7 Steps to a Successful Career Change [in 2023]

23 February
8 min read
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So, you’re thinking of making a career change.

Although a career change sounds exciting - after all, it opens new career opportunities - in reality, like most people, you may also feel a little intimidated. 

Chances are, you aren’t exactly sure how to make a career change happen. 

In fact, you may not even know where to start, especially so if you’re planning a transition to a completely different field.

Well, whether you’re a software developer who wants to switch to UX design, an accountant who dreams of landing a job in marketing, or a receptionist without a clear idea of the new career path you want to take, worry not - we’ve got you covered!

Read along and learn everything you need to know about making a successful career change, including:

  • 7 Steps to a Successful Career Change
  • Why Do People Change Careers? 5 Career Change Statistics
  • How to Know When It's Time to Change Careers
  • Career Change Resources

So, let’s jump right in!

7 Steps to a Successful Career Change

Without further ado, here are the 7 steps that will help you make a successful career change: 

#1. Make an Action Plan

It’s no secret that making a career change can be a lengthy and difficult process. 

For this reason, your first step is to make a detailed plan that outlines all of the actions you need to take to make it happen. 

Besides giving you direction, an action plan also helps you to set goals and track your career change progress. It’s not uncommon to lose motivation down the line, especially after the initial excitement of making the career change wears off.

However, a well-written action plan helps you not to lose sight of your goal and celebrate the small victories along the way.

If you aren’t sure how to create an action plan, simply make a spreadsheet that includes all of the career change steps mentioned in this article. 

Once you have a clear understanding of each step you should take, expand your action plan and, of course, don’t forget to track your progress.

#2. Reflect On Your Current Situation

Apart from showing you a clear picture of your current work situation, self-reflection can help you clarify why you want a career change and what you should look for in a new career.

To start with, here are some questions you should consider asking yourself:

  • How satisfied am I with my job?
  • What exactly don’t I like about my job?
  • What do I like about my job?
  • Why did I choose this job in the first place?
  • How has my attitude towards this job changed over time?
  • What keeps me in this job?

These questions can help you figure out your career change direction. On top of that, they can identify the problem area of your current job, whether it’s the job itself, the workload, your colleagues, company culture, or something else.

For example, if you’re unhappy with your customer service representative job because it’s too repetitive, you should look for a more creative career, such as marketing.

On the other hand, if you hate your job, yet have a great boss and colleagues, you might want to explore career change opportunities within your company.

#3. Brainstorm Alternative Career Paths

Your next step is to brainstorm potential career paths.

Here are some tips that can help you choose a new career:

  • Decide on the industry. You can make a career change within the same industry or switch to a completely different one. A career change within the industry is often easier, as you likely have industry knowledge and experience (e.g. if you’re a radio announcer, you may find it easier to transition to a journalist than a counselor career).
  • Research the job market. Researching the job market can give you an idea of the most and least in-demand jobs. For example, if you’re looking to transition to a floral designer career, you may want to consider different options, as florists’ employment is expected to decline by 20% between 2020 and 2030.
  • Consider your skills and experience. To make a smooth career change, evaluate your skillset, work experience, as well as any volunteering, internship, and other relevant experience you may already have. From there, see which careers you could easily transfer your existing skills, experience, and passion to. Check out this success story from Chad Stacey, who leveraged his transferable skills and made a career switch from recruiter to data analyst.

#4. Try Out Your Potential Career

Sure, you can research a career through and through, yet nothing can give you a better sense of a particular career path than first-hand experience.

So, once you identify the positions that interest you, it’s time to try out your potential career paths. This will help you determine whether a particular job is the right choice for you before you commit to the career change.

Here are some ways you can test-drive your new career:

  • Job shadowing. Job shadowing refers to observing people that work in your desired field. All you need to do is set up several job shadows to compare different career paths and/or companies. This allows you to gain a better understanding of the daily tasks, workload, responsibilities, and other job-related elements.
  • Volunteer. Apart from allowing you to test an intended career path, volunteering also helps you develop field-related skills. Not to mention, you can list your volunteer experience on your resume to help you land the job!
  • Internships. With 70% of companies extending full-time job offers to interns, landing an internship can help you make a seamless career change.
  • Part-time job. Alternatively, you can also apply for a part-time job before making a full-blown career change.

#5. Assess and Improve Your Skill Set

By now, you should be ready to start working towards actually landing the job. So, to see where you stand in terms of job requirements, evaluate your skillset first.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Research the most in-demand skills for the position. Make sure to write down any skills that apply to you.
  • Look for transferable skills. You likely already have several skills that can be easily transferred to another career. Pay close attention to soft skills in particular - most of them, including communication skills, dependability, and teamwork, are very versatile and can be applied to careers across different fields.

