Career Change: What to Do When You Don’t Know What’s Next?

Changing careers is more common than you may think. Experts say people change careers an average of three or more times. Often, people spend years in a specific industry before realizing it isn’t a good fit or daring to take on a new challenge.

If you are ready to take the leap, read on. In this article, we’re sharing some tips for making thoughtful career changes that will likely lead to greater job satisfaction.

Reasons For a Career Change

Changing jobs, occupations, and industries is quite common. People often want to change their career path for several reasons, including

  • Lowering stress levels
  • Seeking more flexibility
  • Aiming for a higher salary
  • Looking for opportunities to climb the career ladder
  • Wanting to feel more valued and appreciated

What You Need to Know If You’re Stuck in Your Career Change?

Considering a career change can feel like a huge leap, especially when you’re unsure about where to go next. This part is all about making those confusing moments clearer, offering advice and tips to help you figure things out and move forward with confidence.

Whether you’re feeling stuck, uncertain, or just looking for a change, these insights will help you take those important steps toward a rewarding career change.

1. You are the one who desires change, but you are also the one who stands in the way of that change.

Feeling trapped and lacking inspiration in your job, feeling too embarrassed to talk about work, and worrying about a future filled with unfulfilling achievements might mean you’re not in the right career. Many face the daily grind but struggle to figure out what they’re truly passionate about or how to go after it.

This often comes down to not really knowing what’s out there, along with worries about money, what other people will think, and losing the status we’ve worked so hard for. These obstacles are all internal, based on our fears and limited understanding, which hold us back.

2. You won’t find a job by looking for one

Looking for a new career path can be really frustrating, especially when the usual ways of job hunting, like using recruitment firms and job websites, don’t quite hit the mark. A lot of people find that these conventional methods aren’t very helpful if you’re trying to make a big change in your career direction.

That’s because these systems tend to prefer people who’ve got direct experience and skills in that field. It really shows there’s a gap in how the job market’s set up. It doesn’t really think about the needs of those wanting to switch careers, leaving them at a bit of a disadvantage, despite their eagerness and potential to make that leap.

3. You can’t figure it out by figuring it out

It’s quite common for people to find themselves at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to figuring out their next career step. Many end up going round in circles, trying to weigh up all their options, despite having gone through heaps of career change advice, trawled the internet for tips, and done more personality tests than they can count. Yet, somehow, that moment of clarity just doesn’t seem to strike.

The stark reality is, if the answer to switching careers was hidden in more thinking, making endless lists, reading book after book, taking countless psychometric tests, or trying to mentally work through every possible outcome, someone would have stumbled upon it by now. This realisation nudges us towards the understanding that perhaps the secret to a successful career shift isn’t just about thinking in a new way, but about taking different actions.

Make a Career Change

What you Need to do When you Make a Career Change

With a solid plan and some smart strategies in hand, navigating career transitions may seem a lot less scary. In this section, we’ll walk you through some practical steps to help you navigate your career change, making sure it’s not just successful, but truly rewarding as well.

1. Do it with others, not alone

Surrounding yourself with other career changers is key when you’re finding your way through the twists and turns of changing careers. It’s a bit like setting off on a big adventure – it’s so much better when you’re not going it alone. Surround yourself with people  who get what you’re aiming for, seek out advice from those who’ve walked the path before you, and widen your circle to bring in fresh viewpoints.

These connections don’t just throw up new ideas and chances; they also give you a nudge of accountability that keeps you moving forward. Just as tackling the climb to a mountain’s base camp is safer, quicker, and more fun with a team, shifting careers is massively boosted by having a solid, supportive crew by your side.

2. Start to act rather than analyse

Even if you think you’re ready for a career change, it can still feel overwhelming. It’s natural to want to tread carefully, but sometimes, overthinking can leave you frozen in place, scared to make a move in case it’s the wrong one. But standing still won’t get you anywhere; you won’t find that fulfilling career by doing nothing.

The magic happens when you start to do, rather than plan. This means getting stuck in with various activities, trying things out to see what sticks – whether that’s taking a new course, volunteering in an unfamiliar sector, or shadowing someone in a job that piques your interest. Each action, each experience, is invaluable, even if it doesn’t lead you straight to your dream job.

3. Look for people, not for jobs

When changing careers, it’s all about making meaningful connections rather than just hunting for new job roles. It’s about showing the real you, sharing your interests and qualities that a CV just can’t capture. While there’s still a place for traditional job hunting like online job boards and polished CVs, it’s those personal touches that can open up new pathways you never knew existed.

