The Most Important Steps to a Successful Career Change

People seek to change careers for a lot of different reasons. Some maybe interested in a new career because their career goals have changed or may have discovered new interests or may wish to have more money with a flexible time.

It’s crucial that you take time to evaluate your present situation and explore career options to choose a more satisfying job. And because we spend so much of our lives at work, it’s very important that we must get it right.

With that in mind, here are some of the most important questions to ask yourself when considering a career change.

  1. Do you have problems with your existing job? Can you fix it?

When considering a career change, it’s great to try to fix current problems with your existing job instead of moving into an unknown new one. Are you dissatisfied with the work itself or it has something to do with your boss or are you just being attacked by boredom? Are there some ways you could do to deal with that? Could you ask for promotion to keep you engaged or a pay raise to increase your feeling of being valued? It’s good to ask yourself these questions first before you decide to make a career change.

  1. Do you have the right skills needed to succeed in a new career?

Some of your skills might from your current job might be transferable but there are some skills you need to gain in order to succeed in a new career.

Are you ready to start as a trainee to gain relevant experience? Can you support yourself in terms of finance if your salary decreases?

  1. Do you have a development plan in place?

If you’re going ahead with a career change, it’s important to develop a development plan that helps you understand exactly what you need to do at every stage of your career change journey. By setting clear career goals and the steps you need to do to get where you want to be, you can easily navigate yourself towards your ultimate goal.

Review these tips in making the move in changing careers.

  • Analyze your current job satisfaction. Keep a note of your daily reactions and feelings on your job situation. What are the things you like and dislike? Is your dissatisfaction related to your work, company culture or the people you work with?
  • Determine your interests and skills. Review past experiences and identify preferred activities and roles.
  • Contemplate alternative careers. Research for career options and brainstorm for ideas for career alternatives.
  • Check out career options. Evaluate several fields to identify few targets for a research. You can find a lot of information online by simple Googling jobs of your interest.
  • Find contacts. Search out as much as you can about those fields and reach out to personal contacts in those fields. A good source of contacts for informational interviewers is your alumni career network.
  • Try it out. Look for freelance activities related to your target field to test your interest.
  • Develop new skills. Look for new ways to upgrade your skills in your current job which would open the way for a change. If your company offers trainings, sign up and attend for many classes as you can.
  • Consider alternative roles in your industry. Consider a new job in the same industry which would expand the knowledge on the industry you already have.

When you’re ready to start applying for jobs in your new industry, make sure to have a resume and a cover letter that reflects your aspirations and are based on your new goals.

Decision Mistakes To Avoid When Changing Careers

One of the most important decisions in your life you will have to make besides buying a house and getting married is choosing your career. Most people choose their career before graduating from high school or while they are attending college. Whether you stay with the same career is another story. Unlike our parents, who stayed with the same job until they retired, it is more than likely that people today will make one, if not more, career changes during their life time.

You may be at a point in your life that you need, or would like, to make a career change. If this is you, make sure you use wise career change decision making in order to avoid huge mistakes before committing to a new job. Here are some mistakes that you can avoid before making that career change.

Make sure you have a plan. Landing a great job often takes time. Do a self-assessment so you know what job would be good for you. Include a scheme in your plan that involves research, finances, training, education, and especially time. You don’t want to rush, taking the first job could get you right back into the same position as the job you’re already in.

Do you Love-Hate your job? Is it your job you really hate or your career? Don’t make the mistake of changing careers when you really hate your job, but love your career. Sometimes a change in jobs in the same field is all that is necessary to fix the problem. If you’re sure you want to change careers, start a plan before you quit your job.

Is Money a Factor? If you’re thinking about a career change because you can make more money in a different career, think again, you know the saying “money can’t buy you happiness” well, this is very true. Changing careers just to make more money can leave you in another job that you hate just as much as your old one.

Feeling the Pressure. Are your friends and family trying to talk you into changing your career because they don’t feel it’s the right job for you? You know what you want in a career; changing careers for the wrong reason can lead to resentment and another career that you’re not happy with.

Don’t do it alone. If you’ve found a career that you would like to pursue, don’t go into it blindly. You should create contacts that you can acquire information from about your new career. These contacts can lead you to job openings, associations in your field, or just be a mentor, giving you tips, to help you get started in your new career.

