Successful Career Change Guide: How to start a new career? [Ideas, Resume, Cover Letter]

Just between you and me, do you know that on average, 90000 hours of your life will be dedicated to working? Finding a job you’re willing to stick to forever is never easy. Passion in your 20s can eventually lead to burnout in your 40s, and that is 25 years to go before retirement, sounds miserable, right? 

It’s never easy to make a huge decision, you might still be indecisive and think that you shall weather this, it’s just a phase… but what if it’s not? Here are a few common scenarios for career-changers, if you see yourself in them, then a midlife career change might do you good. 

  • Are rigid company policies barring your creativity? 
  • Is it a waste of time to do what you absolutely don’t like? 
  • Are your credits always taken away by some bootlickers? 
  • Do you want to escape from the dull and stagnated environment you’re in now? 
  • Are you always hypervigilant and stressed in your current 9-5 job and you can barely see the blurry line between work and life? 

In our previous article, we’ve listed out 3 tips for a successful career change. But what are the final determinants to switch jobs; how can one embark on a new career path? Finding a new career at 30, 40, or 50 is not easy, but life changes can often bring you unexpectedly great results, the prerequisite is to try. In this article, we’ll dive into different phases of a career change.

3 signs showing you should plan for a career change 

1. Frustration and Underperformance 

Every morning, day after day, you feel like you’re drained of energy despite slurping down fresh ground coffee. You don’t feel like you’re rebooted despite a long night’s sleep. The thought of going to that cubicle job wears you out. 

True, life is not a rosy bed, but sticking to a job where your feelings of apathy have skewed toward day-dreaming and operate on autopilot is TOO overwhelming and frustrating, it’s just impossible to reignite the spark. As if the work itself isn’t annoying and frustrating enough, the work doldrums are spilling over into other areas of your life, jeopardizing your relationships with friends and family. What’s worse, your health, mentally and physically, is hanging by the thread.

It’s become a vicious cycle: frustration; resentment; underperformance, and again and again does the cycle repeat itself. 

2. Lack of competence 

Competence and ambition constitute a fulfilling job. How do you commit to your job if neither of these exists? It’s especially hard to stay sharp when your mind is swirling somewhere else. Lack of competence not only undermines your performance but also makes you cynical.

Worst case scenario? Self-loathing. It’s a lot of ambition and competence lost considering how many years have passed. 

3. Stagnation (You have nothing more to learn!)

One of the greatest things about working a 9-5 job is learning. You are in your early 20s when you have your first job. You are new to the field, a lot of things to grasp and absorb. After a while, you start to pick up and manage a project on your own. Boredom gradually creeps into you after a couple of years, and finally, here you are reading this career-change article.

Obviously, you’re stagnated.

When you first take on a position, the learning starts steep, and then it hits a plateau where you’ve been equipped with relevant knowledge to tackle almost all the problems. Your tasks at work have become daily routines that don't require you to think or experiment. Skills gradually become obsolete. You need to step on a new learning curve, and a career change can drag you out of boredom and stagnation.  

All the symptoms mentioned above are different dominos in the chain reaction, the cumulative pressure, depression, and suffocation can wear you out. Losing the momentum in your professional life manifests itself in many areas and may affect personal relationships and be exhibited in dysfunctional behavior. If you’ve been plagued with these negative thoughts for a while, it might be time to plan out to the T for a thorough career change.

3 Pieces of Career-Change Advice 

For a significant decision like a job change, you should know what are the options. Most importantly, what makes you consider a career shift?

You have to think about what triggers you to change to a new career, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on your past experiences. The realization of spending time at a job that is not fulfilling presents the opportunity for soul-searching and contemplating purpose, happiness, and personal values. Aside from eyeing the right route, here are 3 reminders for you before starting a new career. 

Treat the cause, not the symptoms.

It’s the first piece of advice that should be engraved in your mind.

If you hastily go on a different track without much consideration, you might soon find yourself in the same dilemma which is endless resentment and depression. Think about what makes you suffer and how you would like to change that in a new environment. Incentives vary, including higher salary, ability to grow, a better work-life balance, sense of fulfillment, and caliber, your strengths and passion, etc... 

