Second Life Skills: Start a Second Career

Quick status check: It’s Monday morning – how do you feel?

If “filled with dread,” “unhappy,” “resigned,” or any variation thereof comes to mind, it may be time to start planning your escape route.

“What?! In this recession?” you may ask. To which we’d reply: absolutely.

Sometimes we need someone or something to light a fire under our butt, and if pending layoffs, wage rollbacks or massive industry changes aren’t enough, what will be? If you’re not happy, now’s the time to start moving towards what you’d rather be doing.

And if you’ve been laid off or had your hours cut, try to think positive. “One of the gifts of this recession is time. If we’ve been laid off or had our work load reduced, we now have time to explore new options,” says Dr. Shelia Forman, author of e-book Plan B: How to Have New Life When the Life You Have Isn’t the Life You Want – The Manual. (Dr. Forman, it’s worth noting, is no stranger to career evolution herself, being a lawyer, clinical psychologist as well as an author.)

Here are eight expert-approved tips for kick-starting your next career, whether you’re currently employed or not.

Research, Research Research
“This is the step many people skip, because they are frustrated or overwhelmed,” says Guelph, Ont.-based career coach Lynn Burkholder. “But this is the time to analyze what you don’t like about your current situation and make a list of what you do want. Then get some help from a career expert to discover what you are innately good at,” says Burkholder.

It’s a great way to make contacts, take a new industry for a test drive, and gain experience.

Take on a Part-Time Gig in Your Desired Field
If you can find one. It offers the benefits of volunteering, but with the added insurance of income generation in case you lose your main job before finding a full-time position in your new field.

Employ Social Networking Media
“Try using the search features within communities such as Twitter and LinkedIn to find leaders, established individuals and companies. Join groups, ask questions and start to develop visibility in your chosen area. This is a cost-free approach to entering a new field,” says Carol Soares (“Coach Carol”), a Toronto-based life coach .

Interview People With the Career You Want
Take them out to lunch (your treat), and ask them for tips and pointers.

Take Classes
Night school and online learning make it easier to fit career training into your schedule.

Tell Your Boss
“Some bosses are very open to helping you make a transition,” says Dr. Nancy Irwin, a California-based psychotherapist and ex-stand-up comic. This may be in the form of moral support, or even helping you find opportunities in your desired field within another division of your present company.

Coach Your Job References
Send an email and fill them in on your new career goals, and discuss how they can “talk you up in the right way,” says Dr. Forman. Maybe you worked in accounts receivables. Your eye for numbers and persnicketiness about process may indicate a focus and attention to detail that would do any future copy editor proud. Make sure your references know what your aim is.

Invest 15 Minutes Per Day
This will the groundwork for your career change, says Mike Tully, a New Jersey-based journalist, currently in mid-transition to a new career as a sports coach. “We’re all tired and hungry when we get home from work, and there will always be chores and errands to do…But if you really want to start a second career, set time aside every day to work on it,” he says.