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Switching Careers After a Job Loss

Job hunting may require some creative thinking.

Whether you've been in the same job for many years or have worked in several fields, a layoff can be a good time to think about switching either to a new occupation or industry.

Occupations Vs. Industries

Your occupation is what you do. Your industry is where you do it. For example, receptionist is an occupation that can be found in most industries, such as health care, manufacturing, or financial services. An industry like health care doesn't just employ receptionists. It also employs people in other occupations like doctors, nurses, technicians, and janitors.

Option 1: Stay in the Same Occupation and Same Industry

Do you want to look for a job in your current or most recent occupation or industry? Then start your job search by checking out tips for Job Hunting After a Job Loss.

Option 2: Move to the Same Occupation in a Different Industry

EXAMPLE: A receptionist can move from working for an auto manufacturing firm to a hospital.

  • Consider a more stable industry. No industry is completely layoff-proof. Still, jobs in health care, education, and other human service fields are less subject to economic downturns. The demand for human services doesn't stop during a recession.

  • Transfer your skills. If you were a clerk in the auto manufacturing industry, can you jump to being a clerk in a hospital or school? Maybe. The key is to understand your skills in general terms and know how they might transfer. Use the skills profiler to find out.

  • Market yourself. During times of high unemployment, employers can be choosy about who they hire. Be sure to explain how your experience in a different industry translates into real value for a prospective employer. Tailor your resume and cover letter for each job opening.

  • Research the trends. View employment trends by occupation and industry. This will give you a feel for which industries employ people with your background and skills. Also look for Minnesota growing careers and emerging careers and skills to get a sense of how your future might look.

Option 3: Move to a Different Occupation in the Same Industry

EXAMPLE: A receptionist working in a hospital can apply for a medical transcriptionist position in the same or a different hospital.

  • Assess your skills. Assessing your skills after a job loss will help you figure out how to move from one occupation to another.

  • Find related occupations.If you are thinking of switching occupations, find out which occupations can make the best use of your skills. Use a Related Occupations Tool to learn which careers are most similar to your last job. Use the skills profiler to find occupations that use skills similar to your previous job. Or research careers to find related occupations to your previous job.

  • Network. Networking can be especially effective if you're looking for a different occupation in the same industry. Your contacts may know each other and can communicate easily.

  • Learn about the salary range in your new occupation. Find salary information.

Option 4: Move to a Different Occupation in a Different Industry

EXAMPLE: A receptionist working in a hospital decides to find a job as an animal groomer for a local pet store.

If you're interested in a whole new career, be sure to explore all your options. Since your job search is taking you in a completely new direction, it's best to take a step back to explore careers and industries. Here are some things to consider:


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