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Time for a Career Change?

image It’s a tough economy! No question about it. As people get laid-off, many find that it’s difficult to find their next job. Many decide that since they’re struggling to find a new job in their field, they may be better off making a career change.

Is that the best answer? Will it make their job search easier?
Maybe, but not likely!

There are, at times, very good reasons to leave the old behind and pursue something new. However, good reason or not, and good job market or not, there are real challenges to making a successful career change.

As a general rule, there are four possible moves into a new job. From easiest to most difficult:

  1. Old Occupation, Old Field to Old Occupation, Old Field
    (i.e. Accountant in Retail environment to Accountant in Retail environment)
  2. Old Occupation, Old Field to Old Occupation, New Field
    (i.e. HR Generalist in Health Care to HR Generalist in Manufacturing)
  3. Old Occupation, Old Field to New Occupation, Old Field
    (i.e. Marketing Analyst in Consumer Goods to Product Designer in Consumer Goods)
  4. Old Occupation, Old Field to New Occupation, New Field
    (i.e. Engineer in Manufacturing to Counselor in Social Services)

When an employer evaluates potential candidates, usually the easiest and safest choice is someone who’s already ‘been there, done that’. They may decide to hire someone new to the role or field, however, there has to be very compelling reasons to do so. In today’s job market, when companies are hiring, the safest choice is often determined to be the best choice. They often reason that “Now is not the time to be taking a chance on someone without a proven track record in this area.”

While you may be finding challenges finding a new position similar to your old one in this market, and most people are. You will likely find it even more challenging to make a career change!

Certainly there may be good reasons to change careers, even now. Perhaps you’re in an occupation that has ‘dried up’. In Information Technology, if your last position has been as a COBOL Programmer for mainframe systems, it would be very difficult if not impossible to land another position doing the same thing. Perhaps your industry is in shambles. If you’re an automotive designer these days, it’s likely that you would face overwhelming challenges getting the same work. Or perhaps you just can’t stand doing your old job for another day. You may have ‘fallen’ into your career years ago and it just hasn’t been at all what you want to be doing or you’ve found you have no real talent or abilities in that area.

If you find yourself in those, or some other, situations and have determined a career change is necessary, here are a few points to consider:

~ You won’t get a career change position by responding to an ad with a resume. You MUST network and actually talk to people. People won’t respond to a resume that doesn’t seem to fit.

~ Be prepared for a significant pay cut. A company is not likely to pay you as much for a job you have to learn as they will for a job where you have substantial directly relevant experience.

~ It’s easier to make a transition into a related position than a completely new direction. A COBOL Programmer can get a job as a Web Developer easier than they can get a job as an Interior Designer.

~ Getting relevant training helps. Showing initiative to gain training in the new career shows a commitment and relevant knowledge to a potential employer.

~ Network, network, network! And when you network, know what you’re looking for and communicate it effectively and concisely. People can’t help you if they can’t determine what you want.

A career change can be a wonderful thing for your life. However, it’s definitely a challenge to do it successfully. In most cases, it is not a solution to find a job more easily. Decide if it’s the right decision for you and then do the work to make it happen!


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