Are you considering a career change? As you consider the options for alternate work, you may want to begin by asking yourself some questions—questions like why now?  What are the motivating factors causing me to consider changing careers at this time-- is the right time? Can I financially afford to make this career change right now and do I have a supportive network of family and friends? Am I willing to go back to school to get additional training if necessary, do I have realistic expectations, am I truly committed to this change? If the answer to each of these questions is yes-then you are ready to move forward! Begin by doing an inventory of all the jobs you’ve had from the beginning of your career to the present — what you loved to do, hated to do, what you’ll never do again, and what you want to bring forward. You’ll begin to see the key, recurring themes of your professional life, and new directions will occur to you. Then ask yourself which options best align with your passions, interests, talents and needs?  Once you do this self-assessment, investigate the three areas you’re most interested in more thoroughly. Do online research, take a class, shadow professionals in the field, interview those who have succeeded and those who have failed, to size up the reality of this professional identity. Now you can start to build a large and powerful support community of people who can help you make the changes and generate the key introductions you want.

You also may also want to ask yourself, “What do I offer?” and “Is it a good fit?”- Prospective employers want to know your skills, interests, values, expertise, accomplishments and potential in the market no matter what your future direction might be.  They especially want to know how your skills and experience match their needs, thus the benefit of writing down on a piece of paper “their needs” and “your qualifications” – see where there is a fit a and where there is a gap, validate your assumptions with someone who knows this work-then that will help you to determine if this is still a viable option now-or perhaps in the future, after getting some additional training or experience.

You will also want to ask yourself, “What companies do I want to work for?”, and “Who do I know that can give me additional information?” It is very important to research specific companies in your new field, take the time to learn about the companies, the decision makers, and the industry. What issues or problems are most pressing for these companies or industries? Do you possess skills, knowledge, and/or experience to offer possible solutions?” Ask friends and family if they know anyone working in the field or companies you are interested in, and attend events, trade shows, or conferences where you can meet and engage with people in your field of interest. Set up informational interviews with people who are currently involved in this new industry or career.

Once you have done the proper self-assessment, asked yourself those tough career change questions, researched alternatives and had those helpful informational interviews—then take your new career option for a test drive!  Offer to do some pro-bono or volunteer work-perhaps join professional organizations and attend conferences-talk with recruiters-try contract, consulting or committee work in this new career-that way you can see first-hand what that new alternative will look and feel like for you!

So are you still interested in a career change? Well, you are not alone—just remember to continue to explore your career change options and experiment, remember to talk with others and network-and you will find yourself gaining the momentum to move forward in finding meaningful work that ignites your passions!