As a blogger, I seldom recommend a specific person, company or book. But this time I cannot hold back. Marci Alboher's The Encore Career Handbook is the best hands-on manual for changing jobs I've ever seen, and that includes my own book, Thinking About Tomorrow: Reinventing Yourself at Midlife, which concentrated more on new career ideas and stopped short of the pages of exercises and other workbook material Alboher provides that can aid you in finding the right career.
Alboher, a former lawyer who career-changed herself, from corporate lawyer to journalist, works for Encore, an organization dedicated to helping people find second careers that make a difference – not just for themselves, but for humanity. I talked with her about the most common mistakes people make when they're changing jobs.
Mistake #1: Focusing too much on the resume. "I can't tell you how many times I've heard the line, 'I sent out 200 resumes,'" Alboher says. "No one finds a gig by sending resumes. You have to get out and connect to find a job." Having a solid, smartly written, powerfully phrased resume is important, but it's even more critical to craft a good LinkedIn profile and know how to use it to connect with networkers and potential employers. To find a new career, stop counting how many resumes you can send out, and start working the social media outlets.
Mistake #2: Assuming there is a straight line to where you're going to go. "Believe me, your career change will be a trip filled with a lot of detours," says Alboher, adding, "It's possible that one of the detours is where you should end up." What to do? Trust your intuition. Use your internal compass. If you're seemingly derailed because you've become embroiled with an issue, consider that maybe that's where you should be going. "Trust serendipity. You're exploring your passions. See how sucked in you get," Alboher says.
Mistake #3: Thinking only in terms of jobs. "You should be thinking in terms of projects rather than what your job will be for the next X-number of years," Alboher says. "That's how the world works today."
Mistake #4: Refusing to demote yourself. "Don't be unwilling to let go of title and status," Alboher cautions. You may find greater satisfaction and joy in a less prestigious career. "Some people are choosing very specifically to do something less intense," she says.
Mistake #5: Being afraid to give yourself away. "To land a paid role in work with a social purpose, you often have to give yourself away," Albhoer advises. "Most people prove themselves in this world that way. If you have passion about an issue, you should figure out where you can give yourself away: volunteering, pro bono consulting, serving on a board. If you're valuable they'll want more of you."
Mistake #6 Taking silence personally. "We're all drowning in emails and trying to keep up with the number of people we can all connect with easily. When you're looking for work, you're so conscious of what you're putting out there and who's getting back to you," Alboher says. "No response doesn't necessarily mean no, it just means no response. Don't be afraid to follow up once or twice. Don't take it personally when a suggested connection doesn't pan out. Also recognize when to walk away."
To get you started finding the right career, the Encore website has a career transition guide.