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How to Plan a Successful Career Change

Oct 18, 2021
How to Plan a Successful Career Change
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The pandemic has prompted some serious professional soul searching for a lot of people, including reevaluations of when they believed they would retire, their work-life balance, and, importantly, whether they have chosen the correct career path. Employees are leaving positions in droves right now, for a variety of reasons, but among them is a desire to work in a position and industry they find more fulfilling and more in line with their interests. If you are one of those people, below is a plan you can use to help execute a successful career change.

Be Honest With Yourself About Your Current Job

Leaving an established career to start a new one is not something to take lightly, which is why it is important, to be honest about how satisfied you are with your current position and the reasons for any dissatisfaction. Keep track of how you react to your job, the people you work with, the industry you're in and your daily tasks and workflows. After you have kept a journal for a while, you can start to search for patterns. What do you enjoy and dislike about your current job? Are your grievances with the content of your work, the culture of your organization, or the people you work with? While you're at it, there are some things you can do at your current work to help you get ready to move on when the time comes.


For one, start tailoring your resume to your industry of choice. There are plenty of templates online to use for almost any niche or industry, as well as advice on how to go about adapting your previous work and educational experience for the job requirements you will be asked to satisfy in your new professional home. 

Be Honest About Your Skills and Interests 

The key to a successful career change is honesty. This is a decision that could affect the rest of your life, for better or worse, so you need to start by taking a hard look at your passions, values, and abilities. Examine your previous positions, volunteer work, projects, and professions to find out what activities and skills you prefer. Check to see if your fundamental values and talents are being met in your current job. You can utilize free online tools to help you evaluate your job options.

It is also important that you are honest about any limitations that will make it difficult for you to land a job in a new company or industry. Is there a technical skills gap you will have to overcome, how big is it, and what are the time and financial costs involved? does the industry in which you would like to work exist in the city, region or even country you currently live? If not, are you willing to move away from friends and family to chase your dreams and, if you are, what effects will this have on your significant other and/or children?

Build a Network in Your New Industry

In addition to learning everything you can about your desired industry prior to starting your job search in earnest, you should try to combine this with a lot of networking. Your college alumni professional network is a wonderful source of contacts for informational interviews and chats. LinkedIn is another excellent platform for connecting with people in specific professional categories. You can increase your response rate from your cold reach-outs by letting people know upfront that you are just asking questions, not fishing for real interviews or "ins" (yet).

Find Ways to Job Shadow 

One of the best things you can do before deciding to change careers is to arrange for a job shadowing opportunity or two. People always have preconceived notions about things they aren't familiar with, and you may have even done a fair amount of romanticization of your potential new industry due to unhappiness in your current role.

That is only natural, but it is wise to spend at least a few hours (cumulatively) and, ideally, a few days shadowing people who work in the industry you are interested in joining.

Upskill Prior To

The worst position to be in during a career change is grappling with the realization that you don't have the technical skills required to get your foot in the door. That doesn't mean your dreams are shot; it may just require you to spend some time and money getting yourself up to speed so employers will take you seriously. You can find out what people are looking for either by talking to the people making the hiring decisions directly, you can ask in industry and niche-related forums, and/or you can peruse job listings to see what the descriptions are asking for.

Consider a Lateral Move

As previously mentioned, career changes are about total honesty with yourself. With that said, perhaps a completely different job within your current industry might allow you to put your sector skills to good use. Importantly, it might also allow you to satisfy your need for change while softening your landing. 

Often time it is the routine or monotony of one's current role that is the issue, not necessarily the industry itself. There might be opportunities for you to use your skills in completely new ways, on completely new teams, and perhaps even in an entirely new location without having to upend your professional life completely.


Changing careers can either be one of the best, most liberating decisions of your life or something you immediately regret. The deciding factor is your preparation and how honest and self-critical you are willing to be with yourself while making the switch. Keep the above recommendations and steps in mind, and be sure that any career change is one that is made with a lot of forethought, self-knowledge and, importantly, the conviction that you are doing the right thing.

Author Bio: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!

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