Transitioning Successfully from One Career to Another

So, you’re at a point where you know your current job isn’t satisfying you anymore. You’re either unhappy, overworked, or bored. You know of an area or are researching what you would like to change into. It might not be completely different, or it may be turning your career upside down (in a good way). Either way, there are some steps to keep in mind when transitioning from one role to another – here they are.

Research your potential new role or industry

For some people, you won’t know where to start. For others, they will know exactly where they want to go. Either way, the research needs to be done. You need to understand the industry and what makes someone successful in that field of work. Research anything and everything including responsibilities, duties, skills needed, qualifications needed, what it’s like to work in the industry, what work hours are general expected, what companies do it best, where is potential growth in the industry and so on. A small part of this process would be using a site such as Glassdoor where employees review employers. You will be able to see the pros and cons of certain workplaces and figure out what would be suitable for you.

Update your skills and education

Other than finding out if the industry is the right one, you may need to be qualified or have a different degree behind you than you already have. If so, make sure you speak to others and understand what is absolutely essential. Most job ads will express if they require someone to have a particular qualification too. If you’re making a complete change, and you find you need to go back to school, consider online or part-time courses. It’s wise to work and study simultaneously to maintain an income.

If you’re only changing into a different role within the same industry, try and learn from someone you already work with. Shadow someone in their role (with permission) or take on a mentor who can guide you and inform you of all the skills you need and how to execute them. If you still need an extra qualification, take the effort and time to complete a course. You may have to practice patience but in the long run, it will benefit you.

Re-write your CV (and a specific Cover Letter for transitioning careers)

You will have to re-write your CV with the focus on transferable skills. As you still need to include some job history (preferably your most recent) ensure that you are careful about how you write about preceding experience. Don’t use jargon that someone outside of that field might not understand. Instead, focus on the skills and responsibilities that align with your potential new role. In this situation, it’s more than writing a good CV, you will have to sell yourself as a worker and a person. Here are some tips for getting your personality into a professional document such as a CV.

In addition to a resume, you will need to write a cover letter. This cover letter will have an extra paragraph in comparison to others because it’s important to clarify your career transition. It is wise to be sincere and clear that you are excited and ready to change your career. Speak lightly and happily of past experiences and acknowledge all that they have taught you. Then, much like in a resume (and any other cover letter), remind the hiring manager why they should select you to interview them.


It’s not all about what you know, it’s also about who you know. The more people you discuss your idea for a career change, the more people will share that with others. Be careful not to spread that word around your existing office if you don’t want them to know you are planning to leave soon. Still, networking is a vital part of finding opportunities. It will also help gain insight about that industry of work which may clarify your feelings about entering that sector. When networking, seek out people who work at companies you see yourself at. This way, you can gain a true understanding of what your work-life could be like as well as hearing about job openings first or getting an internal referral.

Leave your industry or role gracefully (and not ahead of time)

Your relationship with your employer is your own, and you will know how to handle it best. However, it is wise to ensure you’re not burning any bridges. Don’t leave your role before you have another job lined up unless you have a decent buffer of savings and have budgeted for the worst-case scenario. If you are struggling to juggle work and study, let your employer know that you are taking a course that is important to you. Most companies in this modern age will be understanding and help you strategise ways to handle both. If you don’t think your company would be this understanding, consider part-time study, or negotiating your job into a part-time role.

When you do leave, make sure to share with your network and colleagues a kind farewell which acknowledges the opportunities you have had in the past and the experience you have gained. Even if you hated your previous job and that was why you left, keep it polite and have a thankful tone. It’s great to express your excitement to step into a new career as well.

Good luck with your career transition!