Do’s and Don’ts of Changing Your Career Path

never stop dreaming

Few people start a job thinking they’ll hate it, but plenty of people end up that way.

If you find your work unfulfilling or feel as though your potential is being wasted, you may need to make a career change. But if you change careers for the wrong reasons, you may take a pay cut only to learn you hate your new job as much as the last.

That’s why it’s critical that any change in career includes a plan for transitioning to a new field and not repeating the mistake of entering the wrong career.

What To Do If You Hate Your Job

As much as you might want to quit a job you hate, there are several good reasons not to. For starters, having a steady income is important to keeping a roof over your head and food on your table.

Secondly, outright quitting a job with no notice can be a blemish on your professional reputation. Here are a few pointers for what to do if you hate your job and how to smoothly transition to a new one.

  • Don’t make money your motivation.

    There's usually a mismatch between our expectations and reality. You might think you want to be a lawyer with a six figure salary, until you realize it means working 75 hours a week and that studying law bores you to death. If you make your decision on money alone, your next career change is all but guaranteed to be dissatisfying.

  • Know yourself and your skills.

    The career that’s right for you should match your strengths, personality, values, and interests.

    Did you learn great people skills at your last job? Would you like your work to have a positive impact on your community? What is it you dislike about your current employment? You’re in a much better position to see how your skills match up with career opportunities once you have a clear picture of what you can offer, and what you want out of a job.
  • Match your abilities to different lines of work.

    You may find your dream job was something you would’ve never considered if you hadn’t taken the time to see how your abilities can be applied to different fields. Our Career Planning Quiz can help you start that search by matching your unique traits to a high-paying career.


Mistakes to Avoid

A career takes years to develop, however, not every career change means you’ll be starting from square one.

Reasonably, when you change careers, you can expect to lose ground. A lower position and a pay cut usually accompany a lack of experience in your new career. That’s why it’s important to carefully reflect on what a career change means for your long term career goals, as well as your short term situation.

Avoid Broadcasting Your Desire to Leave Your Current Job

When you're not happy at your current place of work, it's natural to want to voice your dissatisfaction with griping and gossip. But advertising that you’re unhappy won’t do you any favors.

Word gets around, and the last thing you want to do is signal to your boss you’re looking for a change in the unforeseen future. Broadcasting your dissatisfaction may lead you to lose your job, and it may lead you to lose the respect of your peers who are staying behind.

Don’t Quit Until You Have a Confirmed Job Offer

Another major mistake to avoid is quitting before you’ve got another job lined up. Losing your current job will only make finding your next one more difficult.

Research has found people with long-term unemployment are as much as 45% less likely to get an interview than an identical candidate that’s employed or recently unemployed. That means the longer you’re unemployed, the more difficult it is to find a new job.

How To Change Your Career

Now that you have a good idea of what not to do, here are a few pointers for changing your career and scoping out a new job that will be a lot more satisfying.

  • Don’t just look for jobs. Look for people.

    If your idea of looking for employment is going through a job board online, you’re only seeing a fraction of the jobs out there. People tend to hire or recommend who they know, and these types of jobs are only accessible by building relationships and expanding your network.

    Instead of looking for jobs, look for people. You can start by making connections with the people you already know, and trying to meet new people in the industry you want to join such as at networking events or career fairs.
  • Get your name out there on LinkedIn!

    Get your name out there so the people you want to work for know you exist, but don’t only look for jobs inside your industry. Odds are, there are job opportunities perfect for you that you’d never consider without looking at everything available.

    Making sure your LinkedIn profile and other professional social profiles are up-to-date is important with any recent courses you’ve taken, skills you’ve acquired, and other relevant info. Many recruiters often scout based on specific skills. Having a regularly updated profile can help you attract the right company -- even if it’s outside of the industry you’ve worked in.

  • Evaluate your skills.

    But what kind of jobs should you look into, and which are you unqualified for?

    You can answer that question by evaluating which of your skills are transferable, and which soft-skills you’ve practiced in your previous work. Did your last job help you develop strong communication skills? Are you a great leader?

    If you’re changing careers, your experience has probably given you many of the skills necessary to thrive in careers you’ve never formally trained for. By identifying those skills, you can tailor your resume to emphasize the abilities most wanted by the places you’re interested in working.


How To Leave Your Job For a New One With Class

In the professional world, burning bridges is never a good idea.

If you're leaving a career you don't like, you might be tempted to make a dramatic exit for emotional catharsis. However, in a few years you may find yourself returning to that company and you may want a positive reference from your boss in the future.

You can part on good terms by bowing out with basic courtesy. That means giving two weeks’ notice, and making your decision to leave feel strictly professional. Even when you’re free from the job you hated, don’t talk poorly about the people you used to work with. Bridges can be burned both intentionally or accidentally, and word tends to get around.

The most qualified candidate isn't always the person who gets the job. Often times it's the person with passion; the one who built relationships with who they wanted to work for.

That’s why these tips for transitioning into a new career work. Once you’ve figured out what your strengths and interests are, the rest is just a matter of time.