Career Planning Tips

Read these 19 Career Planning Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Career tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How do I change careers if I've been in this field for years?

Want a Change?

Sometimes after working for a while in one career, the itch to branch out to new areas strikes. What kinds of things can a career-changing job seeker look to do? What strategies should be implemented?

1. Look at your transferable skills. What do you do now, that could be done in another vocation? Do you have management skill? Teaching skills?
2. What other type of work appeals to you? Do some career exploration. Ask questions.
3. Where are the opportunities that appeal to you? Are you willing to relocate if necessary?

Making a mid-career change can be accomplished with planning, leg-work, and desire.

Is it necessary that I like what I do for a living?

Know Yourself

Before you consider whether you have an aptitude for a profession, ask yourself it it is something you could enjoy doing for a long time. Determine what a job would have to be like to keep you satisfied and then look for jobs that can give you most of what you need. By choosing a career that you enjoy, you won't feel like you are "working" as much.

What employment opporunities are available?

Career Research Sources

To find out more about different careers, use the following research tools:

1. Government employment agencies such as the Department of Labor or local employment office.

2. Department of Labor publications on employment options and career outlooks, such as Occupational Outlook Handbook and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. These can be found at your local library.

3. The Internet. Explore employment/job sites, employment forums, and sites run by temporary agencies and head-hunters.

What kind of work will I enjoy?

Enthusiastic Employees

Examine your hobbies to determine whether they can be turned into employment opportunities.

A love for animals could lead you to work in an animal shelter or to study for a career as a veterinarian or veterinary assistant. If you enjoy drawing, painting, or digital graphics, you may enjoy commercial illustration or advertising design. Be creative, and explore your employment opportunities and options.

How do I know what career I might enjoy?

Interest Inventories

Look into taking an "interest inventory" to help you select a career. These objective tests help give you an idea of what you are good at and what you enjoy.

A vocational advisor may offer one or several of the following popular interest inventories:
The Holland Self-Directed Search
The Strong Interest Inventory
The Jackson Vocational Interest Survey

Free interest inventories are also available online.

If I can't make a career decision, what do I do?

Remain Objective When Searching

Get as much help as you can in your job search. Vocational Counselors, Career Counselors, Career Coaches and Employment Counselors are all trained to help you find your niche. These professionals can help you think about your career in a new way by suggesting employment opportunities that you hadn't considered before. Sometimes, an objective viewpoint is all you need to jump start your job search.

Should my type of personality effect my career choice.

Finding the Right Atmosphere

When choosing a career, consider the type of atmosphere that you feel most comfortable in. Are you the type of person who works better with people or with objects? Do you prefer motion and activity, or calm and quiet?

You're more likely to do well in your career when you are in a comfortable environment.

How do I find out about the careers I am interested in?

Includ Keywords in Your Job Search

Maximize your job bank search results by using multiple keyword searches.

For example, if you are investigating careers in process engineering, you should search for this job title as well as keywords like Delta V, Delta Digital Automation, or Delta Jobs.

If you work in the warehouse/shipping industry and want to change jobs but stay in that field, you could search keywords like Fedex jobs, UPS jobs or shipping jobs.

Is the career I want a good choice?

Career Exploration

Explore your career options before you decide on one. Interview professionals in the field and research the job market.

Choosing a first career or changing careers can be intimidating. By doing some research you can eliminate some of the uncertainty.

Isn't money the most important determinant when choosing a career?

Aptitude Testing

Because you will be spending so much of your life at your career, your likes and aptitudes should weigh heavily in your career decision.

If you are unsure of your aptitudes, ask a Vocational Evaluator or Vocational Counselor in your area or at your school for help. They can help you discover your strengths and suggest careers that will match them.


How To Deal With Annoying and Difficult Coworkers

It's inevitable. At some point during your professional life you will encounter at least one coworker who is difficult to work with or who just annoys you. The most important thing to remember when dealing with any co-worker who you don't see eye-to-eye with is to maintain your professionalism. Don't compromise your integrity or reputation because of someone else's actions. You've heard it before, you can't control how people behave, but you can control your reaction to their behavior.

Your reaction to a situation with a difficult coworker will always depend on the situation, for example, is their bad behavior:

  • A general annoyance, such as nosiness, rudeness or pushiness

  • Lacking in proper social or professional skills

  • Directed at you or another coworker

  • Potentially harmful, unethical, illegal, discriminatory or harassment

Most of the time if the irritant is one of the first two issues, you should be able to handle the problem on your own without involving other coworkers or your supervisor. Using one of these strategies should be enough to diffuse any potential conflicts:

  • Kill them with kindness - if they are grumpy or rude smile back and be friendly

  • Don't take things personally - even if it feels personal, it probably isn't

  • Take the high road - be the bigger person, don't stoop to their level or let them see if they have upset you.

