How to switch careers in your 20s and 30s

That feeling when you have achieved something!

Do you feel as if your career is drifting in the wrong direction? Take the initiative and make a change. Here’s how

By Charlotte Bean

Do you dread another day at the office? Do you travel through life wondering if you’ll ever find the right job? Do you resent the hours put into a career that simply doesn’t make you happy?

Turns out you’re not alone. Research released in 2018 shows that 43pc of people in their 20s and 30s plan to leave their job within the next two years.

If you are feeling this way, it’s time to take the initiative and change the direction of your career.

"It can seem like a big step to change career in your 20s and 30s," says Emma Kershaw, a director at Just Recruitment Group Ltd. "But if you can take the time to evaluate what you want to achieve, it's well worth taking the plunge. You're still young, so now is the time to secure a career that you'll find fulfilling and enjoyable."

Before you quit your job and dive headfirst into the unknown, consider these five practical steps towards a smooth career transition.

1. Experience your favoured career at first hand

Contact a company or workplace and ask if you can shadow an employee who currently has the job you want. You’ll find most companies will be accommodating, particularly if you promise to make a few teas and coffees in return. And maybe take in some cookies.

    "43% of people in their 20s and 30s plan to leave their job in the next two years."  

While it would be great if we could all bag our dream job with a sizeable pay packet and copious amounts of holiday to boot, realistically all careers have their downsides. Seeing your choice of career at first hand can help ensure you’re not simply suffering from a case of “greener grass” syndrome before you take the plunge.

2. Volunteer

Many jobs require that you have experience, but to get experience you need a job, but to get a job you need… you see where this is going.

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to attain that vital experience around a full-time job, and there are links between volunteering and a greater likelihood of gaining employment,

3. Make use of your existing skills

Identifying her transferable skills allowed Sonia Bateman to leave her 12-year career in HR to start a new one in events management. “I didn’t want to leave my employer, but in terms of career progression I felt like I had gone as far as I could in my role,” she says. “When a position came up as a project manager within the events department, I realised I had a lot of transferable skills.

“Having worked with the manager before, they were also familiar with my skill set, meaning they knew I could be trusted with the job even though I was new to the field.”

Which leads to our next point…

4. Take advantage of your connections

Like Sonia, you may find that the company or organisation you already work for has a role for you, meaning you can play on their existing knowledge of your work if you’re lacking experience compared to other applicants.

If you can’t stay with your current employer to land the job of your dreams, remember those workplace visits and volunteering opportunities mentioned above: these all help to build a network of contacts.

Since graduating, Steven Egan has tried several different careers, something that he feels he has been able to do due to the relationships he has built along the way.

Making a choice a good choice isn't just luck.

“I have always been a firm believer in keeping an open door,” Steven says. “This means I can always go back to agencies and companies when hunting for new career prospects because I’ve established a good rapport with them.”

5. Break up your plans into smaller goals

Putting “Start new career” on a to-do list is enough to make anyone feel like giving up before they’ve begun. So think about the small steps you can take to realise your dream.

Make a list that breaks your career plan down into mini-goals (for example, email a potential employer, look for volunteering opportunities, update your CV, gain a vocational qualification) and give yourself deadlines for each one.

After five years, Sonia’s career in events management has soared: she has won three awards for her work.

Despite having concerns about changing careers and, inevitably, facing challenges along the way, she has no regrets. “I’m now in a role that I’m much more suited to and enjoy every day,” she says. “I never knew what I wanted to do after school and fell into a career in HR. But changing careers has meant I have found my calling in life.

“It’s so difficult to decide on a career when you’re younger with little previous experience, so changing roles in your 20s and 30s gives you the opportunity to find the right path. You spend a lot of your life working, so getting it right really is important. And, if it doesn’t work out, at least you can say you tried!”

Just leaves one question: what are you waiting for?

First Published 22 July 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: The Just Recruitment guide to interview dressing

You may also enjoy: How to the be the king or queen of time management

Jobs currently available

Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £18,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Chelmsford
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909015
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for a driver to join a large and well-established business, with multiple branches across the UK.

This position will be based at their Chelmsford branch.

The role involves delivering various items to locations in and around the Chelmsford area.

You must have a full clean driving licence and have experience of driving either transit or LWB vans.

Working Hours:

  • 45 per week Mon-Fri 7:30 - 5 plus 2 Saturday mornings (8am-12pm) per month - paid at overtime rates!


