There's no denying it. Switching careers is a major, life-changing step - so you'll want to make sure you do it correctly.
People change careers for many reasons.
Some of us are seeking flexible working hours or more money, others want to turn new interests into a full-time role, and many discover new opportunities that might not have existed years ago.
To help you get off on the right foot, we've put together our top five tips for ensuring your career change is a successful one - take a look below.
1. Ask yourself why?
Before you go any further, it's vital to think about why you want to change your career. What exactly are your motives for switching things up?
If you connect with the statements below, a career change is likely to be a step in the right direction for you:
- You have a passion that you believe you can turn into a career
- You no longer feel challenged and have no desire to reach the next level of your current career
- You've changed your focus in life or are seeking a different kind of life/work balance
- You no longer enjoy the work you're doing and struggle to feel fulfilled by it
However, if you can relate to the statements below you might benefit from a role change instead:
- You don't connect with your colleagues
- The environment at your current workplace makes you feel unhappy or uncomfortable
- You feel dissatisfied and/or unchallenged by the tasks your current role requires
- There are no opportunities for you to progress in your current workplace
2. Think about your current skillset
Even if your new career is completely different to the job you're currently doing, you're sure to have plenty of transferrable skills.
A particularly important step if you haven’t solidified exactly what your new dream role is just yet, write down all your skills - including those you possess but don't get to shine in your current role - and take a step back.
Start highlighting the skills that you'll definitely use when you swap careers and think about what will help you stand out from the crowd too.
When beginning a new career, it's likely that you'll start at a lower position than you're used to, but your experience in a different job doesn't have to be a disadvantage.
Are you used to work in a high-pressured environment?
Have you managed a team before?
Skills like this are likely to set you apart from other candidates of the same level in interviews, and you never know what the interviewer is looking for - it could lead to an even greater opportunity.
3. Start learning
While you're thinking about your current skillset, make sure you note down any obvious gaps too.
Is there anything you know you'll definitely need to learn before starting your new career, or skills you'll know you need to master quickly to progress?
Mark off anything that is a high priority and create a plan of action.
There are endless ways to learn something new, and a fantastic starting point is an online course.
You'll find online courses on everything from art, history, and science - to digital skills, languages and so much more at City Lit. Look for courses designed to help you acquire workplace skills that are highly sought after by employers.
There are plenty of other resources to complement your classes too.
Watch videos by experts online. Download relevant educational apps. Pick up a few textbooks or spend your time reading through articles produced by experts and thought leaders in your new sector.
Absorb as much information as you can, and find ways to practice your new skills whenever possible.
4. Gain some real-world experience
Nothing beats real-world experience but securing the first opportunity can be the hardest.
If you're looking for employment rather than taking the entrepreneur route but you're struggling to get your foot on the ladder, there are a couple of things you can do to help your CV stand out.
Look for part-time work, internships, volunteering, or even joining educational courses that offer experience in the workplace.
These are all brilliant ways to get started. Not only will you have something unique to talk about in an interview, it's sure to build your confidence in your own abilities too.
Going freelance can be a brilliant way to show off what you can do, and get paid for it.
It's perfect for bulking out a portfolio. Many people even do this on top of a full-time job to test the waters before changing careers. As long as there's no conflict with existing contracts, you should definitely explore your chosen field before switching careers.
If you need help with getting set up as a freelancer, you may find City Lit’s short course on freelancing interesting.
5. Make connections. Start networking.
Starting a new career is an exciting journey, but make sure you don't forget about the people you meet along the way. Whether you've joined an online course with others, or you're volunteering somewhere, don't lose contact once it’s over.
Stay connected and interact with others regularly - it can open many doors in the future, and you never know who you could help out too.
Keep an eye out for networking events in your local area as well. They're a fantastic way to meet new people. Don't be afraid to reach out to like-minded people either. A polite introduction via direct message on networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter can go a long way.
Changing careers is a brilliant and exciting move. With the right motivation, you can transfer your skills and experience into a new career.
You should look into gaining new qualifications and brushing up on your workplace skills. This will help you jumpstart your new career. Don’t forget to build a professional network too as this will open new doors for you. Networking could lead to gaining work experience or even discovering a hidden role that's not advertised on the internet.
Thinking about changing careers in the near future?
Make sure you take a look at our huge range of tutor-led online courses. Whatever your career goal, we'll help you get the skills you need to secure that job. If you're looking at starting your own business, we offer business start-up courses that can guide you on your path to becoming an entrepreneur.
Read our other articles from this series
1. 5 tips for a successful career change
2. What You Need to Know Before Changing Careers
3. (Coming Soon) Top Tips for Taking Control of your own Development
4. (Coming Soon) Advice for First-Time Managers/Team Leaders
5. (Coming Soon) How to Set Goals and Actually Achieve Them
6. (Coming Soon) 5 Ways to Promote Happiness in your Workplace
7. (Coming Soon) Learning Techniques to Help you Master New Skills Quickly