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How to Save Your Career When your Industry Declines

Tags:  Job loss, Job stress, Looking for work

A volatile stock market, plummeting housing sales, and major bank lay offs – Bank of America announced in fall 2007 that 3,000 employees in its investment unit and 2,500 due to the merger with Chicago's LaSalle Bank would be laid off -- are just some of the woes that have been foist upon the financial market lately. 

Talks of recession and a credit crisis as well as increased use of personal computers in most households with an income over $50,000 have made banks and other financial institutions step back and wonder as the American public rethinks how they handle their personal finances.

For many employees in the banking and finance industry career stability is a thing of the past. They're not alone.

As the world of technology has expanded to allow consumers to quickly access information from a variety of desktop and handheld devices, newspapers and related publications have found themselves holding the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

In the meantime, health care careers are expanding due to the graying of America while an ever-increasing awareness of the environment has seen rapid growth of eco- and sustainability-related jobs across a variety of industries.

People who work in a more generic job like accountant or executive assistant will probably find the transition a lot smoother than those in industry specific careers such as investment banker or bank examiner. However, it is not impossible to make a move.

Here are the "who, what, how, where and why" of making a career change.

Who are you?
Begin by defining what skills, abilities, and experiences you have to offer to future employers. Consider what transferable skills – like project management, team building, and communication – you have acquired and how they can help you to be successful in whatever career you choose. Consider rewriting your resume to highlight these transferable skills while downplaying your specific industry focus.

What do you want to do?
Determine what you want to do next and how your background and experience can help you transition. Talk to friends and family, conduct Internet research, and ask co-workers – past and present – for ideas or referrals.

How can you do it?
Once you have determined your transferable skills and what you want to do, give a critical eye to where there may be deficits in your experience or knowledge. Consider how you can get the right training and experience through college courses or specialized training, volunteer work or on-the-job experience.

Where should you look?
Just like with any job search, you need to determine where you can go to find the position and/or industry that offer you the appropriate opportunity. For help in your search check out "Finding a Gig You Love: Selecting the Best Places to Look for the Right Job."

Why should someone hire you?
This is the final, yet one of the most important steps to this process – selling an employer on the fact that you can do the job. It's all about matching your skill sets with their current needs.

Whatever you decide to do it is important that you take stock of what you have to offer employers and focus on your attributes rather than on your specific industry experience.

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