Breaking Down the Door

September 4, 2007

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Do you sit at your job, watching the clock tick and wishing the day would end? If you feel it may be time for a change in your job or career path, get the ball rolling with these tips and considerations.

Tell us if this sounds familiar: You're talented and motivated, with great skills to offer, but you're undervalued by your current employer or are simply disengaged from your current duties — now if only you could act on changing jobs, or even entire careers.

Although salary is a vital aspect of the job, the second comprehensive salary survey by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), released in May, found that "job satisfaction" ranked as the most important factor in overall satisfaction of a career. "Wages" placed second. A number of studies cite lack of engagement as the leading factor of employees seeking a new job.

If it is too little too late for a higher salary to satisfy your daily duties, or if you're bored with your current responsibilities — if it's time to look for a new job — consider jumping into the competition now. Many job seekers wait until after Labor Day to shift their search into high gear.

If you're in an unrewarding or low-paying (or both) position, what's stopping you from taking action? Resolve yourself not to become complacent about the situation. Start developing your strategy toward taking the next step in your career.

If you think you're ready to move on to a new position in another company, first consider the following:

1) Look at your professional growth path. Define yourself in terms of what you want to accomplish in this profession. 2) Who are you working with now? Are they going to help you get to your goals? 3) Compare the performance of the organization to the first two. If you see that the company is not heading in the same direction, then it may be time to put out feelers. Source: Purchasing magazine

After you've assessed your situation:

Review your strengths and dig in your heels. Explore your options, set goals, and make plans to develop yourself to fit your new career path (whether it's a new career or a renewed sense of your career). Acquire new skills, like by returning to school and/or volunteering. Do something you enjoy. Consider making a career out of your hobby. Source: Yahoo! HotJobs

SWITCHING CAREERS Far from being left behind in this century's ever-changing labor market, older workers can benefit from leveraging their talent and experience into entrepreneurial efforts. Despite what some people say, it's never too late to change careers. Take precautions, but then go for it.

Inventory the skills and experiences you can leverage in your career switch: company type; transferable skills; experience; job environment; and networks.

Ian Christie, founder of BoldCareer.com, makes the following suggestions at Monster.com:

• State Your Case Effectively "Be sure you have strong, valid reasons to change careers," and "be sure you can articulate those reasons to potential employers and explain what's in it for them."

• Avoid Overanalysis "Developing a strong understanding of yourself is imperative to managing your career change, but avoid analysis paralysis," Christie writes. "You cannot think your way to a career change; eventually, you must act."

Once you've identified the new career that's right for you, you need to start making the switch.

Christie further recommends:

• Connect with People in Your Target Field When you're changing careers, your resume is less useful as a marketing tool. For that reason, building your network becomes even more critical. Connect with people in your target field to validate your interest and learn about opportunities.

• Make an Impression On interviews, be the standout candidate by talking up the actions you've taken that prove your commitment to the field. Reveal your industry knowledge, and mention industry events you've attended or industry associations where you volunteer.

"Enthusiasm is the key to making a career change," according to Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?

Caroline Levchuck writes in "Part Two" of a three-part series at Yahoo! HotJobs:

As you go through a career transition, enthusiasm can help you meet the challenges and overcome the obstacles. When you're networking, your enthusiasm encourages others to respond in kind. Plus, a positive attitude impresses recruiters and hiring managers.

"One-third of all job hunters and career changers get so discouraged within one month that they quit," Bolles said at Yahoo! HotJobs.

Yet, on average, it takes four years to change careers, according to Herminia Ibarra, author of Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. (Source: Yahoo! HotJobs)

The process of changing careers is one of trial and error. You'll likely even face a few disappointments and failures. The key to persevering is "having realistic expectations of the time and effort required ... Focus on small victories to keep your momentum and stay motivated during your career transition."

All of this can only get you so far, though. Score an audience with that potential new employer, and the rest is up to you. If you think Crocs are a good interview choice, or if you tell the recruiter you'd "come at this job like a spider monkey," that's on you.

Resources

Are You Engaged? by Ian Christie Monster.com

Overcome Career Boredom by James Gonyea Monster.com

Purchasing compensation: How to negotiate a higher salary by Susan Avery Purchasing, July 14, 2007

Jump-Start Your Career Change by Ian Christie Monster.com

Nine Tips for Starting Out or Starting Over by Pat Boer Monster.com

Make a Late-Career Change by Joanne Murray Monster.com

'I Hate My Job – Now What?!' by Dawn Papandrea (and Tony Lee) Yahoo! HotJobs (CareerJournal.com)

How to Prepare for a Career Switch by Todd Anten Yahoo! HotJobs

Debunking a Few Career Myths by Robert K. Otterbourg Kiplinger's Personal Finance (via Yahoo! Finance)

How to Change Careers Part 1: Is a Career Change Right for You? by Caroline Levchuck Yahoo! HotJobs

How to Change Careers Part 2: Coping With a Career Change by Caroline Levchuck Yahoo! HotJobs

How to Change Careers Part 3: Making the Change by Caroline Levchuck Yahoo! HotJobs

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