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Catholic University Job Counselor Offers Tips to Career-Switchers

17 August 1995


e.gif (1031 bytes)mployees dissatisfied with their jobs may wonder whether to switch their place of employment or investigate a new field. Department of Labor studies estimate that many Americans change careers up to four times during their working years.

Before workers make such important and often expensive decisions, Alan Goodman, a career-development expert at The Catholic University of America, recommends employees ask themselves the following questions:

Many potential career-switchers never thought about why they selected their first field, Goodman says. "Young people in high school or college may be steered by family members or teachers to pursue paths that turn out to be unfulfilling in the long run." Careers and work mean different things to different people at various life stages, he says.

"A 21-year-old on the brink of a marketing career might view work as an upwardly spiraling progression from junior executive to vice president," he says.

A younger person joining the full-time workforce may value perks like travel and company cars. A decade later the same employee with a family and mortgage may seek interesting, dependable work with flexible hours and benefit plans, Goodman says.

Middle-aged employees may opt for positions that let them work from home or create a "virtual workplace" from distant locations while enjoying life in a year-round resort setting.

Some people achieve balance in their lives by supplementing a less- than-ideal profession with hobbies or volunteer activities, he says. But other workers feel that their jobs should also meet their inner needs for creativity, altruism or fellowship.

Goodman advises career-switchers to keep their present jobs while making the transition. In addition to interviewing workers in the field that interests them and volunteering, second-career seekers can take advantage of community offerings like career-counseling workshops or job- seekers' support groups.

The information highway is also a useful tool, Goodman says. "Listservs and discussion and news groups exist in all sorts of professions. Subscribe and participate in several Internet groups that interest you. You'll get contacts' names and e-mail addresses, valuable information about training programs and job openings, and encouragement and support from future colleagues."

Alan Goodman is available for interviews at 202-319-5236. An expert in career development and professional ethics, he is director of The Catholic University of America's Career Center.

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Revised: 27 October 1997

All contents copyright 1997.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.