The Complete Guide to Changing your Career

Written by Calvin Bowers
Last updated March 5, 2021

Lockdown has given many people the time to take a break and think about where they are in their lives and whether their careers are fulfilling. Research shows there has been an increase in people wanting to change career because of the current pandemic.

The idea of changing careers can be daunting, especially in the uncertain economy we are experiencing. However, despite the temporary challenges that a career change might bring in the first couple of weeks, it could be exactly what you need.

Before making such a considerable decision, it is important to evaluate the pros and cons of a career change, reflect on your existing skills and experience, and consider when the right time might be:


  • Ability to grow – switching to a different industry will encourage you to expand your knowledge and gain new experience
  • Focus on strengths and passion – working on what you are passionate about has a positive impact on your mental health and general well-being
  • Positivity – spending time at a job that you do not find fulfilling creates opportunities for negative thoughts. On the other hand, choosing a fulfilling career helps build confidence, positivity and excitement.


  • Financial insecurity – changing careers and choosing a new industry might result in a period of unemployment, investing in additional education or starting with an entry-level salary. Make sure you plan for this if you do choose to change your career.
  • Trial and error – It is essential to consider the challenges you might face when changing careers, such as information overload, adapting to a new work routine or managing a new type of workload.

Why Would Someone Want to Change Their Career to Something Completely Different?

Research from the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) shows that workers in the UK consider changing careers on average ten times per year, and nearly 20% are currently thinking about retraining. There are many reasons why people might want to change their career with something completely different:

Need for a New Challenge

Sometimes people might find that working in the same role for several years has become unstimulating and ceased to be fulfilling. Starting a new career path might help regain motivation by acquiring new knowledge and skills.

Values Have Changed

As people age, they might find they are no longer passionate about their company’s mission. Individuals might drastically change their views and life values, concerns and priorities. As a result, changing careers might be a suitable option for people who experience such changes.

Priorities Have Changed

Some people might find it challenging to spend enough time with their loved ones or pursue a hobby. Therefore, a career change can allow individuals to work more flexibly.

Technology Has Evolved

You might have had a long-term ambition that technology could not accommodate. Today, it is much easier to gain visibility online and seek out a career that you are passionate about. For instance, working in journalism may have seemed challenging to achieve in the past, but today people can start a successful blog from the comfort of their home.

Is Changing Careers With No Experience Possible?

It might feel difficult to consider a career change without any experience in a new field. However, there are many ways you can embark on a new journey without any relevant experience on your CV:

Writing a Skill-Based CV

If you are considering a career change and you do not have any relevant experience in a new industry, you can base your CV on your transferable skills.

You can include more skill sets and talents instead of job titles. Additionally, rather than tasks and responsibilities, you could showcase accomplishments that demonstrate your competencies in the most inspiring way. Similarly, you can do the same for a cover letter.

Exchanging Time for Experience (Volunteering)

Some people might not be able to get paid work for an established company in the industry they want to move into. However, there are plenty of ways you can gain experience to do work on an unpaid basis, or for a small fee. Offering unpaid time to small organisations is a great idea to start gaining experience. Some businesses might be willing to give you some training in exchange for lightening their workload.

Considering an Adult Apprenticeship

Adult apprenticeships help to improve the range of opportunities available to people who are seeking a career change. They are the same as any other apprenticeship. Employers can offer from intermediate (Level 2) up to degree and masters (Level 7) apprenticeships. As long as you live in England and are not currently in full-time education, you can qualify for an apprenticeship. Each apprenticeship is different as employers set their conditions individually. The overall length of an apprenticeship can last from 12 months to 5 years. Employers are increasingly choosing to hire apprentices thanks to the numerous funding schemes facilitated by the Government.

10 Steps to Changing Your Career (and Finding a Job You Love)

We have put together a useful list of tips that will help you understand how to make your move in your career change:

1. Reflecting on Your Job Satisfaction

Keeping track of the positive daily aspects of your job is a great way to evaluate how your job satisfies you. You could use a notebook or a Notes app on your mobile to track significant events that affect your satisfaction at work. Further, you could also track what is causing dissatisfaction at work. For instance, you can think of whether they are related to the content of your work, your colleagues, or the company culture.

