It's never too late to make a change.

Have you found yourself itching for a change? In 2021, a quarter of Brits will be looking for a career shift, according to research by job listing search engine Adzuna.

If you're one of the professionals yearning for a change in career, creating an action plan is the first step towards success. Figuring out how you can reach your goal and nab a job in a new sector doesn't have to be hard. However, it will take time, effort and a whole load of research. Here's a quick breakdown of all the things you should consider when planning your journey to a new career path.

Define your reason

Everyone has their own reasons for starting fresh. Before you take that leap, examine what it is that's pushing you forward. There could be any number of reasons you wish to switch things up. Here are a few of the most common complaints people have before leaving their current job:

  • You want to achieve a better work-life balance.

  • Your current career is not fulfilling.

  • There's another career path you want to follow.

  • You cannot progress in your current role.

  • You want to find a new challenge.

  • You are bored with your current role.

  • Your life goals have shifted.

Figuring out why you want to leave your job will help you determine what you want from a new role. Make some notes on what your ideal career looks like.

You may already have a clear vision of the job you want in the future. However, for some people, things will be cloudier. It's important to gain a deep understanding of the shift you want to make ahead of time. The better you know where you want to be in the coming years, the better you can define the steps you need to take to get there.

Choose a role and sector

Next is the hard part: deciding what role you want. You may already have an idea of the sector in which you want to work. For example, you may be hankering to move into the media industry or shift into sales. However, before you start submitting applications without a thought, you should have an idea of the type of job you want to get. There are a few factors you should take into consideration here:

  • Your ideal 'dream' role

  • Your existing transferable skills

  • Your personality (and roles that suit you)

  • How long it will take to retrain

  • How the new role suits your lifestyle

Picking the right role for you is about deciding which job fits into your lifestyle and suits both your personality and skills. If you are having trouble with deciding what job you want to go after, it may help to get a second opinion. You could speak to a trusted friend who knows you well. Alternatively, you can speak to a careers advisor or a mentor. Whoever you choose to confide in, taking the time to talk this out may help you better understand the type of job you want.

Research, research, research

When you have pinpointed the job you want, grab your laptop, tablet or smartphone and get to work ‒ it's time to start researching the sector and the role.

You can start by looking at job postings for roles that you think may be a good fit. Skip to the requirements and see what you would need to land these jobs. Chances are, you won't be in a place to apply for them right away. However, the more you understand what employers expect of candidates, the better position you will be in.

The best way to gain insights into your chosen role is to speak to someone working in that field. Learn how to use LinkedIn during the job search and find professionals working in that particular job. Connect with them and ask whether you can pick their brain over a coffee or virtual meeting. It pays to be upfront about your motives and explain that you're looking for some advice on how to enter their sector. Some people may turn you away or ignore your messages (it's no big deal!), but others will be happy to help.

Upskill (or re-skill)

Now that you've got an idea of the skills that you will need, you should assess your standing. Do you have many of the skills that employers expect? If not, are you willing to put in the effort to develop them?

The beauty of the modern world is that there are a ton of online courses you can take in your free time. For some jobs, you will need to have accredited qualifications. Be sure to find out exactly what you need ahead of signing up (or paying for) any courses.

You might want to study a new course whilst you are still in your current job. That way, you can take steps towards your career shift on your own time. Often, these courses can be done at any time online. That means that you can fit them around whatever busy schedule you already have.

Set clear goals

Your career shift is unlikely to happen overnight. To make your professional dreams a reality, it's important to set some clear goals with a timeline. For instance, if you need a certain qualification, sign up for a course and have a solid view of when you will complete it. Similarly, you can set goals for smaller steps of the process. You might set a goal of connecting with someone who works in that career this month, or even simply listening to an industry-specific podcast for job seekers.

Make the right contacts

Most people find the idea of networking intimidating. Before you land your next role, though, it will be handy to know some people in the industry. This step helps you learn more about the sector, get some handy advice along the way, find out about new openings and expand your professional circle.

The most obvious way to network is to attend sessions. Look for events in your area or online to get started. However, you should also make use of your existing social circle. The six-degrees of separation rule means that you likely know someone who knows someone who knows someone who works in the sector you're interested in. Don't be afraid to speak up and ask people if they can help you.

Spruce up your CV

After you've done your research, upskilled, reskilled and made some valuable connections, you'll be ready to apply for roles in your chosen sector. Of course, you need to ensure that your CV is in top shape before you press send.Take the time to add your new skills to the CV document and any qualifications that you have recently obtained.

When it comes to experience, you still want to add the professional roles you have held. Don't worry about the fact that they are not in the sector you're applying for right now. Instead, focus on the transferable skills each role gave you. For example, if you are applying for a new role as an accountant and you previously worked in admin, focus on the organisational and time-keeping skills that overlap. Identifying these skills and putting them to paper can be challenging, so you may consider working with a professional CV writer to help.

Top tip: Mention your career change in your personal statement. It's smart to let the employer know that you have recently had a shift and show the steps you've already taken to prepare yourself for the new field.

The takeaway

Changing careers can seem intimidating. Luckily, when you break it down into manageable steps, it's an attainable goal. Avoid getting overwhelmed by the magnitude of this change. Instead, keep your focus on the next item on your to-do list, and you will be striding towards your new role in no time at all.

Looking for a new job in a new sector? Ensure that your CV is up to the task with a free CV critique.

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