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Fix your career

Fix your career

If you’re unhappy with your lot at work, you need to do something about it. But the current employment market is deadly, so make sure you do it right.

July 22, 2010 1:44 by

What do a lawyer-turned-comedian and an accountant-turned-pastry chef have in common? They’re both part of an agile group of professionals finding creative employment solutions in a down-market. Lawyers, in particular, are facing a tough job market, a report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal suggests. “Quite frankly, a significant number of lawyers are simply moving out of the profession, just looking to do completely different things,” the paper quoted Jerry Kowalski, a law firm consultant.”The overall picture [reflects] the huge oversupply,” he added.

With large and small corporations cutting budgets, many highly educated and well paid professionals are finding themselves downsized or made redundant, and still more are suffering pay freezes or even demotion. But despite more challenging employment prospects, many professionals are viewing the weak jobs market as an opportunity to reassess where they are headed professionally, seizing the opportunity to change specialties within their professions, or even seek new career horizons.

Changing jobs in midstream of a lucrative professional tract can be tricky, and employment experts caution that the transitions should be made thoughtfully. Making a major move solely for a bigger paycheck, for instance, can often be unwise, although human resource counselors suggest that professionals rarely switch jobs simply for more money.

In fact, it has more to do with satisfaction than remuneration. In highly professional jobs especially, job satisfaction is derived from many sources, most of them beyond salary. These include the corporate culture, colleagues, personal satisfaction from meeting challenges, and so forth.

Perhaps you’re one of them. If you are contemplating a career move, consider these Wall Street Journal tips from employment experts:

• Begin by reevaluating your current situation. If there are ways to change or expand your current role, this may be the simplest way to improve job satisfaction and make yourself more valuable as an employee. In large companies, explore opportunities to branch out to other departments, even if it means acquiring new training or skills.
• Networking with others in your “sphere of influence” can be invaluable, apparently. Past and present colleagues or clients can offer leads and help connect you with new opportunities. “Tap your personal and professional network for information on who is hiring. If you know someone at the companies you are targeting – or someone in your network does – work to get personal referrals,” the report suggests.
• Consider the interview process a chance for you to learn as much about the company, as they hope to learn about you. Beyond salary and benefits, try to assess the company’s ethic and workplace culture to ensure a good fit. Speaking with current and former employees can offer important insights. Consider making casual visits to the workplace, as well.
• And finally, take it slow. An offer from a new employer may trigger a counteroffer from your current one. This may give you the leverage you need to change the things in your current situation that are making you unhappy.

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