Statistics show that the average worker makes a career change three to five times throughout his or her work life. In today’s unstable economy, many workers turn to a career in the law seeking stability, high pay and intellectual challenge.
Making a career change is an important milestone and should be considered carefully. Below are seven steps to making a career change and finding your niche in the law. If you’re thinking about making a career change, be sure to review these career change tips from recruiters and career experts from across the globe.
1. Self-Assessment. Make a list of what you have liked and disliked about your past jobs. Consider what do like to do in your spare time. What are you passionate about? If you could pursue your dream job, what would it be?
2. Skills Assessment. Make a list of the skills you have obtained through life. This list can include both soft skills, like organizing, time management, writing and communicating, and hard skills such as software platforms you have learned. Once you have created this list, think about how you might leverage these skills into a new career.
3. Research legal careers. Once you have identified both your passion (what you want to do) and your skill set (what you can do), you can begin researching new careers that might fit your goals and skills. With so many careers in the law to choose from, this list of legal careers can help narrow your search by explaining the job duties, education and skills required for each position as well as salaries, job outlook and tips for breaking in.
4. Education/Training. Once you have identified the careers that interest you, determine whether you need additional education and/or training to enter that career field. Weigh the cost and time investment of any additional training against the benefits and income of a new career. For example, if you are 65 and want to go to law school, you might not recoup your educational investment.
5. Networking. Networking is another important step in the career change process. It is important to leverage personal and professional contacts from all of your years in the workforce to discover new career opportunities. Finding a mentor can also help you learn more about your target career, expand your circle of networking contacts, guide you in your job search and point you to new opportunities. In addition, join professional associations and networking groups such as your local bar association, paralegal association or trade group. Use networking venues to highlight your skills and experience and make others aware of your new career goals.
6. Job Searching. When searching for a legal job, focus your pool of targeted employers on those most open to second-career professionals: small law firms, corporations and public interest organizations. These tried-and-true job-search tips can help you land a job in your field. These job search tips for older workers can also provide unique insight into job hunting at a later age.
7. Keep a Positive Attitude. Feeling over the hill? Unsure of your next step? Frustrated in your lack of direction? Making a career change is a game-changer and you will certainly encounter obstacles along your journey. Keeping a positive, upbeat attitude – especially during interviews and networking conversations – will help you stand out and find your way.