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Updated: January 8, 2024 101

101: Making a career change

Does the new year have you, once again, considering a career shift? According to Forbes, if you make the leap to a new role or industry, you probably won’t be sorry. Last fall, contributor Caroline Castrillon cited an Indeed survey showing 88% of mid-career changers reported being happier in their new positions. But if you’re a seasoned professional, a lot of factors can hold you back. The money and time investment it may take to enter a new field can seem prohibitive, and work and personal demands are distracting. If you have a nagging sense you’d be better suited to a different job, and you’re not just looking for an escape from a negative work environment, heed some helpful tips from experts to elevate your career.

Check your motives. Worthwhile as it may be, changing careers after investing in your existing field for years is not without cost. Be sure you’re in need of a whole new field, not just a different employer or supervisor, Castrillon cautions. That may mean volunteering in your prospective field, or just spending a lot of time talking to people who are already there.

Sell yourself. If you’re hoping to enter a new industry at say, 40, don’t view yourself as a newbie starting on the ground floor. Prospective employers may be highly interested in your transferable skills and less bothered by the fact you come from a different line of work. FlexJobs lists leadership, writing ability, project management, and creativity among the many strengths to highlight if you’re looking to switch gears. Be sure to highlight these and other qualities your career demonstrates to date in your communication with hiring companies.

Trust the timing. Once you’re serious about making a change, realize the timing may take, well, time. Even with solid transferable skills, finding the right new work situation will require finesse and patience, writes Utkarsh Amitabh for Harvard Business Review. It took several attempts to make an internal transfer to a new department, but one successful project was his key to transitioning from corporate strategy to business development before leading his own venture full-time. The lesson: bide your time and cultivate grit.

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