In part one, I discussed how layoffs have become a prime time for transitioning into a new career. But for many people, jumping into a new career means giving up a familiar working world and starting from the bottom floor. Just how do you get a job in a field that may not be represented on your resume? How do you navigate the learning curve? And who are the new contacts you’ll need to make? That’s what we’ll look at in part two.

There are three basic steps to consider for a career transition like this:

1. Get the right tools

You may have been an expert in your previous field, may have had all the right connections and known all of the ins and outs. But when considering a new career, what’s the shortest path to breaking in? It could be career professionals who can give you a boost. Career transition and outplacement services like those provided by RiseSmart can be a key factor in re-inventing yourself in the workplace.

In the Houston Chronicle, Pat Goodwin writes that everyone who goes through a layoff should find out whether or not their former employer is providing any services to help with career transition:

A worker should focus on learning about what assistance the company offers during the first days after a layoff. Some businesses provide help through outplacement firms or career management consultants. Others offer resume writing clinics and networking opportunities. Still others may provide job listings or contact other firms in the field. Take full advantage of all help available including information and career workshops.

2. Get smart

With a new career, there often comes a learning curve, and many workers are taking themselves back to school to catch up in the field they’ve always wanted to pursue. As far back as last year, colleges began realizing that this was an important new educational demographic, as USA Today reported:

To attract laid-off workers, community colleges and technical schools are tailoring programs to appeal to adults who need new skills, working with local companies to match their needs and sending staff into factories and other workplaces to spread the word about state and federal retraining assistance. There’s growing demand for certificates and degrees that can be earned in a year or less and for training in emerging fields such as wind- and solar-energy technology and “green” construction. When the recession eases, those industries might be among the first to start hiring.

3. Get out there

Though embarking on a new career path can be intimidating, what many people report is that while the specific areas of knowledge may change, the general career strategies sometimes don’t. Networking is still critical, as is knowing industry trends and building your personal brand within the field. The irony, as Robin Fisher Roffer writes, is that it’s possible that as a newcomer bringing a different outlook and fresh ideas, your new career might need you as much as you need it:

When you craft your dream don’t forget to consider who you’ll need to influence to make it come true. In marketing speak, we call these folks the “target audience.” And, the best way to appeal to them is to do a 180-degree turn, stand in their shoes and figure out what they want to hear from you. More than likely it’s how you’re going to save them or make them look good. To find your target audience, comb the trade shows, attend conferences, show up at industry affairs and talk with your friends and family. After all, if you don’t get out, you’ll never get in. Make sure that you dress the part. Your packaging should reflect the soul of your brand. Eighty percent of all communication is visual, so if you don’t look the part you want to play no one will cast you in the role.

Her last piece of advice is key to any career transition:

To stay on track, practice the holy trinity of branding: clarity, authenticity and consistency. If you tell others who you are and act the part long enough, you will become your desired brand.

08 August 2011

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