05/01/2008

Managing a Career Change During a Recession

By Angel L. Roman

According to U.S. Department of Labor, today's average worker will be in his/her job for approximately four years. That means that one can potentially have anywhere between eight to ten different jobs throughout their lifespan. This can signal an opportunity for growth. Though a job loss is never a pleasant experience, it can potentially motivate a person to tap into innovative ways of repositioning themselves for bigger and better things. Career change can move a person out of their comfort zone and stretch toward new heights.

 

Taking the Leap

The U.S. economy has witnessed many companies letting go of thousands of employees due to the precarious nature of the economy and its repercussions. Many employees feel unprepared for this occurrence. They worry about the loss of a steady income, become anxious about changes in their routine, or begin to feel disconnected from their peers. Some may think that it's not practical to be retrained or learn a whole new set of skills. Nevertheless, let's face it- career change is here to stay and is an inevitable part of today's workforce.

A career change does not have to be fraught with perpetual thoughts of "what's next?" It can really evolve into a dynamic learning experience for any career-minded individual. As a career counselor, you may hear something like the following, "Well, I have a lot of interests but don't have a clue about what to do?" Guess what? That's ok! As professionals, we can help clients learn that the heart of the matter is to work on their next career move and perhaps take a job that best positions them for their ideal work. It's also about realizing vision, perfecting craft, and feeling happy about the contribution they are making. Some people have even stumbled upon a career which they never would have imagined. A trademark of career change is that it reveals to an employer how the employee is multi-faceted, flexible, and adaptable to new environments.

Ready, Set, Explore

What's a career changer to do in the meantime? Here are some practical tips that professionals can use to help clients navigate the waters of career change:

Acknowledge the change - it is part of own growth and maturity. When someone says, "Gee, you've changed" the best reply is, "Of course!"

Don't leave your day job yet - Let the process of career change evolve over time. For some, this might happen in a month or two but on average, it takes about two years to make a successful transition into a completely different industry.

Self-inventory - List possible jobs and careers that appeal to you. Find out what you are good at. Describe your skills, abilities, talents, and unique traits. Then, try to identify jobs that seem to be a match with your personal characteristics. Ask yourself, "How would someone describe me to someone else?"

Know the "language" of the industry you want to target - What are some buzz words or phrases used? What are the trends in that industry and who are the "players"? You need to sound like an industry insider.

Connect with peers - Arrange to speak with professionals in the industries that interest you. Read trade journals, join networking groups and associations.

Be patient, be practical - Don't get desperate-change takes time. Always have Plan A and Plan B in place. As a client once told me, "I like to eat". If you need to take a "transitional job" while pursuing your true interests, that's ok. Continue to reassess where you are in the process. It may be to your advantage to speak with someone you look up to-like a mentor.

Your health is important - A definite no-brainer! Take care of yourself and maintain a healthy diet. Run, jog, or take a stroll. Take a yoga class, go for regular walks, or spend time with loved ones. A healthy lifestyle is the key to longevity.

Do volunteer work - Ok, so you don't get paid. But, you just might discover other hidden talents and aspirations. Also, you are contributing to the well being of others, many of whom may not be as fortunate as you. Who knows, you may find your ideal work!

Stay current - Keep your skills updated. Take a class, go to a workshop, attend a seminar. Learn from peers. Remember, YOU are the manager your career!

Mr. Angel L. Roman is a Master Career Development Professional and a Certified Career Coach with The Five O'Clock Club. He is Founder/Owner of ALR Career Consulting (http://www.alrcareer.com/). He holds a Master's in Counseling and Guidance from Hunter College-City University of New York. Correspondence to this article may be forwarded to alrcc@aol.com Mr. Roman is bilingual and provides coaching and career workshops in English and Spanish. He resides with his family in New York City.


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