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Can you take your current skills to a new career?

If you spend your weekdays counting down the minutes until you get to the weekend — you're not alone.

Only 13 percent of people feel a sense of passion or a deep connection to their work, while 63 percent are unhappy — or disengaged, according to an October report by Gallup. It's possible, however, to use the skills you've already got and apply them to a new career.

Rachael Silvers began a photography business in 2001 after launching a successful photography website, shooting a total of more than 350 weddings throughout the country and around the world, from Illinois to Greece to California.

"I continued to hone my sales skills and to promote myself and my business, adding a videography component as well," Silvers said. "During this time, marketing on the Internet continued to grow, and the social media aspect took off. I added a blog, got lost in the Twitter-sphere and joined a few amazing digital wedding and portrait photographer forums, attended conferences, networked and learned to promote myself and my business on Facebook."

But when the economic downturn hit her business, Silvers took her social media skills to a new field.

"I was fortunate enough that employers were looking for dedicated staff members to grow their brand across social media platforms, and I knew, from previous experience, how to sell myself and my skill set," said Silvers, who was hired to be a social media, marketing and public relations coordinator for a California furniture rental company. She switched again to land a job as a marketing manager for a small financial advisory firm.

Most people, however, can't figure out how to seamlessly apply their skills to other careers and for that, there's help, said Diana Gruverman, director of employer relations at New York University's Wasserman Center for Career Development. "You have to figure out what industries are aligned with your strengths."

The first step is to check out, which breaks down occupations into the tasks required to those jobs. It also explains the pros and cons for each industry, as well as a day in a life of each job, Gruverman said.

Once you think you have an idea of a new career, set up informational interviews with people who are already in those careers. "Learn about what does and doesn't sound exciting and engaging," she said.

Finally, start networking by talking to those in the industry, and updating your LinkedIn accounts. "Candidates are getting screened that way and are getting job interviews," she said.

Sometimes, you can't simply apply your skills to a new field — and you'll have to go back to school to change careers.

Amanda Zayde of New York started her career by working in advertising for several national art publications, but decided to switch careers to become a clinical psychologist because she found herself drawn to her clients' life stories.

She did three years of additional course-work, a one-year internship and a year of postdoctoral before she successfully made the switch.

"My former career required me to have a nuanced understanding of art in addition to being a trusted adviser to my clients," Zayde said. "I use my former skills every single day. It helps that I know about art because I am able to offer my patients many different mediums in which to express their internal experience."

Still, the approach of using one's skills and applying them to another career doesn't always work, said Andrea Kay, an Ohio-based career consultant and author of six career books.

"A lot of what you may do well, such as writing or working well with others or analyzing data doesn't necessarily fit neatly in a job description in a new career," she said.

In addition to looking at your skills, she suggests that you complete the sentences to figure determine how to best maneuver a career change: "I really want to __" and "I just know there is a job that uses my skills to __."

Can you take your current skills to a new career? 05/15/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014 3:04pm]
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