The Great Recession forced many workers to make some hard decisions the past couple of years.  Some had to relocate. Others gave up the job hunt for awhile and returned to school.  

And according to the Human Resources Executive Online article "Job Seekers Change Course," a large number of workers chose to try different career paths where jobs were more abundant.  A study by Rutgers University cited in the article indicated that an estimated 41 percent of those surveyed had found work in a different field or career.

Of course, the challenge in starting a new career is finding an employer who will take a chance on someone with no experience in their industry.  Some employers fear that they will spend time training someone who will end up returning to their old careers once jobs open up in their fields. But according to the study, 56 percent of the respondents said they were at least somewhat satisfied with their new jobs.  

"If I were an HR person, I'd be on the lookout for some extremely talented people outside their industry who could bring a whole new look at how you're doing things," said Rob Saam, the senior vice president and career transition leader for Lee Hecht Harrison, who was interviewed for the article.  "I think there's a tremendous opportunity to pick up some extraordinary talent . . .because there [are] so many good people out there looking for work."

But they have to be willing to take a risk. One way to minimize that risk is to hire these workers on a contract basis, which gives the companies a chance to evaluate the workers without making a direct-hire commitment. If a contractor doesn't seem to be catching on, the company can end the contract. But if they have found a diamond in the rough, they can extend a direct-hire offer, providing both the company and the worker with a fresh start.

Debbie Fledderjohann is the President of Top Echelon Contracting, Inc.

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