DEAR JOYCE: After several layoffs in prior years, I no longer wish to work in my current field. I understand several computer software programs are available to help career-changers focus on new directions. Which do you recommend? -- K.R.
Career Design 1.4 software is at the top of my short list. In development for 10 years, Career Design is divided into more than 50 modules that, through a series of questions, lead the career-changer to such key realizations as "Who am I?" "What do I really want?" "How do I get what I really want?" Through interaction with the computer, you discover your interests and skills, how to set goals, how to negotiate and how to cope with many of the other challenges you must master to change careers.
What's attractive about Career Design is not only its simplicity, comprehensiveness and excellent value, but its expertise in depth. And you don't need an extra book to use it.
Incredibly, in a recent magazine article a reviewer saw as a possible disadvantage the fact that Career Design takes at least 40 hours to work through. Just as many software products are designed by marketing people and developed by engineers who know very little about the problems facing those who will actually use the software, reviewers who are not expert in the field for which the product is intended may not understand that months are really needed to reflect on the crucial issue of what organization you will sell your life to.
Career Design 1.4 is available for $99 from Career Design Software, Box 95624, Atlanta, Ga. 30347; (800) 346-8007, in Atlanta (404) 321-6100; IBM compatibles only.
Another well-regarded software program, Career Navigator, does not take the user deeply into self-assessment but does deliver a full package of job hunt know-how. Among many things this software teaches you is how to write a good resume, research an unfamiliar market and keep track of your job hunt progress.
Career Navigator was created by a leading career counseling firm, Drake Beam Morin Inc., 100 Park Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017; (800) 345-JOBS; $199; IBM compatibles only.
Although a software product called The Perfect Career has been discontinued, other career software is accessible on college campuses. The Self-Directed Search software is based on the highly regarded research of Dr. John Holland and is widely used in college counseling centers. It is not comprehensive help for adult career-changers in 1990 but is an instrument to determine appropriate occupations for initial research.
Using word processing to produce resumes has two big advantages over traditional typewriting and printing -- greater flexibility to tailor resumes to varying objectives and low cost for quality documents. You don't really need a specialized program to punch out resumes, but a variety of resume writing software is on the market. The one to buy is Martin John Yate's Instant Resume System from Lightning Word Corp., 5825 Vargas Court, San Jose, Calif. 95120; (800) 462-2571; $59; IBM compatibles.
Boot up. Look ahead. Your career-change tool can be as close as your personal computer.