Networking, be it at professional gatherings, casual meetups, or on social media, gives you a chance to have genuine conversations, share your journey, and hear from others. Use these moments to learn, gather fresh insights, and build relationships that can support and steer your career change.

8 Steps for Changing Careers

The steps below are meant to guide you, offering direction and insights to consider when making a career change. Each step is built on the previous one, forming a thorough approach to reshaping your professional identity and discovering joy in new ventures.

1. Self-assessment

A bit of honest self-reflection can help you figure out exactly what changes feel right for you. Think about what you enjoy in your current role and what bits you’re ready to leave behind. This kind of thinking can help you piece together a clearer picture of what a better path might look like for you. Here are a few questions that might help you get a clearer view:

  • How chuffed are you in your current work? You might like the day-to-day work but feel there’s no ladder to climb.
  • What values are important to you, and does your job match up with these? For instance, if you treasure creativity and the freedom to express yourself, you might be looking for more chances to do this in a new role.
  • What’s nudging you towards a career shift? Perhaps you’re after new challenges, opportunities to follow your passions, or simply more flexibility in your work life.
  • What worries are niggling at you? For instance, do you need extra training or qualifications for a new career? Would you have to say goodbye to some perks you’ve grown fond of in your current job?

2. Set your goals

Getting clear on what you’d like your next career phase to look like can really help you zero in on your career goals. Imagine, in detail, your ideal day: what you’d be doing, how you’d feel, where you’d go, and who you’d meet. Your career is a big part of your overall lifestyle, after all. The values and aims guiding you day by day probably overlap with those in other areas of your life. Think about how your career could slot into or support the life you want to lead.

Here are a few questions to mull over for painting a clearer picture of your ideal career path:

  • What sort of lifestyle, flexibility, and work-life balance are you aiming for?
  • Which of your skills do you enjoy using and want to keep utilising?
  • What sorts of tasks, projects, and initiatives would you like to get stuck into?
  • What kind of company are you keen to join? Think about the qualities that matter to you, like its size, values, culture, products, and services.
  • What opportunities for leadership or progression are you looking for?
  • What are your salary aspirations?

3. Take inventory of your current skills and those you will need to develop

Take a moment for some personal reflection on the skills, values, and interests that really matter to you and your work. Think back to moments of success, whether in a job, volunteering, an internship, or something else entirely, and ponder what you were doing.

Identify the skills that led to those achievements and how they could translate to various roles you’re eyeing up. This isn’t just about patting yourself on the back for your abilities; it’s also about spotting any skill gaps you might need to fill. Look for recurring themes in your activities and successes that mirror your core values and passions.

4. Brainstorm careers

To become more informed about your career options, brainstorm the jobs and industries that might be a good fit for your skills and values. If you’re finding it challenging to find a career that suits your needs, ask others in your professional network.

You can also seek guidance in the form of career counselling, where you’ll likely learn more about your personality and how it fits into today’s evolving workforce. Using resources at your disposal like Indeed, you can brainstorm potential careers and make a shortlist to research.

Develop an action plan

5. Develop an action plan

Creating your action plan is all about setting a clear goal and figuring out the steps to reach it. By now, you’ve done your homework and narrowed down your career switch to a particular job. It’s time to think about what you need to do to make it happen. Consider things like further education and qualifications, building your skills, going to networking events, and getting some hands-on experience in your chosen industry or field. Jot down the steps you’re going to take and when you plan to do them.

Whether that means signing up for a course in the next month, popping along to a couple of networking events every three months, or dedicating a few hours each week to master new software – being specific is crucial.

6. Make connections and gain the experience

Be thoughtful about the industry and role you’re keen on as you pick people to connect with. It’s wise to reach out to professionals you trust to vouch for you and keep you in the loop about opportunities. You can give them a ring, drop a text, or even send a referral email or a quick note on social media. Also, don’t miss out on chances to shadow someone at work, volunteer, or snag an internship.

These experiences can help you figure out if you’re barking up the right tree and give you a leg up on other job seekers. Not only do these practical experiences buff up your CV, but they also offer priceless insights into the daily grind and culture of a place you might end up calling your work home.

7. Craft a specific resume and cover letter for each application

Crafting a tailored CV and cover letter for each job application is a crucial step in the job hunting process. This personalised approach lets you showcase how your skills and experiences make you the perfect fit for the role you’re after. When tweaking your CV, pay close attention to the keywords and duties mentioned in the job advert. Make sure your achievements and skills match what the employer is looking for.

Similarly, your cover letter shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all affair, but a bespoke story that links your past to the job’s demands. Share your excitement for the role and how your unique talents can help achieve the company’s goals. This level of personalisation demonstrates to potential employers that you’ve really taken the time to understand what they’re about and how you can contribute to their team, greatly boosting your chances of getting an interview.

