6 tips for a successful career change

May 02, 2023 · 4 min read · By ASU Online
Are you someone who wants a different job? Welcome to the majority. According to a recent poll by Monster.com, a full 96% of workers are looking for new jobs in 2023.

If you’re one of the millions longing for something different, start with some basic research. Look on job sites for the industry you want to get into, and pay attention to the job descriptions. Are there software programs you need to learn? Certifications you need to have? Skills you’ve yet to develop? Gather information so you can make a game plan.

Once you’ve gathered information, follow these six career change tips to put together a road map to your new career.


1. Talk with people in the industry

“Networking” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. That’s particularly true in the early stages of a career switch. You’re not necessarily trying to get hired now, but you want to find out what it would realistically take to be hired later on. If you know anyone in the industry you want to get into, ask to take them for a cup of coffee or to borrow half an hour of their time on Zoom to ask questions. If you don’t know anyone in your desired field, you can still ask for an informational interview. Reaching out to a stranger might feel awkward, but many professionals are happy to share their knowledge. Either way, comeprepared with specific questions to make the most of the time you have together. (Bonus: When it’s time to actually job hunt, you’ll already have a connection!)


2. Identify your transferable skills

Transferable skills are attributes that apply laterally across different fields, even if the specifics look different on their face. Soft skills are a prime example.

Are you known as a good collaborator? Do you have a knack for troubleshooting? Do you find yourself “translating” between departments at your current job? You can feature collaboration, problem-solving and communication skills on your resume. If you’re struggling to identify transferable skills, think of what you’re good at in general, such as adapting to change, picking up new software quickly and attention to detail. The goal is to show hiring managers your potential, particularly in areas where your qualifications are lacking.


3. Find opportunities at your current job

Depending on the type of change you’re seeking, you might be able to take preliminary steps to segue into a new industry while in your current one.

For example, if you’re currently in a customer service position but are hoping to work in social media, ask your manager if there are ways you can contribute content to your organization’s social media feeds from a customer service perspective. If you’re hesitant about signaling that you’re trying to leave your job, keep in mind that many managers value people who are eager to go deeper on behalf of the organization.


4. Look for volunteer opportunities

Whether you volunteer in a community service capacity or offer your time and labor to a for-profit organization, volunteering can be a great way to test the waters of a career pivot. You might be paired with an experienced pro you can shadow or, depending on the organization, you might be thrust into the waters headfirst, giving you a chance to learn on the job. Just make sure you’re committed. If you enter a volunteer position halfheartedly, you won’t get what you’re seeking, and you won’t make as much of an impression on decision-makers who might be positioned to eventually hire you.


5. Upgrade your skills with training and certification programs

Transferable skills help, but you might need to learn a new skill to have your resume taken seriously. Certifications aren’t a replacement for a degree, but they can be immensely valuable when attempting a career pivot.

When ASU Online surveyed more than 2,000 hiring managers, recruiters and team members in partnership with Walr, a lack of certification among candidates came up repeatedly as a hiring challenge.


6. Earn the relevant degree

Whether you need a different degree than the one you already have or need to start from scratch, there’s no replacement for higher education. Not only does it demonstrate you’ve made an investment in the field and aren’t playing dilettante, it also ups your earning potential: Respondents to the ASU Online survey, The Value of Higher Education Today, reported that candidates with a degree could get a salary offer between 5% and 10% higher than what was originally designated for the position.

If you’re concerned it’s too late to get started, think again: survey respondents revealed that they actually had a better perception of candidates who earned a degree between ages 25 and 44 than they did of younger candidates (People 45 and older also got an image boost from getting a degree, just not as much.).

More education is better: How a bachelor’s degree compares to other options

In our survey of more than 2,000 recruiters and hiring managers, respondents made something clear: The more education you have, the better position you’re in to earn more money in your career. See what recruiters had to say about the financial impact of getting a four-year degree.


About ASU Online

Earn your degree completely online from the nation's most innovative university. ASU Online offers more than 300 degree programs and certificates in high-demand areas such as nursing, engineering, business, education and more. Explore all of our areas of study.

Our offerings include:

  • Elite expertise and research.
  • Innovative curriculum design.
  • Superior student support services.

Learn more at our about us page. And follow ASU Online on Facebook, YouTube, X and Instagram, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

Step 1 of 2

Request information

To learn more about ASU Online or a specific program, fill out the form below and check your email for information on next steps.

* Indicates a required field