5 Rules To Making A Career Change

Feb 17, 2023 | Career Advice, Career Planning

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5 Rules To Making A Career ChangeMaking a career change can be stressful and meaningful at the same time. Whether it takes 5 weeks or 5 years, there are ways to navigate career transition that could make your life easier. Remember, you’re not starting at zero even if you have no experience in the field. Here’s 5 rules on how to make that epic (or not so epic) career change:

1. Identify Transferable Skills.

You bring value to a new work environment with your developed skills from a completely different industry (ex. technical writing, sales, multicultural communication, coding, coaching). Embrace creative ways of looking at your career change. Don’t assume your social science degree can only be used in academia or research. There are so many other skills you acquire in a particular field that can apply to the business or art world with a psychology or economics background. How about marrying people skills with banking knowledge to transition into financial counseling?

I had a client who was a chef and burned out from working in the hospitality industry, he just needed a change. He had no idea what else he could do with his experience, but after taking an inventory of his skill set, he learned he could use his experience researching, ordering, and streamlining ingredients by becoming a logistics professional in hospitals or food manufacturing. He took one credit course online and successfully transitioned into the new field with a leg up.

2. Prioritize Action.

Once you’ve done some self-reflection and identified your strengths, you eventually must start taking action. The trick is that it doesn’t have to be a huge leap. Take baby steps. This can mean just watching a 10-minute YouTube video on something related to your field or spending a couple of hours on Occu Info reading about the duties and tasks of a job you’re curious about. Little steps can make a big difference in your career exploration.

3. Have Faith.

There’s an element of risk when making a career change because you can’t control everything that happens on the other side. Control the things you can, like being on time for an information interview, doing your own research, and following up with people (such an under-rated skill!). This helps build confidence. Saying to yourself that you have agency over your career exploration can be anxiety provoking but also empowering. Saying “I’m too old for this job” depresses your energy and communicates that you don’t have control over your future. Of course, ageism exists but nothing will happen if you don’t take steps to explore something that brings you value and possibly more money than before.

4. Know Your Life Values.

What’s most important to you? Flexibility? A perfect boss? Financial stability? I had a client who was trying to get into healthcare management but could only find work in the service industry because their #1 priority was to pay the bills, since they had no financial support. Once they fulfilled that value and their top priority was met, they made a point to tell everyone they knew they were looking for work in healthcare as a manager. When you honor your top needs and values, then you have space to be reactive and maybe even set some time aside for career counselling! Desires are great but at the end of the day, figure out what is most important to you, ie. location, money, flexibility, creativity. And then never compromise on what’s most important to you.

5. Ask for help.

You really don’t have to do it alone. Engage in networking, career counselling, LinkedIn Learning, Ted Talks, old contacts, and even friends and family for wisdom and feedback. No one can help you if they don’t know you want help. Claim it. Own it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of for wanting a new job.



  • Laura Cohen

    Written by Laura Cohen, a Career Counsellor and Registered Counselling Therapist at Canada Career Counselling – Halifax. Laura is experienced working with clients in numerous industries including finance, the military, business, education, non-profit, arts, IT, and healthcare. She completed her MA in Counselling Psychology at McGill University. If you’d like to connect with Laura, email [email protected] to schedule a 15-minute complimentary consultation. You may be able to use your insurance plan or extended health benefits to cover counselling and assessment fees.