Steps to take when considering a career change

Feature Article- Thu., Jun. 2, 2011
- Contributed Photo

Is this the right time for you to follow your passion or to reinvent yourself and make a career change? If so, make sure you can put your finger on what you want, so that you can sell yourself to prospective employers.

Carole Redden, director of career services at Brown Mackie College, offers some career-change tips:

Network with a mission

Networking is vital to reinventing yourself or making a career move, but according to Redden, it should be done strategically and often. “You cannot wait for the job of your dreams to come to you,” said Redden. “There are people who attend networking events and do not maximize the number of people they talk to, or do not ask the right questions. If you are looking for a job, you must have a plan.”

Establish your targets before attending networking events and job fairs, and keep the conversation brief and to the point. Develop a relationship with employer representatives you chat with and remember, it’s not just about what you can get from them, but what they can gather from you. It’s a two-way exchange of information. To learn more about networking strategies read “Never Eat Alone,” where author Keith Ferrazzi contends that you’ll be more successful if you take the relationship-building approach. “You should circulate and make multiple new contacts at these events,” Redden said. Those who are unsure about how to network should think of it as “purposeful and engaging communication.”

Most people have more of a network of friends, family, former coworkers and other connections than they realize. It’s important to share your plans with them and ask for help. “If you don’t already have a network, try volunteering or going back to school – both are great ways to meet new people,” Redden added.

Examine your skills and resources

You don’t have to be stuck in a job. Be proactive. Do a personal assessment and ask yourself: What background, skills and experience can I offer an employer? “If you’ve been in a job for 20 years, ask yourself, ‘What do I really want to do for a living?’” said Redden. “Make some changes and some tough decisions. It may not be easy, but it’s worth it. Job seeking takes patience.”

Update your credentials

Many jobs require additional education or training. Take classes at local college, or a community or education center. Some nonprofit organizations offer free or low-cost training. If required, obtain certification for your chosen field. “Once you have developed your ‘brand,’ you’ve got to make yourself more marketable than the next person,” said Redden.

Pursue your passion/your goal

A career is more than a job; for some it’s also a passion, and the career path chosen will require some work. “Some people get so caught up in life pleasing others and forget they have the option to do what makes them happy,” said Redden. If you are out of work, be more diligent. Until you get to where you want to go, you should be willing to work harder in pursuing your passion. The practice of reinvention takes effort. For people who like delivering babies, they are happy when they go to work every morning because they have a passion for what they do.

Volunteer with nonprofits

Use your weekends to volunteer. “This is an opportunity to support those nonprofits that could benefit from your experience,” said Redden. With reinvention, you can still give back and offer to help those who are less fortunate. You will gain valuable work experience in your career of choice.

“If you want a life change, then it’s up to you to do something about it,” said Redden.


Courtesy of ARA Content

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