To Change Careers Or Not Change Careers

Nancy Anderson
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The state of this economy certainly continues to challenge the best of us. I have personally spoken to many professionals who are wondering if this is a good time to make a career change.

Now changing jobs is very different from changing careers. If you have been the unfortunate victim of downsizing or your industry has experienced a serious fallout, your best option may be to move into a similar role if the opportunities are available.

However, if you are seriously contemplating a whole new profession - an area you have an interest in, but never pursued before - well, that looks and sounds like a career change.

I have mentioned many times before that true career change does not happen overnight; your efforts can be well intentioned, but you can still keep running into brick walls. The key is to clearly articulate what your new career (title, industry, profession) is and to evaluate whether you have enough paid or unpaid experience to support that change.

But where do you begin?

A: Identify your new career interest / profession

Just wanting to do something different or wanting a change is not a clear answer about changing careers. Think about activities, tasks, projects or assignments that really peaked your interest and kept you motivated and energized.

Consider taking a career assessment or career planning test and over at QuintCareers, they have a very comprehensive list of recommendations.

B: Spread the word

Being able to get the inside perspective and career change tips from people who are working in the role is an absolute gold mine for career changers. Be proactive and schedule informational interviews, seek out real facts like pros and cons, learn what it takes to advance in careers, and find out if any special education, training or certifications will give you an edge.

C. Switch up your self-marketing techniques

If your career aspiration is to transition from a financial analyst to marketing assistant, be aware that you will need to "walk" and "talk" differently and present your skills and capabilities in a whole new light.

-- Research and learn new jargon, keywords and terminology

-- Carefully comb through your current and past jobs to see if you may have ANY related or relevant experience that can serve as a bridge to your new desired field.

-- Start where you are and explore lateral assignments or internal company projects that can help you with your career change

-- Don't overlook volunteering - I had a client successfully move from a job in financial services to senior marketing roles after spending five years in volunteer opportunities.

D. Transform your professional image on paper

By now you should realize that attracting employers and getting found by recruiters in your new target field will mean that you have to revise, edit or completely revamp your existing professional resume.

Try these makeover strategies to create a career changer resume:

-- Hone in on any experience, talents, skills and training that are most relevant to your new career - don't let your emotional attachment to anything you have done determine what goes on your professional resume

-- Highlight any continuing education, volunteer assignments, special projects or even one-time workshops you have completed if they will improve your candidacy for positions in a new field.

-- Avoid developing a functional or skills-based resume as it only screams "I want to change careers, but I don't have experience and looking to change careers"

So don't dismiss your chances of success with changing careers just make sure you understand the efforts it will take to get you there.

Abby M. Locke (http://www.premierwriting.com/) is a career marketing strategist and leadership brand coach who partners with 6-figure executives and professional MBA women to help them achieve true career mastery and success through cutting-edge, career branded communications, innovative job search campaigns, and proactive career management tools.
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