How to make a career change at 40 and get unstuck

Throughout our careers, we may find ourselves in a role that takes more from us than it gives in terms of money, happiness, or energy–sometimes, it’s all three.

At first, waning job satisfaction might not be noticeable, clouded by day-to-day demands and expectations. But at some point, though, you become aware that you’re surviving–not thriving–at work.

Maybe you no longer believe in the mission or identify with your co-workers. Your enthusiasm dwindles.

Regardless of what causes the realization, you know one thing for certain: A change is necessary. Maybe it’s time for a new position. It’s more likely, however, that you’re ready for an entirely new career.

But finding a new job, let alone a dream job, can be tricky. For example, making time to interview is tough when you’re balancing a heavy workload or traveling all the time. Not to mention, changing careers can be hard when you’re facing burnout brought on by your current position.

It’s a paradox many career changers face: How do you tackle a major transition when your time is nil and your energy levels are already low?

This dilemma’s often accompanied by the temptation to opt for a quick solution: find a position in the same field at a different company. While these options are attractive in the moment, you’ve got to resist the urge to skip over the important work called self-evaluation. Unless you stop and take an honest look at what’s causing your unhappiness, you’re likely to repeat history wherever you go.

However, by taking small steps and tending to your emotional well-being throughout the process, you can make a successful transition.

Shore Up Your Emotional Reserves

If your job’s drained you to the point of burnout, lifting yourself out of your career rut and back into a positive place is the first task at hand.

Like other emotional stressors, burnout responds to reframing. Shifting into a growth mindset helps you see possibilities where there once were only dead ends.

When the going gets tough, and you doubt your ability to manage a career change amidst a daunting workload, try taking the perspective of a good mentor. What advice would you give to another overworked person in your shoes? How would you advise a burnt-out friend?

The best answers often come from within and it’s likely you already know where to start: Give yourself permission to take your time. Big decisions, such as leaving a job or deciding to strike out on your own can and should be thoughtful and deliberate. Assure yourself that you can and will take action, and that once you do, things will get better.

Ask Yourself the Important Questions

It’s all too easy to blow through life on auto-pilot, never spending time honestly exploring what you really want in a career. But people don’t succeed by migrating to a particular industry or job. They thrive by exploring their strengths, motivations, likes, and dislikes.

To ensure that you forge ahead based on a thoughtful appraisal (rather than blindly following what you think others say you “should” be doing) employ an honest self-evaluation. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What would I rather be investing my time and energy in?
  • What is my personal mission?
  • What are my top three values?
  • What pivotal experiences have made me who am I today?
  • What obstacles stand in the way of me making a career change?
  • What strengths can I draw on during my transition?

These big, open-ended questions are specifically designed to provoke creative thinking and help you get in touch with the roots of your personal preferences and natural drives. You won’t arrive at the answers overnight, but the more you think about them, the more you’ll gain the clarity you need to get unstuck and move forward with your transition.

Stop Second-Guessing Yourself

Often, when you’re forced to make a decision that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, fear rears its head. You may worry about the future or become preoccupied with whether you’re making the right decision. At times, you’ll probably face self-doubt and wonder whether things at work are really as bad as you’re making them out to be.

This is an example of a thought trap known as the sunk-cost bias. In short, this is simply our innate loss aversion popping up. We mistakenly rationalize that because so much has been invested in our current path, to change course now would be a waste. But the truth is, the cost of doing nothing–of staying in a job that depletes you–is much higher. Studies show that sticking it out despite your unhappiness leads to emotional exhaustion, illness, and burnout.

Instead of dwelling on what you’ll lose, imagine a career that makes you feel challenged, happy, and fulfilled. If that vision looks, feels, and sounds better, shift your efforts away from focusing on sunk costs and look toward your new trajectory.

Act, Don’t Intellectualize

While the process of clarifying your values and your strengths is important, these discoveries are useless without follow through. Action is the antidote to self-doubt.

Rather than overthinking what you should do to pursue your passion, look for low-risk, micro-learning opportunities that you can accomplish in the few spare hours that you do have. You can start as small as joining a Twitter chat hosted by an organization you’re interested in or committing to sending one email a week to a someone whose career path you admire. Maybe, if you can find the time, you volunteer on the weekends to test drive a new role.

This experimental approach helps you take incremental steps toward a career change in little time without a ton of effort. In the process, you may make connections with inroads to your dream job, short-cutting the traditional (read: long and draining) interview process. You’ll also gain a better sense of answers to questions like: Do I enjoy this work? Do I want to pursue this path further? What other opportunities am I curious about?

I won’t kid you and say that discovering your career happiness formula–the trifecta of finding what you’re good at, what you find meaningful, and what gets you paid–happens overnight. Or that it’s simple and easy, especially when you’re already under a lot of stress.

