Career Thrown Off Track? Ten Ways to Reinvent Yourself (Some of Them Serious)

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The recession has lasted longer than any in history—certainly long enough for the unemployed millions to realize that their old jobs are gone for good, and that it may be time to make some dramatic career shifts.

Reinvention. That’s the word. Unfortunately, most jobless are not exactly Thomas Edisons in this department. They’re more like Fred Flintstones and Ralph Kramdens (basically the same guy), who are fumbling around in their garages trying to come up with a get-rich-quick scheme (you could design a killer iPhone app, right?). To help, or at least provide a distraction, here are ten possible ways to reinvent yourself.

1. Go big. Millions are not merely shifting within their industries, but catapulting to entirely new careers, like an automotive industry worker who became a nurse, or a Wall Street executive who transformed into a high school math teacher.

2. Volunteer. It’s good for the soul, for karma, and perhaps you’ll even run into someone who will help you find a job. Volunteering is up particularly this summer in hurricane-prone areas, and for that matter, numbers are up among volunteers all over the country.

3. Become a flirty Japanese restaurant hostess. Not for everyone. But the job market is very popular.

4. Become a philanthropist. Also not for everyone. But a new generation of philanthropists shows that you don’t need to write checks to make a difference. You could help organize a young professionals organization or form a giving circle.

5. Avon is knocking at your door. They’re looking for sales reps. So are Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, and other sellers.

6. Join the army. The number of recruits over the age of 35 has risen enormously.

7. Work on a dairy farm.

8. Retreat from tech. Many Silicon Valley techies are turning to fields like health care and clean energy.

9. Reinvent yourself by becoming an inventor.

10. Do whatever, just make it four days a week. New studies show that four-day work weeks have big benefits for the environment, employees, and employers.

Perhaps this blog should go to four days a week. That’d be nice. My weekend would have already started.