A How To On Making A Career Change: Finding Your Way To A New Life Path

Updated November 30, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Are you thinking of leaving your current job? Does a career shift seem almost out of reach? Perhaps you feel like it should be easier than it seems. After all, switching jobs is a fact of life for most people, right? 

The truth is that every career change is different. People change careers more often than they once did. The pandemic, in particular, compelled workers to consider ways they could work remotely or as independent contractors. 

Contrary to what you might read online, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has never estimated how many times people change careers in their lifetime, justifying that it's too difficult to determine what constitutes a career change.

Are You Considering A Career Change?

Thinking about what you mean by a career change can help you focus more clearly on the skills you need and what you need to do to achieve your goals for your desired future. Have you considered going into an entirely different industry? It might be a valuable way to spend your time, and the research you spend doing it might be kind of fun.

From there, you have a lot to consider, preparations to make, and connections to build as you explore the potential for new jobs. Then, with your goals in mind, you can follow the new path you've mapped for yourself and start making a little progress. 

Making a career change doesn't have to be an impossible dream. With some soul-searching, the right career information, and solid support from others, you can make that change to pursue your passion and achieve success on your new path.

What Do You Want From A Career Change?

If you're thinking about a career change, chances are your current career isn't satisfying anymore, if it ever was. The lack of progress you’ve made to date is just not satisfying, or you may be eager to learn new skills.

You may know exactly what’s lacking, or you may only have a feeling that something's missing. The following are some of the reasons so many people have for a career change:

  • Receive better pay and benefits

  • Engage in more meaningful work

  • Identify a creative outlet

  • Exit a physically demanding career or role

  • Make better use of their talents

  • Transition out of a closing business or role

  • Seek better opportunities for advancement

  • Honor their personal and spiritual values

  • Make a fresh start after a perceived failure

  • Find and pursue a new passion

  • Leave a stressful work environment

  • Overcome boredom

  • Take on more or less responsibility

  • Have more autonomy in designing their schedule

  • Make a higher or more consistent income

Career changes are hard! In considering career transitions, look intently at where you are now in your full-time job and where you want to go with the next job. Find the reasons for changing careers that resonate most with you. Are you looking for something creative or do you want to switch to manual labor? Do you work in fast food and aim to be a restaurant manager but lack the proper skills and experience? Now is the time to do a little research and figure things out.

Spend some time brainstorming the kind of career you really want and write your thoughts down. Now that you’re getting a better idea of what kind of job you want, it's time to decide on a specific career path that leads to meaningful work in a specific industry.

Deciding To Pursue A Career Change

Take your time deciding what career you want next so that you will eventually have greater job satisfaction. It may require effort to prepare yourself for your new career. If you're unemployed, you may need to accept a temporary job to help you transition to your new career or job. You can spend free time building new skills and trying to find your ideal career before plunging in headfirst. Also, it can give you time to figure out your next steps for the job you want.

If you're not sure where your skills and talents lie, an aptitude test may be a good idea to help assess your skills. However, you don't have to be ruled by the results of the test. It's just to give you an idea of your current skills, learn what you're best at, and offer some suggestions about what kind of job you might be naturally suited to do. Remember that you can develop the skills you already have or add new ones before you begin. Your experience counts, even if you are applying for a job in a different industry.

Talking to a career transitions counselor can be very helpful, especially if you're unclear about what you want out of a career, or what skills it will take to make a career change. When thinking about career pivots, consider all the information you've gathered about yourself and the workforce to decide what you want to do next. These are questions you must decide for yourself before taking that first step to invest time in additional education as you pursue a new industry. Having an objective therapist to guide you as you sort them out can be very beneficial when thinking about quitting your day job.

Preparing  For A Career Change

Now that you've honed in on your next career path, it's time to prepare. You may need to go back to school, attend seminars, get certifications, or develop skills and talents you already have. Regardless of what challenges you encounter in your preparation, strive to hold on to your momentum and motivation. 

With any career change, it's important to use the skills you have and build on them whenever possible. Perhaps you already have an education, but it doesn't seem well suited to the career you want. Look closer to see what skills or education you already possess may be transferable to a new career. You may also have transferable skills which are unrelated skills you have learned at another position.

For example, if you have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and want to get into computers, you may be able to get the computer education you need without starting over with a bachelor's in computer science or going to a business school. You could choose to build on the psychology degree by choosing a niche that uses both, such as making websites more user-friendly based on the way the human mind works.

Another example is a high school teacher who wants to get into the business field. They can learn about a specific area of business that they can teach in a business setting without needing a business degree from a certified business school. Teaching adults - especially adults who will use the information you give them to further their careers – requires a different skill set than teaching in a high school setting, for example. Unless you're a business teacher, the subject will be new to you too. 

The education requirement may be short and easy. For example, if you want to teach people how to use business software, the only education you might need is to attend a short course by a software company and get some experience using the programs offered. This could be a new long-term position for you, or it could add experience to your resume as you search for a business career.

No matter your age or ability level, you can turn your dream career into a reality. Having a plan is an essential first step. We’ve included the following tips for making a career change to a fulfilling, exciting new career – while no two people will take the same path to reach their goals, they may find value in these recommendations at different points on their journeys.

Advance Your Education For A New Career

Now that you've started thinking about strategic career moves, make the first move as you pursue changing careers by doing a little research. Chart an educational course and follow your plan. Choose electives that relate to your career field in some way, if possible. Many online courses are available within every industry. Your commitment to pursuing further education could  help you stand out to a prospective employer.

