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Q-Tips: Critical Career Change Tips
Advice for Career Changers -- #1

 

These career-related tips -- for all job-seekers making or contemplating a career change -- have been gathered from numerous sources throughout Quintessential Careers and organized here for your convenience.

 

"It is the kiss of death, career wise, to fail to keep up your skills," cautions author Donald Asher. In the Q&A interview he did with Quintessential Careers, Asher said: "It requires lifetime, continual learning not just to advance, but just to keep a job in this economy. At Gap they have a slogan they print on banners and put everywhere in corporate and back-office sites: 'Change or fail.'"

 


 

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Want a degree or new career training but can't take time from your career? You're far from alone. According to a Marketing Facts study, 70 percent of Americans have considered taking a course of study to help further their careers.

 

And according to a Department of Labor study conducted by Merrill Lynch and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2000) 65 percent of jobs today require additional skills. By 2005, that figure is expected to increase to 85 percent. Additionally, 42 percent of consumers indicate at least some difficulty in locating education/training resources (International Communications Research, Dec. 2000).

 

Monster.com to the rescue. Monster recently announced the launch MonsterLearning, an online resource for managing learning as it relates to advancing careers. The site provides a variety of learning tools, opportunities and information, that are, according to Monster, "in one comprehensive location, empowering individuals and corporations to take more control of the career development process." MonsterLearning's one-stop search engine provides free access to a universe of learning opportunities, including online and classroom courses, test preparation, degree programs, certifications, and other instructional materials such as books and videos, anytime -- 24/7. The MonsterLearning search engine contains general and enrollment information on all types of learning opportunities from top learning providers offering online and offline courses and other instructional products and services.

 


 

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Career changing is a big step. Career-changers may want to read The 10-Step Plan to Career Change. Assuming there will be career opportunities in the area into which you've chosen to transition, the next step is determining where and what type of education or training you will need. Once you've determined your educational requirements, try to get experience in your new field while getting that education -- even if it's volunteer work -- just get the experience.

 


 

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A major myth about job-hunting is that the Internet has created a climate in which a passive job searcher can post his/her resume on Friday and wait for the offers to come rolling in on Monday, according to career development therapist Janet Scarborough in the Q&A interview she did with Quintessential Careers.

 

"This kind of response happens only for persons with highly marketable skills and a documented track record of success using those skills. For most people, there still exists the need to build relationships to increase the probability of being in the right place at the right time to land the best job for you. This is especially true for career changers," Scarborough observes.

 


 

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According to a recent study conducted by Prudential Financial and Linkage Inc., a leading organizational development company headquartered in Lexington, MA, employees are more focused than ever on maintaining a better work/life balance. The study also revealed that today's employees are more technologically and financially savvy; less loyal to their company; and more diverse.

 

These factors combine to create a new workplace dynamic, and serve as the foundation for shaping future employee benefit strategies. These survey results are based on a 2001 study entitled Survey of Human Resources Decision Makers: Linking Employee Evolution to the HR Revolution. The survey was completed by senior human resources professionals -- across varying industries -- primarily of large and mid-sized corporations. Source: Business Wire.

 


 

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If you'd like to switch careers, but the notion of starting over overwhelms you, calm your fears, advised career consultant Karen Chopra in the Q&A interview she did with Quintessential Careers."For people in mid-career, going back to zero can be a terrifying thought," Chopra notes."In reality, you don't start over. You carry the skills and abilities learned in your present job into a new field. Clients often find that their unique combination of skills makes them more attractive to potential employers."

 


 

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Career-changers face many challenges, but one of the most important ones is gaining experience in their new career field. You've got to build your resume with the training, skills, and accomplishments that make you an attractive job candidate. You may need to obtain additional training. Also try to gain some experience in your new field, perhaps by volunteering for a nonprofit organization. Join a professional association or organization -- and then do some networking. You might also consider job-shadowing people in your would-be field to get a better feel for their jobs -- and to build your network. Finally, another way to build your resume is through temping -- but be sure you have the skills to do the job first. Take a look at our article on temping.

 


 

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Most Fortune 1000 companies allow telecommuting but very few employees work from home, and even fewer do so on a full-time basis. Cutter Consortium reports that 87 percent of the companies it surveyed allowed telecommuting, but 53 percent said fewer than 5 percent of their employees worked from home. None of the respondents said that more than half of their employees worked from home. Two thirds of those polled also said that their telecommuting employees only work from home for one day each week.

 

Cutter says that most employees telecommute only if they cannot travel to work because of bad weather or a personal or family emergency. The respondents said the biggest advantages of telecommuting were that workers had more flexibility, companies could hire workers that might not otherwise be available, and that less time and money is spent on commuting. The biggest disadvantages cited were the belief of managers that workers need supervision, security concerns, and the conflicts that can arise between an employee's work and home life.