If their behavior is either of the bottom bullet points, getting a superior will likely be necessary. There are some issues that you shouldn't attempt to handle on your own, particularly if they involve unethical or inappropriate behaviors including discrimination and harassment. In those cases, speak to a manager you feel comfortable with.

Remember - above all stay professional!


How to Avoid Burnout at Work

Statistics by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics suggest a rise in the hours worked by the average American, and these extra hours could be one of the reasons so many workers are starting to experience workplace burnout.

Whether you work 70 hours a week at a law firm or 40 hours a week as a receptionist, the key to avoiding burnout at work is recognizing it before it happens and taking steps to change your life as soon as possible.

Recognizing Burnout is to Blame

If you've recently felt it more difficult to get out of bed each day, you could be on a track toward workplace burnout. Snapping at coworkers, loss of energy and sleeplessness could mean that the hours at your job are giving you a paycheck, but you're on a path toward health problems, stress, and exhaustion.

You might experience one of the following if you're burning out at work:

  • Unexplained headaches or muscle pain

  • Loss or change in appetite

  • General irritability

  • Overall disillusion with job and life

Handling Job Burnout

Don't wait until anger at work gets you fired or your job stress starts negatively impacting your home life. Take action quickly if you feel your life starting to get out of control.

Stress impacts each one of us differently, but you may find a solution from one of these options:

1. Identify your "stressors" and make changes

2. Rediscover your passions for work, life, and hobbies

3. Start an exercise program

4. Consider job or life changes

If you've already started to feel the harmful physical effects of job burnout, consider speaking with a medical professional to talk about an exercise plan, mental health assistance, or help in changing your lifestyle and job. Alternatively, speak with your boss about changes you might be able to make to reduce stress and anxiety over your job.


Tips for Changing Carers

Just when you thought you knew what you wanted to do, life gets in the way before you can pursue it and you end up doing something completely different. People get stuck in jobs and careers that they didn't intend on staying in all the time. The good news is, it's never too late to change your path and pursue the career you have always wanted. Here are a few tips to make changing careers a little easier.

Plan ahead: Make sure you have a clear picture of where you want to be and what you want to accomplish. Leaving one career without having a plan for the next one is a recipe for disaster.

Save Extra Money: Pad your savings every chance you get. You may have to be unemployed for a time during your career change. Make sure you have enough money in savings to live off of for a few months before you quit your old job.

Determine if Additional Education is Needed: You may already have all the knowledge or certifications that you need to pursue your chosen career, but depending on the field you choose, you may have to take classes or seminars to attain diplomas or licenses. Try to do as much of this education before quitting your regular job, you want to keep income pouring in until it's time to say goodbye to the old you and hello to the happy new career person you are.

Don't Burn Bridges: Make sure you leave your former employer on good terms. You never know when your future path may cross your past, and having friends in different professions can come in extremely handy sometimes. You never know when you might need a favor or for someone to provide you with a great referral!


How to be an Effective Manager

Management is a tricky thing and most people don’t realize it. When we start off at a company, many of us see ourselves in the big chair one day.

However, there are several things you must consider when learning to become a good manager. Here are some key points to focus on:

Leaders Lead

Everyone needs someone to look toward to figure out how to behave. Employees come into a business looking for someone to model themselves after - someone to emulate. Their manger is the logical place to start. If you want people to work hard for you and put in their best effort every time, you have to give them a reason to want to. Show them that you are also working hard. Be forthcoming with projects that you are working on, as long as the material is not on a need to know basis. Have an open door policy so that people regard you as approachable.

Keep Learning

Provide training opportunities for your team and participate in them as well. Be active – take notes, show an interest in the material. Your team is always watching. If they see you actively engaging, they are more inclined to take an active role in learning the material as well.

Be Fair But Firm

Disputes will happen, but it is the way that a leader handles them that sets them apart from the rest. A manager who is able to listen to both sides of the story, do whatever research is necessary to fill in the blanks, and make an informed decision will be respected far more than a manager who acts off emotion. Be diligent and fair with your employees and watch your credibility rise.

Management is not as easy as movies would have you think. But with a dedicated, focused approach to creating a congenial work environment, management can be invigorating and rewarding.


How to Network Efficiently

When it comes to following a professional career path one of the most important aspects, outside of your actual education, is your ability to network with those around you. Networking is a key ability that can oftentimes separate you from the rest of the pack. Because it is a skill, and it can be learned, let's take a look at how you should plan your networking so as to be as efficient, and effective, as possible!

