By knowing yourself well you will increase your chances of making a successful career change. If you deeply understand the aspects of work life that you find fulfilling, the level of responsibility that you thrive on, and the environmental factors that satisfy you, then you begin to know who you are in relation to your work.

How do you do this? Simply develop your own criteria list for your ideal work situation. This involves recognising all the factors that you genuinely like or have liked about any work you have done, factors such as the type of people you like to work with, the environment you enjoy being in, physical activity and the level of interpersonal interaction.

You must also consider your personal strengths and skills. Unless things are absolutely desperate, you should not work in a career that does not suit your personal strengths and skills as it is unlikely that you will be happy or even productive. if you are able to find something that truly fulfils you and allows you to work within the criteria that you developed, in conjunction with your long-term career ambitions, you are giving yourself the best possible chance of success.

You have innate skills that you can apply to your career transition. What is it that you love to do? Know this and apply this and you will soon attract to you a career that fits your criteria and you will have a successful career change.

When being interviewed, you are ac8ually interviewing the interviewer as well, without them realising it! You need to decide if the job that they are offering actually suits your needs, as much as they need to decide if you will meet their needs.

Good self-knowledge enables you to choose wisely which path you wish to take. Know yourself well to be able to live your career dreams!

A career change usually implies moving into a different occupational role, job description or even industry. Yet you'd be amazed at how many people consider a major change in their career without doing the necessary research to really understand all the factors that will impact them in their new career.

You must know the reality of the work you are seeking when you are looking for a career change. What are the salaries, expectations, opportunities and predicted future prospects of that occupation? When you know the labour market you are prepared and ready for anything. You know what you want and how what you want fits with what others are seeking. In understanding the labour market, you understand what is expected of you and you are able to make clearer decisions to assist with your career change. Your answers in interviews will also be more succinct.

No matter what your industry there are ways you can find out the most up to date information. The internet makes research about companies so much easier than it used to be. But insider knowledge is really important too. Maybe you know someone in the industry who can inform you, or perhaps you could make contact with someone you admire within your industry and arrange to meet with them to ask about current industry and labour market trends. Either way you will come to understand how your industry is currently faring in the economy and what are the key employment trends in the industry.

Just by doing a little investigative work you will increase your chances of making clear decisions on your future, making your career change so much easier.

It is so easy to be overly optimistic, or even overly pessimistic if you do not have a good understanding of the realities that you are facing in your career change. Write down your true skills and honestly evaluate if your skills and experience are a good match for the work you are seeking and for any job advertisement which you are considering. If there's a good match then go for it! If there isn't, there is little point in applying for that job. You will be wasting your time and that of the person whose task is to review your application.

Have clear and precise goals, enhanced by some optimism and you will find yourself attracting success. Clarity of your goals is essential because if you know what you want, you will recognise it if the job is advertised or if you hear about the opportunity through your network. However, if you can't really explain to someone the sort of work that you ideally want to be doing then you probably aren't ready to start making your career change yet.

Do you have a deep understanding of the current labour market in your area of expertise? it is important to do some research and find out about salaries, conditions and current job descriptions in your industry to ensure you are up to date with what is expected of you. So often people apply for jobs and have their blinkers on to the reality of the labour market, then they wonder why they have difficulty getting work. The old dating adage "It's not you, it's me" so often applies to job applications. When people are unsuccessful in their applications it is easy to internalize it and perceive the rejection as failure. Yet usually it is just that they were not what the employer wanted, and if they'd read the advertisement properly they'd have realised that!

With determination and talent, complemented by strong employability skills, you can reach your ambitions. However, you need to be realistic and maintain your optimism, knowing you have done all you can do to improve your chances of a successful career change. Arm yourself awareness of the job market in your indsutry and deep self-knowledge and you will achieve your career dreams.

When you want to break into a new industry, perhaps after doing some study or as a result of recognising your true career goals, you need to be strategic about the way that you make yourself known.

Here are a few tips to help you target your networking and to make good contacts within the industry whilst finding out about the industry from an insider's perspective.

Targeted networking

  • Join LinkedIn and set up your profile if you haven't already done so.
  • Join the professional level of LinkedIn, inexpensive and definitely worth the money for the connections it can give you.
  • Join a few groups directly related to your professional interests and start making some pertinent comments within the group so they know you are there.
  • Read the profiles or organisations that you think you might be interested in working  for (through Google or direct to specific websites) then on LinkedIn look for high level execs or HR people from these organisations and contact them directly to see if you can have a chat with them.
  • But a few business magazines and professional journals and use these for additional research, profiles etc.

Informational interviewing

  • Contact people respectfully and appropriately through LinkedIn, journals or through anyone you know (friends of friends etc) who work within the industry or companies that interest you. I emphasize "respectfully and appropriately."
  • Don't approach them with the intention of applying for a job, but rather with the attitude of asking to talk to them about the reality of their industry and their advice about getting the sort of work that you are considering. Make it very clear to them that you aren't looking for a job just seeking their expertise and opinion about breaking into the industry, so do it before you are seriously job-hunting. Don't expect to get more than 15 minutes of their time.
  • End on a really positive note and send them a note or an email to say thanks for their time.

Let me know how you go. I'd love to hear about your successes through targeted networking and informational interviewing.

Redesigning your life after 40… or 50… or 60… or even 65.

Many people once they hit "the big 50", or when others ask them about their retirement plans, start to wonder what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. Sadly it is an age when you are more frequently touched by the chronic illness or death of friends, colleagues or people you have known in the past. "Life is too short!" becomes more a recognition of fact than a loosely used phrase. A common reaction is to consider what your own future holds. Do you want to retire?Or is it far too early for that? Are you too old to have your own business?

We can't turn the clock back, but the solution is to redesign your life. Build into your life the things that really matter to you, create the job of your dreams, pursue the business idea you have had for years, do what really matters to you. Make it happen the way you want it to and start really loving your life and your work.


How do you redesign your life?

Redesigning your life, or planning for an active retirement, is rather like making any career decision except at this time of your life you really know yourself well, you have a clear picture of the constraints, and you are realistic about your expectations!

If you want to make the most of the next chapter of your life, there is a clear process that you need to work through. If you have a life partner, it is important that they also be part of this process although you may prefer to initially have separate sessions to clarify your own personal needs, wants and dreams, then come together to discuss the way that both persons' desires can be achieved.


It is possible. I'm doing it!

At the start of 2008 I gave up permanent employment to pursue my dreams of having a successful career development practice. I have never felt more content, nor less stressed in my working life. I am doing what I want to do, following my dreams, and responsible to myself. There is no higher motivation to succeed.

Life's too short not to make the most of every year. If you are not content with your life make the stand now. Redesign your life and make decisions that will lead to the achievement of career results you desire, fulfillment of business dreams, part-time work, study, or whatever it is that will give you a full and satisfying future.