Thursday, February 9, 2012

Advice for Career Changers

Whether you find yourself unemployed and looking for a new job or are currently employed and simply dissatisfied with your career path, if you want to make a career change there are several steps you should take first to ensure a successful transition. These steps will not only help you ensure you are satisfied in your in your new career path, they will also help you land a position in your new field much faster. If you follow this step-by-step process, even in a tough job market you will have a greater chance of success.

Assess your interests.
First of all, you must identify what you don't like about your current career. Is it the hours, tasks, or the pay? Identifying what you don't like will help you ensure you don't get into the same situation in a different field. If most of your complaints center around your boss, the company, co-workers, or the environment in which you work, you may just need to consider a change of companies - not careers.

A few online resources are available for you to assess your personality and work values. You can use to conduct a free online personality assessment. A few books I recommend are Do What You Are, by Tieger and Barron or Now Discover Your Strengths, by Buckingham and Clifton.

Research the new career field thoroughly.
Make informed decisions based on lots of information gathered while researching your new career field. The first step is to look at labor market research to determine the field's education requirements, the job market outlook for the next three to five years, wages and benefits, demographics, and the industry-leading companies. You can access much of this information through the Occupational Outlook Handbook and the O*NET. Also consider research methods such as job shadowing, volunteering or interning in the field, or informational interviewing.

Identify your transferable skills.
Once you have done your research on the career field, it is time to identify the skills you already have that can transfer over to the new career field. For example, if you have been in the mortgage industry and want to transition into the administrative support field you would want to focus on skills such as documentation management, compiling correspondence, tracking ongoing projects to ensure deadlines are met, and protecting confidential information.

Transferable skills are general skills that are portable. They can be used in many different work settings and you carry them with you throughout your career.

Market yourself effectively.
Career changers are not always effective in the traditional method of sending out resumes in the hopes of landing a job. Networking is even more important to these job seekers than people with solid industry experience. Follow the E.C.H.O. principle when networking - that stands for every contact has opportunity. Prepare your "elevator speech" so you are ready to explain to your new networking contact who you are, what skills you can offer, and what type of assistance you are seeking.

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