Get to know people in your area who work in the same field as you. Join groups, attend events and never be shy about introducing yourself. Use the internet as well. Connect on LinkedIn and other professional social networking sites. Also remember that networking is not only about meeting new people- keep in touch with people from your past. Reach out to old coworkers from time to time to see what they're up to. You never know when a friendly email will lead to a professional opportunity.

If you want to take your networking skills to the next level, go beyond the initial exchange of business cards and nurture the relationship for it to grow. Always remember to send out a friendly email asking how they've been or even a postcard around the holidays. People remember these nice gestures. Who is more memorable: The guy that vanishes after giving you his card or the guy that sends you a funny Christmas postcard every year?

Use the above strategies and watch your professional network grow.


How to be a Good Boss

Perhaps you just got promoted and want to be an effective leader. Or perhaps you're just planning for the future--let's take a look at a few things that you can do to become a good and effective boss:

A good leader must always toe the line between authority and approachability. A boss that is both firm and friendly can be a real asset to a company. Don't be wishy-washy and don't leave room for interpretation. Instruction should be clear and have an obvious path to completion. However, be sure to listen to the input of others. While you may be the leader, you're still part of a team.

Even though you want to be firm, you should also be open to changes. Embrace new ideas. Even if you do not implement all the ideas of your staff, they will appreciate that you had a receptive ear and will be willing to come forward with other suggestions.

Lastly, always be understanding. If a worker needs time off for a sick family member, vacation or just a personal day here and there, allow it. If the people who report to you feel respected, they will respect you in return.


Be a Team Player

So you want to be admired and respected for your skills in the workplace? The best way to do that is by becoming the ultimate team player. When co-workers feel that they can count on you it opens up the door to more work in the future, possible salary increases, and viable promotions. Let's take a look at what it means to be a team player at work.

First of all, say yes whenever possible. The kind of attitude that is emblematic of a team player is the never say 'no' attitude. Always be willing to go the extra mile whether it means staying late or coming in early.

Second of all, be efficient. When it comes to the workplace you have to realize that nothing is more important than efficiency. If you can do a job in half the time it was expected in, and still maintain quality, you will go far. So always be focused on the best ways to get things done. Your boss and coworkers will appreciate your effort.

And lastly, if you see other people on your team struggling to get work done, ask if you can help. Pitch in when needed. Volunteer to take on more projects. These tactics will make you a valuable member of any team.


How to Ask for a Promotion at Work

Outside of the initial job interview there are few situations as awkward as asking for a job promotion. While you may know that you deserve the promotion, the idea that you have to ask for it makes the situation uncomfortable. So what is the best way to ask for a promotion at work?

If you want to ask for a promotion at work the first thing you need to understand is the reality of the situation. If your job is experiencing constant cutbacks, employee firings, and other signs of budget restrictions then there may not be a promotion in the near future. Possessing this knowledge is a way to ready yourself in case you do not get the answer that you want.

If budget restrictions are not an issue, then you need to be able to articulate why you deserve a promotion. Pull together all of the data and references you can that will make it easier for your boss to green-light a higher wage/ better title for you. Have you been routinely blowing your quota out of the water? Does management love you? Do customers and clients constantly request you? This kind of information can be used to great effect when searching for that desired promotion.

The last thing that you should look out for is the right opportunity to ask for your promotion. Grabbing your boss during the middle of rush hour is a quick way to have your request denied. However, if you approach that same boss during a quiet spell in the day you might find him/her more receptive. Be aware of moods and attitudes as well. A promotion shouldn't come down to somebody's temper, so choose your time wisely.


How to Ask For That Raise at Work

When working for someone else, you want to provide excellent quality work but, in return, you want to receive a type of pay commensurate with your effort, right? Far too often workers are afraid to ask for a pay raise even in situations where they clearly deserve it. So let's take a look at a few ways to ask for that raise and improve the relationship you share with your boss!

The first thing you need to do before asking for your raise is to asses what a fair number is and if you really deserve it. I know all of us feel like we deserve a raise, but sometimes it is just our frustration with work that makes us want to ask. Have you been increasing your numbers lately? Has the quality of your work risen dramatically? Have you gotten great references from customers or clients? If any of these things are true then you should compile a list and find out what you think an appropriate number is for an increase in pay. Look back to any prior raises to find a pattern. If your first raise was for a $1 then ask for another $1.

The second thing you need to do is approach your boss in a confident and polite manner. Raises aren't usually given after a single conversation because there needs to be paperwork, financial assessments, and often times clearance from a higher level. So pull your boss aside at an opportune time and then pitch all of the information that supports your requested raise. By being polite, firm, and confident you will be able to control the conversation and likely get your requested raise!

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Guru Spotlight
Jerry Mayo