Career dreams sometimes seem out of reach. Even when people know what they really want to do they often put their dreams on hold, classified as unachievable because of the realities of life. Perhaps your career dream would require further study but bills need to be paid. Perhaps it involves reinventing the person that you show to the world. Perhaps you doubt your abilities and skills to achieve the role you want. Please don't let this stop you from working through the process of making a career change. You just might amaze yourself.

Even your career dreams that are completely unrealistic shouldn't be discarded. They don't have to be realistic or achievable to reveal a lot about you. They are like the career ambitions you expressed as a young child, full of raw recognition of who you really are beyond the facade of your everyday life.

Examine your career dreams and what they are saying about you. Dig under the job label and see what is really involved in that occupation. Does your career dream reveal a desire to be listened to or to help others? Does it come from your fascination with wild animals, or from your love of beautiful objects? Does it demonstrate your desire to be active and outdoors, to experience a level of notriety, or to be quietly working behind the scenes.

Similarly consider your dreams of what said you would be "when I grow up." Children's early career ambitions often are quite revealing, showing a level of self-understanding that isn't always around when you actually have to make career decisions. They are true to your nature, not clouded by what seems too difficult or out of reach.

Each of these values are valuable as you consider how you can make a career change to something that you will find fulfilling. Write down each clue as you recognise it and see if a pattern is starting to develop to help you make your career decisions.

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.