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Change is inevitable. We all know that in today's world and our present economy, it isn't uncommon for people to change careers.


As a career development professional, I wouldn't necessarily recommend deliberately changing careers multiple times within your lifetime; however, change is inevitable. Career changes happen for several reasons. Here are just a few examples:

  • Job market changes.
  • Relocating.
  • Job availability.
  • Career dissatisfaction.

Be smart about career changes.

The bottom line is that you need to be smart, rather than haphazard, in your approach to making a career change.

John Krumboltz (2009) postulated that the happenstance learning theory provides an avenue where you remain aware and intentional about opportunities and challenges in front of you while you take advantage of them as learning experiences.

There are a few important aspects about changing careers:

  • Take your past, present, and future into consideration.
  • Seek out each experience as a learning opportunity.
  • Think about why you're changing careers.
  • Obtain professional guidance to help with transition.

Take your past, present, and future into consideration.

Even if it seems that your new career is completely different than what you've done before, it's likely you will be applying similar skill sets to your new career while learning new skill sets.

These transferrable skills are built throughout the life of your career and can be applied in various environments.

In other words, you won't necessarily need to completely let go of the past or present and start over from scratch in the future.


Seek out each experience as a learning opportunity.

Apply your talents, skills, and experiences to any career path you choose. Take a good look at your work experience and think about what you've done throughout the years – whether it's been five years or 30.

How can those skills set you apart and help you gain momentum in your new career? How can your current situation serve your future?


Think about why you’re changing careers.

Create a plan and don't jump ship out of excitement or frustration. This is perhaps the most important thing of all: Be smart about your change and consider the future consequences (both failures and successes) with a plan.

Do your research and find out if a change is the best thing to do in the present or future. Then set sensible goals and enjoy the adventure of the journey.

Consider how your past education could lead to future education.

If you need a second degree, explore the best route to take the least amount of new class (i.e. less financial risk). Seek out scholarships and grants for new education and training.

In fact, if the new career is a high-demand one, check with the training and education institutions to see about special funding and grants to get you started as well as searching traditional options.

Seek out each experience as a learning opportunity.

If you have a lot of interests and many different disciplines, industries, and jobs excite you, then enjoy your experiences and absorb them as learning opportunities. Although not every job or career is perfect, it is an opportunity to learn and grow. Each experience brings its own knowledge to help you make choices and learn about likes and dislikes.

Throughout your career, If you approach each job, career, experience, and training opportunity as “research,” you can gather information and apply it in future settings.


Obtain professional guidance to help with transition.

A qualified career advisor or career coach can help you interpret any assessments you've taken. They can guide you with questions to provide introspection. They will be there to draw out past and present experiences as well as the reasons for change.

A career advisor or career coach will also help ask the tough questions about the change itself. Partnering with an objective third party can help pull everything together and help you set goals and objectives for a successful transition.


In summary, take your time with your career change and do it for the right reasons. Learn to be satisfied with where you are so you can enjoy the adventure and apply past knowledge to future aspirations.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to change careers, but make it a smart and successful change with a little strategic planning and guidance.

  1. career assessments

About The Author

Dora Grote, GCDFi

Dora Grote is the vice president of professional services for Kuder. She oversees the company’s delivery of real-time career and education planning support for students and adults through the Kuder® Coach™ program and works with client organizations to develop and i ... read more