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I’m Changing Careers: How Do I Do It?

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Did you dread going back to work after the holidays? Is changing careers one of your New Year’s resolutions but you’re not quite sure how to get started?

Feeling stuck in a job or career you hate is not a promising way to start a new year—especially a new decade! But the good news is that you’ve already taken the first step toward a new career: awareness that you want one. So allow me to help with the next step: doing something about it!

Read on, and you’ll learn five steps that will get you on the right path to your dream career.

1. Determine the New Career That’s Right for You

The first step to making a career change may be one of the most difficult. Many people know they’re unhappy with their job and want to find a new career, but aren’t exactly sure what position is right for them.

If you already happen to have your sights set on a specific role, congrats! You can skip this step. But if you’re still trying to home in on what your new career will be, start with some introspection.

As career coach and keynote speaker Ashley Stahl says in this Forbes article, “Rather than looking at job titles, consider your interests, hobbies, and skills, and then work out how those translate.”

Ask yourself questions like:

  1. What are my strengths?
  2. What are my values?
  3. What are my interests outside of work?
  4. What accomplishments am I most proud of?
  5. Which responsibilities at my current job motivate and inspire me?
  6. Which responsibilities do I dread?
  7. What do I like most about the culture of my current industry?
  8. What do I wish I could change about the culture of my current industry?
  9. What type of environment do I want to work in? (In an office with spirited coworkers? In the privacy of my own home? For a company that offers flexible hours and location independence?)

Now do some research and make a list of career options that align with your answers to the above questions. It’s all about finding the overlap.

Doing this work will help you uncover not only the type of job you’d like to have but also the type of company (and company culture) you’d like to be part of. Maybe a mission-driven company feels most inspiring to you. Or one that focuses on transparency. Or on a remote team that hosts virtual baby showers to celebrate with each other from afar. (Yes, our team at Skillcrush definitely does this!)

2. Put Yourself Out There

Although introspection is an important piece of the how-to-change-careers puzzle, it’s not the only piece. To truly understand which new career is right for you, you need to get some firsthand experience.

So put yourself out there! Yes, even before you’re ready! Go to networking events in the new field you’re interested in. Schedule an informational interview or shadow someone who has a job that interests you.

This type of firsthand experience is incredibly valuable. Even if a job looks like it could be a good fit from a job description, the day-to-day tasks may not be what you bargained for. As Stahl says, “The more people you meet, the more insight you can get into what the work environment is like, what the people are like, and how they enjoy the work.”

The sooner you get a clear picture of the day in the life of a UX designer or a WordPress developer, or whatever position you’re interested in, the better!

3. Get the Skills You Need

The next step for changing careers is identifying your skill gaps and working to fill them. You can research job postings to see what skills hiring managers value or (even better!) ask which skills are most in-demand during an informational interview.

If you’re interested in a tech career, you may need to improve your tech skills. But if you’re still not quite sure which tech career you want to pursue, that’s 100% ok! As you start taking classes, you’ll better understand where your interests lie. (And if you want to get started for free, take a look at our Coding Camp!)

Remember that even if you’re changing careers and entering a completely new field, you’re not starting at square one! You have skills you’ve gained from your current or previous positions, skills that are completely transferable. And these are skills that employers are looking for!

According to this Forbes article, the top seven transferable skills include:

  1. Technical
  2. Communication
  3. Critical thinking
  4. Multitasking
  5. Teamwork
  6. Creativity
  7. Leadership

Already have some of these under your belt (I bet you do!)? Then you’re already that much closer to your dream career!

4. Dispel Doubts

When it comes to changing careers—or making any big change for that matter—you may start to doubt yourself. Whether you’re facing imposter syndrome or feeling scared of change in general, going after a new career takes a boatload of courage. But knowing you’re not alone on your journey can help!

You can find a mentor, attend tech meetups, or develop a support network of others who are also making a career change. Together, you can learn from losses and (most definitely!) celebrate wins.

5. Accept That There’s No Straight Path to Changing Careers

No matter what, the most important thing to remember is that changing careers takes time, and it’s not always a straight path.

In an episode of the Dear HBR advice podcast, Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself: Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work, puts career transition into perspective. She says, “I think the biggest misconception is that when we look back on it, it looks very, very linear… And I think it’s rare that when we’re making a transition that we’re able to just go from step to step to step. Almost always there’s a step back in order to slingshot forward.”

Knowing there will be twists and turns along the road to your new job will help you take them all in stride, and changing careers will become significantly easier.

Whatever career change you’re making, focus on the above five steps to help you smooth out the transition process. Soon you can turn all of your career change fears into a dream career reality!

guide coding for beginners

Get Our Free Ultimate Guide to Coding for Beginners

Make a plan for learning the tech skills you need to land a new job with this 60+ page FREE ebook!

Lori Fimoff

Lori is the Sales Content Specialist here at Skillcrush. A former sign language interpreter, Lori made the switch to the digital world several years ago and loves helping others do the same. Lori has a passion for storytelling and spends her spare time creating stop motion videos, dreaming up her next travel adventure, and singing any chance she gets (good thing her neighbors don’t seem to mind!).