How to Create a Career-Change Action Plan
There is never a bad time to change your career. In fact, studies have shown that up to 80% of people want to move into a new profession and the average person has held 12 different jobs in an effort to find the “right fit.”. As life progresses your priorities can change, and a new job can be a response to new circumstances or new goals. Pursuing a new career may seem overwhelming and stressful, but it does not have to be. Having a career-change action plan ensures that your transition into a new career is smooth and problem-free, so you can focus on being excited about your new stage in life, rather than being nervous.
1. Spend some time reflecting
Before you start applying for new jobs, the most obvious first step is to work out what kinds of jobs you should be applying for. It is important to take some time to reflect on what your current skills, qualifications, experience and aspirations are, and what kinds of careers they would be most suitable for. This will also help you work out if there are any gaps in your current qualifications that need to be filled before you are eligible to apply for your desired careers.
It is also advisable to spend some time reflecting on why you want to change careers in the first place. For example, you may want a job that allows you more flexibility, or a job that challenges your current skill set more rewardingly. Having these considerations in mind when searching for a new job will ensure that you find one that fits your lifestyle and your career aspirations.
2. Do your research
Once you have worked out what job you want to change to, it is very important to actually do your research into not only the requirements of that job, but also its expectations and estimated salary. You can look for job listings online and check out their requirements, and you can also speak to people who work in the industry that you want to enter. This step is not designed to put you off of applying for a job you really want, but it is important to go into any new career fully-informed of the expectations so there are no nasty surprises down the line. Doing your research will also help you tailor your job application so it is a perfect fit for the role.
3. Seek help if required
Sometimes, your own research might not be enough to help you gain a clear picture of what career you would like to change to. In this case, booking an appointment with a career change counsellor can be a useful experience. The career change counsellor will work with you to identify your current skills, interests and career aspirations and help match you with career choices that are a good fit. They will also give you feedback on things like your resume and LinkedIn profile, and help you develop a career action plan.
4. Expand your education
Whilst you may already have qualifications and skills relevant to the new job that you are seeking, there is still a chance that further education will be required before you can land the position that you want. If you are transitioning into a brand new industry, you may be lacking specific qualifications required and will need to undertake additional training. Whilst additional education can mean a new degree or certification, it can also mean upskilling with a shorter course. Most study can be done online these days, and also can be completed on a part-time basis, so you can continue to work whilst studying for the new job you want. Even if a new qualification is not required for the new job that you want, it can always be a good idea to do some short courses to make yourself more employable.
5. Keep your contacts strong
Having a good network of contacts can really make a difference. Strong contacts can not only help you land a new job, they can point you in the right direction to find one. Keep in touch with contacts from your previous job, but don’t be afraid to make new ones too. Industry events can be a perfect place to strike up a conversation with someone who could help you land the job of your dreams.
These days, it is entirely likely that one single job will have hundreds, if not thousands, of applicants. Therefore, you need to ensure that your resume stands out from the crowd. Make sure that you save your resume as a PDF, as it stops any wonky formatting issues occurring. Name your document “[your name] resume”, as doing that means your application won’t get lost in a sea of documents simply titled “resume”. It is important to tailor your application to the job you are applying for, so make sure you research the company and address any criteria outlined in the job description. Employers can tell when a resume is a generic one that you have used for a hundred other applications. Finally, when including details about your previous jobs, do not simply list all of the requirements for that job. Instead, provide information about how what you did in your previous job shows skills that would be relevant for this current job – for example, instead of “marking essays” you “provided insightful feedback that supported student’s learning and enabled them to meet academic milestones.”
7. Have realistic expectations
So, you have decided what your next career will be, you have researched the job thoroughly, you’ve got all of the required qualifications and both your resume and your network of contacts are stellar. Well, the final step is probably the hardest, and that is to be patient and have realistic expectations about the effort and time required to change careers. You are probably not going to land your dream job overnight. It is important to understand that the process of changing careers requires dedication, hard work and resilience. It may take months of applying until you get the job, but what is important is that you do not give up. Changing careers can change your life, but for most people it is not a change that happens instantly. If the change is right for you, however, it is worth putting in the effort to get there.