As long as you’re vigilant about maintaining healthy boundaries and are ruthless with self-care, you can make it through this transition time. In fact, you may find that as your strengths come into alignment with your work, you’ll gain energy and momentum along the way. That’s the difference between a job that drains you and one that lights you up.

How to make a career change at 40 and get unstuck

Image by Hilary Allison © The Balance 2019

Interested in a new career? People seek to change careers for many different reasons. Your career goals or values may have changed; you may have discovered new interests that you would like to incorporate into your job, you may wish to make more money, or have more flexible hours, just to name a few.

Before you decide, it is important to take the time to evaluate your present situation, to explore career options, to decide if your career needs making over, and to choose a career that will be more satisfying for you.

Why People Change Careers

There are many different reasons why people want to change careers. Of course, it’s a personal decision with many factors involved. Joblist’s Midlife Career Crisis survey reports on the top five reasons people change careers:  

  • Better Pay: 47%
  • Too Stressful: 39%
  • Better Work-Life Balance: 37%
  • Wanted a New Challenge: 25%
  • No Longer Passionate About Field: 23%

The Benefits of a Career Change

The Joblist survey reports that most people were happier after they made the change:  

  • Happier: 77%
  • More satisfied: 75%
  • More fulfilled: 69%
  • Less stressed: 65%

In addition, the people who change careers were making more money. Survey respondents who changed careers for better pay earned an additional $10,800 annually compared to their previous positions.

10 Steps to a Successful Career Change

Review these tips for assessing your interests, exploring options, evaluating alternative career paths, and making the move to a new career.

  1. Evaluate your current job satisfaction. Keep a journal of your daily reactions to your job situation and look for recurring themes. Which aspects of your current job do you like and dislike? Are your dissatisfactions related to the content of your work, your company culture or the people with whom you work? While you’re doing this, there are some things you can do at your current job to help you prepare to move on when it’s time for a change.
  2. Assess your interests, values, and skills. Review past successful roles, volunteer work, projects and jobs to identify preferred activities and skills. Determine whether your core values and skills are addressed through your current career. There are free online tools you can use to help assess career alternatives.
  3. Consider alternative careers. Brainstorm ideas for career alternatives by researching career options, and discussing your core values and skills with friends, family, and networking contacts. If you’re having difficulty coming up with ideas, consider meeting with a career counselor for professional advice.
  4. Check out job options. Conduct a preliminary comparative evaluation of several fields to identify a few targets for in-depth research. You can find a wealth of information online simply by Googling the jobs that interest you.
  5. Get personal. Find out as much as much as you can about those fields and reach out to personal contacts in those sectors for informational interviews. A good source of contacts for informational interviewers is your college alumni career network. LinkedIn is another great resource for finding contacts in specific career fields of interest.
  6. Set up a job shadow (or two). Shadow professionals in fields of primary interest to observe work first hand. Spend anywhere from a few hours to a few days job shadowing people who have jobs that interest you. Your college career office is a good place to find alumni volunteers who are willing to host job shadowers. Here’s more information on job shadowing and how it works.
  7. Try it out. Identify volunteer and freelance activities related to your target field to test your interest e.g. if you are thinking of publishing as a career, try editing the PTA newsletter. If you’re interested in working with animals, volunteer at your local shelter.
  8. Take a class. Investigate educational opportunities that would bridge your background to your new field. Consider taking an evening course at a local college or an online course. Spend some time at one day or weekend seminars. Contact professional groups in your target field for suggestions.
  9. Upgrade your skills. Look for ways to develop new skills in your current job which would pave the way for a change e.g. offer to write a grant proposal if grant writing is valued in your new field. If your company offers in-house training, sign up for as many classes as you can. There are ways you can position yourself for a career change without having to go back to school.
  10. Consider a new job in the same industry. Consider alternative roles within your current industry which would utilize the industry knowledge you already have e.g. If you are a store manager for a large retail chain and have grown tired of the evening and weekend hours, consider a move to corporate recruiting within the retail industry. Or if you are a programmer who doesn’t want to program, consider technical sales or project management.

Write a Career Change Resume and Cover Letter

When you’re ready to start applying for jobs in your new industry, be sure to write a cover letter that reflects your aspirations, as well a resume that is refocus based on your new goals. Here are tips for writing a powerful career change resume and a sample career change cover letter with writing advice.

What You Need to Know Before Taking Your Next Step

How to make a career change at 40 and get unstuck

At 50 years old, you are much closer to retirement age than you are to the age you were when you first started out. If you plan to retire at 67, when you can collect your full U.S. Social Security benefits, you have about 17 years left of your career. Depending on how you feel about what you do to make a living, that can seem like a very short time or an eternity.

