Career success

How To Change Careers and Come Out on Top

Career change

There are many types of career changes: We move from a large company to a small company (or vice versa). We move from a low level job to a middle level job. We move from government to private industry (or vice versa). Or, we may be strategically changing jobs, doing the same job at different companies/industries, but with a higher skill level.


True motivation comes from achievement, personal development, job satisfaction, and recognition.

- Frederick Herzberg


1. Five activities that will help you change careers


- Find out if you want to change career in your niche (a different position, maybe) or want to change career completely, where you start out with a blank slate- learning skills, putting into practice, side projects, volunteering/internships, and so on, building up the experience.


- Know the job market: Which jobs are growing, which jobs are no more in demand, etc. Research online. Search Google for 'job trends', 'jobs in demand' etc. Try out Use your professional network to find out new opportunities.


- Take career tests: There are plenty of career interests tests you can find online- Holland inventory, Dewey color system, etc.

However, remember this: We are not a 'type'. A highly generalized personality/interest quiz doesn't describe the real us.


- Try out one of the career planning exercise: See 'Career planning 101'- Go back to the basic, and see things anew.

Clarify the most important things to you in an ideal future career, including what you need to earn, skills you want to develop, how much risk you can take (for example, are you willing to work for a lesser wage in that new job in a new field?) and what kind of values you stand for. Self awareness is an important part of any career planning.


- Find ways to acquire relevant work experience and skills to put on your new resume: Side projects, volunteering, internships, certifications, books, workshops etc.


You will also need to modify your 'chronological' resume to a 'functional' resume (see 'guide to resumes'), so that you can highlight all the valuable things you know and have done.


2. How to deal with change in life (or, How to move with the cheese)


'Who Moved My Cheese?' by Spencer Johnson, is a popular book on dealing change in work and i life. The book presents the story of change as a simple parable- about four characters who live in a maze and look for cheese to nourish them and make them happy.


Here, 'Cheese' is a metaphor for what we want to have in life- a good job, a loving relationship, money, stuff, health or peace of mind.


The maze is where we look for what we want- the company where we work, or the family or community we live in.


In this 'cheese' story, the characters are faced with, and finally learn to deal with, unexpected change, or the changing locations of the cheese.


They keep moving the cheese: Change happens

Get ready for the cheese to move; Anticipate change

Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old: Monitor change

The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you can enjoy new cheese: Adapt to change quickly

Move with the cheese: Change

Savor the adventure and enjoy the taste of the new cheese!: Enjoy change!

They keep moving the cheese: Be ready to change quickly and enjoy it again & again.


3. Plan Your Next Career Move Template


Area- Can’t Haves / Deal-Breakers- Nice to Haves - Must-Haves

Company Size


Types of People




Job Role

My own skills I’d want to leverage


Also try these exercises:

Make a list of “guilty pleasure or alternative careers that you’d pursue if time and money were not an issue. Once you have your list, write a paragraph for each - what is enticing about each one? Identify common themes that cut across all - this will become your “career values compass.


(Source: Jenny Blake,


4. Three hard realities about changing careers

- Switching careers may be more expensive and time-consuming than you realize.

- As an experienced professional, are you ready to go through multiple rejections again at this stage of life?

- The new career will be rough too.


(Source: Ester Bloom)


5. Four easier alternatives to completely changing careers


- Keep your job, change your industry (If you put your skills to work in a completely different field- for example, operations experience can be used in other industries)


- Do something different that requires knowledge of your Job (If you find a new way to put your knowledge to use that looks completely different from your current job)


- Make a move within your company (if you find a role/s more interesting and learn hwo to do it quickly- keep an eye on changes and openings in your company)


- Get a side job / freelance work (if you are in writing/coding/marketing fields, it is easier to make time to do this)


6. Writing a resume to fit the career change

You have to modify your resume to a 'functional resume' style, where you highlight relevant transferable skills and accomplishments.


In the functional resume, a detailed skills section precedes a briefer experience section, so that the employer is impressed by your knowledge quickly.


Some employers may be disappointed with the short work history in the new field. So, you can create a ‘hybrid’ resume with an expanded profile and skills section, and a chronological employment history. The idea also is to avoid giving the impression that you’re an aimless job-hopper/

Instead, give an impression that you have found an underlying career theme ('I've always helped people excel in their careers') and writing your career history around this.


7. Four rules of smart career changing


- Be the 'big fish in a small pond': Look for places to work, where you will have a an opportunity to stand out, and not be the 500th senior editor in a large news organization.


- If you have reached a position from which it is difficult to move further up, change careers: For example, you are the 5th Vice president in the company, it will take time before you become CEO. There might eb another smaller company ready to make you a CEO.


- Never stay long at a place that does not match well with your strengths or personal life style, or where you get negative vibes continuously (bad boss, quarreling colleagues, underwhelming work/projects, stress levels chronically high etc)


- Always make a great first impression at the new place: Work extra hard during the first few months, as you have a lot to prove.


Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life.  Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.