Five Strategies to Help Career Changers Choose a Career Path

So youve decided it is time to change your career path, but you’re not exactly sure what you want to do. It can be stressful to embark on a new venture, but if you’re considering making a career change, here are some steps to help make a smooth transition:    

  1. Assess your interests, values, and skillsThen, review past successful roles, volunteer work, projects, and jobs to identify your preferred activities and skills.

    The more you know about your natural tendencies and preferences, the easier it will be to identify a career path that maximizes your talents and interests. If you take your personality and interests into account when setting out on a new career path, you are more likely to enjoy your work and find it fulfilling. Visit Steppingblocks to get started on your personality assessment. 

  2. Research career paths.
    Explore, compare, and evaluate several industries to identify career opportunities that merit deeper research. If you identify career fields, jobs, and volunteer opportunities that are a match for your interests, values, and skills, you’ll have a successful and smooth career change. To research industry outlook projections, company hiring histories, and salary comparisons, visit Steppingblocks.
     
  3. Speak with alumni and professionals in your fields of interest.
    A great way to get the inside scoop on a job or career field is to simply speak with people already in it! Informational interviews provide an opportunity for you to interview a professional who is either working in your target field or for an organization that interests you. Another resource is UMUC’s Community Connect program, which is a way for you to connect with alumni on a short- or long-term basis. These are two great ways for you to connect with UMUC students, alumni, and industry professionals for career guidance, networking, and mentorship. 

  4. Identify your Goals.
    After you have decided on a new career path, you will need to set both short- and long-term goals. The SMART goal setting method provides structure and trackability into your goals and objectives. To use the SMART method, your goals will have to fit the following criteria:

    Specific: What exact goal you want to achieve.
    Measurable: What will tell you that you have achieved your goal.
    Action Oriented: You can take clear steps to achieve your goal.
    RealisticYour goal is achievable.
    Timely: Your goals have a deadline for you to meet.  

  5. Make a plan of action.
    Once you have identified your goals, the next step is to put together a career plan. Your career plan is a written document that outlines step-by-step how you will achieve your goals. Completion of this plan will follow a four-step process, and each step will address specific career related questions: 
  1. What skills do you already possess? 
  2. What do you want for your career? 
  3. What steps do you need to take to reach your goals? 
  4. What resources are available to help you reach your goals? 

Changing career paths can be a daunting task at the beginning, but by following these steps, you can break your large goals into achievable smaller goals. As always, keep in mind that UMUC Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Visit CareerQuest today or set up an appointment with a UMUC Career Advising Specialist.  

Rhoda Smackum is a career advising specialist for Career Services and Alumni Relations at University of Maryland University College. She has approximately 28,000 hours of work experience in the field of career development. Ms. Smackum enjoys working collaboratively, in partnership with students and alumni to identify career issues, match values with career choices and obtain meaningful work. She holds a Master of Arts degree from Bowie State University and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from the University of Maryland College Park. She is a Certified Master of Career Services (CMCS) and an Associate Certified Career Coach.