Career Change 101: Everything You Need to Know

All you need to know about career change

I came across the idea of career change around 5 years ago. I didn’t know much about how shifting careers work, nor had I done any research on why I wanted a career change. But I wanted it.

Fast forward to today, I’ve changed exactly four careers and finally found the one I want to pursue forever. I changed multiple careers for work-life balance and flexibility, but everyone has a different reason for a career change. 

However, shifting careers is intimidating. It’s always a long bumpy ride to reach the career that makes sense. Some people stay stuck in unwanted careers due to psychological traps, some remain in the never-ending loop of frustration due to financial conditions, and some know they want a change but can’t figure out how to change. 

This blog post will answer all your questions about a career change so you start working toward your goals right away. 

What is a career change?

A career change is shifting your professional focus to a new domain. You can change careers to increase your income, turn your hobbies into a profession, or for any other reasons you have. You just need to make sure you make the right career choice so it improves your lifestyle. 

Around 70% of all working-age people are actively looking for a job change, and many of them make a successful shift in careers. You can read numerous career change stories on Quora, Reddit or the Career Change podcast

Do you need a degree or professional certificate for career transition?

Short answer: It depends.

Long answer: Please read below 🙂

A degree or a professional certificate isn’t necessary for a career transition, but a professional certificate can help prove your credibility in a new career. However, you can even make a career shift without a professional certificate. 

If you want to change careers to critical domains like healthcare or civil engineering, you’ll need a degree or a professional certificate depending on the job role. In other careers like data science or marketing, you’re cool to go without a degree or a professional certificate.

That doesn’t mean you can’t enroll yourself in a new degree program. If you’ve enough funds, time, and energy to start a new degree, you can absolutely do it. 

How long does a career transition take?

There’s no right answer to this. Career transition might take 3 months or 3 years or even more depending on your situation. It took me more than a year to transition into data science, but only three months into writing. The reason is that I was naturally drawn to creating different pieces of writing for different situations. 

The time required for career transition depends on your career choice, interest, skill level, career opportunities, and even your geographical location. While it might even take you a few years, believing in yourself and never stopping to dream keeps you steadfast and focused.

How do I plan a career change?

Planning a career change requires a deep assessment of yourself and your surroundings. If you’re looking to change a career only because someone else did it, you’re missing an important step in your career change plan. Below are the steps to plan an effective career change:

1. Identify your career change needs. It could be anything from greater income to mental peace.

2. Write down your values and goals on a paper. Forgetting these values through the change can deeply challenge you at times. A slow lifestyle, living near your parents, remote working, travelling while working, working less and earning more all come under your goals and values.

3. Identify your current skillset, hobbies, and passions. Write them down on a paper so you don’t forget them in the next step.

4. Research career opportunities based on the things you documented in the previous step.

5. Identify the best careers based on your goals, values, and career change needs.

6. Create your curriculum and start grinding.

How to get a job or paid clients in a new career?

Finding a job in a new career is exciting and daunting at once. I’ve met people who spent years to land a job and others who got a new role within a few weeks or months. While this might have something do to with luck, a few tips speed up the job search process after a career shift. 

1. An optimized LinkedIn profile

Recruiters are always on the lookout for talent on LinkedIn and if you’ve got an optimized profile, you’re more likely to show up when they’re looking for new candidates. 

A good profile photo, an informative cover photo, a headline, and a summary are the foundations of a LinkedIn profile. For a more detailed audit, read my guide on how to optimize LinkedIn for bots and recruiters

2. Engagement on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social network and the more you engage the more you get exposure there. Find like-minded people, reach out to them in messages, and engage in their posts to build deeper connections and attract a wider audience. 

LinkedIn networking will help you gain more followers and show your credibility through a professional network. Posting your ideas on LinkedIn regularly will also help you grow your profile and stay on top of search results. 

3. Tailor your resume

Edit your resume whenever you apply for a new job. Identify keywords in the job description and add them to your resume. Try to make your work experience as relevant as possible and remove unnecessary job roles. 

For example, if you’re applying for a digital marketing job and have experience of working as a clerk at a publishing company, don’t forget to mention your eye for design and attention to detail.

4. Look for smaller opportunities and lesser pay

Start small to gain experience. Smaller companies offering lesser pay are more likely to hire beginners than established companies. Find them in your area or online and work for them to gain practical experience.

These opportunities won’t only add relevant experience to your resume, but also teach you vital skills.

How to build a portfolio from scratch?

No matter what career you choose, you need to display your work online. For this, you’ll need a website. You don’t need to know web development or hire a developer to build a website. No-code platforms like WordPress, Wix, and Hostinger offer easy-to-use website builders. 

Your website doesn’t even need to look attractive if you aren’t in the design field. If it has the necessary information and doesn’t break, it’s good to go.

What to add to the portfolio website?

Any side or client projects that you’re proud of. 

You can even add the work you did in your workplace that is relevant to your goals.

So if you’re a writer, add your writings to your portfolio. If you’re looking for a design job, list your design projects. If you’re a programmer, add your programming projects with the GitHub repository link.

Whatever you do, however you do, list it on your portfolio and add a few points in its defence.

How to tailor your resume for an entry-level job in a new career?

