By Rachel M. Anderson, Freelance Writer
(St. Paul) - How many times have you changed careers? If you're like most people, the answer is "Too many."
According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Labor, workers between the ages of 18 and 38 will change jobs an average of 10 times. Sometimes a job change comes about as a result of a promotion. Other times out of necessity, after getting terminated or laid off, or because the individual decides it's time to move on.
"The first 20 years as a professional alone, I have encountered a half dozen crossroads," says Karen Kodzik, President of Cultivating Careers, a career consulting company in the Twin Cities.
Right after graduating from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse with a major in psychology, Kodzik worked with at risk adolescents as a counselor. Her next job was managing a group home for developmentally disabled adults. Then she went to graduate school and earned a Master's Degree in Counseling, going on to hold jobs as a program manager, human resources consultant and a counselor at a career management firm before deciding to leave corporate America and start up her own company.
Since opening the doors at Cultivating Careers in 2004, she has worked with hundreds of people from all different industries, and at all different crossroads in their careers. Some of her clients lost their jobs through layoffs, others were terminated. Then there are those who found Kodzik after reaching a career crossroads due to circumstances beyond their control.
"A doctor, who had been a leader in his field, came to me for help because a medical condition had forced him to leave his practice and he didn't know what to do next. He thought he'd have to abandon that identity completely. I said to him, '˜You're still a doctor. You're just going to be a doctor in a different capacity. No one is taking away your medical degree. No one is taking away your license. Our question is what are you going to do next, and are you going to use your medical training as a springboard or not?'"
Kodzik's client decided that yes, he wanted to continue helping people even if he couldn't work hands-on with patients anymore. He ended up transitioning to a career as a technical consultant for a medical device company.
"When somebody has to choose something brand new, like a doctor who can no longer work with patients, or a pilot who can no longer fly, those transitions are very challenging. They really have to start from scratch to identify a new career objective. A whole new path," she says.
Those who've been either laid off or terminated actually have it easier, she says. "Most of the people in this position are clear about who they are and what they have to offer the job market. They just have to do it someplace else."
In her new book, Navigating Through "Now What? " (Expert Publishing, March 2010, $12.95), Kodzik helps people at all different crossroads in their careers figure out what to do next. She shares the stories of Harry, a marketing director with a six figure salary who had decided to quit his job because he was starting to feel disengaged; Jeff, a financial analyst who suddenly found himself in transition after his job of 16 years was eliminated; and Susan, a mainframe programmer who lost her job when the company decided to save money by outsourcing her position.
Lindsey's story is also in the book. She had left a very successful career in sales so she could stay home with her kids. Six years later when she was ready to re-enter the workforce, Kodzik helped her do a self assessment to determine what type of work she wanted to pursue, then helped her figure out how to re-engage her network and get hired.
There are also stories in the book about how military personnel re-entering the workforce and people with little or no professional work experience proved to hiring managers their life skills are indeed transferable to the workforce.
In addition to sharing the stories of people readers will relate to, the book also offers a roadmap of what people who find themselves at a career crossroads should do next. "The first step is to get to know themselves again, to reassess their situation," says Kodzik. "Next, people need to examine their options and then start working towards their goal. All the steps along the way are well outlined in the book."
Navigating Through "Now What?" is available for purchase through Karen Kodzik's website, www.CultivatingCareers.com, on Amazon.com and at your local bookstore.
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