In an ever-changing job landscape, you don’t want to wait until you’ve been laid off before you start thinking about expanding your hireability. Most people have more than one career throughout their lifetime, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on a field of work you love. Start increasing your hireability now, even if you’re satisfied with your current job, and you’ll be better able to advance or change your career in the future.
Earn a Bridge Degree
Continue working in your current field, but go back to school whenever you have the free time. Earning a bridge degree could take less time than earning a degree from scratch. For example, a msn bridge for current RNs gives those with Bachelor’s or Associate’s degrees in Nursing a Master of Science in Nursing. They already have the foundation; they just need to study the field in greater depth.
The bridge degrees in particular are aimed at working adults, so they offer a variety of options to help you fit schooling into your schedule, including night and weekend classes, summer courses and online degrees. Accelerated courses will still keep you on track to finish as quickly as possible, even as a part-time student.
You can start from the Associate or Bachelor level, too. For example, a medical assistant who wants to become a nurse can study in a program designed to help her earn both an RN degree, and shortly thereafter an MSN degree, with minimal time spent in the classroom.
Get a Specialization or Certification
If you don’t think you have the time or desire to strive for an advanced degree just now, look into specialization or certification in your field, which may open more opportunities for you at your current employer. Even if that doesn’t prove to be the case, having that specialization or certification on your resume will make you a more attractive candidate on the job market, should you ever need to find a new job. For example, a nurse could specialize in critical care, in rehabilitation, or in geriatric care. A person who works in advertising could focus on social media in public relations or international marketing. Specialization and certification courses are typically much shorter and less expensive than full degrees, although they tend to require an initial Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at minimum. Still, they could be easier to fit into your schedule and your budget than a degree.
Find Similar Careers
Without leaving your current job, take a look at what other types of careers for which your degree and experience could qualify you. You might discover these jobs when you pick a specialization or certification to pursue. You might have heard about a few of these back when you first pursued your current career. More positions might have opened up in your field than when you first entered in, which isn’t surprising, particularly in technical fields.
Make an appointment with a career services counselor at a local or technical college, or speak to the human resources manager in your company or organization for more information. If a career that almost perfectly matches your current qualifications interests you, but you’re a specialization, certification, or graduate degree away from qualifying, consider investing the time and money in improving your hireability now.
The greater your professional network, the greater your safety net in the event of layoff or if you really do want to advance or change your career in the future. Start now, before you’re worried about leaving your current field. Attend conventions and retreats for those in the industry, volunteer in your community and get to know the other professionals in your field and in your area.
Mention your degree in communications or in whatever field you’ve studied to those you meet to give them a clearer picture of your strengths and experience. If they currently know of a job opportunity, they might think you’re an ideal candidate. Plus, if you network with them now, without asking for connections, you’ll give them a chance to get to know you better in case you ever are in need of a job reference or referral.
Penny Rapp is a contributing blogger and human resources coordinator for a small business. She’s a frequent contributor to career services blogs. When not working, she’s studying for the online Master’s program she’s enrolled in.