By: Bill Reagan

“Do what you love” is common advice, but for many, our career paths have been defined by available opportunities more than pursuit of a passion. None of these opportunities seem “wrong”, but eventually, we realize we’re on a path that doesn’t feel right. We want more than a new job – we want a new direction.

Pursuing a new role or new industry means you’ll be competing with people who have previous experience in the field, and it likely involves considering more than just the work – it may mean a reduction in pay, change in schedule, or starting at a lower-level position. These factors are significant, especially if you’re later in your work life, but if the desire for change is stronger than the willingness to maintain the status quo, here are some things to consider when attempting to find traction for a career change:

Determine Your Transferable Skills 

Some roles require very specific expertise, but many skills transfer easily to other industries and positions. Write a list of all of your skills and determine which have value in your target industry. You can find online skills assessment tests that help identify your strengths, including relevant skills from the things you do outside of your current job.

Take Classes

If you’re serious about a new career, you should be serious about building the skills you’ll need to excel. Look for courses at community colleges or seek out companies that offer training courses in your field. If your schedule doesn’t fit their offerings, look into online courses. Adding school to an already busy schedule can be difficult, but it will give you a stronger framework for your new pursuits.

Talk to People in Your Target Industry

Most people like to talk about their work. Contact people you know in your target industry and ask them about their job and your situation. This gives you first-hand information from an insider, enables you to ask very specific questions, and shows you have an interest in the industry. I know several people whose career changes were made possible by their curiosity.

Talk with a Staffing Agency

Seek out a staffing agency that serves your target industry and talk to a recruiter about your plans. They may not have an open position at the level you’re seeking, but they can offer insight into the industry and may know of open positions that could help you gain some experience in that field.


This is another way to get to see your dream job from the inside. Contact local companies in your target industry and ask how you can get involved – do they use volunteers? – or look in your area for a service that matches volunteers with available opportunities. Any opportunity would need to fit your current schedule, but it’s a great way to impress people in the industry.

Finally, be patient with the process. Changing careers can be difficult, but so is working a job that isn’t fulfilling. If you’ve decided you want to make a change in your path, it’s up to you to figure out the way to do it.