Okay. Let’s admit it—you hate your job. Or, at least, you find that stress from work is affecting your personal life for the worse. And when your work life has been constantly interfering with the satisfaction and quality of your personal life, it’s probably time for a fresh start and a new career.
So how does one actually change careers?
7 Steps to Changing Your Career
- Assess If You Want to Change Careers
- Choose a New Career
- Find a Job Posting
- Write a Resume & Cover Letter
- Send out Applications
- Interview with Employers
- Volunteer If Necessary to Strengthen Your Resume
First, consider whether you really hate your work, or whether you just had a bad day. Perhaps you enjoy the work that you do, but your boss is out to get you and make your life miserable—and this time you’re not imagining it.
If the company culture or your boss is the problem (and you enjoy your work), consider changing jobs rather than careers. Our free resume writing, cover letter, and job search tutorials will teach you how to change jobs.
If, however, you feel like the problem is that balancing accounts payable/accounts receivable is the equivalent to drinking chloroform, read on.
The next step, now that you’ve decided that your current career is not where you would like to be in five years, is to decide where you want to be instead. Many people struggle with this step. Choosing what you actually want to do is often a very existential, challenging question. Generally, there are three key factors that bring happiness in the workplace: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
Autonomy means you have some level of control of the work you do or how you do it. Mastery means you are constantly improving and learning, and that the work presents new challenges every day. Purpose means you believe you are offering something that matters . . . and that it’s making the world a better place. Meet these three criteria, and you will probably be very satisfied with your career.
Okay, so that’s the theoretical. What about the practical? Write out a list of all the things you would enjoy doing. A fantastic resource I recommend to all of my clients that are looking to change careers is MySkillsMyFuture, an intuitive website that allows you to enter in your current job title and see other options (and even what other jobs are paid comparatively!). But, to point out the obvious, as helpful as personality and career software can be, it is not the end all, say all solution. Ultimately, no one but you can tell you what you like to do. You must be the one to choose your passion and then follow it.
The next step is to understand the nitty-gritty requirements of the career path you are looking to break into. After all, before you start trying to catch dinosaurs, it’s probably a good idea to know what type of dinosaur net to bring, right?
To do this, look up at least 10 job postings. Go to SimplyHired.com and search for the job title of the career you wish to pursue, browse the job postings, and take notes on trends you see. What is it that all of these employers seem to be after? Does it seem like you are actually qualified for this career? This list you create is what you will use to create your new resume.
The next step is to write that darned resume. This is definitely one of the hardest steps—writing a resume is a lot of work and not easy. For brevity, I will not go into nuances of resume writing. Be sure to visit our free resume writing tutorial in our Advice Oasis to learn how to write a resume.
After your “umbrella resume” is finished, take out that list of job postings that you already found. Pick one that you fancy the most. Then, keeping your umbrella resume the way it is, create a new file, copy and paste your resume into it, and then tweak that resume so everything in the resume relates to the job posting. We do this because resumes are only as effective as they are targeted to the skill sets employers are looking for. Then, learn how to write a cover letter and compose a killer cover letter for the job posting.
Follow the instructions of the employer and submit your job posting. Then pull up another job posting and repeat the resume and cover letter process at least 2 times a day for 2 months straight. I know—it’s a lot of work. But the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t comes down often to simple numbers—there is a big difference between someone who submits 60 applications per month and someone who submits 5, because the 60 application per month person will be employed at her new dream job while the 5 application person won’t be. That’s the magic of probability.
Great! 2 months have now passed. So you’ve sent 120 applications! If you’ve done everything right, you’ve probably had a few job interviews by now. Maybe you are even employed in your new career!
Or maybe you’re not. Maybe you have had 5 or so interviews but no job offers yet. If so, that’s great! It means you ARE qualified—employers do not interview with job candidates unless they are qualified. This just means that your interviewing skills probably need work. That’s actually very easy to fix. Be sure to visit our free interviewing tips section for help on interviewing if this is the case.
If you have gotten zero interviews, it probably means that you are either 1. not qualified yet for the career you are trying to break into or (and the more likely one) 2. Your resume and cover letter are not effectively selling your skills. If this is the case, then I would recommend getting a free resume critique from us so you can assess weaknesses in how you market yourself and break into your new career.
Reevaluate, Volunteer, Repeat, Keep At It, and You’ll See Results.
If the career you are trying to break into is really different than your current career, then it’s time to start volunteering and searching for internships to get your foot in the door and gain valuable work experience. Employers love free labor. And if you do a great job, you may just get a job offer!