Changing careers doesn’t have to be scary

Today’s guest post is written by Marie Buckner, who made a career change after working in accounting for 20 years. Here’s her advice:

Changing careers can seem daunting, but I have done it and found it less frustrating and scary than I thought. I was holding down a position at the time and did not let anyone know about my desired career change. Remember that saying “loose lips sink ships.” I say that you never know if your private conversations will reach higher-ups in your firm, who may fire you if they knew your intentions.

In the meantime, here’s what you can do to make your transition easier.

Start by developing short-term goals, intermediate and long-term goals. Determine what steps need to be taken to make the goals a reality. For instance, my short-term goal was to find out if my chosen industry is as exciting as I believed it to be. So, I set a goal of meeting a professional in that field as soon as possible.

Test the waters

Before actually changing careers, test the waters of your chosen career industry by offering to volunteer in it. This provides needed insight as to actual operations and whether or not the industry its a comfortable fit. Volunteering provided many benefits that enhanced my resume, and helped me develop the new skills needed to succeed in the industry. It also allowed me to make new contacts.

* Many firms hire from within when positions open up. By already volunteering with the firm, I was one of the first people approached about the available position. This made the transition even easier.

Find a mentor

Finding a mentor in the desired industry is another beneficial way to change careers. Ask business associates for referrals of professionals they feel comfortable with and trust. I approached a variety of professionals and politely let them know about my desire to change careers. Each conversation and introduction was comfortable, interesting and informative. I asked for advice and questioned whether they would be interested in mentoring me. Any professional would be flattered for mentoring consideration, so feel comfortable asking.

Changing careers usually means developing new skills, or enhancing existing ones. I did this during my off-hours, to stay discreet to my current work associates. I recommend doing research to find out what skills are needed for your chosen field. Consider taking an online course that offers the convenience of staying at home and learning while sitting at your computer. This was my path and it worked out well.

Most online courses offer class outlines, chat rooms, homework assignments, exam taking and remote learning that fits in with any schedule. Most coursework can be downloaded and printed as needed. Online learning provides many benefits including saving money on commuting costs.

Consider online classes

I preferred online learning, but if you prefer face-to-face contact, consider enrolling in real-life classes that take place at higher learning institutions. Take classes to get current in your chosen industry, develop needed skills and network with fellow students.

Consider updating your available interviewing tools when changing careers. I recommend developing a 30-second commercial, otherwise known as an “elevator speech.” This speech lets those you speak with know about you, what you can offer and what you hope to accomplish. Have this speech ready for interviews, networking meetings and throughout your career transition.

Good luck on changing careers. Many dream about doing it, but do not have the guts to actually do anything about it.

I did it, so can you. Be proud of having initiative and desire to change for the better. Good luck!

About the Guest Author: After working in the accounting field for 20 years, Marie Buckner wanted to change careers. She made the transition to the musical industry and uses her business background to develop business plans and marketing literature for musicians, composers and performers. She writes for Degree Jungle, a resource for college students.