10 Ways to Find A NEW CAREER; Want to Leave the Job You're in or Get a New One after Redundancy - without Retraining? Nikki Walsh Asks the Employment Experts for Tips

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Byline: Nikki Walsh

1 Create a portfolio

Don't fall into the trap of thinking it's too late to make a change, or that you can't leave a stable career. According to career experts, we should all be thinking in terms of 'the portfolio career', a mix of part-time work, freelance interests and personal business. Not only does it enable you to follow your passions, it also prevents you from losing your income stream all at once. And it allows you to think across disciplines, amassing a large network that makes you feel plugged in and connected. For working mothers, it's the flexibility that appeals. Running a small cottage industry from home means they can still earn a living but also be at the school gate. 'We should all be developing a second career,' says Pamela Fay, a business coach who works with people on career development, 'whether that's through evening work or weekend hobbies.' She urges people to think about what they love doing rather than what they are good at. 'Following our passions gives us greater fulfilment,' she says. She advises her clients to keep a journal. 'Keeping a record of what you love doing and what inspires you can bring great clarity.'

2 Network your way in

If you consider that 50 per cent of Irish jobs are gained through the use of a personal or professional network, rather than through standard job applications, you cannot fail to appreciate the importance of networking. Occupational psychologist Sophie Rowan at pinpoint.ie is the author of Brilliant Career Coach: How To Find And Follow Your Dream Career (Pearson). 'People generally balk when you mention the word networking,' she says, 'and although Irish people are known to have the gift of the gab, they can be slow to make use of their most powerful career-change tool.' Networking doesn't have to be as cynical or as strategic as you might think: making the effort to keep in touch with family, friends and friends of friends, and spreading the word about what you would like to do can have just as much of an effect as cold-calling a CEO. You never know when your name might come up in a conversation.

Once you have built up a network, don't be shy about contacting people in your target industry and asking them for coffee. People love to talk about what they do and to impart knowledge and experience. 'It often helps to say that you will only take up 20 minutes of their time,' says Sophie, 'and arrange to meet at their office to make it ultra-convenient for them. If they can't spare the time for a meeting, email or phone will do, too. When you do get to talk, be positive -- while this isn't an interview, if you make a positive impression at this meeting you can be sure that you will be the first person that they think of the next time they're hiring. And remember, a good networker will always leave a networking meeting with another contact so be bold when it comes to asking your contact for the number of someone they may have mentioned during the conversation.' As well as creating your own tailor-made network, there are plenty of networking groups you can join such as Simply Networking Salon, e-networking and LinkedIn.

3 Broaden your experience

Rather than bemoaning the lack of staff in your office, and the extra responsibility that comes with it, see it as an opportunity to learn new skills and to create a new niche for yourself within your company. All too often, it's not a 360-degree turn we need to make in our careers but something a little more 180, and multi-tasking allows you to think outside a single defining role.

4 Get your mojo back

The biggest block to career change? Lack of confidence. This is particularly true of women returning to work after having children -- and is infuriating for recruiters, who often feel these women have the most to offer. So how do you get your mojo back? By getting out there again. Meet up with old friends, call up old employers, sign up for holiday cover, or say yes to a short-term project. …