But One with Ample Resources to Help You Meet the Challenge

by Janice Weinberg

While some people make the decision to switch careers after relatively brief experience in the workplace, if my clients are representative of the universe of career changers, most people make the decision after 10-15 years in their first career. What’s interesting about this is that virtually all of these people told me that they were never satisfied with their occupational choices.

Why is there a significant lapse between the time people become aware of their dissatisfaction and the point at which they take action to remedy the situation?

My theory: All of these clients had bachelor’s degrees, with many having earned master’s and JD degrees. Rather than face the disappointing reality of having invested the time and money toward acquiring credentials that qualified them for a career they found unfulfilling, they kept putting off the decision, often thinking, wishfully, that merely changing employers – rather than careers – would dispel their discontent. But at some point, they realized that – contemplating an employment horizon of 20 or more years – the moment of truth had arrived: they had to make a change.

Delaying the Decision May Limit Your Options

While the task of pinpointing a suitable alternative career is always a challenge, that challenge is compounded to the extent that one has postponed the decision. The reason: The older you are, the greater your financial obligations will likely be, which, in turn, will limit your career options.

For one thing, it could prevent you from undertaking an educational program required to enter an occupation that promises greater gratification.

And, even if you gravitate toward a field that’s feasible to enter without further education, at the very least, you may have to accept a reduction in compensation – which could deter you from making the move.

Women Re-entering the Workplace

Many women who want to resume their careers formerly held professional positions in such industries as financial services, retailing, information technology, and packaged goods. But now, they are fairly flexible in their choice of a career – their overriding goal is to get reestablished in the professional workplace.

One of the challenges unique to this group is the need to identify positions that – while not necessarily high-paying – will be steppingstones to increasingly higher positions, along with a concomitant growth in compensation. At the same time, many women seek part-time work as their initial reentry point in the workplace so they can retain some flexibility in their schedules. While these two requirements – gaining a position on a professional career track and doing so initially on a part-time basis – may seem antithetical, they need not be – depending, of course, on one’s skills and interests.

A Plethora of Useful Resources

With the Internet, books, the placement offices of one’s alma mater, and an abundance of advice available from friends and colleagues, no one who desires a career change will lack for information. If anything, the sheer volume of resources may overwhelm people looking for a new career, such that they are at a loss as to what their first step should be.

Many people turn to vocational testing for guidance, sometimes spending thousands of dollars on such services. Fortunately, the Self-Directed Search, a highly regarded interest test, can be taken online for a nominal charge. You may find that completing the test provides you with the direction you need to identify a suitable alternative career.

Because vocational testing is a multifaceted subject that merits a more extensive discussion, in my next post, I’ll discuss the differences between interest and aptitude tests, as well as which type of test is most appropriate for particular categories of career changers.

Copyright © 2008 Janice Weinberg. All rights reserved worldwide.

Debugging Your Information Technology™ CareerJanice Weinberg is the founder of Career Solutions, a Westport, Connecticut-based consultancy that serves an international clientele, and the author of How to Win the Job You Really Want (Henry Holt & Co.). Her latest book, Debugging Your Information Technology™ Career (Elegant Fix Press, LLC), describes 20 careers that represent excellent alternatives for those seeking a career change from IT because computer proficiency is a strong asset in both entering and succeeding in these fields.

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