Can you really change careers without starting over?

Selena Dehne, JIST Publishing

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Generally, the decision to change careers isn't made lightly. It's a process -- and for some a dilemma -- that stirs many questions, doubts and fears. You may worry that a career change will lower your earnings, require an expensive investment in education and training, or force you to start from scratch in an unfamiliar industry.

When faced with these concerns, it's no wonder why you may hesitate to make a change. But you should never feel "stuck" in an unfulfilling job, because your career change options are greater than you probably realize.

According to Laurence Shatkin, Ph.D., one strategy that can open many doors is to reroute your career using what you already know. "You can make your next career the sequel to your previous career. Do something different that uses the knowledge and skills you already have," he explains.

In his new book "The Sequel: How to Change Careers Without Starting Over," Shatkin overviews several types of sequel careers. Here are five of them and details from Shatkin about the kind of work and skills they involve.

The management sequel

Here are some of the work activities you may do as a manager:


  • Develop specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize and accomplish your work.

  • Create constructive and cooperative working relationships with others; maintain them over time.

  • Handle complaints, settle disputes and resolve grievances and conflicts.

  • Negotiate with others.

  • Provide information to supervisors, co-workers and subordinates by telephone, in written form, through email or in person.

  • Get members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.

  • Analyze information and evaluate results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

  • Provide guidance and direction to subordinates, set performance standards and monitor performance.

  • Identify the developmental needs of others and coach, mentor or otherwise help others to improve their knowledge of skills.

  • Schedule events, programs and activities, as well as the work of others.

  • Keep up to date technically and apply new knowledge to your job.


Here are some of the skills you may use:

Management of financial resources; management of material resources; quality control analysis; management of personnel resources; troubleshooting; operation monitoring

The teaching sequel
Here are some of the work activities you may do as a teacher, professor, instructor or trainer:


  • Develop specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize and accomplish your work.

  • Identify the educational needs of others, develop formal educational or training programs or classes, and teach or instruct others.

  • Keep up to date technically and apply new knowledge to your job.

  • Identify the developmental needs of others and coach, mentor or otherwise help others to improve their knowledge of skills.

  • Develop, design, or create new applications, ideas, relationships, systems or products (including artistic contributions).

  • Create constructive and cooperative working relationships with others; maintain them over time.

  • Provide information to supervisors, co-workers and subordinates by telephone, in written form, through email or in person.

  • Analyze information and evaluate results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

  • Identify information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detect changes in circumstances or events.

  • Schedule events, programs and activities, as well as the work of others.


Here are some of the skills you may use:

Learning strategies; instructing; writing; reading; comprehension; monitoring

The advocacy sequel
Here are some of the work activities you may do as an advocate:


  • Communicate with people outside the organization and represent the organization to customers, the public, government and other external sources.

  • Develop specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize and accomplish your work.

  • Create constructive and cooperative working relationships with others; maintain them over time.

  • Observe, receive and obtain information from all relevant sources.

  • Provide information to supervisors, co-workers and subordinates by telephone, in written form, through email or in person.

  • Keep up to date technically and apply new knowledge to your job.

  • Analyze information and evaluate results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

  • Handle complaints, settle disputes and resolve grievances and conflicts.

  • Negotiate with others.

  • Identify the underlying principles, reasons or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

  • Compile, code, categorize, calculate, tabulate, audit or verify information or data.


Here are some of the skills you may use:

Writing; speaking; persuading; active listening; critical thinking

The standards enforcement sequel
Here are some of the work activities you may do to enforce standards:


  • Use relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations or standards.

  • Keep up to date technically and apply new knowledge to your job.

  • Create constructive and cooperative working relationships with others; maintain them over time.

  • Communicate with people outside the organization and represent the organization to customers, the public, government and other external sources.

  • Provide information to supervisors, co-workers and subordinates by telephone, in written form, through email or in person.

  • Observe, receive and obtain information from all relevant sources.

  • Identify information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

  • Compile, code, categorize, calculate, tabulate, audit or verify information or data.

  • Analyze information and evaluate results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

  • Develop specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize and accomplish your work.


Here are some of the skills you may use:

Troubleshooting; quality control analysis; operation monitoring; systems analysis; operations analysis

The communications sequel
Here are some of the work activities you may do as a communicator:


  • Communicate with people outside the organization and represent the organization to customers, the public, government and other external sources.

  • Develop specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize and accomplish your work.

  • Develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with others and maintain them over time.

  • Keep up to date technically and apply new knowledge to your job.

  • Develop, design, or create new applications, ideas, relationships, systems or products (including artistic contributions).

  • Provide information to supervisors, co-workers and subordinates by telephone, in written form, through email or in person.

  • Observe, receive and obtain information from all relevant sources.

  • Identify information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

  • Schedule events, programs and activities, as well as the work of others.

  • Analyze information and evaluate results to choose the best solution and solve problems.


Here are some of the skills you may use:

Writing; reading comprehension; active listening; speaking; critical thinking; active learning

Selena Dehne is a career writer for JIST Publishing who shares the latest occupational, career and job search information available with job seekers and career changers. She is also the author of JIST's Job Search and Career Blog (http://jistjobsearchandcareer.blogspot.com/). Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SelenaDehne

Last Updated: 10/05/2011 - 5:24 PM


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