Creating a Successful Career Change Plan

People change careers for many reasons. Many times people make career changes because they are anticipating an upcoming layoff, or they lose their job without notice. You are not alone. Everyone changes careers at least once during their lives. Most workers make several career changes during their working life. No matter the reason, an effective career plan is the key to success.

Follow these steps for a successful career transition:

  • Determine Your Likes and Dislikes.
    Most people change their career because they are not satisfied with it. Most the time they are not happy with their salary, their boss, their company, or they do not think there are opportunities for promotion at their current company. Regardless of the reason, you need to identify your interests and career aspirations before making a change so your next career is more satisfying. Although it is easy to identify what you do not like about your job, you need to recognize what you do like. Your goal is to find a career that motivates and inspires you. While you are listing what you like to do, take into consideration what you like to do during your spare time and what you like to at work. Ask yourself what motivates and excites you. What are your passions? If you are still trying to determine that, we suggest you spend time taking some career assessment tests.

  • Explore New Career Opportunities.
    Once you have completed some self evaluation, you next need to find careers that interest you. Many career exploration resources are at your disposal with a lot of the best information available online. Click on the on the Explore Careers link in the upper lefthand corner of this page to find more information about specific careers. Use the skills-matching service found at O*NET Online furnished by the U.S. Department of Labor and fundamental job information provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Usually the best source for career information is to meet with local professionals and familiarize yourself with the professional associations in your region.

  • Identify Tranferable Skills.
    A challenge faced by many people making career changes is identifying their transferable skills. These skills are acquired from working and can be used in other professional settings. It is easier to make a career move if you have transferable skills. These skills can include leadership, organizational, communication, or sales skills.

  • Career Training and Education.
    When you do not have many transferable skills to begin working in a new career, you may need to enroll in education or training program. Usually your company will pay for or sponsor you to attend these programs. If this is not the case, find program available at local vocational school or colleges, or you can obtain a certification or attend graduate school. If you attend graduate school, ensure it is accredited and check its career placement rate.

  • Networking.
    Were you aware most jobs are filled before they appear on,, or other classified ads? This is the case because of networking. Jobs in high demand are usually filled by employees' associates and other employees of the company. To have a successful career change, it is important to network with other professionals. If you do not have any contacts in an industry that interests you, find them by associating with professional associations. You can also contact alumni from the college you attended to network.

  • Get Some Experience in Your Career Field.
    Changing careers is more difficult than changing jobs. During job changes, you usually find another job in the same field. However, during career changes, you often begin working in industries foreign to you. Obtaining all the experience possible before making a change will make it smoother. You can gain experience by volunteering, gaining temp work, or working part time in a new industry. It is essential to gain experience in the field you would like to work in—take whatever actions necessary to obtain it.

  • Find A Mentor.
    When you are walking down an unfamiliar path, it is helpful to have someone help you who has been done a similar path. Getting someone in a career that interests you to be your mentor is a very good decision. Mentors provide help in numerous ways. For example, mentors will let you know what skills are required for their career fields, encourage and motivate you during your search, and they usually know people who can help you find a job. Your mentor does not need to be a CEO, but he or she should have extensive experience.

  • Be Flexible
    Are you familiar with the phrase “beggars cannot be choosers”? This may be excessive, but you must realize that changing careers will require flexibility. Take advantage of opportunities even if they are not what you expect. Keep in mind that you are beginning a new career. Be prepared for setbacks and do not expect your first job related to your new career will be a dream job. After you have begun your new career, there will be opportunities for promotion or advancement.

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