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10 Steps to a Successful Career Change

Have you made the decision that you’re tired of your current career and you’re ready for something new? The truth is that people change careers for a variety of different reasons.

Perhaps your career goals or values have changed. Then again, maybe you’ve discovered something new that you’re interested in and you’d like to somehow incorporate it into your job. Maybe you’ve discovered that you need a bit more flexibility due to family or personal obligations—or maybe you just want to earn more money.

However, before you make this decision, take some time to consider your situation as it is at the moment and explore a few different options. Here are 10 tips to ensure a successful switch to a new career.

Consider your satisfaction with your current job

Before you switch from one career to another, you want to consider how satisfied you are with your current job. Start by keeping a journal of your daily reactions regarding your job and pay close attention to any recurring themes. Which parts of your job do you like and which ones do you not like? Are you dissatisfied with the content of your work, the people you work with or the culture of your company?

Consider your interests, skills & values

Take a look at your background and consider the things that you have been successful with in the past—whether work or volunteer—to find out the activities and skills you prefer using. Then, take some time to look at your core values and skills and figure out if your current career addresses those. There are many online tools you can use to help you with assessing a variety of career alternatives, such as the Strong Interest Inventory or DiSC assessment.

Consider alternatives to your career

Take some time to brainstorm some of your alternatives by taking a look at other options. You can suss out your career options by talking with your loved ones and network contacts about your core values and skills. If you are finding that you can’t come up with any ideas, consider hiring a career coach or counselor for some advice.

Check into your career options

Before taking the big leap, you may want to do some initial comparative evaluations of several different fields in order to figure out which ones you want to dig deeper into. You can find a lot of information by simply doing going to the company website and doing an online search of job postings in the industry. Glassdoor is a great resource for company information for job-seekers in Canada, while O*Net covers the US.

Reach out to others in the field you’re interested in

When you are considering a career change, you want to do as much research as you possibly can and learn as much as you can about the field. You’ll also want to reach out to any personal contacts you have in those particular industries to get more info. One of the best ways to get contacts is your college alumni network. Another great resource to find contacts in specific fields of interest is LinkedIn. If you don’t know anyone that works in your field of interest, you can reach out to companies and individual professionals to ask for informational interviews.

Shadow someone in a job (or two)

In order to observe the work firsthand, it’s a good idea to shadow professionals in a particular field that you’re interested in. If possible, spend a few hours—or even a few days—to shadow people in fields that hold your interest. The career office at your college is a great place to get in touch with alumni volunteers that would be willing to host you.

Try it out on a freelance/volunteer basis

If possible, find some freelance or even volunteer activities that are related to your field of interest. This is also a good way to build experience on your resume relevant to new jobs you might want to apply for—just make sure to update your resume. If this isn’t your strong suit, you may consider hiring  a resume service to help you. Hiring a career coach is another option, as they can help you through the whole process.

Take some classes

You may want to take some time to look into education opportunities that can help to bridge your current background to your new career. There are a ton of options, from online courses to evening or weekend courses or workshops at your local college. Take some time learning more about the field you’re interested in—you may find out that it’s not for you after all. Reach out to local professional groups in your career field choice for some ideas.

Take time to build up your skills

You may want to think about ways that you can develop some new skills in the job that you currently have that will help to lead the way to a career change. For example, if grant writing is a valuable skill to have in your new field, perhaps you might want to try to write up a grant proposal in your current field. If the company you work for offers in-house training, you might want to sign up for as many courses as you possibly can.

Consider a new career—in the same industry

Perhaps you don’t even have to jump from one industry to another—but instead should think about other roles within your current industry. This will allow you to use the knowledge you already possess.

For example, if you are a store manager and you’ve become burnt out with the evening or weekend hours, consider moving into a corporate position within the retail industry. On the other hand, if you are a programmer who has gotten tired of programming, you might want to consider moving to a technical sales or project management position.


There are lots of reasons you might wish to change careers. Perhaps you’re just tired of what you’ve been doing and you need something more challenging. No matter what your reason, keep these 10 things in mind to make the transition as simple and painless as possible. Keep in mind that you always have a variety of options—they’re just an Internet search away.

Thinking of hiring a career coach to help you with your career transition? Visit our directory of career coaches or request a personalized coach recommendation!

About the Author Sylvia Giltner

Sylvia Giltner is a freelance writer for different recruiting sites. She helps people to write the perfect resume and land a desirable job. To find more about Sylvia, connect with her on Twitter.

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