Once you know the skills that you already possess, you can easily see which skills you lack. 

Depending on your specific case, consider gaining necessary skills through:

  • Volunteering
  • Online courses
  • Pursuing higher education
  • Internships
  • Working with a mentor
  • Freelancing
  • Obtaining certifications
  • Part-time jobs
  • Workshops

#6. Create A Compelling Career Change Resume

The next, and one of the most important steps in making a successful career change, is to write a powerful career change resume

If you’re unsure how to write a career change resume, worry not - here are the 5 most important tips that will help you create a job-winning resume (even if you lack the work experience!):

  • Choose the right resume format. You want to choose the combination resume format, as it highlights both your skills and work experience, making it the best option for your career change resume.
  • Write a resume summary or objective. In short, both of these pieces of information show the recruiter how your skillset applies to the position. As a general rule, choose a resume summary if you work in a related field; if not, opt for a resume objective.
  • Include a skills summary section. Instead of focusing on your work experience, show off your relevant skills by adding a skills summary section to your career change resume.
  • Highlight transferable skills in your work experience section. To do that, try to find what your previous positions have in common with the position you’re applying for. For example, if you’re an electrical engineer who’s applying for a web developer position, you may want to highlight your problem-solving skill and list any related work achievements in your work experience section.
  • Attach a career change cover letter. To land the job, you want to write a convincing cover letter to back up your career change resume. As such, use your cover letter to explain what drives you to make a career change and how your skills and experience are relevant to the position.

Here’s an example of an effective career change resume:

career change resume

If you want your resume to look as impressive as the career change resume example above, try our free resume templates!

#7. Develop the Right Mindset

Making a career change can take a lot of time and effort. Naturally, some people may lose the enthusiasm and motivation needed for a successful career change.

After all, if you’re just starting out in a new field, you may find it difficult to compete with other candidates. For example, it may take you longer to land a job if you’re competing against seasoned professionals. 

Not to mention, it’s very likely that initially, you’ll be earning less than in your previous position because of a lack of experience. 

So, to avoid disappointment and demotivation, it’s important to set realistic expectations and reassess your priorities. 

For instance, if you’re offered a lower salary than you expected, you may want to prioritize work-life balance, self-improvement, or job satisfaction for the time being.

If, on the other hand, your career change takes longer than you’d like, remember to track your progress and celebrate your career change milestones (no matter how small they may seem!) to keep you motivated until you land your dream job.

Why Do People Change Careers? 5 Career Change Statistics 

From a low salary to wanting to start a business, people change careers for various reasons.

Here are 5 recent career change statistics on the most common reasons for making a career change:

  • In 2021, the primary reason for changing careers was an improved work-life balance, driving 27% of people to make a career change. Source: Prudential
  • The second most common drives to making a career change in 2021 were a higher salary (26%) and a wish to try something new (26%). Source: Prudential
  • In 2020, 39% of people changed careers for a higher salary, whereas another 20% made a career change as they wanted upward mobility. Source: GoRemotely
  • In 2020, 21% of workers made a career change to pursue an interest in another field. Source: GoRemotely
  • Over 20% of people preparing for a career change plan to open a personal business. Source: CNBC

How to Know When It's Time to Change Careers  

Not sure if you’re ready for a career change?

Look out for these 7 signs that indicate you should consider making a career change:

  • Your job causes you stress, anxiety, and affects your self-esteem.
  • You find your job boring and lacking challenge.
  • You’re experiencing workplace burnout. 
  • You only work for the money.
  • You find your career unfulfilling.
  • Your work affects your personal life.
  • You dream of leaving your job.

In other words, if you’re unhappy with your career, you may want to look into making a career change.

Career Change Resources 

To make your career change as smooth as possible, take advantage of our career change resources:

Key Takeaways 


By now, you know all there is to make a successful career change, including the steps, reasons, and tell-tale signs indicating the need to transition to a different career.

You also have plenty of tools and resources for making a smooth career change!

Before you start working on your career change action plan, here are some of the key points mentioned in this article:

  • To help you make a successful career change, create an action plan that allows you to track your progress.
  • Reflecting on your current job situation might give you a hint into which career change direction you should take.
  • Consider taking advantage of an internship or volunteering opportunity to try out a new career before fully committing to a career change.
  • According to career change statistics, seeking a higher salary was one of the primary reasons for changing careers both in 2021 and 2022.
  • Whether you lack the work-life balance or find your job boring, feeling dissatisfied with your job is a good indication that you need a career change.