Young Australians leaving school now are estimated to have an average of 17 employers during their working life. And for those of us already in the workforce, we are also likely to experience a varied career path, if we haven’t already.

If you are contemplating your first big career change or thinking it’s time for another, research and preparation is crucial to a successful transition.

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The prospect of jumping from one industry or field to another may seem scary but it’s not impossible – people change careers all the time, usually for the better. So it’s important to do a self-assessment to be able to highlight your relevant and transferrable skills, and best communicate why you have decided to make a move.

Here are key steps to maximise your chances of going through a positive and fulfilling career change.

Step 1: Reflect on your preferences

To set the foundation for a successful career change you must first reflect on what really drives you. This helps determine the type of work you are most suited to and can open doors to new paths you may have never considered or simply overlooked. Ask yourself these questions to get to the crux of your job preferences:

  • What do you like and dislike about your current role?
  • What do you like and dislike about your current industry?
  • What has excited and bored you in past roles?
  • What are your personal interests and passions?
  • What are your key attributes, strengths and talents?
  • What would your ideal job look like?

Step 2: Research viable career change options

Based on your personal preferences, begin to research careers that appeal to you. Broaden your search terms and scan online job profiles to find out if the reality matches your expectations.

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Try to discover:

  • Roles that could suit your interests and abilities
  • The daily tasks involved in these roles and likely starting salary
  • If your skills, strengths and experience are transferable to the roles
  • The strength, stability and growth prospects of the industry

Step 3: Analyse your skills

Your career change will be a lot smoother if you can find a role that builds on your existing skills. Think about the key transferable skills, strengths and experience you could bring to potential roles. Consider how past study and achievements could also apply in a new context.

It’s also important to determine the skills you will need to bridge the gap to your new career. Research any additional training, education or experience you might need. You may even find some free online courses or instructional YouTube videos to get yourself well-versed with the industry or field.

If possible, try to volunteer or temp in your new industry to gain some hands-on experience before making your move. The more you can demonstrate your commitment to a career change, the more successful the outcome.

Step 4: Expand your network and make connections

Get to know people who work in the field you want to enter. They may be able to offer you information and advice on your career change, introduce you to relevant people, supply you with job leads, or even provide referrals. A valuable technique is to reach out to targeted people and offer to take them out for a coffee – explain you are looking to make a career change and would greatly appreciate their insights. Most of the time, they are flattered and will say yes.

If they say no, consider joining professional associations, particularly to attend their events where networking and building new connections is encouraged. Also, if possible, seek out a mentor for advice on what it takes to succeed in a new career or field.

Step 5: Write a career change plan

Taking a strategic approach to your career change and following a structured plan will increase your chances of success – studies have shown writing down your goals is strongly associated with goal success.

To get to your end goal, list both short- and long-term milestones around education, skill development, networking and research and then put time frames around each achievement to keep yourself accountable.

Be sure to also refresh your CV and tailor it to the new jobs you’ve identified so that you can swiftly seize any opportunities that arise in the meantime.

Step 6: Be resilient

Changing careers will likely take some time so be prepared for this. The more you can express and communicate your passion clearly to others, the better. Practice this with your friends and surround yourself with a positive network. And don’t let a few job rejections discourage you from pursuing a path that reflects who you truly are. To quote Winston Churchill: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”

Ready to make the jump? Search our jobs today to find your next opportunity.

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