Say that you want to change your career. What do you do?
Lisa Fedder, the executive director of Jewish Family Service of Bergen and North Hudson, has some suggestions.
First, she said, there are many reasons to change careers – you might be tired of what you’ve been doing for so many years, or you might have been laid off. This is not a wonderful job market. No matter what the reason, if you are looking for a new field, follow your passion.
Yes, that is more easily said than done. What do you do?
“You should find a way to leverage the skills you have; use your creativity to market yourself,” she said.
If you have to go back to school to learn the skills you’ll need in your new field, then the same rules apply to you as to any new graduate, but if you don’t have to, “it’s all about skills, translating those skills into a different area, and networking.
“Talk to as many people as you can,” Fedder said.
“If you’re going into something you love, when you’re passionate about it, most people can get other people excited about it. So if you can connect with enough people, the chances are that you can connect with someone who will lead you to someone to can lead to a person who can open the right door.
“You have to get that door open.”
Another way to open that metaphoric door is electronically, through LinkedIn, Fedder said. It’s much better for job hunting than Facebook, she added; “On Facebook, you tend to accept and friend people you know, not people you don’t know.” On LinkedIn, on the other hand, the tendency is to accept invitations to join networks of people whose positions might be helpful to you. “There are much more possibilities there,” Fedder said. “You just have to learn to negotiate it, and LinkedIn can be very powerful.”
Even with the tough job market, she said, “if you are 40 or 50, with many work years ahead of you, you shouldn’t stay in a field you don’t like, or where there are no opportunities.
“You have to figure it out. It is important to retool your resume, and emphasize the skills you have, not the job you hold. Many skills go across platforms.
“You have to target your potential employers and figure out how to communicate with them,” Fedder said. “There are myriad things to do – making phone calls, talking to people, working your contacts, using LinkedIn, showing up at all the networking meetings.
“It’s hard work. That’s why your conviction and your passion have to carry you through.”