My career was in desperate need of a makeover. I knew I did not need or want to embark on some Eat-Pray-Love-type-of-life makeover. This was more along the lines of a new hair cut, and maybe a new dress to go along with it, mini makeover.
In other words, I didn’t need a whole new career. Just a change of environment perhaps.
Career coaching was still a huge passion of mine, but I had been working in higher education for nearly a decade. I wanted something new. Something different. But I didn’t know exactly what that was.
So I did what I would tell any eager client to do and I updated my LinkedIn profile and started doing research. I found thousands of career coaches working in hundreds of different companies, settings, and capacities.
I did lots of informational interviews with professionals on LinkedIn, asking them questions about how they got started and what their typical work day was like. And it’s because of that research and those conversations that I was able to determine my next career move (which happened to be getting certified as a professional resume writer).
Do you feel like you’re in desperate need of a career makeover? Maybe you’ve recently been laid off and you want to do some soul-searching before jumping back into the workforce. Or maybe you’re just feeling bored, restless, and in need of a change.
Even if you are generally happy with your current career situation, you can still look, right?
A career makeover is a lot like how it sounds. It could be a major career overhaul, like changing from accounting to teaching. Or it could also mean a smaller pivot in a different direction. For example, a lawyer who wants to switch from the corporate environment to a smaller boutique firm.
Maybe you’re not sure exactly what you want, but you just know you need a change. The good news is that you don’t have to hire a coach and pay thousands of dollars to get the answer. And it’s actually easier to start the process than you might think.
There are lots of free career tools and assessments out there.
In this article I’m going to cover just a few. If you decide to use a career assessment, it’s important to remember that you know yourself best. Career tests can help you learn more about yourself and your options. However, ultimately it’s you who needs to put in the time, research, and eventually, make a decision.
See related: How to Create Your Dream Job in Seven Steps
Free Career Tool #1: O’Net
O’Net is a wonderful place to start your career makeover. It’s a broad database of careers, and you can get key information like projected growth, earning potential, education and training requirements, and related skills and interests.
O’Net recently added a cool feature called My Next Move which allows you to search career paths by three categories:
- Keywords: Use this search function if you have a clear idea of the type of career path you want
- Industry: Do you have some ideas about careers, but you need more information? Searching by industry can help you narrow down to specific careers
- Interest Profiler: If you’re clueless about your next career move, the Interest Profiler is the way to go!
What I like about O’Net is that it’s easy to navigate, and the Interest Profiler assessment is quick and easy to use. Best of all, it’s all free! Keep in mind, O’Net is a great place to start.
One of the limitations of these types of career databases is that they only list information about broad career paths. For example, let’s say you want to pursue a career in pharmaceutical sales. O’Net will give you general information about “sales representatives,” but you won’t get details about pharmaceutical or medical device sales specifically.
See related: How to Get a Flexible Job with Kids at Home
Free Career Tool #2: Occupational Outlook Handbook
The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is another free tool that’s a lot like O’Net in that it provides up to date information on a wide range of career paths.
But what I like about the OOH is that it also has videos of professionals so you can get a more realistic view of what a job is like. The OOH also provides links to professional associations so you can build your network and get access to valuable resources.
See related: Considering a Career Change? Ask Yourself These Five Questions First!
Free Career Tool #3: LinkedIn
Researching on O’Net and the OOH will only get you so far. These databases, while useful, only provide broad information about more conventional types of careers, or people working in more conventional settings.
LinkedIn is where I recommend going next to research careers. There are literally 575 million professionals on this platform. I’m going to write that again because I cannot wrap my brain around it: 575 million people!!
Let’s say you want to learn about a very specific career path, like how to become a business development consultant. Well, you can find about 6,880,000 business development consultants on LinkedIn, to be exact.
Once you’re logged into your LinkedIn account, you can browse through business development profiles and even narrow the results down by geography, connection type, company, industry, and school. Once you’ve narrowed your list, you can learn key information about business development professionals, like:
- Where and what they studied (you might have attended the same school!)
- Which companies they have worked for or currently work for (or if they work for themselves)
- What their job entails on a daily basis
You can send connection requests and ask for informational interviews to learn more about what it’s like to be a business development consultant. Make sure to brush up on your networking etiquette and know-how before sending a request!
See related: Four Simple Strategies for Landing an Unadvertised Job
Giving yourself a career makeover does not have to involve a complete overhaul of your current life and career. Even if you want to make a major change, you can do it slowly over time. This will greatly minimize risk, decreasing the chance of choosing a new career that’s not the right fit.
The important thing is to take things step-by-step, while staying motivated and most of all, patient!