Hone Your Skills And Develop Your Talents

To have a successful career where you can leverage your passion, it's a smart idea to go beyond the requirements of an educational program. Whenever you get the chance, practice using the skills you already have, and identify the right skills for the jobs you want. Experiment with using your talents in new ways. Pursue hands-on experience and new skills by practicing at home, in a hobby club, or through volunteer work. Remember that not all talents and skills are physical – it’s certainly possible to practice strong communication, leadership, and critical thinking skills in new ways.

Get The Credentials You Need To Succeed

With your educational requirements satisfied, you may need a certification or special license to practice in your field. Such is the case for many teachers who need to pass standardized tests in their subject area to gain a teacher certification. Be sure to include or attach your credentials to your resume. Other credentials include completing an internship, developing a portfolio, etc. Even if not required, certification is always a good idea. It looks good on a resume and can set you apart from others in your field. It shows you’re dedicated and disciplined.

Build Support For Your Career Change

Making a career change is never easy and trying to do it all on your own can be tough. Talk to others who have made the transition or who work in your new field to begin building a strong support network. Your professional network is important, and your network may include your loved ones as well as people you’ve known professionally.

Are You Considering A Career Change?

Get Your Friends And Family On Board

In your free time, talk to your trusted friends and family about your decision to change careers. Welcome their input but remember that yours is the opinion that matters most.

Own your career change, and don't be afraid of your progress with the people who mean the most to you. If you're happy about it, the people who care about you will be happy about your progress as well.

Start Networking Early

Early on, perhaps even when you're still undecided, start connecting with people who are already doing the work you want to do. It’s a perfect way to find expert advice as you pursue a particular industry. Ask people you know to introduce you to professionals in the industry. 

You may also be able to connect with future colleagues through a career-focused social site like LinkedIn. Build relationships with people in your new career field while furthering your education. Those already in the industry are often wonderful sources of information, job leads, and inspiration. Such people may also have a heads-up about a potential job opening.

Find A Mentor

One of the best ways to make the transition to a new career is to find someone already in it who is interested in helping you get started. Finding a mentor isn't always easy, but it's a great way to learn the ins and outs of the industry and gain some insight into the details of how to make a career change. 

A mentor may offer specific advice based on their own experience in the field and may point you to new experiences that will help you learn more. They may also help you make connections within the industry and identify ways to learn more from others in the field. Because it is a one-to-one relationship, the mentor can focus on your specific interests and needs.

Get An Objective Perspective

You already know it's better to have support on this journey. Although well-intentioned, your friends and family may not know a lot about how to make a career change to your field of interest. A counselor can help you explore your skills, strengths, and interests as you plan to transition to a new career. They can also help you build confidence before interviews or process rejection healthily.

One of the biggest advantages of talking to a counselor before and during your career change is that they remain objective. They put your needs and desires first during sessions. They are there with one main goal: to help you do what it takes to live a happy, healthy life.

Prepare For Job Applications And Interviews

Once you have done all the exploratory work for a job you are interested in, be certain about what you are looking for in a job description and create an action plan. It’s common for someone looking to make career changes to conduct informational interviews to find out more about a position you are interested in before sending in a resume and cover letter. Most companies don’t mind doing informational interviews if they know that a job candidate will be a good fit for one of their open jobs.

Career changers will also need to polish up their resume and update their cover letter or write new ones. Your resume is a critical place to highlight transferable skills and relevant experience. Don’t be afraid to express your passion in your cover letter. That is something that will make you quite an attractive candidate. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you may want to enlist the help of a talent specialist to help you polish up your cover letter and resume.

How A Counselor Can Help You Make A Career Change

In addition to providing a balanced and unbiased perspective, a counselor can help you with career changes in other ways:

  • Suggest aptitude or interest tests and assist with understanding the results 

  • Encourage new ways to think about your skills and talents

  • Assess your suitability for any career and define next steps 

  • Direct you to community resources for making a career change or entering a specific profession

  • Help you communicate more effectively

  • Guide you in thinking and behaving differently

  • Ease your adjustment to new settings, responsibilities, and relationship dynamics

Where To Find Help With Your Career Change

When you finally get that dream job you are interested in, it’s a win-win situation for you and your employer.

Online therapy is easy to use and available when you need it. Whether it’s via a weekly session or last-minute check-in before that big interview, help is there when you need it. It’s also convenient for your busy schedule, as you may be trying to juggle your current job and the search for a new one. You can schedule appointments when you can fit them in and never have to take time out of your day to travel to an office.

Pursuing online therapy to help take control of your life and feel more empowered in your career is possible. Many of the tools an online therapist will use with you have been effective for those struggling with anxiety or depression, which you may also be experiencing. It is not always easy to say goodbye to enduring relationships, familiar settings, and long-held roles or identities. There is often a grieving process which can sometimes serve as an obstacle in the transition to a new role.

In online therapy, you can gain tools to feel more in control of your emotions and behaviors. Studies have found that people who pursue online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness approaches receive more benefits than those just pursuing in-person therapy. They had a higher quality of life and less anxious or depressive symptoms. These benefits can be yours, too.

Finding a counselor to help you on your path to a new career doesn't need to be a long, drawn-out process. Licensed counselors are available at BetterHelp to help you get started right away. When you talk to one of our counselors, you can learn about how to make a career change and get help every step of the way, especially if you are pursuing an entirely different industry. 

Are you ready to change your career and your life? If so, we're here to help. You can read below for reviews from people like you on their experience with BetterHelp.

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Commonly Asked Questions:

  1. What is the best way to make a career change?
  2. How can I change my career path with no experience?
  3. What’s the easiest career change?
  4. How do I change careers at 35?
  5. What is a good paying easy career?
  6. How do I start a new career at 40?
  7. How do I restart my career at 30?
  8. Is 40 too old for a career change?
  9. Is it ever too late for a career change?
  10. What is a good career to start at 30?

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