This may be the best time to look for a new job in the last decade, especially in the Puget Sound area.

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According to the latest news from the state Employment Security Department, the unemployment rate statewide fell to 5.2 percent in September, which is well below even the 5.9 percent rate the state had before the beginning of the Great Recession. The effects of that economic slump were so severe and the recovery so long and spotty, that many workers today still see job search as a scary and desperate task.

In fact, this may be the best time to look for a new job in the last decade, especially in the Puget Sound area, where new businesses are booming. Those who feel as if they are “trapped” in a career for fear of not finding work elsewhere may find that there are more choices available than they assumed.

The idea of “starting over” can be a challenge and should never be taken lightly, but it is possible to do if you take a few important steps to make sure you’re the right fit and have the required skills.

Set up an informational interview. If there are people you know in a desired profession who you feel could provide you with guidance on your decision, ask to set up an informational interview. This would not be a job interview, but a more casual, one-on-one discussion about what it takes to break into the industry, what the corporate culture is like, and the health of the profession in general.

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Volunteer. If there are companies or organizations that best represent the kind of work you want to do, find ways you can volunteer your time to help them out. This could take the form of pro bono work for the company, helping out at a trade association representing the profession, helping to organize networking functions or even starting a blog that focuses on the profession. Any contribution you can make that shows your interest and demonstrates your knowledge will look good to a future hiring manager.

Brush up your knowledge. If there is a new profession that you had put off pursuing, due to monetary reasons or lack of available jobs in the past, consider taking a few evening or weekend courses to make sure your skills are as updated as possible. And, of course, if you’re seeking any job that requires a specific accreditation, then those classes will be an important priority.

Take on new duties at current position. If you already have a job that’s similar to the one you want to pursue, request to take on new responsibilities that are outside of your normal job description. This should be done delicately, as you don’t want to worry your supervisor that you’re considering going into another field. However, if you show interest in expanding your current role, there may be new opportunities right under your nose that you never knew existed.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at