Career Change

How to Change Careers: The Ultimate Guide

Why sit in a dead-end job when you can change your career and change your life?

In this ultimate guide, we cover everything from what kind of career to move into, how to evaluate your skills, ways to get more qualified, cover letters, resumes, interview tips, and MORE. So why wait? Find your new path today!

Feeling stuck in a dead-end job and don't know how to change careers? Stuck in a rut and don't know how to get out? Or maybe your professional career field isn't right for you. If so, you're not alone. Many people find themselves wanting to switch careers at some point in their lives. 

In 2022 research by Pew found, "Roughly one-in-five workers say they are very or somewhat likely to look for a new job in the next six months, but only about a third of these workers think it would be easy to find one." (1)

However, with a bit of work, it IS possible to make a successful transition into a new fulfilling career. Whether you're thinking about a big career transition or just want to explore your job options, go ahead and read on to see the possibilities more clearly!

Our ultimate guide can help you get started finding and settling into your dream job!

Should You Make a Career Change or Job Change?

The first step is deciding whether you need a career change or just a job change.

Depending on your goals and interests, you may do better changing to a new job OR changing your career and going into an entirely new field or industry!

Do I Just Need to Change Jobs?

Perhaps you love your job but feel trapped by a company culture that doesn't suit your beliefs. Or your boss nit-picks everything you do. Maybe you're hitting a glass ceiling and can't find your way up the ladder.

So consider what bothers you at your current job. Once you have that list, see if simply changing jobs can work for you! 

Sometimes, taking a risk and changing your job to another employer can bring the benefits you're looking for! To earn a higher wage, CNBC says, "Forget negotiating with your current employer. Sometimes the easiest way to get a bump is to find a new job."

They cite data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showing that "Wage gains for people who have switched jobs have outpaced those who’ve stayed at one employer since 2011." (2)

Here are some factors to consider when deciding if you just need a job change:

Management Style: Maybe your current day job has you feeling like no one understands your beliefs or considers your core values important. A new employer can provide you with a new company culture.

Work-Life Balance: Perhaps your current employer keeps you working long hours without free time for your personal life. Look for flexible hours or healthy benefits such as a free gym or daycare on-site.

Career Trajectory: You feel stuck in your current salary or unable to move into the next step of your career goals. You may want to make more money. If so, find out what other companies offer in benefits and salary packages for your same position.

Difficult or Abusive Personalities: You work with difficult personalities such as co-workers or a boss. Perhaps, have a chat with your human resources department and transfer to another location.

Find Job Satisfaction With a Complete Career Switch

Finding career success in a new position can feel overwhelming – how do you decide whether to change careers within the same industry, a related industry, or entirely different industry?

To get a better idea of what you want, consider these ideas.

Staying In the Same Industry

If you could see yourself staying in the current industry with a different job title, look at current jobs available in your current company or the same industry.

For example, let's say your current position is as a restaurant manager for a large popular restaurant. You may want a career as a regional manager for the same franchise.

In this case, you might talk to human resources to find out if there is potential for advancement within the same company. Or you might apply to a different company to work as a regional manager of a restaurant with a similar structure and operations.

By staying in the same industry, you have more familiarity with processes and job roles, and you possess technical insider knowledge.

In addition, it's less risky to stay in the same industry since you can rely on professional network connections you've made in the past to find your new position.

Going Into a Related Industry

Changing careers into a related industry is a bit riskier, but it's still familiar territory. You may possess a good amount of experience that can translate into a related industry. 

For example, let's say you're an auto mechanic but looking for something different that aligns with some of the new growing job trends.

Pursuing a career in mechatronics would be an exciting and logical option that would leverage the experience you already have in areas such as mechanical systems, electrical components, and computer diagnostics.

You could easily sign-up for a mechatronics course that equips you with the skills you need to make that career change in a matter of a few months and get you hired with a reputable company.

You'd then be able to use your transferable skills to thrive in the related industry of mechatronics, excelling with new job duties involving robotic systems, sensors and actuators, programming control algorithms, and complex machinery.

Going Into An Entirely Different Industry

Finally, sometimes you may need to go into a completely new industry to fulfill your career change.

