Afraid you're on the wrong path? Or maybe outside circumstances have forced you to reconsider your career path. You're not along. Many people decide well into their career that they need to start on a new path. Burnout, instability in the economy, disinterest and changing circumstances can drive you to look elsewhere for a better position. Yet, it may seem to be an impossibly daunting task to shift from one profession to another, especially in a competitive economy. How might you manage it? Below are some helpful hints:
1. GO TO SCHOOL
One of the most useful ways to get on a new career path is to return, or go for the first time, to a college or university. A college degree remains one of the surest ways to increase opportunities and increase earning potential. If you yearn for a professional career of some type, education is essential. Yet you need not go to a traditional four year college or university in order to benefit from education. Many community colleges provide an excellent exposure to basic classes and provide a pathway to skilled professions such as nursing, computer technology and various trades. The cost of higher education may seem daunting, but many community colleges are relatively inexpensive, and grants and scholarships often are available for older first time, or returning, students. Check out the schools in your area for options and speak to a guidance counselor for more information.
2. NETWORK THROUGH FRIENDS AND RELATIVES
One of the most underutilized resources for career change is networking. This simple process consists of contacting friends, relatives and neighbors to talk to them about their career choices. Networking is not about asking for a job, but gathering information; explaining your career goals and asking for advice. You will be surprised how willing most people are to discuss their jobs and their feelings about the work they do. It is also a good idea to expand your networking circle to members of the profession you are considering. If you are interested in real estate, call a local realtor and ask for a half hour to talk about the business. You will find that many strangers, if you make it clear you are not going to push for a position, are happy to share their wisdom with you. Not only will networking help you clarify your career goals, but it is quite possible that one of those people you interview may be looking for someone just like you, and will appreciate your initiative.
3. CLIMB THE LADDER
At first, it may not seem that staying put in the same company is a way to change your profession but it can be. Everyone has heard the stories about the mail clerk who ended up running the company. If you're having trouble finding a new job, look for opportunities to advance within your present company. Doing this can open doors for you down the road. Be willing to take on new responsibilities and show interest in how other divisions or sections of the business work. Watch for openings to happen and make your interest known. Many companies prefer to hire from within because the candidates are people who are known to be trustworthy. If you want to move up, take on whatever task comes your way, and do your very best. In time, you may well go from the shop floor to the office.
4. START YOUR OWN BUSINESS
When all else fails, you can step out on your own and become the boss of your own business. Of course, starting a business can be expensive, exhausting and uncertain. Yet the rewards can be fulfilling. Perhaps you have a hobby or a skill that is not part of your present career, but at which you can excel. Figure out if there is a market for it, and look to see how you can make such abilities the basis for a new career. At first, your new venture might have to be part time, but diligence and perseverance could make it flourish into a full time opportunity. In the end, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you built something from scratch, and that you have made the transition from employee to owner.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Levine Design