Categorized | Career

Re-Evaluate Your Options

Posted on 25 August 2009

Career changes may lead to personal and professional fulfillment.

The economy is not growing by leaps and bounds. Zillions of dot-com companies are no longer waiting to scoop you up. But even if they were, would you work long hours, forgo traditional benefits, and gamble with your future? Maybe this is the perfect time to take a breather and think about what you really want. Perhaps your values changed along the way, you got burned out, or just moved on to a different stage in life. Now that you’re a little older, and probably a little wiser, a career change may not be so intimidating.

Perform a Self-Evaluation
Although this transitional period can certainly produce anxiety, consider new ideas and opportunities that bring both personal and professional growth. But you should know where you are going. Ask yourself these two questions:

  • Do I want to stay in the same field?
  • Do I want to stay at the same level?

If so, you already know the buzzwords, in-demand job functions, and industry concerns. For up-to-date information on going pay rates, you can check out the Salary Wizard on CareerBuilder.

If you haven’t written a resume lately, check out the Resume Advice section. Think about what you have learned or done since you last evaluated your professional history. Ask yourself:

  • What new computer applications have I mastered?
  • What new industry do I know something about?
  • What new contacts have I made?

Your resume should emphasize what you know (JavaScript development, for example, or project management) and what you have done that adds value to your work. Quantify your results whenever possible. For instance, you might use statements like these:

  • Supervised 12 analysts
  • Responsible for five product launches
  • Held seminars with multiple departments
You may be able to take your transferable skills and use them in a different way.

Utilize Your Best Skills
Maybe a major career change is not in the cards at this time. However, you may be able to take your transferable skills and use them in a different way. One woman liked the writing aspect of her work with a technical research company, but had absolutely no interest in computers and electronics. She found a satisfying home for herself, working for a university publication, by emphasizing her best skills:

  • Research
  • Interviewing
  • Writing
  • Production

Another working professional wanted to leave his corporate law field, so he self-identified his strong analytical, management, and persuasiveness skills. He now runs a nonprofit social services agency.

Even if the time is right for a big move, do you know which direction you want to take your career? CareeRX can help you explore new possibilities.

  • Interactive and professional counseling
  • Testing
  • Coaching

Once you have identified one or two career fields, think about the reality factors involved. Would you gain time, flexibility, or relief? Would you have to give up money, prestige, or location? Again, what’s really important to you?

Do Your Research
Although an adventurous spirit surely helps, doing your research can make a career move much less frightening and more manageable. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but never knew typical salaries or how to become trained. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is the U.S. Department of Labor’s semi-annual journal of job titles and descriptions. You can also gain other useful information by going to the Web and looking for related professional associations.

Keep in mind that you may have to start again, both academically and professionally. Are you willing to sit through undergraduate courses and step onto the bottom rung of a career ladder? The prospect is certainly daunting. But here’s the good news: Research shows that satisfied workers tend to be more successful. They are happier and stay with their work longer. That makes almost any change worthwhile.

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- who has written 318 posts on Higher Education and Career Blog.


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