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Planning Guide for a Career Checkup

written by: •edited by: Ginny Edwards•updated: 10/18/2011

If you're itching for a job switch, you should first stop and ask yourself why you want the change. Have you conducted a self appraisal and considered whether your skills will stand up to new responsibilties? Have you updated your resume? This guide will tell you if you're really ready.

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    Today’s workers are different than the people who punched a time clock a decade ago. Nowadays we are more likely to instigate career, business people, ilco improvements through more frequent job changes. Gone are the days when job-jumping was strictly verboten; it’s acceptable to seek a change whether you want more money, more responsibility or prestige, or just a change of pace.

    Before you make any impulsive decisions, however, it’s wise to consider where you stand on the corporate highway. Do you know what your goals and dreams are? Have you ever sat down and considered what resources you can put into a new job search?

    Some people really don’t want to leave their present employers, but they do hope to move up the so-called corporate ladder or find some other way to enrich their daily work lives. If you’re in that group, you must take a good, hard look at your skills and discover which of them are transferable into another position. Maybe you really need a little more education before you make a move. Take a look through the categories below to ensure that your next career move is a smart one.

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    Look In the Mirror

    Look At Yourself The first step in this process—to find out whether or not you're going to proceed beyond this point—is to conduct a thorough self appraisal. You owe it to yourself to consider your workplace skills and mettle as well as your weaknesses whether you work for yourself or for someone else.

    Do you want to request a transfer, promotion, or even simply a raise? Discover the words and phrases that will inject some spark into your request and learn how to promote your positive qualities. What skills do you have that will transfer to a new job? Consider your soft skills—things like communication, meeting management, and conflict resolution. They are skills that will impress any prospective supervisor; if you want to move up in the company and the interviewer knows you possess solid soft skills you stand a better chance of getting the job.

    The last two articles in this section are included because they’ll make you stop and think. Maybe you’re an intrapreneur: Unlike the entrepreneur who finances his ventures with his own money, the intrapraneur works within the framework of a large company to develop his ideas. But you’ve also got to believe in your dreams and put work into them if you want your managers to buy into them. And the last one asks you just how productive you are in a normal day. Make two lists, one that tells you what needs to be done, and one list for writing down things as you accomplish them. Maybe you’ll be surprised at what these lists tell you about yourself.

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    Time for Some Serious Career Planning

    If you’ve evaluated your reasons and your skills and you’re going to proceed, the next step is setting goals that are realistic and achievable. If you’ve studied the concepts of analyzing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can easily apply this to yourself as you begin plans for a career change. Embark on an effective career strategy by considering your positive and negative qualities, your education and monetary resources, and your family, hobbies and health.

    If you’re on the fence about whether to make a career change, our article on developing a personal strategy can get you started—or help you decide to stay put. Consider what makes goals possible, and then explore several examples of possible goals to see how you go about formulating goal plans.

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    The Finer Points of Changing Careers, celalteber In this section is the collected advice of Bright Hub’s top career experts about how to actually make the change. The first article covers planning a change, choosing your career, and deciding whether you need more education.

    If you are motivated to make a change in your life, will a career change satisfy those motives? How quick and easy will the change be, and is it really the right time? You can stay focused and make your goals happen; get to know what situations or people in the company can further them.

    Many people don’t want to change companies, but they do want to move up the corporate ladder. Whether you’re experiencing the discontent of a career that’s going nowhere, or possibly the restlessness of midlife, think about how to approach a career change—competing with people again, competing with younger people, and planning for a transition.

    Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder." Reading the essay on being successful in a rat race will remind you of your job’s importance, and if you don’t buy that you can get ideas for working smarter. We also have tips for avoiding the rat race, and if your new job will involve relocating, take a minute to consider the socioeconomic logistics of a career change vis-à-vis your new home purchase.

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    New Job, Same Company

    If you believe in the corporate culture established by your company’s managers, and you don’t have a problem with benefits or pay, then possibly you’re considering a lateral transfer or you’d like to ask for a promotion. In this section you can take a detailed look at the knowledge, insight, preparation, and determination necessary to move up at your current company.

    Learn how to ask for a better position at your present company. Or maybe you like what you do and you really don’t want to change jobs, but you want a job title that reflects your actual responsibilities. Maybe you don’t really need a job change; your problem could be job burnout. Learn the symptoms and find out how to overcome them.

    Do you work to live or live to work? Recognize what aspects of your job make you unhappy and figure out how to inject some positivity into your work life. Maintaining open and effective channels of communication can make your present job more meaningful—or help you rise to a new position in the company.


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    How's Your Resume These Days?

    If it’s been a while since you dusted off your resume, brush up on these tips for updating it. Learn how to make your resume sound Resume, from Microsoft Word template relevant for a new position if your current and past positions have utilized different skills.

    Are you applying for a new job in the same company? Your supervisor is likely to gloss over your application because he thinks he already knows you. The same is true if you’re a job candidate at a new firm, because HR managers read so many resumes. It’s important to give a great deal of thought to the resume process so that you can make yours really stand out.

    Spice up your career objectives, and don't hesitate to show off any flexible skills you have. Format your reference list properly. Choose quality contacts, and get their permission. After the interview, don’t forget to thank them!

    To avoid the negative connotations associated with job-hoppers, you should work at cementing your connections in your chosen industry, and it’s a good idea to focus more on your skills than on your chronological job history. And if people ever tell you that you’re too predictable or stodgy, then we have ways to resuscitate your resume image.

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    Do You Need More Education?

    If you’ve been passed over at work and the resume you’ve been sending out is getting you nowhere, taking some classes can turn you into a more plausible candidate. If you spend most of your day on the job, think about taking classes online as one way to advance your career and earn more money. We have an article that tells you what to check out with the schools you explore and describes asynchronous learning, so that you aren’t confined by traditional college semesters. And what is arguably the best fringe benefit? If you can land a job at your local university or college, you will be able to go to school for little or no tuition expenses.

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    A Potpourri of Job Ideas, ddrccl If you need a change, have you considered working as a luxury bed tester? How about bringing in extra cash as a mystery shopper? Explore some alternative careers here. Once you’ve got your resume in shape, take a look at the four top job markets. If you’ll consider relocating, check out the want ads in these areas. We have best-loved and most-hated jobs. Most of them include salaries and the best places to apply.

    We live in a time when many of the traditional jobs have been outsourced overseas or eliminated by technology. What jobs will be available tomorrow?