Your occupation may no longer bring you the satisfaction it once did. Perhaps you were never happy with it and finally feel ready to explore other options. At this point in your life, you may wonder if the effort it will take to make a career change is even worthwhile. Whether you are 30 or 50, you shouldn’t spend time working in a career in which you are unhappy. Your age, though, will play a role in how you go about making your transition and your decision about what career to pursue next.

Before making a move to change your career, consider the pros and cons to determine if it’s worth the time and effort.

Many equate age with experience

Changing careers now is simpler than doing it later

Career satisfaction can have a positive effect on your health, relationships, and life

You may face age bias in the job market

You could face a pay cut

You have limited time to learn and use new skills

The Pros and Cons of Changing Careers at 50

You may feel confident, at age 50, that you can take on any challenge that comes your way. Or, you may question whether you want to start over at this point in your life. With retirement on the horizon, you may wonder if it makes sense to stir things up. Ask yourself if it’s better to spend every day looking forward to being close to two decades older.

Rushing your life away, as you eagerly anticipate not having to go to work every day is not the best way to live. While there are no guarantees that a new career will make you love work, it’s unlikely you will become more satisfied with your current one over time. Making a career change now is much simpler than doing it later on.

Career satisfaction will have a positive effect on your health, relationships, and life in general. Being in the wrong career is stressful. No, it won’t be easy to make the transition, but if you go about it in the right way, it doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to decide what you want to do next and whether your choice is realistic. Then you have to figure out how to make it all happen. It is not easy, but it is doable.

What’s Difficult About Changing Careers at 50?

At age 50, there’s a good chance you have quite a few expenses. You may be putting children through college, while also paying off a mortgage. At the very least, you may be responsible for rent and possibly car loans and other debt you may have accumulated over the years.

The good news is, you may also have some savings put away. Anything that is liquid could be used to help get you through a career change. Don’t dip into your retirement account though. There will be a penalty, and besides, you will need that money later.

Breaking into a new field becomes more difficult with age. This is particularly true if you have to compete with younger workers for entry-level jobs. You may face age bias from some employers, but many equate age with experience. Highlighting your transferable skills on your resume will help.

Immerse yourself in a new career by doing an adult internship before you fully commit to it.

How to Make a Career Change at 50

You are more likely to be satisfied with a particular career if it is a good match for your personality type, aptitudes, work-related values, and interests. Therefore, before you go any further, you should learn about yourself by doing a self-assessment. You can hire a career counselor or other career development professional to help you with this step. Find out if your local public library offers this service for free. Another option is to contact the career services office. Check with a local college or the one you attended, which may provide complimentary career services to alumni. Completing a self-assessment will leave you with a list of occupations that are a good fit for you based on your characteristics.

Next, explore the occupations on your list. Although an occupation seems suitable, you have other things to consider at age 50. With just slightly less than two decades ahead of you to settle into a new career, the time you spend preparing for it is a more important factor than it would have been if you had done this earlier. You should avoid choosing occupations that require many years of education or training. While you may occasionally see a story about someone who made a late midlife career change and became a doctor or lawyer while in their 50s, that could be an unrealistic choice for several reasons. By the time you finish your education, you would have only a few years left to work so your investment wouldn’t pay off. You might also face age bias both in admissions and in getting a job when you graduate.

It is much more practical to choose an occupation that takes advantage of your transferable skills and doesn’t require too much additional education and training. With that said, if it’s your heart’s desire to pursue a career that requires multiple years of education and training, and you have the financial resources to do it, don’t let anything stop you.

Also make sure to learn about job duties, employment outlook, and median earnings. Evaluate this data to help you pick the most suitable occupations from your list. Think about which job duties you like and which you don’t. While you don’t have to love every task, you must at least be willing to do all of them regularly. If any job duty is a deal breaker, take that occupation out of the running.

Earning a lot of money is nice, but it won’t make you any happier with a career that has few other redeeming qualities. Instead of choosing the occupation with the highest earnings, make sure the salary will cover your expenses, let you save money, and allow you to take part in the leisure activities you enjoy. Also, consider the employment outlook. If you can’t get a job, there is no point in choosing that occupation.

When I reached my mid-50s I decided to make a radical career change. I’d spent 25 years in industry in a series of increasingly senior HR roles with high profile companies and I had no real reason to abandon a career that was developing very well. No real reason, that is, except one, crucial one. I wanted something different.

Much to the surprise of my friends and colleagues, instead of being a senior executive in an international company, I decided to become a teacher. It could, as many of them pointed out, have been a disaster, but it hasn’t. I’m now an affiliate professor at HEC Paris. So should you be following me into the “career unknown” even if you’d started to think that it was too late to make such a move? And, if you do, how can you make sure that it’s a success?

