New technologies, shifting labor needs, and changes in individual attitudes about work have resulted in more professionals looking to switch careers. Reporting on the millions of workers who are making what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls occupational transfers in The future American workforce will have a lot of jobs to fill, particularly in infrastructure, Joseph Kane writes that an “enormous part of the future labor market involves workers leaving their jobs, retraining, and seeking new careers.”

Are you one those people that are ready to make a change?

If so, you have some homework to do. In Your Career Q&A: Planning a Complete Career Change, recruiter and career coach Martin Yate tells us that changing careers is more complicated and time-consuming than changing jobs. You aren’t just making a little hop; you’re making a major leap. The key to success, he adds, is in careful planning.

Use a step-by-step framework to help you begin thinking about your career change

Follow these steps to transfer to your new career smoothly:

1. Decide what you want.

Before you make your leap, decide what you’d like your next job to be. Consider your interests and aptitudes when making your decision, advise the authors of Thinking of Making a Career Change? Where to Start and Who Can Help. You may also want to enlist the help of a career coach or take a vocational aptitude test.

2. Discover what it takes.

Once you’ve chosen the job you’d like to have, then find out what it takes to land that job. Review job descriptions to find out what skills your new role will require. Also, join relevant industry groups and begin networking with others who work in your new field. The more you know about the qualifications and demands of your future job, the better.  

3. Identify your strengths.

Starting out in a new field in which you have no experience doesn’t mean that you have nothing to offer. Your soft skills are valuable in any career.

Plus, many of your other skills may be transferable as well. The New York Times article, Switching Careers Doesn’t Have to Be Hard: Charting Jobs That Are Similar to Yours, points out that often, seemingly dissimilar jobs actually require similar, or overlapping, skills.

You can discover the areas where your old and new career overlap by using the U.S. Department of Labor’s extensive Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database to compare roles advises SHRM’s Roy Maurer in his article, Getting Smart About Skills Transfer Could Solve the Skills Gap.  

4. Fill in the gaps.

After you’ve matched your existing skills to the requirements of your dream job, if you discover any serious skills gaps, fill them! Look for part-time jobs, classes, or volunteer opportunities that will help bring you up to speed.

5. Change your presentation.

The final step in preparing for your new career is to change your presentation. From your resume to your social media profiles, shift your focus from the career you have to the career you want. Change your LinkedIn summary and title to indicate the type of job you are seeking and to emphasize your relevant skills. Do the same with your resume.

Modify your summary statement, skills list, and work experience to highlight the skills and results that will communicate to your future employer that you are ready, willing, and able to give your all to your new career. To see this type of change in action, check out Jane Heifetz’s article, Writing Your Resume When Your Job Title Doesn’t Reflect Your Responsibilities.

Your bridge to success awaits

Plan to succeed

Whether you are making a career change out of choice or necessity, your best chance of success comes from planning ahead. Prepare to make your leap by learning the needs of your newly chosen field and ensuring that your resume demonstrates your ability to meet those needs. And, once you’ve put together your targeted resume, be sure to use Carmen’s free resume optimization tool to see how well you’ve done and get actionable tips for making improvements. We give you the tools to take control of your career.