Making a change in your career can be a nerve-wracking but exciting time.

Whichever direction you're heading in, remember the importance of positive personal PR – recognising what you have to offer and having the confidence to present it strongly.

Changing your career is an exciting opportunity for personal growth and professional fulfilment, and can have a transformative impact on your life. By seeking support and guidance, upskilling, and staying resilient, you can successfully transition into a new and rewarding career path. Whether you're looking to use your existing skills in a different context, pursue a completely new direction based on your interests, or start a business - here are some tips to guide you through a successful career change.

  1. Reflect on your skills:
    Explore how your existing skills can be applied in a different context. For example, if you’re transitioning from finance to marketing, emphasise your analytical abilities to showcase their relevance in your new field.

  2. Starting a business:
    Setting up your own business involves thorough planning. Explore our tips on becoming self-employed, including information on government grants, loans, and support provided by the Careers team.

  3. Freelancing:
    If you’re planning on becoming a freelancer, make sure to establish a strong online presence and network to attract clients. Building a consistent personal brand is key.

  4. Consider a skills-based CV:
    If your past experience doesn't directly align with your desired roles, consider using a skills-based CV. Highlight transferable skills which apply to the new role, showcasing your adaptability.

  5. Knowledge Transfer Partnerships:
    Engage in a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) to gain hands-on experience in a new field. Learn how York graduate Bharath benefitted from a KTP.

  6. Continuous learning:
    Invest in further education or training to gain the necessary knowledge for your career change. Demonstrating your commitment to learning is impressive to potential employers, and gives you an opportunity to enhance your skills and confidence.

  7. Networking:
    Engaging in online communities such as on Linkedin and Handshake gives you a great opportunity to meet employers and hear about vacancies. You can also seek guidance from mentors on York Profiles and Mentors.

  8. Be patient and persistent:
    Career changes take time. Keep focussed on your goals, and remember every experience contributes to your journey.

Whether you took time off to raise a family, pursue further education, or for other personal reasons, it's essential to plan ahead to ensure a smooth transition back to work. It’s important to consider your values, workplace needs, and career aspirations. Here are our top tips:

  1. Reflect on your goals:
    Assess how your career break may have impacted your long-term ambitions. Consider if your goals have evolved, and stay open to fresh opportunities aligned with your current skills and interests.

  2. Evaluate your workplace needs:
    Consider factors like company culture, work-life balance, and opportunities for professional development. Prioritise organisations offering the necessary support for your growth.

  3. Consider flexibility:
    If your career break involved caregiving or health issues, you may decide to think about your need for a flexible work routine. Look for employers offering options like remote work, flexible hours, or part-time roles.

  4. Update your skills and knowledge:
    Invest time in refreshing your skills through online courses, workshops, or certifications. Showing current industry awareness can help you in your applications.

  5. Use your network:
    Connect with your professional network - such as former colleagues, mentors, and coursemates - on sites such as Linkedin. Networking can help you hear about vacancies and gain industry insights. You can also expand your network through York Profiles and Mentors and Handshake.

  6. Address your career break:
    During interviews, anticipate discussions about your career break, and emphasise the skills and insights you acquired.

  7. Be confident and patient:
    Have confidence in the skills and experience you bring, and how you have grown as a result of your time away from the traditional workplace. Reflect on your personal development - have you developed important life skills, such as conflict management, active listening, and adaptability? If so, don’t be afraid to share these skills.


Returning to learning partway through your career provides an opportunity to acquire new skills, expand your knowledge, and stay up-to-date in an evolving job market.

Lifelong learning also demonstrates your commitment to self-improvement, and can reignite your passion for your chosen field.

Whether you choose to undertake further education, or take online courses, by continuing to learn about your areas of interest you can have a meaningful impact on your personal development and career journey. 

As a York alum, you can continue learning through tuition fee discounts on postgraduate study and professional development through York for Life Learning.