Did you know that "about half of job switchers also change their industry or occupation in a typical month?" (3)

In these cases, you might need to take some classes in the new field, find an internship or apprenticeship, or engage in networking activities to help you connect with relevant contacts.

For example, let's say your current career is as a daycare manager. You have a few years of experience, but you're starting to feel bored working in this field and want something challenging in a new industry.

After some introspection, you decide you'd make an excellent clothing retail store manager. While this jump may seem daunting, there are ways to make it happen, especially if you're a style maven and shopping is your favorite hobby!

Start by researching retail management and educational programs that can help you gain the credentials necessary for a job in this field.

After considering how to gain educational advantages, you might conduct informational interviews or do job shadowing in your new field. 

You might also need to attend conferences and workshops or even work as a retail sales employee to gain insider knowledge before your dreams come true.

However, with some hard work, dedication, and determination, you can make the jump from daycare facility manager to retail sales manager!

While switching careers by changing industries entirely is a riskier option, it can be ideal if you need a complete restart! It can also jumpstart your career by aligning your passions and interests with your career path!

After all, “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” ― J.M. Barrie

Many professionals find with just a short course of study or a certificate program, they are ready to start applying for their dream job!

Identify Your Current Skill Set

One of the first steps of successful career changes is identifying your current transferable skills. These are your developed skills that you can use in the career path you transition into.

Hiring managers often look for skills to make you successful in a new position. While they may see your unrelated past experience, they take you more seriously as a candidate if you have the right skills for a new position!

Transferable skills can be either hard skills or soft skills.

Examples of Hard Skills:

  • Computer Programming
  • Mathematics
  • Project Management
  • Accountancy
  • Writing

Examples of Soft Skills:

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Problem Solving
  • Organization and Time Management 
  • Empathy
  • Creativity

Once you have identified your transferable skills, highlight them on resumes, cover letters, and job applications. Doing this will help you stand out from other candidates and show potential employers that you have the relevant skills to succeed in a new role or industry.

For example, let's say you're an IT professional managing a software engineering team. However, you’ve been reading more business strategy articles and find yourself dreaming about a change. 

While you enjoy coding and managing others at your job, business strategy interests you now. You find yourself dreaming about how to make businesses successful. Your daily grind is becoming a chore, and you want to enact big-picture logistics for a company.

You consider becoming a business analyst so that you could be the one helping steer the direction of a company. First, you look at the skills you may need to be successful in this field.

So you check out the skills required as a business analyst. (4)

Understanding Business Objectives

Analytical and Critical Thinking

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Negotiation and Cost-Benefit Analysis

Decision-Making Skills

Programming Languages

Creation of Reports and Dashboards

Database and SQL

Microsoft Excel

Documentation and Presentation

You see that your skill set already encompasses many of these abilities, including computer technical skills and management skills.

If you stay in the software firm you're at, you may be able to level up into an analyst position using your transferable skills, technical know-how, and current professional network.

The career change process is not easy, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Whether you are changing careers within the same industry or completely switching industries, knowing yourself and your strengths can take you far!

Career Change Ideas for Specific Industries

If you need some ideas as a jumping point, take a look at the articles below. Gain insight into some natural career changes from different types of professions.

To change career fields, it can also help to talk with close friends or a career coach who can help you identify your abilities and interests.

You may also want to check out: 7 Best Books for Career Changes or 6 Best Podcasts for Career Changes.

Changing Careers at Any Age

People of every age change careers!

Regardless of your life stage, the pros and cons of your attractiveness as a potential employee will be evident to recruiters and hiring managers. 

Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your demographic for the most effortless transition. As you seek a career change, play to your strengths as much as possible. 

Below are some of the main factors you will want to consider as you think about changing careers at different points in your life.

Career Change in Your 20s

Use your education to your advantage, especially if you went to a prestigious university or graduated with a high GPA or a challenging course of study.

Take inventory of soft and hard skills you may have learned so far.

Utilize your network of fresh connections on LinkedIn and connect with those who can help you change careers. Reach out to your professors if they can help.

