. Make sure your LinkedIn profile looks professional.
Here’s how to maintain your LinkedIn profile to look professional:
- Provide an updated resume.
- Include your cover letter.
- Add relevant experience, your previous roles, etc.
- Highlight special achievements to help you attract a potential employer in your desired field.
If you have started applying for jobs, write a cover letter that reflects your aspirations, skills, and resume based on the new goals you have set.
12. Prepare Your Resume
Another reason why people fail to change career paths successfully is because of their poor resumes.
An effective resume gives you an edge over other job applicants, so there’s no room for any mistake while preparing your resume.
According to a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, recruiters have reported rejecting resumes of candidates for the following reason:
- 84% for impersonal applications.
- 57% for not including thank you note.
- 54% for lack of customization.
Therefore, avoid committing the above mistakes and personalize your resume to two pages maximum. Also, mention soft skills in your resumes as 61% of employers believe soft skills are as crucial as hard skills.
To get easily noticed by the interviewers, ensure that your resume:
- It has a proper template that is easy to understand.
- Includes your name, email Id, and contact information.
- Mentions all the soft skills, hard skills, qualifications, educational background, and past work experiences(if there’s any).
- List of past professional achievements.
These are some good resume builder websites for starting a new career:
13. Learn To Crack The Interview
Did you know it only takes seven seconds to leave a remarkable impression in front of the recruiter? This fact makes it more important to learn how to crack interviews effectively.
Here are some top interview tips to keep in mind:
- Keep eye contact.
- Have a smile whenever you’re meeting the interviewer.
- Use your hands as a gesture to express your thoughts.
- Wear light neutral colors.
- Always be confident.
- Read more about interview preparation tips to ace your next interview.
14. Negotiate Your Salary Like A Pro
Negotiation is a crucial skill as it determines your career’s success. It’s a form of respect that helps build authentic relationships with other working professionals, keeping both parties’ needs in mind.
If you believe you have a great skill set which demands a better paycheck, you can demand the same from your boss.
One proven strategy to negotiate your salary would be to research the pay in that specific field first. This way, you’ll be able to raise the question regarding the salary during the hiring process.
For example, if you’re a computer engineer and know that people with your expertise are earning $100,000 per annum. If you’re offered anything less than this, raise a question like “Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I have heard from experts earning $100K per annum with the same expertise and skills as me.”
Changing your career isn’t a straight path and may take you a long time to figure out where you want to go next.
However, if you follow the steps mentioned above, you will direct you to a clear path toward a successful career and exceptional skills and opportunities along the way.
Most importantly, be intentional about whether this is the career path or job you want going forward.
Key Takeaways For A Successful Career Change
- If you’re interested in shifting your career to a new path, then some micro-steps could help you change your current job successfully.
- People prefer a career change specifically for better pay, a healthy work-life balance, and better growth potential.
- Even though a career shift isn’t a piece of cake, there are still many benefits one could derive from it.
- For instance, studies showed that people who changed their careers experienced higher job satisfaction levels, happiness, fulfillment, and lower stress levels.
- If you have no prior job experience in a specific field of work, assessing your skills will help you change your career to a different path. But before doing that, it’s imperative to evaluate your current job satisfaction too.
- Always plan out your day for better time management. You can also implement the TIME Block technique to manage your day for job hunting efficiently.
- Research about different companies on Indeed or Glassdoor to consider the options you may venture into in the future.
- Also, conduct informational interviews with working professionals as you get a closer look and understand the nitty-gritty details of a particular job field.
- Break down your career goals with the help of S.M.A.R.T goal setting. This allows you to focus on your target and determine the necessary steps you’d need to take to attain them.
- Have a proper resume with yourself while shifting your career. Ensure your resume is easy to understand; it has A to Z about your qualification, past experiences, and achievements.
- Learn how to negotiate salary and crack your interview. You can do this by preparing beforehand for the interview and trying to build authentic relationships.
- Lastly, always lookout for new opportunities in networking events and keep polishing your skillsets by enrolling in online courses from Coursera, Udemy, FutureLearn, etc.
What to consider when finding a new career at 30?
- Be clear about what your career goals are.
- Work on your strong abilities first.
- While finding a new career, have enough savings in your bank to sustain you for a few months.
- Network with other working professionals.
A midlife career change can be tricky, even more, if you have no idea about the factors you need to consider. Here are a few factors that you must keep in mind:
What to consider when finding a new career at 40?
- Build relationships with professionals.
- Have the confidence that it’s possible to shift career at 40.
- Go out and expose yourself in front of experts and share your knowledge.
- Leverage your transferable skills.
What to consider when finding a new career at 50?
- Seek professional help who could guide you in the right direction.
- Make sure your resume is up to date with all the past job experiences.
- Be specific about your career needs.
- Learn from people, even if they are younger than you.