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Career Changes: Six Steps to Success

By William Moore

Imagine how dull life would be if it weren't for change. Life is all about changes: in our relationships, our selves and our professions. There will come a point along your career path when you'll be facing a change. When it happens, grab onto the opportunity and run with it!

Career change is a natural life progression. Many studies show that average job seekers will change careers several times over the course of his or her lifetime. Facing career changes can be unsettling, but following a simple six-step plan can keep you grounded and on the path to success.

Step One: Assess your likes and dislikes.

Determine what you really love to do, and what you could do without. Many people change careers because of the elements they dislike; for example, their organization, their boss or even the type of work they do. It's important to identifying exactly what it is you're unhappy about. You may think it's your boss, when it's actually the work itself.

On the other hand, you can't possibly know what career path to take unless you examine your likes. What do you really love to do? What's the best thing about your profession? What is your passion? What do you do for fun? If you could have any profession, what would it be? Ask yourself these questions, and reply honestly. If you've analyzed your likes and dislikes, but you're still not sure what career path to take, consider taking a career assessment. The key is investing in the time to rediscover yourself, and using your self-assessment to steer your new career search.

Step Two: Research new careers.

Once you've discovered your passion, spend some time researching the types of careers that will focus on those particular skills or interests. Don't worry if you're feeling insecure or unsure. This is a natural and healthy part of the career change process. Research online, visit the library or career centers, or speak with professionals in that line of business. Find as much information as you can. The amount of research you do will reflect how badly you want a career change.

Step Three: Know your transferable skills.

Recognize your current skills, and leverage some of that well-earned experience into your new career. There are many skills that you hold right now that are transferable and applicable to your potential new career. Make a list of the skills and experience you already possess, and those that will be required in your new profession. Chances are you'll be surprised to see that you already hold a solid amount of talent and knowledge to apply to your new career.

Step Four: Training and education.

Career changes usually require training or upgrading. Depending on the path that you choose, you'll likely find it necessary to update your skills and broaden your knowledge. Sign up for a course or two, just to be sure that this is a career you'll really enjoy. Take it slowly, and learn everything there is to know so that you can start your new career on the right foot. If the skill that you need to learn is one that could be applied in your current profession, look into training courses that your employer might cover financially. If you need to obtain a new degree or certification, check the accreditation of the school you choose, and verify their placement success.

Step Five: Networking.

One of the real keys to successfully changing careers will be your ability to network successfully. People in your existing network of coworkers, friends, family members and associates may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice or provide information about particular companies or industries. Broaden your network by asking the people you already know to introduce you to others. Professional organizations are an excellent way to expand a network. Consider joining a service club, or a professional organization involving people in your field of interest. Contact college alumni who are working in the field to see if they can offer leads or advice.

Step Six: Be flexible.

Career changes can be sudden and unplanned, so you need to be ready to adapt to possible changes. You will need to be flexible in your employment status and seniority, and perhaps even areas like salary or residence. You need to decide how badly you want the career change, and how far you are willing to bend to make it happen. Set positive goals for yourself, but expect changes or setbacks. Don't let unplanned changes dampen your positive outlook. Even lateral moves can turn into complete career turnarounds. You may take the same job with a different company, and find that your new forward-thinking supervisor wants to promote you.

If you're considering a career change, think it through and take the time to make it work. Then, when the opportunity presents itself, you'll be ready to grab on and run with it.


SalesTrax is a national recruiting company uniting sales people and sales opportunities through career fairs and a sales-specific job board. We specialize in pharmaceutical sales positions but represent many other entry and mid-level sales opportunities as well. Visit for more information.

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