Navigating New Horizons: 10 Things to Remember When Making a Career Change

Navigating New Horizons: 10 Things to Remember When Making a Career Change

Navigating New Horizons: 10 Things to Remember When Making a Career Change banner

Are you considering a new career? If so, you are probably experiencing a wide range of emotions. At any given moment, you might be filled with fear or overcome with excitement — and that’s understandable. Making a career change may be necessary, and it could be challenging, but when you have the right support network in place, you will find that your transition from your current job to your new career is seamless.

Understanding a Career Change

It’s important to recognize that career change can happen at any point in your professional life — and for a variety of reasons. Some young professionals discover quickly that their chosen career is not what they expect, leaving them to pursue a new role relatively early in their careers. Family changes and shifting responsibilities sometimes require mid-level professionals to consider a career change, one in which they can effectively balance their professional goals along with their personal priorities. In some cases, established professionals simply find that they have become burnt out by their existing career, and they want to make a career switch that allows them to explore new interests and passions.

According to Indeed, the most common reasons that people consider a career change include:

  • Increased earning potential.
  • Improved sense of work-life balance.
  • Reduced stress at work.
  • Better flexibility.
  • More opportunities to advance within their career.

Understanding why career change happens — and recognizing that there is no right or wrong reason to consider a career switch — can help you create a strategic and seamless action plan for your own transition.

What Does a Career Change Mean?

A career change typically means that a professional is pursuing a new role in an entirely different field or industry. In many cases, professionals are able to rely on their transferable skills in order to make a career switch, but they may have to pursue additional education or training in order to be qualified for a new position.

How to Make a Career Change

Making a career change doesn’t have to be difficult — but it also shouldn’t be spontaneous. You will be able to better manage your transition if you are strategic and organized as you consider a new career opportunity.

1. Reflect on Your Why

Before you begin actively seeking new jobs or looking into degree programs that can help you acquire the new skills needed for a fresh career, take a moment for reflection. Consider the reasons why you are looking into a career change, and take a few moments to write those down in a journal. The benefits of making this list are two-fold:

  • You will be able to better understand why you want to make a change.
  • You will know exactly what you are looking for out of a new career.

2. Self-Assessment

Now that you have a deeper understanding of why you need to carve out a new career path, just take a moment to think about what you want to do next. According to the Harvard Business Review, a simple self-assessment can give you insight into the next best steps for your career.

You can perform a self-assessment by thoughtfully considering the following questions:

  • What is my goal with this career change? Where do I want to end up?
  • Does my current career path allow me to reach my end goal?
  • At the end of my career, will I have regrets if I stay on this current path?

By taking a future-forward look at the end of your career, you can begin deciding what to do now in order to feel accomplished and settled by the time you retire.

3. Research Potential Career Paths

If you are going to go through the effort to transition into a new role, you will want to make sure that you are choosing the right profession. Before you begin applying for jobs or writing a cover letter, take the time that you need in order to research the career paths that you are most interested in.

As you research the different professional opportunities available to you, you will want to consider:

  • The educational requirements for that career.
  • The amount of time it will take you to become qualified for entry-level positions in that field.
  • The income potential in that career field.
  • The work schedule that you will have if you choose that career.
  • Whether that career will align with your personal interests, passions and values.

During your research phase, you may want to schedule informational interviews with professionals who are currently working in the field. These interviews will give you an opportunity to discuss available opportunities in the field and what daily life is like when you work in that industry.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

Managing your expectations is critical for your mental health and well-being during your career transition. The reality is, you are going to be rejected — and you might be rejected more than once. Adopting an attitude of resilience and positivity will help you navigate this transition. By creating an actionable plan with short-term and long-term goals, you will eventually find your way forward in your new career.

5. Skill Development and Education

Once you have completed your research and looked into the occupational outlooks for your chosen career path, you can begin focusing on skill development and education. Depending on the magnitude of your career change, you may need to pursue a variety of educational credentials.

If you are looking to specialize within your industry, you may find that certification programs provide you with the competencies and foundational knowledge required to switch positions. If you are looking to change careers entirely, however, you may have to consider enrolling in an undergraduate or graduate degree program. Prioritizing your education is crucial during a career change, because you will have to meet certain educational qualifications before you can begin applying for new positions.

6. Build Support System

Career Shifters notes that your career change is not a solo journey. It should be a cooperative effort between you, your family members and friends and your professional network. By actively working to build a support system, you will find that the process of leaving your current job for a new opportunity is less daunting.

During this time, prioritize opportunities where you can make new connections. In most cases, you are not going to find your new job from an online listing. You are far more likely to secure a position thanks to an industry connection who already knows you and is familiar with your work ethic.

7. Create a Strategic Plan

A calculated, well-thought-out action plan will serve as a guide for you throughout your entire transition. According to Coursera, your action plan should include:

  • A list of training opportunities or degree programs that you will need to pursue.
  • An adjusted schedule for balancing your current job with your transition.
  • A list of additional opportunities that may enhance your resume, such as volunteer positions, job shadowing opportunities or internships.
  • An updated resume that reflects the work you have done to successfully transition to a new career.

8. Embrace Flexibility

Getting out of your comfort zone and pursuing a career change is not easy, but there are very few people who regret taking this leap of faith. Throughout this transitional period, you will begin to experience significant personal growth. As you embrace flexibility, you will become a more resilient person and a better professional, regardless of the industry or field you are considering.

9. Take Care of Your Well-Being

This is likely going to be a busy and hectic stage of your life, as you learn to balance your existing job with the training and educational requirements needed for your new career. While it may be easy to put yourself last, be sure to take time to enjoy yourself and give yourself plenty of mental breaks along the way. Enjoying a well-balanced diet, plenty of exercise and your favorite hobbies will help reduce stress and anxiety during your career transition.

10. Network and Build a Personal Brand

By carving out a new career path, you are essentially reinventing yourself as a professional. This is your opportunity to build your brand and begin networking within your new industry. According to Forbes, you can best build a personal brand by being authentic, sharing your story and making an impact on those around you. By creating a consistent and effective brand, you will leave a lasting impression on your contacts within your new field.

Take Control of Your Career Path at Johnson & Wales University

Very few people enjoy a linear career path. Most professionals find themselves on a course that is filled with unexpected bumps, interesting curves and changing landscapes. At Johnson & Wales University, we provide our students with the opportunity to explore their interests and develop a career plan that suits their strengths and passions. Our online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as our certificate programs, are designed to provide you with an opportunity to make a career change when you are ready. For more information about completing your degree online, complete the Request Info form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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