Here are five reasons why you should consider a move:

Watch on Forbes:

Reason 1 – Take control. Making your own decision about changing career is a very different prospect to someone else making it for you. You know better than anyone else what is right for you, what you really want. So it’s critical that no-one else is allowed to make that decision for you. Taking control can also give you the confidence to make a genuinely ambitious, even audacious change. And that confidence is crucial to impressing potential new employers or investors.

Reason 2 – Are you getting the right rewards or just the ones on offer? Many people stay in a career comfort zone simply because it feels comfortable. You know the role, the people, the business. The pay is good, promotion comes along regularly – it’s all so easy. But are the rewards on offer really the ones you want?

Reason 3 – Don’t ignore the signals. Has your career slowed down? Are your appraisals less positive, salary rises less common or less generous? Is your role moving slowly, but surely towards the sidelines? Don’t wait until things get really negative before you act and a move is forced upon you.

Reason 4 – Establish your value in the wider world. If you work in one place for any length of time there is always the risk of becoming “institutionalized,” of coming to believe that you only have real value in your current organization. Stepping outside that company can be frightening at first, but it can also help to boost your self-confidence in the medium and long-term by showing your real, overall worth.

Reason 5 – The surprise of the new. When you take on a new job you start a new life: new problems, new challenges, new people. And while it will almost certainly be stressful initially you’ll find yourself surprised – and delighted – by just how much you can take on and succeed at.

And here are five tips to ensure that it all works out:

#1 Move at the top of your game. Yes, funny as it sounds, the very best time to move is the hardest time to move. The point where everything is going great, when no-one wants you to leave, you’re at a career pinnacle. But this, of course, is the time when your all-important self-confidence will be at its strongest, you’re upbeat and ready to tackle new challenges.

#2 Act, don’t react. Move to go somewhere you want to be, not to get away from somewhere you don’t.

#3 Always be aware of the outside world. It’s very easy to find your career horizons limited to the four walls of your office. Make sure you always keep tabs on what is going on outside them and what new opportunities await you.

#4 Know when it’s time. So when is it time? When you are 40, 50, 60? All and none of these – it’s the day when you can’t answer the question: what did I learn today?

#5 Just go. I did. And do I have any regrets? Just the one. I wish I’d gone earlier!

As an international business school, we are devoted to training and accompanying the global leaders of tomorrow, preparing them to create a more responsible, caring…

As an international business school, we are devoted to training and accompanying the global leaders of tomorrow, preparing them to create a more responsible, caring planet. We guide these graduates as they anticipate and develop digital transformation. We teach them to innovate and create in their respective fields. We provide the freedom necessary to invent today the business of the future. This conviction is summed up in a motto we at HEC Paris all share: “Tomorrow is our business”.

Hate your job but a career change idea holds you back? Take second career tests, if you really want a new career.

Hi, my name is Paul. I’d like to share my struggles and successes in making a career change so you’ll get hands-on tips for securing a new, more meaningful work.

Getting a second career at 40 or 50 is doable. I know it’s true because I did it.

My situation is not a unique one. Many career changers have faced situations you’re experiencing right now. And some have managed to get a perfect career.

That won’t be easy. But for long-term joy and job satisfaction, it’s well worth the effort.

What are Second Career Tests?

Career choice tests are a common tool for students and fresh graduates to find ideal work options. Fortunately, the use of assessments is not limited to those seeking their first careers.

Current job holders who are looking for a new direction will also benefit from second career tests.

Scientifically validated work tests allow you to learn about yourself and appealing careers to choose from. If you want a different direction at mid-life the survey results can show you the best career, like a compass shows true north.

Good Reasons to Take Second Career Tests

Entering a new career is a serious business. In fact, changing course isn’t for the faint of heart.

The road to a new work is tough and full of obstacles. Only those who search the true meaning of work in their life find it worth pursuing.

For that reason, you don’t want to plunge into a new career, if it’s not the best one. It means you will take different career tests that reveal your aptitudes, interests, personality and values.

  • Interest inventories aim to discover occupations you are passionate about.
  • Personality profiling reports show you how you behave in work.
  • Aptitude surveys tell you how good you do specific tasks.
  • Value assessments help determine your work values.

Each of the assessment tools reports how you react to work situations. It also offers a list of recommended careers, including reasons why they are great for you.

If you take the career tests you’ll gain two benefits. First, you can check whether you’re following the right career path. Second, if the career test results strongly direct you to another path then you’ll know your options.

