Want a Career Change but Don’t Know What to Do? Read This.

You are stuck in a job you don't like? Ready to shift careers but unsure of what else to do or where to begin? Well, you are not alone. A lot of people seeking career change struggle with figuring out where to start. In this article, we take you through easy steps in helping you figure out what career you should go for and how to switch to it.

Key Takeaways

You are stuck in a job you don't like? Ready to shift careers but unsure of what else to do or where to begin? Well, you are not alone. A lot of people seeking career change struggle with figuring out where to start. In this article, we take you through easy steps in helping you figure out what career you should go for and how to switch to it.

According to a study, 39% of Americans are thinking about changing careers. Only 14% of Americans say their jobs are fantastic and they wouldn't change a thing. Approximately 70% of all adults who are working age are actively looking for alternate work.

There are numerous reasons why your career interests may shift, giving you access to exciting new options. 

Your values or career goals might have changed, you might want to make more money or have more flexible hours, you might have discovered new interests that you'd like to incorporate into your work, and so on.

Not surprisingly, most people do not always land their first jobs under a well-thought-out strategy and soon find that they have invested years and even decades in the same field. 

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It's best to find a career that allows you to match your job requirements with your values, skills, and interests. It can be unpleasant and irritating to work a dead-end job or in a position that doesn't fit your abilities and interests.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Want a career change but don’t know what to do?

Is it normal to not know what career you want?

Yes it is and don’t worry, we have got you covered. In this article, we will look at all the steps from evaluating your career options to the steps required to successfully change your career.

The average person will work 12 jobs throughout their lifetime, according to estimates. 32% of those aged 25 to 44 had thought about changing their careers in the past year. 29% of people have entirely changed fields since beginning their first job out of college.

Americans work for one employer on average for roughly 4.1 years before they consider a switch. 

When was the last time you made a switch?

The first step is typically the most difficult one when it comes to career changes. An excellent way to get started is to set aside some time to investigate the field(s) or area(s) you're interested in online. You might even want to think about working with a career coach or mentor. 

If you need help here are two guides to 6 Best Podcasts and 7 Best Books for changing your career at any age.

Start with some self-reflection if you know you desire a change but genuinely have no clue what you want to accomplish. Think about your areas of interest, things that excite you, and any potential professional goals.

Let’s focus on this important aspect first. If we figure out what we want, planning the journey on how to get there becomes more manageable.

By the way, if you want a detailed guide into how to switch career paths that covers everything from beginning to end, check out this guide!

A Stressed Employee at Work
Photo by Yan Krukov

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

When you are a child you get asked this question a lot. At that age, you always have an idea of what you want to be when you grow up. Sometimes it's silly and impractical but children only care about what excites them and not the practicality of it.

As we get into the job market, the reality of paying the bills every month sets in and we throw our passions out of the window and get the highest paying job we can manage. The career change you are planning for next has to be somewhere between both these extremes. 

You don’t want to follow your passion to a job that will not be enough to pay the bills but also you don’t want to be stuck in a well-paying job where you hate getting up every morning to go to work.

Let’s take a typical example, imagine that you are an accountant. However, you always wanted to be a writer. You have a very creative personality and an excellent command of the written word. You know that one day you will achieve something great if you follow your passion.

Sounds nice… but what if you have a mortgage on the house and kids in college, you might not be able to afford to walk away from your accounting job and just start writing a book. It takes years before the average writer’s published work starts generating enough money to sustain them.

So how do you change careers in this scenario? Well, there are also jobs that pay well for writing… from technical writers to copywriters in advertising agencies, there is a lot to be made by writing. This switch will allow you to take the first step toward your ultimate goal of becoming a published writer.

Now let’s apply what we learned from this example to practical steps that anyone can take, including you, to see what your personality and values say you should aim for.

How can you find a potential alternate career if you are struggling to know what you want?

“I want a new job but I don't know what?”

Well, start by identifying the aspects of your current position or career that are bothering you by going through our checklist below. 

But first things first, do you really need to switch?

1. Do you like the work you do but have problems with the coworkers you work with or the business you work for?

  • If you appreciate the work you do but are having problems with your coworkers, have you talked to HR or someone senior on how to handle the situation?
  • Are there any other organizations that offer the same roles if the firm itself is a problem?

