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Ever get the feeling you need a change — not just a tiny adjustment, but a flat-out career pivot? It’s a scary realization, but it can also be exciting. In a great post for Mashable.com titled “5 Tips for Pivoting Your Career,” OneWire senior managing director of executive search Mary Gay Townsend offers some great advice for embarking on a new career path. As she reports, only 27 percent of workers have jobs related to their college majors, so it’s not so uncommon. The trick is being smart about it.

According to Townsend, changing careers requires “more than just a flip of a switch — it takes careful consideration, planning and follow-through.” Scroll down to get her expert advice.

1. Test Yourself — When you’re considering something as important as changing careers, Townsend writes, you’ve got to think strategically. That might mean taking a career aptitude assessment. While these types of evaluations aren’t 100 percent accurate, and you shouldn’t put too much stock in the results, they can get you thinking about where your interests lie, and how they might translate to a meaningful career.

2. Be Humble — Switching gears sometimes mean starting at the bottom and working your way back up. That could every easily translate to a lower salary and more responsibilities — ideas you should be comfortable with before┬áconsidering a job pivot. In the long run, Townsend writes, “success in a fulfilling career usually outweighs these initial sacrifices.”

3. Be Realistic — When you dream of going into a new field, you might picture yourself at the biggest and best company. You may end up there, but as Townsend writes, you might consider beginning your journey with a startup or smaller firm. You’ll have more chances to “stretch your legs and establish credibility than at a large institution where roles and promotional ladders are much more structured.”

4. Become an Expert — You can’t just barge into a new industry without knowing anything about it. Read up on trends and news and learn the ins and outs of your desired new role before you even land a job. Townsend also urges pivoters to listen to experts. Many advise showing your interest in a field by joining clubs and professional organizations, and community work might also be a good idea.

5. Show Some Goodwill — Instead of coming straight out and asking people to give you a job, why not start by asking if there’s something you can help with? It’s a proactive approach that may lead people to introduce you to other folks in positions to help.


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