When you’re looking for work, it can seem like every day brings another problem. Maybe a friend gives your resume a bad review, despite repeated revisions. Or you go to an association meeting to do some networking, only to be struck speechless by a room full of strangers. You could be deemed unemployable by a temporary agency, despite your college degree and five years of management experience. Sound familiar?
A job search can wear you out! It can make you feel like a snail trying to run a 100-yard dash. So, what can you do?
First, you must understand that a job search is a strategic process that can be learned. Attempting to “make it up as you go along” can lead to disaster. You need a solid plan and good resources to address the inevitable resistance, rejection and competition that you will face.
Following are some typical career concerns that have side-tracked many a jobseeker. Find a comfortable spot to sit and relax for a moment and see if some of this advice applies to you.
“Things are changing so quickly, I can’t keep up!
What happened to the good old days?”
Understand the facts about our changing economy:
- The average American has been in his/her job for 4 years.
- A worker starting out in today’s market will have five separate careers and twelve job changes in their lifetime.
- Ten years from now, half of the population will be in jobs not yet invented. In this economy, job hunting is a continuous process. You must remain marketable and keep learning.
- Working in the year 2006 requires that you control your destiny. Decide what you want to do and move toward your goal. Market shifts and employment fads should not determine your future.
- Focus on what you can control. Plan to be the best at whatever you do. Invest in yourself. Look for ways to update your skills so you remain competitive.
- Define your priorities and make decisions that are grounded in solid planning.
“I don’t know what I want to do.”
- Complete a self-assessment process. This can be accomplished with standardized tests, career counseling, career resource books or even by chatting with a good friend.
- Learn about the world of work. Follow your interests and passions. Remember to pay close attention to your natural aptitudes.
- Find out where the growth is in your geographic area.
- Determine what you are willing to sacrifice to get the career you want.
- Trust your gut. Most people know what would make them happy, but they talk themselves out of it or focus on what won’t work. Dreams respond well to an open mind.
“I don’t know how to uncover the really good jobs.”
Start by answering the following questions:
- What are your geographic preferences?
- What are your salary expectations? Are they realistic?
- What size organization do you want to work for?
- Would you prefer to be self-employed?
- What industry are you planning to focus on?
- What job title describes the function you want in your target industry?
“How do I get good information about my
career options? It seems overwhelming!”
- Do secondary research first (read before you talk to people). Most people “burn out” their network by communicating too soon. Be sure you are focused and well informed before you take your show on the road.
- Read industry trade journals.
- Read the Business Journal in your geographic target area.
- Connect with your college alumni office or a local One-Stop Career Center.
- Join the association for the profession that interests you and attend meetings.
- Visit websites that will enhance your understanding of the market and your job target. Do not expect to find the job online, even though the possibility does exist. Over-reliance on the web as a job search tool can be a major time waster, so be prudent.
- Do research projects, take on part-time jobs or volunteer for assignments in your desired industry.
- Determine how your skills can be transferred and be prepared to explain your capabilities.
- Stay open to possibilities. Run down a few ‘bunny trails’ and see where they lead you. Be persistent.
“I’m worried about getting into a dead-end career.
How do I avoid that?”
- Understand the future prospects for career advancement. This information can be acquired when you are networking and interviewing.
- Determine what problems face the employers you plan to approach. Align yourself with critical issues (increasing the importance and security of your job).
- Know who the major and minor league players are in the industry. Understand what is working and learn from insiders. This will give you critical competitive information, helping you avoid a company heading in the wrong direction.
“Everyone says networking is key to getting a
good job, but I don’t know where to start.”
Once you have done your homework, it is time to start compiling your networking list.
“I’ve tried calling to get information for my job search,
but I cannot get through.”
“I don’t know how to structure the call/meeting.”
“I can’t work another day in this rotten job, I need something now!”
“What about my resume, interview techniques, researching on the web and salary negotiation to mention a few.”
Start with your self-assessment and your long-term plan. Begin by taking small steps toward the clarification of your goal. It is a common mistake to think that the start of a new career begins with a resume overhaul. The future begins with your internal redefinition and the establishment of your identity in the new career.
The tools and techniques for a job search or career change are widely available, but there is only one you! Take control of your future. Refer to books, career counselors, workshops and web resources to enhance your resume and improve your interviewing skills. Remember, there is a solution to every job-search obstacle.