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UMGC Career ConnectionTips for Navigating Career Change

Carla Jones
By Carla Jones

According to a 2019 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, people change jobs an average of 12 times during their career. Whether it’s because they are unfulfilled at work, would like to do something entirely different, have been laid off from their job, or many other reasons, changing careers is not uncommon. Whether your career change is planned or unplanned, continue reading below for tips on how to navigate it.

1.    Assess Your Current Situation

Take time to assess why you want to change careers. Make sure a career change is something you want as opposed to an impulsive decision because of a bad boss or bad employer experience. Do a self-evaluation, think about your strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate your current skill set. When it is time to interview, it will be important to explain your career change with certainty and confidence. Taking the time to assess where you are versus where you want to be will help you answer questions in the future.

2.    Develop A Plan

Create a plan with the steps to complete a successful career transition:

  • Research the new industry and/or role, because you’ll want to learn as much as possible before making the change. Identify the skills and experience required for the new role and compare it to the skills and experience you currently possess. Then develop a list of transferrable skills; the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O’Net is a great place to start as each provide details on various professions.
  • Review job descriptions and compare roles across different companies and industries. This is a great way to identify what employers are seeking in a specific role.
  • Review starting salaries for the new role. Websites such as, and the Department of Labor Wages by Occupation are great resources for gathering this information.
  • Network with professionals currently working in a similar role or the industry you're interested in. A great way to network with professionals is to attend industry-related events and to join professional associations. As you meet people, you’ll want to ask questions about their current role, their educational background, and how they began their careers. You can find professionals through resources such as Community Connect in CareerQuest, LinkedIn, and numerous professional associations in your desired industry.
  • Identify ways to gain new experience and/or skills. Consider activities like volunteering, short-term projects, part-time or temp jobs, and internships as ways to gain experience on your own schedule. You can also enroll in training and/or certification courses if they are necessary. Also, get creative with how to create experience opportunities. For example, you could work on independent projects or partner with an individual or organization to work on a specific program or activity. InternPLUS on CareerQuest is a great resource to explore possible internship opportunities.
  • Consider using a tracking tool to monitor your activities because you may have multiple activities taking place at the same time.

3.    Revise Your Resume

Now that you have thought about your career goals, evaluated your skills, and conducted research into your new industry and/or role, it’s time to take that information and incorporate it into a new resume!

In your new resume, you should focus on experience that is relevant to your new career. Include transferrable skills that are beneficial for the new role, and if you have limited direct experience, consider including relevant coursework and class projects. Also remember that relevant volunteer activities can be included as experience. For additional help with your resume, or to receive instant feedback, visit VMOCK in CareerQuest today.

4.    Periodically Revisit Your Plan

Changing careers takes time and consistency. Be patient and continuously work on your plan, review your action steps, and keep track of your progress. As you move forward and gather additional information, it may be necessary to revise your strategy. It’s better to make informed decisions rather than hasty decisions without proper planning. This type of life change should be undertaken with mindful consideration and planning. Remember to be deliberate and intentional in your actions and to trust the process!

As always, keep in mind that UMGC’s Career Services is here to help you plan and achieve career success. Set up an appointment with a UMGC Career Advising Specialist.