Changing Careers

If ever there was a good time to be changing careers it might be now. In the current economy many of us are facing the reality of looking for new work.

Maybe you've just decided enough is enough and you need to make a change. Wonderful! This could change your life.

Planning and support are essential ingredients for changing careers, and it all starts with a thought that something else is possible. On this page you get all the support you need for every essential step:

  • Planning for career changes
  • Choosing the right career
  • Creating work/life balance
  • Career testing
  • Writing a career change resume
  • Writing a cover letter
  • Successful job interviews
  • Negotiating your salary

If you're wondering where to start this could be a brilliant time to take a lesson from Who Moved My Cheese and motivate yourself to take some action. Any action. Doing something different will start you moving in a new direction - and that's always better than just hoping things will change.

By the way, Who Moved My Cheese is an excellent book. It easy and fun to read and has lessons about dealing with change in life that you need to know.

Changing your career is not the same as getting a new job. When you change jobs you use a similar set of skills and experience and export these to a new employer.

People considering career changes make a decision to do something totally different. Usually you are able to use existing skills and knowledge - but you may need to learn new things or study further.

The good news is that changing careers is possible. I know because I've done it, and I've helped others to do it too.

It needs much more planning and thought. Most importantly you must know why you want a career change and what is motivating you to do this. Knowing this keeps you clearly focused on the goal and inspires you during difficult times.

Changing careers doesn't happen overnight. You may have to study further to get a new qualification. Or you may need to gain additional experience. So you need to be patient and plan carefully.

If you are thinking of changing careers there's a great book you should get called What Color is Your Parachute. It'll help you consider all your options. It's revised every year and provides up to date information about strategies for finding work.

There are two crucial questions to ask and answer if you're thinking of changing careers. Which new career do you intend following, and when, if ever, to take action? You must answer both.

So where do I begin? I'm glad you asked!

Let's start with choosing a career.

If you're not sure which direction to follow then you really need to give some thought to choosing a career. Start by identifying your options, getting more information about careers, and end up with a shortlist of possible careers that interest you.

When you've created a shortlist of careers you can focus on finding the right career for you. What is the right career? Easy! It's where there is a great match between yourself and the requirements of the career.

A Personal Assessment

Socrates is credited with coining the phrase "Know thyself". And this is where you start. True career happiness comes from taking the time to build self-knowledge. Changing careers and finding the right career starts with discovering your values, skills, abilities and personality.

Use this great 4-part assessment created to help you learn more about yourself (and apply this knowledge to aspects of your life, such as finding a career).

The four parts of your Personal Assessment are:

  1. Your Basic Life Skills
  2. The Abilities and Aptitude test
  3. Discover your Values
  4. Your Personality profiles

Start with the Basic Life Skills assessment and I'll guide you through the other assessments. It's worth taking the time to do this because you can use your self-knowledge to help you when you write your resume, complete job applications and prepare for job interviews.

Work Life Balance

Of course, for some of us changing careers is about choosing new priorities and we're looking for a degree of work life balance that we've not had before. Achieving work life balance helps to manage stress levels and involves planning and choosing priorities.

Career Testing

Career testing can help you make decisions about changing careers. Good career testing does not only focus on recommending a career but will also tell you about your personality type, values and what motivates you.

A career assessment is an excellent way to help you make the right choices about your career.

But you must make sure that the test you take is going to give you the results you need.

Get essential career test information and test recommendations
before you take any test you find on the internet.

At the end of the day you will need to take all the information you gather and make a final decision for yourself about the career changes you wish to make.

OK, so you've researched different careers, you've matched your values and motivations to these, and have a good idea of the career changes you'd like to make. What's next?

Your Resume

Churchill famously said "Give us the tools and we shall finish the job". Your resume, or Curriculum Vitae (CV), is one of the most important tools you'll need to finish this job.

Remember, the reason you send a resume is to get an interview, not to get a job.

It is a challenge to write a resume that will convince a potential employer they need you, especially when you are changing careers. But don't stop now! Focus on what you will GAIN by changing careers and finish this job.

Read and implement these resume writing tips to attract attention to your CV and make sure it stands out from all the others received.

Learning how to write a resume for career changes is essential. It's also a good idea to brush up on important general elements of writing a resume.

Use the self-knowledge work you did earlier to generate the skills and experience that you want to emphasise in your resume.

Keep your new career in mind. Remember to structure your skills and experience for the new career and not according to the needs of your current or previous job.

Is your resume complete? Would you hire yourself in an instant? Of course you would!

How do you get someone else to pay attention to it? Of course! Paint a large red arrow pointing at it and surround it in lights! Well, not quite. But you do need to create interest in your resume.

Write A Cover Letter

Always include a cover letter with your application to create interest in your resume. Then your resume does its job and gets you an interview.

Your cover letter will be seen first and it's here that you start to make a good impression.

Convince the person reading the letter to turn to your resume by using a simple but powerful four paragraph structure.

Don't use the same letter for all your applications. Target your letter to the specific job and get attention by showing that you understand what they need. You can be assertive and direct attention to the unique strengths you will add to the business.

Follow these professional tips for attention-grabbing cover letters that will put you on the shortlist for interviews.

If you are changing careers then writing a great cover letter follows the same important principles. However, a cover letter for changing careers should be carefully thought out and follow some additional guidelines.

"Ask not what your employer can do for you - ask what you can do for your employer"(apologies to President Kennedy).

Your career change cover letter should emphasise what you can do for the company rather than how they can help you realise your dreams and make your career changes.

Emphasising your relevant skills and experience is essential in a cover letter if you are changing careers.

Sending job applications by email
Are you planning to send your cover letter and resume by email?
Make sure your files are received and read in the way you intended.

The Job Interview

When your cover letter and resume do their job you will be contacted and asked to an interview. It's always important to prepare for the job interview.

Anticipating and preparing for the interview will help you feel more at ease, especially when you are changing careers. If you are comfortable the interview will definitely go well.

What else can you do to prepare for the interview? Here are some tips:

  • Prepare for questions you'll be asked.
  • Research the company and the job you are applying for.
  • Think of some questions you can ask in the interview.
  • Make sure you know where to go and how you are going to get to the interview. Don't be on time. Arrive early!
  • Dress neatly and professionally.

Negotiating Your salary

Do you talk about salary in the job interview? No way. Not unless the interviewer asks about it. When you are offered the job you are in a much stronger position to negotiate your salary.

If the interviewer raises the subject you need to be prepared and know how to deal with this to your advantage. Salary negotiation is a skill and there are a number of ideas that will help you to do this effectively.

You might be prepared to accept a lower salary if you are changing careers but there's really no reason why you should have to do this.

Changing careers later in life does not need to be difficult. Yes, there may be more things to think about and plan for, but a midlife career change does not need to be stressful. Especially if you are willing to plan carefully.

Pick up a current copy of What Color is Your Parachute? to help with your planning for changing careers.

All you need to know about finding the RIGHT career

Essential career test advice and recommendations

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