In the time since my last blog posting, lots of exciting things have been happening! I've worked with some really great clients who have gone on to get new positions they love, even though the unemployment rate has continued to hover above 7% (and went up to 7.6% for the past couple of weeks). I also attended the Career Thought Leaders annual Global Career Brainstorming Day to discuss "the now, the new, and the next in careers". One of the things we all agreed on was that even though the surface may appear still, underneath there are so many changes happening in the job market and so many new ways to work. As we head into the winter holiday season, and people start slowing down a little, it's actually a very good time to stay focused on the next - to develop a plan and put it into action. How will you become the best choice for your dream job?
Ginni Frizzi wrote an article on switching careers that was just published in the Jobs section on PhillyBurbs.com. The article, "Second Careers: How to Switch Your Playing Field Successfully", examines the things workers should consider before making a career change. She asked me for my advice, and some of the things I discuss in the article are personal and workplace values, what you enjoy doing most, how the field is changing, and the physical demands of a job.
Shannon Dauphin wrote an article for Bankrate.com's affiliate, Stretcher.com on "5 Mistakes That Can Sabotage Your Career (And, How To Remedy Them)", and she included a few of my tips! Some of the things I discussed were how to protect your reputation, strategic career planning, and serious issues such as termination.
1. Make it clear what you're offering the employer. A recruiter or HR person shouldn't have to read more than the first line to know exactly what type of job you would do at their company.
2. Don't overwhelm the reader with all your skills. Keep the resume focused and tailored for the job at hand. If you're applying for a customer service job, don't emphasize your accounting skills.
3. Define your niche. If you have a specialization to offer, you may be able to edge out your competition.
4. Play it straight. Including political affiliations, information about your personal life, hobbies, pictures, quotations, and other non-essentials is more likely to work against you than for you.
5. Keep it short. It doesn't need to be less than one page if you genuinely have more than one page worth of relevant content. If you have less than 10 years of work experience, one page should suffice (notable exceptions are for jobs in academia, science & research, and highly technical fields).
Real talk - if you've been unemployed for months and months and months, it's time to start looking outside of yourself for some guidance and some brutally honest insight as to why you cannot find a job. Here are 10 things you can actually do right now to start seeing some action.
1) Sometimes it's just a simple oversight - I can't even count how many times someone has complained to me about not getting calls for interviews only to find that their phone number on their resume is incorrect. Another killer: typos on your resume. Everyone believes they have thoroughly checked their resume for mistakes, but if you don't know the difference between "there" and "their" and "they're" - you're not going to know you're doing it wrong. Seek out the "obvious" flaws.
2) But it could also be the case that you're not up to date on the technological skills required to compete - taking a class or joining a group to improve your skillset can be key, and can also help build your own confidence.
3) Read. Even if you're not much of a reader. If you're really not into reading, get audiobooks. I recommend a few books here if you don't know where to start. Visit your local library or spend some time in your local bookstore.
4) Talking to family and friends often does not yield much of a result because a person's inner circle generally sees the best in you, and also can't understand why you're having such a hard time. The people who love you also just don't want to hurt you, and may hold back out of concern for your ego. Talk to someone objective - a single session with a career coach can go a long way and help jumpstart a stalled job search.
5) Clean yourself up. Do you know someone who doesn't seem to know that he has bad B.O. or disgustingly yellow teeth? Seriously - give yourself a mini-makeover. Change your habits, try new hygiene products (switch your deodorant, get some white strips!), invest in a new outfit (even if it's a new used outfit from a thrift store), iron all of your clothes even if you think you look fine. At the very least, you'll feel like you look polished and professional.
6) Switch up your resume - if you can't afford a professional resume writer, ask a friend for some help. Offer to cook your friend dinner or look over her resume in exchange.
7) Stay busy. I can't over-emphasize how important this is. Strategic volunteering can be your best friend. It can help fill gaps on your resume and expand your network.
8) Speaking of expanding your network - expand your network. Build your LinkedIn. Reach out to former coworkers and classmates. Conduct informational interviews.
9) Stay positive. I know it sounds cheesy (and almost impossible if you've been out of work for a long time), but nobody wants to hire Debbie Downer and nobody wants to hear about what a hard life you have. Employers hire people who they feel will contribute to the workplace - in terms of work ethic, skills and knowledge, AND attitude.
10) Consider changing your objective (and I don't mean the "objective" on your resume - I mean your actual objective). First, let's just say that your objective cannot simply be "to get a job". That's what every job seeker wants. Maybe it's time to reevaluate the types of jobs you're targeting. Are you shooting too high and applying for jobs that you're not qualified to do? Are you selling yourself short and applying for jobs you are way overqualified to do (more on this later)? Are you looking for a job in a dying industry? Sometimes you need to make a career change because jobs are changing.
Even when you're comfortable in your current job, it's a good idea to make notes about your existing responsibilities and key achievements on an electronic copy of your resume. It's so easy to forget the details as you continue to grow in your career - by keeping notes as you go along, you can avoid the hassle of hunting down that info when you need it most! Having your work history ready at hand when it's time to start looking for a new job can be very useful, but having a record of your successes can also be a great negotiating tool when you're up for your next performance evaluation or asking for a raise.
Some things to keep track of include special projects you work on, process improvements you suggest, internal controls you introduce, awards you win, rankings compared to other personnel at your level, increases in profitability or sales you contribute to, business relationships you develop or repair, committees you serve on, lawsuits you help avoid, training materials you create, and so on.