Changing Careers

Can You REALLY Change Careers Without Starting Over?

April 6, 2022

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If you’re thinking of changing careers, it’s quite normal to worry about having to start all over again – especially if you have certain financial commitments and responsibilities, or if you’ve simply worked really hard to get to where you are now.

So, in today’s video I’m going to talk about switching careers without starting over: is it possible, or just a pipe dream?

I’m also going to let you in on a little known strategy to move into a new industry with a head start!
Want to know what I’m talking about? Watch the video below.

Or if you prefer to read: scroll down for the transcript.

Career Change Mistakes: The #1 Mistake That Will Cost You Dearly (when switching careers)

Hey, Hey, is Iris Smyth, helping you to find a new job you love and care about, and build a career that works for you.

And in today’s video, I’m going to be answering a question that I hear a lot, and that is: can you really switch careers without starting over?

Spoiler alert…The answer is yes. Yes you can. So if you’re in your thirties or forties, and you’re feeling apprehensive about starting all the way from bottom again when switching careers, then stick around, this video is for you.

I’ll be sharing a few tips on how you can change careers without starting over.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret on how to get a head start.

So if all of this sounds great, and perhaps you’ve watched some of my previous videos, then be sure to like this video, subscribe to my channel, and hit the bell right next to it, so you get a little nudge whenever I post a new video.

So roughly two years ago, I posted this video in which I’m sharing how to successfully change careers in your thirties or forties. And by the way, if you haven’t watched it yet, I recommend you go watch it after you finish watching this video.

Now, what I realised after posting that video is that a lot of people in their thirties and forties worry about having to start all over again if they’re changing careers.

And as you are watching this video, I am guessing that you might feel the same.

Now, What this often boils down to is that you’re either worried about how you’re going to make ends meet if you need to start all the way from bottom again, and as a result, take a big pay cut, OR you feel that you’ve given so much to get to where you are now – and you just can’t bear the thought of giving all of that up – of all of that going to waste.

Now, look, I get it! Making a big change, like a career change, is daunting, and you can probably think of a thousand reasons not to do it.

But here’s the thing: when you set out onto a path in the unknown, like a career change, your brain will go into overdrive.

Your brain doesn’t like venturing out into the unknown, it doesn’t like uncertainty. It likes predictability. It likes to know what’s happening. That’s the way it’s wired.

And on top of that, you have a natural tendency – like everyone else on this planet! – to want to avoid unpleasant thoughts, emotions, or experiences, sometimes at all costs.

This is your survival instinct at play. And it’s trying to steer you away from anything unpleasant or uncertain, because it could potentially be dangerous or harmful.

Now, this survival instinct is a leftover from way back when we were still living in caves, and something uncertain or unpleasant could in fact have been dangerous or harmful.

But over the years, hundreds of years, the world around us has changed a lot. And unfortunately your survival instinct, our survival instinct, hasn’t. And so what happens is that it still fires up when faced with something uncertain or unpleasant, even though it might not be that dangerous or harmful anymore.

So what that means for changing careers is that you are literally trying to go against your survival instinct or trying to go against something that’s very natural, your natural tendency – which is tough, but certainly not impossible.

How do you do this?

Well, the first thing is by remembering that a lot of things worth achieving are at some point unpleasant or uncertain.

The second thing is to be aware of your brain’s tendency to want to avoid these unpleasant or uncertain situations – and so it’s going to come up with as many reasons as it can not to change careers. And you have to be really critical of these reasons.

Don’t accept everything that your brain is telling you.

Okay, so now that is out of the way we can get to the juicy bit. And that is how you can change careers without starting over.

Now, I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is that some careers will require you to start over. There’s no way around it.

So for example, if you want to become a surgeon, then yeah, you got to start from the bottom. There’s no shortcut to that.

The good news is that most careers you can start building while still in your current job or career, so you’ll have made a lot of momentum and taken some important steps by the time you are actually ready to change careers, and by the time you hand in your notice.

One of the biggest mistakes people make about change careers, or one of the biggest misconceptions about changing careers, is that it usually involves one big leap.

You go from where you’re right now to where you want to be.

One big jump.

One big leap from a to B – but that’s not how it works.

As a rule of thumb people who make successful and sustainable career changes do so one step at a time over a period of one, two, or even three years.

During that time, they set up side projects, passion projects, and undertake other types of extracurricular ventures. They sign up for courses, they get a new degree – and often they do all of that while being in their current job on career.

Yes, I admit that is hard. That is really, really hard, but they make it work. They make it a priority and work on these things in the evenings and weekends.

All of these extracurricular ventures give them the opportunity to build new, valuable skills, to gain very important experience and expand the network.

So by the time that they’re actually ready to change careers, and hand in their notice, they already have made so much progress that the gap between A and B is a lot less significant.

They still, maybe, need to take a pay cut, but it’s a lot more manageable than if they had tried to get that new job without all that extra experience.

Okay. Now finally, there’s one tip to I want to give you to get an extra head start, and that is:

Don’t search for jobs on job boards, but instead focus on creating your own opportunities.

Job boards are honestly one of the worst ways to find a new job, especially when changing careers.

So please do yourself a huge favour, and stay away from them.

Instead, what I’d like you to do is to reach out to companies that you’d love to work for with specific project proposals.

Let me explain…

Let’s say you have this one company that you LOVE to work for.

Ideally, you’ve already met someone who works there through an informational interview.

If you don’t know what an informational interview is, go check out this video in which I talk about it in more detail. I explain what they are, and how to set them up. I’ll add the link to that video in the description below this video.

Now, you’ve done your homework. You know what this company’s about, you know their ambitions, their goals, you know what direction they’re moving in.

The next thing you should do is set some time apart to think of any ways that you can add value to this company.

What projects can you do to help the company increase its revenue, or overcome some challenges or issues that it has, some obstacles that it’s facing, or help it grow in any other way?

Put those thoughts on paper. This is your project proposal.

Then, you reach out to the person that you know who works there and you tell them you have an idea for XYZ, and you ask them if you can talk to them about it, or if they could connect you with the relevant person.

You attach your product proposal and… TADA, you’ve immediately put yourself in the spotlight.

The important thing here is to NOT ask for a job, but instead to offer them a solution.

You give them something that’s valuable to them. You give them something that they would be interested in, and then you tell them: “hey, look, I can do this for you.”

You make their life easy.

Now, obviously I can’t guarantee you that they’ll bite, but what you are doing is creating your own opportunities. And this will really, really increase your chances of actually getting hired, of actually getting a job.

Now, this approach does work better for startups or small to medium sized companies, not for big corporates with established procedures, so I recommend to leave the big mighty ones for what they are.

So, there you have it: the answer to the question “can you really change careers without switching over?”

I hope you found this video helpful. If you want more resources on changing careers, be sure to check out my website,

And whilst you’re there, check out my career change quiz to help you figure out which stage of career change you’re in, and what that means for the next steps that you should be taking.

Thank you so much for watching, please like this video if you find it helpful, subscribe to my channel and hit the bell right next to it, so you’ll never have to miss any of my upcoming videos.

I’ll be taking a little break from posting new videos during the month of April, as I’m working hard on a new career change course that will launch in may. I’ll add the details that in the description below this video, but if you want more right now, then make sure you watch this video in which I’m talking about 10 things that you must know if you want to change careers.

Take the career change quiz:

What stage of career change are you in?

Take the quiz to find out what stage of career change you are in, and what next steps you should take based on your result.

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