Updates from new blog at www.nextchapternewlife.com/blog/

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Career Change – Step 1 isn’t updating your resume’

I can't count the number of times I've heard people talk about "updating their resume" when thinking about making a career change. If you are one of those people out there putting the polish on your resume' as you are about to launch a job search for a new career- STOP. Your resume' is not the place where you start your work on a career change. If you are simply looking for the same or similar position in another company, go ahead. There is a big difference between looking for a job and making a career change. Sure, at some point the process is the same and you will need to have a spiffy resume' but it's not the place to get started in making a career shift.

When contemplating a career shift, you are in need of something that looks like a research project. You need to do the work to help point you in a different direction. Picking a career is as hard to do at 40 as it is at 18. The world is your oyster which is a great thing but how do you find the one with the pearl? The good news is: if you are older than 18 you have more work and life experience that will give you important insight into the process and decision making.

So, where do you start? There are multiple actions you can take initially and they primarily involve self examination. Among the first steps:

  • Tests or assessments – These are good to give you more information about yourself. These assessments will give you insight on things like interests, strengths and work orientation. If you pursue these, you have to know up front that they alone will not give you the "One Big Answer" about your future career. In fact, they may in many ways tell you things you already know about yourself. So why take them? Because it will give you a starting place, it will help distill down information about you that you need to have as you embark on making a decision about a career. With any research project, you collect data from numerous sources to help create the conclusion. Among but not limited on assessments: Meyers-Briggs, Strength Finder, VISTA cards, Color Q and Holland. Many of these are in books and online.


  • Self assessment – This is where you really self examine. What kinds of things do you like to do? Where do you currently excel? What do you gravitate to outside of your current job? What did you dream of doing when you were younger? Are there people you know who have fun sounding jobs? Are there causes you believe in?



  • More self assessment – Start looking for feedback. When your performance has been assessed, what strengths and weakness to you exhibit? If you were to ask a circle of friends and relatives, what kind of work do they think you would be good at? You'd be surprised at how insightful this exercise can be. They aren't encumbered with your history yet they know you and often have some great suggestions based on what they know about you.


  • Job search – many libraries and websites have all kinds of job titles. Some titles will make almost no sense but most of them will. Start looking these over to see what might jump out at you as something interesting. You can also go to job search websites and get vast amount of job titles and job content to help in this step. What is it about the ones you selected that sound worthwhile?



  • Compile and research – with your mounting list of insights you can now start synthesizing into some logical groupings. These groupings are becoming what will ultimately be your new career because the baseline is from things in your research that have attracted you in some way. Don't worry about "real" titles, but put logical elements together. You want to avoid putting basketball and surgery together, it makes no sense. You could put problem solving, math skills and detail orientation together. An important action in this step is to eliminate things. If you naturally are interested in specific job titles or elements, then focus on those. Your goal in this step is to create groupings or jobs that will become your future career.


  • Network and research – With your newly minted jobs (mind you that you may still not have official job titles), you now need to talk to people and do more research to finalize on what you are looking for. In this last and final step before working on your resume', you need to understand where this work is, titles it might be called, and any further qualifications you might need to land a job. You will know when this step is completed when you have a clear picture on what career you want to pursue. The other great thing about this step is it has just given you great input on where to start your job search, once you are ready to get started.

Hopefully, you see that when making a career change, you need to do some heavy lifting to move you toward something meaningful. It is way more than simply updating your resume'. Many people don't know what steps to take and muddle their way through life not happy with their career/job. The actions aren't hard or difficult and the outcome is well worth the effort.

A career change can be an exciting and fun step to take. Most people have more than 2 or 3 careers in their lifetime. Since you spend so much time in your life working, it's worth the time and effort to find something you will love.