Mason-Draffen, a business reporter, writes a column about workplace issues.
DEAR CARRIE: My employer has had yearly layoffs regardless of the economy. So I'm pondering a career change. How would I go about this? -- Time for Change
DEAR TIME: To answer your question I turned to Rita Maniscalco, the owner of Career, Life & Business Coaching in Huntington. She said you'll need to invest a lot of time and effort.
"Successful career change takes time and a well-developed plan," said Maniscalco, who is also past president of the Long Island Coaching Alliance. Following are some tips to help ensure a successful career makeover.
Know what you want. This kind of inquiry is often more difficult than it seems, she said. Begin by determining your passions. Then use that information to write a mission statement that defines the kind of life you want to create and the type of job that will support that lifestyle.
"This is an opportunity to find exactly the job you want in terms of the type of work, hours and location," she said.
Gather Intelligence. Once you have identified a new career, make sure it will be a good fit. Network with people in a field you are considering by joining professional organizations, volunteering and by setting up informational interviews with people who work for potential employers, she said.
Size up and bone up. Identify any transferable skills you have. If you fall short, you may need to go back to school for more education and training, Maniscalco said.
Update your job-search skills. Job-hunt strategies have changed considerably in the past few years, she said. "To successfully land a job, you'll need to create a powerful presence online, on paper and in person."
Assemble a support team. "Changing careers is challenging," she said. "To ensure success, you'll need to surround yourself with people who will motivate you when you get discouraged."
So in addition to your network of business colleagues, family members and friends, consider finding a mentor or hiring a career coach to help you develop your strategy and keep you on track, she said.
Focus on the big picture. "You may have to be flexible in terms of job title or salary at first, but working at a fulfilling job which supports your chosen lifestyle will be worth the initial sacrifices," she said.
DEAR CARRIE: I am an office manager in a physical therapy clinic. The therapists are exempt employees and salaried. They also get vacation time. My question is this: If the therapists leave work early because of an illness, can the employer deduct from their vacation days to make up the time? I have read that exempt employees must be paid for the entire day, but it's unclear if vacation time can be taken away. -- Inquiring Manager
DEAR INQUIRING: Your employer can legally deduct those missed hours from the exempt employees' vacation time or from other paid time off. But the company cannot legally dock the pay of exempt employees for missing part of a day. To do so destroys those employees' exemption from overtime and puts the company on the hook for premium pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. One more caveat: If exempt employees miss a full day of work for personal reasons, the employer can legally dock their salary for that time.
For more on the Long Island Coaching Alliance, go to http://bit.ly/OUFLi5
For more on exempt employees and salary deductions, go to http://1.usa.gov/NkbRAv