Many job seekers are exploring new careers right now because they need a change or the economy is forcing that change. This is a scary thought for most people. What are your options? What else are you good at? Where do you start?
Why is change so scary? Well, change means going into the unknown. You know your job, your expertise, your contacts, processes, and more. Now you will have to be the “newbie” and that’s always stressful. It also means rocking the boat – staying where you are is much more comfortable than delving into new waters. On the other hand, change can be exhilarating and can lift you out of a stagnant situation. When we have many years left in the workplace, there’s no reason to remain stuck in a job or industry that is personally unrewarding.
So, take a deep breath! Before undertaking any ambitious goal, it’s a good idea to do some research, some exploration, and some reflection to help fine-tune a goal that you will be comfortable going after. Be realistic about whether the goal is attainable for you and what the financial impact of any change might be.
Assessment – If you have absolutely no idea, you might want to start with a skills / career assessment. Some are available online but I recommend working with a trusted career counselor to guide you in the use and interpretation of these tools. Assessments should be viewed only as a starting point to do further research on the careers suggested. Another idea is to be creative about turning a hobby or other passion into a possible career.
Research – Look up information on sites such as www.online.onetcenter.org, www.careeroverview.com, or www.careers.org. Look at current job boards such as monster, careerbuilder, indeed, and linkedin to see if there is hiring going on in those careers. Use www.salary.com to help you ballpark compensation ranges. Find people who do these careers to see what they think of their chosen field – do they like it? What is a typical day / week like for them? What is the potential for growth? What type of training or education do you need to succeed in this field?
Action – Now it’s time to make a decision about direction. Be realistic about your choice. Would enjoy doing this job? Is it attainable? Do you have the appropriate credentials? If needed, check out programs that offer these. Perhaps you can work a part-time or in a temporary position while you earn these credentials. Maybe you can find a position that will give you some entry level experience in your new field of interest. Perhaps you can volunteer somewhere to gain insight and experience. Once you are prepared, the final step will be to begin an active job search in your new field.
Success – Network with people in your new chosen field to develop relationships and to learn everything you can about your new area. Create a resume that repositions you for the new career. You must highlight the skills, experience, and any credentials that relate to the new career. Write a cover letter that gives a compelling reason for employers to consider you as a great candidate. Above all, be sure that everything you state is honest. Then be sure to be persistent and positive. I’ve seen enough successful career transitions to know that it can be done. Wishing you the best of success in your search!