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Where Do I Go From Here? Getting on Track for a Career Change

Are you unhappy with your current lot in your professional life? If you’re less than satisfied with your job, you’re not alone. According to a recent online jobsite survey, 86% of employees are not happy with their current position. The number one reason cited–management. Managers should take note: An even higher number of employees said they plan to look for new jobs within the next six months. Whether employees will decide to act on their impulses, or decide to take a sit-and-wait approach has yet to be determined.

One thing is certain: Dissatisfaction seems to be a universal trend. According to a recent “New Employer/Employee Survey” conducted for a broad range of nearly 8,000 members of the U.S. workforce, only 45% of workers say they are satisfied, or extremely satisfied with their jobs. As you might expect, only 20% felt very passionate about their jobs. These numbers suggest that the key to career satisfaction is to be in a line of work that inspires and energizes you.

Education: The Key to Your New Career Path
If you ever have doubted the direct correlation between your level of education and your career potential, you would be wise to study the link between formal education and average earnings. The American Council on Education (ACE) released a recent survey showing that in 2002, bachelor’s degree holders earned an average of 88% more than high school graduates. Twenty years ago, college graduates earned an average of 61% more. The undeniable trend? Education is the stepping-stone to increasing your earning potential and unlocking doors to more career options.

Stuck in a Rut with a Dead-End Future? Do a U-Turn and Get Back on Track!
According to a recent assessment conducted by the U.S. Department of Education, 88% of students complete high school in the United States. If you’re one of the 12% who hasn’t, your future career opportunities can be dismal. To get back on track with your education, obtain a high school equivalency from your local school district, continuing education units, or even community college with a General Education Development (GED) program. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of these programs. They can provide the jump-start you need to get out of a dead-end job and increase your future career opportunities. You need to have your GED before you can seek higher education. According to ACE, one in every seven Americans with high school credentials received the GED, as did one in every twenty college students.

Use Your Experience to Your Advantage When Seeking a Career Change
According to recent estimates by the Census Bureau, 24.4% of U.S. citizens have a bachelor’s degree. If you’re one of the lucky graduates, you already have a significant leg-up. But, if you landed in an industry where you just don’t fit and begrudgingly report to work day in and day out, you may want to look at a 180-degree career change. Don’t be afraid to pursue opportunities outside of your current professional realm. Your personal experience, hobbies, or even affiliations outside of the office can help you land other jobs. Use your experience to your advantage. At first blush, your experience may seem to be unrelated to what you really want to do, but don’t sell yourself short. View all of your experiences as strengths and play up any transferable skills on your next job application. Keep in mind that, in general, employers like to diversify their workplaces. You may bring a well-rounded and fresh perspective to a different career path because of your experiences, which is highly sought after by many employers. A diverse background in a different career field can boast of your adaptability, and may actually be seen as an attribute that distinguishes you from your competition.

Is it Time? Take a Chance and Change Your Career
Keep in mind that only you can decide what will make you happy. Be careful not to flock to a popular or hot job just because it looks impressive on a resume. Choose something that will provide meaningful, stimulating work for you. Also, don’t feel like you’re a statistical anomaly or disloyal by seeking a career change. Recent studies indicate that the average worker will change careers several times over the course of his professional lifetime. Gone are the days of toiling away for one employer and retiring after 30 years of loyal service. Know what you want, and go after it. A career change can improve your well-being and your outlook for the future. In the words of self-fulfillment guru, Walter Anderson, “Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves.”

Publish date: June 2, 2008