Maybe you’re feeling stuck in your job. Maybe you think your talents would be better served in a different career field. Whatever it is, it may be time for a career makeover. And if you decide it’s time to take your career in a different direction, you won’t be alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that Baby Boomers changed jobs an average of 11 times between ages 18 and 44 (www.bls.gov).
Keep in mind that a career transition takes time. After all, how many years did you prepare for your current or most recent job? Give yourself the benefit of thoughtful planning, using a three-step process: Desire, Discover, DO!
Step 1: Desire! Your success depends upon knowing what you want and being ready to achieve it. Being clear and energized about your goals gives you the drive to take that continuing education course, find a mentor at work, or develop a business plan for your own entrepreneurial venture.
Before you make the leap, spend time thinking about what you do best, and how your unique set of skills and experiences can fill a need for an organization. Pull out your résumé and see how well it matches up with your goals. Imagine your name on a business card: What’s the title? What’s the company or organization? What is your new work environment like? Scanning the want ads can help you think of possibilities. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, you’re halfway there.
Step 2: Discover! You’ve set your goal. Now it’s time to research the job market. Prioritize your new career must-haves: salary range, benefits, work environment, leadership level, etc. Considering how strongly you desire a career change, you may decide you are willing to move to a new town, cut your hair and cover the tattoos, or go back to school.
Don’t discount part-time, temporary, or freelance “consultant” positions — they give you immediate experience and contacts. Check out the jobs page on Websites of your target organizations, and then find someone inside who is willing to help you. This requires having the guts to make phone calls to strangers. Script your approach — that’s what the pros do. If you get discouraged, invest in a few hours of professional career counseling.
Step 3: DO! Make at least three phone calls every morning. Get yourself invited to a chamber of commerce event or to a trade association meeting in a field you’re investigating. Ask for informational interviews. If your last informational interview was at the university job fair 30 years ago, take heart — it’s a great networking tool for experienced professionals who want to make a career change. If your new career requires further education or skills training, find out your options. In today’s environment of high unemployment, there are more programs than ever to help you become qualified to do something new.
The Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor provides funding for state- and community-level career transition programs and job training. For information on community-based grants and programs, visithttp://www.doleta.gov/business/Community-BasedJobTrainingGrants.cfm. Also visit the CareerOneStop Website, sponsored by the Labor Department, at http://www.careeronestop.org/reemployment/.