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How to Make a Successful Career Switch

Maybe your present situation makes you want to change your career. You can’t see a path up the ladder from where you are, and you think it’s better to move in the horizontal direction. Or you don’t feel like you’re making the most of your skills where you’re currently at.

But you’re also afraid to make the career switch. Sure, you could be more fulfilled at a new job. But how do you even get there? Isn’t it too risky to step away from the security of your present role, even if it’s draining and thankless?

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You can make that transition. It’s been done successfully by numerous people. And here, we’ll show you the general approach that these people have taken to get to their new careers.

If you are thinking about moving into a new field, these are the steps you should take.

1. Be clear about why you want the career switch

People transition to new careers for different reasons. Sometimes it’s because they want to earn more; they might consider their current job too stressful; or maybe they’ve lost their passion for the career (or were never passionate about it in the first place).

Your reason for making a career switch could determine the sort of job you’re pursuing. That’s why it’s important to be clear about what informs your decision.

You should assess your degree of satisfaction with your career before deciding on a step. Perhaps the problem is something you can solve without leaving the industry. You don’t want to make a potentially life-altering decision without weighing things carefully.

2. Evaluate your skills and interests

If you’re not yet sure where you should be going next, you can think about roles in which your skills are needed, and where you’ll be able to solve problems you’re interested in.  

For instance, if you have an eye for numbers and aesthetics and your current job as an animations person is unstable, you could move towards becoming a data visualization expert instead.      

Think about your values too. What industry and companies share them?

It’s at the intersection of these things that you’ll find the best career and job role you should move to.

3. Choose a career

Taking the first two steps will help you choose the right alternative career.

This may involve sifting through a range of options using the criteria we have listed: skills and competencies, interests, values, and the reasons you’re hunting a new career. It’s not always the case that you know what you want to do next right from the start.

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Besides selecting an appropriate career, you’ll also want to get specific with the job you want to do. It’s not enough to want to be a software developer. You should know what kind of software you want to create, what programming languages you’ll master, and so on.    

4. Talk to people in the career you’re moving to

What about people who are already in the career you’re trying to get into? What firsthand information might they have that you should know about?

You can only learn so much by reading and watching videos about your next career path. Nothing compares to the insight you’ll gain from those who have lived the experience you want to immerse yourself in. Seek this where it can be found.

The knowledge they share may help you decide how you want to proceed with your transition (or whether you should do it). You will also know what to expect on the other side of your journey.

5. Acquire relevant skills

Don’t go job hunting until you have the skills you need to win at the new career. There could be plenty of competition out there, so it should be among the better candidates to stand a chance.

Take courses. Study the industry and job role you’re looking at. Know what it takes to get in, and what’s required to climb the ranks. Then acquire those things. If this means taking an assistant or understudy role, do it (if you can).

6. Create real connections with people in the industry

While you’re gaining skills and brushing up your CV, you should also start making connections with individuals in the career you’re transitioning to. Through them, you could receive news of the latest happenings in that industry, and even get notice of job openings.

There are many ways to do this, including physical meet-ups, introductions through friends, connections via LinkedIn, and online professional forums and communities.  

7. Start on a new path

You may find your first job in a new career through any of the sources we’ve mentioned just above. But landing that new job is only the beginning. As you begin your journey on a new career lane, aim to create value with every task you take on. This, in itself, can bring you the satisfaction you seek.       

Featured image source: Trimond Academy

Did you find this article useful? Contact us: editor at connectnigeria dot com

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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