Job search tips for a career change

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Job search tips for a career change

This week, we’re continuing our job search exploration and talking about a topic that has come up many times in the comment section: changing careers.

We can’t say we’re surprised that this is such a hot topic—it’s very common for people to shift directions at some point during their careers. After all, over time, your priorities may change, you may find new passions, or you may simply want something different than you wanted when you first began your career.

These conversations may be particularly alive within our community because on Coursera, you can find several Professional Certificates from industry leaders that are designed to prepare you for an entry-level position in careers like data analysis, cybersecurity, and digital marketing. Many learners earn this credential in order to demonstrate foundational skills development in their desired new career area.

But honing your skills and earning a credential is only one part of the career change journey. Here are our simplified steps for preparing for a career change:

  1. Assess your current career.
  2. Clarify your career goals.
  3. Research potential careers.
  4. Read job descriptions.
  5. Define your course of action.

Now, how do you get from the job you have to the job you want?

Let’s explore some strategies.

If you’ve been here for a while, you already know our number one tip: know your goals. Having clarity about the outcomes you’re aiming for can enable you to strategically plan your path forward. For guidance on goal-setting, revisit our issue on professional development goals.

Think about what you want more of, what you want less of, and what your top priorities are for your career. Then, consider what types of roles align with these goals.

For example, salary might be a key driver for you. To find potential roles, you could search databases that report average pay, like the US Bureau of Labor Statistics or Glassdoor, for roles that match your desired compensation and read role descriptions to decide whether those roles interest you. You can also search for job lists online using keywords that match your criteria. For example, if you’re looking for a work-from-home role that pays well, you may search the internet for “high-paying remote jobs.”

Next, focus on your skills. You can learn any technical skill that you need in order to qualify for a role but pay close attention to your transferable skills.

Even though this may be your first time pursuing a role in this specific field, you still bring several years of work experience with you, and that experience is valuable. On your resume and in your cover letter, relate the work you’ve done in the past to the work you hope to do in the future by highlighting the aspects of your previous roles that are most relevant to your future role.

For example, let’s say you are transitioning from high school math teacher to data analyst. Hiring managers may not feel strongly about your experience writing lesson plans, but they will be impressed by your analytical approach to test prep by assessing five years of student performance in order to optimize your areas of focus. Likewise, your Teacher of the Year award may hold more meaning within your school district, but your demonstrated success in communicating complex mathematical concepts in an engaging way that motivates stakeholders may be enticing.

Lastly (for now), we recommend leaning on your network. Finding a job is not easy, especially when you’re trying to do something new. With the ease of online applications, companies are receiving more qualified applicants than ever, which can mean that people are applying for more jobs and receiving less feedback. Your network can help you identify job opportunities, recommend you for positions, or be your sounding board when things feel tough.

Revisit our issue on networking tips to explore ways to grow your network, and check out the Coursera Community to connect with learners working toward the same goals you are.

Keep growing

For more career change advice, read our articles on changing careers in your thirties, forties, and fifties.

For step-by-step resume guidance, try SUNY Online’s five-hour course, How to Write a Resume.

To dream up your next career move, check out the University of California, Santa Cruz’s course, The Career Design Lab: Change your Job, Change your Life, or explore other possibilities with Coursera’s Career Academy.

Let us know how you’re making your career change happen in the comments (success stories welcome!). We’ll be back next week with an issue on finding remote jobs. See you then!