The Ultimate Guide For Your Career Change

Need a career change? Check out our tips and tricks on how to make a successful career switch.

Did you know that 63% of workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic made a career change? With the recent mass layoffs and furloughs, people are now re-evaluating priorities, rethinking their lives, and changing careers and industries in record numbers. So if you are in the middle of a career change or contemplating jumping into one, you are not alone.

In this comprehensive guide, we will help you plan for your career change and maximize your chance of success as you chart a new course in your professional life. Plus, we will share with you expert tips from a career coach and resume expert who specializes in mid-career changes.

Yes, a career change is scary and overwhelming, but this could be the best decision you can make today. And we’re here to help you.

Cut to the chase and check which career best suits you through our Career Change Tool found on the top of this page!

What is a career change?

A career change happens when you leave a role or an industry and move into a new one. For instance, you may start your career as a project manager and later on shift gears and move into data analytics. Or you could be working as a nurse for 10 years and decide to resign from your job and pursue your dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

Whatever reason you may have, a career change will involve risks and uncertainties. But it can improve the quality of your life, give you new meaning and purpose, upgrade your skill set, and even increase your earning potential.

Reasons for changing careers

People change careers for many reasons, including financial opportunities, work-life balance, and changing economies. While there are good reasons why people switch jobs, there are also bad ones.

Good reasons for making a career change

  1. You are no longer satisfied with your current role, and the job in your industry no longer challenges you.
  2. You want to switch to a new career that will give you a higher salary and better career opportunities.
  3. What you gain from your current job no longer outweighs what you sacrifice for it.
  4. You want to change the world and work in a company or a non-profit organization that supports the marginalized and addresses social and environmental issues.
  5. You want to be on your own and start your own business.
  6. You want to pursue your childhood dream or make your hobby your full-time job.
  7. The industry you are in doesn’t provide you the flexibility and work-life balance you want and need.

Terrible reasons for making a career change

Word to the wise: don’t switch careers if your motivations for doing it are unhealthy! Here are a few examples:

  1. You are jealous of what other people have in their careers, even when there’s nothing you particularly hate in your current job.
  2. Everybody’s working in a specific industry that sounds cool, and you have Fear of Missing Out (FOMO.)
  3. You are having bad days at work or you work in a toxic environment, and you want to escape by moving to a different career.
  4. Somebody (family member, friend, co-worker, etc.) is pressuring you to do a career change.
  5. Your current role is pushing you out of your comfort zone, and you feel like a different career will give you an easier life.
  6. You want to move to a new career you don’t like just for the money and the perks.

You need to carefully assess whether the problem you’re dealing with will be solved by a career change. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time on a path that doesn’t lead to the outcome you need.

Besides, we spend one-third of our life at work, so you better be doing something that puts a spring in your step and does not make you miserable.

How to determine if you need a career change

Let’s face it. Not everyone has the bandwidth to risk making a career switch. So it’s critical that you know if you really need a career change from the get-go. How do you do that?

Step 1. Identify your career goals

Do you envision yourself working in your current job for the rest of your life? Do you want to go outside of your comfort zone and work in a completely different industry that will catapult you to greater professional heights? At your deepest core, identify what it is that you really want in your professional life.

Monica Fochtman, PhD, CPRW, a Career Coach and Certified Resume Expert specializing in mid-career changes, said that this takes a lot of strength and discernment. “ are who you are, and you bring who you are into any experience and into any job. So you want to get to that core first.

Getting to your core and having clarity in your goals will help you assess whether your current career path aligns with who you are and moves you closer to where you want to be in the future. This will also help you assess whether the benefits you received from your career outweigh everything you had to sacrifice for the job.

Step 2. Lay out the factors that might keep you from switching careers

According to Monica Fochtman, there are so many factors that you need to consider. “ Are you in a situation where you have a house and a mortgage and a partner and kids? Not everyone has the freedom to or is willing to take the risk, quite honestly, to go all in on a career change.

Recognizing these potential roadblocks will keep you from having a blinkered view of your current reality and help you honestly assess whether making a career change is the right thing to do at the moment.

Here are some factors you need to consider:

  • Your age. Changing jobs can become more difficult as you get older since you have fewer working years to develop new skills and are more likely to be entrenched in your current career. However, changing careers is possible at any age.
  • Your current income and financial responsibilities. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect of a career change. Your financial responsibilities may narrow your job options. If you are at a high-income level currently, it can be difficult to earn the same pay in a new career.
  • Your skills. Accountants can’t transform into astronauts overnight. Understanding your skillset and how it can transfer to a new career is essential.
  • The economy. When determining which career to pursue, you’ll need to consider the viability of each career option in the current and projected economy.
  • The career and industry you want to pursue. Will you need to learn new skills, take courses, or work an internship before you’re able to land a job in your desired field? Careers that require niche skills can be much harder to break into.

Step 3. Carefully examine your circumstances and reflect

With the factors you determined in Step 2 and given your current circumstances, ask yourself whether the roadblocks (taking new courses, developing new skills, relocating, having lower pay, etc.) you pinned down are manageable and are things you can live with.

