Statistics from the US Department of Labor indicate that those entering the workforce now will likely change careers at least five times in the course of their working lives.  Not just change jobs, but change careers. Some will discover that they are not cut out for the careers they planned, or they have burned out from careers they have worked in for a while.  Others will discover they don’t really like the work they’ve been doing.  For some, the economic climate will force unexpected career choices they couldn’t even envision for themselves.  Whatever the reason or cause, transitioning from one career to another can be a scary process.
When you’ve been doing the same kind of work for a number of years, the skills and experience that you’ve built up may not seem immediately applicable to another career. But when you know you need to make a career change – for whatever reason – you need to put all your assets to work, and you need to look at those strengths from a different perspective.  But before you proceed, you need to make a plan that is both logical and practical.  A transition may not necessarily take place over night, and you need to make sure you’re ready for interruptions to your regular routine. This may include planning far in advance, to ensure you have the money, time and familial cooperation that may be required.
Ask yourself:  In what other industries will your work skills translate?  Do you have additional skills or knowledge areas developed outside the office from hobbies or special interests that will translate to a new profession?  What about those experiences can you transfer into that next career?
Start by looking at where your strengths may be applicable, and assessing the different places in your life where you’ve felt good about what you were doing, and felt satisfaction from the work.  Are there any places where these things overlap?  If so, you may be able to more easily clue in to where those attributes can be applied.  Also think about the kinds of work that you didn’t pursue in the past that you thought you might enjoy.
An important part of the transition process that you can’t ignore is your network.  Who among your associates has experience doing things you might like to do?  Who among your network has other contacts that can direct you to more information and personal introductions?  You will want to set up a series of informational interviews with people who can answer questions about the kinds of work that interests you.  Remember to ask people in your network, “Do you know someone?” And, “Do you know someone who knows someone?” to get the information you’ll need to achieve your goals.  Ask lots of questions to determine the suitability of your skills and experiences to a new endeavor.  Will your past efforts supplement future pursuits?  Will you need to take any classes, get certifications or do other prerequisite tasks before moving forward?
Keep a couple of things in mind: Your next career may not be as lucrative as what you’ve done in the past.  In fact, it may be dramatically less so, and there’s nothing wrong with that!  Finding personal satisfaction in your work is a different kind of motivation than monetary gain.  You may also find that you’re putting more hours, but it may not matter if you’re enjoying the work you’re doing.
Whether your next career lands you in another job working for someone else, or you pursue self-employment and entrepreneurship, the transition will be a challenge that necessitates a high level of introspection, self-assessment, an open mind, risk and faith.  And in all honesty, you will face moments of insecurity and trepidation!  But if you are thorough in your research, and honest with yourself about your abilities and interests, your transition can become the best opportunity of your lifetime.  Are you ready to take that first step?  I’m rooting for you!
And for more tips and ideas for those in transition and those staying on the job please search this blog and visit: