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How to prepare for a career change: A step-by-step guide

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Embarking on a new career journey is both exciting and challenging. Whether you're seeking greater fulfilment, a higher salary, or a change in work-life balance, the decision to switch careers is a significant one.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps to make your career transition seamless and successful.

What is a career change/switch?

A career change involves pursuing an occupation outside your current role, and it doesn't always mean changing industries. You might be looking for a job in the same sector. Your motivation could be anything from desiring a flexible work schedule to advancing within your current company.

Let's delve into the common reasons why individuals contemplate a career switch.

Common reasons why you may want a career change:

  • Earn a higher salary

  • Better career progression opportunities

  • Seeking a better work-life balance

  • Fancy a new challenge

  • You feel underappreciated in your current role

  • Want to work under a different leadership structure

  • Reduce stress

Step-by-step guide on how to change your career path

Okay, so we’ve established some of the common reasons you may want to leave your current role - let’s delve into some of the key steps to follow in order to change your career path.

1. Determine if you are happy in your current role

First things first, it’s probably best to review your current job satisfaction - before you make any decision to change your career. We’d recommend that you keep a journal to document your daily reactions to your current position. By doing this you’ll gain a better understanding of how much you like your current responsibilities and if there are any issues which you may have with your job.

2. Review your core values, interests and skills

In this stage, it's crucial to focus on self-reflection. Take a moment to carefully identify your core values, pinpoint the aspects of your role that genuinely engage you, and recognise the distinctive skills that define your professional profile. Consider what truly sparks your passion in your work.

You might be wondering, why does this matter? This deep dive is not only about understanding your genuine interests but also about strategically showcasing them on your CV for potential career transitions. We would recommend exploring various free online tools to broaden your career horizons and conducting a deliberate review of your core values.

3. Consider a career in a different industry or sector

At this stage, it's a pivotal moment to explore potential shifts into a different industry, sector, or even a new job function for your next career move.

If you already have a clear idea of the area you want to transition into, that's great.

However, if you're still uncertain at this stage about the direction to take, consider the following these steps:

  • Reach out to a specialist recruitment agency, such as Digital Waffle, for tailored guidance.

  • Engage in conversations with friends and family; their insights can provide valuable perspectives on your strengths and preferences.

  • Explore online career quizzes and tests to gain additional insights into potential fits for your skills and interests.

Taking these steps will not only provide clarity but also assist you in making an informed decision about your career path.

4. Talk to people in your chosen industry

At this point, you may have successfully identified a new industry or sector for consideration.

Now, it's crucial to assess whether this choice aligns with your goals and preferences. If you lack prior experience in the chosen industry, a practical approach is to connect with seasoned professionals actively working in that field.

An effective method for this is leveraging your LinkedIn network. Connect with professionals and engage in meaningful conversations.

Asking pertinent questions will provide valuable insights and a realistic understanding of what to expect within the chosen industry.

This proactive step ensures that you make an informed decision about your career transition.

5. Research the current job market

Before making any big career moves or investing time and money in acquiring new skills, it's a good idea to check out the current job market. Look at job boards, company websites, and recruitment websites (like ours) to see how many job opportunities are available and if the offered salaries match what you're looking for.

This will help you figure out if your career move is practical and a good fit for you. Examining job descriptions will also show you which skills or experiences you might need before applying for a role. Keeping it simple like this ensures that your career transition is realistic and in line with your professional goals.

6. Carry out an internal skills audit

Once you've identified the sector and specific job you're targeting, conduct a skills audit to gauge your readiness for interviews.

This step is crucial in recognising areas where additional training may be beneficial and in presenting yourself effectively to potential employers.

The best thing to first is to make a note of all your qualifications and skills, encompassing both hard skills like coding or a second language and soft skills like teamwork and communication. Then, pinpoint the skills on your list that are transferable to your dream job – you might discover more applicable skills than anticipated.

Make sure that these skills stand out prominently on your new CV.

Right now you’ve done that, it's vital to align the skills and qualifications commonly sought by employers in your desired sector/industry. Identify the areas where you may need to enhance your skills, whether through further education or by gaining additional work experience.

This thoughtful approach ensures that you are well-prepared for the specific demands of your chosen industry.

7. Look to enhance your skill-set

After checking your skills, you might see areas where you can get better. Even though skills can move from one job to another, it's important to make them even better.

To figure out which skills to focus on, talk to someone in your professional network who knows about that kind of work. They can help you understand which skills are most important for moving forward in your career.

Taking this step will guide you in improving the right skills for the job you want.

8. Consider freelance/contract opportunities

To enhance your career transition, it may be worth considering gaining some practical experience through freelancing or contracted roles, especially in creative fields.

In creative areas, methodically build your portfolio by freelancing alongside your current job. It’s important when you start this project to take on one client at a time. This provides the opportunity to accumulate experience gradually without an instant commitment to freelancing on a full-time basis.

Even if the temporary role isn't an exact match, the gained experience strengthens your CV and fosters networking opportunities.

A standout performance in a freelance role may lead to a permanent position, offering promising prospects for your career transition.

9. Look into rebranding yourself

As you near the end of this guide, remember, the journey isn't over yet.

A crucial part of your career change is a professional rebrand. After identifying your transferable skills, gaining qualifications, and securing experience, it's vital to convey your professionalism in your new field, not the old one.

Take time to rewrite your CV and portfolio, incorporating your transferable skills, new qualifications, and work experience. Tailor your CV to highlight aspects that a hiring manager in your new profession would value.

Next, embark on a 'public rebrand.' It may go without saying but be sure to utilise LinkedIn for job hunting and networking. Update your profile, connect with influential figures in your new sector, and follow them for insights.

If you use other social media or blogging platforms for work, don't forget to update your bio. This step enhances your online presence and aligns it with your new professional identity.

10. Begin your job search in your chosen industry

Now that you've prepared for your career switch, it's a good idea to reach out to a recruitment agency, like ours, to guide you through the transition.

Take a moment to assess available positions in your current industry. If you're thinking of changing, explore opportunities at companies or locations that better match your skills and long-term goals.

Switching careers is a transformative journey filled with opportunities for growth and fulfilment.

By following this step-by-step guide, you'll be well-equipped to navigate the complexities of a career change and land your dream job.

Embrace the change, stay positive, and embark on your new adventure with enthusiasm. Good luck!

If you are currently seeking new job opportunities, we invite you to explore the amazing jobs we are currently recruiting for. To speak with one of our experienced recruitment consultants, please get in touch with us today!