Get the Right Career Change Advice

Ready to take the challenge? If so, start learning how to take career tests and choose the best career field. Instead of just searching for another job, you will

  • Take second career tests and select the best career.
  • Do a thorough self assessment and set career goals.
  • Search a perfect career with part-time jobs, freelance projects and volunteering.
  • Learn job hunting skills starting from resume writing to interviewing.
  • Find the right job training and career education.
  • Be aware of other critical elements of career transitions.

Want to start right away? Follow these career change steps and the process will be less stressful and enjoyable for you.

How I Took Second Career Tests and Got a New Career

This site grew from my own experience in taking career path tests. I used the reports to collect key findings and began my midlife career change journey.

I really, really wanted to change career and ended up taking 3 tests. Interestingly, the results directed me to 3 possible careers: interior designer, entrepreneur and technical writer. And I decided to go with an entrepreneur career.

I had to start at a much lower-income than my last salary. Giving up some luxuries, hobbies and other lifestyles are just one of the consequences. Until today, I believe not many people can afford to make those sacrifices when they have a family to take care of.

There were many more struggles down the road, but now I enjoy the fruits of my labor.

That is my short story (the longer story is here).

I hope you also take your second career tests and get a perfect career. And if you want to get motivated in searching a new career and getting one, make sure to get email updates using the form you can find below.

How to make a career change at 40 and get unstuck

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You’ve got 20 minutes to change your life in 100 ways. Go.

This is the premise of an exercise I tried once, when I was feeling stuck in life. I wasn’t sure what was amiss, but the routine I had fallen into was not satisfying the inner voice in me that insisted there was something else out there for me. (See also: Change Your Life With Storytelling)

After trying (forcefully) to understand what was going on, reading self-help books, filling out aptitude tests, and working with business and life coaches, I was given a suggestion that became a catalyst for some pretty big personal changes.

Here is how you can change your life in 20 minutes, step by step:

  1. Clear all distractions. Turn off the phone, the TV, the computer. Lock your door, and go to a quiet place.
  2. Sit down comfortably at a desk or table, with a blank piece of paper and a pen in front of you.
  3. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
  4. Go. Write down 100 things you want to do. Or careers you want to have. Or people you would like to meet. The sky is the limit.
  5. Don’t be realistic. Dream big. Write down the craziest things you can think of, as well as the things that you don’t even think bear mentioning because they are so simple. Write it all down.
  6. Work quickly. 20 minutes isn’t very long, and you have 100 items to get through, if you can. Don’t think about whether or not to write down an idea — just write. Write everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense. Just keep on writing, and don’t stop until that timer goes off.

Something happens after about 10 or 15 minutes if you employ the exercise to its full potential. You stop caring about what specifically the ideas are, and you start to release an inner creativity that may have been locked away for a while. In an effort to get through 100 things in 20 minutes, you start to write outlandish things down that you aren’t even really sure you want, but that are ideas that came to you nonetheless.

Ding! The timer goes off. No matter where you are in the process, or how many items you have written down, stop. (OK, if you are really on a roll and have a few more to write down because the juices are flowing, keep going. I won’t tell.)

Leave the list alone for a day. Try not to look at it, and certainly don’t revise it in any way. The following day, sit down and look at your list. How many of the items on it are feasible? Can you see your way to accomplishing any of it? Did anything come out of the list that you hadn’t actually really thought of until you wrote it down in a hurried attempt to get to 100 items in the time limit? Any surprises in there?

The point of this exercise is not to create a giant and outlandish “to-do” list that never gets ticked off. Instead, it is simply to open up your mind to the idea that anything is possible, and to give you ideas that will help you to become unstuck in life.

Personally, after feeling stuck and making out my list, I identified a few ways to make positive changes in my life at the time; I joined Toastmasters because an item I wrote down was to become a public speaker. I also eventually started a blog to satisfy an inner wordsmith in me that has blossomed into a career. And ultimately, the list helped lead me to the decision to sell off everything I owned to live out my dreams of travel and adventure now.

And it all started with 20 minutes and 100 ways to change my life.

Transforming your professional life can feel like an overwhelming task.

Where do you start in designing a new reality that will fit you well and bring you joy?

This type of career planning requires an element of inspiration along with wise counsel and practical advice. The best books for the purpose are those that help you see and grab hold of your own potential.

Here are nine books we think anyone planning a career change should check out before deciding on a path forward.

‘Strategize to Win: the New Way to Start Out, Step Up or Start Over in Your Career’ by Carla A. Harris

The work world is changing; to succeed you need to analyze and strategize. Carla Harris, managing director of Morgan Stanley, helps readers understand and analyze their own work profile and strategize the best moves to get unstuck.

Harris recommends creating five-year plans to break down the career progress you’d like to make and offers step-by-step guides for figuring out what should go in them. Anyone who wants practical methods of finding more clarity in their work life will appreciate this no-nonsense volume.

