Working adults are taking advantage opportunities to assess their personal and professional goals, including their career potential, either voluntarily due to job dissatisfaction or instability, or because they're forced to due to job elimination. In fact, a recent survey of more than 6,000 adult professionals conducted by University of Phoenix found that nearly one-quarter are dissatisfied with their occupation and are considering a career switch.
The desire to change careers may stem from internal motivations, including dissatisfaction with one's current position, a lack of job mobility or a poor fit within a role and/or organization. A career change may also be a result of external pressure, such as a lay-off or termination. Whatever the circumstances, thinking about the next career move can be both stressful and energizing .
As working adults begin the "recareering" process, a common first step is higher education. In fact, 71 percent of adults considering a career change believe that education will play a role in their career paths; 84 percent agree that education is important in achieving their future professional goals.
Experienced professionals are returning to the classroom not only to acquire knowledge, but also to seek interaction with other working adults and discuss how theories are applied in the business world. As a result, schools are selecting faculty from local corporations based on their experience, teaching abilities and status as industry leaders.
Higher learning institutions are making note of the recareering trend and are catering specifically to working adults by providing flexible scheduling (evening, weekend and online classes), embracing new technologies and providing rigorous degree programs centered on professional goals.
Collaborative learning programs are also being offered by some of the more innovative institutions, which enable students to partner with fellow business professionals as they complete coursework and projects directly applicable to their future career.
Here are several important tips that can help you make the switch.
* Make a plan. Take realistic, well-planned steps toward achieving your goal. Otherwise, you may get in over your head by accepting a position for which you are underqualified.
* Get qualified. If your research shows that your experience and education are not in sync with the career you desire, don't get discouraged. Develop a plan to qualify yourself for the job, even if it means going back to school part-time or accepting an entry-level position.
* Network. Join the appropriate associations for the field in which you wish to work. Industry events and conferences are educational and provide excellent networking opportunities.
* Learn to market yourself. If you find that you are overqualified for an entry-level position in a new career, reassure the interviewer of your interest in the position and directly address the concerns about your commitment and qualifications.
* It is never too late. Many people find that retirement is a great time to go back to school and enter a field they have always wanted to explore.
Eric Ziehlke is associate campus director for the University of Phoenix-Columbus Campus. The University of Phoenix is the nation's largest private university, with more than 200,000 students at more than 140 campuses in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Reach him at (614) 433-0095 or Eric.Ziehlke@phoenix.edu.