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Thinking of a career change? Five tips to finding the right fit for you

Career Center job fair in 2011

An Illinois State student at a Career Center job fair in 2011.

Whether you’re just graduating, finding promotional opportunities limited in your current position or, like many in this current economy, facing unemployment, you may be thinking of a career change. Regardless of your reasons, the right career is out there for you. By assessing your strengths, researching options, acquiring new skill sets, as well as the determination to make a change, you can discover the right career fit for you.

Today, most people have up to 10 careers in their lifetime. A recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder.com reports up to 90 percent of people are unhappy in their current career. When you realize it’s time to change careers, select a career path that encompasses as many of your talents as possible. Research options and see what might be the right fit for you. You may be surprised at the careers that relate to many of the things you love to do.

Five tips to find the right career fit for you:

  1. Determine what you like to do. Take time to map out your interests, values and must-haves. Match your skills with skills that are desired by employers in certain fields of work. Look at the things you are good at doing. These will give you a good indication of what you are likely to enjoy doing by way of a career. Leverage your skills and experiences to a new career.
  2. Think of fields broadly. A field is more than a job. It is an area in which many jobs are possible and you should be able to consider your training and interests in terms of looking for a career path that will give you a shot at a variety of jobs available within that field. For instance, in the finance field, you might consider corporate and public finance, banking, insurance, personal financial planning, real estate, investment banking, money management or accounting. Realize that the breadth of the field will be determined by the training you receive and by your own skill set and willingness to be retrained.
  3. Consider crossing fields. Utilize your skills that translate to a variety of jobs. For example, teachers possess strong verbal and written communication skills, and therefore would make excellent editors, publishers, corporate trainers or sales representatives.
  4. Training and education. You may find it necessary to update your skills, broaden your knowledge or gain additional experience. Obtain a part-time job or volunteer in your new career field which may solidify your decision, as well as help you to obtain much needed experience. See if your current employer would be willing to provide training and development opportunities to enhance your skills.
  5. Change in or out. Don’t overlook your current employer. Ask about a job switch. Some people change careers, but never change employers. Decide if it is the job or the company you dislike. Could you be happy in the same career if you were in a different environment? If so, consider competing companies within the industry.
  6. Network. One of the real keys to successfully changing careers will be your networking abilities. Your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network and possibilities.

Remember, every job has parts to it that you may not like; however, if there are too many things you do that you’d rather avoid, or it takes up too much of your day, then it may be time to consider changing careers.

It all boils down to assessing yourself to determine the right fit for you. FOCUS is an online, self-guided career and educational planning tool designed to help select career fields that are most compatible with your personal interests, skills, and goals. Your assessment results are matched to occupations. FOCUS may help you figure out what you like doing the most, and the areas where you can excel. FOCUS may help you identify the right fit for you.

Learn more by visiting us online or contacting the Career Center at (309) 438-2200.


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