If you don't have a degree, consider taking a course online with a community college network that spans the country. Find the fast track into a new career, or start finding your interests and abilities over time.

Realize that you have a fresh perspective and new ways of seeing the world that older eyes forget to see.

Create social media content to find recognition in your field. YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, or Reddit --make your voice and any expertise you have heard!

Check out our blog, "Career Change in Your 20s" for more tips and tricks!

Career Change in Your 30s

You know your interests and what you're good at, so consider your transferable skills as you look at a career or job change.

Take a class, boot camp, course of study, or certification that can help you successfully make a career change.

Do an informational interview if you're unsure if a career is for you!

It's easy for you to move laterally into a similar job, but at a better company.

Avoiding an entry-level position is likely for you, even with a complete career makeover! A class or certification can go a long way to getting you a job in a new field.

Now is a good time to get the benefits you want such as flexible hours, better pay, or a higher rung on the ladder!

Check out GlassDoor for employee reviews of companies

Look at career job sites to find a job posting that might interest you if you're not sure about your direction yet.

Career Change in Your 40s

Don't quit your day job. Work on creating the skills you need while continuing at your current job.

Reduce stress by finding a balance between handling income responsibilities and preparing for a new work reality.

Your 40s are the best years to change a career. You've acquired enough knowledge and experience at this point in your life to make a well-informed decision about what will make you happier for the rest of your career.

Decide whether the benefits of changing your career outweigh staying in the same position.

Consider becoming an entrepreneur. You may have the skills and insight to take your expertise to the market! You can start building your personal brand and slowly build your new venture until you're ready to go full-time with it!

List your transferable skills and then take a course or get a certificate in any skills you need to switch into your new profession.

Find out more about Career Change in Your 40s

Career Change in Your 50s

Highlight your experience in interviews, resumes, and cover letters. Others will likely be astounded at how much you've accomplished and all of the roles you've filled

A professional shift in your 50s can help you live a more fulfilled life than considering retirement.

Find new challenges or try an entirely new field for an adventurous change. You're less likely to have young children, so throw yourself into your passions.

Your skills are well-developed, and many employers see you as prime hiring material! You may have organizational abilities and interpersonal skills that younger people can only dream of. And you may have developed a deep empathy for others, having been through some life challenges.

Consider your health, personal values, and work-life balance before making the change.

Learn more about changing careers as a 50+ with, “How to Change Careers in Your 50s”

Career Change in Your 60s+

It's done every day. Changing your path in your 60's and beyond is possible!

At age 62, Harland David Sanders franchised the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) brand. At age 61, Charles Ranlett Flint created IBM. At age 65, Jim Butenschoen left an IT career to establish the Career Academy of Hair Design.

Reach for your potential. Do something better or more fulfilling, now that you've experienced so much of life and career!

Consider jobs or industries that make you feel passionate because they will be the ones to help get you through tough times.

Look at activities that make you happy, your talents, and personality traits.

Set realistic goals and capitalize on your transferable skills

Stay adaptable and consider working part-time or from home

Use your expertise, but consider new classes if needed

See also: Our Special Career Change Guide about making a professional leap If you don't know what to do.

Your Job Search: On the Hunt for Your Career Change

Trying to figure out your career change while working full-time can be difficult and a significant time commitment. To make things easier, here are some tips for changing careers while you are currently employed:

Get Introspective

Take time to understand your passions and interests and how they intersect with your natural talents.

Consider Your Skill Set

Consider what skills you possess, which ones would be necessary for your new career, and if there are any gaps.


Research the industry or role that interests you to understand the field and its requirements better. Take the time to research and understand what is involved in the profession you want to pursue.

Take Courses or Get a Certification

Taking classes or obtaining certifications in your desired field can help increase your chances of finding a job and make the transition smoother. Check out Unmudl's courses for Continuing Education Credit or Certificates/Certifications.


Attend relevant events, reach out to individuals in the industry of interest, and take advantage of social media platforms.

Reach out to professionals in the industry

Make connections within your desired field with those currently or recently employed in the field you want to break into.

Update your resume and start applying

 Make sure to update your resume with the experience you have gained in your current profession and then begin applying for open positions in the industry of your choice.

