Career Change

Whether you fear it or welcome it, career change will likely happen a few times in your life

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After dabbling in social media while working at Aloha Tower
Marketplace, Melissa Chang began using those skills
full-time after she was laid off at Aloha Tower.
Photo: David Croxford

For marketing maven Melissa Chang, it was the latter two. Having spent much of her career at public-relations agencies, Chang moved on to marketing and was downsized twice, first at Coldwell Banker Pacific Properties, then later at Aloha Tower Marketplace when it changed ownership.

“New Year’s Eve 2008 was my last day at Aloha Tower Marketplace,” recalls Chang. “But, even though the economy was tanking, I didn’t feel afraid or depressed.”

Chang, who holds a degree in journalism, immediately started marketing herself as a freelance writer and applying for jobs in public relations. She also called upon a new skill acquired at Aloha Tower: using social media.

“We didn’t have a budget for social media, so promoting Aloha Tower Marketplace through Twitter and Facebook became a part of my job,” she says. That was a blessing in disguise.

Chang was comfortable with social media even before the term was coined: She wrote for fodors.com, a travel review website, first used MySpace to keep in touch with nieces and nephews, then transitioned early on to Facebook and Twitter.

“In March 2008, Pearlridge contracted with me as a social media consultant, but I wasn’t sure I could make a living doing that,” she says.

However, as word spread, she acquired more clients and eventually partnered with IT specialist Russ Sumida to form Adstreamz Inc., assisting businesses with their social media.

She transferred her traditional media skills to the new wave of social media, creating a career niche for herself.

“It’s not like a huge, drastic change, it’s just using different media to get the word out. Social media is always changing and we’re already looking at how we are going to be using different tools for different clients.”

Kathryn Inkinen, president of Inkinen & Associates, an executive search firm, says that continuing to use existing skills can make your career change more effective.

“The chances of success are better when there is at least some overlap of skills from the first job to the second job,” explains Inkinen. “For instance, an attorney can bring logical-reasoning skills and speaking skills to a different type of job that calls for these same skills.”

Many times, clients will tell Inkinen, “Let me know what’s available and I’ll see if I’m interested.” She says that’s not the way to change careers. Instead, identify your passions and interests first.

“Don’t go to a buffet and say, ‘Here are 25 options. What should I eat?’ Instead, you should say, ‘Let’s go to Le Bistro, because I’ve done some research and I hear their apple tart is great,’ ” says Inkinen. “With the buffet approach, you’ll just jump from the frying pan and into the fire. Know what you want and where you want to go.”

One celebrity chef identified where he wanted to go early in life but didn’t act upon it until much later, triggering a drastic career change.

Hawaii Business magazine invites you to comment on our articles and the issues they raise. Comments are moderated for offensive language, commercial messages and off-topic posts and may be deleted. Some comments may be chosen for inclusion in the magazine on the Feedback page.

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May 8, 2012 09:17 pm
 Posted by  coachjan

My passion is what led me to each of my careers. Starting out as a PE teacher, transitioning to teaching/coaching gymnastics full time I knew I'd found my true calling. Life circumstances and an injury changed all that and I was forced into a career change. It took a while, however, when I discovered life coaching the passion returned. I now work P/T as a Fitness Specialist and P/T as a Life and Wellness Coach. This combination allows me to play out my passions and work at my best.

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Jul 29, 2012 01:32 am
 Posted by  angelajshirley

A lot of people are being pushed into making some major changes in their career path. After being laid off, sometimes you can get another job in the same field. It may even take relocating to accomplish this. But when you cannot find something in the same field, or cannot relocate - this is the time to be open to change. Bottom line, find out what is needed for the area you are living in and figure out how you can meet this need. Career Counseling http://www.rockportinstitute.com

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