Today, people are considering a career change more than ever before. Some reasons include work-life balance, flexibility and a positive culture. The trend is so pervasive that a recent U.S. Chamber poll revealed that 41% of people surveyed said they want to switch industries for their next job.
Most people assume that a career transition comes with a substantial decrease in salary. But that is not a foregone conclusion. It is possible to make a career change and earn close to or even more than you earned before. One reason is that in today’s world, careers are more flexible. You can create the job you want by working remotely, freelancing or even adopting a portfolio career where you combine multiple income streams. Also, employers aren’t just looking for specific technical skills anymore. In fact, 93% of employers say soft skills play a critical role in deciding whom they want to hire.
Many people stay in an unfulfilling field because they have reached a comfortable salary that is difficult to let go of. The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice your salary to feel fulfilled. Here are ten tips for making a career change without a pay cut.
Believe that it’s possible
They say if you can believe it, you can achieve it. It’s true. Beliefs shape reality. By believing it’s possible and leaning into your dreams, your path to success will create itself. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.”
Visualize your future
By introducing a visualization practice into your life, you will become more motivated to reach your goals. Start by writing down what you want in detail. Then, let yourself feel what it will be like to accomplish your goal. The more you envision the outcome, the more you’ll be motivated to take daily action in that direction.
Leverage the regret minimization framework
The regret minimization framework helped Jeff Bezos decide to leave Wall Street for this crazy idea of selling books online. It can help you too. Start by thinking long-term rather than short-term. Project forward to age 80 and look back on your decision. Are you going to regret trying this? What about failure? Will you regret that? If the answer is “no” to those two questions, you’re ready to embrace a career change.
Identify a career change goal
Next, consider what you’re looking for in your career move. Ask yourself what is making you unhappy about your current job. What do you most value in a position? Some examples could include variety, flexibility, or collaboration. Do you want to work for someone else or yourself? What about the location? Are you happy working from home full-time, or would you prefer to go to an office every day? By thinking about what matters to you, you’ll be able to brainstorm possible careers, identify options and formulate a goal.
Lean into your transferable skills
Making a career change doesn’t mean you need to leave all your skills and experience behind. You’ve already nurtured several key skills that can apply to dozens of other industries. Some examples of easily transferable skills include:
Even industry-specific skills like marketing, accounting or finance are largely transferable when making a career change.
Boost your marketability
After reflecting on your strengths and transferrable skills, it’s time to demonstrate your value. Think about how you can apply these strengths to a new career. Then include that information in your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile. Don’t forget to include relevant volunteer or part-time work. Also, find out if your new career requires additional education or certifications. If so, you might be able to complete them while still in your current job.
Focus on your assets rather than liabilities
Often the thought of a career change causes us to reflect on all the skills and experience we don’t have. Instead, focus on your assets rather than your liabilities. Negative ideas drain your energy and keep you from being in the present moment. By focusing on the positive, you’ll have the motivation to continue to take small steps forward.
Be realistic about your career change
Career change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience and hard work. And often, it will take longer than you thought. But just because it’s not easy or takes more time than you initially imagined doesn’t mean you won’t get there.
Find support for your career change
Whether it’s friends, family, a career coach or all the above, you need a support system to help you through this transition. Surround yourself with people who are reassuring and believe in you more than you do. That’s one of the best ways to maintain accountability and forward movement.
Have a backup plan
Sometimes you may find that unexpected challenges pop up along the way. That’s okay. It’s like being in a sailboat when suddenly the wind shifts. You don’t change your ultimate destination, just how you get there. Think about what can go wrong and create alternate plans for each scenario. This can also be a stepping-stone that gets you one step closer to your dream role.
Many people stay in a career because they are afraid of failure. But changing careers doesn’t mean starting over completely. You still carry things with you like transferrable skills, valuable experience and meaningful contacts. It’s true—pulling off a successful career change takes more than a leap of faith. It requires introspection, planning, patience and consistency. But if you’re willing to believe in yourself and put the work in, the rewards are so worthwhile.