5 Tips For A Successful Career Change

As Seen In

logo of wsj
logo of wsj
logo of business-insider
logo of business-insider
logo of cnn
logo of cnn
logo of fatherly
logo of fatherly
logo of nbc
logo of nbc

Table Of Contents

Thinking about making a career change? Don’t worry, you’re not alone here. According to this source, 70% of working-age people are looking to change careers. Additionally, 52% of U.S. workers are considering a career change this year with 44% of them already making plans for this change.

Want to do meaningful work, earn more, and enjoy life?

See how we’re all creating momentum in the face of change and uncertainty.

Become UnBREAKable Today

In this article, we’re going to talk about how to smoothly change careers. You’ll learn about warning signs that indicate it might be time for a career change, places where to find your next career, and how to make the career transition.

When you’re done, you’ll have a clearer idea of how career change can happen and you’ll be able to self-reflect to determine if changing careers is the right move for you and if so, how to get started doing it.

If you’re looking for a career change, start your search on ZipRecruiter. ZipRecruiter is free for job seekers and you can apply for jobs with a single click!

get started with ziprecruiter

Reasons Why People Change Careers

There are many reasons why people change careers. People change over time, interests shift, values and goals change, and the person you are now may see a different future for yourself than when you started your job.

Here are some of the top reasons why people change careers:

  • Better pay: 39% of workers want to change careers because of better pay according to this source.
  • Less stress: Joblist's Midlife Career Crisis survey shared that stress was the second largest driving factor for people wanting to change careers.
  • More job satisfaction: Work environment, job development opportunities, and flexible work options all can contribute to job satisfaction. If you’re not feeling satisfied, this might be a reason to consider switching careers.
  • Better work-life balance: Poor work-life balance can also lead to health and mental problems, including stress and anxiety.
  • A more challenging career: This poll revealed that 25% of workers were looking to change careers due to a lack of challenge at work.
  • Passion for a new career field: Losing passion for the work you do was what 23% of respondents shared drove them to change careers in this poll. Changing career paths to match your passion can lead to greater happiness and fulfillment.

5 Signs It’s Time For A Career Change

Sometimes it’s not always clear when it’s time for a career change. Here are some warning signs to look out for that might clue you in that it’s time to switch careers.

1. You Feel Stuck At Work

Feeling stuck could mean:

  • You have a lack of motivation
  • There’s little to no job satisfaction
  • You’re embarrassed by your work and you don’t want to share it with others
  • There’s no upward mobility and you feel stuck in your position

This could be a warning sign that it’s time to switch careers. Feeling stuck could be something you can get past by switching to a new employer. Maybe you can do the same kind of work but in a better work environment where you feel challenged and satisfied by your job.

Sometimes a completely new career path might be needed, too. If this is the case, you can take steps to figure out what new career to pursue that will align with your passions and skills.

Related: How To Find Your Passion

2. You Take Your Work Home

Taking your work home with you is a clear sign of poor work-life balance. That means there are not enough hours in your workday to complete your tasks so you’re playing “catch up” by taking it home.

Poor work-life balance can be caused by an increase in work responsibilities. If you’re taking on too much work or you’re being asked for too much at your job, taking no action can leave you feeling exhausted, and miserable, impact your physical and mental health and impact your family.

Poor work-life balance is the #3 reason why workers were driven to shift careers, according to this poll. It’s an important indicator that shouldn’t be ignored.

3. You Dread Going To Work

This could be because you hate your job, the work environment is not positive or supportive, work is stressful, or several other reasons.

Work is work. You don’t have to feel elated and excited to go into the office for the day but, if you are dragging your heels feeling fearful, apprehensive, or worried about work, that’s not good and there’s an underlying reason for this that should be addressed.

The bottom line is if you’re feeling this way, and dread going to work, that’s a major sign that it’s time to look for a new job.

4. You Daydream About A New Career

Daydreaming about a new career means you’re thinking about your dream work life.  You envision the work you could be doing, the impact you make, how you feel about your work, etc.

You might find yourself searching for jobs, keeping your ears open to new opportunities you learn about from networking, or you get jealous of your friends' jobs that they love.

If you’d jump on the chance to work in that dream career, then it’s probably time to seriously consider leaving your career.

5. You’re Living Paycheck To Paycheck

Sometimes this might not feel like reason enough to leave a job if everything else aligns well:

  • Low-stress job
  • High job satisfaction
  • Opportunities for upward mobility
  • Good work-life balance

But, better pay is one of the chief reasons why workers decide to change careers. It’s the #1 reason for job change in this survey.

If everything lines up nicely in your job except your pay then, it might be time to look into a new career.

Living paycheck to paycheck can lead to other problems like:

  • High debt
  • Mental health problems
  • Stress
  • Physical health issues

Join The Break Community

Living paycheck to paycheck impacts many workers, not just low-pay employees. Nearly 40% of American workers that earn six figures are living paycheck to paycheck.

It can impact anybody and it’s reason enough to question if you’re working in the right career.

5 Tips For A Smooth And Successful Career Change

If you’re ready to change careers now, here are some tips for a smooth, successful career transition:

1. Evaluate Your Level Of Job Satisfaction

You can be satisfied with your work at your current job and still want to change careers. It’s important to look at how satisfied you are, to determine if your career switch will bring you the same level of job satisfaction or more.

Evaluate what factors lead to job satisfaction for you like an open, positive work environment, flexible work schedule, or strong work-life balance.