Skills and Education. Be sure to brush up on any new skills you might need to make a career change. Not knowing what you’re doing can be a big mistake. It could cost you that new job that you want.

When Professional Development & Middle-Adulthood Collide – Relaunching Your Career

Most people launch their careers in their twenties and thirties with the focus of career development mainly on early adulthood. And what is the ambition at this age? For many, it’s getting to “the top” as soon as possible. Some people achieve this goal in their early forties with twenty to thirty career years still ahead of them. Others perhaps do not use goals in their careers; their careers just evolve!

Nonetheless, middle-adulthood, those years from forty to sixty, are often overlooked in career plans. Some of the thinking goes like this: If I make it to the top by forty I won’t have to worry about anything else. But what do you do when you make it to “the top” and still have all those years ahead of you? To this writer, it is a prescription for mid-life crisis!

Consider this: In our Twenties we go through the trial and exploratory stage of career development where we search for direction. In our Thirties we are in the transitional stage, synonymous with movement and advancement. The Forties and beyond are considered the stability stage; ongoing with a sound foundation. The irony is that as we move into our forties (middle adulthood) most of us have not done it all. Some of us are forced to restart our careers due to downsizing, soft industries, red flags in our company, being passed-over etc. In some cases we need to get away from a not-so-perfect situation or jump-start a stalled career. In others, we are searching for personal self-development or for a second career or to strike out on our own.

For these reasons and any number of others, most professionals will experience changes, or even upheaval, in mid-life. The answer in not “buy a Harley”. According to the Department of Labor and the Job Search Handbook, most professionals will undergo seven to eleven job changes and two to three career changes over the course of their careers. Not only is the market demand for selected skills and career fields changing, but so are our roles as professionals and the way we manage our careers. Thus, career planning is more important than ever.

If you are in middle-adulthood and wondering what to do for the remainder of your career (and assuming that early retirement is not in the picture), don’t panic. I have a simple three-step process that I have found in my many years in career marketing to make all the difference in the world.

First, you need to get to know yourself and what it is that you enjoy most; what it is that when doing it does not feel like work. Dr. Charles Ehl, former Dean of Continuing Education at Stonehill College in Easton, MA: “Regardless of past industry or direction, people can be empowered to control their professional destiny through an approach that fuses self-needs analysis, good targeted research and tactical planning in the use of certain techniques beginning with getting to know themselves.” By that Dr. Ehl means understanding for themselves-about themselves: What it is that they really value; what they feel they stand for; what it is that drives them to do what they do; what it is they enjoy doing most-are most passionate about; and finally, although it does not necessarily end with this, where they are looking to take themselves, why, and with what end in mind. Through this exercise, the notion of your optimal market will emerge. For example: If you find that your interest in creative writing is so great, you find you are happiest when you are engaged in it, perhaps a move into editing or speech writing, or a move into the publishing industry at large; or developing newsletters for an association, entering the advertising arena or other creative industries may be best.

Second, you need to figure out how to attract your audience – contacts that can help you move towards your goals. Do what politicians do: Get outside impartial viewpoints to provide you with some idea of how others (your audience) may perceive you, and learn about them-do your research. Developing a networking communication strategy and your “talking points” with this knowledge and the fresh ideas about you that others can provide; and with a focus on the needs of your target audience, you will separate yourself from the average person and ultimately paint your own landscape.

Finally, once you have your audience’s attention, you will need to talk about yourself. Don Ventura, R.L. Stevens & Associates, a private career marketing firm, suggests using a Story Technique. Ventura says, “Compelling stories which incorporate specific examples of your experiences, achievements and contributions that relate to your market and put you in the right light will be remembered well after the interview is over.” People remember your stories more than duties and responsibilities. Here are three concepts that will help you when developing a communication strategy and talking about yourself:

