Nobody knows what the future holds, so what you may have envisioned as the perfect career, may become unfulfilling later on. It is one of the worst situations to be, you are torn between chasing fulfilment by switching careers or succumbing to fear of the unknown and continuing your career path.
A career switch is the process of pursuing a career outside of your current career. It may be within your current industry, like deciding to become a doctor when you are already a nurse, or outside your current industry like switching to a career as a pilot from a career as an accountant.
There are several reasons you might want to switch careers. It may be that your current career is unsatisfying in terms of happiness, pay, comfort, work-life balance, and so on. You may be scared the new journey you will embark on will not be much better, or may even be worse than the last. These fears may be crippling, but you should not let it stop you. The decision to switch careers is never easy, and it may feel both daunting and exciting.
If you’ve made up your mind to switch careers and you’re not sure of how to go about it, then you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll highlight the steps you need to take to ensure that you effectively switch careers.
How to switch careers
The first thing you need to do when deciding on a career switch is to access your current role and why it is unfulfilling. Evaluate your job satisfaction and think of ways it could improve. You may not like your current job because the pay is low, so if your salary can increase, you may reconsider your switch.
Or it may be because your work environment is toxic and stressful, so you are seeking a less toxic environment to work. When deciding on a career switch, identify what the problem is and if it’s something that can’t be fixed, then switching careers may be the best option for you.
The next step is to review your interests and skills, which will help you decide on the next trajectory to take in your career. Look at the different areas you excel at, and have achieved great success in both academically and professionally.
Review your academic and professional history and identify what activities or projects you were doing that made you the happiest and most satisfied. Make a list of both and try to match them up and identify the specific skills that you both excel at and love doing. This will cue you in on what might be the best career choice for you.
Once you have identified your best skill (in terms of enjoyment and excellence), then do research on which career best matches it. It could be writing, teaching, making art, etc, whatever it is, there will be a career path that suits it.
Now, go back to all the reasons you want to leave your current job and eliminate all the professions that seem to have similar problems. This is where your research skills will come into play, as you will need to research thoroughly all of these professions to find out the specifics.
It will help a lot if you can meet with professionals in those occupations and have a discussion with them. Ask about their job roles and satisfaction. Share your worries and the issues you are having in your current career with them, and seek advice on whether leaving for their current field will be better for you.
Try to talk to at least 3-5 people for more insight and a stronger opinion. From what you learn from them, you can decide if switching to their career path is a good decision for you.
3. Education and skill-gap analysis
You’ve done all your brainstorming, and you’ve decided to become a software developer from a data analyst. Both jobs are in the IT industry, so switching from one to another will be much easier since the education and skill set are similar. You can easily transfer your skills and experience from your old career to your new one.
However, imagine switching from a career as a nurse to investment banking. Both are completely different industries, requiring different skill sets and education, so you will have to start from scratch.
You can not transfer your skills, education, and experience as a nurse to investment banking so you will have to go back to the university, attain a bachelor’s degree, gain an entry-level role in the financial industry and work your way up to becoming an investment banker.
Whenever you choose to switch careers, evaluate the education and skills you currently have and the ones needed for the career you want to switch to and determine the gap. If the gap is wide, you might have to consider earning a master’s degree or another bachelor’s degree.
4. Come up with a plan
At this point, you must have decided on the specific career you want to pursue. Are you planning to switch to a new industry or a different career path in your current industry? What education and gap is there, and what is required to fill it?
Are you financially stable enough to go through with this? You need to answer all these questions to come up with a plan and work towards fulfilling it.
Create a realistic plan, with clear goals, milestones and steps to achieving it. You may start with a rough sketch and keep filling in the details as you do more research. It is very unlikely that you will start with a perfect plan, so do not be afraid to tweak it as you gain a better understanding of your goals and more insight into the career you’re choosing to switch to.
Celebrate every achievement you make and keep a record of your progress. This will help you appreciate the hard work you have and keep you motivated to do more.
You’ve gone through all the previous steps and you’ve reached a point where you’re ready to start your new career. There may be some skills and experience that you can transfer from your previous career, but otherwise, you are starting a new trajectory in life, so some rebranding is essential. Your resume, cover letter and professional profiles should reflect this change so you can appeal to employers.
A career switch may be the only thing that can curb the feeling of unfulfillment you are experiencing in your current role, so never be afraid to consider it. It might be scary leaving the path that you know and understand to something you know little to nothing about, but with the help of this article, I am sure you can smoothly transition into a more fulfilling career.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It is never too late to switch careers as long as you can work hard. Many successful people change careers at various stages of their lives, including Jeff Bezos who had a successful career in computer science before becoming a businessman.
The major concern during a career change is financial handicaps. You should have the finances to support yourself during the period you are working on your career switch, or at least a means of acquiring it. If not, then wait till you do to avoid ending up in a bind.
It depends on your education and skills gap. If the gap you have to fill is wide, then it will take you a considerably longer time than when your education and skillset already match that of your new career.