2. Evaluating Your Skills and Values

If you have an awareness of your current interests, abilities and values, choosing new career options is much easier. You can look at job opportunities, industries and careers and establish whether they could be a good fit for your values. There are five main areas you should explore when planning to change careers:

  • Skills – a skill exercise is a great idea to start evaluating your competencies. You can think of which aspects of your current role you are better at, which skills you have developed and which ones you enjoy using the most.
  • Personality – understanding yourself is essential when working through any career change assessment. There are many ways you can evaluate your personality, such as finding personality tests online or occupational personality questionnaires.
  • Interests – when you are doing something you feel passionate about, you are more likely to do it well and be motivated.
  • Values – considering what is important to you matters when establishing a career change. If you are unaware of what drives you, there are plenty of core value exercises you could do online. Alternatively, you can try and write a list of the most common values to get you thinking; you could then further develop more detailed values.
  • Achievements – acknowledging and celebrating what you have done well in and out of work is a clear indicator of what you could be doing next.

3. Researching Alternative Careers

Researching ideas for a career change is essential to find a job opportunity that matches your skills and values. There are many ways you can brainstorm ideas for career alternatives:

  • Taking a free or inexpensive course – before making any work commitment to a new career, it is a great idea to attend a course to get enough information and establish whether to further pursue a career.
  • Reading industry-specific blogs and books – if you enjoy learning more about featured trends and topics within the profession, it might be a sign that you can potentially enjoy the role.
  • Joining relevant Facebook groups – you can meet plenty of people in your field of interest or find out about events that have a specific professional focus.
  • Researching salary ranges – estimating your earning potential is vital, especially if you have goals in mind, or if you are planning to take out a loan and invest in further education.

4. Arranging Work Experience

If you are seeking a career change, gaining work experience can make you a more suitable candidate for a new role and enrich your CV. Here are some examples of how you can arrange work experience:

  • Volunteering and fundraising – there are many volunteering and fundraising opportunities available to gain work experience in a new field, such as offering free marketing services to charities, volunteering in a retail shop, helping organisations manage their finances, and many more.
  • Part-time jobs – you could gain customer service and time management experience by working in a shop on a flexible schedule. Alternatively, you could babysit or become an educator to improve your responsibility, safeguarding and resilience skills.
  • Personal projects – working on a project independently, such as creating a website or teaching a foreign language, can help you develop problem-solving and creative skills that employers often seek out in a candidate.

5. Upgrading Your Skills

Looking for ways to improve your skills in your current job can benefit your career change plan. You can upgrade your skills and experience in a variety of ways:

  • Seeking feedback about strengths and weaknesses – asking your supervisor, colleagues, or even friends for feedback is essential to obtain honest evaluations about yourself. Identifying your weaknesses is important to establish what skills need upgrading.
  • Reviewing job descriptions for roles you are interested in – you will get an idea of the transferable skills you have and need to pursue your career change in the future.
  • Attending company training – many businesses use independent departments that can deliver training on specialised skill sets. You could ask your manager about what courses your company can offer to upgrade your professional profile.
  • Participating in job shadowing – learning about the daily responsibilities of your (or another) profession is a great way to upgrade your skills. Therefore, you could follow an experienced professional at work while they perform their job tasks.

6. Making Your CV and Cover Letter Relevant to Your Career Change

Refocusing your CV and cover letter based on your new ambitions and emphasising your transferable skills is a fantastic way to increase your career change opportunities. It is essential to include an opening summary on a career change CV, where you can emphasise how your past achievements are connected to the job description of the role you are applying for.

Choosing a mixed format for your CV might not seem like a traditional way to write a resume. However, it is a very effective way to make your CV relevant to your career change. For instance, you could use the first page of your CV to highlight your career objectives and qualifications. You could then create categories that showcase relevant skills and experience.

Your professional experience might not be fully relevant to your new industry. You should assess which experiences, activities or qualifications will not have an impact on your new career, and therefore exclude them from your CV. Instead, you can include any relevant volunteering, education, training or internship you have undertaken.

7. Considering a New Job in the Same Industry

Thinking of alternative roles within your company can be an effective way to pursue a career change. Your employer might benefit from the industry knowledge you already have.

It is essential to educate yourself and do your best to learn as much as possible about the potential role you are seeking. You could engage in conversations and meetings with people who are currently doing that role, which is a great way to show how interested you are and to prepare for your career change.

You might feel nervous to talk to your employer about potentially leaving the team. However, it is essential that you do this before you approach anyone else at work. You can ask your manager to schedule a meeting and prepare in advance the reasons why you believe it is the best choice for you and the company.

