6 Strategies for a Successful Career Switch

Dawn Papandrea | June 18, 2009

Ready for a career switch? In an uncertain job market, it’s a good idea to consider all your career options — and workers in Washington State are doing just that. According to the Workplace Confidence Survey released in April by Everest College, 57 percent of respondents said they would change careers if nothing stood in their way. And about 65 percent reported suffering from work-related stress about potential pay and job loss.

If you’ve got career-switching on the brain, set yourself apart from the competition by employing these six sure-fire career strategies.

career1. Take a career aptitude test.
When you sit around thinking about what you’d like to do and what you’re good at, you may end up going in circles – especially if you’re having trouble seeing past the stress of your current career. That’s where professional services come in handy. Career aptitude tests can help you discover your interests and skills and match them to a specific career field. And you don’t have to go far to access these resources. Some of the most popular career tests are available online for free or a small fee.

shutterstock_315663372. Position yourself as an industry expert.

Once you’ve solidified a career direction, spend time researching the field. Find out what a career in the industry entails, stay abreast of the latest news in the field, and set up informational interviews with professionals in the industry. In short, make yourself as knowledgeable about the industry as possible so that, when hiring decisions are made, you will have distinguished yourself as someone in the know.

shutterstock_320878933. Showcase your strengths.
Use the knowledge gained from your research to determine your areas of strength pertaining to the field. The transferable skills you discovered during your initial career assessment will comprise a major part of your personal marketing campaign. When you can demonstrate specific ways that your personality and experience fit a job description, you will capture the attention and interest of any hiring manager.

shutterstock_261281654. Wipe out your weaknesses.
Your research may also uncover areas in which you are lacking skills or experience. Fill those gaps by taking a class, pursuing certification, or brainstorming creative ways to beef up your skills. Not only will you get yourself up to speed for the career you seek, you’ll also demonstrate proactiveness and dedication — desirable traits in any industry.

shutterstock_319747845. Infiltrate the industry.
After you’ve learned everything you can about the field from the outside, it’s time to get an inside look at daily operations in the industry. This is something you can do even while working at your current job. Find out about part-time work in the industry, or even opportunities to volunteer. The rewards may not be financial at first, but you will reap benefits in the form of relevant work experience, career confidence, and strong industry contacts.

gumby6. Be like Gumby.
When you’re finding your way into a new career, flexibility is the watchword. In order to make a successful career switch, you may need to accept an entry-level position and a lower salary than what you’ve grown accustomed to. You may even need to relocate or commit to traveling a certain percent of the time. Analyze yourself and your current situation – if you can realistically (and cheerfully) make some concessions, you may find yourself first in line for the career of your dreams.

– Robyn Tellefsen

What do you suggest for those interested in switching career gears?

2 responses to “6 Strategies for a Successful Career Switch”

  1. You can also do #5 — Infiltrate the industry — by utilizing Twitter.com, too. Why not “follow” those in the career field that interest you to get a “Tweet-by-Tweet” glimpse into what life is like as a INSERT YOUR DREAM JOB here on a day-in, day-out basis?!

    That’s what I love about Twitter — the accessibility, openness, and ability to “see” beyond your own borders both personally and professionally!

    Editorial Director
    The CollegeBound Network

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