The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

March 13, 2012

The Do’s and Don’ts of Changing Careers

If you’ve made the decision to change careers, you may feel overwhelmed by your options and how to pursue them. Perhaps you are uncertain about how to approach objectives such as acquiring new technical skills, networking with the appropriate professionals or even selecting an industry. While changing careers is undoubtedly more difficult than switching jobs, which simply involves transferring your existing skill set from one employer to another, the process can be successfully executed with the right preparation.  Before making any concrete changes familiarize yourself with the DO’s and DON’Ts of changing careers.


Do Don’t
  • Do assess the specific reasons why you wish to change careers in order to best recognize what types of positions and fields you will enjoy.

  • The best approach is to analyze your current job responsibilities and determine which you like and dislike.
  • Don’t choose to change careers simply because you’re currently unhappily employed.

  • Your discontent might stem from your incompatibility with colleagues or the organization, rather than with the nature of the work itself.

  • Make sure you are certain of this distinction before taking action.
  • Do remain alert to accessible opportunities in your current role to develop new skills that would be beneficial to a different type of career.

  • If you’re given the opportunity to participate in a project in which you would not normally contribute, treat it as a learning experience where you can expose yourself to useful competencies that can be used in a new career. 
  • Don’t resign from your current position without first establishing a new one.

  • If you can manage to conduct research, network or take weekend/night classes in preparation for a new career while maintaining your present job, do so to avoid later professional, financial or personal difficulties.
  • Do research relevant information, such as the viability of obtaining the desired type of role in your geographic area, educational and professional prerequisites and the organizations and industries in which the kind of position is most commonly available.
  • Don’t ignore reality by searching for jobs within poorly-performing industries or organizations or those for which you could never possibly qualify.

  • Neglecting to evaluate actual market factors and trends could significantly impede your ability to find an attainable role in a new field.
  • Do identify valuable skills that can be easily transferred to your new career.

  • This could include something as specific as being proficient in certain computer software to something as broad as having strong managerial or leadership capabilities. 

  • While additional education may be necessary for success in a new career, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that less training is needed than originally anticipated.
  • Don’t enroll in university or technical classes without carefully considering all of your options.

  • By rushing back into academia, you risk wasting valuable time and money on potentially unnecessary courses.

  • If you decide that further schooling is absolutely required, start out with one or two classes at most; this way, you can evaluate whether or not you are truly interested in the material.
  • Do test the waters by exploring temporary positions within your career field of interest.

  • Such roles offer tangible exposure to new roles without full commitment.

  • An excellent advantage to this type of work is that, after a certain period of employment, you may be offered a permanent position.
  • Don’t forget to modify your resume when applying to positions in a new field.

  • The content you have used for past resumes will not demonstrate to employers that you are motivated to succeed in a new career.

  • Instead, you’ll need to create a resume that highlights your transferable skills – rather than your work history – and supplement it with a cover letter expressing your passion and qualification for entering the field.
  • Do expand your network as much as possible to meet professionals who either work in your career field of interest or are looking to enter it.

  • Recommended tactics include active participation in online professional organizations and asking friends or colleagues to put you in touch with others who can provide leads.
  • Don’t let money be a major motivating force in selecting a new career.

  • Just because a particular industry appears profitable does not mean that you will be earning a higher salary after changing careers; realistically, you will probably be sacrificing some income in exchange for a more satisfactory career.

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