If you're jonesing for a new career in 2010, you're not alone. A surprising statistic from Robert Half International's 2009 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report revealed that more than half of employees plan to make a career change or go back to school as soon as the economy recovers. Given those aspirations, you might want to take steps now - while you still have a paying job - to make your future transition easier. Here are a few tips for incorporating the career change process into your daily routine:
When You Wake Up: When your alarm goes off, grab a journal and a pen and take ten minutes to consider what you like and what you don't like in a work environment. Thought starter questions include: "What is important to you and what are your values?", "What is your definition of success?" "How do you prefer to work?" and "What type of job would make you want to sit in traffic for hours just for the privilege of showing up?"
While Drinking Your Morning Coffee: Instead of surfing Facebook, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook. Browse through the hundreds of thousands of occupations and make a note of the ones that interest you. Jot down the transferable skills required (i.e. project management, sales, marketing, finance), and as you're going through your day, think about how you may already be using those skills in your current job.
Over Lunch: Search for organizations on LinkedIn that do the kind of work you're interested in. Use this site, as well as resources like your college career center or alumni network, to connect with individuals currently working in your target fields. E-mail them and request a half hour informational interview in which you ask specific questions about training requirements, responsibilities, salary, work environment, and opportunities for advancement. As long as you are polite, no one will fault you for wanting the real scoop.
Before You Leave Work: When you're finished with your daily duties, stay after hours and check out an online course designed to help you facilitate a career change. Online video presentations often provide the same value as more expensive, time consuming, and difficult to travel to seminars. Feel free to check out this webinar for an example.
On the Train Home: Many people resist changing careers because they feel like they can't afford it. Start creating a nest egg for your transition now by creating a spreadsheet in your Blackberry or PDA that keeps track of where your money is going on a daily basis. If you do this on the train for a month or even just for a few weeks, you'll be amazed at the data you'll accumulate. You'll start to see patterns of unnecessary spending (your morning Starbucks run, sushi takeout, etc.) and areas where you can tighten your belt. A great question to ask yourself is: "do I really need this?" If you honestly don't, then put the money away for your career change.
Alexandra Levit is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the author of the new book "New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career." If you're struggling with what to do with your career in the New Year, visit www.newjobnewyou.com.