5 Practical & Affordable Strategies For Career Changers

iStockphoto.com (phototechno)

iStockphoto.com (phototechno)

Bored in your current career? Not sure how to make the jump into a new line of work?

Making the move to a new type of career path isn't easy. Many people go back to college and get an advanced degree such as an MBA, or some other diploma in some other discipline. However, pursuing a college degree is a huge investment oftime and money, and many people don't have enough of either to make this a reality.

Let me be clear - if you're thinking about becoming an attorney or a medical doctor, for example, there's no way around the need for a highly specialized advanced degree required as the baseline for the job.

But for the rest of us? Here are five practical – and affordable – strategies to position yourself for a new line of work.

  1. College Certificate Programs. This is a brief academic program which provides you a credential in a specific discipline, and which shows employers you've invested in your new line of work. Many colleges offer certificate programs in targeted disciplines such as Paralegal Studies, Human Resources, Computer Information Systems, and other tracks. There are few, if any, electives offered in a certificate program. The goal of a college certificate program is to provide you the skills you need for your new line of work – quickly.
     
  2. Professional Certification. Many professional organizations offer certifications demonstrating a level of achievement in their field. There are several highly regarded certifications that can help move your career upward - for example the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is one of the highest standards in accounting, and having a CPA can open quite a few doors; likewise, the Project Management Institute offers a Project Management Professional certification, which is considered the gold standard in the field. But professional certifications can also serve as a gateway to a new career path. There are professional certifications in human resources, compensation, resume writing, career coaching, information technology, and many, many other fields. Certification (and the letters after your name) can improve your chances with employers.
     
  3. Online Classes. There are several providers of low-cost or free online training. Coursera and edX, for example, consolidate and offer classes from prestigious colleges around the world. Likewise, many universities provide their classes online, such as Harvard University's Open Learning Initiative. Likewise, there are scads of courses available online at no charge to LinkedIn Premium Subscription members. There is absolutely no reason you can't take a course and add it to your resume. Doing so could boost both your skills and your credentials, and would also provide you with valuable keywords that mayelevate your resume.
     
  4. Volunteer Projects. Let's say you're trying to branch out into search engine optimization, and you find out your son's school is upgrading its website. Why not reach out to the school's administrators and offer to help out on the SEO aspects of the project? You will get hands-on experience in a real-world setting, that you can add to your portfolio of work. And yes, you can add volunteer work to your resume.
     
  5. Special Work Projects. Companies are always planning new corporate initiatives. If you hear about a committee being put together to handle a special project, why not ask your manager if you can participate? Yes, it's additional work, but you will gain valuable exposure to new skills and experiences. I've seen individuals who have done great work on special projects appointed to newly created roles outside their discipline because they demonstrated an aptitude for the new line of work.

Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercs.com.