Bridge Insights

8 Essential Steps to Ensure a Smooth Transition to a New Career

Oct 26, 2020

Has inspiration struck? Are you ready to transition into a position involving your newfound passion? Maybe you went to school for something and had a change of heart once you got a job in your field?

Whatever reason you may have for wanting a professional change, you have determined it is time for something new. But, deciding you want to make a change is quite a different process than taking the plunge and changing. It can be difficult to know where or how to start.

Below I have mapped out the 8 essential steps of starting a new career that will help ensure your transition between industries is a smooth one:

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1. Take a Deep Breath

Making a career change is a huge decision. Make sure you aren’t making this decision based on emotion or being hasty because something didn’t go your way at your current job. The best decisions are those made over time and with a level head.

2. Self-Reflect

Examine your skillset and passions in order to determine which industries/roles would make the best fit for you. Take some serious time and reflect on what you enjoy doing and what you dislike—not just about your current job, but in general.

If you’re someone who hates math, even if the pay is something that appeals to you, pursuing a career in accounting would be a terrible idea.

3. Do Your Research

When you are planning to change industries, it’s a good idea to talk to people currently working in your target field and see what the most valuable skills are for people who succeed in their roles.

Check out a company’s page on Glassdoor, Google, Indeed, or other hiring sites for company reviews and opinions; this can give you a better idea of what the industry culture is like, give you some ideas for target companies to work for, and help you map out the “stepping stone” positions that will lead you to your ultimate career goal.


4. Be Smart about Self-Development

Going along with the point above, starting a new career might take some more schooling or other experience. Whether it is a class or two, a new certificate, getting a (or another) degree, taking an additional part-time job, or volunteering in your targeted field of choice, it is wise to find out what needs to be done to start and succeed. This will help you build a plan on how to achieve success in your new role before you put in your two-week notice with hopes of riding off into the sunset on the back of a new career you haven’t started yet.

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5. (Re)Brand Yourself

Part of a successful transition is making yourself appealing to potential hiring managers in your field. Once you have established the target soft skills for your industry, take a look at your online presence to see if you can reorganize your presentation to highlight those skills.

Do you need to create a portfolio? Are there any certifications that would be beneficial to feature in your professional summary? This is where those conversations with professionals in the industry come in handy! Don’t be afraid to ask them what an ideal candidate’s resume /LinkedIn profile looks like. It may even spark some new ideas for you!

6. Build Your Network

The stronger your professional network, the stronger of a professional you are. When you are starting out, connect with as many professionals as possible in your new industry.

Look at the profiles of people who currently work in the position you are targeting. What does their career track look like? Is there anything you can learn? Don’t be afraid to pick someone’s brain about things like how they got their job, what they like most about it, the skills they picked up along the way, etc.

7. Update Your Resume

An up-to-date and well-formatted resume is critical in making sure the right people can find your resume. Remember, there are people out there whose job it is to find you a job! This doesn’t mean you should bank on your resume being found by a recruiter—there are countless resumes on job sites, but having an updated resume that has skills listed (in bullets) that match the positions you are targeting, as well as positions that are prioritized by their relevance to your new career path will help anybody viewing your resume see you as a better fit. They will also have an easier time doing so, whether that is a recruiter, hiring manager, job fair, or human resources employee.

8. Be Willing to Start at the Bottom

Changing industries or careers can often mean starting at the bottom and proving your worth. This can be off-putting to some people, but if you have truly determined your passion lies elsewhere, this will (and should) not be a deterrent.

A new career and a new opportunity can be invigorating, personally and professionally. Embrace the challenge of starting from the bottom and use it to fuel your desire for change and self-improvement! You never know what doors can open by working hard and being open to new opportunities. Take some risks, bet on yourself, and say yes to the opportunity to prove yourself and be professionally fulfilled.

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Bringing It All Together

From time to time, we can feel a bit stuck professionally, but feeling like you’re in a rut is different than working towards a professional goal only to realize years later you worked so hard for something you didn’t enjoy, or want in the first place. Life is too short to spend chasing dreams that aren’t yours. If you decide it is time for a career change, lean into where that choice takes you by making decisions based on what you want rather than what you are trying to avoid. That perfect job is out there; now go make it happen!

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