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Switching Careers in a Tough Economy

by Altaf Shaikh
Switching Careers in a Tough Economy

Switching careers can be overwhelming in the best of times, but trying to do so when the economy is struggling is even more of a challenge. Sometimes it is unavoidable. Perhaps your industry has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Maybe you are facing burnout and cannot continue doing what you are doing. Regardless of the reason, it is possible to transition into a new career even when the job market is tight.

Continue Your Education

If you have a college degree, take time to consider if it will help you make the transition. If your degree is in an unrelated field, or if you do not have a college degree, it may make sense to continue your formal education. If you have an existing degree, earning another may take less time than you think, as many of your general education credits may transfer. Talk to the admissions counselor at the college you are considering. They will advise you on how long it may take to earn your degree, and the best way to proceed. Many colleges have extensive online offerings, so you can continue to work while attending class. If you are concerned about paying for school, look into private student loans. They are available regardless of whether you have taken out loans in the past and can be used for tuition as well as related living and education expenses.

Take Time with Your Applications

Finding a job is a numbers game, and it is easy to fall into the temptation of sending out mass applications and generic cover letters. While you should plan on applying to plenty of jobs, applying without taking the time to target your application and cover letter will yield poor results. Hiring managers know when a cover letter is targeted and will recognize when you put effort into the application. This is your first impression, so you do want to make sure it is a good one.

Sharpen Your Existing Skills

If you have struggled with Excel, lack confidence in your presentation skills, or otherwise have weak areas in your current position, now is the time to polish those. While you won’t be doing the same tasks when you switch careers, some skills are universal. It is better to strengthen any deficits now, while you are working in an area where you are familiar, than continuing to struggle while also trying to manage the learning curve of a new job. Take an objective look at your skills, everyone has some area where they could do better. Spending time now will pay dividends later.

Network

When the economy is struggling, it can be more difficult to stand out in a crowd of applicants. One way to ensure that you have the opportunity to prove your worth is through networking. A strong network can be instrumental in securing the opportunity to interview for an open position. You still need to prove that you can do the work, but often getting into the room is the most challenging part of securing a new position. Networking is a two-way street. If you want to build a network of people who will let you know about job opportunities in their company, introduce you to hiring managers, and give you a heads-up on conferences and other events that could be valuable, you must be willing to do the same. It does take some time and effort, but the results make it worthwhile.

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