10+ Things to Know if You’re Considering a Career Change

Sometimes, we put off job changes because we assume such changes are accompanied by anxiety, uncertainty, and major upheaval. But you're unhappy in your current position, we're here to help.
by Uptime Staff / 2021-11-12

Did you know the average person changes jobs upwards of 7 times? Perhaps, in a perfect world, we'd all get on the 'right' career ladder from our very first try, and ascend from there until we reach the top of our profession. Perhaps you're one of those people who's "always known" what exactly you wanted to be when you grew up. Alas, this isn't the case for most the people - and in fact, it's totally normal (and, in fact, encouraged) for us to change positions several times - either within the same company or at a new one - to work out exactly what is the right for you.

It’s hard to know if you’re really ready to look for new roles. When should you apply for a new job? How do you know if it’s time to change jobs? There are so many things to think about when you’re considering a career change, and the best thing you can do is consult resources. Career path advice and career change advice are available all over the internet and books, and we’ve put together some of the best resources for you. Whether you’re looking for a career change at 40, a mid career switch, or new career ideas, these resources will help you get started. 

Switching Your Career - Dr. Dawn Graham

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This course offers real world strategies for changing your career trajectory. Dr. Dawn Graham knows how exhausting the job search is, and is here to provide the help pretty much everyone needs. With motivation and a leap of faith, you too can make the career change you dream of. In her course, Graham focuses on the job market, transferable skills, and networking:

1. First, you need to focus and refine your job search; only apply for one type of job role at one time. New career ideas can easily overwhelm you, but too often people try to apply for too many different types of roles at once, and end up not looking like a good candidate for anything. You need to commit to one type of job position at a time, as well as being able to articulate why you’re making the switch so you can show your commitment to your new path. Strategize within the current job market to figure out why your change is good for the market now; for example, perhaps you've become more interested in the social media aspect of your current role, have noticed how important social media is to today's marketing strategies, and are looking to explore this as a full time position. All this is good ammunition for your cover letter and interview.

2. Create a personal brand based on job descriptions posted online. Carefully comb through the job descriptions for the roles you're applying for, noting down the skills and desirable traits of their 'ideal candidate' that are frequently listed there. Then, make sure you're working these skills and traits in your CV, providing examples to back you up. For example, if a job is looking for a 'team player', provide examples of how you rallied the team together in your current position.

Dawn Graham teaches that generic skills can make you seem like a jack of all trades and master of none. Figure out the demands of an ideal employee in your new path. Show the hiring manager that you belong in the new career with your brand and skills.

3. Utilize your network. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but that’s because it’s the best advice you can get. Whether you're looking to make a career change at 30 or straight out of college, landing an interview is way more likely to happen through a mutual connection - whether that be a friend, coworker, acquaintance, or family member - than through random resume hits online, and networking is how you do it. Even if you don't think you know many people in your personal circle, there are steps you can take to build a network - joining college alumni groups, contact your ex-colleagues, finding Facebook or LinkedIn groups for others in your industry, reaching out to people over LinkedIn or even Twitter. Take stock of your network and reach out to anyone who might know someone who can help you. 

As a TedX speaker and Career Director for the Executive MBA Program at The Wharton School at UPenn, Dr. Dawn Graham has a formidable wealth of knowledge for us to learn from. For more actionable tips, we recommend reading our Switching Your Career Knowledge Hack in full. Have a look at here.

Making a Career Change - Stacey Gordon

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In this hack, Stacey Gordon goes straight for the uncertainty and fear rooted at the center of a career change. If you’re unhappy in your job, Gordon outlines the steps to take in order to make a smooth transition into a new job. Get ready for your career change with the strategies in this hack. 

1. Consider the difference between being dissatisfied with your role at your company, and the role more generally. Try to get to the root of your current unhappiness - the demands of the job, the company culture, the salary, etc? It could be that you're after a change in workplace, rather than a complete overhaul in your job. Consider a strategic plan: what are the long-term options for this type of career? Is the trajectory appealing to you?

If your career path is no longer fulfilling or exciting to you, that’s a different story. You need to have a passion for your path. Passion comes from motivation and joy. This is where you need to look for clear guidance. 

Note: there's also no shame at all in realizing; nor does switching your career mean that you made a 'mistake' the first time round.

2. Consider the current climate. Context is important. It’s not always the right time to make a career change; you have to think strategically about it. Think about what has stopped you in the past, what is good about right now, and what will be right for your future. Are you due to have an annual performance review soon, for example? This might be a good time to express your concerns with your manager, and to see what steps they recommend for you. Perhaps they can change up your responsibilities or help you explore different sorts of tasks internally. Assess potential obstacles, too: can you find footing in the new career? Do you have savings to carry you over? Do you have an adequate support system? 

3. Gain experience and seek advice for your new path. Study up on vocabulary and techniques for your new path so you fit in a new role. Confidence in your new path will convince the people around you. You also can research online or engage in volunteer work to gain skills. 

And, of course, you can always read up on our range of Knowledge Hacks on Uptime - from content marketing to web coding, we've got everything and anything (over 2,000 Hacks worth, in fact) to help you build new skills.