2. Is the primary issue your pay grade?

  • Could you make a pay raise request?

3. Is a long daily commute to work what is bothering you?

  • Why not inquire with your employers about work-from-home policies or reduced workweeks to limit the number of days you must travel?

“No, the nature of the current job is what makes me unhappy and it can’t be fixed!”

1. Do you actually hate the work you're doing but are unsure of what you would want to do in its place? 

  • Sit down and make some lists. If you can, this is the perfect opportunity to add a personal development coach to your team. They will listen honestly, guide you through the minefield, and frequently come up with ideas you wouldn't have considered on your own.

2. Decide what you really enjoy doing in life and what your true passion is.

  • Would you be able to support yourself by following this passion?
  • Could you pursue your desire part-time if not full-time to see how it grows?
  • Would you require training to establish a lucrative profession, regardless of the industry?
  • Find out who else is doing it and how well they are doing by asking around and browning the net. There will normally be numerous resources for any given career option available online that take you through the pros and cons of the job.

Examine your career options

Having gone through our quick checklist above you might have a couple of ideas to pursue by now. 

You might even have ambitions to set up your own business, in which case you will definitely need to go through our guide on the subject: 10 Essential Career Change Tips to Becoming an Entrepreneur

If, however, you are still not sure of what you truly want don’t panic, there are a few sure-fire scientific ways of analyzing what is going on in your head.

Your objectives, life goals, motivations, self-reported talents, personality type, and other characteristics are taken into account when you take a career change quiz or personality test (sometimes referred to as a psychometric exam) to find the employment that is most suited for you.

These elements are combined, and a list of "best possible careers" is produced for you to sort through and pick from for further investigation.

Psychometric evaluation methods, however, are unable to identify "THE BEST JOB." Keep in mind that you can be suitable for a variety of jobs. You must decide which option on the list, if any, is the best fit for you.

Here are two great tests you should take to help you get started on the journey to your self-discovery:

  1. Free online career test by www.careerfitter.com
    Find out which jobs suit you best and which careers match your personality. Get your free career report by spending 10 minutes answering the 60 questions on this online career exam from Career Fitter. For more than 20 years, universities, career counselors, and businesses all across the world have trusted them.
  1. Free online Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typology personality test
    What type of personality do you have and what does it say about the kind of job you should do? You will receive your 4-letter Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers typology type formula, along with a description of your personality type, communication style, and learning preferences, after completing the free personality assessment questionnaire.

Find out what jobs and careers fit your personality best, along with examples of institutions of higher learning where you can receive the training or degree you need.

Use the test results to shortlist your options

You've completed your self-reflection, perhaps by working with a coach, or by taking the above-mentioned personality tests and you have now identified the industry in which you should be seeking employment. 

Let's go back to our original example above, and say that your typology personality test result was Diplomat with the subgroup Mediator.

This specific personality type is particularly drawn to writing, which is a notoriously challenging (and frequently underpaid) profession as we discussed earlier. Yet good-paying jobs in copywriting, blogging, PR for small businesses and social enterprises, case study writing, and even research all fit under the umbrella of writing. 

Therefore, by adopting a little different way of thinking, you can expand your employment alternatives once you've identified a significant personality feature.

Unmudl tip: Before quitting your career, look for ways to get a taste of what your future role might be like. Is it more comfortable than what you're doing right now? Is making this modification worthwhile? 

Take some time off from work, even just a week, if you can, to devote yourself to your passion project. Use your leisure time (weekends or after hours) to experiment with the industries or positions you are interested in if you don't already have a passion project and are just seeking anything new. 

This could be doing volunteer work, job shadowing, or simply informational interviews with people in professions you find inspiring.

Photo of Three People Smiling While Having a Meeting
Photo by fauxels

Making that career change

Next, if you follow these instructions, you'll soon be bidding your boring old job farewell and welcoming a brand-new career that makes you think of the person we all used to know and love.

  1. Choose your next career path
    It's time to decide what you want to move on to for your next job. You undoubtedly had a few ideas by now, but now is the time to shortlist one. 
    What do you wish to do to make you happy? Consider your current advantages and disadvantages one more time as you do this exercise: What do you enjoy and detest about your work? What is your life's purpose? What brings you joy? Do you prefer working for yourself or for someone else once more? Is it possible to start your own business or even practice freelancing? 

