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Strategies for making that Career Change - By Robin R. Raybuck

Are you ready for a career change?  Is it time to use your skills in new ways or try something entirely different?  Do you have the entrepreneurial spirit?  Most people change careers at least three times in their work life and have several different jobs.  The work paradigms have shifted and you don't have to start with one field or company and stick with it until retirement.  Here are some tips to help you in changing careers:

Reflect and take stock of yourself.  Ask yourself some critical questions.  What do you like to do?  What do you dream of doing?  Sometimes our dreams aren't that far from reality.  Where do you visualize yourself working?  What sounds like fun?  As Mark Twain once said, "The most successful people are those who do all year long what they would otherwise do on their summer vacation".  Take some time to reflect on your best options.

Do a thorough skills analysis.  Make a list of your life achievements and analyze for the skills involved in each accomplishment.  This process will reflect your best skills.  Many skills are transferable from one field to another, such as problem solving, management, analyzing, customer services, administrative and computer skills.

Do your research.  Visit your local library and read up on different fields in the Occupational Outlook Handbook plus various journals as well as books geared to the hottest jobs and new trends.  Read the business section to keep abreast of current issues that can spark new employment opportunities.  For more information on changing careers, try reading: The Pathfinder:  How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success by Nicholas Lore.  Attend seminars, association meetings, surf the Internet or take a course to test out your new interests.

Position yourself through contacts.  Let everyone know that you are interested in making a change.  There is a 90% chance that you will find your next career via networking contacts.  This includes friends, relatives, neighbors, and business associates.  Start with the people with whom you are most comfortable (those in your mutual admiration society).  Let them know your key skill areas and ask for their ideas, advice, and information on transferring your skills to a new field.  Listen, thank them, and ask for a referral to someone they know who could give you some additional information.  After several contacts, a pattern will emerge, funneling your ideas down to a solid career action plan.

Test out your potential targets.  Attend seminars, association meetings and courses to test out your new areas of interest.  The next best thing to trying on a new career is to talk to people in the field.  Keep networking to maintain a reality check and gain validation for your choices.  Get your feet wet with volunteer work in your chosen field.

Become a skilled job seeker.  Position yourself for success by becoming an expert on how to get a job.  Read job search books such as Getting Interviews by Kate Wendleton to arm yourself with the tools you will need to pursue new endeavors.  Review interview questions and practice answering them in a positive and informative manner.  Be sure that you know how your current skills will transfer to the new environment.

Give yourself permission to change careers.  Effective career management requires taking the necessary risks to position yourself for where you want to be.  Don't allow yourself to feel like you are "stuck" in your job.  Your level of interest in pursuing something new is directly commensurate with your level of discomfort in your present job.  If not too unhappy, most of us will typically stay in our current situation since it takes time and energy  to make a career change.  Build your confidence so you can let go when it's time to do something different.

Set goals with schedules.  Make it happen by setting a goal of when you would like to be in a new career.  Make an action plan with steps and schedules toward your new endeavor.  Envision yourself as a pathfinder on a new frontier.  Believe in yourself and go for it.


 

 

 

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