Careers & Ideas: Looking to Switch Careers?

Did you get started in a career that didn't turn out as you had planned? This happens to many intelligent people who worked towards a career that they later found out they did not like or were not suited for. Instead of being stuck in a job you don't like or can't do well, you should take the leap and switch careers. This might sound like a scary idea, but with a little faith and guidance you should be able to find a more suitable career.

CareerJournal.com has a few suggestions on changing careers:

Reading a field's publications and blogs can clue you in on big issues and industry parlance. They may also contain listings for jobs that aren't widely publicized.

You might join an association or professional society. And attending seminars and conferences "is a really good way to build connections and network," says Pamela Mitchell, chief executive of the Reinvention Institute, a career-development firm in Miami.

Once you know what you're talking about, give someone who has the job you want a call and ask for some guidance. Ask questions such as: What kinds of people are generally successful in this job? What are things about the job people may not know? How did you get the job?

Be sure to ask about the job's negatives, says Brendan Courtney, a senior vice president of Spherion, a recruiting and staffing firm in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "People get caught up in what they think a job is without knowing the nitty-gritty."

Laurel Touby, the founder of mediabistro.com, a New York-based media-job site, warns career switchers to "never ask for a job" during such an informational interview.

You might also consider an adult internship or volunteering, suggests Ms. Mitchell. "There are a lot of small but growing companies that could always use more manpower," she says, and some unpaid work in a new field could help build your credibility.

Shadowing someone on the job may also be an option. VocationVacations in Portland, Ore., arranges one- to three-day "test drives" of dozens of different careers (see vocationvacations.com).

Continuing education online can also help you to make a more seamless transition from one career to another. There are many online college courses that can help you on your way to a new career.

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