Your Guide to Unemployment & Tips for Considering a Career Change

Each year, on average, approximately four percent of the U.S. workforce not only changes jobs but leaves their industry for a new one.

That is good news if you are considering a change in careers. Much consideration must be put into the decision before you act on it, though.

Key among these considerations are what has made you want to make the change in the first place. Chances are, you may be able to make changes in your current situation to alleviate your dissatisfaction without having to leave an industry you once loved.

Aside from this consideration are the factors of growth potential in your new occupation, networking opportunities, the skills you bring to a new vocation and how this transition may impact others around you. Taking the time to ask yourself some pointed questions, and answering them honestly, is the key to ensuring you find a career you truly enjoy.

Changes are inevitable in a transition from one career to a new one, but minimizing the changes lessens the impact on everything from your finances to personal relationships. The following information helps you make the determination about whether you are ready to make a change, and if so, how to do it with ease.

Why You Want the Change

The first question to ask yourself is why you want to change careers in the first place. Personal dissatisfaction is vague, so try to pin down specifics. What are you dissatisfied with? Can anything be done to change these issues? Or, do you want to leave the industry because it has changed so much over the years you no longer enjoy it? Perhaps you want to utilize a different set of skills or certifications you have yet to use.

Whatever your justification, make sure the industry you consider is a viable alternative. Several ways exist for you to determine this and get a clear picture of your newly chosen occupation.

Current Employment Data

One of the best ways to determine whether the industry you have chosen is viable is to do some research about the market. What type of growth potential is there in this industry? What is the range of salaries or median yearly income for entry level positions through to top executives? This information is freely available via the U.S. Labor Bureau.

The U.S. Labor Bureau shows you the competition in an industry, growth potential, earning potential, background of workers in the field and other valuable information. Use this to determine whether you fit into those requirements, and if not, are you willing to take measures to meet those requirements? Are different states better equipped to offer better salaries for those in the new occupation? If so, are you and your family willing to move?

If you are still in the planning stages, and are not sure which industry you might be interested in, consider the following industries which are projected to have the most openings and opportunities:

  • Customer service representatives.
  • Nursing assistants.
  • Registered nurses.
  • Childcare workers.
  • Elementary school teachers.
  • General maintenance repair workers.
  • Operations and general managers.
  • Manufacturing and wholesale sales representatives.
  • Tractor-trailer and other heavy truck drivers.
  • Auditors and accountants.

This is not an exhaustive list, but it may give you some idea of what skills you have that may transfer into these popular jobs.

People Matter

Do not overlook the potential job-searching assistance your friends, family and acquaintances afford you. In fact, they may be one of your most valuable assets. Developing your network extends your access and reach to those who may be able to give you an introduction, pass along your resume or make recommendations. Several ways exist to politely and efficiently leverage your circle of influence to assist you with your career change.

Spend time speaking with those in your acquaintance, either through social media, in face to face meetings, or by phone. Let them know of your plans and ask for their feedback and advice.

If there is someone in your network currently working in the field in which you are interested, invite him or her to lunch or dinner and interview this friend about the industry. Make a point of telling him or her you are not looking for a job, but merely curious about the industry. You want insider information about what it is like to work in a similar occupation. After you conclude your meeting with them, as with any interview, send a thank you card, not an email, to them to show your appreciation.

LinkedIn is particularly useful for locating contacts and acquaintances working within companies in which you are interested. This is called a hidden job posting because often an opening has just occurred within the company and it has not yet been posted. You beat the competition, or at least have an edge, because you not only know someone there, but you learned about the job opportunity well before everyone else.

Ask your contact what the company likes to see listed on a resume, and what type of questions would be good to ask in an interview.

Stress-Reduction Measures

You may be considering a career change because of stress in your current workplace or vocation. Changing careers and industries often brings its own set of stresses. Throughout the process, the following emotions are typical:

  • A sense of loss as you contemplate leaving your current job, especially if you have been there a long time.
  • Guilt at leaving your coworkers or current employer without someone trained to take your place.
  • Fear about the unknown and whether you can make it in the new occupation.
  • Financial worries.

While these emotions, and others, are common, one of the best ways of dealing with them is to redirect your thinking toward the positive aspects of the transition. Focus on why you wanted to make the change in the first place, how it is going to feel once you are working in a job you love and what you will accomplish in your new role.