By DeVry University
Building your career isn't always a linear path, and sometimes you might find that your interests or a newly developed skill can take you on an unexpected and exciting turn.
While everyone’s journey toward a career change is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy that works for everyone, here are some general tips for how to change careers that can help you get started.
Identify What You Want
Before jumping into a job search, take some time to think about what you want from your career change.
Knowing your non-negotiables is essential to identifying what you’re looking for in a job: are you a person who logs off on time at the end of the day, or are you okay with working overtime to meet a deadline? Do you want an onsite job or do you prefer to work from home? The best way to begin your search is knowing what you don’t want to compromise on and working on finding a job that fits your life, not the other way around.
Whether it’s a move to a different industry, more flexibility in your schedule or a job that aligns with your values and creates a culture of belonging, being very clear and honest with yourself about what you’re looking for can help you evaluate job openings with a critical eye. You might also make a meaningful career out of doing something that you love. Examine your interests to see if there’s a way to make a career change out of pursuing your passions.
Evaluate Your Strengths and Experiences
Review your past experiences and strengths. Ask yourself, what did you do for your last team that made you indispensable? What traits or skills are you bringing to your future roles? Knowing your strengths and being able to talk about them in detail can be useful, especially if you’re looking to switch industries, where you might not have previous experience. Look for any transferable skills you can highlight, but be sure to also identify areas where you can work on building your abilities or where you need to upskill.
To help you get a feel for what an industry might be like to work in and what to expect, meet up for coffee or have informal chats with people who work in the roles you’re looking to get into. Find connections through your personal contacts or reach out to people on professional sites like LinkedIn.
The idea of booking time with someone you don’t know can be nerve-wracking or feel intrusive, but try to look at it as an opportunity to learn. “Reach out to people who are doing what you want to do and ask if they have some time to talk about their career paths,” career coach Christy Noel advises, “the goal of information interviews isn’t to pitch yourself, but rather to learn as much as you can".
Gain Experience Through Volunteering or Freelance Work
Volunteering or doing freelance work is a great way to get your feet wet in an industry, and can give you experience to highlight on your resume as well as show future employers that you have initiative and a willingness to learn.
This can also help you learn what it’s like to do a job hands-on, what kinds of environment you’d be working in or maybe highlight job characteristics that you weren’t aware of before. Trying new things brings with it the potential to discover something you love, but it can also help you cross things off your list. Be patient and allow yourself room to explore and grow.
Take Classes or Earn a Degree
Sometimes, a career change means identifying knowledge gaps. Write down the steps that you’ll need to take to get yourself from where you are to where you want to be.
Taking classes or earning a certificate, can be a great way to fill in important skills and gain useful insight into a career path. If you’re looking to move within your current company, ask about any tuition reimbursement programs or education partnerships they have, or consider taking online courses to help you earn your degree in an entirely new field without disrupting your current schedule.
A job hunt is a marathon, not a sprint. While it might take some practice, try to be patient while you wait for the right opportunity to come along.
In the meantime, celebrate your wins and take time for self-care. Keep yourself going by continuing to search on job boards, keeping your current skills fresh and taking the time to learn new ones.
Learn Industry-Relevant Skills at DeVry
Making a career change can be easier than you might think – and we can help. We offer undergraduate and graduate-level programs in a variety of industries, including healthcare, business, technology and more. The best part? You can earn your certificate or degree 100% online, allowing you to fit your education into your schedule. Classes start every 8 weeks.