Tips for Changing Careers or Jobs

SC&C ready for a new jobAre you looking for a new job or maybe just wishing you were? Voluntary or involuntary doesn’t matter. It may affect the timing and could seriously alter your strategy, but the results are still the same.

The fact is the age of joining a company and working with them until your retirement is gone just doesn’t happen anymore. Surveys and statistics reveal that you are not only bound to change jobs several times in your career, but entire careers during your working life.

Is your company downsizing? Are you fatally bored with your job? Or did you finally find your calling – seeing someone doing a job and saying to yourself “I would love to do that job!”

Statistics indicate that 56% of all U.S. workers are currently interested in switching to a new career, and it’s not surprising that midlife workers have had a big impact on this number,” says Alex Simon of CAREEREALISM.

Career-Change Questions

Unless you’ve been fortunate enough to stumble upon your perfect job that perfectly suits your skills and have an employer lined up who is chomping at the bit to hire you, then you’re going to have to ask yourself some questions:

  • What will you be happy doing?
  • Do you currently have the skills for that?
  • How urgent are your finances?
  • Do you have a support network?

There are all sorts of online quizzes that you can take if you don’t have a clear-cut idea of where you’re going. They basically ask you to assess your likes and dislikes. It’s amazing how many of us don’t really know what our likes are until we write them down.

We’re all pretty good at analyzing what our dislikes are, whether it’s the job, the boss, or the company. But what is it that makes it worthwhile to get out of bed every day? Is that the people that you work with or the customers that you see? Or is it the solitude and utter independence of being a truck driver?

By analyzing your answers you can decide whether it’s going to be a job change or a career change. If you just don’t get along with the current batch of people you work with, you can always find a new place to ply your trade.

Look back at your past achievements, times in your life when you were exercising your strengths. Know that you have what it takes to change careers. Even though the challenges may be very different today, find motivation in your accomplishments”, says Janet Cranford of Career Change Pathways.

If you’re bored and there’s just no challenge left in your job, if you feel ready to move on to a bigger challenge but the boss doesn’t seem to recognize that, and if there’s no apparent way to advance in your current situation, then it’s probably time to start looking for a new position.

Changing jobs from a sales clerk to an astronomer is going to be complex. Changing course from being a physical education teacher to a corporate trainer might be a lot simpler.

What Skills Are Transferrable?

Leadership experience of any kind is transferable; problem solving and troubleshooting work in just about any job; the ability to plan and execute works everywhere. It may be that you need some particular technical knowledge in order to change careers. If you’re still employed and looking for a change within the company, it may be worthwhile to see if they’re willing to foot the bill for a new degree, or certification, or accreditation.

Reach Out to Friends and Contacts

SC&C Contact Friends and Family for New Job RecommendationsPeople you deal with on a daily basis may be able to steer you toward employment opportunities. Many available jobs nowadays go unadvertised, filled by recommendations from insiders. Take advantage of this invisible job market by letting people know that you’re available and looking for a new opportunity.

If your personal network is small, join some professional organizations related to your job. This would also be a really good time to optimize your LinkedIn profile and update your experience profile.

If a career change is in your future, see if you can find someone established in your (potential) new industry to act as a mentor. Not only can they teach you, but they can recommend you, and possibly even point you to specific opportunities.

Gain Experience in the Field

If you’re not currently employed, consider some volunteer work in the new field. If you are still employed, consider night shifts or weekends in order to gain familiarity with the job. Not only can it generate experience, but it can give you a good idea of what the job will be like once you are fully integrated. It’s better to find out early if the work is nothing like you expected.

Financially Plan for the Change

If you have some warning that your department is going to be downsizing, start socking away money as fast as you can. Reasonably, well-prepared people usually keep three to six months salary as a cushion. If you’ve already got that, add to it anyway.

If you can’t find your perfect job, you may want to think about being a consultant, applying your skills to smaller companies that may not have access to people with your abilities. But that’s going to take some set up capital and is going to involve some time with limited income.

Keep All Options Open for a Career Change

Be prepared to be flexible. Consulting or temping can be used as a stopgap measure but in the right circumstances might turn into a career. If someone asks you to move to Pittsburgh for a new opportunity, don’t refuse automatically because it’s 1,500 miles away. A lot of companies will finance a move for someone they deem to be valuable.

More importantly, be flexible on your salary. A new company can’t be expected to offer your previous salary because they don’t know your abilities yet. And while you may have been capped-out at your previous company, the new one may have higher limits that you can aspire to.


Preparation, networking, and flexibility will save the day even if a change in employment status is sudden and unexpected. From my own experience I can tell you how surprising it is to work for a company for over 13 years and arrive at work one day to find the doors locked and the owners gone. Don’t be caught unprepared.

If you don’t have a cushion fund, build it now; if your network is sparsely populated, expand it; if you have warning signs that your job status might change, start researching a new job now.

OK, you’ve got your plan! Get to it!

Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of decision makers and senior executives during their job searches. Their clients have moved up in their careers and achieved significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200, to learn how SC&C and their team of professionals can help you, and connect with SC&C on LinkedIn at

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