6 Simple Steps to Build or Change Your Career

Jul 12, 2020

Are you stuck in a career rut? Are you bored and unfulfilled, or have you hit the end of the road in promotion and progression? Or are you new to the whole career thing and don’t know where to start? There are many things you can do to gear up yourself towards pursuing what you want in life.

As with any significant life change, it can be daunting, but there are ways to make it easier.

#1: Take an Assessment Test 

There’s little point choosing a career and starting at the bottom of the ladder, only to find that your new choice is utterly unsuitable for you.

Narrow your options by taking an assessment test to match a new career to your experience, skills, qualifications, and personality.

You can find these assessment tests online, or you can contact a local community college for assistance. 

#2: The Learning Curve of Careers 

You need to figure out if the role is right for you. Whether you have the experience or a newbie in this field, there are still things you need to consider before you can actually say it’s the one. 

Chris Davies’ The Student Book accentuated the model of learning: 70% learning by doing, 20% learning from others, 10% formal and informal learning. Looking for a job isn’t a math equation but finding the right one is taxing. But the 70:20:10 method makes your career plan much easier. 

70:20:10 model of learning and development
70:20:10 model for learning

#3: Talk to People Who Work in Particular Careers 

Once you’ve settled on a few possible career types, try and contact some helpful individuals who work in these jobs.

With an on-site interview, you can learn more about a career from someone who works in it, and this will inform you far better than any online job description.

In some cases, an individual might even let you job shadow them for a day to see what a job involves in the real world.

#4: Work as a Volunteer in a New Career 

Volunteering is an excellent way of testing the water in a new career direction, and you’ll be giving something back to the community at the same time. You can find voluntary work in many areas, including:

  • Hospitals 
  • Libraries 
  • Schools 
  • Churches 
  • Charities

Working as a volunteer will not only contribute to society but will give you a good idea of what various jobs in a sector involve. It will also look good on your resume, whether you finally choose to work in a related field.

➡️ Read: Why your non-academic experience is your most valuable asset.

#5: Upgrade Your Education 

When you want to change to an entirely new career, it’s usually necessary to upgrade your education if you’re going to progress beyond an entry-level position.

Some sectors such as entry-level finance jobs even require basic qualifications and certifications to get started. Before you decide on a new direction, find out what training you’ll need to progress, and see if it’s realistic to combine working a new job and attending school at the same time.

#6: Create an Action Plan 

Lastly, attempting to switch or move up the career ladder without a solid plan will likely result in disaster. It might be tempting to throw everything up in the air and see where things land, but for most people, this isn’t a sensible risk to take.

Before making a significant decision, plan out your future over the next few years, accounting for how you’ll earn your keep during your transition period, and how you can imagine your progress at several stages down the line.

An effective way to do this is to come up with S-M-A-R-T goals. This means that when setting your next plans and action steps, they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Every approach you take towards realising your end goal should be intentional and result-driven. How to do this? Let us dissect the SMART approach.

Specific– Be clear on the specific career direction you want to take. Whether it is to shift careers or move up the ladder, be concise about your end goal because your next action steps will depend on this. Remember, what you do on a daily basis may lead you closer to your goal or drive you further away from it.

Measurable– You can’t gauge success unless you can measure it. Whether it is a number of sales, savings amount, or hitting work metrics, you need to be able to track your progress in some way. With this, you can go back, and redesign action steps should you not see favorable results.

Achievable– You also need to take your ability, skills, and time into consideration. Avoid setting career goals that you did not prepare for nor expect things to come into fruition within an impossible timeframe because you will only be setting yourself up for failure.

Realistic– When setting goals, make sure that they are within your means and capacity. You cannot expect to become the company president with little to no experience in the field. And this is when acquiring skills and knowledge come into play.

Timely– Set a timeframe as to when you can expect to see realistic results based on skill, capacity, and all other logistics. Having a timeframe keeps you on your toes and helps push you forward to consistently work on your smaller action steps to reach your end goal.

smart goals for effective goal setting

Let us take a look at the examples below:

“To be a successful salesman.”


“Become top sales agent for the month of June by increasing weekly closed sales by 5% by sending out daily newsletters with current promotions to potential buyers.”

If you will look at the two objectives above, which do you think has a higher chance of being met? No brainer, right?

The latter is clear with the end goal (become top agent) and the steps needed to achieve the end goal (increase weekly sales by 5% through a sales funnel). It also has a timeline as to when you are targeting to hit your goal to help you stay on track (month of June). 

Let us change the scenario a bit for those who are still looking for a job or wanting to switch careers. Instead of just settling with “to find a job,” you can make it more specific by adding more details like the industry, small action steps, & timeline. 

Example: “To land a job in one of the top real estate companies in the tri-state area before end of July by sending out three application letters every week.” 

Often, when they are just starting out, young professionals have big ideals but with little to zero career map in place.

This leaves them excited during the first few months or years on the job but as soon as the excitement wears off, they start feeling bored or frustrated, especially if they are not seeing the results that they had imagined to achieve.

It just takes a lot of practice but soon enough, you will get the hang of creating SMART goals each time and you will never look back. Do your best to have a clear blueprint each time so you can work smart towards achieving your goals. When setting a career plan, treat it as if your future depends on it because it does.

Ask yourself these questions:

Are you happy where you are?

Are you given the opportunity to enhance and showcase your skills to your fullest potential?

Is the job challenging enough to stimulate the need to expand and grow more as a career person?

If you answered mostly NOs, then perhaps it is high time for you to check other options. There is no need to stay in a career that is no longer fulfilling, but you need to make sure the change you make is for the better. Good luck!

Guest post written by: Kristina Robinson

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