JOB HUNTING - PREPARE YOURSELF
Thinking of a career change but donít know where to begin? Let these eight steps be your guide.
1. Assess yourself
Changing careers starts with you. Before making any decision, begin with a period of self-examination. Identify your passions and set specific goals.
2. Take inventory of your skills
Many skills, such as writing, management, leadership, analytical and/or interpersonal skills are transferable not only from job to job, but from job to career. Before beginning your job search, compile a list of your transferable skills and abilities. Ask yourself which of these qualities will be attractive to potential employers and useful in your desired field.
3. Identify the skills necessary to break into your new career
While some of your talents will undoubtedly transfer across careers, your preferred position will likely require expertise you presently lack. Research your ideal career field to determine what new skills you will need to get started. Examine online job postings and newspaper classifieds to better ascertain the educational and professional requirements necessary to launch your new career. Whenever possible, speak to employees and employers in your desire field and ask them what tools it takes to do their jobs efficiently.
4. Acquire those skills
Once you have determined the tools you need to succeed, go out and get them. Consider volunteering or interning at organizations related to your desired career field. Volunteering in your spare time not only places your foot the door, but gives you a first hand look at the requirements and abilities necessary for your next career. Interning at like-minded organizations will equip you with many of the basic skills necessary to make a successful career leap.
Maybe your next career requires an advanced degree. Consider returning to school or attaining your schooling over the Internet. Several universities have created online courses and degree programs that allow you to go to school online while enjoying the advantages of an on-campus program.
In addition, many online educational sources permit you to register and begin classes year-round, and the speed of the Internet enables students to earn their degree more quickly than traditional programs.
5. Rewrite your resume
Changing careers requires a resume makeover: one that stresses skills over job titles. This is known as a "functional resume" because it mixes and matches those skills most applicable to your desired job field rather than providing a chronological time-line of your work history.
According to Rob Kaplan, author of Resumes: The Write Stuff, your functional resume should consist of categories that emphasize your abilities and relative experiences (i.e., administration, marketing, management, etc.). Also include personal information, career objectives, education and extra-curricular activities such as volunteer work, internships and hobbies. Remember, your functional resume is not a list of duties you have completed, it is a highlight reel of skills and accomplishments applicable to your future career.
Your job search when shifting careers will be different than the traditional job search. Without relevant experience to the industry you hope to enter, your best bet for getting a job is networking. Call your college career services office for names of alumni in your desired career field. "Talk to everybody you know in the field, then talk to everybody they know," writes Stephen Warren, author of The Purpose Principle. "[Soon] you will be able to sell yourself better than your resume can."
7. Be Flexible
Aim high, but be flexible about accepting an entry-level position. Despite your work experience, many employers will likely view you as a relative beginner. As such, you may have to initially accept a position with less responsibility (and pay) than your previous job. Donít despair. Your past experience in the work world will likely earn you rapid advancement in your new career field.
8. Leave your present job gracefully
Donít burn your bridges with your former employer. Whenever possible, maintain a professional, cordial relationship with them until the end. Chances are you might need them for a reference or you may someday wish to return to your former position. Also, maintain contact with your former business associates, contacts and mentors. You never know what help they may be able to provide your new career down the road.
Turning a Negative into a Positive
Changing careers is virtually inevitable in todayís job market. Making the transition smoothly and efficiently means being prepared. Consequently, whether you are dissatisfied with your current profession or a victim of downsizing, these strategies will enable you to make the career leap as painless and as profitable as possible. Happy hunting!
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by Paul Armentano: