Tips for Making a Successful Career Change

Nearly one third of U.S. workers under 40 have considered changing jobs or careers since the global pandemic began, according to a Washington Post poll from July, 2021. And, “about 1 in 5 workers overall have considered a professional shift.”

According to the article, respondents said the pandemic altered how they think about what is important in their lives and careers. “It has given them a heightened understanding that life is short and that now is the time to make the changes they have long dreamed of.”

In this article, we’ll look at practical ways to approach a career change and provide resources to help you learn more.

Ready for Change

Once you’re ready for a career change, you’ll need to make a solid plan to help you achieve your goals. The BalanceCareers website offers the following tips for undertaking a successful career change:

  • Evaluate your current job satisfaction. Keep a journal of your daily reactions to your job and look for recurring themes relating to your likes and dislikes. 
  • Assess your interests, values, and skills. Review past successful roles, volunteer work, projects, and jobs to identify preferred activities and skills. Or, take a career quiz.
  • Consider a different job in the same industry. Investigate new roles within your current industry.  
  • Consider alternative careers. Research new career options based on interests outside your current role.
  • Check out job options. Evaluate specific job descriptions and career paths to identify a few areas for further consideration.
  • Get personal. Reach out to personal contacts or find a mentor or career coach.
  • Try it out. Participate in volunteer or freelance activities related to your target field to test your interest.
  • Upgrade your skills. Take practical steps toward developing new skills, such as enrolling in classes or training programs.

Organizing the process into manageable pieces will help you stay on track. “Instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed by the scope of your job search, simply hone in on each action taken,” says Jack Kelly. He also recommends focusing on small, incremental steps “to help establish a series of habits and actions that can ultimately lead to your success.”

Continuous Learning

Even if you’re not ready for a career change right now, staying current in your chosen field, keeping your skills up to date, or getting certified may lead to new opportunities and increased job satisfaction.

In this LinkedIn article, Amit Nagpal describes continuous learning as “self-motivated persistence in acquiring knowledge and competencies in order to expand your skill set and develop future opportunities. It forms part of your personal and professional development in an effort to avoid stagnation and reach your full potential.” 

Continuous learning, Nagpal says, can help you:

  • Remain relevant
  • Prepare for the unexpected
  • Boost your profile  
  • Gain competence and confidence
  • Spark new ideas 
  • Change your perspective

Continuous learning is essential to career advancement, especially in IT, says Sachin Gupta, who lists the following three ways to boost your professional growth: 

  • Look for new avenues to upskill. Seek ways to improve existing skills or learn new ones. Online courses, for example, offer the flexibility to learn at your own pace.
  • Stay up to date with industry trends. Continuous learners make time to read about innovations within technology in general as well as within their specific field.
  • Connect with others. Social learning is an important way to gain knowledge and skills. Use your professional network to build connections and learn about new opportunities.

IT professionals who invest time in continuous learning will not only keep their skillset relevant, Gupta says, but also gain confidence in their own ability to embrace change.

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