Find it here >>

‘The Work’ by Wes Moore

Bestselling author Wes Moore offers the story of his own dramatic career path — from army officer in Afghanistan to White House fellow to Wall Street banker — to illustrate how to find inspiration for living a life of purpose. He discusses other mission-driven people who have inspired him and reflects on lessons he’s learned on his winding path.

This book is a good place to start if you’re concerned with shaping a career filled with meaning and urgency. Moore focuses on issues too often absent from career planning books: courage, service, and risk-taking.

Find it here >>

‘Reinventing You’ by Dorie Clark

Marketing wunderkind Dorie Clark turns her sights on the most important brand: Yours. She addresses those who want a change in their careers, whether they want to move up the ladder, switch to a new field, or strike out on their own.

Using a step-by-step method for figuring out what strengths define you and how you can communicate your unique value, Clark shares her secrets for shaping how others see you. This readable narrative includes some of Clark’s personal stories as well as interesting examples of high-profile personalities who are experts at personal branding, such as Al Gore, Tim Ferriss, and Seth Godin.

Find it here >>

‘What I Know For Sure’ by Oprah Winfrey

One of the most successful women of all time, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring figure in many ways. Her advice influences millions, and there is much to learn from her path to media stardom.

For 14 years she has shared the secrets of her life and career in a monthly column called “What I Know for Sure” for her magazine , O. This book compiles these valuable lessons, offering readers useful thoughts on everything from resilience to leadership to the value of positivity.

Find it here >>

‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard’ by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Stanford University Professor Chip Heath and Duke University Senior Fellow Dan Heath apply psychological insights to the question of how people make changes in their lives. The idea is that we all struggle with a conflict between our rational minds and our emotional impulses, and the best way to shift things is to merge the two into one cooperative whole.

A small step toward change is all anyone starts with, but small steps quickly accumulate into big — even transformative — changes. The Heath brothers unpack how this works, pulling insights from various academic fields and offering thought-provoking anecdotes to illustrate their points and inspire readers.

Find it here >>

‘What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job’ by Kerry Hannon

Kerry Hannon tells the story of multiple people who successfully switched careers to pursue their dreams or tap into a dormant part of themselves. These ambitious souls include a police officer who became a country music agent, a TV-producer-turned-winemaker, and a corporate leader who left the rat race to run a major nonprofit that helps those experiencing homelessness.

Each profile includes a Q&A, so readers can hear these career-switchers’ perspectives on their journeys. The book incorporates practical advice, inspirational tips, and sensible approaches you can use to design your own next move.

Find it here >>

‘Get a Life, Not a Job’ by Paula Caligiuri

Rutgers University professor Paula Caligiuri tells readers that it’s time to take control of their own lives. In today’s topsy-turvy work world, being proactive in designing the career you want is the only way to make it happen.

Once you identify what you want your career to look like, you can take targeted steps to make your skills match up and get your momentum going toward building a better outcome. Caligiuri profiles many people who have done just what she is advocating and are all the better for it.

Whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur, making strategic choices will make a big difference to your career — and life — satisfaction.

Find it here >>

‘The Art of Possibility, Transforming Professional Personal Life’ by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

During his time as the Boston Philharmonic Orchestral conductor, Benjamin Zander noticed that the talented musicians he worked with had many habits in common that led to their success. He teamed up with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander to tell the rest of us how we can tap into those same habits to make our own dreams come true.

This book is about inspiration as much as it is specifics of how to succeed. Its central concept is the power of possibility — the idea that we can reach our goals and live the lives we want if we believe it.

Find it here >>

‘Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

It’s one thing to conceptualize the life you want, but another thing entirely to actually build that life. Stanford University professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans adapted advice for doing so from their popular course about leveraging design principles to improve one’s life and career.

The authors provide a five-step process: be curious, try stuff, reframe problems, know it’s a process, and ask for help. Advice on how to approach each step makes the process approachable.

This is the kind of book you should keep after you’re done reading it; chances are you’ll want to dip into it again and again.

Transforming your professional life can feel like an overwhelming task.

Where do you start in designing a new reality that will fit you well and bring you joy?

This type of career planning requires an element of inspiration along with wise counsel and practical advice. The best books for the purpose are those that help you see and grab hold of your own potential.

Here are nine books we think anyone planning a career change should check out before deciding on a path forward.

‘Strategize to Win: the New Way to Start Out, Step Up or Start Over in Your Career’ by Carla A. Harris

The work world is changing; to succeed you need to analyze and strategize. Carla Harris, managing director of Morgan Stanley, helps readers understand and analyze their own work profile and strategize the best moves to get unstuck.

