Professional Development Opportunities: Making a Career Change

If you are looking for a new start in a different field, you are not alone. A recent survey Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix showed that the majority of American workforce is interested in changing careers, but they worry about the risks of starting over. How could you pursue your dreams and know where to begin?

Assess Your Weaknesses

In order to launch a new career in your desired field and  meet new career objectives, you should identify relevant skills needed for your future career. Do you have the education or skills needed? With the fast technological changes and innovations, market needs might be different now than they were in the past.

Learning New Skills

If  traveling out of town to a professional conference or seminar is not an option, there are plenty of cheaper alternatives to fill your skills gap. While considering changing careers, working adults find it encouraging to be able to attend online classes (35%), flexible course schedules (32%) and accelerated or fast track curriculum (29%).

Other options include signing up for webinars online, reading books or magazines, or listening to TED talk or podcasts. You can build your credentials taking a class at a local collage or getting certified. Look at programs paid by your company, which may include  tuition reimbursement.

Transferable experience

Many past skills and work experience are directly transferable,especiallywhen changing your job track in mid-career. For example, technology and  presentation skillsare always relevant.


Keep in touch with your professional contacts, and ask for informational interviews with professionals working in your desired field. These are good opportunities to find out what to expect and the job requirements. Network with your peers and seek out experts in that field to find out what the position  entails and what to expect. Seeking out a mentor might “help you grow and better understand the opportunities, requirements and challenges involved”.

Update your Online Profile and CV

Your resume should also be tailored and highlight those skills that are applicable for the new field. If needed, seek out professional help with your resume or cover letter before applying for a job. Or you can attend an online resume writing course/resume writing 101 class. Do not forget to update your LinkedIn account – or create one if you do not have one.

Job boards

Once you are ready for the change, it is time to start looking at Job boards. Search and find potential opportunities in your desired field. For instance, to find a job in a specific area, such as Washington, DC, Brad Traverse Jobs is a useful resource. There are specific online resources and job boards for each career field.

The same advice also applies to the majority of PhD. graduates, not only mid-career people looking for a change of field. The majority of graduates will find employment outside of academia. However, many lack skills needed in their non-academic careers and this might complicate finding jobs for graduates outside of academia. The problem is that only a very few schools and Ph.D. programs offer professional development programs or opportunities for their students to learn these essential skills needed.

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