A Practical Guide to Changing Careers

A Practical Guide to Changing CareersWith the global recession affecting careers at an unprecedented rate, there’s more people looking to make a transition into a field of work that has increased job opportunities available. There’s also another group of people, who just don’t feel that they have the job satisfaction, and would rather pursue a more adventurous career in a different field.

Whatever the reason is for considering changing careers, there’s a way for you to do it. The short guide below will give you a good starting point, to put your plan in place, and find a job that offers job satisfaction and improved job opportunities into the bargain.

The 6-step process for successfully changing careers

1)     The research stage

You need to put one foot in front of the other and not jump in with both feet. The first part before you change a career is to get a thorough understanding of everything involved.

  • What are the job opportunities in your new career like?
  • What’s the average salary?
  • What qualifications do you need just for entry-level position?
  • Do you have transferrable skills that can help you switch careers?
  • Are there any skills gaps you could swing to your advantage?

Brainstorm a range of questions and seek out the answers to each. Get a feel for the industry you’re considering, how competitive it is, and acknowledge the skills you have that are transferrable.

To help you change career, find out what type and level of training you’ll need, to take you to the position you’re aspiring to reach, at the peak of your career. Your research is going to require you to reach out to others in the same profession as you’re considering and find out how others got involved. Asking the questions, you’ve come up with during your brainstorming session, and getting the answers is the only way to put a plan in place to see effective results.

2)     Mind-mapping your career change transition

Once you begin speaking to people and getting the answers you need, to find out all the ins and outs of what’s involved in your new career choice, it’s then going to be time to put a progression route into place.

Fortunately, this is made a bit easier to organise with mind-mapping software online. If not, you can simply use a pen and paper, writing down a progression route to get you to your end goal.

Brief overview of mind mapping your transition

  • Note the position you’re in now, with a list with all your transferrable skills.
  • Note down the minimum qualification you need for entry-level positions
  • The expected salary you can earn when you move into a starting position in your new field.
  • The training you need to supersede your junior job role
  • What’s your salary increase going to be like?
  • Note the next course you need to progress further
  • The job opportunities the new qualifications, training and skills will open up

Carry on your mind mapping until you have everything noted down to outline a full career progression plan, taking you into the job role you’re aspiring to become. By this stage, you’ll have your research carried out, and then mapped out how you plan to reach your career objectives. Now it’s time to find out how you’re going to get into your new career…

3)     Networking

The fastest and best way to get into any job is by getting to know people. A vast majority of jobs are known to be allocated before the position is advertised. That’s the jobs you need to access and the only way you can do that is by getting to know people in the industry. Part of your research stage, will have seen you already build some connections in your new profession.

The 3rd step is to expand on that.

The one place you will want to get involved in is using LinkedIn. It’s an online database of thousands of career-motivated professionals, who hang out there and chat about professional stuff in their careers. Get amongst the conversations and network with the people who can make a difference in your life. It’s not all about forum discussions and social media connections either.

There’s also going to be seminars taking place, which you will want to be involved with. That’s where you get to meet the people, who are providing you advice elsewhere online. It’s when you build those offline connections that people remember you more.

That way when the job opportunities do come up, you’re the person to come to mind. Others know your face, your qualifications, skills and more importantly…your aspirations for career development.

4)     Gaining the qualifications

While you’re discussing your new career with your connections in the field, you’ll get a feel for the training you need. This is something you can do while you’re still in your old position, but it will be hard and you’re best to have family support behind you.

For most courses, they can be studied from home, through distance learning. The only time you need to attend a classroom setting is to sit your exams. That’s just in case you sit Googling the answers. You’re tested in an exam room, under exam conditions to ensure you do have an understanding of the training you’ve undertaken.

The alternative is to attend a night class at your local college, if they offer the course(s) you need to help you change your career.

5)     Getting the essential experience

One hour a week of your spare time is all you need to gain the work experience that will help you gain the experience you need to get a leg up on your competition. After all, others are going to be applying for the same jobs as you.

Think creatively for this as there are voluntary positions that can have transferrable skills too.


Volunteer fundraiser

Gives you experience in a sales role as well showing your ability to raise funds, through improved marketing. Ideal for sales and marketing related professions.

Stock processing assistant

This type of position can see you oversee the management of stock inventory, helping you get into paid employment at a managerial level, if you’re supervising other team members, and responsible for handling the stock logs.

Any career that needs people skills, you can become an online mentor, volunteering for a short time a week, passing on your knowledge to others who need it.

A database of voluntary vacancies can be found at Do-It.Org.Uk, where you can search available positions and track down the best ones that could assist you in changing careers, while making a difference at the same time.

6)     Approaching the job market

The above 5 steps are a lot of work. There’s no doubt about it, but nobody says a career change is easy. It’s doable, by all measures, but it’s certainly hard work, not to mention time consuming.

  • You’ll have the research stage, taking you to the beginner stage of networking in a new field.
  • Then you’ll find out about the training you’ll need, and start to take that on.
  • You’ll be furthering your reach by increasing your connections through continued networking
  • Possibly attending seminars
  • Perhaps taking on voluntary work to gain relevant experience

All of this is a huge undertaking for anyone, let alone someone already in a full-time position in a different field. The huge plus though is going to be coming across in your cover letters and resume to potential employers.

Due to the tremendous effort put in on your part, to change careers, you’ll no doubt come out with a sense of pride. You’ll be approaching employers on a positive note, letting them know you’ve a network of contacts in the profession, who have all advised on how to get started. Presenting them with the qualifications you’ve worked to achieve, and have the voluntary work experience behind you, to prove you really are as career motivated as you’re CV will make out.

An employer is going to pay particular attention to a candidate with more experience, to demonstrate their real capabilities, than those with only the formal qualifications asked for. When a potential employer sees the effort, you’ve taken to get into whatever career you’ve trained for, the admiration for your achievements, will often be enough to impress them. It’s going to be even easier though, if you start applying for junior positions, with your first qualification to get you into the field.

From there, you could see your career progress within one company, or you could be shifting between vacancies, climbing the career ladder as you gain the appropriate qualifications. Your career is in your hands, and there’s no need to stick to one career, because that’s what you trained for originally. Online studies and networking, combined with voluntary work are the areas that can help you transition from one career into another, without having to do full-time studies. With your new training, your networking is what will help you to open up a world of job opportunities.