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Thinking about changing careers...Go for it!

Kareen Cox

Kareen Cox
Career Writer

Most persons attend school with the goal of becoming an expert in a particular field or industry, with the hope that the knowledge gained will lead to a long and promising career, often for the rest of their lives.

But what if there is more than one career out there that is right for you?
People across the world have become more open to changing their careers at least once in their lifetime. This shift can be attributed to the reality that the job market has become very unstable and unpredictable. It is no longer guaranteed that the job you are employed in subsequent to leaving high school or university is the same job that you will have when itís time to retire.

Also, many persons are beginning to realise that they can turn their hobbies into exciting career opportunities, instead of remaining in a job they have no interest in.
But many also fail to put a lot of thought into deciding what career(s) to pursue.

Often, the main reasons cited for a selected career are:
* You chose the same career path as one or both of your parents;
* Someone (most likely your parents) told you that you were good at X -- for example, accounts -- therefore you should become Y, an accountant.
* You were undecided in high school/university, so you selected a group of subjects or a major that appeared somewhat interesting.

While there are no statistics readily available, there are quite a few people around who feel they have chosen the wrong career and would like to make a change.
It is important to understand that a career change cannot be completed in one big move; instead it should be viewed as a continuous process.

The first step is identifying your strengths, skills and talents. If you donít already know what they are, consider taking a psychometric test, many of which are available online.

These tests are easy to complete and are designed to give feedback on the types of careers that are right for you, based on the answers you give to questions that focus on your personality, aptitude and ability.

Next, you should begin to investigate the specific options that you are interested in and learn what steps are required to kick-start your career transition. During this phase, your goal is to get a better idea of the work, industries and fields that interest you, and identify the new knowledge, skills and abilities that may be needed.

You can do this using a variety of methods including: conducting informational interviews with people in your desired field, joining professional associations, networking among your contacts, and volunteering with a non-profit group or association.

Finally, you should work on acquiring any professional qualifications that are needed. Participate in any short courses, seminars or conferences that you feel are relevant to your area of choice.

If you can afford it, you should pursue a diploma or degree in the particular area.
In the past, the economic climate was such that people remained in one job for decades, and if you changed your job or career too often it was thought that you do not know what you want.

Now, employers are always on the look-out for diverse individuals with a wide variety of skills to bring to a job.
That could be you.

Kareen Cox is the resources coordinator in the career development cervices department, HEART Trust/NTA.
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