6 Steps to a Successful Career Change

Photo by Steven Diaz & Austin Warren


Ready for a career change, but have no idea what else you could do – or where to start? Maybe you went to college to become an accountant, but after five years, you realized that sitting behind a desk with a calculator is not for you.


Guess what? That is completely OK – and it’s more common than you might think. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, a career change can be the first step toward landing your dream job.


At UCF Alumni Professional Engagement, we’re here to support our fellow Knights and make sure you find a fulfilling career. Here are six steps you can take to increase your chances of success.


1.    Make Sure This Is Really What You Want


Before you make a career change, you need to decide if you really need one. You may just dislike your current position or the organization you work for. Finding a new job is no easy task, but it is easier than changing your entire career. Think about what it is that you want to do and make a list about why you want the career change and what you are looking for in your next role.


2.    Assess Yourself


Worry less about the fact that you haven’t been in the industry and focus more on how your years of experience have prepared you as a professional. Look to accentuate your positives. Be honest about your values, passions and skills, and understand that you may have to make some sacrifices in order to reach your goal, such as a lateral move, a pay cut or relocation.


3.    Focus Your Job Search


Make a list of occupations to explore. Learn as much as possible about a potential new career by researching qualifications, salary and market. Research different industries and various job positions that you can find on job boards. These job postings will give you an opportunity to look at the responsibilities so you can decide if that role is something that suits your interest.


4.    Network, Network, Network


Do your research with people in that career. Talk to people in the profession to get a vivid and realistic picture of what the work is like, what career paths are available, and what skills make candidates most attractive and successful in the role. Putting yourself in networking situations will give you the opportunity to speak to people in the industry about trends, companies hiring and current openings.


5.    Learn the Capabilities and Qualities


Promote your strengths and get up to speed on what skills and qualifications are needed for the new role. Changing your career may mean you have to consider some training, but you may also have transferable skills that can be utilized in a different capacity. Before you embark on any training, find out what skills you already have and which ones you need to acquire, which can be achieved by earning a degree or certification, doing an internship or taking online courses.


6.    Whip Your Resume Into Shape 


Many companies use applicant tracking systems to vet an application even before an actual human being sees your resume and cover letter. Tailor your resume based on the job you are applying for by including keywords from the posting. Show proof of your transferable skills by touting your past accomplishments with quantitative facts. If you haven’t already, consider a LinkedIn profile and familiarize yourself with online networking strategies on LinkedIn and other social media platforms.


UCF Alumni Professional Engagement
Whether you're a new graduate about to be launched into the workforce or an experienced professional looking for a career transition, we're here to help. Visit our website for more information!


About the Author 

Ashley Colquhoun ’12, SHRM-CP is a human resources management and event services professional with a background in HR generalist affairs, including employee recruitment and retention, staff development and employee relations.