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Planning a Career Change

When you wake up during the week, what is the first thought that runs through your mind? Are you excited to face a challenging work day, or do you dread heading to the office to punch the clock? If your career feels more like a duty than a calling, you are not alone. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the average person has 10 jobs between the ages of 18 and 38. Before you jump into the job hunt, take some time to carefully plan your next career move.

Articulate What You Want

The first step to finding a job you love is figuring out what it is you are looking for. As you go through the work day, carefully observe your thoughts and emotions. When do you feel most engaged in your job? What tasks make you want to tear your hair out? What types of people do you enjoy working with? Do you enjoy your work space and environment? List the things that you do and do not want in your next job. As you go through the job search, this list will serve as a way to compare potential opportunities.

Research Jobs and Companies

Now that you know what you want, it's time to find your dream job. Start by browsing job postings and company websites online. Start with a broad search, and make a list of all of the job descriptions that catch your eye.

Take your potential job list and move on to the second step of research. In this step, you really want to understand what it is like to work in these careers every day. Search for "day in the life" job information online and try to talk to current employees that work in the jobs you are researching. Refer often to the checklist of likes and dislikes that you created to assess how different jobs stack up.

Once you have completed this research, you should have a small list of careers that you want to pursue. You should feel confident that the careers you are interested in line up with your desires.

Get the Necessary Training

What happens if you find your dream career but realize that you don't have the qualifications to get hired? Don't panic. Talk to employees and hiring managers in the field that you are looking to get into. Ask what additional training and job skills you need in order to make your resume appealing to potential employers.

Once you know what skills you need, go out and get them! Take courses at a career college or volunteer at a nonprofit organization. Offer to assist in other areas of your current organization that will provide the necessary skills. Do whatever you need to in order to ensure that your resume meets the requirements.

Network and Apply

So you've done your research and improved your resume. Now it's time to get hired. Your first step in the job application process should be to reach out to your professional and personal network. Career switchers face a unique challenge in the job market, because they are often competing with employees with years of relevant experience. Leverage your network to land a job quickly.

If you can't find a job through your network, try searching online through one of the job search engines. If you don't hear back from employers, don't get discourage; some online postings generate hundreds of applicants, so just keep trying.

Changing careers is difficult, but finding a job you love is important for your happiness and well being. Get started on your new job hunt today.