How to Start Your Career Change


For too long, we’ve relied on internet job boards to find a new career. This might work if you know what you’re looking for. If you don’t, it can feel overwhelming, and a process that often lands you back in a role similar to the one you were trying to move away from in the first place. This is because you can only apply for what you can see. This means you’re missing out on all the great options that you can’t yet see.

Think of it like a fish bowl - if you’re a tiny fish just swimming around in the same old pond all day, you’ll only ever come across the same ideas and options within that pond. But, what if you were to jump out of that pond and swim around in a completely different one? Think of all the new and different ideas, options and people you’d come across, some of which you would never have known existed if you hadn’t taken that first step to actually DO something.

The best way to start your career change these days? ACTION

The best place to start is to write down all your passions, interests and new career ideas in one place, and give yourself permission to start swimming around in these sorts of ponds. Only then will your eyes be opened to these worlds, the people, and the opportunities within them. These people can then make further introductions and suggestions on what direction you might want to explore next.

Such an approach can really help alleviate uncertainty around career change too. By getting out there and exploring the worlds you’re interested in, with no commitment or agenda to start with, you can start to see how it feels doing the ideas you’re interested in pursuing. If it’s not right then you can move on to experimenting with another interest or idea. You can learn a huge amount about the various worlds of work with this trial and pivot approach.

Use it as a period to validate or eliminate those dream careers you’ve always wanted to find out more about, but you’ve been too scared of handing your notice in for it because you’re not sure if it’s right for you. This way you can test it out first, refine your idea and new career path before taking any serious action towards it.

So, get out there - attend talks or conferences on your subjects of interest; attend short one day/weekend/evening courses, classes or workshops; go along to relevant networking events; talk to people who do what you’re interested in (even if it’s only a vague connection to it); ask to shadow people; volunteer in your areas of interest; arrange a few days work experience (use your Annual Leave if needs be); take on additional projects or responsibilities at work that relate more to your interests (help out another department in some way, if needs be); connect with people on Social Media that do what you’re interested in; listen to job profile interviews on YouTube, or ‘day in the life of...’ interviews in the media; take on a project for a friend; sign up to a temp agency...anything that gives you the opportunity to delve in to the worlds you’re interested in so you can try out your career ideas with no commitment.

Then, just see how you get on. Perhaps a new path begins to come in to focus as you continue to immerse yourself in these worlds for a while. Perhaps you’ll come up with a great idea for a new business. Perhaps you’ll realise that career idea is not for you. Either way, you’ll be further forward in your journey than you were before when you were just thinking about these ideas.

So, embrace the idea of exploration. See this period of uncertainty as an advantageous opportunity to test out your ideas with limited commitment and risk.

Where could you start?

Alice Stapleton

About Alice

Alice coaches those who want to change career but don’t know what they want to do instead. She offers Career Coaching designed to help graduates, early to mid-level career-changers, and parents returning to work gain a clear vision of what career is right for them, and how to achieve it. She is also an accredited Coach Supervisor, and host of The Career Change Diaries podcast.