Posted on May 7, 2012 @[email protected]

Changing Careers

There seems to exist some sort of a disconnect in employment numbers.  Unemployment remains fairly high yet some companies cannot seem to find the employees they are looking for.  This is because there is not currently a very high demand for some professionals, such as real-estate agents and administrative assistants, yet there are a lot of individuals with these skill sets, but there is a high demand for computer engineers and social media strategists, yet there are very few individuals with these skill sets.  In other words there is a skills mismatch between supply and demand.

So, how can you as a job hunter take advantage of this disconnect?  Well you may want to consider changing careers.  This is of course a drastic step.  You really need to reflect on a few things before making this decision.  Is your skill set really becoming obsolete and out of date or is this just a part of a cycle?  Certain specialists like real estate agents and construction managers will eventually become in demand again once the housing market picks up.  Other specialists may have become unnecessary thanks to technological advancement.

Moreover, do you consider your career to be a real calling in your life or did you just stumble upon it by process of elimination/ at random.  If you’re not all that passionate about your current career consider making a switch, but if you really love what you do it may not be worth giving it up altogether just yet.

You’ll also need to consider where you are in your career and how much flexibility you can afford.  If you’ve been in a certain industry for decades and have a lot of industry specific skills you’re not going to be able to find a job in another industry that pays as well as ones you may have had in the past.  However if you can afford to take a cut in the amount of pay or an increase in the number of hours you work you may be able to switch career paths.  That doesn’t mean you won’t eventually reach or exceed previous levels of pay but it may take some time and training.

If you are in the middle of your career it can be really risky to make a big career switch.  It is really much easier for people who are beginning their careers to dedicate the amount of time and money necessary to developing an entirely new set of skills.  If you are in the middle of your career you could consider instead changing industries.  If you are an accountant for a construction company perhaps you could consider doing accounting for a retail company or something that interests you a little more.  That way you are capitalizing on your pre-existing skills while still introducing a bit of change.

As you begin to explore another field it is important that you familiarize yourself with its distinct vocabulary.  If you can talk the talk you may be met with less resistance from recruiters and hiring managers.  A good way to do this is to read industry or career specific blogs.

You should try to explore the possibilities before making the switch.  Read the business sections of newspapers to try and pin down what skills are really in demand.  Think about what skills you have that you can transfer fairly easily and what skills you will need to develop.  Try and find a career that doesn’t require you go back to school as that can be costly and risky.

Once you’ve sort of decided where you want to be try and find a part time job or internship.  See if you really like it while gaining some resume-worthy experience.  Once you’ve put in the time and research then you can take the plunge.

Robert Boroff Executive Profile Managing Director Reaction Search International

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