If your heartstrings are resonant with the folks mentioned in this New York Times article Lost in Recession, Toll on Underemployed and Underpaid you no doubt understand the challenges inherent in job search. Landing your next gig in your own field is tough enough but changing careers or fields is not for the faint of heart or mind. That said it is possible to change horses mid-stream but it is going to require diligence, patience and endurance. Here are some ideas.
Enroll yourself in a boot camp related to the field you want to pursue. Start by checking the professional development sites of the trade or professional associations that focus on the field. Or even call the organization itself or a few of the members to get some guidance.
Start developing a network of professionals in the field to which you have decided to switch. Chances are they can give you insight into their jobs. You might even ask one or two members to allow you to shadow them for a couple days to give you firsthand knowledge of what the field entails. You can do this by attending meetings and workshops by the local chapter.
Expand your network of contacts in the field and begin to institutionalize them through tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Ning and Viadeo, to name a few. Associating on an ongoing basis with people who do what you want to could potentially give you entre to opportunities. Also check sites like MeetUp.com to search for venues that focus on your career or topic of interest.
Pick up a couple of books on the career of your choosing and take a deep dive. Also, sites like Slideshare.com and Quora.com may offer excellent content related to the field. Do a search and absorb all you can.
Volunteer to work in the field gratis for a time. If you are able to identify a company or two who is willing to take you on gratis, go for it. Getting experience in a new field of your choosing is a benefit in itself and perhaps worth its weight in gold.
Go Pro Bono. Identify non-profit organizations in your chosen career and volunteer to help. This will serve both as a means to get experience and it will add value to the non-profit. In the process, you also get the opportunity to further build your network and spread the good news about your value.
Google yourself to assess what you are known for or how you are identified. If it is not what you want, start taking steps to sculpt a profile that communicates your value and your professional focus. This can be accomplished by appropriately managing the content on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. To further solidify your focused profile start posting content on these various platforms that help describe your personal and professional persona.