Success Concepts

You must have a purpose; a personal philosophy. In today’s uniquely competitive job market the lifespan in an executive position may only be 5 years in some cases (clearly, not as Evergreen as it once was). Jim Sabin, a CIO with The Shaw Group, Inc. the leading Global provider of services to the power industry: “With executive positions in IT, for example, as interchangeable as mouse pads, the need for a sharply honed purpose for ‘Plan A’ and stratagem for ‘B and C’ for that matter, has never been more apparent.” Purpose could be what it is you feel is important in running a business or what you feel is the business of business; it must be carefully thought out and presented. Think in terms of a one-page presentation to the company directors. You will need to come up with as many success concepts as you can from your past professional experiences and when you begin to assemble your thoughts for your presentation, try to include as many of them as possible. Here are some relevant themes to consider:

1. Personal mission statement

2. Core values; core strengths

3. Driving factors; motivations

4. Level of integrity

5. Value placed on quality

6. Visioning, strategy and facilitating

7. Performance standards you hold for yourself

8. Professional goals

9. Leadership philosophy; management style

10. Communications capabilities

11. Practiced client/public relations

12. Leveraging skill-sets

13. Creative expertise

14. Business knowledge; market intelligence

15. Managing resources

Trigger Concepts

The easiest way to attract people’s attention and to help them get to know you is to adopt simple words and phrases which will have an immediate “trigger” effect, such as:

1. Strategic partnering

2. Impact presentations

3. Bringing ideas / vision to utility

4. Bringing products to markets

5. Entrepreneurial talent

6. Driving revenues; growing profits

7. Structuring and restructuring

8. Building responsible teams

9. Managing talent

10. Start up; turnaround; re-emergence

11. Enterprise development

12. Crafting solutions

13. Staying ahead of the curve

14. Managing change-driven environments

15. Driving “large dollar” projects

Philosophy, along with Success and Trigger Concepts is a winning combination. It provides you with control and sets the tone for all future discussions and posturing for negotiations.

Story Technique

One of the most important tenets in product marketing applies here in career planning: Differentiate your product from others in the marketplace.

John Folcarelli, Labor Attorney and Human Resource Manager for Laidlaw Education: “Most people involved in planning their career tend to fly by the seat of their pants rather than exercise control over the process as it unfolds. For instance, in the interview, instead of simply reacting to questions imposed by the interviewer, the job candidate can and should attempt to take on more responsibility for influencing the direction of the interview.” The Story Technique does just that. It is a method for bridging your qualifications and past successes to the needs the targeted company. It is also a great example of how to use your Success and Trigger Concepts in presenting the right image and distinguishing you from the competition.

Your stories should tell about actions that you took to bring about positive changes. Story techniques cover the “before”, the “action” and the “after.” You can begin by first explaining what had existed that required your attention: Situation. Next consider how this new challenge may benefit the enterprise and you: Opportunity. Briefly describe what you did: Action. Lastly, describe the outcome and its benefits to you and the company: Results. Here are two examples of the use of the story technique, or, “S.O.A.R”:

(S) I was selected by top management to lead a corporation into the US market and (O) recognized an opportunity to have a big impact on operations at a wholly owned subsidiary.(A) Over a two-year period I developed a cohesive staff which went on to develop 1.5 million square feet of office properties at $350 million which (R) produced over $25 million of net operating income and $4 million net cash flow for the corporation resulting a promotion to President of the wholly owned subsidiary.

(S) The ownership of a physical therapy and sports medicine company recruited me to (O) lead, grow and concurrently stabilize a $4.7 million health systems company staffed by 85 professionals. (A) I developed and executed all business plans and opened new markets in industrial and corporate health promotions, (R) positioning the company for its very profitable $6.6 million sale, $2.5 million more than the ownership had anticipated.

A strong, well-articulated Philosophy, sound Success and Trigger Concepts, and persuasive examples of your successes using the Story Techniques (SOAR) are essential for securing a quality position.

More Than Just a Task

There is certainly more to consider beyond these concepts. Nonetheless, the purpose here is to stimulate your thinking if your situation calls for a serious look at your career. There are times when a simple career adjustment may be called for and other times when a complete change is necessary. In any case, restarting your career in middle-adulthood can be one of the most rewarding experiences in your life. Approach it with enthusiasm, dedication and confidence (but for goodness sake, don’t forget “technique”).

Business Education – Start your Career Planning Early

Starting out in a business career is easy. Start early, and keep your eyes and ears open. How about the lemonade stand when you were 11? Or cutting lawns when you were 14? Or the baby sitting jobs? All are basic training for a career in business.

