Step 6: Survey the Field n7.jpg

If you've been working in the same industry throughout your career, that doesn't mean you have to stay in it for the duration. Before you commit yourself to a job search that once again targets that industry, do your homework. Since you're in the experimental mode, you can be more objective than you were in the past about what you'll do next. Depending on what you do for a living, it might be a relatively simple matter to transfer many of your skills and interests from one industry to another.

For example, if you've been working as a research scientist at a university for the past ten years, you might find it easy to crossover into the biotechnology industry. Or you might use your math educator's background to enter the textbook publishing field. Even if you've received specialized training that you can't immediately envision using in another industry, there's no reason to feel stuck or pursue a future in a field that no longer interests you.

Keep an open mind about what kind of business you want to approach next. Ultimately, you will "reality check" your field survey and career direction when you begin information interviewing. However before you begin to penetrate the hidden job market through informational interviewing, continue with your field survey by reading trade magazines, industry newsletters, and local and national business newspapers. Attend trade shows and association meetings. Assess the current state of your industry and the changes that are in store for it. Begin with the following questions:

  • How do industry experts rate the field's health today?
  • What major changes are being predicted for the field?
  • What factors will help the industry during the next decade?
  • What are the biggest threats the industry will face in the decade ahead?
  • In what geographical areas will the field be the strongest?
  • What types of people and skills will be in the greatest demand?
  • What advantages and disadvantages to working in the field currently loom largest?
In addition, consider asking:
  • With the skills you have now, are you and the field still a good match?
  • Are their additional classes you must take to achieve longevity in the industry, and how would you feel about taking them?
  • Over the long haul, would the industry be able to pay you enough to meet your financial needs?
  • Would you be able to stay close to home for the foreseeable future if you stayed in your field?
  • If not, would you and your family be willing to relocate to the geographical areas where the industry is growing?

Be sure to consider your needs and preferences, and those of your family members. Are there other industries to which you could transfer your job skills and interests? Would any of these be a better match for you? Put other industries that show potential through the same rigorous examination as your own. Arm yourself with all the information you need to decide if a change of direction makes sense for you.

┬ęCopyright 2008 Professionals In Transition Support Group, Inc.

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