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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Changing Your Career Path During the Recession (3)

Finding the right career tip 1: Identify occupations that match your interests

So how do you translate your interests into a new career? With a little research, you may be surprised at the careers that relate to many of the things you love to do.

Career tests

Many online tools can guide you through the process of self-discovery. Questions, quizzes, and temperament sorters can’t tell you what your perfect career would be, but they can help you identify what’s important to you in a career, what you enjoy doing, and where you excel. One example, frequently used by universities and the government, is the RIASEC/Holland interest scale. It identifies six common areas that people often feel especially drawn to, such as investigative, social, or artistic. Based on these areas, you can browse sample careers that match those interests.

Researching specific careers

If you have narrowed down some specific jobs or careers, you can find a wealth of information online, from description of positions to average salaries to estimated future growth. This will also help you figure out the practical priorities: How stable is the field you are considering? Are you comfortable with the amount of risk? Is the salary range acceptable to you? What about commute distances? Will you have to relocate for training or a new job? Will the new job affect your family?

Get support and information from others

While you can glean a lot of information from research and quizzes, there’s no substitute for information from someone currently working in your chosen career. Talking to someone in the field gives you a real sense of what type of work you will actually be doing and if it meets your expectations. What’s more, you will start to build connections in your new career area, helping you land a job in the future. Does approaching others like this seem intimidating? It doesn’t have to be. Networking and informational interviewing are important skills that can greatly further your career.

You may also consider career counseling or a job coach, especially if you are considering a major career shift. Sometimes impartial advice from others can open up possibilities you hadn’t considered.

Finding the right career tip 2: Evaluate your strengths and skills

Once you have a general idea of your career path, take some time to figure out what skills you have and what skills you need. Remember, you’re not completely starting from scratch—you already have some skills to start. These skills are called transferable skills, and they can be applied to almost any field. Some examples include:

management and leadership experience
communication (both written and oral)
research and program planning
public speaking
conflict resolution and mediation
managing your time effectively
computer literacy
foreign language fluency

Tips for discovering your transferable career skills

Don’t limit yourself to experiences only at work. When you are thinking about your skills, consider all types of activities including volunteering, hobbies and life experiences. For example, even if you don’t have formal leadership or program planning experience, founding a book club or organizing a toy drive are ways that you have been putting these skills into practice.

List your accomplishments that might fit in. Don’t worry about formatting these skills for a resume at this point. You just want to start thinking about what skills you have. It can be a tremendous confidence booster to realize all of the skills you’ve developed.

Brainstorm with trusted friends, colleagues or mentors. They might remind you of transferable skills you might have forgotten, and help you think of how you might want to articulate these skills in the future.

Learn more about your qualifications.


Click here to read part 4 of this article

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