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5 Challenges Most People Face When Making a Career Change and How to Easily Overcome Them

One Forbes writer put it like this: making a career change is not like a magic wand that changes things instantly.

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One Forbes writer put it like this: making a career change is not like a magic wand that changes things instantly.


Ever thought of making a career change? It’s a huge transition that anyone can ever make, and they may face immense challenges. Leaving what you know and what you’re qualified for to get into a completely new field altogether will require a lot of patience and intentional learning.

In the following article, we’ll explore the transition from one career to another and the challenges that arise from it. We’ll also examine how to easily overcome those challenges so that you can be equipped for that big move that you’ve always dreamed of.

These are some of the challenges you might encounter:

Mental doubt, fear, and opposition

We’re our own fiercest critics. The moment you decide to step out in courage, chances are you’re the biggest obstacle you’ll encounter. Our minds are created to be very imaginative and creative and that’s how man has made all these creations such as big buildings and cars. On the flip side, however, the mind will use that imaginative power to create all kinds of bad scenarios.

Your mind will show you all the negative consequences that you’ll encounter when you leave the known (your present career in which you’re flourishing) for the unknown (the new career you want to get into). That’s not all. The voice of fear will be loud in your ears. “What if you fail and you never find a new job? How will you survive or pay bills?” You might end up feeling like an imposter.

Another challenge you’ll encounter is opposition from friends, family, and people you trust. Sharing a life-altering decision is very important because people you trust could be a sounding board and the voice of reason. They could also ask you hard questions that make you look at things differently and get different perspectives that you didn’t have. But what if these people who mean well pour cold water on your dream and discourage you?

The best way to overcome this challenge is to go on a meticulous soul search and get a clear mind on what you really want for your life. Take a vacation or a weekend out and spend it alone in a quiet place or doing something you like. During this time reflect on your life and probe your heart and check what gives you fulfillment and satisfaction. You might be in a sales career but you enjoy counseling people.

What is that one thing that you’d enjoy doing even without getting paid? This one thing wakes you up in the morning and it comes so naturally to you. Once you find that answer and you’re at peace, pursue it relentlessly. My therapist advised me that when I encounter mental opposition, I should practice speaking to myself vocally and remind myself of the goals I have. Speaking to yourself cuts the flow of negative thoughts and takes authority over your mind.

If people around you are pessimistic, avoid sharing your idea with them or take their opinions with a pinch of salt. Sieve what you receive from them by eliminating advice that will only hinder your mission. Additionally, look for people who have made that career shift and get inspired by their stories.


Starting from scratch

Getting into a new field will demand you learn a whole lot of new things. Remember you’re a novice and to get to expert levels you’ll have to invest knowledge, skill, and exposure. For example, Patrick and Rita Mukundi were bankers by profession but wanted to get into macadamia farming. After identifying a niche, they had to attach themselves to someone who had been exporting the product to Europe, particularly Switzerland.

It took patience and a lot of learning. With patience, ten years later the company they formed, Privam Nuts EPZ has its own factory in Embu and they export macadamia nuts to the Americas, Europe, and Asia among other continents.

When you’re starting from scratch you’ll encounter different challenges such as making rookie mistakes which might cost you time and money. Other times you’ll contend with barriers that you have no clue how to solve.

Mentors come in handy at such a time. Get someone you know in the field that you want to get into. If you don’t know anyone, you know someone who knows someone. Consult widely and research for all the information you can get online and also in libraries.


Lack of a portfolio

Getting job opportunities in your new career will be a challenge at first because you’ll not have a portfolio. However, that should not worry you because we all start from somewhere. Before you start regretting the move, pat yourself on the back for stepping out in courage and making a career change.

Start small. Once you have studied and gotten the knowledge you need, move from theory to the practical aspect of it. Sometimes you have to attach yourself to a company that does what you do and do it for free. Look for volunteer opportunities in the same field and give it your best shot.

If you get a client, offer to do it pro bono or at a minimum price and do it to the best of your ability so that the client will return. They will not only return but will also refer you to others. But you have to show them value.

You can also consider an apprenticeship. This is where you work under a professional in that particular field. They will teach you critical skills and show you the ins and outs of the business/industry. At the same time, they will correct your mistakes and help you get better at the particular profession. Patience is key.


Failing to adapt quickly

When you get into a new career, it would be naïve of you to assume that you’ll gel into the job easily. The reality is that it won’t be that easy because you’re still learning the ropes. You’ll take time to adapt and become completely proficient in this new skill.

To deal with this, you’ll need to be patient with yourself and extend grace to yourself. Coupled with that, you need to keep going consistently even with the falls and the tripping. Learn from your mistakes and keep rising. Consult your mentors.

The most important thing that you have to keep doing is to ensure that your growth is consistent. Even if you grow by a few inches, keep going and keep pushing. With time those small daily inches will become a mile.


Making a career change is a risk that employers don’t readily jump into

You took a risk to jump into this new career and now you’re looking for opportunities. It won’t be easy convincing an employer to take a risk on you. As much as you may have a good resume in your previous field, the recruiter will need some convincing.

The best way to go about it is to research meticulously about your new industry and the successful people who are thriving in it. Through research, you’ll understand what employers look for and what success means in that field. For example, the metrics used to measure success in the medical field are completely different from the ones that are employed in the tours and travel industry.

With that information in mind, learn how professionals sell themselves. For example, if you pivoted into a tech career from law, look at tech interviews that have been conducted. Acquaint yourself with the language and the dynamics of that world. When your opportunity to sell yourself comes, you’ll do a stellar job.


One last thing before making a career change... 

One Forbes writer put it like this: making a career change is not like a magic wand that changes things instantly. It takes time and there are no shortcuts. You have to be patient with the process and most importantly with yourself. Give yourself room to make mistakes and learn from them.

But the most important step is defining what you want to achieve with that career change. It may be fulfillment, more money, life tragedy, or something else altogether. With that goal in mind, you’ll be able to focus your time and energy on this new career change and experience success if you stick around long enough despite the challenges.

Written by

Wahome Ngatia

Peter Wahome Ngatia is an all rounded Marketing Specialist who deals in Graphic Design, Social Media, SEO and Content Writing. My passion is to use my skills and knowledge to help African businesses grow and thrive so that we can create employment for the youth. I also want to churn helpful content that inspires millennials to go hard after their dreams. Mantra: You learn more from failure than success.

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