How to Start a New Career: 6 Steps to Take in 2023
The average person has over 12 different jobs throughout their lifetime. So if you’re considering making a career change, you’re in good company. Whether you’re seeking a higher salary, more flexibility or a new challenge, there are a number of reasons why people decide to pivot careers. And these career changes oftentimes lead to higher levels of career satisfaction and better job fit.
Regardless of whether you’re just starting your career after university, or you’re a seasoned professional, career changes are possible at any age. However, the key to success with your career transition is to be goal-oriented, realistic and strategic.
So if you’re interested in learning how to change careers at 40, 50 or any other age, we’ll provide you the steps to make it happen. In this article you’ll discover where to start when looking for a new career and six steps to successfully pivot into the career of your dreams.
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6 Steps to start your new career
Reflecting, strategising, – and of course, taking action are all aspects included in the steps of a successful career transition. Below we cover six steps in detail that will help you determine how to start a new career.
1. Evaluate why you want to change careers
When deciding that you want to start a new career, the first step is to do some soul searching into the reasons why. After all, you don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. So it’s important to understand the reasons for your dissatisfaction in your current career to help you avoid these aspects in your next one.
So before thinking about how to start a new career, take some time to reflect on what you like doing. Consider what you enjoy and don’t enjoy about your current career. For example, if you’re a teacher, you may love developing curriculum, but dislike the dearth of resources. Or, you may love helping others, but want more collaboration with colleagues.
When reflecting on why you want to start a new career, consider aspects such as, working environment, salary, work-life balance and opportunities for growth and development. Then once you’ve thoroughly analysed both the positive and negative aspects of your current career, you will have more clarity about what you want from your new career.
2. Make a list of your work experience and skills
After determining your reasons for changing careers, the next step is to make a list of your skills and experience. This way, you can gain a better understanding of which transferable skills you already have and in which areas you may need to upskill.
You will most likely have a mix of both job-specific and more general skills and knowledge. Therefore, it can be helpful to start broad with your most transferable skills first. If we were to take the example again of a teacher, skills from teaching that could transfer to many careers would be project management, communication, problem-solving and organisation. However, skills, such as subject knowledge, grading or creating lesson plans would be more career-specific.
It’s a good idea to first consider careers that have some overlapping skills requirements to your current careers. For example, many teachers decide to pivot into a career in instructional design because of the high amount of transferable skills.
3. Research new career paths
Now that you’ve explored your motivations for changing careers and reflected on your experience and skills, the next step is to research new career paths. As previously mentioned, a career pivot can be easier if you are transitioning into a related field. However, there are many aspects to consider when deciding on your next career.
To stick with the example of transitioning out of teaching, many teachers may decide that they are seeking more creativity in their next role. Therefore, it can be helpful to start your research by exploring careers that involve an element of creativity.
However, if your motivation for transitioning out of teaching isn’t more creative work, but rather because you’re seeking a remote working environment, then your research starting point will look different. And in this case, you’ll want to narrow your search to only roles and organisations that offer flexible working options.
4. Focus on new skills and education
Once you’ve indicated a career path that you would like to pursue, you may discover that you have some gaps in your skills and knowledge. And there’s no need to worry that this will hinder you from succeeding with your career change. Skills gaps are common and even expected when changing careers – and there are various courses out there to develop new skills.
When researching courses to help you gain the skill for your new career, there are some factors you’ll need to consider. One of the most important factors is time. For many working professionals, taking a multiyear academic programme is not feasible or even necessary. There are various accredited online courses that may give you all the skills you need to start your new career. Our alumni have gone on to begin or advance their instructional design career without needing to take time away from work.
In addition to taking courses and formal training, there are additional ways to develop the skills and knowledge to change careers. Perusing books about the field, following thought leaders on social media and staying current on industry news can all help you immerse yourself in your new career area and more successfully transition.
5. Build your portfolio of new experiences
Once you’ve gained a grasp of the foundational skills required for your new career, it’s time to start putting them to use – and showcasing what you can do. Depending on the field you’re transitioning into, the route you take to gain practical experience will be different. However, the key is to make sure you’re gaining opportunities to develop, receive feedback and gain demonstrable experience.
Two of the most common ways to gain hands-on experience are by obtaining an internship or an entry-level role in your new field. However, these aren’t the only ways to break into a new field. For experienced professionals making a career change, an internship or entry-level role may not be suitable. And in these cases, it may be more apt to look into transitioning to a new job area at the same career level within their current company.
Internships and permanent roles aren’t the only ways to gain experience in your new field. For creative project-based professionals, such as instructional designers, videographers or copywriters, you can create a portfolio of work in your free time. Many courses, such as the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design, have a project-based learning component in which learners can gain real-life experience building a course.
6. Use your network
As the saying goes, it isn’t what you know, but who you know. And when making a career change, this axiom rings particularly true. So regardless of the stage you are at in your career transition, help from your social network may be just what you need to get the ball rolling.
Seeking career transition help from your network will look different depending on your individual situation. While some individuals may already have a wide professional and social network they can leverage, others may have to try a bit harder to make these connections. However, regardless of your starting point, there are a number of ways to grow and leverage your network.
For example, if you are seeking to widen your network, taking a group course or professional development programme is a great way to meet individuals in your prospective field. And even if these connections don’t directly lead to job offers, they can still be a source of accountability and encouragement – which are invaluable to career success.
Other opportunities to grow your network include attending networking events or reaching out to more experienced professionals that work in the career you’d like to transition into. Many professionals would be happy to have a virtual coffee chat to share some advice and discuss their career experience.
What to consider when starting a new career
Whether you’re starting a new career at 35 or 50, it can be a disruptive, nerve-wracking and confusing experience. After all, you may have a decade or more experience in a particular field and worry about the risks associated with taking the leap. You may also not know where to start when looking for a new career – or how to start a new career. However, it can be reassuring to know that changing careers is not always an abrupt adjustment – and many career changers take incremental steps when transitioning.
One way to take incremental steps is by job crafting your current role to start building the skill set you’ll need for your prospective career. Another example is by taking a professional development course. This can be a great way to dip your toes in the water before changing roles. And it will also give you more confidence when starting your new career and make you stand out to potential employers.
An accredited online course, such as the Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design, is a great way to be able to develop the skills you need prior to making a career transition. And the best part? The course is flexible and works around your schedule. Speak to an advisor today to learn more.