Finding the time to research new career options can be a challenge. Between work, family and volunteer commitments, it can be tough to carve out an afternoon to explore options.
But I have good news for you. Even if you have only ten minutes a day to spare, that’s enough time to make real progress in your second-act planning process.
Below you’ll find seven tools that make it incredible easy to get information about any career or business idea. Many of these tools run on automatic pilot – once you register, you’ll be updated automatically whenever there is relevant information to report.
So whether you want to learn more about a second-act career as a novelist, dog breeder, seminar leader (or something else), here are seven tools sure to make your research process easier, faster and more enjoyable:
Knowing where to find trustworthy information about career options can be a challenge. That’s why I wanted to share this information about a helpful new addition for your reinvention toolkit.
Every once in a while I get so excited about a new way to research careers that I just gotta share. This time around my "fave of the moment" is Alltop.com, a site that helps you quickly locate the highest quality information on hundreds of potential new career interests (and lots of great stuff for your personal life too).
If you're one of those people who enjoys browsing the mega-magazine displays at places like Borders or airports (who knew there were dozens of magazines about dogs?) then you're going to love Alltop, which bills itself as the online "magazine rack" of the web. Alltop compiles the latest stories and headlines from their cultivated list of the best blogs/websites on specific topic areas. They only work with trusted sources, so their results are free of the junk you normally need to sift through on other search engines.
This is a tremendous site for anyone researching potential new career ideas:
- Stumped by how to turn your love of cheese into a business? Alltop has dozens of top-quality resources for you.
- Thinking about a career in teaching? Here is where to get the latest news and views about education.
- Curious about franchising? Learn more here.
- Want to follow the leading thinkers on career and job search? Here is a link to Alltop's handpicked list of career bloggers.
- Want to stay on top of Tar Heel basketball? (woops, now how did that slip in here?)
Better still, Alltop makes it super-easy for you to build your own Alltop page where you can get a customized feed of all the topics that most interest you. (If you're curious about what I'm reading, here is a link to my personal Alltop page). Check them out — I think you'll be glad you did!
Many people hit a point in their lives, often after spending many years in unfulfilling corporate roles, when they stop and ask, “Is this all there is?” No longer content with work that is driven by status or material gain, they seek out careers that afford them the gift of making a difference in the world. If your idea of a lifestyle career involves helping to make the world a better place, here are some great websites to help you make the transition to the non-profit arena:
Bridgestar.org: An excellent site for executives looking to “cross the bridge” into the non-profit arena. Articles, advice, job boards and other resources.
Foundation Center: If you are interested in working for a foundation or learning about the field of grant writing, this is the site for you. The Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector.
Green Careers: Green careers are hot! This is the single best site for learning more about the expanding world of opportunity in the green space.
National Council of Nonprofit Associations: The National Council of Nonprofit Associations is the network of state and regional nonprofit associations serving more than 20,000 member organizations. Although this site is geared towards non-profit administrators, it will help educate you about key issues relevant to smaller non-profit organizations.
Peace Corps: More than 190,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in 139 host countries to work on issues ranging from AIDS education to information technology and environmental preservation.
Experience Corps: This organization hires people over 55 (for a small stipend) in 23 cities across the country to tutor and mentor elementary school students, help teachers in the classroom, and lead after-school enrichment activities.
Other nonprofit sites: Start your search for non-profit jobs by looking at the individual websites of the organizations or charities that most interest you (almost all will list their available openings on their sites). If you don’t see anything there, continue your search by checking out some of these job boards:
- Charity Channel
- Common Good Career
- Community Career Center
- Encore Career Finder
- Nonprofit Times
Social Entrepreneurship: Social entrepreneurs blend their innovation and well-honed business expertise into entrepreneurial ventures that help address the needs of the greater good. Here are some good sites if you are interested in social entrepreneurship:
- Kauffman Foundation
- The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
- The Skoll Foundation
- Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship
- Social Enterprise Alliance
Lots of potential career or home-based business ideas will sound exciting when you read about them, but you won’t really know if they are a good fit for you until you’ve had a chance to actually test them out. So if you are considering making a major career shift, try to get as much “real-world” experience as you can, before you commit to a new direction.
Fortunately there are several low-risk ways to test out your interest in new endeavors. Here are six recommendations:
1) Volunteer: Most of us volunteer because it is a nice thing to do, but when you are interested in testing out a new field of interest, volunteering can also be a savvy career building strategy. Targeted volunteer assignments are a win-win for all involved. The organization benefits from the efforts of an enthusiastic and engaged volunteer and you secure new skills and contacts that can be leveraged as part of your career reinvention.
2) Take a Class: While learning about a profession is not the same thing as working in it, attending classes, even if it is just for a one-night workshop, will provide you with an opportunity to evaluate your interest in new fields. Taking classes are also an excellent way to meet people who can help you learn about career options and entrepreneurial opportunities in your target areas of interest.
3) Temp: If you’re contemplating a switch into the business world, consider working for a temporary employment agency that will send you to a variety of offices and companies for short-term project assignments . It’s a smart way to get inside different companies, make new contacts and evaluate different work environments; without the commitment involved with a permanent employment arrangement. An added benefit might be a job offer as many temps are offered permanent jobs after proving themselves on a temporary basis.
4) Moonlight or Take on Project Work: Sometimes it makes sense to take on a small part-time job (or project), even if the pay is way below your market value. For example, if you’re interested in selling your brownies on the Internet, but you have no real experience in the food industry, you might want to work for a local bakery to get a taste of life in the baking world. Or if you’re thinking of getting a degree in weight counseling, you might want to get a part time job with Weight Watchers as a meeting leader to ensure that you enjoy working 1-to-1 with clients.
5) Intern: There was a time when only college students took advantage of internships. But in today’s competitive global market, people of all ages have discovered the value of internships as a way to evaluate new careers and build up their resumes. To learn more about how to locate an internship in your field of interest, consult Internship.com or About.com’s Guide to Internships.
6) Vocation Vacation: How would you like a chance to work alongside a winemaker in Napa or an Alpaca Rancher in Oregon? Vocation Vacations gives you the chance to test-drive your career and enjoy being mentored by a professional in your target industry. They presently have over 125 vocation vacations listed with more opportunities in development.
Here are the rest of the tips in this series:
Tip #1: US Goverment Sites
Tip #2: Free Career Exploration Sites
Tip #3: YouTube.com (really!)
Tip #5: Industry Associations
Tip #6: Monitor the Magazines
Tip #7: Career Books
Tip #9: Go to an Event
Tip #10: Throw an Idea Party
Tip #12: Learn From the Job Boards
Tip #13: Test it Out!