How to Successfully Switch Careers

It’s almost an old-fashioned concept now, to begin at the bottom of the ladder within a career, reach the top, and stay there. Many of us are drawn to change and growth rather than stability and mundanity, which makes life more exciting but also much riskier. Changing to another career, for example, is equal parts terrifying and thrilling. The potential success and resultant lifestyle improvement that could come with a shift in career are balanced precariously by the fear that you might be giving up something secure with no way of going back. Here are a few tips to help you switch careers without becoming overwhelmed or stuck in the middle.

Outline Your Life Goals

It might sound a bit frilly at first, but life goals are vital to understanding what you want from the specific aspects of your life, such as work, family and your future. The umbrella of ‘life’ allows your imagination to explore possibilities without the hindrance of overly considering reality and likelihood. Take note of what you want from life. How do you want to be known? What would make you happiest? How do you want people to speak about you once you’re gone? The bustle of everyday life makes these points seem trivial and indulgent, but they are far from it. Once you have a clear grasp of what you want to experience and contribute during your time, you will be better equipped to navigate the confusing and often treacherous path of switching from one career to another.

Research Your Field

While the outward appearance of the career path you are hoping to enter might be enticing, it’s the substance of it that will matter most once you’ve committed to the switch. Many of us, as children, proclaim that we will become veterinarians, firemen, astronauts, only to discover as adults that the hours are difficult, the workday is exhausting, and that space is scary. Take the time to research the types of jobs within your chosen field and dig deeper into what life would look like should you find yourself landing your dream role.

Connect the Similarities

When leaving your old position, you won’t be leaving behind your experience, skills, and knowledge that came with it. There’s a reason you were hired for that role, and those reasons will be valuable going forward, no matter how different your next career path might be. What made you valuable? What did you learn on the job? With the research you have done into the new career path, you should be able to see similarities where your pre-existing skills and attributes will be useful in your next position. Don’t try to wipe the slate clean and forget all that you have learned. Bring it with you on your next venture.

Fill in the Gaps

Once you have found the similarities between your past role and your next one, you’ll also start to notice the differences. These will most likely be rather major depending on the career shift and distance between the types of roles you’re looking for. You will have certain skills and qualifications, but you will also be lacking some of the required ones for making that leap. For instance, leaving the armed forces to become a businessperson might require you to find out about the best online MBA for veterans to help you on your journey. Identify the gaps in your experience and make sure to fill them in as best as possible before seeking a role in your new career field.

Maintain Good Relationships

Leaving your current position can cause friction with your employer, so be sure to maintain as good a relationship as possible with them. Burning bridges is dangerous and unhelpful for your future self, so avoid going out in a burst of flames. Your previous employers make good referees for future job applications, and having a respectful and courteous relationship with them means that you will be more likely to receive a favorable reference.

Create a Plan

One of the more tangible activities you can do to increase your chances of switching careers with ease and success is to write down an actionable plan. Break down your career goals into milestones and then smaller tasks until you have a set idea of what you want to do each day and how every task will impact the future. Stay focused on each smaller task and try not to become overwhelmed by the bigger picture. View every action as a potential turning point that opens more doors towards your ideal job.

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