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How to Change Careers


Career changing may be more common than you think. About 86% of people say they’re dissatisfied with their jobs and are looking for something different. But, making the change — from figuring out what kinds of jobs to look for, to getting ready for a new job — can be a daunting task. Read on to see how you can do it, step by step.

Analyze your personal story

Your personal story includes what you’ve been through, the decisions you’ve made along the way, and the skills you’ve developed as you’ve progressed through life. When considering a career change, it’s important to take an honest look in the mirror and assess:

  • What do you like about your current job?
  • What are things you once enjoyed but no longer find enjoyable?
  • What do you absolutely want to avoid in your next career?
  • What skills have you developed that you can use in your next career?
  • What have been your biggest successes, and what decisions or habits made them happen?

Taking a close look at these elements of your personal story can help you evaluate why you want to make a career change, as well as the direction in which you should go next.

Decide if you need to change to a different industry

Pursuing a new career doesn’t necessarily mean switching industries. In many cases, you can pursue a new role within the same industry you’ve come to understand so well.

For example, a teacher might transition from the classroom into a tech job, supporting the school’s digital infrastructure. They could even use their knowledge of what educators and administrators need to design security solutions as a Cybersecurity Architect. Taking a course like our Introduction to Cybersecurity could be a first step to building a solid foundation for a career protecting networks and their users.

In other situations, moving into a completely new industry might be the best choice. You might feel tired of elements that are inherent to your industry, such as sitting at your desk all day or excessive traveling.

You may also be in an industry that’s on the decline, and it’s best to jump ship before your career — and skill set — becomes obsolete. For instance, if you’re in the industry of CDs, DVDs, and other recordable media, you may be hunting for a different career. While the industry is far from obsolete, digital storage options have long been supplanting other kinds of recordable media.

Identify your strengths

Your strengths may serve as the scaffolding to construct your next career. When assessing your skills, you may discover that you excel where others don’t — and this includes both hard and soft skills. When switching careers, it’s often the soft skills that help you move toward your next venture. Some of your soft skills may include:

  • Active listening
  • Leading others
  • Following instructions, even when they’re complicated or detailed
  • Understanding high-level concepts and translating them into actions
  • Clearly communicating your ideas
  • Presenting in front of strangers or colleagues
  • Being dependable, consistent, or punctual when it comes to fulfilling responsibilities
  • Problem-solving, perhaps even when under pressure
  • Supporting colleagues and team members

Identify hard skills you may want to carry with you

You may have hard skills that a lot of employers need regardless of industry. As you choose your next career, you may want to check out some jobs that call for the hard skills you already have. These may include expertise in:

  • Spreadsheets
  • Word processing programs
  • Presentation software
  • Mathematics
  • Marketing software
  • Project management software
  • HTML
  • Other IT-related skills

Many people have hard skills that they’d like to strengthen as they change careers. For example, if you have some knowledge of HTML, but want to sharpen your skills even more as you switch careers, you can check out our Learn HTML course to level up your current skill set.

Arrange informational interviews

An informational interview is one where your only objective is to gain a grasp of what’s involved in a job you haven’t tried yet. When switching careers, getting the real scoop from a seasoned professional can shed light on many things that you won’t see in the job description, such as:

  • How long it takes to advance to a higher position
  • How the flow of work varies during certain times of the year
  • Which soft skills are the most useful
  • How big of a role professional development and continuing education play
  • The measurements typically used to decide bonus compensation
  • Common mistakes made by newbies
  • Aspects of the job that make it surprisingly fun or personally rewarding

While prepping for the informational interview, you’ll want to make a list of your questions ahead of time and leave a little room for others that may pop into your head during the conversation. You should also stick closely to a schedule. If you say you’re going to take half an hour, be sure you don’t go over.

Here are some options for choosing who to interview:

  • An executive that oversees the general department you’re thinking of working in, such as a CIO.
  • Someone who has been with the company for a set amount of time, such as five years. This can help you see where you could be after that much time has passed.
  • A manager who is one step higher than the kind of position you’re aiming for. This could be an IT admin or a team lead, for instance.
  • Someone who is about to retire and can share decades of experience.

Switching careers can be an exciting adventure. The best way to prepare yourself for a transition is to gain a solid foundation of the skills and knowledge that are recommended for your desired industry. If you’re considering switching to the tech industry, use our programming courses to gain the background knowledge and skills you’ll need to excel in your future career.

August 6, 2021

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