8. Prepare for the interview

Start by really getting to know the company and the job you’re after. Dive deep into their mission, values, latest wins, and the hurdles they face, so you can chat confidently about how you’ll fit in and contribute. Keep an eye on what’s buzzing in the industry too, and be ready to talk about how these trends could touch the role. Also, think about the questions they might throw your way. Have a go at rehearsing your answers, bringing in stories from your past work or experiences that shine a light on what you’re capable of.

Best Jobs to Consider When Switching Your Career Path

Exploring new career paths can open doors to fulfilling opportunities that align with your evolving interests and skills. Here are some great career change ideas to consider:

Market research analyst

Market research analysts are at the heart of a business’s strategic planning, helping companies navigate through the complexities of market conditions, consumer behaviors, and competition. While many in this profession hold a degree in business administration, marketing, sociology, or similar areas, it’s also a field open to anyone who’s genuinely fascinated by the ebbs and flows of markets and enjoys uncovering the stories behind the data.

Dental hygienist

Dental hygienists are at the heart of dental practices, working hand in hand with dentists to safeguard patients’ oral health. They do much more than just clean teeth; they check for signs of oral diseases, offer preventive care, and teach people how to look after their oral health properly.

To embark on this career, one typically needs to complete an associate degree programme that covers both hands-on clinical skills and theoretical knowledge. These programmes, taking about two to three years, equip graduates to play a crucial role in dental healthcare.

Sales manager

Sales managers are the heart of a company’s sales department, guiding and leading their team with passion. They craft sales goals, map out strategies, and run training sessions to boost their team’s skills. For those with a background in sales, stepping up to a sales manager role is a chance to shoulder more responsibility, shape sales strategies firsthand, and perhaps even earn a spot in the six-figure salary club.

Web developer

Web developers are like the master builders of the online world, crafting and keeping websites in tip-top shape, ensuring everything looks spot on and runs smoothly, both up front and behind the scenes. Thanks to coding boot camps and web development courses on platforms like Coursera and Codecademy, getting into web development isn’t as tough as it once was.

This open door makes it an appealing option for those thinking of changing careers or diving into the tech scene. It’s not just about being nifty with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript; you’ve also got to have an eye for design and be a bit of a problem-solver.

Mechanical engineer

Mechanical engineers use their deep understanding of mechanics, thermodynamics, and structural analysis to create, develop, and test all sorts of mechanical gadgets. Their skills are in demand across virtually every sector, meaning they could be crafting anything from cars and planes to green energy solutions. It’s this variety that offers them a world of career paths, each one giving them a chance to make a real difference — think groundbreaking renewable energy systems and smarter ways to get around.

Operations research analyst

Operations research analysts use their expert skills in digging through data, analysing statistics, and mathematical modelling to create solutions that help businesses run more cost-effectively and efficiently. This anticipated growth highlights the growing need for experts who can apply quantitative and analytical techniques to tackle complex business problems, making it one of the fastest-growing fields today.

Management analyst

Management analyst is one of the top jobs to consider if changing careers. Often referred to as consultants, marketing analysts help organisations run more smoothly. Their role is to find smart ways to cut costs, boost income, and bump up profits.

By diving deep into organisational studies and evaluations, designing savvy systems and procedures, and whipping up operations and procedure manuals, they provide a helping hand to management to make things run more slickly and effectively. With a mix of sharp analytical thinking and top-notch people skills, these analysts lay out their findings and advice to the management team in a way that’s clear and actionable.

Marketing manager

Marketing managers are the beating heart of a company’s push to get its products or services out there. They’re the ones rolling up their sleeves to craft, roll out, and lead the charge on marketing strategies that draw in new customers and keep the current ones happy.

Their day-to-day involves a bit of everything – working alongside other departments, keeping an eye on the latest market trends, and tweaking pricing strategies to make sure the company’s raking in as much profit as possible.

Actuary

Actuaries are the unsung heroes behind the scenes, using their wizardry with databases and statistical models to help businesses like insurance firms understand and manage risks, ultimately working out how much money needs to be set aside for future claims. If you’re toying with the idea of becoming one of these risk assessment gurus, getting some hands-on internship experience can be a brilliant way to figure out which area of actuarial work tickles your fancy.

Data scientist

Data scientists are the backbone of making informed decisions in organisations. They gather, examine, and make sense of data, aiding companies across various sectors like health care, entertainment, and tech to choose wisely. If this career sparks your interest, you’ll usually need a bachelor’s degree in something like statistics or maths. But for those aiming higher up the ladder, some employers might ask for a master’s or even a doctorate.

