How To Successfully Change Careers

The Prepped Team

July 6, 2021

7 minutes

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Changing careers can be scary and exciting, and you typically feel both of those emotions simultaneously. But that’s okay. You should feel some nerves about embarking on a new career. The excitement you feel is because of a new opportunity while any apprehension usually has to do with whether or not you’ve made the right decision. 

The idea of a career change can sound daunting, especially when you think about the different forms a career change can take. You can change fields. Shifting from marketing to product design or doing mortgages then switching to wealth management. You can also shift entire industries, which can be a huge change depending on the learning curve. Perhaps you go from being in business management to a veterinary technician. It’s also possible you switch locations, moving from a rural area to a major city, or even from one country to another. While it’s not necessarily a career change, it does impact your work experience. 

However your career change manifests, it will take getting used to. And if you’re equipped with some good tips on how to make these transitions successful, then it alleviates some of the anxiety you may be feeling . Here are some tips on how to navigate a career change. 

9 steps to navigating a career change 

Your career journey can take you down so many paths, including a potential career change. While you’ll likely be dealing with all types of emotions, a recent study should add some optimism. Out of 1,023 people surveyed, 38 per cent of them had made a major career change. Of that 38 per cent, nine out of ten said they’re “happier” with the change. 

That’s a lot of happy people and we want you to be part of that 90 per cent. Here’s what we think you need to head in that direction. 

1. Start with why

You need to search inside yourself to figure out why you want to change careers. Is there an opportunity you can’t pass up? Are you simply not happy in your current career? Or are you just telling yourself, “I want to do something different?” It’s important you determine what’s driving you, so that you don’t end up somewhere you really don’t want to be. Being honest about your why means you’re more likely to remain committed to a career change when obstacles present themselves. 

2. Get clear on what

After you’ve determined why you want to change your career, you need to figure out what you want to do. In determining your “what” imagine you’re about to graduate  post-secondary and are considering what to do next. In order to find the right job for you, reassess your values, skills, and whatever goals you have in mind. Find fields, industries, or better still, specific jobs that match with what you are looking for. Write out a list of alternative career ideas to help narrow down your choices. 

3. Your path won’t be linear 

Changing careers is a big deal and it’s important to remember that  you should know going in that it won’t be easy. You may need to learn new terminology, refine your skills or learn totally new ones, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable—at least for a little while. The key is to stay resilient and remember your why. There’s a reason you’ve chosen to switch careers and in your moments of doubt, going back to your why is always a good idea. 

4. Create a plan 

Setting out a plan that includes timelines and milestones will help keep you focused and on track. These goals should be ambitious, but realistic. Changing careers is hard enough. You don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself to succeed right away. Research the skills you’ll need to acquire to achieve your goals. Then create a strategy that makes space for educating yourself and learning new skills. 

5. Take courses

Speaking of education, when switching careers, it’s important you take the steps necessary to become as knowledgeable and prepared as possible. Identify any courses or other  online resources you can take. is a great starting point. Online classes usually let you go at your own pace and rewatch videos to  clearly understand the content. Beyond that, it’s up to you to figure out if you need more intensive classes to be successful in your new role. 

6. Update your resume 

Sounds simple, but keep in mind that you’re pursuing a completely different career. Everything on your resume may not be applicable to the position you want. If that’s the case, what you should do is highlight the transferable skills from your previous jobs to create a skill-based resume. Doing this gives employers insight into your strengths— whatever new role you take on. 

7. Start small

Nothing wrong with dipping your toes in before fully submerging yourself in a new career. It’s a big change and there’s no rulebook that says you have to make that change with one leap. Take your time. Volunteer in the new industry you’re thinking of transitioning to or speak to friends who are part of that industry or career about their experience.  

8. Network

You didn’t think we’d write a post about starting a new career and not mention networking, did you? We’ve written about the importance of networking and the advantage it offers in helping you secure a job. When switching careers, networking becomes even more important. You should start building your network before you leave your current position. This makes sure you’re taking all the steps necessary to give yourself a chance to be successful. 

9. Never stop learning 

Never, ever! This is how you’ll become successful and remain successful. Even after you’ve  careers, continue to develop more skills. Learning is a journey. It’s not only about learning new skills and job duties, but also about learning who you are as a person. That’s more important than any online class you can take. Challenges help us know who we are and information helps us overcome these challenges. 

Change is hard, but planning makes it easier 

We’ve given you a list of actions you can take to better prepare yourself for a change in career. Any change is hard, and something as drastic as transitioning to a new profession  comes with its own set of challenges. Just remember that changing careers should be a process. You can always tweak your game plan!

At Prepped, our mission is to make sure you’re prepared for whatever job you’re looking for. Whether it’s your first job or that next job, we have career building tools and resources at your service. Sign up today and improve your chances of landing that dream job.