If you’re thinking about starting a new career, you aren’t alone. A poll last year conducted by Right Management, a subsidiary of Manpower, found that 84% of employees wanted to find a new job in 2012. There are many reasons to make a career change, but the key to a successful transition is finding a career that will ultimately provide job satisfaction, which might mean more than better pay or a shorter commute. Moving to a new employer only to find that the work doesn’t fit with what you want to do can be a disaster, so learning about a new career before making a commitment is a good idea. These four tips will help you find the resources you need to make an informed career change.
Take a Career Test
The idea of a career test might provoke unwanted flashbacks to the high school guidance counselor, but career testing is actually a useful tool – especially for adults, who have a firmer idea of who they are and where they want to go. The internet has made it easier than ever to access reliable personality and skills tests, like the Holland Personality Style Assessment or the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Tools like these can also be taken at no cost at local colleges and job counseling centers.
Read Industry Blogs or Newsletters
Now that blogs are considered mainstream, most companies that work with the public have blogs attached to their main websites. Reading these blogs can provide a lot of information about an industry, from who the industry serves to what its employees do, and can give not just an idea of what the industry is about but what the company thinks is important, too. For some examples, Belden has a list of technology industry blogs, Ad Age tracks the best blogs in the marketing industry, and Fast Company provides lists of its favorite business blogs. Trade associations for certain industries also frequently offer free newsletters to the public. Just make sure that the source is reliable by double-checking its history and its other activities on the web.
Ask for Informational Interviews
Informational interviews are like a traditional interview in reverse – in this situation, the person interested in a career asks questions to the person who is already working for the company. Since there is no expectation of a job offer, informational interviews are a low pressure way to learn about a company and its business. However, if you choose to ask for an informational interview, try to keep the formality level about the same as you would with a traditional interview. You will also want to be very well prepared with questions; don’t expect the person you are interviewing to do all of the talking without guidance from you. Oberlin College provides excellent tips to prepare for an informational interview.
Research Government Websites
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a wealth of information on careers in the U.S., including explanations, average salary, and industry growth rates. The U.S. Department of Labor provides information on employment statistics, sponsored career training, and seasonal employment opportunities. Your state or local community may sponsor a website with similar information and local career opportunities as well. Using resources like these will give you the background information you need to choose and prepare for a satisfying new career.
Laura McPherson writes for Teacher Certification Degrees, a free resource for learning about how to become a teacher, education options, and teacher requirements by state.
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Good luck in your search.