8. Exploring a Variety of Career Opportunities

Comparing several career opportunities is a useful strategy to discover a few that you should further investigate.

You can gain transferable skills from any type of work experience. Therefore, despite your work experience relating to a specific area, it will not prevent you from moving into a new role.

Making a list of options can help you determine temporary careers that can support you in developing essential and transferable skills. Additionally, a wider variety of career options will help you establish which career mostly relates to your interests, values, skills and personality.

9. Learning as Much as You Can About Each Career You are Considering

One of the most important steps to take once you have come up with a list of potential careers to move into is to fully understand the main aspects of each career, pros and cons, salary range and industry culture.

It is vital to be aware of your short-term and long-term professional goals at this stage. You can make a list of all the steps you can take to achieve your objectives and include completion dates. Once you have defined your goals, you can speak with people in the industries you are considering moving into.

Connecting with working professionals on platforms like LinkedIn can provide you with a better idea of what a new career would be like. People who have experience in your potential role can often provide you with insights that cannot always be obtained from reading company information. This can help you understand if your personal goals are in line with what your new career can offer.

10. Growing Your Professional Network

Finding out as much as you can about industries that interest you is a useful strategy to adopt when seeking out a career change. Growing your professional network is a great way to learn more about a particular field.

You can build, reinforce and maintain relationships of trust with other professionals to further your goals through social media. For example, you could send invitations on LinkedIn or follow a contact on Twitter.

LinkedIn is a fantastic space to get to know someone’s occupational and educational background, find similarities and create conversation for a first meeting.

By interacting with professionals from other fields, you learn what people outside your company are doing, which gives you a fresh perspective. You will also have ready access to a group of experts who can help you figure out how to obtain your first job in their field.

Common Reasons for Wanting to Change Career

There are many reasons why people want a career change. You might want higher remuneration, less stress, more flexible working conditions, or to seek out a midlife change of career pace. Whatever the motivation for your career change, there are a few signs that will indicate when you might want to consider a career change.

Your Job is Impacting Your Self-Esteem

Jobs can affect people’s self-esteem in both positive and negative ways. A fulfilling career should boost your confidence and self-esteem. On the other hand, engaging in an industry that does not reflect your values and interests can result in a lack of enjoyment and motivation and, ultimately, affect your physical and mental health.

People might spend more time at their job than they do with friends and family. Therefore, your work environment has a considerable impact on the way you feel. There are 3 main aspects in your work environment that might negatively affect your job satisfaction:

  • Physical – aspects of work such as heat, noise, and lighting can affect a number of psychological processes in both direct and indirect ways. Noise, for instance, might impair the cognitive performance of certain tasks.
  • Social – communication styles, relationships between colleagues and managers, teamwork and mutual respect are factors that might contribute to job dissatisfaction. Mutual respect includes matters like discrimination and harassment.
  • Psychological – working requirements, conflicts in the workplace, emotions, motivation and attitudes are examples of what can impact how an employee feels.

Lack of Enthusiasm

People might work in a job that does not bring personal and professional satisfaction. There are many reasons why professionals experience a lack of motivation and enthusiasm at work:

  • Career dissatisfaction – workers often change careers to seek out a higher level of career satisfaction. For instance, an employee might apply for a higher-level position in an industry where their experience and knowledge could fulfil an even higher management role. Additionally, lack of career progression also plays a role in the way professionals might not be satisfied at work.
  • Lack of flexible work – people’s circumstances might have changed, especially during Covid-19. Some industries are unable to accommodate flexible work, which is an important factor that influences career change.
  • Changing philosophy and goals – people’s values and interests might change over time. As a result, they might want to work in an industry that, for instance, improves living conditions in the world, or tackles worldwide issues, such as climate change. A career change can be a solution for people who are driven by specific values and want their career to focus on those.


For many people, the biggest challenge they might face in their career change is inertia. Even though they want to change, they may not want to risk the security they have in their current jobs. Finding out which career is right for you is essential to overcome this challenge.

Upgrading your skills and finding opportunities to retrain in a new industry are also fantastic ways to prepare for a career change. At Refreshing a Career, we have a wealth of useful resources on adult apprenticeships, open university, adult internships, part-time college or university and night courses.

Age is no barrier to learning and refreshing your skills will allow you to become more adaptable for a wider range of career change opportunities. For further advice, you can visit the various pages on changing career on our website.


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Last Updated: Wednesday March 27 2024
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