Don't get bogged down in thinking that you only have one chance to change career: "When people start talking about their "true calling" or "finding their vocation" it adds a lot of pressure to an already difficult decision. You will probably change career direction several times in your life (I certainly have!), so try to think in terms of what you would like to try next. Career planning tools on websites such as Prospects or TargetJobs can be useful to throw up a few ideas, but the key is to think about the kind of skills you enjoy and are good at, the environment you'd like to be in and the kind of people you want to work with. Once you've narrowed it down to two or three areas, you'll be able to do some more targeted research and start looking at specific job roles. Just remember, you can always change your mind."
A gradual approach to changing your career can work well: "While some people want to radically reinvent their career instantly, it is more realistic to work towards a new career over time. This might mean making changes in your current job, studying a course in the evening, shadowing someone in the role, or learning new skills to make yourself more attractive to potential employers. It might also mean that you gradually move into your new career via a series of jobs rather than one giant leap – and this is important if you want to protect your salary rather than going back to entry level wages."
Don't let your CV become too long: "It can be really tempting to include every bit of information on your CV, but you should try to keep your CV to one page (two pages at a maximum). Most employers don't have time to read through pages and pages of text so keeping your CV concise and completely relevant to the role is crucial. Make sure that you read the job description of the role you're applying to and identify the goals of the employer you want to work for, and then tie your work experience and goals into this. The most important thing is to capture the employer's attention and to get them to want to find out more about your CV – when you are at the job interview stage you can then bring up the rest of your work experience."
You need to believe that it really can happen: "One of the hardest things with a change of career is believing that we can do this new task. We tend to think of ourselves as a photographer, an accountant or whatever. That's what seems to define us. Now we have to re-define ourselves and begin to believe it deeply inside us. Once we believe it, others will too. I would suggest you start saying to yourself and to everyone you meet that you work in [your new sector]. When I changed career I continued to say that I was an actor who also worked as a coach, but once I started saying that I was a coach who used to be an actor, my coaching work really took off."
The first steps to take when thinking of changing career: "Your starting point is to really think about what's important to you in a career. What sort of working environment do you think you'll be happy in? What energises you most work-wise? And what do you naturally love doing and are good at? All these questions will help you to identify some possible avenues. Spending a bit of time thinking about yourself and what fulfills you will help you to make the right choices."
Network with people in your chosen sector: "The best way to understand the internal culture of a business and the way it treats people, including during their recruitment process, is to talk to those currently employed with the company. Spread your net wide – from junior to senior employees to really understand how it all works and whether the culture is accepting of [career changers]."