For example, if boredom is what you hate the most about your job, the expectation for your next job should be more dynamic than the current one where you can get exposed to new information or challenges. Or, if the stress is killing you, you need to change your career path for a job that you can strike a work-life balance.

Have an emergency fund saved up for 3-6 months.

There is no guarantee that you can find a new job right away. Job-seeking can be a tormenting process, and being tenacious should be your new motto to reach your dream job.

There will be a time of turbulence in between jobs. For career-changes who have accumulated quite a few working experiences, it should not be that difficult to have an emergency fund set up. 

Be proactive, but don’t rush.

Starting a whole new job is like starting from scratch. You’re closer to your ideal life, but before reaching the end, it’s a process of trial and error. Gearing toward a new position nevertheless entails higher stakes; therefore, you have to be more proactive in hunting down your next job. Besides, you should also think about the following two questions. 

  • What kinds of career change am I considering?

Same position in a different industry; different position in the same industry; or a whole new track in an entirely different new industry, just to name a few. 

  • What’s your short-term and long-term career planning?

Let’s say you aim to start a new job in a different industry in several years, then this should be your long-term goal.  Short-term goals refer to the various phases in the career-changing journey. Little advice, don’t rush, focus on one step at a time. Beware, you’ll be bombarded with lots of questions from now on. 

You can start thinking about skills you have yet to acquire, and how you are going to bridge the gap.

Have you taken relevant (online) classes before or received certification elsewhere?

Is it possible that you settle for a job in between, and along the way, you can gradually pick up relevant skills needed to reach the long-term goal?

If this is feasible, how long do you plan on staying in the in-between job?

These questions are bound to swirl in your head when you lie awake in bed at night. It’s tough, but nothing worth having comes easy. Despite the bumpy road ahead, it’ll come a day that you enjoy the fruits. 

How to make a career change for Teachers/ Nurses/  Accountants?

By now you should be ready to move on to the next step. What are the viable options for you? The last time we heard, we know that teachers, nurses, and accountants are more likely to consider a career change. Here are a few new career ideas for you folks.

There are several jobs in all types of industries that benefit from the skills acquired as a teacher, a nurse, and an accountant. Knowing the types of positions where you can use your expertise can help maximize your potential in the next career path.  

Career Changes for Teachers 

Teachers have a wide range of transferable skills that they can use to their advantage. They are pros in learning and educational processes, skilled communicators catering to learners with very different needs, planners, and organizers. Career changes for teachers are relatively easy compared to others. Here are some most common ideas for new careers: an occupational therapist assistant, a life skills trainer, and a curator in the educational setting. 

Career Changes for Nurses 

Like teachers, nurses can capitalize on their skills in the new career path. Most common career changes for nurses include health educator, nutritionist, pharmaceutical sales, health educator, physical therapist, and clinical social worker. Career changes for nurses revolve around medicine. The good news is that career change can go smoothly for nurses. 

Career Changes for Accountants

Accountants are savvy in numbers and familiar with pesky mountains of rules. The skillset can be utilized in other positions. The technical skills acquired as a CPA is valuable in the banking industry. Financial analysts and financial planning are also viable options. 

But remember, despite there are several transferable skills you have at hand, you always need to have a pragmatic reality check to make sure that the role you are after matches with your imagination. You might have surface-level visibility of some careers but there are so many fields and roles that are off your radar screen. Talk to someone in the industry or position you’re after. It helps to break some myths and clarify assumptions. Next, it’s time to draft a career change resume and cover letter. 

How to write a resume for a career change? 

Your resume is a snapshot of your employment history. But how to write a resume for a career change? A resume catered to a career change should focus on three things: objective, transferable skills, and education section. Moreover, nothing can interest recruiters like a resume packed with a PAR (Problem-Approach-Result) strategy, so make sure you include them in your resume. 


You should state clearly why you choose to pursue a career different from your current one and what are your strengths compared to your counterparts, who have been in the field for quite a while. State your motivation and objective clearly. It should pave the way for other parts of your resume and cover letter. 

