Career change may be antidote to boredom on current job

Do any of these symptoms fit you?

You can barely face going to work on Monday mornings. You've lost that sense of accomplishment in your job. You tend to get lazy because the job is becoming boring. You've begun to notice other jobs that seem to suit your interests, and you're considering going back to school. You would like to switch to another career but you have no idea where to begin.

If this sounds painfully familiar, you're probably ripe for a career change or shift. In fact, you'd be wise to make a move now, before your performance begins to suffer in your current job.

What do you do? If you have decided to make a career change, here is a step-by-step approach that has worked for many people just like you:

  1. Begin by listing all the things you like to do and do well. Don't forget to ask friends and relatives and to look at former performance appraisals for insights. Try to be as specific as you can. Make a list of tasks you know you dislike.
  2. When you compile this list, be careful to stay objective. For example, you may say you hate writing reports but, in your last job, you really objected to the required length of the reports.
  3. Next, brainstorm a list of jobs that fit some or all the items on your first list. At this point, you may want to get some testing at a local university or from a qualified career counselor. Often, they will provide you with a list of jobs that fit your talents and aptitudes. You can also determine if more education actually is necessary.
  4. It's very important to spend time finding your "common denominators." These are work experiences you've had that demonstrate skills or knowledge that fit the job you're targeting. Nurses might use their medical expertise, knowledge of drugs or patient care; teachers could use their training skills, subject knowledge or research abilities; consultants might use project management skills.
  5. The key is to find the elements of your past experience that you enjoyed and look for positions that use the same factors. Identifying your common denominators will give your interviewers something to hang on to. If you simply tell an interviewer that you want to try this new career because you think you'll do a good job, they won't risk it. They want some evidence that you've already demonstrated some ability in the area. If you don't show evidence of these common denominators on a cover letter or resume, you aren't likely to get an interview at all.
  6. Now it's time to talk to some people who are doing jobs you think you'd like. Start with neighbors, friends and colleagues when collecting names of people with whom you would like to talk. Assure everyone that you aren't going to ask these contacts for a job. Rather, you want to know about their backgrounds, what they do on their jobs in an average day, what skills are required for the jobs they do and so on.
  7. Contacting strangers is usually a big hurdle for career changers. "Why should he want to talk to me? I'm a perfect stranger and besides he's busy," a career changer will say. However, if the career changer uses the name of the referral person, the contact will likely give some time as a favor to the referring friend or associate.
  8. When contacting these people, be ready with several approaches: a) Request a personal meeting to ask them questions such as those in No. 4 above. b) Have two questions ready. If they're too busy to meet with you personally, they may answer a few questions on the phone. c) Ask if they'd be willing to critique your resume.
  9. Have several resumes ready if you are uncertain about what career direction you want to take. Each resume should show a slightly different perspective of your work experience. For example, a nurse might have one resume for a job as a pharmaceutical saleswoman and another for a job as an underwriter in an insurance company. In the first, she would emphasize her knowledge of the medications she administered and her people skills. In the second, she might point out examples that proved her analytical and organizational skills were strong.
  10. Join professional organizations in the targeted career, read journals and trade magazines. Learn the language, problems, issues and trends in the field to which you aspire. By becoming actively involved in the field, you are more likely to meet people who can hire you and with whom you can have meaningful conversations. When you speak the language on your resume and in person, you seem more like an insider with experience in the field.
  11. Look for barriers that are preventing you from getting hired and find ways to overcome them. A good way to discover these problem spots is to ask the people who are willing to give you advice. For example, the teacher may hear, "You've only taught children, and you may be perceived as unable to train adults in business concepts." If this is your barrier, perhaps you could teach a course at a business outreach center of a local university or community organization on patenting or on a hobby you have. Then list these examples as work experience.
  12. Set a schedule for yourself. Commit to calling a certain number of contacts every day. Shoot for a certain number of informational interviews each week. If you have barriers to overcome, write a plan with action steps and headlines.

If it is to happen, it is up to you. 

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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