Career Change 101 - All You Need to Know!

published on 13 January 2022

A career change may often sound deterring but there could be several advantages and challenges associated with it. The advantages could look like - better pay, better opportunities, better work-life balance and so on, whereas, the challenges could be narrowed down to what exactly you want to do, why you want to do it, and the probability of success in making the shift.

Career changes are not very uncommon these days. With the ease of access to so many educational and job search resources, all it takes for a meaningful career transition is effective planning. If working at FAANG companies is a goal within your career change plan, this blog is for you!

Choosing a new path and switching your career will require preparation and diligence.
Choosing a new path and switching your career will require preparation and diligence.

When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos decided to switch careers from his well-paying hedge fund job to establishing a company that would sell books online, he resorted to the regret minimization framework, a mental model to minimize the number of regrets in the long run. Basically, he thought of the 80-year old version of himself and asked a simple question: At 80, would I regret having chosen to do something that I had strong conviction for, or would I regret not having tried it at all? And the answer he found was: not trying would haunt him every single day. He laid out a carefully thought-out plan to make the transition and we all know what Amazon is today.

While this strategy worked well for Jeff Bezos, there could be something different that might work for you. If you’re planning to make a career switch, here’s what we recommend you should do:

1. Think about the 3Ws - Why What and When.

As endless these questions may sound, once you’ve figured your answer, building a career change strategy won’t be tough.
As endless these questions may sound, once you’ve figured your answer, building a career change strategy won’t be tough.

These are the key questions, to begin with. An effective career change plan will work only when you know why you want to make the change. Is it because you want to quit your current job? What is it that you’re looking for in your new career - better pay, better work-life balance, the satisfaction of doing something you resonate more with or do you just want to experiment and try something new? Keep your end goal in mind, ask yourself these questions and identify your purpose for making the change.

Most people change their careers to come closer to what they want to do professionally. Ask yourself what it is that you want to do. This means identifying what new role you wish to switch to, what company you wish to join or anything else that you want to do. Planning to switch your career without deciding what you want to do would only lead to disappointment.

Timing is just as important for your career change plan to work. Analyze your financial situation, see what immediate responsibilities you have and figure out when you think you’ll be ready to make the change. A career transition is considered successful only when you manage to switch to something else and live the same life you lived while doing what you did earlier. To minimize regrets and risks, identifying what would be a good time for you to take the next step is crucial.

As rosy as career change fantasies may seem, when you think about these questions, you’ll find out whether you really need that career change or if you simply need to make minor changes to what you’re already doing to bring it closer to what you wish to do. Spending time thinking about these questions will help you gain a lot of clarity and confidence in how you should execute your career change plan.

2. Is your next move ‘the best move’ for you?

Even after fleshing out the whys and whats, many people fail to realize if what they want to do is best for them. Let’s say you’re a musician who wants to take up a Data Analyst position, or a Software Engineer who wants to become a Recruiter, or an Investment Banker who wants to pursue a career in Arts, is what you think you want to do the best choice for you?

Bonus: If you’re planning to transition from a non-tech role to a tech position, check out our conversation with Ankan Bagchi, an ex-Amazon employee to learn more about his transition journey.

A large part of job satisfaction is determined by how stimulating your everyday tasks are. Spend time learning more about the new role you’re targeting by reading about other people’s experiences and speaking to people who already work in that position. See if you can job shadow. Find yourself someone who’s made a similar career change and learn from your journey.

Kerry Hannon, author of What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job says “Debt is really a dream-killer”, who notes that money is often the biggest obstacle in a career transition. The best jobs will fall short if the compensation doesn’t match your expectations. Will the change be able to keep you afloat financially? If not, think of a backup plan that will support you while you figure things out.

3. Do your due diligence.

Now that you know you’ve made the right choice, it is time to start doing your homework. Research the entry requirements for the role, check what skills you’d require and enrol on courses that would help you learn them. Start networking and learn as much as you can about the industry.

Spend time listing down all the transferable skills you could put to use in your new role. These are extremely important to identify as these will be the skills you’ll be able to put to use even in your new role as you learn the technicalities of it.

4. Time for the best part….applying to your dream jobs!

Trust us when we say this is the part we love the most! 

Stop wondering if you’re good enough, and apply to that dream job!
Stop wondering if you’re good enough, and apply to that dream job!

Let’s talk about resumes, LinkedIn and networking.

This is where you translate your career change on paper. Build a resume that reflects your compatibility for the new shift you’re looking for. Here are a few resume tips to build a compelling resume for FAANG+ companies:

  • Give a clear objective or summary statement that reflects what you’ve done in the past, why you’re looking for a change and what value you can contribute.
  • Re-order your resume appropriately to highlight aspects most relevant to the job you’re applying to. For example, if you’ve taken a course to support your career change that can support your job role better than your past work experience, highlight that on the top, or if there are transferable skills from your past role which could support your new role better, highlight them. 
  • Take up online or extra courses to support your career change, if required. 
  • Add a few projects(if applicable) to show how you’ve applied the skills you learnt to prove you’re a good fit for the role.

The next step is to optimize your LinkedIn profile. This is just as important as your resume. Rebuild your LinkedIn profile to reflect your career change. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Update the open to work section and mention roles that you’re looking for next.
  • Create a profile summary that briefly explains what career change you’re looking for, why and how you plan to leverage your past work experience to be good at what you do next. 
  • Optimize your job descriptions in the Work Section in a way that reflects transferable skills that you can leverage. 
  • Be active on LinkedIn and share about courses/certificates/projects you’re working on to build your skill set that can support your career change.

5. Set new goals

Keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you want to achieve next.
Keep track of what you’ve accomplished and what you want to achieve next.

Successful career transitions also require a long-term plan. A career change likely means that you’ll need to revisit all the professional goals you set for yourself. Although it might seem cumbersome, it isn’t that tough. Take things one at a time. Instead of approaching the career change as starting something from scratch, look at it as an opportunity to put everything you’ve learnt so far to use in a completely new setup. Learn from little things as much as you can and build a new vision for yourself.

Set new goals, recognize what you’ll require to achieve them and start working. Keep learning and see how you can add some extra value through your work!

For most professionals, their career becomes their identity. Giving up on that old identity and building a different one might seem challenging, but trust us, it is not impossible. Approach your career change with curiosity and confidence!

FAANGPath is a team of experienced mentors who are committed to helping talented people get hired at FAANG+ companies. Under the dynamic leadership of Nikita Gupta, FAANGPath is empowering job aspirants by providing premium faang resume reviews, LinkedIn makeovers, 1:1 mentorship, and mock interview services. Talk to FAANGPath's mentor and get all your queries solved.

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Here is a short infographic you can save and share to understand strategy for career change.<br>
Here is a short infographic you can save and share to understand strategy for career change.

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