Find a New Career
If you are considering a new career, there are some steps you can take to help your decision. You may be contemplating going back to college to change careers completely or simply looking for a new direction with a new employer. Either way, you are probably contemplating the type of career you are interested in most.
What gets you excited and revved up? Reflect on your likes and dislikes and the reasons you are considering a new career. Make sure your new career has what you’re looking for. If you have not done so yet, you can also take our free career test to discover your career interests.
Research jobs that fall in your interest area. You’ll want to identify the job growth, salary, and educational requirements of your identified career(s). Finding the growth rate ensures there are job openings available once you are trained.
You can also check out these useful articles:
Find a College or Education Program (if necessary)
Going back to college might make financial sense. The salary difference between educational levels are listed.
- No high school diploma = $20,241
- High school graduate only = $30,627
- Some college, no degree = $32,295
- Associate’s Degree = $39,771
- Bachelor’s Degree = $56,665
The difference between a high school graduate and a person with a bachelor’s degree is an average of $26,000. That’s $260,000 over a 10 year span. With many online programs, education has never been more accessible either. If you hold a job or have family responsibilities, online courses may work. Considering a college degree may be worth it.
If you choose a career that you need education for, you want to find an education program. If you have lived in the same state for a year, you can qualify for in-state tuition. A local community or state college may be the most affordable option to return to school. Many schools now offer online options as well, so you can still work while attending school.
If you are considering the college route, research any educational program you think you are interested in attending. You want to check out their graduation rate as well as their accreditation. Make sure to consider a college’s tuition as well when making your decision.
If you have not done so yet, take our College Search Test
Pay for School
College has never been more expensive but you can keep the cost in check by staying in-state and going to a state college. You can even keep your cost low by applying for financial aid and scholarships.
If you are unemployed there is also federal funding for job retraining. Speak to a representative at your local workforce center and ask about are the Workforce Investment Act or Dislocated Worker Program. You can also stop by your local college’s financial aid office to get more information.
If you happen to be prior military, you may still qualify for the G.I. Bill. If you are a military veteran or dependent there may also be funding available to you. Many colleges has a veterans affairs office, that is a great place to gain more information about potential funding.
You may not need more education and can simply skip that step and look for other employers. Many large companies have reviews online Glassdoor.com. View what current and ex employees think of the company. You may find questions the company has asked interviewees during their interview as well to help you with your interview prep. This site gives salary ranges also, this is useful during negotiations. You may not find every company on this site, but it does not hurt to look.
Take online reviews with a grain of salt. They are opinionated. A fired employee could trash their previous employer. So take the information at face value.
Research the companies mission statement, how long they have been in business, check if there are press releases on future projects or past accomplishments. This information is generally easily found on the company’s website and great to incorporate into an interview as well.
Did you know that the U.S. Federal Government helps students and recent college graduates enter federal service through the Pathways Program? The Pathways Program is meant to provide career development opportunities to help people transition into Federal service. Check out our article on intern programs to learn more.
Cold Calls and Inquiry Emails to Employers
Potential Employer Cold Calls
If you’ve identified a business you are interested in applying for, go online and research information about the company so you are informed before calling to inquire about positions. Be extremely nice to the person who answers the phone – they are the gatekeeper between you and the person you need to speak too!
If given the opportunity to speak with someone – be ready to sell yourself and compliment the company. During your research, you may have noticed that the company earned a special award, or maybe they have been identified as a top employer. Align your strengths with their needs and be ready to sell yourself.
Prior to the call, especially if you are nervous, you can write yourself a bit of a script.
“Hello, my name is ________ and I want to inquire about career opportunities at ABC Company. I would really appreciate it if you could transfer me to someone I can share my qualifications with.”
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get this far though. Many times, you will be told to visit their website, stop by for an application, or to email your resume and cover letter. You may also simply be told they are not hiring at this time. This is useful information. The more you know, the less time you will waste during your job hunt.
If you are transferred through, be ready to answer some questions. Bullet some key information you will want to relay and have that nearby to assist you during the call.
By the way, if you have your eyes set on a certain employer, let’s not have that employer be your very first nervous cold call. Call somewhere else first and practice. There are advantages to cold calls and phone interviews. You can control your environment. For example, if you have strengths and skills you want to mention during the interview, you can have your notes ready on a piece of paper in front of you so you remember what you’d like to highlight. You can’t do that in a face-to-face interview.
Inquiry Emails to Employers
You may not have a companies’ phone number to inquire about a position, or the company states that it prefers you send an inquiry email. Either way, here is an example email job inquiry.
Dear Hiring Department,
Upon researching COMPANY NAME and viewing the scope of your clientele, I would like to apply for a JOB TITLE position within your company. I have a varied skill-set and could fill a few roles listed in the careers section of your site. Attached is my resume and cover letter.
Thank you in advance for your consideration and time.
Network to Land a Job
Networking is one way to land a job. Knowing people who can place your resume in the right hands can gain you the advantage of attaining an interview. Volunteering can help you network and build referrals, so can attending community events, and joining local organizations. Fundraisers, dinner functions, and even a neighborhood block party can yield an unexpected contact.
Consider this, many available jobs are simply not advertised yet or perhaps they are about to become available. This is why networking is vital. It is even better if you can present your resume to an employer when a position is about to become available. This will give you a competitive edge.
LinkedIn.com (opens in a new browser window) is a good place to start.
- Sign up for a free account. If you already have an account, review and update it.
- Complete your LinkedIn profile.
- Request as many recommendations as you can.
- Link to professional groups that are affiliated with your career field.
- Upload a professional looking photo.
- Build up your connections.
You may also want to Google yourself to ensure a potential employer will not find non-professional information about you that will eliminate your chances of gaining employment.
Career Prep Checklist
Here are some useful items to check prior to contacting employers or applying for jobs.
- Check your email address. Is it professional? If it isn’t, create a new one for your job applications. You can also appear more tech-savvy by having a more popular email. Hotmail, AT&T, and AOL accounts can date you. Gmail and Yahoo are free email accounts that are popular and take a few minutes to set-up. When choosing your email account name, do not date it with the current year or your birthday. Try using your first, middle, and last name: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. If that is taken (which is likely is) you can always be creative. Such as, firstname.lastname@example.org. Either way, look at your email address from an employers’ point of view.
- Check your voicemail message. Make sure it is professional and friendly. Don’t use ring back songs. Ensure there is no background noise (such as your car running). A nice, to the point message will do. Smile (this does make your message sound better) and record something as simple as: “Hello, you’ve reached Janet Smith, I’m sorry I missed your call and it is very important to me. Please leave your contact information and I will return your call as soon as possible. Have a great day!”
- Consider purchasing a cheap pre-paid cell phone if you will be moving and you are applying for jobs in that new location and gain a number with the location’s area code. Use that new number on your resume and applications. The employer is more likely to be interested if it appears you live in the area. You can pick up a pre-paid phone at just about any large discount store.
- Try on your interview outfit. You could end up with an interview sooner than you think!
- Choose your references wisely. You will want to find three people that know you well, such as previous managers, clients, or co-workers. Make sure you have their most recent contact information.
- Contact each of your references. Ask if they will provide a reference so they are not caught off guard and inquire about their preferred method of contact.
- Email your references the job description and resume you submitted to the employer so they can represent you better. Do not use people who are not good communicators or those that have a history of not returning calls.
Free Resume and Cover Letter Templates
These templates are in Microsoft Word format. If you do not own Microsoft Office, Google Documents can open a Word Document (.doc) file.