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How to Switch Careers: 6 Easy Steps

switch careers symbolized by paper airplane veering out of line

The average person goes through roughly 3-7 career changes in their lifetime, so if you’re hemming and hawing about making that career move, we say, do it! If you’re ready to switch things up, here’s everything you need to prepare to make that transition as smooth as silk. 

A career pivot is a big, exciting change that is brimming with possibilities. It promises new challenges and experiences, as well as the chance to zero in on your passions. But as we all know, switching careers and starting from the ground up can be pretty daunting – and a challenge in itself. If you’re ready to divert from a linear career trajectory and carve out a path that is uniquely yours, then there are a few things to consider. Here’s what you should give thought to and the steps you need to take to pull off the switch successfully.

Before Making the Switch

While you’ll be keen to jump into applying for roles, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before committing to this transition. 

Why do you want to make this change?

Identifying why you want to leave your current role is a great place to start. If you’re looking to switch things up because you feel undervalued, bored or dissatisfied, it’s worth considering whether you might run into these same problems in your next job.

Are you happy to accept an entry-level salary and take on a lower job position?

Switching careers may mean starting from scratch again. With an entry-level job comes a lower salary which could have an impact on your financial stability. Take some time to figure out if you can afford a temporary pay cut.

Are you prepared to invest in yourself?

Transitioning to a new career involves dedicating both time and money to ensure you stand out and increase your chances of success in securing your desired position. It’s important to carefully consider the investments you plan to make and assess their potential returns.

What is the outlook for your desired field?

The job market shifts rapidly so it’s important to assess the future prospects of your desired career path. You want to avoid pursuing roles or industries experiencing declining demand to ensure your career remains sustainable.

6 Crucial Steps for Switching Careers Successfully

1. Research

Researching new-to-you careers and industries is the first and most important step in this process. It will help you understand what types of jobs may interest you and best fit your needs. During this stage, you will want to keep in mind your values, interests, personality type and ideal lifestyle. You may also have financial goals to consider in this new leg of your career. When researching, look into essential information like required skills and qualifications, opportunities for growth, salary ranges and work environments. 

Top tip: Career quizzes are a fun and informative way of seeing what roles may be a good fit for you. 

2. Train and skill up

If there are skills that would make you a more competitive candidate, then take the necessary steps to expand your knowledge. This may involve completing courses, certifications or training. Depending on the career, micro-credentials may be an option. Micro-credentials are more popular than ever and allow you to build on your skills and knowledge without committing to a full degree. 

Top tip: If you’re based in BC, check out Education Planner BC to search the micro-credentials that are currently being offered. 

3. Identify transferable skills

In addition to identifying any new skills needed for your desired career, don’t forget about the skills you already have. While you may be able to carry over a few hard skills (technical abilities), you’ll likely have a lot of relevant soft skills that will aid you in a new-to-you role. Some common transferable soft skills include: 

  • Teamwork 
  • Adaptability 
  • Critical thinking 
  • Organization 
  • Attention to detail 
  • Multitasking 

Top tip: Once you have identified your transferable soft skills, learn how to develop them

4. Gain practical experience

While everyone has to start somewhere, we all know how hard it can be to break into a completely new career or industry without any experience. For this reason, it’s a great idea to consider internships, freelancing and volunteering. Taking on work for free isn’t a viable option for everyone, but you could look into part-time opportunities that fit around your schedule. This is also a great way of making connections in the industry.

Top tip: Find internships and volunteer opportunities on LinkedIn

5. Build your network

Networking is invaluable when you are switching careers and there are plenty of avenues to explore. Sign up for a professional association, attend industry events, and reach out to professionals via online platforms such as LinkedIn. Once you have made new connections, make use of them! Leverage your network by requesting informational interviews and job referrals, and see if you can obtain mentorship. Just make sure your interactions are professional and intentional.

Top tip: Read through our comprehensive networking guide for making valuable connections in Canada. 

6. Update your resume and cover letter

It’s time to rejig your application materials. Highlight the transferrable skills you identified as well as any other relevant experience and qualifications. Show that you will be a quick study by using keywords and terminology that are specific to the career/industry you are applying for.

Top tip: Create a functional resume that highlights your skills rather than your experience. 

Consider a Stepping Stone Role

There are no shortcuts when it comes to switching careers but something that may make your pivot a little less jarring is taking on a stepping stone role. This is a job that will allow you to utilize your existing skills and experience while also developing new skills that are related to your future career. A few years in a role like this should make the transition a little smoother.

For example, maybe your dream job is in marketing but you can’t quite get your foot in the door. Or maybe you are interested in event coordination but you don’t have the skills associated with that career. A common stepping stone job for these would be a role in Administration. Administrative jobs often cover a diverse range of functions including managing websites, providing meeting support and generating various documents and materials. These types of tasks would allow you to develop a variety of relevant skills including organization, communication, planning and teamwork. 

So, now you’ve completed all the necessary preparations, all there is to do is dive in headfirst. As with any job search, stay resilient and don’t let the rejections get you down. Track your progress, keep a steady march and remember to celebrate the small wins along the way. And if you’re looking for assistance with making the leap to a new career or you need help securing that ideal stepping stone job, get in contact with our team!

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Posted on Feb 05, 2024