Are you secretly longing to break free from your current career rut and start a new, more fulfilling path?
Most people experience a rollercoaster of emotions - from hope and excitement to fear and self-doubt - when considering getting a new role and starting the job search.
But what if you approached career change like building an action plan - taking it one step at a time with clear goals?
By taking the time to assess your current career, clarify your career goals, research potential careers, read job descriptions, and define your course of action, you can streamline your process and feel confident in your abilities.
In this ultimate guide, we'll explore how to create a successful career change action plan that takes you from dreaming about a new career to actually landing your dream role. With the right roadmap, you can make your ideal career a reality.
If you want to enter the next stage of your professional life, follow these seven steps to build your own career change action plan.
Step 1: Reflect On "Why" You Want to Change
The first step in building a career change action plan is to reflect on why you want to change careers and what motivates you to make the change. Listen to your inner voice. This step seems intimidating, but it is crucial because it helps you identify your values, interests, and passions, which can guide your decision-making process.
Start by getting clear on what's motivating you to make this change. Ask yourself:
Why are you unhappy or unfulfilled in your current role?
What are your core values, interests, and passions?
What problems do you want your work to solve?
Understanding the root causes of your career dissatisfaction will provide crucial clarity as you look for a change.
Step 2: Identify Your Strengths in the Career Plan
The next step is to identify your skills, interests, and values to determine what you want to do in your new career. This step involves self-reflection and self-assessment, which can be challenging but rewarding.
Do you have experience with social media or content creation? Are you a creative problem-solver? By identifying your strengths and passions, you can narrow down your career options and focus on what’s most important to you.
Take stock of your skills, interests, and values to hone in on what you want from a new career:
What skills have you developed in past roles? Do you have transferable skills?
What topics get you excited? What could you talk about for hours?
What working environments and company cultures do you thrive in?
Assessing your strengths helps narrow down career options that fit.
Step 3: Explore Potential Careers
Once you’ve identified your strengths and passions, it’s time to research different careers and industries that align with them. This step involves gathering information about potential careers and evaluating them based on your interests and values.
For example, if you’re interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, research different roles within the industry such as nursing, medical assisting, or health administration. Look at job descriptions for these roles to get a better understanding of what they entail and what qualifications are required.
Start exploring possible careers and industries that align.
Research roles, responsibilities, qualifications, and career paths in fields that interest you.
Read job descriptions and talk to people in roles that excite you. Do some informational interviews and get insider knowledge.
Consider volunteering or shadowing opportunities to test-drive careers.
Exploring options based on your passions prevents wasted time and money.
Step 4: Target A New Career and Set Clear Goals
After exploring your options, it’s time to choose a career. Compare careers and choose one aligned with your values, interests, and strengths.
Once you’ve chosen the direction of your career development, set clear goals. Use Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound - SMART goals to help guide your decision-making process and propel you forward. Avoid choosing based on compensation alone.
Here are some examples of goals that will keep you focused and motivated as you work towards achieving your desired career outcomes:
Learn new skills by completing a digital marketing course in 6 months
Double my LinkedIn connections in three months
Spend two hours this weekend to improve my cover letter
Secure an entry-level marketing position within one year
Step 5: Create Your Career Change Budget
Making a career change often requires financial resources as well as time. While it’s important to dream big, it's also important to determine the financial resources you need to make the transition, including paying down debt and building up a nest egg before leaving your current job.
So the next move is to consider costs like:
Education or training
Building savings to cover the career transition
Paying down debts
Hiring a career coach
Create a budget that allows you to make the switch without money worries sabotaging your progress.
Research the cost of tuition and other expenses such as textbooks or transportation if you’re planning to go back to school to gain new qualifications to bring your career in a new direction. Create a budget that takes into account these expenses as well as any other financial obligations such as rent or mortgage payments.
Step 6: Gain Relevant Experience
Gaining experience in your new career field can be invaluable and help you make a huge impact when setting a new career path. When working your way toward the career field you want, consider:
Volunteering or interning in the industry
Completing side projects or coursework
Freelancing in the field
Adding relevant skills to your resume
This experience gives you an advantage over the competition when you start your job search. You'll have an opportunity to learn more about the industry while also gaining valuable experience that can help you stand out when applying for jobs.
Step 7: Creating a Career Action Plan
The final step is building your career plan. Develop a list of short- and long-term career goals and the actions you can take to achieve them. This step involves breaking down your goals into manageable steps that are achievable within specific timeframes.
Build a detailed roadmap to get there.
Break down big goals like "Get hired in marketing in 1 year" into smaller monthly and weekly objectives. This provides structure and keeps the process from becoming overwhelming.
Change happens. There are many unknowns along the way. So, review and revise your action plan regularly to update your progress and adjust timelines if needed. Having this clear career change action plan will keep you on track and accountable toward your dream career.
Key Takeaways For Building A Career Change Action Plan
Follow these best practices when building your action plan and creating your roadmap:
Self-reflect often to stay aligned with your "why"
Set specific short and long-term goals
Give yourself realistic timeframes
Research salaries and growth projections for your target role
Gain hands-on experience when possible
Update your skills, resume, online profiles, and other career materials accordingly
Save, budget, and reduce debts
Tell friends, family, colleagues about your transition - use your network
Stay focused on your long-term vision when challenges arise
With the right preparation and mindset, you can make your ideal [career change] happen. It won't always be easy, but you got this!
Taking The Next Steps to Change Careers
Making a career change can be a daunting task, but it can also be one of the most rewarding decisions you’ll ever make. It’s natural to feel a range of emotions when considering a career transition, from hope and excitement to fear and doubt. You may be wondering if you’re making the right decision, or if you have what it takes to succeed in a new career.
But here’s the thing: You do have what it takes. By following the seven steps outlined in this article, you'll have a clear plan in place and a strong foundation for a successful career transition.
Remember, building a career change action plan is not just about finding a new job. It’s about finding work that aligns with your values, interests, and passions. It’s about creating a fulfilling career that brings you joy and satisfaction. And it’s about taking control of your life and your future.
So go ahead, and take that first step toward building your dream career. You’ve got this!