Changing your career? Here’s how to start

Plenty of people have been looking for a fresh start in recent months, with workers leaving jobs in record numbers as they search for a role that fits them better. In one survey last year, almost a third of workers said they were planning to quit soon.

If you’re looking to make a change, it’s best to be prepared before you take the plunge. So we’ve gathered some expert advice on how to pull off a successful career transformation.

Take stock 

If you’re going through the upheaval of a career change, you want to set out on a new path that could last for decades. So take the time to think deeply about your goals, your abilities and the things you love before brainstorming potential ideas.

Career coach Caroline Castrillon advises that you ensure you are making a change for positive reasons. “Make sure you are running towards something instead of running away from something. Let faith, not fear, drive your decision-making process,” she says.

Research your new career path 

Once you’ve generated some ideas of potential new careers, it’s time to get serious about research. Former Harvard career advisor Linda Spencer recommends talking to people who are already in the job you want, researching online, reading trade publications and attending conferences, seminars and meet-ups in the field.

You can also get advice over the phone from the National Careers Service on 0800 100 900 or find a registered careers development professional for guidance with the Career Development Institute.

Get experience and skills

Your research should tell you if you need training or qualifications to start in your new field. But employers will most likely want experience too, which is always a difficult demand when you’re just starting out.

Natasha Stanley, head coach at Careershifters, says that “alternative, creative ways of getting your foot in the door are becoming more commonplace”. She recommends trying volunteering or work experience, trying some freelance work and building a portfolio and making your face know at industry events.

Have a story to tell employers 

One risk of changing careers is that employers looking at your CV and meeting you for the first time might get confused by the difference between your past experience and your future direction. Career change consultant Joseph Liu recommends career changers spend time crafting and communicating a clear narrative about their new direction and ambitions.

That way, he says, they can help others “more easily connect the dots between what you have done and what you want to do”.