In many ways there are striking similarities between a mid-life career change and the effort required to find a first job. Both require discovering a career target and planning the skills and experience required to qualify for the planned job.
So regardless of your position on a specific career path, here are five things you must accomplish to help you move toward you planned new career.
1. Career testing is a great start. The internet has any number of career, personality and interest testing tools. They will do a great deal in focusing your career direction. Perhaps even pointing out specific careers where you would excel.
Some career tests may charge a fee, but many do not. Take several to make it easier to validate the results. Your local library can be another resource. Whatever steps you take at the very least they will get you thinking and pointing out areas for additional career research.
2. Keep a record of your ideas and progress. When you start your journey for career discovery, begin by keeping a written record of your ideas and progress. Jot down ideas, the results of research, conversations with others, articles read, and any other possible career directions that you may uncover.
Refer to your notes on a frequent basis. Your written record will be a big help in planning your career and job hunting efforts.
3. What are your interests? Do you have a hobby? Maybe something that you used to enjoy but for whatever reason have moved away from the activity? What do you enjoy about the hobby? Look at each action that goes into the hobby. What do your see? What part of the hobby is fun?
Even though you may not be able to make a living from the hobby, many of the activities can easily translate to major functions of a career.
4. Get ideas and feedback from a variety of sources. In any research project, the more sources the better the decision. Do some informational interviews of individuals working in the proposed career. Talk to friends and family for ideas. Your school or alumni group may have resources you can tap to discuss your career ideas.
5. Gear up your career planning by laying out short and long-term goals. After you’ve decided on a career, there will be gaps in your skills and qualifications. How will you close the gaps? Education, self-study and possible part-time positions are all possibilities.
Lay out your career change plan starting with your long-term goals. Now fill out your short-term goals by completing a course, added informational interviews, attending a workshop or seminar all will get you closer to you final goal.
As you get closer to the finish line, craft a resume targeting your new career. Your resume cover letter should focus on the needs of the prospective employer and introduce your resume. As you go through these steps in discovering your new career you will be less likely going after jobs that do not fit your interests.