Were you recently down-sized and find yourself contemplating a career change? Reports indicate that on average, individuals change careers five or six times during their working life. While unemployment rates are at an all-time high, many folks are using this time to re-invent themselves.

Try Something New

You don’t need to stay in the same career field in which you started out. While that was common and expected years ago, it’s not anymore. Some career changers realize they made a bad choice when they first chose a career. Others may now want a job with meaning, one that offers more challenge, or one in which they are passionate. And for others, their career is no longer available.

What you enjoyed doing when you were twenty-five years old, may not be appealing at forty. With each job you gain valuable skills that you can transfer from one job to another and one career to another. Let’s say you were most recently in retail management, but are now interested in a supervisory position in a customer service department of an insurance company. The type of business is different, but the basic set of skills is the same, i.e., supervising, training, customer service, etc.

What Are You Good At?

Keep in mind your interests, skills, work values, personality style, lifestyle, and financial needs when choosing a new career. It’s like putting together the pieces of a puzzle- with each piece being integral to ensure career satisfaction.

Select a career that interests you and one in which you can use the skills you enjoy. Another important consideration is choosing a career that is in alignment with your work values. For example, let’s say you value having your evenings and weekends free. With this knowledge, you’ll realize that retail management would probably not be a good match for you.

Consider taking a personality assessment to identify your natural preferences. For a no-cost, personality quiz go to: http://resources.monster.com/tools/quizzes/perfectcareer. To learn more about your personality type, check out Do What You Are : Discover the Perfect Career for You Through the Secrets of Personality Type by Paul D. Tieger. The more your career is aligned with your values, the greater your level of career satisfaction.

Other considerations include your lifestyle and financial needs. What type of lifestyle do you want to live and how much money is required to achieve and maintain that lifestyle? You’ll want to keep this in mind when exploring your options.

Try-Out New Skills

A great way to learn new skills and “try-out” a new career is through volunteering. Perhaps you would like to gain some skills in the fundraising arena, consider volunteering on an election campaign. Maybe you would like to explore a career as a trainer, offer to teach a workshop at a non-profit agency.

Another very effective way to try out a new career is through an internship, paid or unpaid. One example of a successful internship experience is an individual in restaurant management who transitioned into computer networking. He had completed some basic hardware and software computer classes and then attended a job fair where he submitted his resume. By demonstrating an interest and some basic computer networking skills, he landed a paid internship.

In closing, if you’ve been thinking about exploring other career options, consider using your lay-off as a springboard into a new career.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Runnheim Olson, M.S., founder of Pathways Career Success Strategies, LLC (www.pathwayscareer.com) in Hudson, WI, is an internationally certified coach who helps professionals, managers, and executives move up, move forward, or move on in their career. For 7+ years she served as a career expert for Monster.com, a global careers network. Joan has been able to reach out to millions of people with her 1:1 in person, telephone, and online career coaching. For more information or to subscribe to her bi-weekly eNewsletter, Strategies for Career Success, go to www.pathwayscareer.com or call 715-808-0344 or email joan@pathwayscareer.com. Follow Joan on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/joanolson. Check out her blog for additional career & leadership tips at http://joanrunnheimolson.blogspot.com.