1 Define your goals. Do you want a job that pushes you to the top? Do you want to work for yourself? Do you want to manage others? Do you want to travel?

2 Assess your abilities. What do you do best? What don't you do well? And never be afraid to ask others for their opinions. Be honest and critical, says Rich Wellins of the human-resource consulting firm Development Dimensions International.

3 Analyze your motivations. "Ask yourself, 'Am I running away from my current job?'" says Wellins. "Or do you truly want to find something more satisfying?"

4 List job specifications. A job might sound intriguing, but there are a host of practical consid­erations, like commissions versus salary and days versus nights. Also, do you need benefits like health insurance, retirement savings, and paid vacations?

5 Take the market's pulse. Is your dream job in demand? The contemporary world doesn't need many blacksmiths, for instance. Stroud suggests checking with trade groups that offer state-of-the-profession surveys, which outline hiring prospects and future needs and provide industry outlooks.

6 Network, network, and network. Check with friends, colleagues, and associates to find out what's available, what they think suits you, and to get a fresh perspective. Look for people who do what you want to do, and find out what they think.

7 Revise your sales pitch. Ask people in your target industry what skills you'll need, and what skills you already have that match or that could be transferred. (For example, an accountant could use financial skills in a sales job because he or she would be able to offer clients a thorough analysis of their needs and explain how the product could save the customers money.) Then add this assessment of your skills to your interviewing speech.

8 Try it first. Want to be a nurse? Work in a hospital for three days, says Wellins, which will give you an idea of the pace, the people, and the atmosphere. You might decide your dream career isn't for you after all.
And in that case, start back at number one.
- Jeff Siegel

Try, Try Again


Even if they do succeed, these business owners start it up all over again.

For serial entrepreneurs, starting is always more exciting than finishing.