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Time for a Change? How to Make a Career Pivot

You’ve given it a lot of thought and you’ve reached a decision: You’re ready for a career change. But how do you make that happen? First, take some time to reflect on where you’ve been, where you’re headed and why you’re looking to make a change.

Begin by identifying the source(s) of your dissatisfaction:

  • Are you frustrated with your current job or employer and, therefore, looking for a more challenging position in the same field?
  • Is it the field itself? Has there been a fundamental shift that will limit your long-term growth and opportunities in general?
  • Or, have you lost your passion for your current type of work? 
  • What drew you to your present job? Is there anything about your work that you still enjoy? What do you like the least?

Your answers to these questions will help guide your career search. Perhaps even more importantly, they will help you assess your strengths and transferable skills, and determine whether you have the foundation to move forward. If not, you might have to take some courses or get involved in volunteer activities to grow your skill set before you can make your career pivot.

Begin the search.

If you have the necessary skills to get started, your next step is to align your expertise and interests with potential career options. Learn as much as you can about career fields and jobs that interest you. Check out listings on sites such as Indeed, Career Builder, LinkedIn and Glassdoor. If you have your eye on a specific company, explore the “careers” section of their website. If you’d welcome a change within your current place of employment, stay on top of Human Resources postings.

Retool your resume.

Update your resume to highlight the experiences and skills most relevant to your new career. Cite examples of measurable results, if possible. While you’re at it, update your LinkedIn profile. On both your resume and online profile, be sure to include keywords so automated applicant tracking or talent management systems are more likely to select your resume. Need help revising your resume? Clarkson’s Career Center coaches alumni, in addition to current students, on resume writing, interviewing, negotiating salaries and more.

Tap and expand your network.

Chances are, most of your connections are in your current field. Even so, let them know about your plans to change jobs or career fields and, if you’re comfortable, ask them if they have connections in your field of interest. Join relevant industry associations and attend networking events. Make the most of opportunities to connect and network with alumni.

Consider continuing education.

During your job search and in the early months and years of your new career, continuing education can contribute to your success. Ask people you respect in your new field about the most beneficial skills and programs needed to be successful in your role. Then, see what’s available online and at nearby educational institutions. If your employer offers tuition assistance, ask your human resources office about the types of courses offered, reimbursement procedures and other details, so that you can take full advantage of these benefits.

If you’re a Clarkson grad, you have access to a full suite of services from the Clarkson Career Center at any stage of your professional life. William Jeffers, assistant director of professional and alumni career services, focuses exclusively on providing career support for Clarkson alumni and graduate students. And, if your goals include earning an advanced degree, Clarkson offers excellent graduate programs in business, engineering, education, health professions and the sciences. For more information, contact Graduate Admissions.

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