Monday, May 18, 2015

Considering a Mid-Career Change?

Are you thinking about a change in your career direction?  Are you currently between jobs or without a job?   It is tough to decide to make a change, and for many it is even harder to decide what you would like to do and then to commit to pursuing it.  The following ideas may help you get started on the process.
1)       Self Assessment- Why are you thinking about a change now? What options do you want to consider?
People consider a mid-career change for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes it is a process you initiate and sometimes it is not.   Perhaps you are seeking a lifestyle change or a more satisfactory work/life balance.  Maybe you are hoping for increased compensation or benefits.  Some folks are looking for more challenge or excitement (and some are looking for less!).  Perhaps you are looking for more direct ways to help others in the work you do.  A career values card sort may help you prioritize the most important factors for you in your work and your life.  I have found that a reprioritization of our values is often what leads us to contemplate a change.
Which of your interests do you want to focus on in your work?  An interest inventory may assist you in determining how your interests relate to occupational possibilities.  Here is the O*NET Interests Profiler that will generate some occupational possibilities for you after you answer some questions about your interests.
Carefully evaluate the skills and abilities that you have.  Identifying what you enjoy doing and are good at can be key to career satisfaction.  How can the skills you have be transferred to a new opportunity?  This blog about transferrable skills will give you some ideas about how to leverage you current skills into new opportunities.  The Skills Profiler takes you through a series of questions that allow you to identify skills and activities you have. This leads to a customized Skills Profile that includes:  a summary of identified skills and work activities, a list of occupations matched either to skills or work activities and a link to occupation profiles for more detailed occupational information.  The My Skills My Future website suggests occupations that might use similar skills to other jobs that you have had.
Some personalities are more attracted to certain occupations more than others.  If you have not already done a personality assessment that yields a Myers-Briggs personality type, here is a quick inventory that will generate it for you.  Then, you can go to the Personality Page website that has information related to personality as it relates to career choice, relationships, and personal growth.
2)       How do I find out more about the career options that appeal to me?
I would suggest that you first do research on reliable websites and in relevant books.  Two websites that are good starting places are the Occupational Outlook Handbook and O*NET.  It is also very helpful to get information from people who are already doing a job that you want to learn more about.  This process is called networking or informational interviewing.  LinkedIn can also be a very useful source of information.  Here is an article that introduces the benefits of using LinkedIn Alumni in the career search process.  Often information really is the key that will help you determine how interested you are in an alternative you are considering.
3)      What are the gaps between your current qualifications and occupations that appeals to you?  Are you willing to get more education and/or training?
If you determine that additional education or training would be necessary for an occupation that appeals to you, you have some serious thinking and planning to do.  In what ways could you obtain the skills:  a graduate degree, a college course or certificate, an internship or apprenticeship experience?  If you think you might go back to school for another degree, be sure to research the typical job outcomes for people who have attained that degree.
4)      Resist the “quick fix” to current unhappiness.
You are undertaking a big change.  Be careful and thoughtful in your self-assessment and information gathering.  Curb the impulse to make a quick change so that you can thoughtfully choose an option that is right for you.
5)      You don’t have to do this alone.  Be willing to ask for help and get support where you can.
The RIT Career Services Office has many services for alumni.  You may already be aware of those services if you have found your way to this blog.  We have a Career Services Coordinator who works with graduates from your RIT major.  Check our website or call our office at (585) 475-2301 to find out who your Coordinator is and get in touch with him or her.  Your Coordinator can help you assess the risks and benefits of making a mid-career change. 
There is lots of good information on our website that will assist career changers.  Here are two more sources of information from RIT Career Services that could be helpful:  Career Resources and Changing Careers.  And don’t hesitate to contact our office with your questions.

Carolyn DeHority, Assistant Director-Career Counseling, RIT Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education


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