Finding Your Professional Passion

Changing careers may seem daunting, but with careful planning you could create the business life you want

An easy way to begin your assessment, suggests Handal, is to write down the answers to questions such as ‘What do I like to do?’ ‘Do I like working with numbers?’ ‘Do I like working with people?’ ‘What am I good at?’ ‘What’s my knowledge base?’ Your list should include items that are private and personal, such as a love for performance, entertaining guests, or baking. Jackson suggests that your self-assessment also include talents that colleagues and friends have observed. “Once you develop your list, ask yourself, ‘What’s the potential for me to pursue this? What are the job opportunities in these areas?’”

In addition to your personal interests, Cousin recommends identifying things you would like to have but can be flexible about, including salary, location, type of work environment, and type of position.

Identify potential careers. Follow your self-assessment with research. Explore occupations that are closely aligned with your interests and goals. “Make a list of all the skill sets you think are required to be successful in that industry,” says Jackson. If possible, schedule meetings with those who are now working in your desired industry, and identify niche conferences and industry events. Attending these will also help you develop your network in a particular area. Also, consider signing up with Vocation Vacations, a company that connects professionals with areas of interest. Clients “test-drive” a career or entrepreneurial opportunity.

Match your transferable skills. From your self-assessment, identify your skills and compare them to those that are required in the industries and occupations you researched. Some will most likely be transferable. In areas where you’re lacking a specific skill, you can acquire classroom or on-the-job training. You may want to look into certification, which could give you a hiring edge. Consider taking classes at a community college, trade school, or online. Depending on your field of interest, a part-time or temporary post may present a smoother introduction to a new career.

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