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.
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Cut to the chase and check which career best suits you through our Career Change Tool found on the top of this page!
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.
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.
Word to the wise: don’t switch careers if your motivations for doing it are unhealthy! Here are a few examples:
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.
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?
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. “ ...you 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.
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:
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.
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.
After evaluating whether you really need a career change, assess which career fields you want to pursue. Here are two questions to guide you.
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.
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.
Here are 5 steps you can take to jumpstart your career shift.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Read our full guide here: How to Write a Career Change Resume
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.
Read our full guide: How to Write Career Change Cover Letters
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.
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.
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.
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.