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Career Change Isn’t An Exact Science

How do you find out what you want to do next?  Is it as easy as taking a test and perhaps a couple of classes.  For many, the options can be overwhelming.  Not to mention that new career choices are being created all the time.   Where do you start?


Is it really a career change you need or just a change in scenery?  Perhaps you still like what you do but need to be doing it in a new company or department.  As you go through your day, identify the activities you still enjoy doing. Ask yourself what you like about the people you work with and for, write all this down.  Now, list the things that you don’t enjoy.  The more specific you are, the clearer your next steps should be.  As you review your pros and cons list, what does it tell you?  Show it to a trusted mentor or friend and see what they think as well.


Perhaps you still like what you are doing.  You may not need a career change, just an employer change.  Begin researching and talking to people about similar companies.  Make a list of the top 20 or so and begin talking to insiders about what it is like to work there.  Cautiously let them know that you are interested in leaving your current company.


Perhaps you’ve discovered you really need to do something else.  Follow these 6 steps to find out what your options are.  You should realize that there is always more than one right answer.  The path of exploring something new is just as important as actually reaching your destination.

1.  Assess your skills (Know who you are and what you have to offer)

There are many free assessment tools out there.  Take one or more than one.

2.  Review your results with multiple people

The interpretation of your results might be different to other people who know you.  Share it with those you trust and see what they think.

3.  Chose the top several options to explore

“Several” is not specific.  There is no magic number of choices to explore.  Too many choices will overwhelm you.  Can you start with 3-5 and see what happens?

4.  Talk to people in your desired career

The BEST way for you to see if the new career is right for you is to speak with people who are actually in that career.  They have the answers to your questions.

5.  Networking not resume spraying

Target your job search efforts.  Focus on networking with people who work in the field you are pursuing.  Let them know you are changing careers.  Ask for their guidance in navigating the application process within their company.  Your resume must clearly demonstrate you are qualified for this new career and that can be tricky.  Therefore, you are really going to want to leverage your relationships with company insiders who can grease the wheel a bit for you.

6.  Don’t give up AND be open to new lessons learned

You may find there are obstacles to pursuing your new career.  What can you do about it?  Ask for help and advice.  Be open to learning new things about yourself and your new industry/occupation as you begin to explore. Who knows what you may stumble upon along the way.

Career Collective

It is with great pleasure I introduced to you the posts from my Career Collective colleagues.  This collaborative initiative was started by Miriam Salpeter of Keppie Careers and Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, a Master Resume Writer and owner of Career Trend.  Below are post from career and resume writing experts on The Best Advice for Career Changers!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Gayle Howard April 19, 2011, 3:18 am

    Very good advice Hannah. In particular, your wisdom in advising that resume “spraying” is not the right move for career changers. Selective networking is definitely the way to go!

  • Ed Han April 19, 2011, 8:16 am

    Hannah, I really like this clear checklist of steps. I also appreciate the list of links to other Career Collective bloggers, especially because I see a few names that I’m not yet following!

  • Megan Fitzgerald April 20, 2011, 4:21 pm


    Fantastic post! Taking the time to assess all that you have to offer is critical. Spending some time to look and see what our past successes have shown about what can make us a top performer will provide valuable information necessary to position ourselves as a viable candidate when moving industries.

    Great to be a part of such a wise group of career specialists!


  • Walter Akana April 23, 2011, 9:06 pm

    Hi Hannah!

    I love the title to your post! Indeed, career change is decidedly not an exact science!

    And yet, the advice you provide is very organized and methodical. You provide key hypotheses to test to determine if a career change is in order. And then, you outline a very clear methodology that people can follow as the work their way through a possible change – with each step being a clear in terms of how to precede and what to expect.

    Overall, I think what most impresses me is that even if career change cannot be done “in the lab” under strict experimental conditions, it certainly can be carried out “in the field” and tap other experts to reach an outcome! And frankly, it’s in the flexible (and sometimes fuzzy) conditions of human relationships where we actually find success!

    • Hannah Morgan April 25, 2011, 5:06 am

      I love how you’ve worded this…

      “it’s in the flexible (and sometimes fuzzy) conditions of human relationships where we actually find success!”

      Thank you for driving home this point!

  • Miriam Salpeter, Keppie Careers April 24, 2011, 10:31 pm

    Hannah – Whenever it’s time to consider a big change, it’s so helpful to have steps and to focus on how to plan! And, I absolutely agree: there is no “right” or “scientific” approach. (Which is both good and bad, I think! I believe most job seekers would suffer if there were only one way to go about career change. Think about it — the list would be free on the Internet, and then competition would be impossible!)

    Thanks, as always, for your great contribution!

    • Hannah Morgan April 25, 2011, 5:03 am

      Thank goodness for freedom of choice!
      You know, I was thinking about your comment and one of the available tools for researching careers is LinkedIn. I guess I forgot about how powerful a research tool it is. It may be the closest thing we all have access to that will allow us to research titles/options.
      Thanks for getting me thinking and thanks, as always, for rallying the Career Collective troops!