Take charge of your future by seeking volunteer opportunities, pursuing higher education, networking, and focusing on your strengths.

Whether you’re job hopping or leaving a 30-year career, there are many ways to take charge of your future. Here are 5 best practices. 

People minglingRecreating or reinvesting a career may seem like a daunting task, but for a number of reasons, professionals are increasingly seeking alternatives to their current job. Perhaps a major life change is sparking a new interest, or maybe a once-critical job is becoming obsolete. Whatever the reason, career changes are a regular occurrence.

Younger generations may be more inclined to job hop to advance their careers, as GenXers averaged about 1.6 jobs within the first 5 years of earning a degree and graduating from college and Millennials averaged nearly 2.85 jobs during that same time frame.* On the other hand, more and more baby boomers are switching careers later in life not out of financial necessity, but rather for the intellectual rigor and the chance to finally pursue their life’s passion.

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Regardless of when you entered the workforce, there are many opportunities to take charge of your future. Here are five ways professionals can recreate their careers:

  1. Focus on your strengths. Too often we dwell on our weaknesses and how to improve them, when we should really be focusing on our strengths and finding a work environment that will appreciate and continue to develop those talents. According to Gallup, only about 30% of Americans strongly agree they have a chance to do what they do best each day. Think about it: if people can do what they do best every day, they’ll likely enjoy their careers more and proudly produce better and potentially more meaningful work.
  2. Change jobs or switch industries. One fast way to move up the ranks is to change jobs, which could lead to a new title and substantially more pay—upwards of 15% versus a 1%–3% raise if you stay.§ Job hopping is a growing trend: the median tenure for workers aged 25 to 34 is 3.2 years and 10.3 years for those 65 and older.** Too much change can signal risk to potential employers, but career complacency can also communicate lack of interest in professional growth. The key is finding the right balance.
  3. Network. According to a recent LinkedIn survey, 89% of career builders networked while seeking their current job. Of those who networked with former colleagues, 53% reported those networking efforts as having effectively helped them land their job. And those who reached out to a former boss reported it as 61% effective.†† Who you know is still important, and hidden among your social media network could be a link to your next career move in the form of unpublished job opportunities or potential partnerships.
  4. Seek volunteer opportunities. After identifying causes you care about, seek volunteer opportunities that could help you acquire new skills while keeping you engaged in the working world, whether in your current industry or one you aspire to join. You’ll meet new people and expand your network while getting a feel for what it might be like to work in a new field or position. Volunteer opportunities can yield other tremendous benefits that can be useful when making a professional change, including improved self-confidence and a sustaining commitment to social change.
  5. Go back to school. Acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to recreate your career by earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree. Alternatively, consider certificate programs that allow professionals to gain needed skills through a shorter course of study in a specific area. A higher education degree could help you advance in your current career or switch jobs or industries. Working professionals interested in earning a degree without attending classes in a traditional setting can opt for online education from an accredited university.

One great way to select an online university is to look for one with positive student outcomes. For example, according to the 2016 Walden University Study: Career and Well-Being Outcomes, conducted by Gallup, among graduates who have been promoted, achieved a salary raise, or changed careers since obtaining their graduate degrees, Walden graduates are more likely to cite their degree as being important to these career accomplishments.

Consider all the possible pathways when recreating your career. Choose those that will not only set you apart when it comes time for your next professional move but will also prepare you to become the best version of yourself.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online degree programs. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*G. Berger, Will This Year’s College Grads Job-Hop More Than Previous Grads?, LinkedIn Official Blog, on the internet at https://blog.linkedin.com/2016/04/12/will-this-year_s-college-grads-job-hop-more-than-previous-grads.

†A. Adamczyk, Advice From 7 Baby Boomers Who Reinvented Their Careers, Money, on the Internet at http://time.com/money/3992427/second-act-career-baby-boomers/.

‡B. Busteed, The Two Most Important Questions for Graduates, Gallup, on the internet at www.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/183599/two-important-questions-graduates.aspx.

§H. Long, The New Normal: 4 Job Changes by the Time You're 32, CNN Money, on the internet at www.money.cnn.com/2016/04/12/news/economy/millennials-change-jobs-frequently.

**A. Doyle, How Long Should an Employee Stay at a Job?, The Balance, on the internet at www.thebalance.com/how-long-should-an-employee-stay-at-a-job-2059796.

††V. Chandra, Job Seekers, Know Your ‘In’, LinkedIn Official Blog, on the internet at https://blog.linkedin.com/2015/12/15/job-seekers-know-your-in.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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