 


 

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Informational interviewing is the subject of an article by QuintZine editor Katharine Hansen at a Web site called YourCareerChange.com. The article explains how informational interviews can benefit career-changers. Check it out.

 


 

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Though a noble and rewarding profession, teaching unfortunately has a high burnout factor because it has seen a deterioration in respect from just about all stakeholder groups. Career-changing teachers have unlimited avenues to follow, though simply changing the scenery by transferring to a different school or different school district might cure the burnout. If you do want to leave teaching, some obvious career paths include corporate trainer, researcher/fact checker, sales representative, or human resources management. Enhancing your computer skills opens the door to many other kinds of jobs, such as help-desk technician. Even beyond these ideas, there are many other possibilities based on your personality and interests. Sit down and plan your future. A great article to help you on your way is The 10-Step Plan to Career Change.

 

And once you have a few career choices in mind, you might consider conducting informational interviews with people in those careers. Informational interviews are a great way to gain a better understanding of an occupation or industry -- and to build a network of contacts in that field. Read more in Quintessential Careers: Informational Interviewing Tutorial.

 


 

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If you are changing careers and believe that a chronological resume is not having good results, you may want to check out Susan Britton Whitcomb's Resume Magic: Trade Secrets of a Professional Resume Writer (Jist), which comes highly recommended by many career experts. The book is a comprehensive (almost 600 pages!) review of all types of resumes, and as you might guess given its size, spends a good deal of time on functional resumes.

 

Also check out our article, Should You Consider a Functional Resume?, which discusses the merits and problems with functional resumes.

 


 

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A number of fascinating-sounding jobs are listed in Ferguson Publishing's book, 50 Cutting-Edge Jobs.

 

Defining cutting-edge jobs as those that blaze new trails, the book lists the following among its trailblazers: benefits administrator, bilingual consultant, biotechnology patent attorney, business valuator, chief information officer, chief knowledge officer, complementary medicine practitioner, computational linguist, computer animator, computer repair technician, computer and video game designer, desktop sound engineer, digital agent, environmental accountant, fiber optics technician, forensic accountant and auditor, forensic psychophysiologist, fuel cell technician, fusion engineer, geriatric social worker, grief counselor, health advocate, horticultural therapist, information broker, interactive media specialist, among others.

 


 

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Interested in career opportunities in podiatry? There are approximately 14,000 practicing doctors of podiatric medicine in the United States. And according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, which publishes the Occupational Outlook Handbook, the job growth for podiatrists is expected to be 10 to 20 percent because "more people will turn to podiatrists for foot care as the elderly population grows." The Handbook continues, "Employment of podiatrists would grow even faster were it not for continued emphasis on controlling the costs of specialty health care." In addition to growth, the need to replace podiatrists who leave the occupation will create employment opportunities. Relatively few opportunities from this source are expected, however, since most podiatrists continue to practice until they retire; few transfer to other occupations.

 

According to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, average net income for podiatrists in private practice was about $116,000 in 1997. Those practicing for less than two years earned an average of about $61,000; those practicing 16 to 30 years earned an average of about $146,000.

 

Key sources for information about education, careers, and jobs in podiatry include the podiatrists section of the Occupational Outlook Handbook, American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine, and the American Podiatric Medical Association.

 


 

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Think your mundane job could not become a career? Even the most basic of jobs have some degree of career paths/promotions. If you want to stay with your current employer but begin to pursue a promotion, you should read this article, Moving Up the Ladder: 10 Strategies for Getting Yourself Promoted. The article outlines key strategies to use as you begin to map your future.

 


 

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Seeking a career in information technology? Know what to expect. Although demand, salary, and perks are still promising, IT staffers are working longer hours but producing less, according to ZDNet, quoting a new report on global IT trends. The study, by research firm Meta Group, found that US computer professionals worked an average of 45 hours a week this year, an increase of 36 percent from 1999. Working hours rose by 30 percent outside the US. Even with these extra hours, the high learning curve demanded by projects has affected productivity among technology workers. The average US software developer produced 9,000 lines of code in 1999. This year, the average has fallen by 47 percent to 6,220 lines of code. Read the full story.

 


 

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Loyalty to your employer doesn't pay, reported US News and World Report not long ago. While merit raises have hovered around 4 percent in the past decade, corporate profits have risen 9 percent, and executive salaries are up 13 percent. The older you are, too, the smaller percentage raise you can expect. It often pays to look for greener pastures, especially in an economy where employers may be offering big incentives to lure warm bodies.

 


 

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Interested in a career in environmental science or studies? Go to the Career Exploration section of Quintessential Careers, where we have several resources, including our favorite "What can you do with a major in...?" Web sites.

 

Here is just a partial list of careers for graduates in environmental studies: agricultural scientist or technician, conservation agent, environmental analyst or technician, EPA inspector, forester, laboratory analyst, naturalist, park ranger, planner (urban or regional), teacher, wildlife manager, and writer -- as well as many other careers.

