A new year is upon us, and perhaps you’re thinking about what you’d like to do differently in 2023. If changing or rebooting your career is high on your list of priorities, then you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to build a career you love in 2023. We’ll consider the unique challenges and opportunities that 2023 is bringing, and give you a clear roadmap you can follow to make your career change happen.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- What does the world of work look like in 2023?
- How to make a successful career change: Your step-by-step guide
- Career change FAQs (and answers)
- Key takeaways and next steps
If you want to skip ahead to a specific section, just use the clickable menu.
New year, new career? Let’s go!
1. The world of work in 2023
When making a career change, it’s important to understand the landscape you’ll be navigating. What’s the current economic climate like? What skills and qualities will be in high demand? Ultimately, what does the world of work look like right now, and what challenges and opportunities does that bring?
With that, let’s briefly explore what 2023 has in store for workers and career changers.
The Great Resignation gives employees and job seekers the upper hand
As we kick off 2023, the topic of The Great Resignation continues to be a hot one. Starting in spring 2021, we saw a growing number of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs at an unprecedented rate, which only increased in 2022.
People are describing this trend as a once-in-a-generation moment where workers have the upper hand. And, although the stats are focused on the United States, the sentiment is similar in many other countries around the world.
Amid the labor shortage, employers are even ramping up the hiring of new graduates. Employers who are not seen as desirable will lose out to those who are, and job seekers can be more selective about where they choose to work. Hurray!
Remote and hybrid work is here to stay
A long time ago, remote work was seen as an employee perk—a once- or twice-a-week treat offered by only the most modern, forward-thinking companies, and then usually only for certain professions.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work shifted from a perk to a necessity across many industries. Now, as we continue to navigate the pandemic, remote and hybrid working models are very much still in place (at least for those who can do their jobs from home).
According to recent research, attitudes towards remote and hybrid work remain positive—among both managers and employees.
So what does this mean for you? As someone navigating the world of work in 2023, you can expect to find a growing number of remote and hybrid positions (among those fields that don’t require an in-person presence).
And, as remote work cements itself as the norm, employers will be forced to rethink their policies, processes, and benefits in order to motivate and bring value to their now-remote workforce. Office yoga, beanbags, and an unlimited supply of tea and coffee will no longer cut it.
In fact, an EY survey showed that one in three respondents predicted that EX will become the most important aspect of an effective HR strategy in 2023.
So: Not only can you expect a more remote-friendly work culture, but you can (and should) also expect a better employee experience full-stop.
Transferable skills, lifelong learning, and non-linear career paths are the new normal
The world of work has changed, and so has our perception of what a “good” career path looks like. You may remember the days when it was frowned upon to have a gap in your CV, or when you were expected to pick a career path and stick to it—regardless of how your feelings about that particular career path might have changed.
Fortunately, this mentality is evolving. Non-linear career paths are becoming the new normal, with the focus shifting towards lifelong learning rather than lifetime loyalty to one particular company or path.
In their bestselling book The Squiggly Career, Helen Tupper and Sarah Ellis discuss how we’re now living in a world where moving frequently and fluidly between roles, industries, locations, and careers is becoming the new normal.
Self-awareness, lifelong learning, and transferable skills are all considered extremely valuable in today’s workplace—excellent news for those who are thinking about making a career change.
We spoke to some career-changers who are all working in tech to learn how they leveraged their transferable skills for a job in tech. Check out what they had to say about the importance of transferable skills in this video:
To summarize, here’s (some of) what you can expect from the world of work in 2023:
- Jobseekers will have the “upper hand” when it comes to choosing where and how they want to work
- There will be more vacancies to fill than there are people to fill them (in the US)
- Remote and hybrid work are here to stay, becoming the new norm across many industries
- Companies will focus more of their efforts on employee experience (EX), hopefully setting a new and higher standard for workplace culture
- “Squiggly” career paths will replace the career ladder, with lifelong learning and transferable skills seen as major assets in 2023 and beyond
It’s a great time to build a career you love, so let’s get to the crux of the matter: How can you make it happen? Keep reading!
2. How to make a successful career change in 9 steps
In this section, we’ll lay out some practical steps you can take to make a successful career change.
We’re not going to tell you things like “Update your CV” and “Apply for jobs” (although these are very important steps to starting a new career!). Rather, we’ll focus on actions that will help you find a career you’ll love, and qualify you as a credible candidate in your new field.
As you read through this guide, bear in mind that finding the “right” career path can take time, and the clue is in the name: it’s a path, not a final destination.
