When we’re in preschool, we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up: lawyers, doctors, firemen (myself, Jessie the Cowgirl from Toy Story). When we’re in high school, we take classes based on what we might want to study in college, which might translate into what we’re considering as a career. When we’re steps away from receiving our degree, we’re inundated with questions about what our next move is going to be, and what we want out of a career. When we’re 10 years deep in the workforce, we’re asked if we’re happy.

The thing is, we’re never asked who we want to be. A fireman isn’t an identity just as being creative isn’t an occupation. The careers we’re in should reflect who we are as people, and sometimes it is all too easy to become complacent in roles that aren’t quite the perfect fit – especially when companies offer promotions every year, kombucha on tap, and dogs in the office. But at the end of the day, none of these things are replacements for true happiness in your career.

What matters most is whether you are fulfilled by the work you are doing every day. We’ve identified the top four ways to successfully navigate a career change – if you’re ready and willing to make the leap.

Assess your situation

Before you make any moves, you should determine why you’re considering a career change in the first place. While you may be unhappy with your salary or commute, these are tangible things that you can try to fix by talking to your supervisor or looking for a new job in the same field. If you feel like the work that you’re doing is completely irrelevant to your passions or to your ultimate career goals, it’s probably best to explore other options.

Evaluate your skills

If you are totally changing industries, you might be nervous about your lack of experience in your new field. To make yourself competitive, recognize how your unique skillset can translate across industries and perfect your pitch to hiring managers. Jenna Nicholas, Career Group Senior Account Executive, often says that your resume is a reflection about how you feel about yourself. You are more than your years of experience or where you went to school: you possess unique wisdom, insight, and skill that will take you far. Present your capabilities with confidence and enthusiasm – you’ll be more prepared than you think.

Leverage your network

Your network is one of the most powerful tools you have when making a career change, and it’s probably wider than you expect. Think of everyone you’ve connected with in college, at internships, and even via friends of friends, and see where those relationships can take you. Try reaching out on LinkedIn, posting in your alumni network Facebook group, emailing old bosses, and texting friends who might be able to help.

Learn something new

Business journalist Andrew Seaman strongly supports learning new technologies to make yourself competitive in a new career path: “A person interested in a job in a new industry should also take time to address large gaps in their skill set and learn about the new sector.” Because you may not have experience in the field that you’re transitioning into, having a relevant skillset will show hiring managers how committed you are to the craft. Take a free course online or check out industry-specific centers in your area to gain some experience in the field you’re breaking into.

Making a career change is a huge leap of faith, but it will pay off in the long run when you establish yourself in a career that is truly right for you. If you’re ready to make the change and are looking for new opportunities, check out our open jobs!