  • Salary Negotiable.
  • Attendance bonus scheme.
  • Company pension scheme.
  • Shared profit scheme.
  • Uniform and PPE provided.

Duties will include:

  • Deliveries in and around Chelmsford
  • Assisting with various warehouse duties
  • Proving a friendly service to customers and other staff whilst out on the road and within the branch as and when required.
  • Working with the team to ensure the branch runs smoothly and customers are delighted with the service.

In order to be considered for this role you must have worked in a similar role, have excellent IT skills and a good telephone manner.

This is a great opportunity to join an organisation that promotes from within, provides extra training and development and further company benefits.

Read more
Workshop Technician/Mechanic
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £17,500 - £27,000 per annum
Location: Hadleigh
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909014
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Workshop Technician/Mechanic on behalf of a leading independent parts specialists based on the outskirts of Sudbury, Suffolk.


  • £17,500 - £27,000 depending on experience.

Great working environment in a high-spec workshop with heating and insulated flooring, to ensure employees are comfortable all year round.

Duties include:

  • Repair and refurbish motors and gearboxes.
  • Stripping down engines.
  • Disassemble and fix parts.
  • Complete root-cause analysis.


  • 23 days annual leave, plus bank holidays.
  • Free parking.
  • Profit share scheme, available after probation.
  • Medical scheme, available after probation.
  • PPE provided including boots and company branded tshirts / fleeces.
  • Training courses.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a great company offering lots of progression and excellent benefits.

Candidates must drive due to the location of the company, and will occasionally be required to drive company vehicles.



Read more
Business Development & Account Manager
Sector: Sales
Salary: To be discussed on application
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909013
About the role

Are you looking to work for an exciting new start-up business offering a great opportunity for you to grow?

Have you worked to targets, and enjoy selling?

Just Recruitment  is delighted to be recruiting for an Account Manager for our client based in Witham.

The role of the Account Manager is to build and develop relationships with new members, working with them throughout their one month free trial and ultimately upgrading them to a paying member.

There will be no cold calling in this role, all leads have come to express their interest!

If you love working in a team, talking to new people, have worked in sales before and have good verbal and written skills then this could be the role for you!

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday.




Read more
Legal Secretary
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Clacton on Sea
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909000
About the role

Just Recruitment is excited to be recruiting for one of the East of England’s longest established Legal Firms.

Operating for over 250 years, they are a full-service law firm, which has doubled in sized over the past four years, and they are looking to expand further by hiring a new Legal Secretary for their Clacton branch.

They are looking for someone with experience of;

  • Electronic diary management.
  • Telephone liaison.
  • Front of house/reception duties.
  • Digital transcription systems.
  • Using accounts software.
  • Various other clerical and administrative duties.

The ideal candidate will have experience working as a Legal Secretary, with a genuine passion for building a career within the law.

They must also have fast typing speeds and the ability to multi-task effectively.

In return you will receive;

  • A competitive salary.
  • 20 days holiday + bank holidays.
  • Contributory pension scheme.
  • As well as a whole host of other benefits.
Read more
Wedding and Special Events Sales Manager - Maternity Cover
Sector: Hospitality and Events Management
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908437
About the role

Luxury, grandeur and spectacular!

Our client, one of the finest country house venues in the tantalising Essex Countryside have a fantastic opportunity for you.

They are seeking a full time Wedding and Sales Manager to join their team to support the corporate, wedding sales and planning team on a 12 Month Maternity Cover Contract.

You will be working alongside the Head of Wedding Planning and the CEO in a buzzing environment, that requires you to focus on every little detail to deliver beyond expectations.

You will be responsible for;

  • Hosting all wedding show rounds.
  • Preparing for open evenings and open days.
  • Following up with potential brides or clients to discuss set up and more detailed planning.
  • Working alongside the Operations Team.
  • Work in conjunction with all event staff and catering partners to ensure the function is delivered to the high standards expected.
  • Manage external suppliers.
  • To assist other department managers as and when required.

Please note - this venue will be holding a sensational Christmas Fayre in 2020, along side the normal duties you will also have a heavy hand within the planning and organisation of this spectacular event!

If you have previous experience of wedding sales and managing weddings then we want to hear from you!

Due to the location, you must hold a full UK license and have access to a car.



Read more