Information security analyst

The main job of an information security analyst is to look after an organisation’s computer systems and networks, keeping them safe from cyber threats and unwanted intrusions. Their role involves keeping up with the latest in security best practices, being on the lookout for potential system threats, and suggesting ways to boost security. Those who want to pursue this career usually need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information assurance, or a similar field, plus a good grip on various security protocols and systems.

Medical and health services manager

Medical and health services managers are the unsung heroes who keep hospitals and other healthcare facilities ticking over smoothly. They take on the crucial task of organising work schedules for the medical staff, ensuring billing and fees are handled correctly for patients, recruiting new team members, and setting objectives for each department, among other duties.

You’d need a bachelor’s degree in health administration, health management, nursing, public health administration, or business administration to step into this role, though many employers have a preference for candidates with a master’s degree.

Software developer

Software developer is one of the most sought-after jobs for careershifters. Software devs work closely with clients to create and improve software applications. They do much more than just write, test, and refine code; they also work hand in hand with other stakeholders to make sure the end product ticks all the boxes for user needs and preferences.

With technology forever on the move, software developers have to keep their finger on the pulse of new languages and frameworks, making it an exciting and ever-evolving career. Getting into this line of work requires a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a similar field.

IT Manager

IT managers are the vital link between the worlds of business and technology within companies. They lead the charge in coordinating everything tech-related, from guiding development teams to overseeing complex projects. A crucial part of their job is to keep the company’s systems safe – a task that’s become more important than ever in our digital era.

They also handle the budget for IT resources, making sure tech investments line up with the company’s broader goals. Usually, you’d need to hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or something similar, with many also holding an MBA or an equivalent advanced degree.

Financial manager

Financial managers are the guardians of an organisation’s financial well-being. They take on the vital task of preparing and scrutinising financial reports, steering the organisation’s cash flow, and crafting financial strategies to meet organisational objectives. They also suggest ways to cut costs and enhance profitability. You’d need a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration, and many also pursue a master’s degree or professional certification.

When it’s Time to Consider for a Career Change?

If you’re feeling burnt out and drained, as though you’re merely running on empty, you might be in the wrong job. Symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and forgetfulness, not to mention becoming ill more frequently, are common. You might also find yourself feeling bored and disconnected from your work, believing deep down that you’re meant for something more, just not in this job.

If this sounds like you, it’s a clear sign that it’s time to look for something new, something that challenges you and allows you to tap into your full potential. Additionally, if you’re feeling stuck with no chance to grow, it’s probably a sign you need to shift gears and find a career path where you can really make a mark and thrive.

FAQs

Why is career change difficult?

Changing careers is tough, mainly because of the uncertainty and fear that come with stepping out of your comfort zone. We naturally lean towards stability and routine, which makes the idea of changing industries or role quite daunting. There’s also the practical side of things, like needing extra education or training, possibly facing financial wobbles during the switch, and the challenge of knitting a new professional network.

What’s more, societal and personal expectations can pile on the pressure, making it hard to step off the expected path. And then there’s the fear of failure or making the wrong choice, which can freeze you in your tracks, keeping you stuck in a job that no longer brings you joy or fulfils you on a deeper level.

How long do career changes take?

Switching careers can take time, and how long it really takes depends on a few things like the industry you’re moving into, how much experience you’re bringing over, and whether you need any extra training or qualifications. On average, you might be looking at anything from a few months to a couple of years.

If you’re thinking of moving into something completely different that needs a lot of new skills or certifications, like going from a corporate job to something in healthcare or tech, then it’s probably going to be towards the longer end of that scale. Getting involved in networking, gaining relevant experience, and maybe even starting out with internships or at the bottom rung of the ladder can add more time to your journey.

When it’s too late to change career?

It’s never too late to think about switching careers. People of all ages have made the leap to new fields, discovering fresh joy and success along the way. The old idea that you’re ever too old to change careers just doesn’t hold up anymore, especially now that career paths are so varied and less straight-laced. Sure, everyone’s situation is different, and if you’re a bit older, you might bump into a bit of age bias when applying for jobs.

However, the vast experience and skills you’ve picked up over the years can actually work in your favour. If you’re considering a career shift, it’s crucial to have a solid plan, be ready to learn new things, and keep a positive outlook. Getting out there, making connections, using your transferable skills to your advantage, and maybe getting some new qualifications or training can really help make the transition smoother, no matter your age.

Follow me

Our website uses cookies to provide you with the best browsing experience.
You can view our Website terms of Use here.
By continuing to use our website, you agree to our use of cookies.
Our Cookie Policy can be found here.