Harris recommends creating five-year plans to break down the career progress you’d like to make and offers step-by-step guides for figuring out what should go in them. Anyone who wants practical methods of finding more clarity in their work life will appreciate this no-nonsense volume.

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‘The Work’ by Wes Moore

Bestselling author Wes Moore offers the story of his own dramatic career path — from army officer in Afghanistan to White House fellow to Wall Street banker — to illustrate how to find inspiration for living a life of purpose. He discusses other mission-driven people who have inspired him and reflects on lessons he’s learned on his winding path.

This book is a good place to start if you’re concerned with shaping a career filled with meaning and urgency. Moore focuses on issues too often absent from career planning books: courage, service, and risk-taking.

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‘Reinventing You’ by Dorie Clark

Marketing wunderkind Dorie Clark turns her sights on the most important brand: Yours. She addresses those who want a change in their careers, whether they want to move up the ladder, switch to a new field, or strike out on their own.

Using a step-by-step method for figuring out what strengths define you and how you can communicate your unique value, Clark shares her secrets for shaping how others see you. This readable narrative includes some of Clark’s personal stories as well as interesting examples of high-profile personalities who are experts at personal branding, such as Al Gore, Tim Ferriss, and Seth Godin.

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‘What I Know For Sure’ by Oprah Winfrey

One of the most successful women of all time, Oprah Winfrey is an inspiring figure in many ways. Her advice influences millions, and there is much to learn from her path to media stardom.

For 14 years she has shared the secrets of her life and career in a monthly column called “What I Know for Sure” for her magazine , O. This book compiles these valuable lessons, offering readers useful thoughts on everything from resilience to leadership to the value of positivity.

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‘Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard’ by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Stanford University Professor Chip Heath and Duke University Senior Fellow Dan Heath apply psychological insights to the question of how people make changes in their lives. The idea is that we all struggle with a conflict between our rational minds and our emotional impulses, and the best way to shift things is to merge the two into one cooperative whole.

A small step toward change is all anyone starts with, but small steps quickly accumulate into big — even transformative — changes. The Heath brothers unpack how this works, pulling insights from various academic fields and offering thought-provoking anecdotes to illustrate their points and inspire readers.

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‘What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job’ by Kerry Hannon

Kerry Hannon tells the story of multiple people who successfully switched careers to pursue their dreams or tap into a dormant part of themselves. These ambitious souls include a police officer who became a country music agent, a TV-producer-turned-winemaker, and a corporate leader who left the rat race to run a major nonprofit that helps those experiencing homelessness.

Each profile includes a Q&A, so readers can hear these career-switchers’ perspectives on their journeys. The book incorporates practical advice, inspirational tips, and sensible approaches you can use to design your own next move.

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‘Get a Life, Not a Job’ by Paula Caligiuri

Rutgers University professor Paula Caligiuri tells readers that it’s time to take control of their own lives. In today’s topsy-turvy work world, being proactive in designing the career you want is the only way to make it happen.

Once you identify what you want your career to look like, you can take targeted steps to make your skills match up and get your momentum going toward building a better outcome. Caligiuri profiles many people who have done just what she is advocating and are all the better for it.

Whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur, making strategic choices will make a big difference to your career — and life — satisfaction.

Find it here >>

‘The Art of Possibility, Transforming Professional Personal Life’ by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

During his time as the Boston Philharmonic Orchestral conductor, Benjamin Zander noticed that the talented musicians he worked with had many habits in common that led to their success. He teamed up with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander to tell the rest of us how we can tap into those same habits to make our own dreams come true.

This book is about inspiration as much as it is specifics of how to succeed. Its central concept is the power of possibility — the idea that we can reach our goals and live the lives we want if we believe it.

Find it here >>

‘Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

It’s one thing to conceptualize the life you want, but another thing entirely to actually build that life. Stanford University professors Bill Burnett and Dave Evans adapted advice for doing so from their popular course about leveraging design principles to improve one’s life and career.

The authors provide a five-step process: be curious, try stuff, reframe problems, know it’s a process, and ask for help. Advice on how to approach each step makes the process approachable.

This is the kind of book you should keep after you’re done reading it; chances are you’ll want to dip into it again and again.

The barriers to entry in IT are lower than most people think. A commitment to learning, self-growth and finding a job that lets you capitalize on your innate strengths are some of the most important factors involved in switching careers into IT.

Switching careers into IT may seem daunting, but having a plan helps. Don’t want to read the whole article? Focus on these steps:

How do your skills transfer to IT? Take our free career quiz to find out.

