How to Change Careers in 3 Steps

This informative guide, vetted by a career coach, will help you get from point A to point B.
10 min read

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  • Career changes don't happen overnight. It's easier if you map out your plan, from start to finish.
  • Alisa Cohen, an executive coach, explains her process for a three-step approach to changing careers.
  • This three-step process will help you reflect, plan, and market yourself in a new career.

What's it like to change careers? Most career switchers will tell you it's more like a marathon than a sprint.

That's because career changes don't happen overnight. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to Start Your Journey?

You'll need to do a bit of everything to pull it off. Putting thought into what you want to do next, ways to get there, and how to eventually land a job — it's all part of the process, which isn't always straightforward.

Sounds like a lot, right? It's easier to grasp if you map it out.

We enlisted the expertise of Alisa Cohen, principal executive coach at Close Cohen Career Consulting, to help create a three-step approach to making a career change.

From start to finish, this guide will help you plan your next move, ensure you're ready to take on a new role, and, finally, market yourself to employers.

1  Prep

They say a building is only as strong as its foundation. The same can be said about changing careers: You need a solid foundation before doing anything else.

Start with yourself. Reflect on your current situation, from what you like about your work to your core values. Then figure out what direction you want to go next and what you need to get there.

Things to Do:

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    Assess your interests, values, and skills
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    Brainstorm roles you would enjoy
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    Browse job postings to see what skills are in demand
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    Consider requesting an informational interview for a potential career path
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    Determine if you need to upskill to meet in-demand skills

Why informational interviews matter

What is an informational interview? It's an informal conversation with someone working in an industry or role you're interested in. Career changers can use these conversations to learn more about various roles before committing to a career path.

Cohen explains: "Informational interviews are a great way to hear firsthand about various jobs. These conversations can ground you in the types of jobs are out there and to hear various perspectives on what others find satisfying or challenging in their roles."

2  Assemble

With the foundation firmly in place, it's time to put the rest of the pieces together. In this phase, you'll do some groundwork to showcase your value to potential employers while making your past experience relevant.

Updating your resume, creating a cover letter, and working on your elevator pitch will be key to crafting a compelling narrative for why you're making a career transition. You want to explain to employers why you're a good fit for the job, despite coming from a different career.

How to craft an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief summary of your background and experience. For career changers, elevator pitches are also a chance to spark interest in what you bring to the table.

Cohen explains how to craft an effective elevator pitch: "Be clear on your value proposition. What value will you add to the organization and team? How can you connect your past experience to what is relevant for this new opportunity?"

Meanwhile, you also need to begin networking with friends, professional contacts, or prospective employers, and building a LinkedIn profile.

Both will help you establish a platform to start your job search.

Things to Do:

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    Update your resume
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    Create a cover letter
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    Craft your elevator pitch
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    Network with friends, professional contacts, or prospective employers
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    Create, update, or optimize your LinkedIn profile

3  Initiate

By now, you have the right tools to make a career change. Now comes the challenging but rewarding part: the job search.

How to navigate the job market as a career changer

The job market can be tricky to navigate, especially if you're changing careers into a new industry. But career changers can land the right job if they're mindful of what's in demand.

Cohen explains: "It's important to understand what the job market is demanding. Understanding the types of jobs that are out there will add focus to your search. Additionally, understanding the job requirements and desired qualifications will help you focus your messaging.

Here's where all the resources you've put together come in handy. You know what kind of job you want, you just need to find it. If you encounter any obstacles, use your network to give you job leads, referrals, or information about a particular company or industry.

Things to Do:

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    Find jobs that match your skills and interests
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    Sign up for classes or additional education if skills are missing or needed
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    Leverage your network
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    Apply for jobs
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    Prep for job interviews

With Advice From:

Alisa Cohen

Alisa Cohen is principal executive coach at Close Cohen Career Consulting. Cohen serves executive, senior, and mid-career clients with a full slate of candidate support and leadership development coaching customized to reflect your stage of career development. Our firm provides online project management, live coaching, and a streamlined roadmap for clients seeking to advance their careers.

Feature Image: Westend61 / Westend61 / Getty Images is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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