Is a Career Change on Your Horizon?

By: Kathi Macnaughton

I've heard it said that the average American changescareers at least once in his or her life. Long gone arethe days of working for the same company from the timeyou graduate high school or college until that magicalretirement day.

You sure won't find that kind of loyalty from companies to their workers these days, and it's rare to find that kindof loyalty from the average worker as well. What withcompanies merging, downsizing, and moving their operationsoffshore, you'd be wise to plan for a career change somewhere along the line in your life.

Of course, losing one job doesn't automatically mean thatyou can never find another job in the same industry orcareer path. Hopefully, you will. But what if you can'tfind another job? Or what if you don't really want to? Maybe you're bored with what you've been doing, or you'vegone as far as you can in that career and you're ready fornew challenges?

Is it really possible to switch to a new career midstreamin your working life?

The answer is a resounding yes! But you have to know how togo about it. It takes a bit of planning, thorough self-assessment, and perhaps additional training.

When I tired of the grind in health administration as anurse, I spent about 2 years trying to figure out what elseI could do. Luckily, I was able to parlay a love and talentfor writing into a new career as a health writer. I did have to prove my ability to write--even though much of myjob responsibility in my previous healthcare administrationjob did involve writing.

I was fortunate enough to be able to use networking and some lucky breaks to get into thecareer I wanted with a minimum of effort.

My partner, Jim, has been a systems engineer for more than20 years, but graduated with a bachelors degree in math originally. When he began to search for a career changealternative, his path was not quite as clear as mine hadbeen. Finally, though, after spending quite a bit of timeon self-assessment, he honed in on his love for trainingand teaching. But you can't just move into the field ofteaching with no experience or education. Fortunately, theshortage of qualified teachers--especially in certain highneeds areas--has led to the development of a number of "alternative path" programs for teaching. Jim has enrolledin just such an online program out of Montana State University and will be launching his new career later thisyear as a high school math teacher!

So, the question is... once you've figured out what you want to do in your new career and you've gotten the training you need, how do you sell yourself to a newemployer?

The first thing you want to consider is the format for yourresume. The traditional chronological resume format is notyour best choice for a career change. Instead, you want touse either a functional--or even better, combination--format. You can read more about the different types of resume formats here:http://www.powerful-sample-resume-formats.com/formats

Second, you need to take a look at your transferable skills. That is, what current or past experience or skillsdo you possess (either from past jobs or in your personallife) that you could use in your new career?

For example, one of my readers recently asked how hecould get into interior design without any previous jobexperience or training. I'm not sure you CAN get intothis field without any training, but if so, then Iadvised him to look at any design experience he's had,perhaps with redecorating his own or a friend's home. Ialso encouraged him to build a portfolio of his work,which can be a very effective way to get an employer's attention.

Thirdly, you have to be honest with yourself about whetheryou can really make a career change without adding to yourskills and credentials by getting some training in the newfield. There's a lot to be said for the contacts you can make during such training too, that may help you networkwith people who can provide an entree into the new career.

In summary, anyone can make a career change if they reallywant to. But to do soFree Web Content, you'll need to know what related skills and experience you bring to the table. And you'llneed to know how to sell yourself to a prospective employer. Career change is inevitable... you can count onit! But make sure it's on your terms by making a solidcareer change plan.

Careers and Job Hunting
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