Changing Careers

  1. The instinct to find another job quickly—preferably one that's essentially identical to your old position—can be a recipe for long-term career dissatisfaction. Don't fall into that trap. Take the time to assess your current situation in depth. And remember that unemployment is sometimes a catalyst to a satisfying career change!
  2. Unemployment, misemployment, and mismanagement are the primary causes of career dissatisfaction. It's important to know which problem you're trying to solve.
  3. You should apply the same peak-experience exercise to the work you're doing now and the work you'd like to do.
  4. Networks are informal referral systems that can add value, interest, and excitement to your candidacy. It's a common misconception that all networks routinely exclude those who've never spoken to anyone in the network before. If you can find a common topic of interest, such as an update on an important industry development, you can often enter a network with ease.
  5. Resources likely to leave you leadless, disappointed, or a combination of the two include classified advertisements and private career counseling firms. Federal job assistance programs may be helpful if you qualify for retraining.
  6. Any career change campaign that relies primarily on strategies that stall when other people don't take action is likely to disappoint you. Taking personal responsibility for outcomes is an essential talent in today's employment marketplace.
  7. Approaching career change issues as an independent contractor, rather than an "applicant," means seeing yourself in an active, rather than passive role.
  8. The best approach to career changing is probably the "middle path"—building on your existing skills.
  9. The professional profile that comes most naturally and easily to you—attentive to details or freewheeling and risk-oriented, hierarchical or independent—will have a great deal to do with the success of your career-change campaign.
  10. Don't beat yourself up about some aspect of your interview performance that left you feeling dissatisfied. Learn from your mistakes and then let them be. Replaying a subpar response to an interview question is a great way to lower your self-esteem and lose energy for approaching the next opportunity.
  11. You should strongly consider adopting a role that does not threaten entrenched (and intensely careerist) Baby Boomers—and consider instead taking on the role of the trusted ally or older advisor.
  12. Younger workers may be easier to hire once they're proven themselves.
  13. As most of us know from lamentations in the media, temporary employment has been growing at a record clip. According to recent date from the National Association of Temporary Services, the temp industry grew 27 percent during a recent one-year period. Many temp assignment serve as auditions for longer-tem work or even full-time offers. Proven younger workers, whose salary requirements are generally lower than more experienced candidates, are often the most attractive candidates for these new "trade-up" positions when they materialize.
  14. Accepting a temporary assignment with a company in your target field may just allow you to take advantage of, or even help design, a position that's right for you.
  15. Downsizing means losing your job through layoff or reduction in force, not as a result of performance issues. There's no reason to feel guilty or defensive about this situation; it's a fact of current employment life, and your contact will almost certainly know this.
  16. If you want to limit your work life to certain areas—keep it, in other words, from invading every corner of your life—then don't be afraid to scale down and take a lower-level job.

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