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How to Make a Successful Career Change

How to get started on moving into a career that you love.

In a recent article, we discussed how to know if it’s time to change careers. If you found yourself nodding when you read through the five telltale signs that it’s time for a change, you might be wondering what steps to take next.

Changing careers can be daunting. Having the right strategy in place and knowing what you want, will set you up for a successful transition. Ask yourself these questions:

WHY do you want to make a change? 

WHAT would your ideal career look like? 

HOW can you leverage your existing skills and network, and build on your current career?  

I believe that we’re most successful when our work motivates us, sparks excitement and is in line with our values. A great exercise to start is to do a thorough self-assessment. What are your values, skills, motivators, ideal work culture, etc? What excites you? What bigger goal would you like to pursue? How can you make an impact? 

Answering these questions will give you a better idea of what environment you might thrive in, what companies are in line with your values, and what you would like to accomplish in your career overall. 

Take an inventory of your skills and talents. 

Now it’s time to assess whether your skills can be transferred into your new role or if you need specific training, licenses, certifications, etc to close potential gaps. 

Once you’ve identified new occupations, an industry, or even better, specific companies, conduct informational interviews. This is a great way to gather in-depth knowledge of the company culture and day-to-day responsibilities. It also offers an opportunity to make personal connections within the company. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for support. Regardless of where you are in your career, having an experienced mentor or role model is a valuable asset. Mentors have insightful knowledge they’ve gathered over time. They can help you steer your career in the right direction.

Create an action plan. 

Begin with defining your end goal and timeline. Then work backwards and define major milestones along the way. Once you know your milestones, you can start setting weekly and daily goals to achieve these. Track your progress and make notes of what worked well and what didn’t. Most people skip this step, but I highly recommend to make this a habit. Often, people find themselves doing the same things over and over again, without getting any results. If you invest time to review your learnings and challenges, you won’t run the risk of wasting precious time.

Changing careers is an investment in yourself. With a good strategy in place, you can reap the rewards of a more satisfying career, and often a bigger paycheck, too.

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