Just because the economy isn’t as strong as it used to be doesn’t mean you have to suffer through a dead-end job with no future. If you want to reinvent your career or make an entire career switch, you have every right to do so, as long as you do your research first. Here are 100 tips, tools and resources to reinvent your career the responsible, effective way.
These tips caution you to network, organize your job search, and set up a game plan before quitting your current job.
- Evaluate your financial status: Find out if you’re in the position to go back to school, work part-time, or take a lesser paying job for the sake of starting over, or, if you need to save up a little first.
- Consider moving: If the industry you want to break into isn’t strong in your part of the country, consider relocating to a location that has a healthier economy or more opportunities.
- Focus on your transferrable skills: Just because you don’t have the exact job description of the new career you want, doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified.
- Update your resume: Keep your resume continually updated and in perfect shape in case a sudden networking opportunity or interview comes along.
- Talk to your supervisor: Sometimes, reinventing your career just means going after a promotion or switching departments within the company you’re already with.
- Pursue what inspires you: Instead of switching to a job that you’re pretty sure will burn you out in a few years, pursue a cause that makes you passionate and inspires you to make a difference.
- Apply the SWOT analysis method: Analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and development, and the potential threats that might stand in your way.
- Network before you quit: At the very least, have a game plan and a list of valuable contacts before you quit your old job.
- Look for stepping-stone jobs: The Path 101 Career Guidance blog encourages job seekers to look for jobs that help them transition from one career to a totally different industry.
- Talk to another professional in the field you want to enter: Don’t make any snap judgments on an industry by what you’ve read or seen on TV. Talk to someone who’s worked in that field for many years to get a realistic impression.
Look up salary reports from other industries or compare salaries in different parts of the country for the same job.
- Salary.com: Salary.com is one of the most popular salary evaluators that you can use to learn about your earning potential in new industries.
- Salary Expert: Use this tool to find salary reports for executive positions and even overseas positions.
- Salary Search: Indeed.com’s salary tool lets you compare salaries in different locations.
- New York Times Salary Tools: Get salary reports and comparisons here.
- InformationWeek Salary Survey: Select position level, geographic area and job function to get an IT salary report from InformationWeek.
Evaluations and Quizzes
Take these assessments and quizzes to help you research industries that match your personality and experience level.
- What career will suit your personality?: Find a job that won’t burn you out with this quiz.
- Work Interest Quiz: This assessment from Career Toolbox will help you identify your strengths and interests.
- Discover Your Perfect Career Quiz: Monster.com’s quiz is based on personality types.
- Career Planner Quiz: CareerPath.com’s test can help you find a new industry.
- Should You Make a Career Change?: About.com uses this quiz to help readers evaluate their readiness for change.
- Assessment: Find Your Strengths: Use this tool when revising your resume and prepping for an interview.
- Are You Ready for a Career Change?: Katie Roberts’ assessment reveals signs that you’re ready for a new job and provides tips for assessing your satisfaction.
- Strength and Weakness Assessment: Print out this form to fill out your strengths and weaknesses.
- Top 10 Reasons You Should Quit Your Job: This list may inspire you to quit your job and become a self-employed freelancer.
- Identifying your skills and career interests: The University of Washington’s list of career checklists and surveys will help you decide on a new career path.
Job Boards and Search
Read below for tips on getting noticed, finding the right job, and using the best job board for you.
- The ABCs of Choosing a Great Niche Job Board: This article encourages you to consider the type of traffic that job boards get.
- Why Use Niche Job Boards: Find out how niche job sites can help.
- Top Medical Job Boards and Healthcare Niche Job Sites: If you’re looking for a job in the health care industry, check out this article.
- Top 100 Job Board Niches: Find job boards for every industry by looking here.
- Finding and Applying for Jobs and Evaluating Offers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics can help you navigate the job search.
- Google yourself: Your potential employer will Google you, so it’s best to know what they’ve found out about you.
- Five tips to make your midcareer job search a success: MarketWatch helps mid-career professionals compete in this article.
- Use job alerts: Some job boards let you set an alert for when certain jobs in different parts of the country open up.
- Research the company: Researching the company will better prepare you for your interview and give you insight into the company culture so that you can figure out if you really want to work there or not.
- Using Craigslist to find a job: This article will help you search Craigslist without getting scammed.
- Knowing Where to Look for Job Openings: This article is aimed at recent grads, but it’ll help anyone who needs a crash course in job hunting.
- What to Look at in a New Job?: Remember to consider things like health insurance, hours and location, not just salary.
- Job Search Tools: SimplyHired’s group of job search tools and widgets will help you stay connected to your job search all day.
Freelance and Side Jobs
Learn how to build up a successful side job that you can fall back on when you quit your day job.
- FreelanceSwitch Job Board: Freelance and contract workers, especially in web and writing fields, can search for jobs here.
- 30 Days to Become a Freelancer: Skelliewag walks you through the month-long process for organizing your new, independent business.
- SideJobTrack: This tool helps you with invoicing and time tracking.
- How to Become a Freelance Blog Writer: Tips here include starting a job, retaining your day job for the time being, and join freelance job boards.
- Should You Become a Freelance Writer in a Down Economy?: Use this article to guide your decision to become a freelance writer.
- Polish up your website: All freelancers need websites if they want to be taken seriously. Use it to post your work, network, and share news and information.
- Make business cards: Still an elemental business networking tool, make contact cards to pass out.
- 9 Questions to Ask Before Going Freelance: Honestly decide if you’re able to meet deadlines, find enough work and be flexible enough to meet all the demands of an independent career.
