NAVIGATING A CAREER TRANSITION
Career transitions are difficult, period. You may be forced into a transition via a layoff, or from prospects drying up in your field, or by your desire to try something new.
When you’re laid off (or terminated) or unhappy in your job, it’s an emotional time: you’re angry, stressed, and worried about getting your next job. However, it’s also an opportunity to assess your work-life happiness. Is being an account manager truly your calling? Or, for instance, does cyber security sound more interesting?
An Example of a Career Transition
I was a Marketing Communications Director for 20 years. After being laid off for the umpteenth time, I updated my resume, landing interviews for similar positions. As time went on, I realized none of these opportunities excited me. So, I sat down and really thought about what part of my previous jobs’ varied aspects made me the happiest. Turns out it was writing.
Fortunately, I live in a state with Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)—it’s only available in a few states, so check with your local unemployment office. After meeting program qualifications, I was able to start my own business as a copywriter, while receiving unemployment benefits as a safety net. Later, I joined ResumeEdge’s pool of highly-qualified resume writers.
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Create a Transition Plan
You may not want to start your own business. Whatever your situation, it’s helpful to create a transition plan.
Questions to ask yourself:
What do I want to do? Only you can answer that, but there are resources—such as the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory—to assess your compatibility with potential careers.
What resources are available for retraining and transitioning?
- Transition planning courses/seminars/coaches:
- Local colleges and community organizations offer career transition workshops for reasonable fees or for free.
- For female executives, Harvard Business School offers a course for those seeking new career directions.
- Some people find success working with career transition coaches (see USA Today’s video).
- The DOL’s Employment & Training Administration has multiple resources for workforce professionals.
- The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) offers free training for career transitioning to those who qualify. Participating states have separate websites.
- Special career transition programs:
- There are government resources for displaced agency workers, those affected by natural disasters, farmers, and more.
- For veterans, the Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force’s goal is to have all states help troops attain credentials needed to successfully transition to the civilian labor market. Each branch of the military, such as the U.S. Navy, also offers career transitioning services.
How do I market myself now? (Especially if you’ve been in another career for a long time):
- Repositioning your accomplishments with a new resume and cover letter is top priority. Identify skills that translate across different industries and highlight these as much as possible. Do some online research for jobs in your new chosen field and pepper your resume with those keywords—this improves your resume’s visibility when recruiters search for talent online, and use of industry jargon will show hiring managers you can handle the job.
- Create a one-sheet biography to attach to the front of your resume, use as a job fair handout, and to email to recruiters and professional colleagues.
- Get creative with social networks:
- Create or update your LinkedIn® and Facebook profiles, and use their networking tools to maximize job leads. There are also numerous articles out there about how to do this. For example, Mashable.com has 5 Tips to Maximize Your Brand’s Facebook Reach. As well, TheUndercoverRecruiter.com offers 9 Ways to Maximize Your LinkedIn Profile.
- Instead of focusing solely on the big online job boards, try tools such as TweetMyJobs, which sends jobs matches to your email or mobile phone.
Nobody said navigating a career transition would be easy, but reinventing yourself mid- or late-career helps ensure job security within a changing marketplace—and provides the do-over you may not have realized you secretly wanted.