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How to Change Careers Smoothly and Successfully

How to change careers

October 27 2019 - A burning desire to shake things up has you wanting to learn how to change careers. Perhaps you're fed up with the work politics and coworkers. Or, maybe you're seeking a new challenge with better compensation.

You're not alone in whatever drives your decision to change.

Job hopping is common in today's competitive work environment. The jump is alluring because it often brings better opportunities. It also scratches an itch we all have of not wanting to stagnate.

How would you go about making the change without disrupting everything you've built? Keep reading to find out!

Should I Change Careers?

People are bound to experience a mood shift when they lose interest and motivation. A career is mixed into all this since work is a huge part of our lives. It's only natural that people consider switching careers.

Should you change careers? Well, that may depend on a few factors:

  • Does your work meet your wants and needs?
  • Is the outlook for your work positive? Negative?
  • Are you bored, unchallenged, or feeling burnt out?

The only one who knows the answer to these questions is you. That said, stay open to suggestions from peers, loved ones, and pros.

You might want to consider things like:

  • Affording career development and making the shift
  • How it affects relationships and social standings
  • If you can grow or transfer from within your position

Give yourself a week, a month, or even a year to dwell on it if needed. If your conviction to change careers remains then start taking action.

How to Change Careers Without Major Disruptions

A career shift is scary as hell because you carry a lot of responsibilities. There's also the fear that you're making the wrong decision. Or, the fear that you'll invest resources only for it to turn out worse than what you have now.

Here's how to change careers smoothly and successfully...

1. Assess It

Start by assessing these things:

  • Your skills
  • The industry
  • Career opportunities

You can get great insights by doing a deep dive into your ideal career path. This research shares what skills are in-demand for the career. Plus, it reveals what gaps you'll need filling to transition to the new opportunity.

Follow this process to refine your assessment:

  1. Create a list of your strengths and weaknesses
  2. Look up job details and industry outlook for the position
  3. Reach out and get insights from professionals in that position

Repeat this process for several job and career ideas and create a folder collecting everything learned about them. You'll now use this info as your launching point.

2. Give It a Trial Run

Everything seems great in writing until you get involved. A career is no different, and your best bet in knowing if its right for you is giving it a trial:

  • Go on interviews and get a feel for what's needed
  • Sit in on a college class or training seminar for the position
  • Do an internship or job shadowing for the desired role
  • Moonlight the position via freelancing, at a non-profit, or volunteering

You'll pick up on the nuances of the work as you get involved. Some careers on your list may drop in favorability once you know what they truly involve. Other career choices may spring out as you discover tasks you enjoy more.

As for finding the time to do all of this:

  • Use the daily commute as an opportunity to study
  • Take on tasks that develop skills found in the other field
  • Swap afternoon leisure for practice (even if just one day a week)

Small, incremental changes make a difference when they happen every day.

3. Give It Your All

By now you've got an idea of the job details, the needed skills, and what the day-to-day involves. Now, it's time to take action and make big moves.

Many options that will get you into the new role:

  • Going back to college or a vocational program
  • Transferring personal and technical skills
  • Networking with people on the inside and getting a chance
  • Proving your skills/knowledge by showing results or a portfolio
  • Using a job placement service to aid with the career shift

Savvy businesses know people are job-hopping. Some offer resources, including training, to attract great talent. The career transition may go smoother than imaged because it's commonplace these days!

Likewise, your current employer may offer a way to grow while staying on board. Great talent is hard to come by and they may not want to lose you. They may let you explore a new, challenging role tailored to your wants and needs.

Go into all of this with the full intention to make the change. And, don't let fear stop you from exploring what's out there especially after coming all this way.

Extra Tips for Making the Career Transition

There is a lot to process in this guide and plenty more worth mentioning. So, here are a few extra tips for those of you looking to make a career change.

Create a Buffer

Build a financial buffer to support the change and if anything goes wrong in the process. Be aware that a job search may take up to 6 weeks, so plan ahead.

Read More Guides

Explore detailed guides for the career and job type. Look at this one for FRM jobs as a great example outlining how to make a career change. Do a deep dive into these tutorials types on industry websites and blogs!


Change up your style and who you interact with. Start hanging around and mingling with people in the industry you want to be in. This gives you good insights and connections to lean on when making the change.

Light a Fire

Set a deadline and give yourself the motivation to change. If needed, declare you'll leave your position in the coming months. The stress may be what's needed to commit and perform!

Get a Coach

Get a career coach if you're not the type to self motivate. These individuals can offer the guidance needed to make the changeover. They could also provide insights about the career path, helping you get there sooner.

It's Time to Shake Things Up!

There's no better time to shake things up than the present.

Changing careers may seem scary but imagine the dread of working one you don't enjoy. This post outlined how to change careers and provided resources to make it happen. Now, it's up to you to heed the call.

Still undecided about your career switch? Check out some of the insightful guides we're sharing here on the site!

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