- Build up your portfolio: Before quitting your day job, make sure your portfolio is in order so that you can show it to clients immediately.
- Organize your finances: When you work for yourself, your personal budgets, salary and work budget all get mixed together. Make sure you know exactly how much you’ll be making, how to separate your finances, and how much you’ll be able to spend.
Going Back to School
If you think you might want to go back to school to become more qualified in your field or learn about a new industry, take a look at these articles, tips and resources before making a decision.
- Which Graduate School is Right for You?: This article will help you start your grad school search.
- GradSchools.com: GradSchools.com is a good resource for learning about different types of graduate degrees.
- The Case Against Going Back to School: This article can help you find alternative ways to become more qualified and switch fields.
- Consider an online degree: You can more easily go back to school without giving up your current job if you choose an online or part-time program.
- Open Courseware: Research college and graduate classes before enrolling to give you a better idea of what you’d like to study.
- 5 Tips for Going Back to School as an Adult: Deb Peterson shares tips for nontraditional students going back to class.
- Finding a Graduate Program…Some Hints: Learn how to find a graduate program in your field.
- Find out if you can transfer work experience to get credit: When picking a program, ask around to see if you can credit work experience towards the courses you need.
- Talk with advisors and students: Talk with academic advisors, career counselors and students to find out if the program you like can really help you after you graduate.
- Evaluate your long-term goals: Do you want to go back to school just as a quick fix for sudden unemployment? Find out what you’re really after in the long run.
Set goals, organize your budget, and get your portfolio and resume in order with these career tools.
- MyProgress.com: This progress management tool lets you track skills, knowledge, experience, finance and more.
- MyFolio: Artists and designers can use this online portfolio manager to show off their work.
- Mint: Organize your finances and set up a budget with Mint while you decide on your career change.
- My Life Changes: This tracker can help you track goals and articulate what you want out of life.
- Blogger: Create a blog to network, host a portfolio and show others what you know.
- LifeTango: This community of goal setters sticks together to achieve small and big dreams.
- CareerMaze: Use CareerMaze’s assessment tool to learn more about jobs you’ll like.
- Worksolver: This tool will organize your contacts, applications, interviews, and other job search materials and data.
- ExecRelate: Research companies, business executives and industry leaders so that you’re better prepared for networking events, interviews and more.
- Highrise: Use this organization tool to keep your contacts, meetings, interviews, job searches, communications and follow-ups organized while you head back to school, look for a job, or start out on your own.
Let these blog posts guide you in your career switch, job search, and networking process.
- 5 Ways NOT To Find a Job: Avoid making these job search mistakes and you’ll be able to maintain your competitive edge.
- Why looking back at your childhood can help you find a career you love: Careershifters.org believes that childhood interests can inspire successful careers.
- Protecitng Your Online Reputation: As you network online, make sure you’re not uploading any incriminating data or photos.
- 7 Ways to Spice Up Your Resume: Career Hub helps you figure out how to add references and understand what makes you unique.
- Using Twitter for career networking: Read Daulton West, Jr.’s post on using Twitter to boost your career options.
- Finding the career that fits you best: This post has several tips for becoming qualified and networking.
- Top 3 barriers to making a career decision: Learn how to take control when deciding on a career change.
- 6 steps to making a positive career change: Set goals, predict obstacles, and prioritize to make your career switch a positive experience.
- Reasons for leaving a job – the dreaded interview question!: Learn how to answer the following question in your next interview: “So why did you leave your last job?”
- Incorporating “Reality” into Choosing the Right Career: Learn how to balance economic and financial reality with your interests and passions.
Learn how networking can help you reinvent your career with these tips, and also make sure that you’ve established a presence on the following online networking sites.
- Informational interviews: Talk to professionals in the field you’d like to get into as a way to network and set new, realistic goals.
- Naymz: Independent professionals boost their brand and make valuable contacts on this site.
- Ryze: This professional online networking site has all kinds of networks and groups for you to join.
- Facebook: Join groups and build your brand on Facebook.
- Twitter: Twitter is great for building your contacts list and getting access to high profile people.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is one of the best professional networking sites for all kinds of industries.
- Jigsaw: Get accurate, updated contact information for corporations and professionals.
- Mediabistro: This network is extraordinarily useful for freelance writers and provides all kinds of opportunities for networking and contacts.
- Meetup: The whole point of this group is to meet up and network in real life.
- My blog got me a new job: This post explains how blogging expands your network.
- Moms – how to network to a new job: This post has great tips for anyone looking to branch out and find meaningful contacts in an industry that’s new to you.
These tools will help you learn all about an industry’s strength, job descriptions, job outlook, and more.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Find job descriptions, salary reports and employment projects from the U.S. Department of Labor for all kinds of industries.
- Yahoo! News by Industry: Evaluate the health of an industry when you look up news and press releases with this tool.
- Job Description Search Tool: Use CareerPlanner.com’s tool to look up job descriptions for all kinds of careers.
- Business.com: Research an industry like retail, legal, finance, education or transportation on Business.com to read news, industry reports, hiring trends, and more.
- Career FYI: Get transcripts of informational interviews from various industries.
- Glassdoor.com: Look up anonymous salary reports and job reviews.
- The Riley Guide: On The Riley Guide, you can get all kinds of job search help, look up salary reports, and more.
- Vault: Vault contains industry overviews for everything from law firms to real estate to biotechnology.
- CareerTV: Look up company profiles and watch career videos to learn about job options.
- Wet Feet: Here you can browse industry profiles, discover different career paths, and learn about job outlooks.
- CEOExpress: Get business and tech news from all sorts of media publications and sites to research an industry.