It can be scary to face the end of 2011 thinking about what direction to go in with our career. We want a job. We want work life balance. But we're a little unsure or afraid about taking a leap in a new direction.
What you may not realize is that today, more workers are discovering that taking a new direction might just be the first step in a series of career changes. Today, a few years into this economic downturn, career reinvention isn’t just about finding a new path. It’s about trying a path, and then trying another.
One example is Mario Dubovoy. He has been through a series of reinventions, bringing him to his latest career — Internet entrepreneur. These days, he works the phones and surfs the Web on the hunt for companies that want to post their discounts and promotions on his website and mobile app, Couponmat.com. His new occupation represents his third career shift in the last five years. “I have had to assess the situation and adapt to circumstances.”
His advice for you: Try something, and learn from it: . “From everything you do, you learn something. I try not to make the same mistakes.”
Career expert Katharine Brooks says: “If you can plan out the next five to 10 years, that’s great. But bright people wander in the job process and that’s a good strategy sometimes.”
Some people make initial career transitions out of necessity rather than choice. But that doesn’t mean you are stuck.
When South Florida real estate appraiser George Campbell, 43, saw the bottom drop out of the market, he realized he needed a new career with stability. Campbell opted for a low-pressure occupation — bridge tender. It paid a salary and had benefits. But after two years opening and closing a bridge in Lake Worth, Campbell was bored. “I realized I was too young to do this forever,” he said.
When the receptionist left at his wife’s hair salon, Campbell began contemplating taking the job and expanding the responsibilities. “I looked at what I could make the job into,” he said. Since then, Campbell has become the salon manager at The Spot Salon for Hair in Palm Beach Gardens. He has launched an email marketing campaign for the salon, created a Facebook page, taken over the payroll and accounting tasks and he books appointments. “I’m finding it very enjoyable,” he said.
Reinvention expert, Peter Fogel said people often are eager to jump into a profession that looks exciting or different and fail to look at where it’s headed. “You have to look at where the industry is going to be in next five years,” Fogel, a comedian who reinvented himself as a copy writer, speaker and author of Reboot Your Career. “Get beyond the sizzle and learn what is at stake.” He says information is just a mouse click away. He also advises talking to people in the career you want to pursue.
Also, consider easing into a new career and figure out how to parlay it into something bigger. That’s what Jean Newell did.
Newell, 64, had sold homes in Broward County for 35 years. A few years ago, while showing homes, she found herself constantly looking for her mobile device, calling her cellphone to track it down. Finding other agents had the same problem, she created a business tool belt for professionals, the beginning of her new career as an inventor.
Newell successfully self–marketed her product to gift catalogs, retail chains and even to QVC. As sales picked up, the housing market collapsed and after 35 years as a real estate agent, Newell made the scary transition to become a full-time entrepreneur, founder of Newell Enterprises. She used that to springboard into another career — reinvention consultant. She authored Turn Your Pink Slip into a Red Hot Business and recently was hired by NASA to advise its aerospace engineers in Florida on a career transition into entrepreneurship.
Her advice: “Don’t spend a lot of money to make a career transition. Get creative; solve a problem.
Here are a few more tips for reinventing yourself:
- Ask yourself: What gives you energy? How might you apply that to a new career?
- Have you ever been so lost in an activity you lost track of time? What were you doing? Think about ways that you could apply those skills/interests in other settings.
- Describe your transferable skills to fit the language of other fields. For example, a professor might reframe lecturing as public speaking.
- Ask others what they feel are your strong points and in what careers they feel you would do well.
- Make the move from image to action. It’s easy to get caught in thinking about what you might do. Are you networking and reaching out to people in your new field of interest?
- Keep a learner’s mindset: Constantly seek new information and think about what you’ve learned. This mindset will serve you well in the transition. Strive to be interested in and curious about what you might find. The antithesis of this is the judging mindset, the one that says ‘this won’t work.’
- Learn to develop an appreciative eye for the opportunities you find.
- Look for opportunities that take little or no funding to get started.