A 5-Step Process for Your New Year Career Change

A-5-Step-Process-for-Your-New-Year-Career-ChangeAs the New Year approaches, I find that, for many professionals, this transition reminds them that they don’t want to spend another year doing the same thing they’re doing now. They’re ready for a career change, whether it’s a transition to a new employer in a new role or a redirection of their career path.

If you’re in the market, so to speak, for a new type of work, I recommend a five-step process to sift through, select, and realize your options.

Take Stock … of You

The first career change step that I recommend is to conduct either a formal or informal self-assessment. A formal self-assessment involves taking test online or in person. If you’ve never done any self-assessment reflection before and are in your 20s or older, this may be a good option for you. I find, though, that since most experienced professionals have done some reflection at some point in their work lives, an informal self-assessment process works just fine. My suggestion is to review, delineate, and  rank order your Top 10:

  • Values: What is most important to you in your job?
  • Passions: What types of career fields do you have the most interest in?
  • Gifts: What are your strongest talents?
  • Motivated Skills: What are you good at that you want to keep doing?

In addition, you will need to clarify these preferences at a minimum:

  • Work Environment: What types of work cultures do you most thrive in?
  • Lifestyle: What type of lifestyle do you want your career to help you fund?
  • Finances: What type and level of compensation are you seeking?
  • Geography: Where do you want to live for your next role?

Brainstorm Your Options

Your next step is to compare your self-assessment results with the labor market. Which types of roles and industries will best match your career values, passions, gifts, and motivated skills? This is where working with an experienced Career Coach can be especially helpful, as we know how to match all of the above to occupations and career fields. You can do this on your own by employing a resource such as O*Net Online to help you identify new ways to leverage the skills you already possess and those you may elect to develop.

  • Titles: What other job titles will allow you to utilize your preferred gifts, values, interests, and skills?
  • Companies: What companies may you want to explore?
  • Industries: Which industries should you consider next?
  • Places: Are there any other geographic locations you want to consider? Will doing so open more career options?
  • Skills to Develop: What new skills, if any, do you want to consider developing for your future careers?

Prioritize Your Options

Though this is the shortest option, in many ways it is the hardest. Once you’ve done your brainstorming, it’s time to sift through your options, rank them, and prioritize them. This step is important because it will save you valuable time with the research phase which comes next.

  • Rank Order Your Options: How would you rank your options from most to least preferred?
  • Narrow Your Focus: If you have identified more than one or two potential career choices, which two or three are you most excited about?

Research Your Options

Next, take your one, two, or three possible career options and research them online or via print resources. Resources such as the Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you to define:

  • Needed Skills: Which skills are most critical to possess for success in this occupation?
  • Education/Certifications: What education levels, degrees, licensure, and/or certifications do you need to break into this field?
  • Future Availability: What is the current and future job market like for this occupation?
  • Availability in Your Preferred Geographic Areas: Is this job likely to be available for the foreseeable future in your preferred location(s)?
  • Compensation: How do salaries and compensation levels vary for this type of work?
  • Compatibility with Your Self-Assessment Findings: How well does this job match your self-assessment results?

Plan Your Career Transition

With your research done, it’s time to plot your career move:

  • How to Enter the Field: What is the best way to get into this type of work?
  • Career Portfolio Revamp: How will your resume, LinkedIn profile, cover letter, and other career documentation need to be altered to accommodate your shift in direction?
  • Network-Building: What type of network connections do you need to facilitate this career change and how can you acquire them?
  • Job Search Plan: What specific job search methodologies (job boards, recruiters, thought leadership, networking, or company targeting) will you need to leverage to land the job you want?

This may seem like a lot of steps, but if you’re going to be strategic about changing career directions, you probably cannot afford to make a mistake. Being thorough in your decision-making requires this kind of due diligence. But it’s well worth the effort if it leads you to a more satisfying career.


As a Career and Job Search Coach, I have developed a proprietary process for helping my clients to strategically change career directions. And the good news is that it doesn’t require endless hours of coaching. If you want help with your career change, schedule a no-cost, no-obligation discussion so I can help you figure out the best path forward.

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About Cheryl Lynch Simpson

Cheryl is a Career, Job Search & LinkedIn Coach and Master Resume Writer. She has helped clients in >35 industries on 6 continents and has earned 24 global resume writing nominations and awards.


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