How to Plan Ahead for a Career Change

Career changes aren’t as uncommon as you might think. Many people abandon the professional trajectory they chose early in life and switch to something different later on. There are multiple reasons you may want to make a career change. Perhaps your industry is becoming obsolete, and you foresee massive layoffs in the future. Or maybe you’re ready to retire from the military and enter the civilian workforce for the first time.

Whatever your individual case may be, changing jobs is a big move that should be taken seriously. Very rarely can a person jump seamlessly from one career to the next. Most of the time, there’s a transition period that may be challenging to get through. You may require additional education to prepare for your new occupation, or you may need to save up to ease the financial disruption. To help make the transition as painless as possible, here’s how to plan ahead for a career change.

Claim Benefits You’re Entitled To

If you’re a veteran who’s leaving the military for a new career, you could be wondering where to begin. Transitioning from one occupation to another might necessitate accepting lower pay for a period of time. You may need to take a lower-level position while you undergo the training or education required for promotion. To cover any significant pay decreases or gaps, it’s important to explore your financial options.

Fortunately, there are veteran financial resources that can help provide some degree of economic security. These resources can assist you in finding military and veteran discounts for which you qualify. You may also receive free meals, special housing loans, and job assistance through a military transition program. These programs can help make your career transition smoother and less financially taxing. You can find information on veteran-specific resources on trusted sites such as

Assess Your Career Goals

There’s probably a good reason you’re switching occupations. Before you take another job, it’s important to clarify exactly why you’re leaving your current one. That way you can avoid switching to a career with the same drawbacks as your present line of work. Whether you seek a higher salary, want more reasonable hours, or are simply ready for a change, your reasons for making the switch are important.

Once you identify why you’re leaving your current job, you can figure out what you want from your new career. What are the expectations and career goals that are driving this dramatic change in your life? Consider what kind of leadership opportunities you want to pursue and the type of organization you’d feel good about working for. Once you analyze your occupational goals, it will be easier to choose an occupation that is satisfying and rewarding.

Analyze Your Skills and Traits

Before you begin pursuing that new career, it’s important to do some self-reflection. Carefully analyze the skills and traits you have developed over your lifetime. This is one of those times when it’s perfectly OK to talk yourself up. Write down every skill and positive quality you can think of. Then ask a loved one to help you expand your list even more.

Once you have completed your inventory, identify jobs that would best fit your personality, experience, and interests. Which of your core skills can easily transfer to another line of work and boost your qualifications? If you’re not sure which occupations you’re most qualified for, consider talking to a career counselor. They can help you decide which alternative careers are a good fit based on your interests and qualifications.

Research Potential Careers

After you’ve engaged in sufficient soul-searching, it’s time for the fun part: researching potential careers. This is when you get to decide how you want to reinvent yourself and who you want to become. Using your qualifications and goals as a guide, come up with a list of professions that sound appealing. You aren’t committing to anything right now, so feel free to write down any job you’d like to explore further.

Once you have a decent list of occupations, research each one in greater detail. An easy way to do this is by searching online job listings for each of the occupations you’re interested in. Make note of any skills, educational qualifications, or experience required for each job. Note the professions you currently qualify for and which may require you to receive additional training or education.

Create an Action Plan

Now that you know of some occupations you can transition to, it’s time to create an action plan. The goal of this plan should be to help you embark on the career you want. You may find that you’re interested in multiple positions across different industries, and that’s perfectly fine. The more jobs you apply for, the better. As with most things, you should never put all your eggs into one basket.

Your career transition action plan should include updating your resume, networking, and getting job referrals from trusted connections. You should also upload your resume to various job boards so it’s visible to recruiters and hiring managers. Depending on the occupation you’re pursuing, your action plan may also include getting licensed or taking a special course. If you’re willing to relocate for a new job, figure out how you’ll do it and include those potential steps in your action plan.

Making a career change later in life can be scary, but planning ahead can help you minimize disruptions. By following the steps outlined above, you’ll be able to transition more smoothly into a new career.

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