How to Make a Successful Career Change

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If you're thinking about changing careers, you're not alone. Switching vocations and starting a job search has transformed from a rare occurrence to a four times in a lifetime necessity. It is now a normal and expected part of life.

The good news is that the possibilities are endless. The challenging news is that you will have to go out there and make it happen. The recession has made research and networking even more essential to ferret out those rare gems in the marketplace.

It's OK to feel nervous about stepping outside of a familiar routine. You will need to push yourself, but remember that you can dictate your own pace.

Career Change Reflection

First, think about the career elements that follow below. Write down what you like and dislike in each area, and rank the importance of each. If you are unsure about any of the factors, perhaps it's time for a skills and aptitude assessment. The end result of this exercise is to lead you to what you are passionate about. This process also will help you answer the question: What should a resume include? It will help lead you to the creation of a professional resume outline. A professional resume writing service will appreciate this vital information.

• What you do: skills, tasks, responsibilities.

• Who you do it with: staff, superiors, peers, clients, vendors.

• Where you do it: company culture, environment, geography, office building, at home.

• When you do it: nine to five, flexitime, calling on clients all day.

• How you do it: on your feet all day, at a desk all day, on the go.

• Why you do it: What lights you up inside? Do your values mesh with the organization's? How are you treated? How green is your company?

Secondly, you need to find the actual career titles that fit your passion. If you love doodling, you would write down artist, computer illustrator and cartoonist.

The job/career titles are just a jumping off point for further study. Folks who are transitioning out of a field into a new one (e.g., from medicine to art) will have more work to do. A career counselor and professional resume writer can help you match your skills to the types of careers that will utilize them.

Thirdly, you've undoubtedly heard the phrase "transferable skills." Start recording every skill you've ever used, whether as a stay-at-home parent, as a hobbyist or in a corporate suite. Some of the skills you might discount or ignore may be the very ones that hold the keys to your brilliant new career.

While still at your current job, dip your toe into the waters of supplementary training and education. Take your time and plan out this step, with several backups. If you can make a case for your boss to pick up the tab, so much the better.

Start small. Don't enroll in a Masters Program in Business Administration until you've sampled some courses. If you find yourself wistfully poking your head into the Creative Merchandising class, pay attention. This yearning is likely a clue to your future.

Now we get to the fun part. You've decided that you want to be an Advertising Executive, and you're happily ensconced in some classes. It's time to network with everyone in your life, even marginally. Networking can achieve professional magic, you can obtain career leads ahead of the pack and glean invaluable advice. LinkedIn and Facebook have made it easy to reach out to those with similar professional interests. Social media is a great way to expand your network, especially if your dream career or company is not right in your backyard.

Attend your local alumni meetings, and join relevant organizations (e.g., the Ad Council). Send out an email to your friends, friends of friends, distant relatives, high school buddies and the Garden Club.

This is the stage where you'll want to go on informational interviews, not to ask for jobs, but to pick the brains of people in careers that you aspire to. Your research and networking will point the way to these specific individuals. Perhaps you'll hit the jackpot and find a mentor through all of your diligent effort.

Think about obtaining on-the-job experience as an intern or part-time worker. Make your future boss an offer that she can't refuse! As you complete these steps, don't be rigid about exactly how information and insight come to you. If your gut tells you to pursue something, listen to it.


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