25 Easy Steps To Making A Career Change

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Image: Eric Tompkins

When you're stuck and uncertain about your shift, all you want is someone to give you the answers. Here, Natasha lays out the steps she's learned from working with thousands of career changers for more than a decade. No gloss, no inspirational buzzwords. How many of these have you done?

Ready? Here we go...

  1. Decide you've had enough of your current work, and you're going to make a change. Feel immensely empowered and proud of yourself for approximately five minutes. Realise you have absolutely no idea what to do next.

  2. Google the phrase "How to change career". Read 25 articles containing the same few pieces of guidance. Collect 200 bonus points if they contain the highly practical, useful advice to "Assess your likes and dislikes" or "Research new career paths".

  3. Make a list of your strengths and transferable skills. Jump for joy: it's clear what you should be doing! You're perfectly suited for the job you're in right now!

  4. Try making another one a week later. Discover (to your amazement) that the two lists are exactly the same.

  5. Make a list of things you enjoy. Get to number three. Run out of ideas. Weep softly.

  6. Post an inspiring quotation / mantra on your fridge / pin board / Facebook wall / forehead. Look at it with disgust the next morning at 6.45 a.m.

  7. Decide you need to create a financial safety net. Research renting out your spare room for three hours. Skip your morning coffee for two days. Weigh up: sanity vs. savings. Choose sanity / your triple-shot latte; decide to never think about your career change again.

  8. Start a Pinterest account as a 'career inspiration board'. Pin a picture of a plant and one recipe for cheesecake.

  9. Buy a beautiful hand-bound notepad from a fancy stationery store, in which you will journal and discover meaningful things about your calling. Refuse to write anything in it in case your handwriting looks messy. Use it as a coaster.

  10. Search 'find work you love' online. Discover 20 career-change / lifestyle-design / get-in-touch-with-your-real-sassy-self blogs and sign up for all their free downloads. Spend the next four hours trying to fix your crashed email client.

  11. Purchase an inspiring career-change book on Amazon (bonus points if it's The 4-Hour Work Week or What Colour Is Your Parachute?). Notice the 'Frequently purchased together with' section. Purchase 12 more. Read half of the first page of one. Hide the rest under your bed so nobody knows you're miserable.

  12. Tell your friends and family about your decision to change career. Explain you have absolutely no idea what else you want to do. Listen to their concerns and disbelief. Blame them for their lack of understanding. Repeat ad infinitum.

  13. Take an online personality test. Either:
    a) Agree with the results, discovering nothing you didn't already know, or
    b) Disagree with the results, ignoring them completely, or
    c) Realise you probably answered the questions based on the kind of person you WISH you were, rather than the truth; blame yourself and repeat ad infinitum.

  14. Decide to shine up your CV. Stare at it for an hour. Change the font.

  15. Follow a bunch of shouty "seven-figure entrepreneurs" on Twitter. Start using words like ‘hustle’.

  16. Post another inspiring quote on your social media account. Realise that the only people who post inspiring quotes on social media are the ones who don't have their sh*t together.

  17. Scroll through a job site on your lunch break. Respond to one email. Re-open the same site and keep reading until you realise you've reached the last page, it's 5.45 p.m., and the ads you're reading are from 2004. Also, you've had your mouth open, slack-jawed, for two hours solid and you really need a glass of water.

  18. Send your CV to a recruitment consultant. Tell them you want to make a career change. Watch them read your CV. Listen open-mouthed as they make their groundbreaking suggestion: "Have you considered <insert your company's main competitor here>?" Swear you're never going to use a recruitment consultant again. Find yourself back in their office the following week, agreeing that it would be a great idea to send your CV to 14 other companies for exactly the same type of role.

  19. Try to fall asleep at night with ideas and possibilities swirling in your head. Come up with (and discard) 23 possible career options. Imagine quitting your job, failing miserably, losing your home and your family, and ending up living under a bridge, making people solve riddles before you permit them to cross. Drift from despair into sleep, and wake up the following morning feeling sluggish and sad. When your colleagues ask you why you look so drained, smile brightly. Tell them you're absolutely fine. Isn't it a lovely day? Would anyone like a coffee?

  20. Pick an idea you've had in the back of your mind for a long time. Explore it actively. (Note: for 'explore it actively', read 'find out how much a three-year Master's programme would cost and discard the whole idea immediately.)

  21. Look at Meetup events in your area. Choose one to attend, and then, on the night, decide to stay home and watch TV in your underwear instead.

  22. After reading (in yet another inspiring blog post written by a perky lifestyle-design type) that 'the best thing to invest in is yourself', decide it's time to hire a career coach. You're going to invest in your future! Sign up for three free consultations, and then decide it's too expensive and you've been figuring this out just fine on your own, thanks.

  23. Give up hope entirely. Resign yourself to a lifetime of misery at work.

  24. Watch Dead Poets Society and Jerry Maguire. Sob wildly. Make yourself a solemn promise that you won't give up again. Realise you still have no idea how to do this career change thing.

  25. Return to Step 1. Rinse and repeat.

If you're interested in an alternative approach to career change (one that actually works), take a look at our Career Change Launch Pad.

What steps have I missed? Let me know in the comments below!

Natasha Stanley's picture

Natasha Stanley is head coach, writer, and experience designer for Careershifters. When she's not working, you'll find her listening to neuroscience podcasts, learning pottery, and dreaming up her next adventure.