Be a Gateway for Career Changers

New Career September 5, 2018

More people are taking non-traditional career pathways by choice or necessity. ASAE Foundation research suggests that associations are well suited to help workers navigate career changes.

Many workers are making career decisions based on the needs of their life stage, and midlife career changes are becoming more common. This trend and its implications—including opportunities for associations—are explored in the ASAE ForesightWorks driver of change, “Re-Working Career Pathways.”

A career path with a predictable, upward trajectory within a single organization is no longer the norm in the workforce, but employers and social support structures are not adapting to changing worker needs. In this environment, associations can serve as gateways to new careers, support education and training for career changers, promote mentoring across different fields, and raise the profile of career changers as assets to organizations.

Career changers will have a different set of needs than other association members. They may want new forms of education and skills acquisition that specifically support changing jobs. A special association membership might offer paths to explore and gain knowledge for a new profession. Associations can also provide social and financial services to members in career transitions, enabling professionals to make a career leap they might otherwise hesitate to take. 

Promote the message that membership in your association is a way for people to explore new careers and gain introductory knowledge to start on a path toward a career change.

As career pathways change, mentoring will also shift. Mentors may no longer typically be older than mentees. The transference of skills and knowledge among professionals will be based on experience rather than years in the workforce, which will make for different types of relationships. Associations can re-imagine ways to facilitate mentoring connections with a focus on skills experience rather than career experience.

Take Action

As moving between industries and professions becomes more common, associations will have more opportunities to support career changers. The ForesightWorks “Re-Working Career Pathways” action brief suggests several possible steps to get started.

Understand pathways into and out of your industry, and monitor adjacent and emerging professions. If your industry is struggling to attract people new to the workforce, or if a significant portion of workers in your industry or profession leave it at a certain point, consider products and services that could inspire new worker behaviors.

Facilitate pathways for career changers. Recognize relevant experience for credentials and offer learning programs that help professionals in transitional periods. Celebrate alternate career pathways and advocate for the social support systems that make transitions possible for workers.

Tout the value of membership. Promote the message that membership in your association is a way for people to explore new careers and gain introductory knowledge to start on a path toward a career change. You can be a resource for members aging within their careers, whether that means offering continuous skills development or advocating for work environments that offer more flexibility.

Provide an attractive opportunity for career changers. Consider how knowledge and experience in different backgrounds can contribute to your organization and how you can make it easier for professionals with those backgrounds to learn association management skills in the future.