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‘Move Strategically Toward Something that Works for You’: Professional Coaches Say Follow These Steps to Switch Careers

As the U.S. economy pumps out thousands of jobs every month, some workers have ditched their employer and began looking for positions in a completely different industry. The trend has grown so widespread that researchers have labeled it the Great Reshuffle.

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Career coaches say it can take years for workers to change their expertise mid-career, but the process is much easier if they follow a few time-tested and proven steps.

The Career Switch

The path to eventually switching careers starts with a self-evaluation and figuring out what skills you have, what work you enjoy doing and what type of work is meaningful to you, said Manuela Pauer, a certified career coach in California. Making those decisions typically takes someone a month or two, she said.

A job seeker must then determine which positions play to their strengths and research what training it takes to land the desired role, Pauer said. The best move is to create a list of two or three ideal professions, she said.

Anyone looking to change careers should also talk to a person who has the type of job desired and ask what a typical work day is like, Pauer said.

“That usually gives them a pretty good picture of ‘OK, Do I really want to do this or not?’” Pauer said.

Linda Greenfield, another certified career coach in California, said anyone who must return to school for their career shift should spend that time wisely. Attend conferences, join professional organizations and network as much as possible, Greenfield said.

While gaining more education, it’s also important to start tweaking the résumé to phrases from the new industry, Greenfield said. That could mean changing words like customer to patient or client.

“You can be doing all of this while you’re in your current job,” she said.

Is this the Right Career Move?

Greenfield and Pauer said it’s important to find a new career that feels rewarding and challenging. The key is identifying companies that hire for the desired role and starting to connect with hiring managers there, they said.

“You don’t want to run away from something,” Greenfield said. “You want to move strategically toward something that works for you.”

Ideal Time for a Career Pivot

Career coaches said early 2023 might be the ideal time to start a career pivot, noting how strong the U.S. labor market has rebounded since the coronavirus pandemic years.

Nearly 55 percent of Americans who quit their jobs in 2021 went into a different occupation that year, according to Pew Research. Most workers who switched their career also reported higher salaries, the Pew report published last June found.

The job market was red-hot in 2022 as employers created more than 350,000 new positions on average every month. Companies added roughly 230,000 jobs in December, the U.S. Department of Labor reported. However, the jobs boom didn’t benefit all industries equally.

Industries on the Down Slope

The technology and real estate industries saw the largest drop in jobs last year. Companies like Amazon, Meta and Twitter laid off thousands of workers to help stave off inflation. All told, the tech industry shed more than 97,000 jobs in 2022, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

As mortgage rates climbed and would-be homebuyers left the housing market, companies like Better, Redfin and Zillow released hundreds of workers each. Wells Fargo said this week it’s slashing its mortgage division and leaving the home-lending business completely in a move that will most likely lead to more layoffs at the bank.

Industries on the Upswing

This year could be particularly lucrative for workers looking to land in-demand roles in software development, physical therapy, web developer or dentistry. Many of those roles pay well above $100,000 a year, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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