8 Career Change Mistakes To Avoid

Written by Nicola Wylie
Last updated December 19, 2022

Changing careers is a big life decision—but it could also be the best one you ever make. Many of us choose our career path at a young age, so it’s no wonder that over a third of UK workers are looking to make a career change in the next few years. Whether you’re burnt out, bored, or busting for a new challenge, there are a number of career change mistakes you should avoid. 

This article looks at what not to do when changing careers.


8 Career Change Mistakes To Avoid

Are you considering changing careers? Congratulations! But before you take the plunge, make sure you read our expert advice on how to sidestep common roadblocks. 

We’ve rounded up 8 common mistakes when making a career change. Here’s what you should avoid.


1. Don’t base your decision purely on salary

Don’t get us wrong, earning potential is certainly an important factor when deciding if changing careers is right for you. As the cost of living continues to soar in the UK, switching to a higher-paying career is understandable. That said, you shouldn’t base your decision on earning potential alone.

Changing to a career that doesn’t align with your values, passions, and skill set will inevitably leave you unhappy, even if the salary is high. So, it’s important to consider other important factors too. Is there room for work-life balance? What personal development opportunities are available? Are you passionate about this career path?

According to research, money really doesn’t buy us happiness. Well, after a certain point at least. Once you earn enough to be financially stable, the amount of money you have has no bearing on your emotional well-being. Therefore, if you’re planning on changing careers because you think a higher salary will make you happy, think again. 

Instead, look for a career that will give you both financial stability and a high sense of personal satisfaction. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be the career choice with the highest salary, you will gain a lot more in the long term. 


2. Don’t rush into it

It can be tempting to rush into changing careers, especially if you are fed up with your current job and desperate to get out. However, try to resist the urge to pack it all in before you have a plan.

Start by asking yourself why you want to change careers. Are you just having a bad day? Maybe you need a change of company rather than a whole new industry. It’s important to take a step back and self-reflect. After all, making a career change for the wrong reasons could land you in a new career that you hate even more than your current one.

Take the time to evaluate what is motivating your decision to switch careers. If the answer is that you feel unfulfilled or you’re ready for a new challenge, then it’s probably the right choice.

Still unsure? Here are 5 signs it’s time to switch careers.

Rather than making a rash decision to change careers, take your time. Figure out what career would give you a sense of purpose and contentment. The bottom line is that changing careers should be based on meeting new goals, not running away from problems at work.


3. Don’t forget to have a nest egg

Changing careers at any stage of your life is bound to have financial implications. You may need to retrain or volunteer to break into your career of choice.  Plus, in some cases, you might have to start as an entry-level employee and work your way up.

Don’t hand in your notice until you are sure you have planned out the financial details. Do you have enough savings to cover your living expenses as you look for a new career? Always factor in an extra cushion in case of unexpected setbacks. What you really want to avoid is taking a job because you ran out of money rather than because it’s the career change job of your dreams.

What’s more, financial stress could negatively impact your performance during interviews. 

Research indicates that finding a new job is easier when you’re still in employment. You don’t have to explain gaps in your CV, and you have some leverage. However, if you decide to quit your current career before lining up a new one, just make sure you have enough savings to keep you afloat.


4. Don’t forget to research the job market

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. One of the biggest career change mistakes you can make is to skimp on the research. Invest time in researching the industries and job roles that may be a good fit for you. Consider your values, goals, and skills and see how each industry and career measures up.

Deep knowledge of your target career will also pay off when creating a career change CV and nailing interviews. Make sure you are up to speed on industry news and trends; this will give you plenty of talking points during the interview process. Study job descriptions for your target role and make a list of the skills, qualifications, and experience required. Then, compare that to your current skill set.

Doing plenty of research will help you pinpoint potential knowledge gaps that you will need to address before applying for roles. For instance, do you need to take a retraining course to learn some technical skills? Alternatively, can you demonstrate how your current soft skills transfer to this role?

In short, the more you know, the easier the jobseeking process will be. Thus, get to know as much about your target career as possible before you begin to send out your CV.


5. Don’t go it alone

Another common career change mistake is to forget about your network. Oftentimes, it’s not what you know, but who you know.  So, lean on your network for support. 

Start by letting your close network know that you’re considering changing careers (provided you’re sure there’s no way it will get back to your current employer). Ask if they have any connections who could help you out. While they may not be able to find you a job role, they could provide you with leads, mentorship, and referrals. 

All it takes is for one person in your network to share a lead with you. If nobody in your network can help, attend industry-related networking events to grow your connections and get your foot in the door. You could even reach out to people in your target profession and ask if you can pick their brains. LinkedIn is a great tool for meeting like-minded professionals in your industry. 

It may not happen overnight, but building relationships with people in your chosen field will certainly pay off in the long run. 


6. Don’t underestimate the power of retraining

Not all employers are willing or able to provide you with extensive on-the-job training. However, don’t let that stand in your way.

Retraining is the best option if you plan on changing careers but lack some of the technical or soft skills needed for the role. You may need to invest your own money in the training, but the results are worth it. 

Remember when we suggested you make a list of the necessary skills and qualifications for your target job role? This is where you can put that information to good use. Compare your skills with those needed for the role and identify your skills gaps. What are the major skills you’re lacking? How can you plug those gaps? Do you have transferable skills that could cover those skills?

Once you have identified the key skills and knowledge you need to acquire, consider how you can develop them. There’s no shortage of retraining courses in the UK. You can choose from online courses or in-person training. Alternatively, you could consider undertaking an adult internship or volunteering

Investing in your professional development showcases your drive, initiative, and passion. Moreover, employers can see that you’re proactive and willing to commit to your new career.


7. Don’t forget to update your career change CV

Now onto another common career change mistake. Don’t try to reuse your current CV if your new role is completely different. Remember, your CV should be tailored to the job you’re applying for. So, remove any irrelevant information and focus on skills.

Opting for a skills-based CV gives career changers a chance to showcase how their transferable skills apply to the role (even if they lack hands-on experience). So, rather than listing your daily tasks during your 15 years as a teacher, emphasise how your skills would make you a great manager. 

Need help writing a career-change CV? Here are 5 words to avoid in your career change CV.

Focus on relevant skills such as negotiation, communication, time management, and leadership. You may have developed them in a different setting, but the soft skills remain just as valuable. Remember to add any additional retraining or volunteering you have done to ready yourself for your target role.

Check out our blog for the latest industry insights, advice, and news on changing careers.

Are you ready to switch careers? Our career change jobs board is specifically designed to connect career changers with their dream career. Whether you’re looking for part-time jobs for pensioners or career-change jobs with no experience, our jobs board has the latest opportunities across the UK.

Discover career change jobs near you.


8. Don’t give up

Changing careers can be tough. You will usually have to deal with rejection before you get your break. However, the biggest advice we can offer is to keep going. Trust the process. It may take time, but if you put in the research and hard work, you can land your dream career change role. 

Start by building your confidence. You have a wealth of experience and valuable transferable skills to offer. The benefits of employing a career changer are huge for employers, so don’t underestimate your worth.


Changing Careers? How Refreshing A Career Can Support You 

Changing careers is a big move. But, it can be one of the most rewarding decisions of your life when done properly. Avoiding these common career change mistakes will help you to make the transition as seamlessly as possible and start your new career path today.

We believe it’s never too late to start a new career at Refreshing a Career. Our website offers a wealth of valuable aids, including career change guides, interview tips, information on how to retrain, and much more.  

For further advice, check out our resources on changing careers or browse our career change job board for opportunities near you.

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Last Updated: Monday November 7 2022
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