How about that first “real” job when 16 or 17? What did you learn about business? How about customer service? Did you show an initiative? What did you do with your earnings? Was some saved and invested in your future? Did you read the business section in the newspaper? How about the Wall Street Journal when you went to the library?

Business career training comes in many sizes and packages. All help you prepare in becoming a business entrepreneur someday. It outlines different subjects and training involving corporate finance, marketing and business law. In the course of training, you begin to get a more detailed idea of what you want to do in considering a business career.

There are a number of specialized fields in almost every business. Finance, marketing, operations, technology, and sales all lead to different career paths. This is the main decision you need to make before your business career training starts. Another decision you need to consider is the aspect of business that you want to get specialized in. Let’s go over the benefits and tips of taking up a program in business career training.

1) Business Concepts are life concepts as well: The business concept is reflected around you to include the very basic ideas. It is being applied to almost any aspects of our life and work. General problem solving skills and working well with others is the most useful learning you can acquire from business career training.

2) Having better credentials mean more money and other options: If you have an advanced business career training degree, you are allowed more freedom in selecting your career path. Most of the top companies in the world prefer to interview and hire graduates of business-related courses and degrees. And offered salaries are definitely higher. With a degree in business career training, many job opportunities are open for you.

3) Find the ideal advanced education: Finding for the ideal business career training is a necessity. A good school that will fit your personality and possess the things that gets you interested aside from the business career training programs they offer. One reason for this is for you to balance career development with your lifestyle and exterior interests.

4) Interaction with different kinds of people: In a business career training program, you are most likely to experience interacting with different kinds of people related to your program’s activities. With this interaction, you need to understand the interpersonal and individual motives and behaviors of every person performing in business activity. You need to have the ability to read the personality of a person as well as the dynamics of the group.

5) Expand your business rolodex: In taking up your business career training program, you need to learn the art of expanding your business network. Through your business network, you’ll have a precise introduction and established system that is essential in setting up your business career.

The above listed benefits and ideas are just the beginning. Plan on a life long learning program. You’ll find as your career develops additional options will appear, keep and open mind and you may be surprised and delighted to where it may lead.

7 Life Changing Benefits of Setting Career Goals

Has your career stalled? Don’t have a clear view of your future? You could do your job in your sleep? Maybe you should develop a written career plan with clearly set out goals. If you have a career plan, with a focus of something to aim for, something to work for, a method to measure progress you’ll discover a variety of positive results.

There is one thing you must do before starting your journey. Write down your career goals. It can’t be emphasized to much that your career goals must be written. They must be measurable and reachable. Don’t try to jump the Grand Canyon in one leap. Keep the career goals in a series of smaller steps. If you plan on reading, for example, 120 books in the next five years, that’s two a month. Make your objective in your career plan to read two books a month. This is much easier to achieve and keep score.

Don’t forget to add a fitness component to the career plan. How is your fitness level? See your doctor and then get started. A physically fit person, knows their increased concentration and endurance will allow them to perform their job at a higher level. Don’t neglect this aspect of your career plan.

Also, when you draft up your career goals, concentrate on the top three to five objectives. Write them on a card. Put a copy in your check book, on the visor in your car. Write them out on your laptop or computer screen saver so every time you turn on your computer you read the career goals.

Setting career goals can provide you with the following series of benefits all which will help you grow and grow your career.

1. Career goals will give you a focus, a picture of where you want to be. With this picture firmly set in your mind, you will find ways to move toward your objective.

2. Making progress toward a goal can be a big motivator. As you reach each milestone it provides you with the motivation to keep going, to keep improving.

3. Success comes to those who set career goals. Once you begin working toward a written goal you have set the picture of the planned result in your mind and you will set aside the time and put forth the effort to reach the goal.

4. Your confidence will increase as each step in your career goal is reached. Building on this confidence will give you the effort required to work at and reach the next in your career plan.

5. Each time we set a goal and reach it we grow as a person. This allows us to build on our knowledge and experience base to reach farther.

6. Reaching career and personal goals will develop one of the most important attitudes that measure success. As you become more confident, you will become more positive. You view of the future will be more assured and this confident attitude will attract more positive people to you and more positive things will happen to you.

