6 Steps to Help You Switch Career Fields


A career move that will turn everything upside down and give you what you’re finally looking for sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? That may mean a more satisfying or meaningful career path or more freedom or fun in the work that you do.

Daydreaming about making a total 180 career move is awesome, but actually doing it can be difficult. The good news, is that it can be done! Like any other great thing, it’s worth the effort in the end.

When we do work that we love, we change ourselves, our families and the world. If that’s what you’re looking to do in your life and career, then these steps will help you walk the path to get there!

1 - Be selfish and fearless.

Basically, what I’m saying here is do what makes sense for you and your family alone. Going forward without fear of judgement, fear of failure or fear of making a mistake is the most important step in making a major career change.

So often we have these ideas and feelings about what we want to do, but we have major guilt or fear when it comes to actually pursuing it.

You don’t have to give your notice today, but there should be no reason you can’t start exploring things that are interesting to you. Don’t worry about all the things that can go wrong, all the obstacles in your way or all the side eyed glances others may give you. Be free to start the exploration process and see where things may take you. You deserve that.

2 - Test the waters.

One of the best things about being an adult is that you get to explore things that you are curious about whenever you want. Even a whole new career field!

I love nothing more than acting on my curiosities. If something seems exciting to me, I read about it, I take a class, I try doing it, I test it out. This is the only way you can truly know if you like something or if you’re good at it.

Start testing the new career waters. You can do this by volunteering, taking courses, reading books and perhaps the most valuable thing, talking to people who are already in the career field you’re interested in. joining. See below!

2 - Look for relationships not jobs.

Look for opportunities to meet people who are doing what you want to do or have knowledge about it. Your current friends and work connections are a great place to start. This will be the single fastest way to break into a new career field.

Asking for insight into the new field will help you learn, and focus in on the correct things. Doing this will help you see where you already are aligned and where you need to work a little harder.  

Of course, one of the most obvious reason to broaden your network is all about the potential to find a future job. Looking to meet people and build relationships should be your focus, but future job opportunities often come your way as a result of broadening your network.

3 - You’ve got transferable skills.

You already have what they need.

Don’t discredit yourself, you have transferable skills. What are transferable skills? They are skills or experiences that you currently have, which can transfer or adapt easily to a new career or position.

Once you get the hang of transforming your current work experience to relevant expectations in a new career field you will see that you already have what it takes to go after the job that you want! Now that’s great news, isn’t it!

What you want to do is look at your current work from a macro view and identify the larger overarching skills that you have. Maybe that’s management, negotiating, budgeting or marketing. Then you look at the new career you are going after and see where those same skills could be applied to that career field.

You have skills that can be applied to almost any type of work out there, get creative in seeing how and then be prepared to tell people all about it. You need to have confidence and be ready to plead your case in certain circumstances, but I promise you that the more you creatively look at your current skill set the easier it will be come to make that round peg fit into that square hole!

4 - Recreate your resume.

Now that you have agreed to go forth without fear and judgement holding you back, you’ve tested out your idea and you have convinced yourself that you have the transferable skills to go after the career you want, it’s time to recreate your resume.

The resume still remains a very relevant tool in the modern day job search. However, there are those that know how to make the resume work for them and those who ignore it all together.

Make your resume reflect what you are going after, now more than ever. You should absolutely recreate and revamp your resume for each and every position that you are seeking. Especially if you are seeking a role in an entirely new career field.

I’m not suggesting that you misinform people or create something that isn’t authentic, but you should adjust the wording in your resume to highlight what you have done and more importantly how you can do something amazing in the field you are going after.

This can be as simple as switching focus to the new career, it certainly should include language that highlights those transferable skills that we talked about and it definitely should showcase any of those volunteer experiences, courses or special projects you have done as you were in the exploration phase of the new career field.

Make your resume tell the story you want them to hear, while also representing yourself authentically and genuinely.

5 - Be prepared to answer the tough questions.

When you finally do get yourself in front of a prospective employer or out there in your new career field, people are going to have questions, lots of them!

Be prepared to answer them with enthusiasm! People may ask you why you are switching career fields or what makes you qualified. They may try and tell you that you should be expecting to start at the bottom again, or ask what makes you think you can be successful in something new.

There may be all types of tough questions that come your way. And while many of them may be from friends or family, some may be in the form of an interview at a new companies or with new potential clients.

Spend some time thinking of what those questions may be and how you want to answer them. It will be well worth the time preparing!

6 - Be Patient.

Easier said than done, I know.

But seriously, it’s not easy making a major career change and it may not happen overnight. You have to cut yourself a break and try to be patient as you work through the process.

There is a client of mine that has been having exploratory interviews and networking coffee meetings with the same company for over 3 years! She continues to keep the relationship going with this organization, because she thinks it would be an amazing place to work and she feels it’s the kind of break that she would need to transition into a completely new field. And you know what, I agree with her! Sometimes it takes a long time, and while this company has not had a perfect job match for her yet, you better believe that when something comes up, she will be top of everyone’s mind there and highly likely to land the job.

If you’ve got an idea in your head or a dream in your heart, don’t stop going for it! I hope that these ideas have given you what you need to push on and get even a little step closer to what it is you really want.

Now I want to hear from you. What are your thoughts about making a major career shift? Have you already made a major change? If so, what worked for you? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading!