Teena Rose is a columnist, public speaker, and professional resume writer. She’s authored several books, including How to Design, Write, and Compile a Quality Brag Book, 20-Minute Cover Letter Fixer, and Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.
You’re 40-something. You’re underemployed, or worse unemployed, you’re tired of the daily grind, you’re bored (or frightened) and you’re wondering where your future went. Join the club. Massive layoffs across the US industrial sector mean you’re far from alone. Millions of white- and blue-collar workers are rethinking their career paths. Maybe you should, too.
Build on what you know
You have experience and that’s valuable. To walk away from 15 years in marketing to become a goat herder is not a good career move. Build on what you know. Examples:
• An auto engineer picks up a temporary teaching certificate after a three-month crash course in principles of education and becomes a high school CAD instructor. It doesn’t pay as much, but the intangible rewards more than offset the smaller paycheck.
• A real estate agent, tired of the late-night phone calls and 60-hour work weeks, starts flipping properties on the side. She knows the market, the inspectors, the contractors, the lenders – she’s plugged into the local real estate grid from the top down. So, she takes what she knows (of immense value) and starts her own property management company buying, selling and renting properties.
• A CPA becomes Director of Development for a local non-profit, a pediatric nurse takes the helm at a drop-off kid care franchise – you get the idea. Build on what you’ve got.
Make a critical self-assessment
Sit down with a nice cup of cocoa and make a list of your professional career knowledge, skills, and personal attributes that could be leveraged in a new career (the list is intended for a phone interview, however, it provides a solid list to start with). You’ll be surprised at the extent of your skill set.
Your list should include proficiency using computer software programs (these are transportable skills required on almost every job), special training and knowledge acquired on-the-job.
Now, here’s where the cocoa comes in. Make a second list of your professional shortcomings. If you think a hard drive is the evening commute, it’s time to go back to school.
Go back to school
Adult education, the local community college, technical schools, four-year universities, workshops and seminars are all great places to develop new skills and update old ones. Get the certificate, license, the degree or the credentials you need to start down your new career path.
Study the job market
What’s hot and what’s not? Well, the IT sector seems to be hot again while manufacturing is in free fall. There’s unprecedented demand for health care providers and educators at all levels.
Go through the classifieds to see what’s hot in your region. Or, maybe you’re willing to relocate. That’ll expand your options!
The absolute worst thing you can do
Don’t quit without a plan of action. That’s walking the tightrope without a net. If at all possible, give your notice, clean out your desk and move on to the rest of your life starting first thing Monday morning.
Now, if you’re “in between positions” (read: unemployed), you’re walking that tightrope without a net anyway!
In this case, the key is to find a job – any job to keep the creditors at bay. Build on your skill set by designing a resume, cover letter and thank you letter that demonstrate how your skills translate to this new position, business or industry. If you need more help, learn more on Choosing a Career Path.
And if you don’t know how to best position those skills on your paper introduction to potential employers, hire someone who does. Using a professional resume prep service is one of the best investments in a brighter future you’ll ever make.
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