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How to change careers by the end of 2016

Follow these easy steps to land a new job this year.

If you're one of the many workers who resolved to start a new career this year, you're officially on the clock. That fact has likely already sunk in, and if you're beginning to worry that you may have bitten off more than you can chew, don't worry. By following these essential steps, you'll greatly increase your chances of starting a new career by the end of 2016.

Assess yourself

The one factor that will have the largest impact on whether you are successful in your 2016 job search is you. Making a career change is a big decision, and throughout the process, you'll be faced with plenty more decisions to make. Knowing why you're doing this and what you're looking for ahead of time will make tackling those choices much easier down the line.

"Take some time to develop a longer term career strategy that is based on a rigorous assessment of your talents, interests, experiences, likes and dislikes, as well as successes and failures," says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide." "Be honest with yourself. There is no benefit to anyone, most of all you, to pursue a goal that has no tie to reality. You will fail or, perhaps even more damaging, you will lose precious time that could have been devoted to advancing your career."

Assess the market

Once you have a good idea of where you hope to be headed, it's time to determine the plausibility of reaching those goals. Think of your self-assessment as a way to determine criteria for your next career move, and this market assessment as a way to identify opportunities that fit those criteria.

"The more information you have about a career, the more empowered you are to make the right decision for the long term," says Aaron Michel, CEO of PathSource, a career exploration and education tool created to help young adults better navigate the job market. "Whenever someone is considering a big career change, it's important to research the new career path. Job seekers not only need to know what types of positions are available to them, but also what the future of those jobs may be like."

Develop your skills

Once you've begun to look at some opportunities in your desired field, it may become apparent that you lack certain required or desired skills. While this may seem disheartening at first, there is a silver lining. By identifying such skills, you've discovered the best next step for your job search.

"Explore resources and options that are available for training and re-training through online platforms, free community college courses and certificate programs," suggests Cohen. "The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to compete for higher profile jobs. You are also more likely to make an informed decision."

Assess opportunities

When you do get an offer, you may find yourself torn as to whether to take it or to continue searching. Mentally weighing the pros and cons can be difficult, which is why Michele Mavi, director of content development, internal recruiting and training at Atrium Staffing suggests putting it on paper.

"Make a list of everything you want out of a job, from the actual hard skills necessary to be successful in the role, to the values related to your lifestyle and sense of self," Mavi says. "Then, in two columns titled 'aligned' and 'not aligned,' check off how many things on your list of 'must-haves' fall into each category for this particular offer. After this exercise, it should become glaringly obvious whether this new role will truly make you happy."

Be patient

"Don't take a job out of frustration with the job search process or because you just really need a change," Mavi says. "Trust that it's better to wait for what you want."

With thoughtful planning and a positive attitude, starting a new career in 2016 is absolutely within your grasp.

Check out "What makes a truly great employee?" for ways to make yourself more attractive to employers in the coming year