Five tools to consider as you start your career change

Changing careers isn’t for the faint of heart or those who hurry through life.  Sometimes a change can take years or even decades to orchestrate, and U-turns and detours show up and slow us down.
Sometimes it’s difficult to see how to connect the dots and move from your current job to your next job.
The U.S. Department of Labor has debuted a new website and online tool to assist career changers with those dots. It’s called mySkills myFuture and it’s designed to help individuals build on their skills and strengths – and fill in gaps that are required in their intended occupation. The site is also said to provide links to local community colleges and other training resources.

I played around with mySkillsmyFuture a bit and discovered that I could move from my old career of editor into jobs as a librarian, claims adjuster or adult literacy instructor. A public relations person or market research analyst also showed up on my second-career possiblities list.  I plan to do some more reading and research on some of these, though I’m hoping not to have to switch from mostly writing for a long time.

There’s many other resources for those who are starting their career change- from books for the mature job changers to blogs to a business called Vocation Vacation that allows you to sample other careers for a few days at a time. After you’ve tried out the Labor Department’s new site, here’s three others that could be valuable for your career change:
1.  A group led by Civic Ventures and MetLife has put together for people seeking encore careers with meaning.  It has some great advice on second careers that will grow in the years ahead and more resources.
2. The Transition Network, an organization for women who are in transition after age 50, has a growing number of chapters and good insights from members.  I find the Transition Network newsletter full of encouragement and advice – and wonder if there’s a similar group for men.
3. The public library.  Start with biographies and autobiographies and then make your way to the careers and inspiration sections.  I’m not going to recommend specific books; you will find some that speak to you if you give yourself a half hour to browse and engage.

My best advice though may be to develop a career journal and write about your career hopes and plans and ideas for a while.  Use the journal to shape your hopes into something specific and then to document what steps you need to take – what classes, what connections, how else you’ll make the dream career change a reality. And then take small steps each week in “in the direction of your dreams” as Thoreau said.


What encourages and informs you? Please send me your favorite resources on career transitions – books, websites, articles and more for me to share.

Read my Washington Post piece on visualizing your career change several steps ahead.

My Kiplinger’s article gives the paths of three people who made big career changes – some of them very slowly.

I did recommend career and inspiration books on my WorkingKind posts on books for graduates. Some are worthwhile as you graduate to a new stage of life or a new career too.

Consider the blog of career coach and author Tama Kieves, author of “This Time I Dance.” In her blog about “inspired living,” she writes about career change and living a wonderful life.