Changing careers might seem like a daunting prospect, but it’s something most of us will do at one point or another. In fact, research suggests that people have an average of 12 jobs during their working lives.

What’s more, a survey by NAB reveals one in five Australians have changed jobs within the last year and almost a quarter are considering leaving their current workplace.

If you’re thinking about making a career change, targeted research and thorough preparation are key. Follow these steps to maximise your chances of taking a rewarding and fulfilling next step.

Step 1: Reflect on your career goals

To set the foundation for a successful career change, you must first reflect on what really drives you and what you want out of a new career. This will help you to determine the type of work you are most suited to, and open doors to roles you may not have considered. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you like or dislike about your current role and industry?

  • What has excited/bored you in past roles?

  • What are your personal interests, values and passions?

  • What are your key attributes, strengths and talents?

  • What would your ideal job look like?

Step 2: Ask yourself why you want to change careers

While you are in the process of reevaluating your career goals and what meaningful work means to you, you should also consider why you want to change career paths. Is it to do work that more closely aligns with your values? To have a healthier work-balance? To earn more money or access better job benefits?

Answering these questions will enable you to figure out the non-negotiable elements of your future career. On the flipside, it could also help you realise you can achieve the things you want out by making a lateral career move rather than switching careers entirely.

Step 3: Know your limitations

The reality is that the more financial and personal responsibilities you have, the more factors you need to take into account when planning a career change. Understanding your limitations will help you create an achievable framework. Consider questions such as:

  • How long can you afford to live without an income, or a lower income?

  • How much time can you commit to studying or retraining in a new field?

  • Would you be willing to relocate for work if needed?

  • How much effort are you willing to put in to make a change?

Step 4: Research viable career change options

Based on your personal preferences, goals and limitations, start researching potential career pathways. Scan online career websites, job profiles and industry publications to look for:

  • 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 these roles

  • The strength, stability and growth prospects of the industry

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Step 5: Analyse your skills (and skills gaps)

Your career change will be 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 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. If possible, try to volunteer or temp in your new industry to gain some experience before making your job change.

Step 6: Tap into your professional network

Reach out to people in your existing network who may be able to help you make a move, and use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with 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. Consider joining professional associations and seek out a mentor for advice on how to successfully make the leap to a new career.

Step 7: Create a career change plan

Taking a strategic approach to your career change and following a structured plan will increase your chances of success.

To get to your ultimate goal, list both short and long-term objectives around education, skill development, networking and research, and put each against a realistic timeframe. Be sure to also refresh your job search skills, so that you can seize any opportunities that arise.

Considering changing careers? Whatever stage you’re at in your transition, Michael Page can help connect you with relevant opportunities in your new field. Browse open jobs and submit your resume to be the first to know about relevant new roles.

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