Regret Minimization Framework

Another way you can do this is by doing Jeff Bezos’ Regret Minimization Framework.

You simply project yourself in the future and ask yourself: In x years, will I regret not doing this? If I don’t switch careers and try it despite the risks, will it haunt me for the rest of my life? If you answer no, then a career change now is probably not worth it. But if you answer yes, then you know which direction to go in.

How to find your next career

After evaluating whether you really need a career change, assess which career fields you want to pursue. Here are two questions to guide you.

Question 1. Which careers align with your interests and personality?

On your journey to finding the best career for you, consider your personality type, preferred working environment, passions, and interests. Then determine which careers will best fit your preferences. If you’re unsure about your nature and how it affects your working style, you can take a career assessment online.

Question 2. Which careers align with your skills, experiences, and expertise?

Some people may want to completely restart their careers from scratch, but most people will want to find jobs that match their existing skillset and expertise. Look for careers where you can transfer your skills and hone them.

Here’s how you can quickly discover which careers best match your skills and experiences. Paste your resume on Jobscan’s Career Changer Tool (found at the top of the page), and in less than a minute, you will see a list of potential careers you can take and a list of your hard and soft skills.

How to Change Careers

Here are 5 steps you can take to jumpstart your career shift.

Step 1. Explore your career options

Based on the guide questions above, list all your potential career fields. An expert tip from Monica Fochtman, who is in the business of helping career changers, is to do the following: networking, information interviewing, engaging on social media platforms, and having conversations with people.

So especially if you are truly career changing, you want to broaden your circle at first so that you can have people in a broad, big circle thinking of you and aware that you are on the search, who then can connect you with a broad variety of people.

With the information you gather from your conversation and interviews, you can then drill down on the career fields you like and that suit you. Monica recommends creating a list and deciding whether a career option is a Yes, a No, or a Maybe.

Step 2. Create your job search plan

Whether you are still working on your current role or have already resigned, it is always important to have a plan and stick to it. Research the positions you want to apply for. Then pin your timelines and determine the amount of energy and effort you want to put into every job you are going to apply for.

Study the job description

Take stock of all the requirements and the skills needed for every job by studying the key responsibilities outlined in the job posting. List out your strong transferable skills and determine how you can highlight these to help you stand out to the recruiter or hiring manager. Assess whether you need to hone new skills, take online classes, or undergo training and internships to give you an edge as you apply for your new job.

Step 3. Craft a killer career change resume

Effectively show how the skills on your resume can transfer to the role and highlight the ways in which your unique skills make you a standout candidate.

How to craft a career change resume

  • Tailor your resume not only to your new career path but to each specific job.
  • Use your resume summary to highlight your top transferable skills and prove how they will apply to the role.
  • Include the job title in your resume headline if possible.
  • Use a hybrid resume format.
  • Use relevant keywords found in the job description.

Read our full guide here: How to Write a Career Change Resume

Step 4. Write a strong career change cover letter

Include a cover letter in your application unless it’s specifically stated that you don’t have to. Here’s how you write a cover letter for your career switch.

How to craft a career change cover letter

  • Write confidently about your ability to transition to a new role.
  • Communicate what your unique experience can bring to the company.
  • Be specific about your interest in the company.
  • Highlight your transferrable skills.

Read our full guide: How to Write Career Change Cover Letters

Step 5. Remember that your career change journey is unique

After submitting your application, it’s time to sit back and give yourself a break. Remember that career transitions aren’t always easy, and they might take longer than you would expect. Be patient, enjoy the process, and press on.

Check out our full guide on how to change careers here.

More helpful guides for career transitions

It is never too late to make a career change. You might be a mid-career professional in your 30s wanting to work in a different field. Or you could be in your 50s, and you haven’t done job searching for a long time already. Don’t worry. Here are resources to help you.

Key Takeaways

Although a career change involves a lot of uncertainties and risks, it could be the best decision you can make for yourself. Here are some important pointers you need to remember when changing your career.

  • Before deciding to start a new career, assess whether a career shift is really what you need.
  • Talk to as many people across various industries as possible and list all your career options. Then based on your preferences and non-negotiables, narrow down your list.
  • Take stock of all your transferable skills and determine how you can showcase these in the jobs you are applying for.
  • Create a career change resume and cover letter and customize them for each job you are applying for.
  • It’s never too late to do a career switch. So whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, or beyond, you can still transition careers.
  • Your timeline and journey are unique to you. Don’t compare yourself with others. Be patient and enjoy the process.

The Jobscan Career Change tool saves you time and shows you which jobs best fit you. All you have to do is paste your resume into the tool, and it will show you which careers match up. This tool is great for understanding how your resume presents to applicant tracking systems and recruiters, as well as inspiring career change ideas.

You can also use Jobscan’s Resume Optimization Tool and see whether your resume matches the specific job description of the position you are interested in. This tool will also optimize your career change resume for the applicant tracking system, a software recruiters use to sift through job applications.