7. With one of your career goals to improve your level of fitness, as you become more fit, your enjoyment of the world around you will grow. Your ability, on occasion, to work longer hours will not sap your endurance. You’ll be able to do things in your off hours that will add spice to your life. You’ll have more balance in your life and this will lead to even more interesting adventures.

So the benefits of setting career goals are they give you a focus, they generate motivation, they develop success, they increase confidence, they allow you to grow as a person, they build a positive attitude and they bring a balance and enjoyment into your life.

Now is the best time to start your career planning. With written career goals you too will begin experiencing these seven important life long benefits.

Singles and Career Transition – Advice From Those Who Did it and Persevered

As a career coach who helps people navigate their career transition with ease, I tend to hear one point of view more than any other — that it’s hard to make a change when you don’t have a partner to support you financially and otherwise. For this reason, I thought it would be worth seeking genuine feedback from real people who made it happen for their careers without a partner to support them.

Below you’ll find some very insightful answers to some questions I posed on singles in career transition. I hope they offer hope and inspiration to single people like you, who feel ready to leap out of their comfort zone and embark on an exciting new career path, but may need a final few words of encouragement!

What advice can you share for singles who are stepping out of their comfort zone and pursuing a career that truly makes them happy?

” When you are single you can take greater risks than if you have a spouse and kids depending on you. For that reason alone it is easier to make the big career moves as a single person rather than a married one.”

– Sheilah Etheridge, Owner, SME Management: Management and Accounting Consultant
Anchorage, Alaska

Tips from Hallie: There are pros and cons to being partnered during career transition and to being single. Your job is to capitalize on the positive aspects of your situation. Don’t let being single hold you back. There’s no reason it should. Sheilah is right on, as a single person you can choose where you want to go and what you want to do – and you can do it right now. Being single offers an enormous amount of freedom to take bigger risks like changing your location, or completely changing your career path.

“Follow your dreams, literally. What do you day dream about doing? What comes to you while driving or out on a walk in nature? What do you wake up thinking about doing? What comes in when the rational mind is turned OFF is the dream that could be your reality. Follow it with a gang of people you Love. After all… life is Love, and you are never solo.”

– Viveca Stone-Berry, Author of The Fatigue Be Gone! Jumpstart e-Guide; Founder, The Get Ready For Love! Show – GetReadyForLove.com

Tips from Hallie: One of the things single people feel will make their career transition harder is the fact that they’re alone. Viveca reminds us that this doesn’t have to be true. You have a support network all around you of friends, family, fellow career seekers and career coaches like me. The key is to tap into that network and ask them to help you during your career transition. Identify what you need the most help with whether it’s staying motivated, managing your time while you search for a job after hours, or networking in the field you’re interested in pursuing. Then ask for what you need. Request their support and help, don’t be shy. Friends and family will be happy to support you in pursuing your passion.

“If you’re a single career woman, I’d say now’s the time to take the risks. When you are single, *you* call the shots on your own life. At the end of the day, it’s all about choices and what sacrifices you are choosing to make. This may include forgoing one career for another, or reshuffling things so that you can have BOTH careers, or that old chestnut: deciding that your work is more important than getting married and having kids and the white picket fence.”

– Regina Yau, Associate Director at RUSS Consulting

Tips from Hallie: There really is no perfect time to make a career transition. You need to decide when it’s the right time for you to make the move. You can always come up with reasons not to so I encourage you to set those aside and take the plunge. This doesn’t mean be irrational about it, but don’t let your fears stand in your way. As a single person, you are the only one calling the shots so in some ways making the change can be easier when you’re single. As Regina says, it’s all about choices and what sacrifices you are willing to make. There may be sacrifices, but I promise they are worth it. I always say: small sacrifices, big rewards.

The Final Word on Singles in Career Change…

Bottom line, there is no absolutely perfect time to make a career change. Both situations (single or not) have their pros and cons. It is what it is and you have capitalize on the pros and learn to manage the cons. What you need to do as a career seeker is make the best of the situation you have, create a plan and be smart about the change – but also take a leap of faith. There’s always a risk in career change, you just have to minimize those risks and seek out the support needed to keep you motivated. With patience and experience, you will learn to overcome the obstacles in your way.