When figuring out your next move, try not to fixate on the idea that it has to be perfect. Remember, we’re not climbing ladders anymore—we’re forging squiggles! Your next move may not be the perfect one, but it’ll lead to the next move after that, and so on…
With that in mind, here are our tips for successfully changing careers.
1. Take stock of your strengths
All too often, we focus on our shortcomings. In fact, for many of us, there’s something rather uncomfortable about talking about our strengths. For now, you don’t need to talk about them—but you do need to identify and take stock of them!
Reflecting on your strengths will help you to identify what comes naturally to you, what you enjoy doing, and where you can add value. In turn, this will help you see what kinds of roles and environments you are likely to thrive in.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What positive feedback do you tend to receive? What do your coworkers, managers, friends, and family say about you? What do people say you do well?
- What achievements are you most proud of in life or work? What have you accomplished that you’re especially proud of, and what skills, traits, and qualities enabled you to succeed?
- When are you most, and least, productive? What kinds of tasks and projects do you tend to complete quickly, efficiently, and to a high quality? What kinds of tasks and projects tend to leave you frustrated, watching the clock, or feeling like you’ve hit a wall? What strengths and weaknesses are at play here?
- What do you most enjoy doing? Are you a passionate painter, baker, or chess player? Do you enjoy running, writing, or helping others? It may not be as simple as “I enjoy baking so I’ll start a career as a chef,” but your pastimes hold a big clue as to where your strengths lie. Think about what you enjoy doing and how these activities call on certain qualities.
As you answer these questions, jot down all the strengths and qualities you can identify within your answers. This will give you a good list to refer back to when evaluating potential career paths.
2. Identify areas for growth and development
When choosing a career path, it’s not just a case of finding a career that plays to your current strengths. That’s actually a very limiting approach to take. You also want to identify, and tap into, your potential to develop new strengths. So, this step is all about reflecting on new skills you’d like to acquire and potential areas for growth.
Consider the following:
- Are there any specific hard skills you’ve always been curious about developing, if only you had the time and the resources? For example, I’m a writer but I’ve always thought it would be great to learn how to code. I don’t have any plans to become a web developer, but perhaps this highlights a desire to grow my problem-solving skills.
- What situations or occasions can you think of where you wish you’d handled something better or differently? For example, did you recently have a disagreement with someone and wish you’d communicated more clearly in the lead-up? Could you have made your own life easier if you’d been more organized as a college student? Do you see real value in being able to analyze data, but find the reality rather terrifying? With every example you think of, consider what skills (soft or hard) you might develop based on your reflection.
- How can you develop your existing strengths? Looking back at your list of strengths from step one, is there anything there that could be further developed? How can you enhance your core strengths and put them into practice? You can think of your strengths as muscles that need to be used on a regular basis. Come up with new, creative ways to apply your strengths and use this to identify areas for development.
As you complete this exercise, you’ll start to see some clear areas for growth and development emerging. Jot these down and keep them in mind; they’ll guide you on where to focus your efforts for learning, training, and pursuing a new career path.
3. Evaluate your career so far
When planning for the future, it’s useful to learn from the past. Look back on your career so far and think about what you’ve most enjoyed, as well as the aspects you’d be keen to leave behind. If you don’t have a previous career to draw from, focus on your studies or your life in general.
You can simply devise a list of “likes” and “dislikes,” or you can use the following prompts to help you:
- Here’s how I’d describe my ideal working day…
- I work best in an environment that is…
- The three things I enjoy(ed) most about my current/previous job are/were…
- I feel most satisfied at work when…
- Here’s how I’d describe a terrible working day…
- I struggle to work in an environment that is…
- The three things I enjoy(ed) least about my current/previous job are/were…
- I feel frustrated at work when…
Feel free to write in free flow, jotting down whatever springs to mind. There’s no right or wrong answer or format here—the aim is to actively think about your likes and dislikes when it comes to work and your career.
You may surprise yourself with what comes to the surface! Of course, this is all useful information to have to hand when choosing your next career move.
4. Identify and prioritize your motivators
Next, it’s time to think about what motivates you. In other words, what do you want to get out of your career?
Take a look at these potential motivators, and feel free to add your own. Then, select the top three that are most important to you for your career (or, if you’re struggling to narrow it down to three, put them all in order of priority from most to least important):
- The opportunity to help others
- To be part of a worthwhile mission
- Financial reward
- Work-life balance
- Working as part of a team
- Working solo or independently
- Flexibility/the ability to set your own hours
- Autonomy and independence in terms of projects and tasks
- The opportunity to mentor others
- The opportunity to learn from others
- Working in a tech-driven or digital capacity
- Working in a physical or practical capacity
Bear in mind that your priorities might change as your career evolves. The priorities you set now aren’t set in stone forever! For your next career move, you might prioritize financial security, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice creativity forevermore—you may just prioritize it at a later date.
