career.jpgTomorrow the unemployment report for July will be released and many of you should just ignore it.

I’m talking about those of you who had jobs in shrinking industries such as mortgages, or manufacturing, just to name a few. Even though you’ve been trying hard to find a similar job in a similar field, you can’t even seem to get a call back, let alone an interview.

Maybe it’s time to think about career reinvention. I know, you don’t want to think about that yet. But hitting your head against the wall trying to get a job in a dying field will get you no where.

Come on folks, you can do it!

There are endless stories about folks over 40 who have been able to leave long-time careers behind and start something new and exciting.

Just today, there’s a great, inspiring story in the Wall Street Journal about a former New York firefighter who is now a flight attendant. Go read this piece now if you want some encouragement for your career redux.

I’m not saying starting something new is easy. It’s not. And among the biggest challenges are being able to see yourself in a new career and accepting that maybe you’re not going to find a dream job.

“There’s an idealism in this economy that you should be making decisions out of passion, but that’s not always how it works,” says Marci Alboher, author of “One Person/Multiple Careers.”

Depending on your financial situation, you may not have the luxury to sit around waiting for a career eureka moment. That means you have to be proactive, realistic and take a structured approach when figuring out what to do.

“Start investigating yourself and identify your transferable skills,” says Alboher. “You should do an inventory of your skills and talents and go with the opportunities available to you.”

Once you come up with four or five ideas, Alboher suggests you find out more about what those careers or jobs entail and whether they’re right for you. Then you can assess what you need to do to reach your new career goal, such as whether you need to relocate to a new city or go back to school for more training.

Here are some tips from Francyenne Maynard, director of career services at North Lake College in Dallas, to get you started:

* Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing and those you don’t. Before targeting a specific industry, you will need to determine what brings you joy. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing? Look at your past experiences, whether paid or not. For instance, when you volunteer at your church or for the local PTA, is there something that you are particularly good at or that you constantly get “recruited” to do, such as planning events or fundraising?
* Figure out what you do well. Think about what your strengths are. Ask your family and friends what you are particularly good at — many times they may know a particular field that you would be good at that you may not have even considered.
* Have a career plan. Think of transferable skills that you bring to the desired job and how you can make yourself marketable. Get work experience, volunteer or see if you can obtain an unpaid internship in that field.
* Network, network, network. More jobs are gained through networking than by any other job search strategy. If you would like to be an event planner, for example, start by planning events for your friends free of charge and ask for referrals. Then, plan an event for your church or community organization. This sort of networking not only helps you gain valuable experience to add to your resume, but it also “gets the word out” about you to other people. We all have networks — our friends, family, real estate agent, banker, insurance agent, barber, hairdresser. (These are all people that know other people and can spread the word about you.)
* Go to school. Consider taking classes at night or online.
* Do informational interviews. Ask people what they like and dislike about their jobs. See if you can do a job shadow — that is, spend some time on the job with that person.
* Volunteer. This is an excellent way to obtain work experience in a new career field. The only difference is that when you are volunteering, you are unpaid. Volunteer work still can be listed as experience on a resume or portfolio and is an excellent way to expand your networking opportunities.
* Go to your community college career center. Meet with a career specialist who can help you identify your skills and make yourself more employable in that area. Also, consider going back to the school where you got your degree and taking advantage of alumni services.

My favorite line from the Journal article today was this from Spivey:

“This is not as stressful as running into a burning building where smoke is down to the floor and you are trying to find people.”

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