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Thinking about a career change is a challenging and often stressful time in a person's life. If this career change you are making was a choice you made on your own, good for you. If the company you worked for has opted to push you out the door, good for you also; some people need a push. Regardless of the reason behind your career change, there are three initial steps that need to be addressed by you in preparing for your next profession.

Step 1. Evaluation - This is where you perform the reality check of yourself and your situation. Yes, it is an emotional time; and you will feel, to some degree, anxiety about what the future holds. This is normal and a needed part of building a new foundation for a successful transition. Let your emotions out, and let's get on with the evaluation. As part of the evaluation process, you must take stock of your financial situation, as this will dictate what type of actions you will take in step 3. Evaluate these items first.

  • Financial - If you were living paycheck to paycheck, you will continue to live paycheck to paycheck. So the easy solution is to get a job that will sustain you through this period while you are working on getting the job you really want. Yes, you are going to work hard. Yes, you will make sacrifices to get through this, but you and only you will control this effort. You Can Do It! Be realistic and seek professional advice and help if there is any doubt about how to establish and meet your short-term expenses based on your current income situation.
  • Reflection - You have been successful and can be again. Start reflecting and documenting your career, experience, things you do well. List skills you are proficient at, professional achievements and continuing education. Begin thinking about how all of these attributes will come together in a professional summary that forms the first part of your resume.
  • Future - What do you want to do for a career? Simple question to ask, but for most people a very tough one to respond with a good answer without first thinking about it. You just got out of a job that you may or may not have really enjoyed. Do you want to go back and do the same thing with a different company? Maybe you want to go into teaching, retail, food service or open your own business. You must decide and do so in a timely manner. List all the possible career options or jobs you can think of, and then really scrutinize these down to three. For these three, list the positive and negative for each. If done correctly, this process will yield your next career or desired job.

If you cannot decide or the results are unclear, try it again and let your gut instinct play a part. Maybe a little more research or information is required. Again, take the time to make a comprehensive and informed selection. It is your future we are talking about.

The Evaluation step is the most important and toughest step to get through. Do Not Give Up. This takes time ... walk away and come back if you get overly frustrated. Take some time and refer to old documents or resumes as needed to assist you. I found these very helpful in simplifying a historical timeline and organizing my keywords and activities. This effort creates your career template.

Step 2. Readiness - Now that you have completed the evaluation step, let's get ready to present yourself to a future employer, business partner or the marketplace. Remember, you are now going to have to sell yourself and create value.

  • Resume - Create a comprehensive and focused résumé containing a lead-in paragraph of your professional summary. I cannot go into all the types of resume formats that are acceptable these days. Do a little research and decide what format is best for you.
  • Introduction - Prepare and practice for the initial meeting with a prospective employer or marketplace representative. It is critical that you practice this introduction in front a mirror and with friends. Think about when you meet someone. In most new face-to-face situations, there are about 30 seconds of real attention; you either sell yourself or you do not in this initial meeting. Make it short, easy to follow, have it contain keywords without a lot of fluff and get to the point. It is a good idea to get personal business cards with contact information on them so when you meet someone, you can hand them your card.

Step 3. Action - You completed the evaluation and readiness step; now for the exciting and most engaging step, taking action. Research the companies you desire to work for, and utilize your network of personal and professional contacts.

Let your network of contacts know you are interested in a career change, solicit references and let them know you are available if they need any help. During this step, attitude and assertiveness are key elements to keep in mind. Be persistent, because you never know where your next opportunity may come from. Attend professional meetings, church group gatherings and any other social event you think can offer a lead or two. Explore and pursue all priority leads that support your desired job, even if they may not exactly match. Sometimes the words fail to describe the job or position adequately. Again, you will not know any of this until you explore.

Positive attitude yields great results. Keep it up and good things will come your way.

Kent Jacobson, a.k.a. "Mr. Success" is a trusted authority in the success field and provides valuable success information for free through his website at You can also read Kent's Success Blog to find more success secrets at: