Make a Career Change

As discussed, some occupations experience downturns from which they have little chance of recovering. Unfortunately, many workers are caught in the crossfire, leaving them unable to find a job even though they may have years of experience and excellent skills.

If you are having trouble finding work in your field, and you've eliminated possible causes like a poor resume or inadequate interview skills, then it may be time for a career change. Changing your career is not something you should do haphazardly. It is a big decision and one that you should take very seriously. Take the time to find the best option for you.


Your first step should be to find the occupations that are suitable for you based on a variety of factors. You will learn about these factors — specifically, your personality, values, skills, and interests — while doing a self-assessment. You can use a variety of tools to help you learn about these factors.

These tools are commonly referred to as career tests, but the word “test” is a misnomer. Tests generally have right and wrong answers. There are no right or wrong answers when you are doing a self-assessment. There is just the process of learning about yourself in order to figure out in what occupation you would be happiest and most successful.

It is important to be as honest as you can when doing a self-assessment. There are no right or wrong answers. You want your results to reflect your personality, skills, and values. You shouldn't go into it thinking that any answers are bad ones.

A career-planning professional can administer these self-assessment tests. This option will be discussed shortly. If money is an issue, you may want to try using a “career test” online (a few are listed here). Many of them are available for free.

Exploring Your Possibilities

After completing the self-assessment, you should have a list of possible career choices. Now it's time to pare down your list so that it is more manageable. What do you know about some of the occupations on your list? Are there a few you've never heard of? Others you've never considered? Are there some you know only a little about?

It's time to do some research. You should try to gather information about as many of these occupations as you can. Often people discount a particular occupation because they either don't know anything about it or they are misinformed about it. You don't need to start off with in-depth research. Simply get a job description for each occupation on your list.

While an occupation may be on an upward trend nationally, it could be on a downward slope where you live. You can find information on outlooks for various occupations in most states by visiting their labor offices' Web sites. The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a list of links to those sites.

You can use the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. The print version is available in most libraries. It is also available online. The Occupational Outlook Handbook contains information about almost every occupation you can think of and is revised every other year.

Once you have narrowed down your choices based on job descriptions, you can begin to read more about the occupations that seem like good possibilities. Continue using the Occupational Outlook Handbook to find out about salaries, job duties, and educational requirements.

There is one factor that should weigh heavily on your mind, especially if you are making a career change because job opportunities in your current field have dried up. You must look at the employment outlook for any occupations you are considering. This will help you figure out if you will have a good chance of finding work in the future. After all, changing careers every couple of years is probably not something you want to do.

Any occupation you are seriously considering deserves even further exploration. Talk to people in the field to learn more about it. You can conduct informational interviews, an informal way to learn about an occupation. Your network will come in handy when you are looking for people to interview. Once you have made a decision, it is time to begin your job search if you already have the necessary skills. If not, you may have to look into getting some training.

You may be tempted to look at “top careers lists” that give you the expert's predictions of what jobs will have the best outlook in the future. While you should consider occupational outlook when choosing a career, you shouldn't make your decision based only on an occupation's appearance on such a list. You must take into consideration whether you will actually like the work.

Training for a New Career

When they choose a new career, some people pick one for which they don't need a lot of retraining. The skills they currently have can easily be transferred to this new occupation. Other people may pick a career in spite of the fact that they will have to acquire new skills. You may discover that your career change requires a return to school for an additional degree or you may find out that you just need to take a few classes.

Since you are making this career change because opportunities in your prior field declined, you may be eligible for retraining provided by the federal government. The Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor provides job training to individuals through One-Stop Career Centers located around the country. America's Service Locator can help you find a local One-Stop Career Center.

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