Switching Careers into IT: A How-To Guide

Switching to a career in IT is within your reach, even if it may seem daunting. Anyone with the desire to get an IT job can find one that suits their unique skills, talents and interests. There’s a good chance that many of the soft skills you already have apply to a career in IT. One of the best things about IT careers is the sheer number of them. You just have to identify the right one for you and make a plan to acquire the experience and/or training you need to market yourself to hiring managers. Here are some specific steps you can take for successfully switching careers into IT.

Determine What You Want out of an Information Technology Career

What are you passionate about? How much money do you want to be earning? What makes you happy in a professional sense? Helping people? Solving problems? Being able to show off your creative side? These are questions you should ask yourself as you begin to research possible career options. You need to take a personal inventory of everything you desire out of a job and really ask yourself, “what career is best for me?”.

Pick a Job Role That Aligns with What You Want

This involves research. Read IT job descriptions and talk to IT professionals to figure out which technology job best meets your needs. Do your due diligence in terms of research. This could entail watching day-in-the-life videos on YouTube and on the CompTIA website, or attending informational webinars about IT careers and technology trends.

Talk to People Who Have the Job You Want

Scan your LinkedIn network and talk to friends and family about your desired career change. Find someone who has the job you want and reach out to them to see if they’ll meet up for an informational interview. This will help you figure out how they got the job you desire and help you start thinking about how you can replicate the steps they took to successfully secure the position.

Consider Getting a Mentor

You can seek out a mentor in your desired career role by joining a professional organization. A mentor can help coach you through doing what you need to do to properly make the switch to your dream career. A mentor can also help you network with the right people and set the right goals for yourself as you acquire skills and look for jobs.

Research the Training You’ll Need and Compare Training Options

You may be able to self-study in your spare time at home and pick up necessary skills using resources like Lynda.com and MOOCs. You may also benefit from enrolling in classes or tech boot camps or reading books that teach IT skills. You can even try out CompTIA CertMaster for IT Fundamentals to start picking up key IT skills today.

Consider Getting Certified

Research and identify any applicable certification options. Check out our 4 Steps to Certification and our Get into IT digital brochure to start figuring out what kinds of certifications are out there and how those certifications can help make you a more marketable job candidate. The right certifications on your resume can make a world of difference if you’re changing your career drastically.

Tinker

Try out new things on your personal computer. Depending on your desired career path, you may want to do things like build your own website, experiment with open-source software or build a database. A good portion of what you need to know for IT jobs can be learned through trial and error using the technology you already have at home.

Explore Other Educational Options

Although many careers in information technology don’t require you to go back to college, a few of them might. If this is the case with your desired career, you may want to find the right option for yourself at a university. More and more reputable schools offer online classes, and these can be a more flexible option, particularly if you’re not ready to quit your current job.

Get Hands-On Experience

Hands-on experience does not have to come from a full-time, paid position. You also can get it from volunteer positions, apprenticeships, part-time jobs and internships. Reach out to companies that could use your assistance while allowing you to learn on the job. Most IT jobs don’t offer paid training at the beginning of your employment, but some do. Look into your desired field and see if employer-sponsored training is a possibility.

Identify Additional Skills Gaps

Assess which skills you’ve acquired and compare them to the skills listed in job postings. If you’re still lacking in any areas, find additional educational resources to help you fill gaps. Take our free career quiz to see what IT careers are a good match for the skills you already have.

Tailor Your Resume to IT

Use the same language you see in job descriptions and focus on the skills/experience you have that relates to the jobs you want. Read up on how to select the right kind of resume and get the attention of more hiring managers, and when you get down to writing, make sure you highlight all of your transferable skills.

Network

In addition to setting up informational interviews and finding an IT mentor, you should cast your net wider and introduce yourself to as many IT professionals as you can. Attend professional association events, networking gatherings and conferences.

LinkedIn can also be a great tool for digital networking. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and that you connect online with the people you meet at networking events.

Knowing the right people in the industry who can introduce you to hiring managers when positions open up can benefit your job search considerably. In fact, according to LinkedIn, a 2016 survey revealed that 85 percent of jobseekers find their jobs through networking. Never doubt the power of expanding your network!

Be Persistent

Set specific, actionable goals and do your best to achieve them on a set timeline. Even if you encounter hurdles as you’re venturing into the realm of information technology jobs, keep going and don’t give up. With the right amount of effort and persistence, switching careers into IT is possible, and so is conquering all of the career goals you set for yourself.

Be Patient

Remember that changing careers takes time, patience and practice. You also don’t want to overwhelm yourself by trying to take on too many new things at once. You can learn new skills in small doses over time, and be patient with yourself as you learn. Remember that everyone learns at their own pace, and no one has ever become an IT pro overnight.

Still trying to decide which careers in technology could be right for you? Take our quiz to see which IT career is right for you.