Every career trajectory is different. But, what remains common is that most people start their career journeys in their early twenties, before they have become the adults they will be for the rest of their lives. It is no surprise then that since starting their first job after college, 29% of people have completely changed fields. Many people start off on a career only to realize later that it is not a good fit for them. A career change can be a challenging experience. However, it is a learning experience too and it can free you from the plight of being stuck in the wrong career.
If done right, a career change can liberate you as a professional and help you scale the heights of success. So, how can you ensure that you navigate this process of transformation in your career smoothly? While there can never be a thumb rule that applies to everyone, we do have a step-by-step guide to break down the process of switching careers. When you take it one step at a time, it will not seem as daunting.
Step #1: Why do You Want a Career Change?
A survey done in 2021 indicates that about 39% of people who are looking for a career change are motivated by higher pay packages. But, this may not be the gospel truth for everyone. People have a varied number of reasons to switch careers. Some of the most common reasons are listed here:
- Not happy doing what you do
- Not good at what you do
- Want your job/career to pay you better
- The career you have is not compatible with your lifestyle
- Feel stagnated and need a career with better growth
- Need flexible hours
When people look for career changes, it is usually because of one or a combination of more than one of these factors. However, knowing why you are looking for a change in career is integral to the transformation process. If you don’t know why you are transitioning into a new path, your goal will not be clear.
Pro Tip: Be absolutely clear about why you want to change your career. Keep going back to this reason when you feel your enthusiasm for the new career waning in the face of challenges.
Step #2: What is Your Current Career?
After you have decided to change your career, the next step is to take stock of your current career. You need to do a reality check on what you are doing and how that can help you in your future career. You can further break down this step into a bunch of action items :
- Make a list of the skills you have and the market value for these skills; you can actually take an online test to judge yourself
- Assess how many years of experience you have and what those years are worth in the job market
- Make a realistic calculation of how much money you are making or the funds you need to sustain yourself during your career change
- If you have liabilities like EMIs for loans or dependents, factor in their expenses into your calculation
Pro Tip: As the period of changing careers can have an element of uncertainty, it is best to have a runway of funds and relevant skills that can help you tide over this time smoothly.
Step #3: What is the New Career You Want to Start?
The third step of a career change process is to zero in on the career options you want to transition to. To do this, you need to put in some research and list out career options you want to move into.
If you have already picked a career that you are certain of, then half the job is done. If not, you need to follow the steps listed below:
- Before you make a list of potential new careers, define your career goals — high pay package, growth, job security, mental satisfaction — be clear what you seek
- Keeping the career goals in mind, make a list of the possible choices
- Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of each of your career choices
- Rank the career choices in your list basis their SWOT scores
- Factor in aptitude; you need to consider what you are good at and not just what is good for you when choosing a new career
- Narrow down your list until you are left with three choices that have potential for you as future careers
- These are your new career choices and you will have to pursue one of them
Pro Tip: You can be mathematical and data-driven when it comes to choosing a career and this will point you in the right direction. But, a career is not just math; it’s what one will do on a daily basis. So make sure that you like what you are choosing. Don’t do away with intuition.
Step #4: How to Prepare for a Career Change?
After you have identified what career you want to switch to, the obvious next step is to prepare for this transition. And this too can be sorted into some well defined steps:
- Find the gaps: You need to assess yourself and spot the gaps in skills that you need for your coveted role. Sometimes, the gap might not be a skill but some hands-on experience.
- Find a mentor: Whenever you are preparing to chart an unknown path, it’s best to have a mentor who has already walked down that path. Pick someone who you aspire to be like in your career and trace their career trajectory to see how you can enrich yours.
- Get the necessary degree/certifications: There are two ways to grow in your career; you can either rise through the ranks or have the right degrees. While there is no harm in working your way up, see if you can study to give yourself an edge in your new career.
- Gain industry knowledge: If you are changing your industry along with your professional role, you must be well acquainted with the industry you are hoping to enter. Read voraciously and from reliable sources. You can also subscribe to vlogs from industry experts.
Pro Tip: It is better to pick a mentor who is approachable and can willingly share knowledge with you than going for someone famous but not reachable easily.
Step #5: How to Finally Make the Job Switch That Will Change Your Career?
When you have done the thinking through as well as the pros and cons for your career change, all that remains is for you to dive right in and move roles. To actually change your career, you need to take a couple of last measures. And they are:
- Network, network and network: Build a thriving community for yourself on LinkedIn by following people who work in your industry. Connect with the hiring managers and build a rapport with them.
- Make a new resume: Do not apply to your new role with your old CV. Make one that is relevant to your new career. There are enough resources available online to guide you through the process of redoing your resume.
- Build your portfolio: If you are moving to a stream of career that requires you to show your body of work, you need to have a portfolio ready. Do some
- Comprehensive job search: Look for jobs that match your expectations and start applying. That is the final step in making your dream come true.
Pro Tip: While networking, build a relationship first before you start asking for openings. Also, be active on LinkedIn by sharing stories and information to draw positive attention to your profile.
If you are looking to change your career at 30 and cannot afford to quit your job while you upskill, you can consider online learning to gain skills and certifications. To explore courses you can study online, click here.
By Anwesha Barari
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