Direct From Jen: Recareering – Changing Careers, Midcareer

intern-queenOver the past few weeks we’ve talked a lot about finding internships and launching new careers; But some of you reminded us that many of you aren’t just starting out.  You’ve been working for years now.  But maybe you’re looking for something new.  A change perhaps?  So, this week, I wanted to dive into a whole other perspective on career transitions – changing careers, or what is often called “recareering”.  It’s way more common than you might think, and it can actually be exactly what you’re looking for to shake up your own career and start anew.

There are a lot of reasons that people decide to “recareer”— that is, start over with a new career.
Some get tired or fed up with the path they’re on and decide to try something completely different.  When industries or companies start shifting or collapsing, some are forced to look for different kinds of work.  Others leave the workforce to raise a family, pursue higher education or just take time off.  And then there are always those who just like to jump around to keep things interesting…or because they lack direction or a bigger picture career plan.

Regardless of the reason, recareering doesn’t have to feel frightening or dreadful.  It can, after all, be the beginning of a whole new life and adventure.  If you or someone you love is considering, or in the process of making a dramatic career change, here are a few tips to keep it the most positive and productive experience possible:

  • Don’t let your past experience limit your options.
  • Try to get away from your usual environment for a bit to clear your head and allow yourself to fanaticize about what your future could look like.
  • Think about all the things that you’ve dreamed about doing throughout your life, even casually or jokingly.  Allow yourself to go as far back as childhood.  Consider whether there might be any merit to those prospective paths.
  • Define what success might look like for you.  Don’t allow others to define it for you.  This is your life.  Not someone else’s you’re planning.
  • Build a laundry list of things you could do.  Don’t edit yourself down by what’s practical just yet.  Be sure to include both industries you’re interested in (ie: sports, publishing, international trade) and any functions or roles (ie: sales, accounting, teaching, lab technician).
  • Separately, make a list of your biggest goals and priorities (ie: paying off debt, saving for your kids’ education, buying a house, achieving a comfortable life/work balance, etc.) Use this list of your top 5 priorities and goals as a decision making filter.  As you consider different opportunities, work your way down the list to see how many objectives you can achieve with each prospect.  Then start to focus in on the options that will allow you the resources or space to achieve what matters to you most?
  • Consider what made you unhappy about your past career.  How can you avoid it or minimize those elements or characteristics?  Also think about what you liked the most or excelled at.  How can you try to incorporate them?
  • Once you’ve honed your list down to 3-5 of your best new career opportunities, dive into some heavy duty research.  Research industry blogs, newsletters, books, trade magazines, associations, conferences, and any other great hubs of information you can find to learn more.
  • Reach out to your network and find connections to people in those areas of industries who you can talk to and ask for some advice on next steps for you.
  • Study you resume and consider all the transferable skills, experiences and relevant expertise you can leverage in these new career paths.
  • Work on your verbal and written pitch and start using it to get you the best new opportunity you can find!
  • Lastly, be sure to pursue something you really like, or at least find really interesting or challenging.  Find a way to monetize doing what you love if you can. It truly is possible to make money doing just about anything.  You just have to be clever and creative enough to figure out how to package it so others will pay for it.

Think of recareering as a new adventure, an opportunity to start fresh, start over…and the future will suddenly look much brighter…even if the path ahead is still a bit fuzzy.

Jennifer Kushell, Co-Founder & President of YSN.com – Your Success Network.