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Tapping Your Skills and Interests to Find the Right Career

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*This article is part of In Public Safety’s September focus on career transitions*

By Dr. Valerie E. Davis, Associate Professor, School of Security and Global Studies at American Public University

If it’s time for a career change, start by researching careers that pique your curiosity, however, be sure not reject a career because you lack familiarity. List your skills and knowledge as well as the things that you like to do and use those items as criteria in your search.

Each of us has a unique combination of skills, knowledge, and experiences that are assets to prospective employers. As I considered a career transition, I expanded my research within areas of national security. I wanted more flexibility and career options. I looked for opportunities in which I could investigate problems, fine-tune processes, and work in the intelligence community.

[Related Article: The 4 Core Abilities Needed for a Career in Intelligence]

Think about what fields interest you and examine the job market. Look for areas that are expanding, developing, or changing. Review the main requirements of the job and identify key words to include on your résumé. Ask a trusted colleague or mentor to provide feedback about how to describe your past and current experience.

Identify potential companies and research the details you need to know to determine if they are places you want to work. It is very important to investigate a potential employer before starting to network.

[Related Article: Counseling and Other Sources to Help with Career Transition]

Be sure to develop a transition plan to guide you through the process. Start talking with others who work in the field and ask them for advice about how to transition to the field. Learn as much as you can. This knowledge will resonate when you start interviewing for positions.

Focused research and motivated career planning will help prepare for a smooth transition with minimum stress. Stay determined in your quest to find the job that matches your passion.

Valerie Davis_capgown2_croppedAbout the Author: Dr. Valerie E. Davis is an associate professor in the School of Security and Global Studies at American Public University. She served as senior intelligence professional and educator in the U.S. Air Force for over 23 years until her retirement. Her assignments in the Intelligence Community encompass a variety of disciplines across the Intelligence Community, including Theater, Major Commands, wing and national levels.

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