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Starting Your Career Transition

By Randi Bussin

If you are dissatisfied with your current career direction, if you believe your current career no longer reflects your skills and achievements, or if you find your work boring and unfulfilling, perhaps it's time to consider a career change.

Transitioning to a new career can be a monumental decision, one that you can't take lightly, and one that will take time, energy, and patience. And, one that brings many questions, such as: How do I decide to embark on a new career? How do I support myself during this transition? And, where do I start?

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It's important that you determine what you want to do before you start doing it. All too often individuals seek change before they know what they really want to do with their lives. So, one of the best ways to start your transition is to focus on a passion of yours.

Here are 10 important career tips that will help you discover more about yourself, allow your passions to guide you down a new career path, and help you take those first steps on your way to a new and more rewarding career.

  1. Start with free association.
    Take a piece of blank paper or open a blank word document and write out everything you enjoy in life. Don't leave anything out. Even things like walking the dog or cooking dinner should go on the list, if you enjoy them.

    Then (you guessed it) take another piece of paper or start a new document, and write out everything you don't enjoy doing. Do you see a pattern or cluster on each of these lists?

    Ultimately, your ideal job will incorporate some version of the activities you enjoy while minimizing the activities you dislike. Hang onto these sheets, as they will help you along the way.
  2. Be your own detective.
    Research careers that incorporate activities you enjoy in life, even if they seem like a stretch at first. Read up on these careers, talk to people who are working in the field, and, if possible, tag along for a day with someone who successfully pursues the career path in which you're interested.
  3. Build a vision of your life.
    Based on your detective work, start to think about how your values and goals might line up with a particular career. For example, if your vision includes a more balanced lifestyle, you might have a goal of transitioning into a career that supports a healthy lifestyle while incorporating the activities you enjoy most in life.

    Write your vision and goals down and keep them with your free association lists. Think of these as your planning documents - they will sustain you during your journey. After you've developed a vision for your life and researched the type of career you're interested in pursuing, it's time to look at your next steps.
  4. Focus on skills and education.
    If you look carefully at your work history, you'll find experience that is transferable to your new career. As you review these skills, take stock of what you need to learn in order to excel in your new career. Consider taking classes or attending conferences in your new field to refresh and build on these skills.
  5. Join professional associations.
    This is a great way to stay current about the trends in your potential new industry, and network with your future colleagues. In fact, professional associations quite often sponsor conferences, networking sessions, and professional development/educational opportunities for their members. In many cases, online services also will accompany your membership privileges. Take advantage of these services, as they will help keep you on track.
  6. Build a relationship with a mentor.
    Mentors play a unique role in your career development well beyond the transition leg of your journey. In fact, as you network you can begin to develop several mentoring relationships. Spread yourself around, because each mentor will bring a unique perspective to your new career.
  7. Try coaching to your potential.
    Working with a professional career transition coach provides a structure to your journey as well as ongoing feedback about the choices and decisions you'll make along the way.
  8. Get your foot in the door.
    If possible, get involved in volunteer or part-time employment in your new field. Small opportunities build experience and provide networking and mentoring opportunities.
  9. Be patient and realistic.
    Patience and realistic expectations are the keys to successfully embarking on your career change. You undoubtedly will encounter obstacles and challenges along the way. Everybody does. However, if you're committed to making a career change and continue to seek assistance, your persistence will pay off.
  10. Analyze your finances.
    Career change can take longer than a normal job search. For that reason, you'll need to get a handle on what you are earning and spending, and how flexible you can be. Perhaps, you can cut your expenses somewhat, allowing you the financial freedom to explore careers you had thought of, or invest in professional training for your new field.

These 10 steps show that career transition and career exploration are not like speeding down a superhighway to success.

Career transition is more like a circuitous road with peaks and valleys located along the way. However, if you follow these steps, you are likely to find the right route for you on your road to a successful career transition and rewarding new opportunities.


About the author...

Job-Hunt's Career Change Expert, Randi Bussin, founder and president of Aspire!, is a career coach and counselor with more than 25 years of business, entrepreneurial, and career counseling experience, including DISC assessments. Randi has experienced several major career transitions (from corporate to small business owner to career counselor to coach) and personally understands the effort and commitment involved. She has appeared on public television's "Job Doctor," and is a frequent contributor to Bridgestar's Leadership Matters newsletter, The Ladders job-search Web site (www.theladders.com) and her own blog, which offers advice on career transition, job search, and labor market trends. Follow Randi on Twitter @Aspire4Success.


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