    After responding to these inquiries, you ought to have a better notion of the course you need to take.

    By the way, in case you are wondering, there is no specific age that is too old to make a career change. Of course, it is better when you do it in your 30s and 40s but don’t let that be a hindrance.
  1.  Consider a formal qualification and pick up the necessary new skills
    Now you can begin taking specific actions to make your next career move happen once you've decided what it will be.
    You will need to acquire a number of industry- and job-specific skills regardless of the professional path you choose. This entails being familiar with specialized terminology, picking up on any key ideas and processes, and mastering industry-specific technologies.
    You can begin with independent learning:
  • If you're entering a hands-on industry like technical writing or photography, you should watch YouTube videos.
  • Learning about the subject through books and blogs
  • Listening to podcasts for your industry
  • Where feasible, try out equipment, tools, and software

    If you're switching to a brand-new field, however, it's best to follow a predetermined study path. This could be a standard college or university degree, an online course or boot camp, or a vocational training program, depending on the field you're entering.

    Selecting the appropriate curriculum or qualification for a career transition
    You should take into account the following when selecting a course or qualification:
  • Does your new professional path need a particular degree or certification? There are numerous courses and credentials that can help you break into some areas. 

    For certain specialized jobs, you might not be accepted unless they have a certain accreditation, such as psychologist programs accredited by the APA. Before spending time and money on a course, do your research.
  • Can you dedicate enough time to mastering new skills? You should think about enrolling in a flexible course or certification if you intend to continue your current work while gaining new skills for your career change. 

    You may want to think about something more intensive if you're willing and able to commit full-time. Consider your schedule before registering.
  • How will you pay for your education? The price of a course or certification may vary depending on where you live. Consider how you'll pay for your studies in advance and look into your alternatives for scholarships, grants, income-sharing contracts, loans, and payment plans.

    Following the structured path above, your chosen course of action should offer you a systematic, professionally accepted method of learning the skills you'll need to be successful in your new career. 
    You should also read our guide to seven short courses for a rewarding career change.
  1. Focus on your transferrable skills

    When considering a career transition, we frequently place a lot of emphasis on the knowledge and expertise we lack. The most effective career changers, however, also pay attention to what they already have to offer and how to use those skills in a new, seemingly unrelated field.

    Take some time to consider your prior experience while you gain new abilities for your new career. What skills may your present or past positions give you for your future career? 

    For instance, if you're a teacher switching to a marketing career, you already understand how crucial it is to personalize your material to particular audiences.

    This phase is crucial since it aids in your ability to prove the value you can bring to your new employment. Although it may seem like you're starting from zero, you usually have a lot of transferrable talents.

    To make a compelling argument for why you are a top candidate, emphasize these skills in your CV, cover letters, personal website or portfolio, LinkedIn profile, and during interviews.
  1. Make a plan of action and set some goals for yourself

    First and foremost, make some goals for yourself. Outline your objectives for the year, the following six months, and the next six weeks working backward.

    You should start writing yourself weekly goals starting today, little things you want to do over the following three months so you can quit your job and start a better career by say Christmas.

    Just focus on one modest task per day if you are working a full-time job in addition to doing this. For instance, one daily objective would be to email a copywriter to schedule a coffee date to talk about how he got started in his job.

    Always keep your long-term objectives in mind; frame them and hang them on the wall. This will serve as a reminder of your motivation for taking the actions you are and your final goals. Your objectives must to be clear, have a time limit, and be documented. Above all, be realistic with your deadlines. Do more for yourself.
Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Final thoughts

Many people hate their jobs but don’t know how to go about changing them or are too afraid to take the first step. How frequently do people switch careers? ranging from five to seven. Don't let outdated ideas about changing careers or jobs influence how you conduct your professional life. 

Many members of the present workforce might anticipate continuing to work until they are 70 years old, and 40 to 50 years is a long time to devote to one task, especially if it makes you unhappy. Follow the steps above and you should not only have a clear understanding of what you want but will have a clear path on how to get there. We wish you the best of luck with your new career!

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do I decide what career to change?

How do you know if a career is not right for you?

Should I keep working a job I hate?

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