How to make a successful career change

Many people do it and have flourishing careers, but how can you make a successful career change?  Previous generations believed in jobs for life and progressed steadily within their chosen field for 40 plus years until settling into a contented retirement with a healthy pension. That’s a wonderful thought if at the tender age of 18 you made the correct career choice and enjoyed the job you spent most of your waking hours doing.

What about the people who made the wrong choice? Or who, shock horror, weren’t the same people they were at 40 as they were at 21 and now wanted many different things. Or the lucky people who discovered a passion later in life and wanted to make a living from it?!

The nature of work has, thankfully, changed to allow for an individual to have more than one careers within their lifetime. Making the leap from an unfulfilling, well-paid role into one with potentially fewer financial rewards but which will make a difference to their community and boost happiness is almost considered heroic.

Why do people seek a career change?

  • Life-changing events such as becoming a parent, an illness, the death of a loved one or an eye-opening travel experience. All of these can make you feel like a completely different person with new values and philosophies and yearn for a job which fits those new thoughts.
  • Forced removal from a job can feel devastating however it is often eventually seen as a blessing and a gateway into a new life.
  • Feeling as though you are progressing, developing and making a difference are key factors in self-worth. If this is lacking in an existing career it can lead to demoralization and even depression.

How to switch careers successfully

Ask questions of yourself. You need to be scrupulously honest with yourself here. So, you want to set up as a mobile dog groomer? There’s a gap in the market in your local area and you LOVE animals! Wonderful, great idea! Oh, but you can’t drive and haven’t ever actually owned a dog?!

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that picture so long as research, effort, work experience and a fast track driving course are part of your planning process.

  • What do I/will I enjoy?
  • What qualifications do I have/will I need?
  • What skills do I have and enjoy using and what job are they best suited to?

Ask for help

Networking, cheek and a good amount of luck can make a real difference to the success of your new career.

  • Who do you know in or with connections to your chosen industry? Offer to buy them lunch in return for advice and/or introductions.
  • Do some Googling and send lots of carefully worded and structured emails introducing yourself, what you would like to achieve and offer yourself for work experience. Now is not the time to be proud. The tone of your email might just remind someone of themselves 10 years ago and a fabulous offer could come your way.

Start your career change plan

Before you begin the process of leaving your current role start saving. A financial buffer for what is often a tricky period financially will take the pressure off you when you’re already stressed out by a new job.

  • Hone your CV and cover letter. Stand out for all the right reasons and convince them to call you to interview, there you can really Wow them.
  • Gain the qualifications you need and/or work experience alongside your existing job if you can. It’s hard work but your debts will be fewer and giving up your dream because you’re desperate and living on baked beans would be a disaster. Early morning, late night and weekend graft will be worth it in the end.
  • If your plan is to start your own business then extensive research and talks with the bank, an accountant and a financial advisor are vital. Becoming your own boss is a fantastic thing to do but it isn’t for everyone, be prudent.

Making your plan a reality

Let’s get the ball rolling to transform your chosen career change into reality rather than a plan in your head or on a piece of paper.

  • Apply for as many jobs in your new field as you can. Even you don’t tick all the boxes the employer requires, apply anyway, you don’t know if you don’t try and any kind of interview or job application practice is a day well spent.
  • Raise your profile by doing work for friends and family. This will build your confidence and a word of mouth generated type of organic growth will begin.
  • Remember that a new business will start small, don’t panic. Simply share your successes, happy clients and achievements wherever and whenever you can and your customer base will build.

Keep this in mind!

Take the leap. Start. Be brave. There are a thousand inspirational quotes to be found on the internet about believing in yourself and starting the journey but all you need to know is that no successful career change has ever happened to someone who procrastinated and stayed stuck. Good luck!


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