For more information on making a career change, you can check out our Making a Career Change summary on Uptime.

Do Over - Jon Acuff

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Use this hack to improve your core skills for career building. Learn what to do before, after, and in the between stages of a big job change. There are four major skills to develop to help you through any change, no matter the industry. 

Focus on these tasks…

1. Think about your ‘career savings account.’ This means considering what you’ve learned in your past jobs that can prepare you for what comes next. Use this formula: Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle = CSA (Your career savings account.) In other words, a good network, technical skills, character and readiness will make you ready for a career change.

2. Get ready to break through the ceiling of a new career by obtaining new skills. You might feel stuck, and skills are what you need for the next level. Assess your skills and see what you need to move forward. Think about what you’re good at, and what you’re praised for in your current job. What are you missing that you need to move forward? How can you gain those skills? Take the steps you need to get there. 

3. Think about your inner character to invest in your change. A lot of our skills are so intrinsic that we don’t even think about them. Once you realize what they are, the path to your next career can be easier than you think. Generosity, empathy, and presence, are all things that we don’t necessarily think of as career skills but will help you with a change. Think about the soft skills that you already have and how they can direct you to a new career. 

Motivational speaker and author Jon Acuff has uses this book as the definitive guide for anyone who spends their weekends dreading the return of Monday. But when our working hours takes up so much of our life, there's no point wasting them on something that isn't making us happy. Find out more in our Do Over book summary over on Uptime.

How to Quit Your Job in the Right Way - Aimee Bateman 

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So you’re ready to quit your job. How do you do it? How will it affect your resume? Do you have another job lined up? How can you leave things on a positive note with your current employer? As a career coach, Aimee Bateman has seen many people through this transition, and has put this course together to help others who might need it.

1. Have a clear idea of where you're going before you leave. People often lose their sense of judgment when they’re miserable at their job. Try not to let your emotions take over to the point that you lose track of all reason. You should have some sense of what you’re going to do when you quit. Sure, you know where you don’t want to be, but try to figure out where you do before you call it quits. You don't want to leave yourself stranded.

2. Create a plan of action to avoid common pitfalls. Make an exit strategy and focus on executing it rather than your intense emotions. Make sure to read over your contract and company policy to protect yourself. This will help you work out the timing of when to give your notice, etc. Your employers will also be happier with you if you explain how you plan to delegate your responsibilities. 

3. If you’re writing a resignation letter from a job, keep it short. In your exit interview, be straightforward and try not to end things on a bad note. Stick to the facts when you state why you've decided to leave, but don't point blame unnecessarily, and try to stay away from overtly emotional reactions. A resignation letter should be short and respectful, while keeping some positive aspects; you can express gratitude for the opportunity, for example. Keep it simple and concise. So, in recap: don’t place blame on individual people, express gratitude before you go, and then...it’s over. You did it. 

For more motivation on making the leap, find actionable tips in our How to Quit Your Job in the Right Way summary on Uptime.

Freelancing Foundations - Tom Geller

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Instead of changing companies, some of you may be looking to make the switch to freelance work - if so, we recommend our Freelancing Foundations Knowledge Hack. It explains how to set yourself the right goals, as well as outlining the resources you'll need to go freelance, how to find your first clients, and build your own business. In the wake of COVID's forced-remote working policies, many people are now looking to freelancing long-term as an option for greater flexibility. Making the call of when to quit your job and go freelance is a hard one, but this guide is built to help you feel prepared. Freelancing is challenging, but it can be rewarding too, if it's the right fit for you. 

Here’s how to get started freelancing…

1. Establish what an ideal 'new normal' would look like for you. People have different reasons for going freelance. Why are you going into it? Do you want a full income, or just extra on the side? Think about your reasons and your goal. Write everything down before you start. Then, create a list of tools and skills you’ll need to get there. This creates a to-do list for your first few weeks. 

2. Gain clients and gain their trust. Think about your past work and use that to get new gigs. Get a portfolio together and send it to openings and connections. Save all of your results for your portfolio. This portfolio and your ongoing work builds trust with your clients. This guarantees ongoing work, and a network that will help keep you stable. 

3. Learn to maintain your work-life balance. This is essential to your success as a freelancer. If you don’t budget your time correctly, you won’t be able to finish all your work, or you’ll work so much that you’ll get burnt out. Plan ahead for time with your friends and family so you can stay healthy. Create a calendar and use it to keep track of your jobs and also keep track of your off time. Break large tasks into smaller chunks so you don’t get overwhelmed. Set reminders on your calendar to keep you in check. A schedule will set you up for success. 

Making the transition to freelance work is a big call to make, so the most important thing is to make sure you're properly prepared well in advance. For more tips on switching to freelancing, have a look at our Freelancing Foundations summary on Uptime.

Wrap Up

Whether you're considering a midlife career change, or at the beginning of a new career, the prospect of changing job roles or switching companies transition can be really intimidating. But the more you prepare before you quit a job you hate, the better off you’ll be. Good luck with your job change, and check back with Uptime for hacks about your new career path.


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