woman thinking about a career change

Prepare for a Career Change in 5 Steps

A CNN Money article reveals that millennials "are on track to surpass four job changes by the time they hit age 32." Entrepreneur.com states that Generation Xers change jobs every three to five years. Baby Boomers? Bloomberg reports "almost 19 percent of people 65 or older were working at least part-time in the second quarter of 2017."

No matter which demographic you fall into, one thing is clear: knowing how to prepare for a career change is vital to your future. There are several steps that are key to your success and ensuring that you choose the right career path at the right time.


Step 1: Take a Career Assessment

You probably have a few career options in mind. Taking a quick career assessment can help you focus on the best career change options within an industry that suits you.

Careercolleges.com offers a free assessment. If you are certain about your career choice but aren't quite sure that your personality is a good match, Keirsey has a free personality/temperament assessment. Additionally, iHire offers community sites to learn more about industry-specific opportunities, trending skills, and more.


Step 2: Prepare Financially

When changing careers, it's possible that you will have to take a pay cut at the beginning of your new job. If a pay cut is likely, it doesn't mean that you're choosing the wrong career; the long-term earning options can make a short-term loss worthwhile. Start saving now so that a small reduction in income doesn't ruin your chances of entering a career that you love.


job seeker's desk with calculator and note to change careers


Step 3: Review Your Online Profiles

If a prospective employer types your name into Google, what do they see? What type of conclusions will they draw from your photos and your public posts on social media? Change your settings to private mode, review FAQ sections of social networks to ensure your privacy settings are in place, and if necessary, don't hesitate to delete an existing account and start over.

Your social media accounts are extensions of your personality. If you're rude and argumentative on Twitter, an employer will assume that you will bring those qualities to the workplace. Don't let an out-of-date or poor online reputation ruin your chances of changing careers.


Step 4: Network in Your Target Field

While networking generally works best if you're staying in the same field, it can expand your options or help you discover a path that wasn't on your radar. Meet-ups and small business groups in your local community are a great place to start. Even if you're ultimately going to use a recruiter or submit applications to job ads, your name might stand out to a hiring manager if they recognize you from an industry event.

Are you short on time or skeptical about networking with strangers? Ask friends and family who work in your target industry if their company has open positions or offers an employee referral program.


job seeker's desk with notebook stating new job


Step 5: Set Up Informational Interviews

Before you begin the application process, use your network to find a contact for an informational interview. These no-pressure meetings are designed to help you learn more about a position and how to change careers successfully. The knowledge you gain from informational interviews may help you edge out competing candidates in the future.


Whether you're just considering a career change or ready to take the leap, you need to prepare. With a little creativity and planning, changing careers can be a rewarding, exciting experience.

By Eric H., Guest Author | December 18, 2017
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