How To Be a Successful Career Switcher

Changing career direction successfully takes clarity, confidence and courage.  Before you can convince someone else you’re right for the job, you have to be convinced yourself.  Here are a few helpful steps:

Step 1. Start with why you want to make the change

Get clear on what is motivating your desire to change career fields. It’s not uncommon to reach a point where you realize you aren’t on exactly the right path, but other issues can lead to wanting change, too. For example, there could be issues like conflict or inadequate work/life balance at your organization that are making you unhappy, although the nature of the work itself interests you. What’s the real issue for you to address?

Step 2. Clarify your sense of purpose

There are a number of good books on the topic, such as “The Path”, by Laurie Beth Jones. Working with a coach through this process can be very helpful.

Step 3. Complete assessments to gain clarity on your personality type, strengths, values, and interests

The AAUM offers the CareerLeader assessment, a fantastic tool for facilitating career clarity, at a discounted rate.   Additionally, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and StrengthsFinder can reveal additional facets of your career puzzle.

Step 4. Brainstorm possibilities

Often there is more than one role that will enable you to live out your sense of purpose.  What are all the possibilities?  It’s helpful to do this exercise initially without limiting options.  Just get them all on paper before you shorten the list.

Step 5. Narrow your scope

Once you have brainstormed several options, identify one or two that are most interesting and energizing for you to consider.  Focus your attention on these possibilities. 

Step 6. Create a plan and execute

  • Identify whatever is not yet clear.  For the options you decide to explore in detail, develop a plan for getting the answers to these important questions.  Prioritize this list of action items.
  • Consider what you can do to gain some experience. What opportunities are there for you to do some volunteer work in your field of interest? What opportunities might there be internally at your current company for you to gain some experience? 
  • Research the role and field you’re interested in.  What are the trends in the field?  What employers are in your area, where you could potentially work?  Learn as much as you can. 
  • Network with individuals in your field of interest.  You might reach out through a phone call or on LinkedIn and express your interest in the type of role they are in, asking for their advice as you navigate the transition. Networking with alumni is always a good option. 
  • Monitor your progress and celebrate small wins.  Momentum is important when you’re making any kind of change.  Taking time to acknowledge your progress will help you continue to move forward.

Step 7. Last, but not least

Work with a coach to help you put the all the pieces in place.  Good luck on your journey—career fulfillment leads to longevity, improved health and quality of life, and is well worth the effort!

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