How to Plan a Career Change

How to Plan a Career Change

People change careers for many reasons; losing interest in their current career, finding new interest, redundancy, company down sizing, wanting less or more responsibility,  whatever the reason if you are planning for a career change, you need to know how to plan.

Making a career change, for many is a scary thought by following the steps below you will be able to make a much smoother transition. Often we have been brought up with the belief “you have to choice a career for life” in the past this was true, in more recent times this belief is false, as many people have 2-3 successful careers during their lifetime.

A career change is natural life progression, helping you stay fresh and motivated, as a career coach I would first check why you want a career change? As many people would stay in their current career or organisation if they could male a few minimal changes to their current role. If you know you truly need a career change follow the plan below:

Wants and Don’t Wants: There are probably good reasons why you want a career change, you might want to get away from something negative or you are aiming for something positive.

What do you really like doing when you’re at work, what do you hate doing, what excites you and energize you? What’s your passion? What don’t you like about your job role and position?

Thinking about your current role, write a list under each of the headings below, keep adding to each list until you cant add anything else, then add one more thing, there is always one more, what is yours?

I have provided some real examples from past clients, to help get you started:

  • Want and Have: Flexible Hours, Creativity, My Own Caseload, Excellent Pay
  • Have and Don’t Want: Long Distance to Travel, Bossy Manager, Constant Interruptions
  • Don’t Have and Want: Personal Development Opportunities, Excitement in my Job, Future Prospects
  • Don’t Have and Don’t Want: to Travel throughout the UK, Lack of Responsibility


Want and Have

Have and Don’t Want Don’t Have and Want

Don’t Have and Don’t Want



By writing this list, you have now become more aware of your Likes, Dislikes and Wants; ask yourself; Which list did you find easiest to write? Which list did you relate to the most? Which list made you most excited?

Ask yourself, if you could change or delete some of the Have and Don’t Want, would you still want to change career or would you be happy to stay in the same job?

Look at your Have and Don’t Want List, re-word each “away from” statement, example “I don’t want constant interruptions when I’m working” to a “towards” statement, example I want to work in a company that allows you to work without interruption”

You can now move all your new statements from the “Have and Don’t Want” heading to the “Don’t Have and Want”

Choosing a New Career: Now you are more aware of your likes, wants and don’t wants, turn your page over and in a large circle write Personal Strengths.  Start to record your strengths, skills and qualities as a mind map, mind mapping is a great way to get into the “flow” of writing your personal strengths – this is not a time to be shy, remember all the good things others have said about you and add these to the mind map.

If you have an idea of the new career you are looking to enter write this Job Title above “personal strengths” go through each strength one by one asking yourself “do I need this skill or strength in my new career?” circle all the transferable strengths you have that you need for your new career.

You will be surprised by the amount of transferable skills you already possess that are needed for your new career and job position.

If you’re unsure about which career will suit you, a Careers Advisor can help you match your wants and your personal skills and strengths to different careers. When looking at your new career, you need to check that the job specification and company mission matches your Have and Want and Don’t Have and Want list.

Training and Education: Now you know which career or sector you have set as your new career goal, you need to check the job profile or job specification, as you may need to re-train or update your knowledge. Some sectors will offer training on the job, other careers will accept the qualifications you already have, while some sectors will require you to gain new qualifications before applying for the job role.

Experience: You are already aware of your transferrable skills, to gain new skills or to increase your current experience you can volunteer for a position similar to that of your new career goal, this will look positive as part of the job application and it will also give you a better insight to the job role, duties and if this is the right career move for you.

Networking: Your ability to network is one of the key abilities to changing your career; networking will give you inside industry information making you an industry expert and gives you the upper hand on other job hunters, as you gain job leads, careers information, knowledge of the application process and gaining personal contacts.

Gain a Mentor: Finding a Mentor can help you with your careers transition and will often give you a real insight into your new career sector. A mentor will often know industry information such as which organisation has won a new contract, taking on new staff.

Targeted Employability Skills: You need to prepare your CV, Covering Letter, Interview Skills and Application Form, many job hunters fall into the trap of selling the skills needed for their old career – take another look at your transferable skills and new job specification, you need to target yourself to the essential criteria needed for this new career.  

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