Prepare for interviews

Spend time brushing up on interview techniques and researching common questions related to the field that you are looking to enter.

Making a career change at any age can be intimidating, but it doesn't have to be! With some preparation and dedication, you can transition into a new profession. Give yourself the opportunity to pursue a career that brings you joy and fulfillment!

Related: 23 Unbelievable Career Change Statistics To Get You Moving

Look Before You Leap: Healthcare and Retirement Considerations

It’s possible that your healthcare or retirement could be affected when ending a job and beginning a new career. These are two massively important areas of your life, so you want to make sure you understand the impact.

Career Change Retirement Considerations

Don't be a part of the billions lost every year from retirees forgetting to keep track of their old retirement savings accounts. As you plan for your future, take time to review your investments as part of your overall portfolio.

Additionally, don't forget to update beneficiaries on any account changes that occur throughout the years!

You can look into retirement issues in detail at "Figuring Out Retirement When Changing Careers" but here is a quick summary of what you want to be on the lookout for.

Check your 401 (k) for the amount. Transferring less than $5,000 may make sense. Ask your employer to pay you the amount if it's less than $1,000. You may also face a 10% penalty.

You can lose tax breaks on publicly traded stock distributions by rolling your account into a new 401 (k) or IRA.

If you are not fully vested when leaving a company, the company may not pay your matching funds.

Consider a rollover: Transfer funds directly from your old plan to your new 401(k) plan without taxes or penalties. (These can be significant.)

If you fail to adhere to 401(k) transfer regulations, you may encounter significant repercussions. For instance, if a direct rollover doesn't complete, and your past employer's plan gives you a check instead, you can face a 20% withholding penalty.

Also, consider rolling funds into an IRA or Roth IRA instead.

Ask your new employer about their retirement plan when changing careers.

Healthcare Retirement Considerations

The Affordable Care Act has made it possible to get high-quality health insurance at your budget level through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Finding out if you and your family qualify for CHIP, Medicaid, or tax credits to assist with medical insurance expenses is also easily accessible via the Health Insurance Marketplace.

However, around 50% of Americans have employer-sponsored insurance. In this case, read about how to navigate at "Figuring Out Health Insurance When Changing Careers: Here's What You Need to Know" or check out our handy tips below:

Find out how long your old coverage will last

If possible, switch to a spouse or partner's plan instead of using COBRA, which can cost more

Look for an individual plan under the ACA exchange

Consider a short-term plan for coverage in the gap between an old and new job

If your break from health insurance will only last a couple of days, you may consider forgoing insurance, but if you have a chronic health condition, this is not the best idea!

Taking a Break Before Your Career Change

Some people might also consider taking a break between jobs and having some fun in the sun. However, consider taking a breather from work before embarking on a new career path.

Pros of a Break

Cons of a Break Before a Career Shift

Gaining clarity on your goals and desires

Losing out on potential job opportunities

Getting inspired in new ways and finding greater future job satisfaction

Having a gap in income that can be difficult to manage

Improved mental health and relaxation

Decreased confidence when applying for new positions

Insight into different cultures, communities, and ideas

Losing out on momentum

A study by the University of Vienna found that taking a vacation improved the quality of both sleep and mood, and led to fewer reports of physical complaints for up to five weeks after the break from work.

So, all the evidence points to the fact that taking a break before starting a new job will be crucial in your efforts to get off to a swift, productive and positive start in your new role.(5)

Overall, changing careers can be an exciting and satisfying transition. And sometimes, taking a break can help you recharge and refresh.

Creating a Stand Out Résumé and Cover Letter for Your Career Change

When you're ready to start applying to positions, you will want to create a cover letter and résumé.

Because a career change often requires much more explaining than a typical job change, there are specific strategies you can use so that employers don't feel turned off.

Résumé Tips for a Career Change

When you turn in a job application, you'll generally need a résumé. However, since you're making a career change, the fundamental design should be different than traditional résumés.

You'll want to highlight your transferable and soft skills first and then list education and experience further down. This way, employers can see how your skills translate to excellence in your new career field!

