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Switching To The Right Career

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People always ask me how I managed to make the leap from print journalist to TV journalist. Truth is I considered it more of a hop than a leap. So much was the same about my new job when I first moved to television. I was covering the same personal finance topics, even talking to the same personal finance sources. The biggest difference was that those interviews were conducted on air instead of over the phone. The move also eliminated all that pesky writing and crafting of sentences. (To be honest, I still like doing that). But my experience is similar to many people who transition into a new gig – they take something of their old life with them, preferably the part they liked the most. For me, it was talking to people about topics I found compelling.

More and more folks these days are asking themselves whether they could transition to a new career.  A new survey from Career Builder shows that one in five workers wants to get a new job this year. And, it's easy to see why. Job satisfaction is on the wane. Forty-five percent of folks are dissatisfied with advancement opportunities in their current job, while 39 percent don't like the work/life balance their job requires.

The good news is that many people are capable of transitioning to a new career. But the successful switcher will have to figure out whether they want to start from scratch, get more education and begin again on the wage scale or transition to something that is similar, but different. Consider: If you're a successful salesperson, your Rolodex would be highly valuable to a not-for-profit looking for donors. Worked as an accountant for years in a big firm? You could simply put out your own shingle. Not every job switch requires a complete transformation.

Here are some ideas for making the change:

Unless you have already figured out what's next, you need to do some soul searching. Robert Stephen Kaplan in his best-selling book, "What You're Really Meant to Do," advises readers to find a role that allows them to utilize their strengths instead of trying to hide their weaknesses in a job that isn't right for them. By the way, Kaplan successfully transitioned from Goldman Sachs vice chairman to Harvard Business professor. According to Kaplan, if you don't like what you're doing now, you automatically limit your possibility for growth and advancement.

Making that transition may mean additional education but you may not have to go for a four-year degree. Some specialties can be learned by achieving a certification or training. That kind of work can be done at a community college or online. Remember in some fields getting a full-blown degree can be considered a bad thing, like computer programming. If you're not sure what field your skills might translate best, check out careeronestop.org and onetcenter.org.

Learn the new rules of the job search. The traditional CV just isn't as important as it used to be. According to Anita Attridge, a Five O'Clock Club career coach, 80 percent of new jobs come from networking and direct contact. Companies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of applications for the average professional job. Standing out in a pile that big is difficult. Worse, if you're searching using one of the many online job sites, your resume may never be read by a human. Companies increasingly use computer programs to reduce sky-high resume piles, trolling for key words or phrases that they think the best candidates would include. Bottom line, expanding your network and talking to friends and family is key to landing a new gig.

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