A Quick Guide to Making a Career Change Without Returning to School

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Whether you are burned out, bored, or just ready for a career change, you may be eagerly eyeing a new field, but how easy is it to switch careers? You may be surprised to learn that it is possible to do it without going back to school (depending, of course, on what field you’re moving into). Often, people find a new career that they’re enthusiastic about and want to explore, but they don’t want to invest the time or money to go back to college.

You might feel overwhelmed when you first start thinking about a career change, but embarking on this exciting new journey may not be as difficult as you think. The steps below can help you make the transition without additional schooling. Remember that you will also need to update your resume and cover letter, so reach out to our professionals for help

1. Highlight your transferable skills

This is probably one of the most important things you can do. Go through your skills and list the ones that would be an asset in any industry or in the field you’re considering. There are many skills that hiring managers look for, especially if someone seems passionate about a position or eager to learn. 

Include leadership or management abilities, communication skills, public speaking, computer or technical proficiency, customer service expertise, and time management. Be creative and consider ways in which your existing skills can relate to a new job. They don’t have to come from paid positions—think about volunteer work, internships, or even your hobbies.

2. Figure out what you’re missing and get it

There are also many ways to learn the ropes without going back to school.  If you’re anxious to enter a new field but don’t have skills in that area, seek ways to acquire some of those skills. Look for free or low-cost community and online classes that might help you gain valuable knowledge. Check to see if you can get certified in something that will carry over into your new field. 

Take advantage of the plethora of free courses, tutorials, and information available online to self-educate. You may also find ways to practice your new skills at home—for example, if you’re gearing up for a debut in the tech industry, you can start your own programming projects at home. If they’re good enough, you can even include them in your portfolio.

Can you gain experience in your chosen new field by doing freelance work or volunteering your time? If so, do it! You’ll learn new skills and show potential hiring managers that you’re serious about your job change. Your stint as a freelancer may also allow you to showcase additional transferable skills, such as time management. 

Don’t forget that you can educate yourself by doing online research and reading relevant books as well. This will help you gain knowledge about the specific job and introduce you to the lingo used in the field. Just be careful about using the jargon before you fully master it.

3. Network

Don’t underestimate the importance of networking with people in your new career field and staying in touch with those at your old job. Former colleagues can provide references that highlight your work ethic and character, while people already working in your future field can give you extra hints and tips. Connections in your new field may even lead to job opportunities—just make sure you have something to offer in return. 

While you can’t become a doctor or a lawyer or enter a field that requires years of schooling, there are plenty of jobs that don’t necessitate a new degree. Whatever steps you decide to take, putting together a new, relevant resume should be at the top of your list. Get in touch with our experts for help with that. 

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