• Career Change

    By Todd Kane, MBA, MEd and Yvonne Bell, PhD 
    Adjunct Instructors, Kaplan University, School of Health Sciences 

    Changing careers can be both an exciting and fearful experience. The positive benefits to changing one’s career is that it opens up the possibilities of new opportunities, broadens one’s horizon, and gives a career changer another job to add to their resume.

    People change careers for a number of reasons. These might include lack of job satisfaction, the result of new interests and passion, the result of burnout, or perhaps even due to some forced change such as technology or jobs being outsourced overseas. You might be looking for new opportunities as a result of relocation or for more money which may result in job hopping. Whatever the reason, changing careers is challenging and requires skills in marketing one’s self, selling one’s abilities, and navigating this journey. 

    Making a career transition can be scary, upsetting, and even frustrating at times. Know that you do have resources and that you must utilize those resources to be successful.

    Tip 1: Decide on a Destination

    Ask yourself the following questions and research your area of interest. This can help you know that you are well on your way to making the right move for yourself.

    • What do you want to do? Do you have a particular job, field, or industry in mind? 
    • Do your research! Check out BLS.gov, peruse the online job ads, and ask friends and colleagues for guidance. 
    • Some questions to ask yourself to test your passion for your new career:  
    • Can I see myself doing this 5 years from now?  
    • What kind of impact can I make on the world with this career?  
    • Do I find reward in this career other than the salary?  

    Tip 2: Set Smart Goals

    Establish a realistic set of goals and a clear timeline. This is mission critical! 

    • Start with goals to complete research on your destination career and build the goals from there. 
    • Create a specific plan. 

    Tip 3: What Are You Qualified to Do?

    Take a self-inventory of your current skillset and consider:  

    • What skills do you currently have? 
    • What skills will you need to develop? 
    • How can you use the experience you do have to bring about this change? Can you articulate this experience and make a compelling argument that your past skills play a material role in your future career? 

    Tip 4: Education

    It is important to gain the skills necessary to do the job that you are applying for. You may gain the skills alone from your academic education but if not you can find other avenues to become qualified for the career you seek. 

    • Look for opportunities to continue your education. You should also research the educational requirements for your new career, as it might require a certain degree or certificate. 
    • Look into professional associations that will help you to navigate the waters. 
    • Who do you know in your destination industry? How can they help you to uncover the needed skills and education? 

    Tip 5: Find a Mentor

    A mentor can be valuable during a career change. Consider working with career services at the school, networking with your instructors and classmates, and get out in the community to build relationships with those that can help you. 

    • Who can serve as a mentor and coach? 
    • Who can hold you accountable? 
    • Find a partner on this journey—share with them your dreams, your research, and your goals, then ask them to help you get there. 

    Tip 6: Think Outside of the Box

    Build flexibility into your plan and explore other opportunities you may not think of at first. For instance:  

    • Can you volunteer in your destination industry to gain more experience? 
    • Are there internships/externships/fieldwork experiences available? 

    Tip 7: Customize Your Deliverable

    Finally, take the time to really rework your resume to show how your past experience bridges the gap to the new position. Tailor your resume to reflect your skills to match the career you seek. You can also:  

    • Build a killer cover letter that clearly articulates that you are the best person for the job. 
    • Develop an elevator speech that addresses who you are professionally and how your past experience relates to your new industry or job. 
    • Rework or build a LinkedIn profile. Connect with other individuals and groups in that industry. 

     As the popular saying goes, “nothing worth it is easy.” Please keep that in mind as you seek your new career. Stay motivated and build goals that keep you motivated. Do not give up on your dreams and goals. 

    You may run into stumbling blocks but use it as a learning tool to help push you towards your goal. Learn as much as you can about the career you seek, get yourself qualified for that particular career, market yourself for it, apply for the job with confidence, and if you do not get the job this time don’t give up. Try again and believe that success is waiting for you. You are a winner. Best wishes to you on your future career endeavor. 


    Todd Kane, MBA, MEd and Yvonne Bell, PhD are adjunct instructors in the School of Health Sciences. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.

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