Referring to the metro Detroit job market, a former colleague who lost his job in the current recession said, "It's dead out there right now."
But rather than wait for the economy to rebound for the perfect job to open up, he's taken matters into his own hands. Instead of solving engineering problems at the corporate level, he's learning how to fix engineering problems in the home as a general contractor. Originally intended to fill the gap between jobs, he enjoys working on his own so much he considers it a second career as a business owner.
Many downsized employees, especially those affected by the auto industry in the Detroit area, are using this period as an opportunity to transform their skills into a second career.
From my own experience as a career-changer, here are a few benefits of transitioning into a second career.
New skills and challenges
When you work for a large company, you tend to get associated with a specific set of skills that become part of your identity. With a second career, you have the freedom to break out of that box and nurture skills that weren't being used. The challenges that come with developing a new set of skills can be invigorating for someone who's been doing the same thing for years.
More fulfilling work
We often stay in jobs because we don't want to put our families at risk of reduced income. However, if you've been downsized and financial resources allow, there's no better time to explore areas that ignite a passion. Because the "work" turns you on, it becomes self-motivating. Self-motivation makes it easier to overcome obstacles to earning income or acquiring future employment.
Fun of risk-taking
Even though they often state otherwise, the "play-it-safe" mentality often rules in larger companies. If you worked for a large corporation and plan to do something completely different, second careers allow you to think like a kid again and engage in some derring-do (if that's your thing). You don't need to feel hemmed in by written documentation that guides a lot of corporate behavior.
Even if your attempt at creating a second career is temporary (especially if it's home-based), you'll build up new skills that enhance marketability in a future job search. Employers will be impressed if you use this time to expand your skills and abilities, and may look at that as a real positive when considering you for a position.
If you've been down-sized, have you considered using this time as an opportunity to pursue a second career? Pursue a passion? Work differently? Generate different sources of income? Feel free to comment below.
And if you like these articles, you can subscribe to this column using the Subscribe feature at the top. (Because we all want more e-mails, right?)