Five Ways To Uncover Alternative Careers Suitable For You

– Posted in: career change

Several of my Forbes posts in July focused on alternative careers, whether it’s a later stage career change, like Karen Rittenhouse who turned from furniture sales to real estate buying or freelance writer Nancy Monson who discovered her alternative career when moonlighting. Franchising or moonlighting are just two options for discovering alternative careers. Here are five more ways to identify options for a career change:

uncover alternative careersResearch people who already landed alternative careers

If you’re a magazine editor, look at where other magazine editors who have left the industry go. One of my clients did just that and found former peers now in advertising, PR, digital marketing, investor relations, even HR. This gave him ideas for alternative careers to consider as he explored his specific skills and interests. In addition to tapping your known network, use LinkedIn to search for people who had similar titles to what you have now but who have moved into different areas.

Look at vendors and other partners to your existing employer

It makes sense that an editor could transition to advertising or PR, as these two industries work closely with journalism. What companies work closely with your company? You might find alternative careers with these partners. Business consultants, sales people, and accountants are examples of careers that work across different industries, so you probably can find these roles at your employer – learn more about what they do in case you might be a magazine editor interested in alternative careers, consulting to magazines or selling to magazines.

Look at alternative careers that trade on existing knowledge from your previous career

The magazine editor can teach journalism or consult to other magazines or research and analyze the magazine industry for a media think tank. Teaching, consulting, and research are all alternative careers that piggyback off the specific expertise gleaned from your first career. Teaching could mean academia, corporate training, tutoring or launching an online course. Consulting could mean working for a management consulting firm with a media practice, or advising a financial firm that invests in media properties, or advising a university with a journalism program.

There are various ways to build alternative careers out of the knowledge you already have.

Consider a sector change – i.e., private, public, or non-profit

The magazine editor at a private company might consider working for a government agency that handles media relations or for a non-profit that promotes journalism in underrepresented communities. A non-profit fundraiser might translate her experience into a sales career at a private company.

I once worked on a search where a Chief of Staff for a politician moved outside of the public sector into a government relations role. Think beyond your employer’s immediate competitors when brainstorming alternative careers.

Take a fresh look at the skills you already use

Joyce Mariner moved from cop to cruise planner, a seemingly far-reaching change, and yet she saw a tie-in between her interrogations as a cop and her planning meetings with prospective vacationers. Both of these required interview skills. Similarly, when you drill down the skills of a magazine editor beyond the magazine world, you’ll see people management, budget management, storytelling, even crisis management (when an influential story breaks). As you brainstorm alternative careers, try to see how your skills would be used outside your current industry.


Markets change, industries shrink, companies reorganize. You can’t assume that the career you started with is the one you will stay with. Even if you’re not looking for a change, practice brainstorming alternative careers now so that, if a change happens unexpectedly, you have already identified some options to consider.

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