Four steps to reinventing yourself as something else

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So you have just lost your job, and you are thinking about leaving the City? However, you remain uncertain as to what you can do next with your skill set.

Firstly, take time to reflect. Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Remember, job loss is in the top three things that cause stress. Bereavement and divorce are its bedfellows. It is natural to be angry. Most people seek to take control, which is good. It is important to take control of those things you can control and not to worry about those you can't.

Take any help offered. Most responsible employers offer outplacement support. Take it up!

Step 1: take stock. Identify what you like doing and what you are good at. Typically, these are positively correlated.

Step 2: ask your friends, colleagues and peers what they think you are good at. Career coaches call this exercise 'best reflected self'. It's surprising how often we are either too hard on ourselves, or our friends tell us what they really like about us and we take it for granted.

Step 3: (and this is the difficult part) take these attributes and brainstorm occupations and careers that require these skills. If you have the opportunity for career coaching, ask your coach for access to Cascaid. This is a clever piece of software that identifies which personality type is most typically found in which occupation. It is a tool often used by career services in schools and universities to give students an idea of the occupations which they would like and do well in.

Step 4: Undertake research into your career alternatives. You have a number of possible career choices. Use your network to find out who knows people currently working in these occupations.

It is very important to find out as much information about the new job/career, working conditions, career opportunities, before you make your decision. Never make a significant career change without test marketing. For example, those thinking of entering teaching as a profession should spend time as a teaching assistant before taking up the training.

Offer to spend time in the new business for free, in the evenings or at weekends. Research shows that people who make successful but significant career changes always pilot the role before making the decision to switch.

Lastly, here's a story to show that you can make a significant change, but passion for the new role is essential. I worked with an accountancy technician with many years' experience, who when she was asked what her ideal role was, told me there were some monks in Tibet who she would like to bring to the UK to demonstrate the power of spirituality.

As a sceptic, I would describe their talent as one demonstrating the power of spirituality over physical constraints (push-ups on two fingers, running over hot coals, etc.), and in effect the accountancy technician was moving into the entertainment business, although she didn't know it. This back-office accountancy technician got the monks out of China (no easy task), Richard Branson flew them to the UK, and Harvey Goldsmith promoted a tour starting in the Royal Albert Hall. Her career transition was achieved by passion, which drove the acquisition of the necessary skills.

So my final point is that you must be passionate about whatever you decide to do next.

Michael Moran is chief executive of outplacement provider Fairplace.

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