With your priorities in mind, you’ll be able to assess different career paths to see how they match up.
5. Research your career options
So far, you’ve put a lot of thought into your strengths, areas for growth and development, as well as your likes, dislikes, and motivators when it comes to your career. Now it’s time to explore different career paths.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different job titles out there—ones you haven’t even heard of. So how can you narrow it down? Here are some tips:
- Identify three to five broad industries or disciplines you’re potentially interested in. For example, healthcare, coaching and self-improvement, technology, design, the environment, gastronomy, tourism, psychology and wellbeing…anything you can think of that you’d like to research further.
- Look at high-growth industries and job titles. If you’re keen to build a career that’s likely to be future-proof, focus your search on high-growth careers. For example, consult the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ fastest-growing occupations. Alternatively, search Google for the most in-demand jobs and skills of 2023 and see which roles come up most frequently.
From there, you can start to focus your research on specific fields or even job titles. For example, if you’re interested in design within the tech sphere, you can research disciplines such as user experience (UX) design and user interface (UI) design.
Whatever discipline or career path you’re looking at, focus your research on:
- What the role entails: What are the typical tasks and responsibilities of someone working in the field? Look at live job ads to get an idea of what’s involved, and search for “day in the life” accounts.
- Requirements for entry into the field: Are there any industry-standard qualifications you’ll need?
- What others say about the role: If you can, speak to people who are already in the field to gain insight into what it’s like and what it entails.
As you explore possible career paths, keep your strengths, growth areas, needs, and motivators in mind at all times. How does each potential career path match up? Does it excite you and speak to your goals and interests? Keep researching until you can say, “Yes!”
6. Learn the necessary new skills and consider a formal qualification
Once you’ve figured out your next career move, you can start taking concrete steps to make it happen.
No matter what career path you’ve chosen, there’ll be certain industry and job-specific skills you’ll need to master. This includes learning industry tools, understanding any fundamental principles and processes, and getting to grips with specific terminology.
You can start with independent learning, such as:
- Reading up on the field via blogs and books
- Listening to industry podcasts
- Trying out tools and software where possible
- Following YouTube tutorials (if you’re entering into a hands-on industry like design or web development)
If you’re changing to a completely new field, though, the most effective route is to follow a structured learning path. Depending on the industry you’re going into, this may take the form of a traditional college or university degree, an online course or bootcamp, or a vocational training program.
Choosing the right career-change program or qualification
When it comes to choosing a course or qualification, there are certain factors you’ll need to consider:
- Does your new career path require a specific qualification or accreditation? For some fields, there are a range of courses and qualifications that will get you into the industry. For others, only a specific accreditation will be recognized—such as APA-accredited programs for psychologists. Do your research before investing time and money in a course.
- How much time can you commit to learning new skills? If you plan on working while learning new skills for your career change, you’ll want to consider a flexible course or qualification. If you’re willing and able to jump in full-time, you might consider something more intensive. Think about your schedule before signing up.
- How will you fund your training? Depending on where you live, a course or qualification may cost money. Plan ahead in terms of how you’ll fund your studies, and research your options in terms of scholarships, grants, income share agreements, loans, and payment plans.
Once you’ve figured out the logistics, your chosen course should provide you with a structured, industry-recognized approach to learning the skills you’ll need to succeed in your new field.
7. Leverage and highlight your transferable skills
When we think about career change, we often focus heavily on what we’re lacking in terms of skills and experience. However, the most successful career-changers also focus on what they’re already bringing to the table—and how those existing skills can be leveraged in their new, seemingly unrelated career.
As you learn new skills for your new career, take some time to reflect on your previous experience. How can your current or previous roles equip you for your future career? For example, if you’re a teacher transferring to a career in marketing, you’ll already be familiar with how important it is to tailor your content to specific audiences.
If you’re a customer service professional switching to a career in UX, you’ll already be an expert in putting the user first. If you’re a marketer retraining as a data analyst, you’ve probably already worked with some fundamental analytics tools and techniques.
This step is important as it helps you to both understand and demonstrate the value you can bring to your new career. You might feel like you’re starting from scratch, but in reality, you’re bringing lots of transferable skills with you.
Highlight these skills in your resume, cover letters, your personal website or portfolio, your LinkedIn profile, and in interviews—it’ll help you build a strong case for why you’re an excellent candidate!
