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All About Changing Career Paths: 7 Tips for a Remarkably Smooth Transition

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There are many reasons people end up changing career paths, including better pay, seeking a new challenge, and improving work-life balance. 

What’s more, the benefits of a career change include being happier, more fulfilled, less stressed, and more satisfied. If you feel it’s time to change careers, the benefits will serve you well!

Here’s precisely how to change career paths the right way.

Tip 1: Check in With Yourself

Changing career paths presents an exciting opportunity to revamp your professional life. With that in mind, you need to know what you want out of this career change. Here’s how you can appropriately check in with yourself.

Try writing down your thoughts about your current role and company. What parts of the job are satisfying, and which ones are unfulfilling? Jot down all the feelings you have. Be honest with yourself, as your answers will guide your career change.

You can also ask yourself what a dream job looks like. Which industries, roles, and pay levels most interest you? 

Tip 2: Determine If You Want to Change Industries

Checking in with yourself may help you discover what fulfilling and exciting work means to you. In uncovering the answers to these questions, you may realize that changing career paths means changing industries, too. 

For some, changing industries means pivoting to a tangential industry, while for others, it means jumping into an entirely new field. Both career changes are possible, so be honest with yourself.

Luckily, many people have come before you and successfully changed industries. Here are some tips on changing industries (if that’s what you want to do):

  • Understand the new industry’s terminology.
  • Determine which assumptions/stereotypes about people in your current industry may reflect poorly on your candidacy. Know how to disprove these with specific examples.
  • Talk to people in your network that have experience in this new industry. What are the expectations, cultures, and processes you need to be aware of?
  • Come up with many examples of situations where you’ve demonstrated agility in new situations. This helps prove your ability to switch to a new industry seamlessly.

Learn more about switching industries here.

Tip 3: Identify Your Strengths, and Don’t Limit Yourself

After figuring out what you want from changing career paths, you want to be in close touch with your strengths. Here’s how to do that.

Scientific research shows that we aren’t the best judges of our strengths. Our views don’t align with behaviors, meaning you aren’t the right person to help determine what you’re best at.

Instead, try the “reflected best self exercise.” This forces you to ask ten people who know you well to write down three times they saw you at your best. The individuals you sample should come from diverse backgrounds and include family, friends, mentors, coworkers, and those who’ve worked for you.

What patterns do you see among the feedback? Create a self-portrait from there that outlines your strengths based on the people you sampled.

Importantly, don’t limit yourself based on the context of your strengths in the past. These strengths can be extrapolated into new situations and help serve you after changing career paths.

Tip 4: Make a Plan of Attack

As with accomplishing any goals, writing them down and forming an action plan means you’re significantly more likely to achieve them. 

When crafting an action plan for changing career paths, start by defining your goal. Having already gathered information on what new direction you’d like to take, now’s the time to identify a clear role for yourself (attaining this is the “goal” of your action plan). 

Consider the steps needed to be hired in that new position. Do you need to upskill through further education or certificates? Should you attend networking events or practice within the field? Write these down and make a clear timeline for completion.

Learn more about action plans here.

Related: Your Comprehensive Guide to Counter Offers: What Are They, and Should You Accept?

Tip 5: There Aren’t Any Shortcuts, so Stay Consistent

Changing career paths can be difficult, and you might not see results right away. To successfully make a professional pivot, you need to stay consistent. Progress is more about consistency and effort over time than raw talent.

There are no shortcuts for changing careers, so don’t look for them. Follow your action plan, and give it time.

Tip 6: Small Action is Better Than Inaction

Many of us harbor an “all or nothing” mindset. We either need to do everything immediately all at once, or we’d rather not take action at all.

As with many things in life, changing careers is an involved process. You can’t take all the steps you need to in one go. Small action is better than doing nothing at all, so start small. Put in a little effort each day towards changing career paths, and, coupled with consistency over time, you’ll accomplish your goal.

Tip 7: Tap Into Your Network

Your network is an incredible professional resource that can enable your career change. Here’s how to use your network when changing career paths.

First, you need to let your network know you’re looking to make a pivot. While most people in your close network won’t be in your target roles or industries, they likely know some folks who are. They can only connect you with these people if they know you’re making a career change.

You’ll also want to seek out other people who’ve made a similar career change. You can find them on LinkedIn if you don’t already have these people in your network. 

You can even go to industry events pertaining to the new role you want. These can be social and professional events that allow you to meet new people and discover new opportunities.

As with most things, being hired is often more a function of who you know than what you know, so both tap into your existing network and make new connections.

Need Help Changing Career Paths?

Navigating a career change alone is incredibly difficult. Luckily, you don’t have to do it by yourself.

Jennings Executive has decades of experience connecting senior leaders with new roles and industries. We’ll make changing careers significantly easier. Learn more today!

Related: Writing a Resignation Letter the Right Way to Avoid Burning Bridges

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