Transferable skills 

Namely, you should list the skills you acquired in other industries and capitalize on them. In a nutshell, it’s a tactic that lets you take the exact same experience and make it sound relevant to positions you’re interested in. Lack of direct industry-specific experience is not necessarily a barrier to a new job, you can complement it with fresh thoughts and experiences accumulated in other industries. What’s more, employers want someone with potential. Prove that you’re a great candidate with transferable skills. 

Education Section 

Your college diploma might be brittle and yellowed by the time you consider a career change, and that’s why the education section should be updated. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal certification or another master’s degree. Lifelong learning is good enough, it not only keeps dementia at bay but enhances employability and competitiveness.

If you’ve taken online classes or training offered by either the government or the private sector, put them in this section! Online and offline learning both do magic. Don’t worry if you haven’t ventured out in these areas. It’s never too late to start investing in yourself. Never stop voluntarily to be a self-motivated and self-sustained person, and make sure the outside-of-work learning is relevant to the new job you’re after. 

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How to write a cover letter for a career change? 

Now that you have a well-drafted resume, a career change cover letter can tell the intriguing story behind the bullet points. There are a few things a cover letter can do: you’re passionate; you’re a go-getter; you’ve walked the talk, just to name a few. Of course, one of the most important questions to be answered is what’s the motive to switch fields, and what unique skills you have. It’s especially invaluable to consider all the soft power and technical skills you’ve cultivated over time. For a career change cover letter, here are three reminders handed to you on a silver platter. With these, you can rise above your competitors.  

Skills (both soft and technical wise)

These include the elaboration of transferable skills mentioned in the resume. Soft skills are indispensable in all industries, such as communication skills, leadership, adaptability, teamwork, resilience, etc.

As for technical skills, research, data analysis, project management, etc. are all included. What’s more important, you have to put forward solid evidence that you’ve earned strong references and tangible achievements in your previous positions. It’ll grant you higher chances of being trusted in the new role. 

You’ve shown the recruiter that you did pretty well in the previous position, now tap on transferable skills. Elaborate on the linkage of how you can utilize skills you’ve acquired in the past and make a contribution to your new role. 


Aside from transferable skills, you want the recruiter to know that the company culture is exactly the vision you want to see in a company.  Look at the job description thoroughly and use the keywords in your cover letter, link it with the transferable skills we just talked about. It shows that you’ve looked up the company and have done your homework, recruiters like that. 


Finally, in a world or ladder-climbers, this is the part where you can outshine other candidates. You’ve had a few trials and errors in the past, and now that you’ve sailed through some parts of the murky water. You’re yearning for something stimulating and dynamic, and thus you are more motivated than others since you’ve gone through enough to know where your passion lies.

Here's the rule of thumb: develop a touching story, tell recruiters what drew you in this particular direction, and show your determination. Keep your story brisk and invigorating. 


Finally, we’ve reached the last part of this detailed guide. I hope you’ve found the answer to “how to make a career change”, all the nitty-gritty you need to know for a career change is covered here. Let’s recap a few points. 

When you launch your job search, you have to know clearly what you want, why you want it, and what qualifies you. It’s terrifying for one to be in the depths of despair of their lifeless status quo. Not even Xanax’s antidepressants can save you from the excruciating and dire position you’re in. Bearing in mind that actions precede clarity, not the other way around. Actions are needed to truly make changes happen. Crossing off possibilities is a much better solution compared to leaving them as open questions.  If you hastily trawl through job sites and go on a different trek without thinking about what values you hold close to your heart, you’ll be likely to experience the same conundrum even in a new position. 

As for a career change resume and cover letter, emphasize the transferable skills and your strong motivation. It takes a lot of courage to change careers, especially when you’ve passed 30 years old. Recruiters will appreciate that. With all the advice, you’ll cut through the clutter.

Please bear with me, one more thing to say here. This too, like other obstacles you’ve encountered in the past, shall pass. Dear (potential) career changers, may all your Sunday night blues can metamorphose into joie de vivre for an aspiring new job. Remember, career change is probably just a blessing in disguise.

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