Preparing for Your New Career
Why are we looking for new careers?
Whether you are a recent graduate or looking to change career fields, planning is the key to finding the job you want and actually getting it. In times past most people would find a job shortly after graduation and stick with that job till retirement.
Today's world is much different. We contend with downsizing, wage freezes and a plummeting economy. The days of finding one job and staying there just aren't our reality. Workers are finding themselves in a situation where they might easily have three, four, and even more jobs during their lifetime. In addition they see a job shift where the career and experience of their younger years is no longer viable.
We tend to want more from our careers as we move through life. Everyone's dream is to find a career they enjoy and be able to earn a decent living. That's not always an easy aspiration. Changing careers often comes to mind, but what exactly do we need to do before we start applying for that satisfying job we seek.
Planning and researching a new career path, whether forced into it by lay off or by choice, can be a daunting task. If you've been in the same job for many years, you find that employers needs have shifted and what they are seeking may be a puzzle. If you're a recent graduate, the needs of an employer can be even more confusing.
How do we know what's required for the positions we seek? Most of us have a set notion of what employers want, but we aren't always on target. A little research can quickly help you determine what you need to do to start down the path to a new career.
The best way to see what employers want is to start researching the trends in that field. If you are changing fields, you'll want to find out the educational requirements in that field. Switching fields often means returning to college and obtaining the education needed for your new career. No one wants to waste money and time pursing the wrong degree, so scan as many job ads in that field before you begin looking at colleges and universities.
It's a good idea to look at the occupational outlook for any field. The Occupational Outlook Handbook is available, and updated on a regular basis, from the U.S. Government. The handbook provides valuable information for anyone considering a change in career. Find out the training and education needed, expected growth in the field, potential earnings, learn more about what will be expected of you on the job and the working conditions.
This is a great place to start your research and can eliminate career options that are declining or have educational requirements that require more time and money than you are willing to put out there. A combination of browsing job ads and referring to the Occupational Outlook Handbook will give you the information you need to determine the best job path.
I've Chosen a New Field....Now What?
After you've completed those first pieces of research, you're closer to realizing your new career. If you need to complete some educational requirements, you'll need to start seeking out degree plans. Often those changing careers have families and find that they need a flexible education. Online courses are the best option for career changers. See my Hub on Online Education and learn how to seek out the best value in online education.
You're on your way backed with a solid knowledge of what you'll need to break into a new field....but there's one more secret that will get you to the top of that resume pile.
The Last Piece of the Puzzle
You're now armed with general knowledge of your new career path, but there's a lot of competition out there. What can you do to ensure you are up on the trends in your new field?
List serves to the rescue
List serves are a newbie's best friend. Most list serves allow anyone to join and even better you'll find that members are very open to mentoring those who are just learning the field. Join as many listserves in your field and start gathering knowledge from those who've been in the field and have already gained experience. You'll find the discussions on list serves very interesting and informative.
List serves will quickly provide you with the latest trends in the field, the pitfalls and you'll quickly understand what is expected of you. Not ready to join the conversation, just lurk. Yes in this case stalking is perfectly acceptable and often preferable until you get a firm grasp on the shop talk. There's no better way to learn about what's going right and wrong within any given field than lurking at the virtual water cooler, also known as the list serve.
You can find list serves just by Googling the title of your field and list serves. You'll be surprised at the number of great list serves out there and you'll get the insiders view to any career. Give it a try before you apply for a job in your new field and I guarantee your potential employers will be amazed that a newbie has this much inside information. If you put this much effort into researching your career, you'll impress any potential employer.