8. Work with a mentor
This one is easier said than done—but, if you can find a mentor, the benefits will be endless. Mentorship is valuable for anyone at any point in their career, and especially so for career-changers who are moving into an unknown field.
We’ve written about the importance of having a mentor (and how to make the most of yours) here, but to summarize:
- A mentor can provide first-hand insight into your new industry, together with general career advice
- They can give feedback on your work, especially if you’re going into an industry that requires you to have a portfolio
- A mentor can help you grow your network and potentially put you forward for job opportunities
So where and how can you find a mentor? If you’re taking a course or program as part of your career change, look for one that pairs you with a mentor. Often, courses designed specifically with a career change in mind will build mentorship into the service, giving you plenty of opportunity to learn from industry experts.
Otherwise, you’ll need to take a more proactive approach. If you already have a presence on LinkedIn, connect with people in your new industry and see if they’d be interested in a brief call, or even in exchanging a few words via email.
Be sure to introduce yourself and be clear about why you’re messaging them—what are you hoping they can help you with? Are there specific questions you’d like to ask, or advice you’re hoping to get?
Another (perhaps more organic) way to find a mentor is through networking. Attend industry meetups, either online or in person, and forge connections that way. You can learn more about how to find a mentor in this guide.
9. Grow your network
Forging a new career requires you to immerse yourself in your new industry. Not only is networking a great way to learn about the field and build connections; it can also open doors to job opportunities.
Start building your network early by:
- Attending events and meetups
- Connecting with industry experts on LinkedIn
- Connecting with your peers if you’re taking a course or program
- Trying speed networking (like speed dating, but for your career!)
- Connecting with people on Bumble Bizz
Aim to connect with a variety of people—from seasoned industry experts to newcomers like yourself, to recruiters and content creators in the field. The more diverse your network, the more you’ll learn about your new industry.
For more networking tips, check out this video on how to create a long-term networking strategy.
So there you have it: A rather comprehensive guide on how to get your new career up and running in 2023.
While we’ve listed these steps in a certain order, your unique pathway may not be quite so linear, and that’s ok! Start with the steps that are most feasible for you, and work your way up to those that require more thought and effort. Good luck!
4. Career-change FAQs (and answers)
To round off our guide, let’s answer some questions that often crop up around the topic of career change.
Am I too old to change careers?
Absolutely not. It’s never too late to build a career you love. In fact, those who change careers later on in life have experience on their side. It doesn’t matter how old you are, or when you decide to build a new career—what matters is that you can demonstrate the necessary skills and draw meaningful connections between your previous career and your new one.
Not convinced? Read Jeff’s story, a pastor who switched to a career in tech later on in life. We’ve also answered this question more extensively in this post: Am I too old for a career in UX design? (The article is UX-specific, but the principles apply to any tech field!)
Is it harder to change careers since the Covid-19 pandemic?
No, it’s not harder to change careers since the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of this post, we looked at the world of work in 2023 and discussed a recent trend known as The Great Resignation. In a nutshell, more people are voluntarily leaving their jobs, and, in the United States, there are more open positions than there are people to fill them.
As a career changer, you’ll find an “employee’s job market”—a market that is fluid, where career change and transition are the norm, and where employers have to work harder to attract and retain their employees. All great conditions for starting a new career!
Do I need to go to university in order to start a new career?
Not always! The answer depends on your chosen career path and the specific requirements of your field, but most careers these days can be accessed through an alternative route. Traditional university degrees are no longer considered the only acceptable qualification; employers are just as impressed by online certification programs and bootcamps.
Before you choose between a traditional degree and an alternative route of study, be sure to check what’s required in your new field. For example, fields like psychology and science will have hard-and-fast guidelines in terms of entry and qualifications, while the tech industry is accessible through bootcamps and online programs.
5. Key takeaways and next steps
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful, and feel excited and empowered to successfully change careers in 2023. In a world where remote work is becoming the norm for many industries, where linear career paths are no longer the gold standard, and where employers are under more pressure than ever before to attract and retain skilled workers, there’s never been a better time to pursue a career you love.
If you’d like to learn more about changing careers, these guides and videos will help you:
- Which tech career path is right for you? A guide to 5 of the most in-demand career paths right now
- How to define your personal brand: A guide for career-changers
- Creating the Best Tech Resume: Guide With Tips and Examples
- How to break into tech as an older career-changer
- How to deal with imposter syndrome
- A Guide to Entry-Level Tech Jobs You Can Get with No Experience