Jeanne Knight

Article Summary:

Strategies for a successful career change.

Successful Career Change Strategies

Are you ready for a career change? Does the thought of doing something entirely different fill you with excitement - or stop you dead in your tracks?

People contemplating a career change often do so with trepidation. They know it's time for a change... they're either burned out, bored, frustrated, or they've just put in their time and are ready for something new.

But as they consider launching a new career, questions and fears hold them back and cause them to wonder if it's truly doable. The most widely asked question, "What do I do next?" is the biggest hurdle to overcome. But other concerns such as... How do I break in?... Will I have to start over?... Do I need retraining?... can make navigating a career change overwhelming and often frustrating.

If you're ready to embark on a career change, the following strategies will help jumpstart the exciting process of identifying a career that's right for you.

Know Thyself
Potential career changers must first know who they are - their skills, values, passions, motivations, and lifestyle preferences. Having a fulfilling career means knowing where you are going, not just what you are leaving. Start by keeping a journal or taking some career assessments to help you hone in on who you are, what you're passionate about and what's most important to you in your career and your life.

Brainstorm Possibilities
People often get stuck thinking they have to come up with the "right" one career that will last them a lifetime. And the anxiety of finding that one perfect career keeps them from exploring possibilities that would have been wonderful for them. Stretch your perception of what might work for you. Explore career fields that are new to you and commit to keeping your options open.

Once you've identified three or four possible career options, research them to find out how to enter those fields and what it takes to be successful. This is an important step... nothing is worse than leaping before you look or entering a field that fits you just as poorly as your last. Get in-depth information about career choices you're considering by networking, reading and doing online research. Meet with people who are currently doing the job and ask them to describe "a day in the life" so you get a true sense of what that field is all about.

People who have successfully changed careers began by experimenting - trying out new opportunities part-time, doing weekend projects, volunteering, taking night classes, or going back to school. They found a way to "stick their toe in the water." When you experiment, you actually begin to experience your possible future and what it might look and feel like. You can then make adjustments in your course as you gain more experience and your direction becomes clearer.

Be Patient
Career transition rarely happens overnight and seldom follows a s traight line. No two transitions are the same, and a complete career change usually takes a minimum of six months to a year, often up to two years. A successful career change is often a case of three steps forward and two steps back, and if you wait until your plan is perfect, you increase the chance that nothing will happen. So begin your search with who you are and where your passions lie. Continue by experimenting and trying things out. Then set your goals, take action, build your momentum, and never give up.

Jeanne Knight is a certified Career Coach and Resume Expert who helps people navigate career transitions and offers job search and interview coaching as well as resume writing services. She is the creator of the DVD program, "10 Steps To Interviewing With Confidence." For more information, visit

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