So, you have decided to try out a new career. We are not going to sugar-coat it: making a career change is hard. Hard, but not impossible.

In order to successfully make your career switch, you need to be deliberate and intentional. It can be hard getting started, so we put together some helpful tips. Read on to learn more.

Do a Thorough Self-Assessment

The first step is to take a good, hard look at yourself. Evaluate your interests, your values, and your skills. Consider the jobs you have held throughout your career—what did you like or dislike about them? Your goals should be to understand the “why” behind your career change. That is, why don’t you like your current career, and why do you want to switch into the new career that you decide on?

Many people in your position find it helpful to use an online career assessment tool at this stage of the transition. Even if you think you are sure you know what career you want to pursue, it is a good idea to get an outside evaluation of your career aptitude. You might just discover an appealing new career that you didn’t even know was an option! Here are some options for free online career assessments:

Research New Career Options

Once you have taken a good look at yourself, it is time to research careers and career fields. Start by throwing all your expectations out the window. Get into an open mindset before your brainstorming session. Be open and curious—strive to be optimistic rather than pessimistic.

If you are having trouble, or if you simply want some outside input, reach out to some friends or acquaintances in various career fields. Consider the people you know who have expressed joy in their jobs, then reach out and ask them why they feel that way.

Be sure not to discount alternative jobs in the industry you currently work in. You may feel like with a career switch you must start over completely, but that is not the case. Explore new jobs into which your current skills would translate, such as moving from a technical role to a consulting or marketing position.

Narrow Down Your List

Take the long list of career options you developed in the last step and start to narrow it down. Once you have it down to a manageable size, do more research on the careers listed. As your list gets smaller, consider trying out one or more of the following techniques to help you narrow even further:

  • Explore current job openings to see what is available I the field you are considering
  • Reach out to someone in a position you are interested in and ask to conduct an informational interview
  • Inquire about doing job shadowing in a field that you want to learn more about
  • Find some volunteer or freelance activities in an area related to the field you are exploring

Make A Plan for Pursuing Your New Career

Congratulations! Once you get to this step, you have chosen the new career that you want to pursue. The last step in this process is to create an action plan that will get you from where you are to where you want to be. Some of the tasks in your plan will probably include:

  • Upgrade your skills in the new field by taking a class or pursuing a new certification
  • Write a career change resume and cover letter
  • Craft a new narrative of your career, focusing on shifting your personal brand
  • Start making connections with professionals in the your new career field.

It is easy to get discourage when facing a major career change. If you find yourself struggling along the way, remind yourself that there are no shortcuts. Career changes are a big deal and a lot of work. But if you take the time to plan your change thoughtfully and thoroughly, you can expect to end up in a more satisfying and fulfilling career. Just remember, slow and steady wins the race (and the new career).

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