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The 5-Step Guide to Changing Careers Successfully

If you have stayed in the same career since graduating college and are still as in love with it as the day you started, then consider yourself one of the lucky few. However, if this isn’t you, then you’re definitely not alone. The sad reality is, far too many people stay in dead-end careers because they’re too scared to leave the familiar and dive into the unknown. That’s understandable: changing careers comes with a host of potential complications, including financial setbacks and lifestyle adjustments.

But, it’s important to consider the long-term benefits of following your heart’s desire and pursue a career that will be fulfilling and worthwhile. How financially secure are you, really, if you hate your job and can’t give it your all? If you’re currently in a dead-end career that simply isn’t living up to the hype, then it may be time to take the leap of faith to a more fulfilling career path. Here’s what you need to know.

changing careers

(Photo Credit: Edu Lauton/Unsplash)

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Step 1: Deciding, “Stay or Go?”

First things first: figure out if you are in need of a career switch, or simply a career revival, because they’re vastly different. It may not be your career that needs to be changed, but rather your employer. A terrible boss, for example, may make your life (and career) a living hell, but you don’t need to change careers to escape one bad manager. (Here’s what you can do, if your boss is the culprit.) If you’re still unsure, then ask yourself these three questions before making a change, because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Step 2: Doing Your Research

Now that you’re certain you need to change careers, it’s time to do some research to figure out what is required of you to transition into this new industry successfully. For instance, if you’re going from a career as an accountant to on as a computer programmer, then you’re probably going to need to retrain, and may want to consider taking a class or two to get you started on learning to code.

Likewise, if you’re considering switching to a career that involves a particular trade (e.g. general contractor), then be sure to look into the types of licensing/certification that is required of such professionals. The key here is to evaluate exactly what is needed to make the switch to the new profession so that you know what you’re getting yourself into and plan accordingly.

Step 3: Planning Your Career Change

Now that you’ve done your homework on what’s required to make the switch, it’s time to plot out your new career path. Often, career change comes with financial change (and not always the good kind), so be sure to crunch the numbers to see if making the switch is feasible, especially if you have a family. I’m all for living out your dreams, but if changing careers will cause your family great financial strife, then you may want to reconsider the timing for now.

Step 4: Building a Support System

You’re going to want a support system before, during, and after you decide to change careers, because not everyone is going to be supportive or understanding of your decision. If you’re partnered up or married, then it’s wise to get your significant other on board with your decision, for obvious reasons. It’s also important to have some colleagues and friends that you can turn to for advice, guidance, and support during this transition. Remember, you’re about to make a huge change in your life and career, and you’re not going to want to go at it alone, so it’s important to explain your transition in a fashion that an outsider will understand.

Step 5: Jumping In With Both Feet

A new career means a new resume, so use these tips to construct a resume that portrays you as an ambitious and passionate dream-chaser, and not an inexperienced rookie. Likewise, take some time to reinvent your LinkedIn profile, because recruiters and hiring managers will be scouring your social profiles to see what you have to offer. Next, it’s time to start getting out there and networking with individuals in your new industry. Start getting the word out with your current network – because nowadays, it’s all about who you know.

Lastly, it’s time to pat yourself on the back, because changing careers is not for the faint of heart. It takes a very courage and ambitious soul to take a risk like this, so take pride in knowing that you’re doing something not many are brave enough to do.

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Leah Arnold-Smeets
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