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VOL. 129 | NO. 218 | Friday, November 7, 2014

Angela Copeland

Reinventing Your Career

By Angela Copeland

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The desire to want to change careers is a common experience. Turning that desire into reality is a different story. Navigating dramatic shifts in one’s career can be both complex and confusing. The frustration causes many people to drop the idea altogether.

Often, one’s first instinct is to go back to school. It’s important to be 100 percent certain about your choice before making such a life-changing decision. Additional advanced degrees cost both a significant amount of time and money. The last thing you want is to spend years in school, only to find out you picked the wrong path. Remember that many people don’t work in the field they studied in school. This may be an option to consider, depending on the career you select.

The first step is to know yourself. Take inventory of all your skills and interests. Make a list of what you’ve learned at previous jobs and in school. Then, list your hobbies. Include volunteer work you do and projects you work on for fun. And don’t forget any side work you may do for extra money. Chances are, you have skills and interests that cross over multiple industries and branch into new ones.

After you have a list of jobs you may want to consider, begin setting up informational interviews. These are one-on-one networking meetings that allow you to learn about someone else’s career. Take the time to meet with as many professionals as you can. If you’ve never had an informational interview before, reach out to someone whose career you admire and invite them to have a coffee with you. Select a time and location that are convenient for your guest. In advance, prepare questions you have about their career, including how they got to where they are and what they like and dislike about their job. Keep notes about your positive and negative impressions of each role.

Taking an inventory of yourself and conducting informational interviews will give you quite a bit of information to work with. Use your findings and narrow them down to your top two to three choices.

Next, work to rebrand yourself. Sometimes, this is as simple as revising your resume or your LinkedIn. Other times, you will want to get involved in your new career before you’re actually working in it. You can do this by taking a class on a specific topic you’re interested in. You may also pick up a weekend consulting project for a small business, or volunteer your time at a nonprofit.

All of these activities will help to move you closer to your goal. They both increase your knowledge and your credibility. Just be sure to update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect these changes.

Last but not least, practice your elevator pitch. Other people will have a hard time understanding why you want to make a career transition – especially if they’ve never done it themselves. Be prepared to answer their questions, so they’ll be supportive of your career reinvention.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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