How to change career without starting from scratch

April 11, 2018


Changing careers has become normal in today’s job market. An LFBC survey reports that 47% of the UK workforce say they would like to make a career change. Add to that number all those whose jobs could become obsolete with new advances in technology and you’ll see that a change might just be on the cards for you, regardless of how happy you are with your current job. In this post we provide some tips on how to secure a smooth transition, saving yourself the hassle of being a total newbie all over again.

If you decide voluntarily to change things, be sure about what exactly you don’t like about your current career. An overwhelming feeling that you can no longer keep going can make it difficult to identify the exact reasons why that is the case. But it’s necessary to go through this exercise to keep yourself from making any rash decisions, or repeating similar career choice mistakes in the future. Plus, it might even turn out that you don’t really need a career change at all: your issues might be solved by simply moving to another position in the same industry or within your existing company.

Research the skills you will need to successfully enter and perform in the new field you’re looking at. Use career search resources and browse relevant job descriptions to make sure you don’t lack any of the essentials and try to identify transferrable skills that you can highlight on your new CV. Networking is really important during all stages of changing careers, and you should start drawing on that even during the research phase. You’ll find that people you can talk to in the industry you’re interested in have valuable insights to share. Once you’ve mapped your competencies and identified any gaps, ask yourself the crucial question: how do I transform my lack of experience into an asset?

Dorie Clark, a marketing strategist and author, describes a strategy of leveraging one’s inexperience: “If a company is in trouble — the established means of doing business haven’t been working for them — they’re often unusually receptive to hiring an unconventional candidate as a leader.” Clark recognizes that outsiders without industry experience are risky choices for employers. “But”, she adds referring to research conducted by Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda, “they’re also disproportionately likely to be the best leaders, who can resurrect troubled companies, map out bold new strategic directions, or guide a nascent startup to dominance.”

To sum it up, do extensive planning and research, target your CV to match the needs of your desired industry, draw on your connections and look for opportunities to position your outsider’s position to your advantage.