2. Advance Your Skills And Education

Look at your current skills and education. Switching careers might call for advancements in your education and strengthening your skills. That means additional training or schooling might be needed before making your career change.

If this is the case, you can start working toward meeting those requirements while you’re at your current job, like attending online classes and strengthening your skills at your current employer. And, you can move toward these goals in your action plan.

Depending on the type of career change you are looking for, you may find it helpful to explore freelancing courses.

Learn more about how to invest in yourself to boost your career.

3. Make An Action Plan And Extend Your Runway

Next, consider making an action plan. Think about what your end goal is, which is working in your dream career.

Create actionable, measurable goals that you can complete to get you closer to achieving the plan.

After you make a plan, focus on extending your runway.

In startup financing land, a startup team is always trying to bring in cash (from investment or revenue) that covers their monthly spend (called “burn” rate) to get to breakeven. The amount of time until the startup runs out of cash and has to raise new investment is called the “runway”.

Similarly, you have your own income and expenses to manage. There is so much talk online about “being bold” by quitting your job cold turkey to purse work you love. The cold reality is not having an income source even for a short time, puts you at risk.

You can cut expenses and have savings, but the easiest way to keep your runway is to stay in your current job as long as possible, even if your situation is unbearable. This gives you breathing room and the ability to be patient as you work out how to enact your career change.

CareerCloud Executive Editor and Podcast Host, Mike Gardon, went from corporate consulting in insurance to becoming an internet entrepreneur. “I hatched my plan and worked on it for a year and a half while still working my consulting job. I got the entire plan to where I was making the same income (but had more upside to working for myself). It took time, but I recognized that it was very important as a father and husband that I not take any unnecessary risks. It took more time, but I was more precise and executed the pivot the right way,” Gardon said.

Casting a wide net is about keeping your career options open. That can include looking at a variety of careers in many industries and different geographic locations, etc. Keep your options open.

5. Network

Lastly, networking can play a huge role in all this.

Many jobs aren’t even listed publicly and are snapped up by job candidates that find the opportunity through networking. So, it’s important to keep networking in your toolbox as you go through this journey for finding your dream career.

Nowadays, there are plenty of ways you can network, in person and online. You can attend conferences and work-related events, join career-based social networks like LinkedIn, join industry-related forums and online communities, etc.

A good network generates options for you and opens doors. But, if all you do is ask your network for favors, you’ll end up shrinking it. You build a network by giving, not asking. When you give, people think of you when they have open opportunities.

According to Mike Gardon, “the easiest way to give to your network? Be a connector. You know people. Figure out who should know each other. When you give enough, new opportunities find you, you don’t have to ask.”

What Do You Need to Prepare Before Changing Careers

Preparing for a career change can feel intense. You’re making a big move and impacting your entire life. Here’s what you can do to prepare for your changing career.

Look At What’s Driving Your Decision To Switch Careers

Identify the reasons why you want to change careers. Is it for better work-life balance, less stress, more pay, etc?

Whatever your reason, make sure you have a clear idea of why you want to leave your job and what you hope to achieve in your next career.

Level Up Your Skills

Upgrading your skills isn’t a bad idea if you’re looking to switch careers. It can make you a stronger prospect for landing your dream job.

You can upgrade your skills by taking classes, getting a career-based certification, or pursuing other ways to strengthen your skillset.

Update Your Resume

Review your resume and update it with your newly acquired skills and education. Add the awards and achievements you’ve earned at your current employer.

If you need help with your resume, you may consider working with a resume writing service. Resume writing services are an affordable way to get professional help with your resume. Check out our guide to the best resume writing services to learn more.

If you prefer the DIY method, check out our guide to creating a career change resume.

Prepare Yourself For The Journey

Once you’ve figured out you want to change careers, the path to get to your ideal career can be long. It can require advancing your education, gaining new skills, getting a certification, and more.

The job search process can be tedious and overwhelming. Networking can be tiring and stressful.

This entire journey to your dream career can require a lot.

Wherever you find yourself in the process, keep the end goal in mind. Before you even start this endeavor, prepare yourself for the long haul. It might take weeks, months, or longer before you land in the seat of the career you see for yourself.

If you need some support on your journey, check out our newsletter “The Break.” The Break has everything you need to break into or out of your career. Tools, tactics and frameworks to start living work you love.

Where To Find Your Next Career

Here are some of the best places to go to find your next career.


ZipRecruiter is a top career search website. You can search for jobs, review salary insights, and jobseeker reviews to get the full picture about a career and research the employer hiring. ZipRecruiter is free for job seekers and you can apply for jobs with a single click!

For more information, check out our ZipRecruiter review.

get started with ziprecruiter

Google Jobs

Google Jobs is an easy-to-use job search bank built right into Google. Visit Google and type keywords related to the job you’re seeking, right into the search bar, like “accounting job” or “customer service job.” You can use the search filters to narrow your search by remote work, category, and more.

For more information, check out our Google For Jobs review.


CareerBuilder is a free job search engine you can use to find careers online. They also offer tools like salary search, career advice, and more.

For more information, check out our CareerBuilder review.

The Bottom Line

Setting out on a journey to start a new career is exciting. It can also feel overwhelming and daunting. Keep your eye on the prize and continue holding onto your vision for landing your career. Hopefully, these tips provide some guidance as you embark on your new career path.

Being resilient is about being able to cope with change and uncertainty well. You have the courage to take control and take your career into your own hands.

If you’re ready to take your career into your own hands, start your career search on ZipRecruiter today!