This is the most frustrating part of changing careers. You’ve got a lot to add to your new resume, but you’re still short of words. It’s confusing. Here are a few tips to make your resume presentable and attention-grabbing:

 

    • Add relevant experience and emphasize relevant tasks in your previous jobs.

 

    • Add keywords from the job description every time you apply for a job.

 

    • Create your objective/ summary yourself. Don’t copy it from anywhere. Add elements that are unique to you and flex about your strengths.

 

    • Keep the format simple and readable.

Platforms for learning new skills and exploring careers?

There are a lot of learning, skill-building, volunteering, and virtual experience programs out there – thanks to the internet and globalisation! However, using too many of them at one time will result in frustration. Instead, use them according to your skill level to avoid frustration:

Beginner level

Picking the best course at the beginner level is a difficult task because of the huge number of choices available. Beginner-level courses are mostly free and contain similar course material. Platforms that guarantee valuable learning experience are:

1. Coursera

Coursera is an e-learning platform offering online short courses, professional certificates, and degrees in almost every career domain. Coursera’s interface is user-friendly and when you purchase a certificate, you’ve it for a lifetime. Coursera also offers a 7-day free trial and financial aid for needy students. Once you submit a financial aid application, you receive an email regarding your application within 20 days. 

2. EdX

Like Coursera, EdX also offers short courses and specialized certificates taught by industry experts and experienced professors. All courses on EdX are free to take. However, you need to purchase a course if you want access to tests, quizzes, and the certificate of completion. 

3. FutureLearn

FutureLearn was my favourite platform back in 2019 when most of the courses were free there. However, you need to purchase those courses now. All courses are engaging, informative, and taught by experienced professionals.

4. OpenClassrooms

OpenClassrooms is completely free, with access to all learning materials and a completion certificate. They also offer paid extensive training programs in seven different fields. However, free-access courses are worth spending time on with guided material and valuable content.

5. YouTube

YouTube has the best lightweight learning material to get started. You can find numerous videos on the same topic with honest reviews in the comments. While it might be difficult to decide which playlist to watch on YouTube, it is easiest to get started with.

With all these freely available resources, don’t forget to practice your skills by building projects and teaching others. It’s necessary to speed up your learning process and ignite your interest.

Once you’ve got a foundational understanding of your favourite domain, you’re all set to start difficult courses. Intermediate to advanced level courses are mostly paid and cover important aspects of the professions you’re interested in. 

Intermediate level

With all the skills you’ve learned, you’re ready to use them in the real world. 

You might even get a job immediately, but it’s difficult for most people due to the lack of relevant experience. However, you can earn some valuable experience with internships and volunteer opportunities. 

Catchafire and Volunteer Match have numerous volunteer opportunities listed from non-profits and charities. While these opportunities are unpaid, you can get hands-on experience for as little as 5 hours per week commitment. 

Forage is another cool virtual experience program with no fees or commitments. It offers job simulations and completion certificates from top employers. The best part?  For every task you submit during the job simulation, you unlock a real work sample that represents how a company employee would have approached the tasks.

Experienced level

All the experience you’ve gained in the previous step enables you to serve real clients and get paid opportunities. Use LinkedIn to build your personal brand consistently and you’ll get opportunities right in your DMs. While saturated, freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr still work with luck and sales skills combined. 

Don’t overthink if you take longer than those around you to land opportunities, you’ll end up with better ones. I’ve been there and I’m speaking with experience. 

Additional tips

 

    • Keep networking on LinkedIn to attract ideal clients and build your credibility.

    • Search “keyword + discord servers” on Google to find relevant discord servers. These will be your motivation boosters and resource hubs. For example, “Copywriting discord servers”.

    • Take care of yourself throughout the journey.

What is the easiest career change option?

It depends on your interest. If you’re naturally drawn toward computers and electrical stuff, transitioning to painting will be the hardest for you and vice versa. 

It’s all about finding the career that suits your lifestyle and finding that career requires self-assessment and a little research.

Things to remember

 

    • Identify your strengths and weaknesses before you make the big career change decision. Ignoring them will result in a not-so-fulfilling career shift.

    • Identify your motivation and reasons for career change. This will help you pick the best job that complements your lifestyle.

    • Create a career change plan but be flexible to adapt to industry trends and your personal needs.

    • Career growth doesn’t happen in isolation. Make friends, engage with others, and seek support whenever you need it.

    • Be open to changing your plans whenever you find something disturbing. You might need to change your learning strategy or desired job roles. 

    • Set realistic expectations throughout your career change. Landing a high-income job within a month from the day you make a career change decision doesn’t make sense. Give yourself time to embrace the change and take care of yourself throughout.

FAQs

Do I need a degree for a career change?

No, you don’t need a degree for a career change. However, relevant certificates will boost your credibility during job search.

What is the easiest career change option?

It depends on your passions. Humans tend to incline toward things that excite them.

How do I switch to a new career?

You can switch to a new career by assessing your goals, making a career change plan, learning new skills, and practising them.

Can I change my career at 30?

You can change a career whenever you want. All you need is a desire and a good career change plan.

How can I find a career I love?

You can find a career you love by assessing your motivation and identifying your career change needs. Once you’ve done this, do some research on suitable career options based on your preferences.

 

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