(ARA) - Is this the right time for you to follow your passion or to reinvent yourself and make a career change? If so, make sure you can put your finger on what you want, so that you can sell yourself to prospective employers.
Carole Redden, director of career services at Brown Mackie College - Phoenix
, offers five career-change tips.
Network with a mission
Networking is vital to reinventing yourself or making a career move, but according to Redden, it should be done strategically and often. "You cannot wait for the job of your dreams to come to you," says Redden. "There are people who attend networking events and do not maximize the number of people they talk to, or do not ask the right questions. If you are looking for a job, you must have a plan."
Establish your targets before attending networking events and job fairs, and keep the conversation brief and to the point. Develop a relationship with employer representatives you chat with and remember, it's not just about what you can get from them, but what they can gather from you. It's a two-way exchange of information. To learn more about networking strategies read "Never Eat Alone," where author Keith Ferrazzi contends that you'll be more successful if you take the relationship-building approach. "You should circulate and make multiple new contacts at these events," Redden says. Those who are unsure about how to network should think of it as "purposeful and engaging communication."
Most people have more of a network of friends, family, former coworkers and other connections than they realize. It's important to share your plans with them and ask for help. "If you don't already have a network, try volunteering or going back to school - both are great ways to meet new people," Redden adds.
Examine your skills and resources
You don't have to be stuck in a job. Be proactive. Do a personal assessment and ask yourself: What background, skills and experience can I offer an employer? "If you've been in a job for 20 years, ask yourself, 'What do I really want to do for a living?'," says Redden. "Make some changes and some tough decisions. It may not be easy, but it's worth it. Job seeking takes patience."
Update your credentials
Many jobs require additional education or training. Take classes at local college
, or a community or education center. Some nonprofit organizations offer free or low-cost training. If required, obtain certification for your chosen field. "Once you have a developed your 'brand,' you've got to make yourself more marketable than the next person," says Redden.
Pursue your passion/your goal
A career is more than a job; for some it's also a passion, and the career path chosen will require some work. "Some people get so caught up in life pleasing others and forget they have the option to do what makes them happy," says Redden. If you are out of work, be more diligent. Until you get to where you want to go, you should be willing to work harder in pursuing your passion. The practice of reinvention takes effort. For people who like delivering babies, they are happy when they go to work every morning because they have a passion for what they do.
Volunteer with nonprofits
Use your weekends to volunteer. "This is an opportunity to support those nonprofits that could benefit from your experience," says Redden. With reinvention, you can still give back and offer to help those who are less fortunate. You will gain valuable work experience in your career of choice.
You can take the Myers-Briggs professional or similar assessments offered by many college career
and employment counselors to measure competencies and areas of interest. "If you want a life change, then it's up to you to do something about it," says Redden. Be realistic about your strengths, skills and resources. Within reason and with passion, reinventing yourself is possible.