Whether you’ve hit a wall in your career, are dissatisfied with your professional development or are considering a career change, you’ll have peace of mind knowing we’re here to help. It’s your opportunity to step back, assess your current situation and objectives, and explore new options. Your Alumni Association has designed a career exploration process that will help you understand your skills and knowledge, research target industries, and then create a new strategy to achieve your goals.


Step 1: Take the CareerLeader Self-Assessment

If you’re contemplating—or are ready to make—a career transition, a career self-assessment is a great place to start. The Alumni Association offers members discounted access to CareerLeader, an online self-assessment that measures core interests, skills and motivators. It was developed at Harvard University and is used throughout the corporate world, including the U-M Ross School of Business.

Because it’s online, it’s easy to access and take. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll immediately receive a multipage report that analyzes and applies your interests, motivators and skills to different aspects of career development and decision making. For instance, it tells you what careers you’re orientated for based on what your interests are. It shows you how your motivators influence your work priorities and settings. It assesses your strengths and weaknesses and pinpoints how to build and strengthen skills. And it provides you with a synopsis of the kind of work environments or cultures you “fit” best in.

CareerLeader gives you a better understanding of yourself and helps you apply that self-knowledge to your career decision-making or career advancement. It’s one of the best tools for alumni who are pondering a career change or transition and aren’t sure where to go next. Become a member today to take advantage of it.

Step 2: Research Target Industries

Now that you’ve completed a career self-assessment and have a better understanding of who you are at this stage in your career and what industries might be a good fit for your skills and motivators, it’s time to dig deeper and research target industries or jobs. There are three useful ways we recommend examining potential employers:

  • Conduct informational interviews with U-M alumni and members of your community. This tried-and-true technique is still one of the best for learning more about the ins-and- outs of industries and expanding your network in new industries of interest.
  • Use social media, LinkedIn and websites like glassdoor to research companies and organizations in the field(s) you’re interested in. Learn more about organizations with and without name recognition. Look at smaller businesses and companies in your field(s) of interest that may have less codified recruiting practices.
  • Seek out networking opportunities in your location and online. Start with our regional U-M Alumni Clubs or spirit groups so you can meet alumni from industries other than yours. Participate in events, panels, and speaker opportunities for the industries you’re interested in. And look for groups that represent your burgeoning professional aspirations and join them, either in-person or online.

Step 3: Plan Your Strategy

Once you’ve thoroughly researched the industries and jobs you’re most excited about it’s time to assess your readiness to make a move and plan a strategy for successfully doing so. This is a fluid process and there will be times where you feel like you’re moving backwards to move forwards. In today’s job market experience is still king, but there are ample opportunities to gain experience to leverage in a new career.

  • Volunteer to do the work you want to get paid to do. Look for ways to expand and strengthen your skill sets in the direction of the career(s) you’re interested in or planning to pursue.
  • Don’t overlook the value of continuing education. In today’s landscape it’s easy to take an online course or certification.
  • Pursue projects in your current job that build on the skills you need for a new career.
  • Follow influencers in the industry(s) you’re targeting. Pay attention to trends, language, go-to resources or “must follow” news and information sources for that industry(s).
  • Join professional organizations in the new field(s) you want to work in.
  • Review your professional presentation. Change your Linkedin profile, resume, and cover letter to reflect the transferability of your skills, and to employ the jargon in your new industry(s) of interest.
  • Enlist the support of a formal or informal mentor in your selected industry and rely on them to give you sound advice on how to navigate hiring practices, and who to talk to.