For a more in-depth analysis of creating a career change résumé, see "Ultimate Guide to Creating a Resume for Career Change."

Cover Letter Tips for a Career Change

Crafting a cover letter for your career transition can be an intimidating task. However, you can boost your chances of success by familiarizing yourself with the expectations for the role and writing down all relevant experiences before beginning.

Creating your résumé first can help you see which transferable skills you possess are most pertinent for the new job -- the ones you'll need to emphasize on your cover letter.

When writing your cover letter, let your excitement come through! A hiring manager wants to know the positive impact you can make if hired!

Check out, "Ultimate Guide to Creating a Cover Letter for Career Change" for in-depth ideas before you start writing!

How to Ace Your Interview for a Career Change

Once you secure an interview, this is your final hurdle to getting started with your career change. Once again, the fact that you're changing careers means that employers may be extra curious about your motivations and goals. 

It’s essential to come across as committed and confident in your decision to make a career change.

Here are some crucial tips for creating a terrific impression during your career change interview:

Pre-interview preparation: Research the role, the industry, and any relevant news or trends. This will help you come across as a knowledgeable candidate who has thought deeply about their career decision.

Body language: During the interview, come across as confident, relaxed, and prepared. Make eye contact with the interviewer and smile to showcase your enthusiasm for the opportunity.

During the interview: Take your time to answer questions, be honest in your responses and explain why this change is right for you. Focus on how your background provides valuable insights into the industry and the role you’re applying for.

Post-interview: Send a thank you note or email to your interviewer.

For an in-depth treatment of this topic with many helpful tips, see our article "Ultimate Guide to Acing Your Interview When Changing Careers."

Getting Settled in Your New Career

When you begin a new career, your first few weeks at work might be more challenging than past jobs. This is especially true for people who have built up decades of experience in one field and now need to translate that experience into a completely different space.

To make your transition as smooth as possible, here are some valuable tips to get you through those first few weeks:

Remember why you made the change

Work a few more hours in the first few weeks until you get the hang of it all

Focus on your soft skills and developing a rapport with others at the workplace to help yourself feel more relaxed and valuable

Consider how your transferable skills can help you transition well

Talk to others online at Fishbowl to find others' experiences you can relate to. You are not the only one struggling with a career change!

Let friends or close loved ones know what you're going through and that you need a bit of extra support right now.

No matter how stressful the transition may be, remember that changing careers can bring unique new opportunities and experiences into your life.

So, keep walking into your new future. It's likely that in a few weeks, you'll feel more comfortable and excited about your new career!

Our informative and exhaustive Career Change Blogs can help you quickly identify the right career moves for you, with actionable steps to help you make your next career move.

What if You Regret Your Career Change?

It's natural to experience some regret when you make a significant career change. Taking the plunge into something completely new can be both exciting and frightening.

(And it's essential not to burn bridges with your old co-workers since they may be able to help you if your new change isn't all you hope for.)

If you're regretting your career change, remember that it's a normal part of the process. Don't let fear or doubt prevent you from making meaningful progress in your new job.

The best thing to do is take some time for self-reflection and figure out what actionable steps you can take to make your new career successful.

Focus on what you can control and use the support of friends, family, and colleagues to help you stay positive during this transition.

If you don't feel like you are in the right position for long-term success, it's okay to reevaluate your decisions and consider other options.

When changing careers, it is essential to give the new role a fair chance to prove its worth.

Set realistic expectations from the beginning of your job search. While career change may change your life, it may also only help you see that the career is not the problem.

The amount of time you dedicate to a new job before considering a change depends on your circumstances and goals. It's probably good to take at least three months before making any new career change decisions.

“Whatever you do, don't get sucked up by the sense that it's already too late — that's almost never true. Give yourself some time for yourself, reflect, reach out for help, and don't be afraid to make a big change.” (6)

You can always make a new career change if you find the one you chose isn't the right fit. With the right attitude, courage, and support, you can make the best decision for yourself and your future.

For a successful career change, research potential career paths, identify your transferable skills, and network with the right people to keep moving toward your career goals!

And let our Unmudl career marketplace simplify your process!

Unmudl Can Help You Make the Change

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