 

Another great site to go to is The Environmental Careers Organization, whose mission is (in part) "the promotion of environmental careers, and the inspiration of individual action. This is accomplished through internships, career advice, career products, and research and consulting." One other good site is Environmental Jobs and Careers.

 

Finally, you can find a collection of environmental job and career sites in the Jobs in Agriculture, Zoology, and the Environment section of Quintessential Careers.

 


 

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Changing careers but not sure what you want to do? Consider one of the jobs listed among the top five best overall jobs by Jobs Rated Almanac:
1. Financial planner
2. Website manager
3. Computer-systems analyst
4. (tie) Computer programmer
4. (tie) Actuary

 


 

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Hiring managers like to avoid risk, according to career development therapist Janet Scarborough in the Q&A interview she did with Quintessential Careers. "They like to hire people about whom they already know something, even if the connection is as tenuous as someone within the company knows someone else who recommended the hire. Hiring managers like to hire people who seem clear about what they want to do and have some previous success in doing it, because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. That's why career changers can dramatically increase their marketability by getting some experience in whatever they want to do next, whether through a part-time job, volunteer work, or project-based work in a class," Scarborough advises.

 


 

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Want to work on a cruise ship? There are any number of "cruise ship jobs" Web sites, but all of them charge a fee, starting at $40. We have serious reservations about job-seekers ever having to pay for job information or leads, so we really can't recommend any of them.

 

Instead, review some of the jobs sites in two sections of Quintessential Careers: Cool, Unusual, and Seasonal Jobs. Jobs in Hospitality & Tourism.

 

Finally, develop a list of the cruise ship companies you want to work for and conduct a "cold calling" job campaign. You can read more about this proven job search method by going to our article, Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting.

 


 

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Functional resumes focus on experience and accomplishments in a small number of skills clusters. If you are changing careers, focus on showcasing skills clusters that help support your new career direction. These skills clusters should signal potential employers as to the types of jobs you feel you are best qualified to hold. Read this article: Should You Consider a Functional Resume?.

 


 

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Wondering why you got a rejection letter after that last job interview? In her book, Real Resumes for Job Changers, Anne McKinney cites the following reasons (according to employers) that job hunters are not offered the jobs they apply for:
  1. Low level of accomplishment
  2. Poor attitude, lack of self-confidence
  3. Lack of goals/objectives
  4. Lack of enthusiasm
  5. Lack of interest in the company's business
  6. Inability to sell or express yourself
  7. Unrealistic salary demands
  8. Poor appearance
  9. Lack of maturity; no leadership potential
  10. Lack of extracurricular activities
  11. Lack of preparation for the interview, no knowledge about the company
  12. Objecting to travel
  13. Excessive interest in security and benefits
  14. Inappropriate background.

 


 

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Teachers who are burned out, especially after working at under-funded public schools, have at least two sets of skills that can be use to their advantage when contemplating a career change. You have your subject-specific set of skills -- your writing and communications skills -- and your professional skills -- training and teaching skills. Between those two sets of skills, you have so many possible career options -- but you aren't limited by those skills because, if you have the interest, the time, and the expertise, you can switch careers in any direction. Read our article, The 10-Step Plan to Career Change. Your choices are really limitless. You just need to spend the time contemplating the direction of your life -- and your next career move.

 


 

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Career-changers need a strategy. Because very few companies are willing to train workers from scratch in a totally new career field, you may need training to move into a new career. It's very hard to go immediately from one field to another without first gaining new credentials in the form of education, training, and experience. Try developing a short-term plan for yourself that includes continuing in your current career while taking classes in your desired new field. Once you've mastered the skills, you may want to work or volunteer part-time in the new career so you can build a portfolio of your skills and abilities. Then go after a full-time position. For more information and resources, read our The 10-Step Plan to Career Change.

 


 

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If you are burned out in your current job, don't mention your burnout to prospective employers you interview with. Advises Kate Wendleton in the career column she writes with Dale Dauten, "Tell prospective employers that you left because you want to move your career in a different direction, then say what that direction is (preferably something that the employer needs)." Adds Dauten, "The idea is to portray yourself as moving forward to a new passion, not crawling away from the ashes of your old profession."

 


 

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Interested in a career in the advertising field? The advertising industry is an exciting and dynamic industry, where lower-level employees often work long hours for lower-than-average pay. The two major paths in advertising are the creative side (art, copy-writing) or the management side (sales, account planning). You can work in advertising on the client side (the advertisers) or on the agency side.

 

A great source of information and resources is the Advertising Educational Foundation. Another great site is Advertising World, from the Advertising Department at the University of Texas. Finally, you can find some good information at the U.S. Department of Labor's Career Guide to Industries - Advertising.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Find even more job-search advice and tips in Critical Career Change Tips: Advice for Career Changers -- #2.

 


 

Review all our Quick and Quintessential Career & Job Tips.

 


 

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