Nowadays, changing careers isn’t as out of the question as it used to be. There are for more career paths and opportunities today than there ever has been.
Learning how to change careers takes just as much self-reflection as it does effort and patience. Before you move forward with the huge decision of changing careers, there are a number of considerations to make and questions to ask yourself.
How to change careers: Considerations to make before you make the leap
If you’re changing careers, it’s likely because there’s something you want to change or improve about your current career trajectory.
Before you start applying for roles and learning new skills, ask yourselves these questions (and answer honestly!):
- What don’t you like about your current career path?
- What do you expect or know about the other career paths you’re considering in terms of compensation, opportunities for advancement, and work-life balance?
- What would change in your life or career if you did make this shift?
- How would your quality of life change, improve, or decrease as a result?
Once you understand what you’re looking for and what you want to change, you can begin the research phase of finding new a new career path and knowing what you’ll need to learn or improve prior to applying,
How to change careers: 6 ways to find your next best gig
First, determine what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Oftentimes, people want to change careers to a role or industry they’re better suited for. Determining what your strengths and weaknesses are in your current career may help you narrow down roles you could excel in.
It’s also important to determine which of these skills are most transferable and what part of your current role and career has helped exemplify your strengths. It’s equally crucial to be able to speak to those accomplishments.
Research viable career options based on your strengths and weaknesses or your interests, habits, or hobbies.
Once you understand what you’re great at, what you’re not so great at, and what industries or sectors best lend themselves to your unique skill set, it’s time to start researching.
For example — if you’re a problem solver, you enjoy teamwork, and you appreciate the journey rather than the destination, you may make a great software engineer.
Learn what organizations are most relevant to the industry you’re interested in and find what opportunities are available locally or in a remote capacity to you. By researching those job descriptions, you can start to get a better idea of what you’ll need to do to be a successful candidate.
Determine what skills you’ll need to improve upon or earn in order to be a candidate.
Let’s stick with software engineering as an example. As a software engineer, you’ll need to have working knowledge of key programming languages (this includes front-end and back-end) plus a portfolio of work that showcases that knowledge. You’ll also need to be great at working in teams yet productive as an individual contributor.
Some of those skills — like learning programming languages — can be done in a classroom or virtual environment. Others, like teamwork capabilities, need to be expressed through your past work or through interviewing. Luckily, it’s not difficult (or expensive, even) to find courses that will help you earn certifications or skill certificates in those tools you need to add to your resume.
Consult your network or find someone in those industries you can talk to.
Arguably the most important step to changing careers is finding someone you can connect with. Whether they’re already in your network or you seek them out on LinkedIn or in other professional groups, someone in the industry you want to work in will be your best asset. Not only can you pick their brain about what you’ll need to say and do as a candidate for roles, but they may be a referral who can vouch for your previous experience or your acumen as an employee.
Tailor your resume to reflect your past experience and how you’ll be successful in a new role.
Once you’ve learned a few new skills and have found the career path you’re most interested in, it’s important to tailor your previous experience to the experience you want to have. Nothing you’ve done in a past career or role is wasted. You can use any skill — hard or soft — to portray how you’ll be successful in the role you want.
If you’re not capable of doing this yourself, there are affordable (some, even free) ways to get your resume in front of a professional or a network connection who can help you leverage your past experience.
Changing careers is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of time, courage, and acceptance of potential rejection. The right company will come along and give you the chance you need to succeed in a new role — so long as you follow the steps above to give you the best possible shot.
Consider tech as your next career change.
There are many, many industries to consider — and tech should be one of them. With over one million software engineering roles going unfilled last year, there’s a great need to fill the gaps with fresh talent.
Learn more about the tech industry and the opportunities within it: