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Blog>Guides>How to Change Careers: Tips & Guidance for a Career Change

How to Change Careers: Tips & Guidance for a Career Change

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Every day, when you clock into your job, you feel a twinge of sadness. You know this isn't the right career for you, but you're not sure what to do about it. Your job may come with a steady paycheck and a sense of security, but if it doesn't feed your soul, you'll always look at your career with a sense of dissatisfaction.

With a bit of homework, you can determine if your dream career is really right for you. You can even spot open positions in the field and transform your current experience to fit it. Allow us to help. Follow this helpful guide if you're having trouble deciding whether to change career paths.

Determine If It's Time

Making a jump outside your comfort zone can be a monumental undertaking, which is why inertia keeps many people from changing careers. This can be even more difficult the longer you have stayed working at a single company or within a specific industry. But if you're finding a consistent lack of job satisfaction in your 9-to-5 existence, the writing is probably on the wall. Be proactive by keeping a journal and documenting your day-to-day responsibilities and the areas where you find they can be improved. This will go a long way in determining what field is right for you.

Before You Shift: Ask These Four Questions

A wooden infographic of a person making a literal next step in their career.

Jobs can mean personal fulfillment and a daily dose of fun, but don't forget that a job also means financial security for both you and your family. Leaping off your current situation into the unknown is risky, and it's wise to pause before you make a decision you can't undo with ease.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What education will you need? Imagine that you're working in sales, but you really want to be a surgeon. How long will the schooling take? Can you get into school easily? Can you invest in your future in this manner?

  2. What happens to your bank account? Determine how much you'll pull down if you were to switch to a new job. Is it comparable to how much you make now, or will you face a pay cut? Can you handle the repercussions?

  3. Where will you live? If your salary drops, you may need to find a cheaper place to call home. It's important to keep in mind that some jobs are tied to specific locations. Are you ready to uproot your family?

  4. What will your hours be like? If you're accustomed to a standard 9-to-5 and you're considering a leap to pursue being a restaurant chef, you may give up your evenings and weekends. Is it worth it?

Once you've answered these questions, you may need to pull your family into the conversation. Do they agree with your new path? You will need all the support you can get as you take this brave step, so gathering their approval early on will help a lot in the future.

Start Your Homework: What Should You Know?

You've examined your heart, your home, and your finances. You're determined to move forward. Now you'll need to dig a little into the specifics of your ideal job.

Start by searching for job openings in your targeted field. Important details to look out for include:

  • Required skills. Most recruiters identify the education and experience their ideal candidate will have. You may find that you cannot qualify for managerial positions, but you might be a good fit for entry-level roles.
  • Soft skills. Does your field require networking? Should you be able to work independently, or will you do your tasks in a group setting? Is the environment combative or collaborative?
  • Job keywords. What words do you see repeated in job postings in your field? How do recruiters describe the work you want to do? Keep a list of those terms; you'll need them later.

Networking: How to Make Connections Work for You

People in suits at a networking event.

When it comes to finding a new job, it's hard to do the work alone. LinkedIn says 89% of people seeking a new position network during the search. You should do the same, especially if you are changing careers, and it's easier than you might think.

First, dig into the details of people who work in the industry you hope to enter. Mine data from:

  • Online resumes. What degrees do they have? How long have they been in the industry? How did they get started?
  • Social media profiles. What content do they create? What topics do they share? What sites do they follow?

  • Blogs. What do they write about, and what language do they use when they write? What terms can you sprinkle into your conversation?

Next, identify a few companies that seem like a good fit. Do they offer unpaid internships that can give you a chance to job shadow? If you're hoping to move into nonprofit work, this is a very powerful tool. You'll get work experience and connections at the same time.

If you can't find peers to follow and you can't find a company to help you build experience, don't fret. Look for professional organizations in your field. Can you head to a conference? Can you join a networking group?

How to Change Your Resume

With your homework complete and your career change validated, it's time to change your paperwork so you can apply for the job you really want. The format of your resume, as well as the terminology you include, will need to be updated to ensure that you get noticed.

Your resume for a career change should include:

  • Statement of intent. Why should someone keep reading your resume? What makes you so special? These are questions you'll answer in a paragraph that sits beneath your name. It's a statement that describes what makes you ideal for the job and why you're making a change.

  • Key strengths. You'll list all the skills you picked up during your career that you'll apply to your new position. Are you a team player? Do you network well? Are you a hard worker? Do you consider yourself a fast worker? These are the sorts of skills you should spell out here.

  • History. It's time to tell your potential employer about your last jobs, but you'll want to choose your words carefully. What did you do in your previous position that relates directly to the new work you want to do? If you worked in sales, but you want to be a veterinary assistant, you could focus on customer service skills. If you worked as a receptionist and you want to be a computer programmer, you could talk about the days you spent fixing code as you answered calls. Find the intersections and highlight them.

  • Soft skills. Your education, ability to speak multiple languages, and other parts of your background could benefit almost any job. Highlight them at the bottom of your resume.

What shouldn't your resume include? Steer clear of lies. You haven't done this job — don't pretend you have. Be as clear and honest as possible.

Do This Before You Hit “Send”

Sending out a fresh resume like this takes courage, and it's something you'll have to do on your own, but your network can still help you.

If you've made a connection within the company you hope to work for, ask that person to give you a written recommendation. Perhaps they could jot a note to Human Resources to tell them about how they know you and why you're a good fit. When it comes to shifting careers, you'll need all the help you can get.

Make sure the job you're applying for is really right for you. We can help! Our database contains thousands of new job postings, and we make research really easy.

Use Joblist’s platform to dig into the details of your new field, and seek out those opportunities, so you don't apply for the wrong one. Looking to change careers? Start searching online today.

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