Are you thinking of making a Career Change?

Many job seekers are exploring new careers right now because they need a change or the economy is forcing that change. This is a scary thought for most people. What are your options? What else are you good at? Where do you start?

Why is change so scary? Well, change means going into the unknown. You know your job, your expertise, your contacts, processes, and more. Now you will have to be the “newbie” and that’s always stressful. It also means rocking the boat – staying where you are is much more comfortable than delving into new waters. On the other hand, change can be exhilarating and can lift you out of a stagnant situation. When we have many years left in the workplace, there’s no reason to remain stuck in a job or industry that is personally unrewarding.

So, take a deep breath! Before undertaking any ambitious goal, it’s a good idea to do some research, some exploration, and some reflection to help fine-tune a goal that you will be comfortable going after. Be realistic about whether the goal is attainable for you and what the financial impact of any change might be.

Assessment – If you have absolutely no idea, you might want to start with a skills / career assessment. Some are available online but I recommend working with a trusted career counselor to guide you in the use and interpretation of these tools. Assessments should be viewed only as a starting point to do further research on the careers suggested. Another idea is to be creative about turning a hobby or other passion into a possible career.

Research – Look up information on sites such as www.online.onetcenter.org, www.careeroverview.com, or www.careers.org. Look at current job boards such as monster, careerbuilder, indeed, and linkedin to see if there is hiring going on in those careers. Use www.salary.com to help you ballpark compensation ranges. Find people who do these careers to see what they think of their chosen field – do they like it? What is a typical day / week like for them? What is the potential for growth? What type of training or education do you need to succeed in this field?

Action – Now it’s time to make a decision about direction. Be realistic about your choice. Would enjoy doing this job? Is it attainable? Do you have the appropriate credentials? If needed, check out programs that offer these. Perhaps you can work a part-time or in a temporary position while you earn these credentials. Maybe you can find a position that will give you some entry level experience in your new field of interest. Perhaps you can volunteer somewhere to gain insight and experience. Once you are prepared, the final step will be to begin an active job search in your new field.

Success – Network with people in your new chosen field to develop relationships and to learn everything you can about your new area. Create a resume that repositions you for the new career. You must highlight the skills, experience, and any credentials that relate to the new career. Write a cover letter that gives a compelling reason for employers to consider you as a great candidate. Above all, be sure that everything you state is honest. Then be sure to be persistent and positive. I’ve seen enough successful career transitions to know that it can be done. Wishing you the best of success in your search!

Summer Fun … Is It Helping Your Job Search?

Are you into summer fun or are you overwhelmed by it because of a job search? We are surrounded by messages of summer fun – on television, billboards, radio, and social media. We have many friends who are going and coming back from summer vacations and sharing their plans or stories. Yet, all of excitement can make a job seeker depressed if there is no job in sight. And to top it off, there can be guilt about not taking a family vacation like others are doing.

With summer here, many people are nervous because hiring tends to slow down during this period and worries just multiply. Many job seekers have been out of work for a long time. And often, employers tend to slow down their hiring in the summer so that does not help matters.

So what can you do about a job search in the summer? And how do you grab hold of a little fun while you’re at it? Well, the summer can actually be the perfect time to take a step back and recharge. Planning some new activities and fun over the summer can make you feel better about yourself. You will feel fresher and attack job search activities with new energy that will come across to others in a powerful way.

Here are a few ideas to consider:

  • Take a course to increase your knowledge or skills
  • Learn something new – just for fun
  • Read industry magazines to keep up in your field
  • Read books that are in the “Top Ten”
  • Get involved in more fitness activities
  • Spend time concentrated on your family
  • Attack something that you’ve been wanting to clean up at home
  • Think of some ideas to add to this list!
  • Keep up your networking activities
  • Stay on top of LinkedIn and Job Boards

Remember that while hiring does slow down, jobs still happen and there is less competition because many others are away. So continue to watch and apply to job postings on top websites and LinkedIn. You never know! So go have some fun!

 

 

Job Hunting in a Tight Market

As you can imagine, I speak to a lot of people these days who are out of work. The challenges of job searching have multiplied in this economy – the high rate of unemployment is causing steeper competition for fewer jobs; many over 40 workers are being told they are “overqualified” (translation: the employer does not want to pay too much); and it’s easy to spend time feeling depressed or commiserating with others. The reality is that the employment scene is likely to be tough for a while. So, is there any hope? Yes, there are things that you can do to increase your odds of getting to the top of the pile. They require being realistic, knowing your budget, keeping an open mind, and having a positive attitude…even if that is a challenge. Wishing you all the best of success!

  • Enlist support – if you are depressed, angry, or distraught, be sure to get the help and support that you need from your family, friends, or a professional. Let them know how you are feeling and what would be helpful for you to go forward. Sometimes taking a little break from your search can help you to reenergize and provide the confidence you need. Do something fun to reward yourself with each step in your search.
  • Be flexible – the work is just not there in all fields. You may need to consider a change in the type of work that you do or in the level of the position. Or, perhaps you may want to do the same type of work but for a different type of company.
  • Be creative – keep an eye out for opportunities and how you can be helpful. Read the local business journal to learn of new businesses, new services, or something different in an existing company that may relate to your area of expertise.
  • Target your résumé – today’s times call for a résumé that is very focused at your target. For example, if you are a senior teacher applying for a Director position in a small day camp, be sure your resume does not just reflect your teaching abilities. It must also show how you have coordinated programs, hired staff, worked at a camp, and managed a budget. And of course, it must all be true.
  • Network – reach out to recruiters, to friends and family, and to professional associations. Establish relationships and get involved to demonstrate your skills and talent.
  • Positive Attitude – employers want employees who exhibit an open, friendly attitude with troubles left at home. Use breaks, rewards, friends, exercise, and healthy eating to help keep up a good attitude. Be sure you are conveying that when you network with others and when you interview.
  • Are you accused of being overqualified? Practice saying the following: “I am FULLY qualified; I want to contribute to your company.  I am looking to be productive in your organization and willing to be flexible with my compensation package.” Focus on the value that you can add to the company in a short amount of time.
  • Persistence – it may take more effort to get an interview or an offer when there are less jobs out there.  Remember to follow up after an interview with a thank you note. Emphasize how you can contribute to the firm.  See if you can get any feedback as to how you did. Network and see how you can help others so that they remember you. Volunteer to add to your experience and your connections.
  • Read – keep up with professional journals in your field. Here are some free sites to check out: www.HighBeam.com and  www.thefreelibrary.com/Professional+journals-s17657

Free Services – there are many free career services available thorough the Department of Labor. To locate the nearest Career One-Stop, visit http://www.servicelocator.org/

Reading the signs – Is it time to start job hunting?

 

By guest blogger, Leora Kanner 

 

Is it time to start your job search? A few ways to find out!

Do you feel comfortable in your job but not completely happy? Are you contemplating better opportunities, but can’t decide if it’s the right time to take the leap? We have all been there – content in our positions, yet somewhat yearning for something new. The question is, when is it the right time to take the job hunt leap? Your job is fine, but is it time to move on?

Especially for people early in their careers, it is important to remember not to get too smug, and to know the right time to seek the next great thing.  Although there can be a plethora of reasons to begin job hunting, below are some basic signals to look out for. If any of these seem familiar, it is time to actively jump back in the application game (because the right job isn’t going to fall into your lap without a little effort).

1 – You don’t have the best relationship with your manager

Sometimes, the people you work for don’t have your best career interests at heart. They may not give you constructive criticism, or delegate responsibility properly. Whatever the specific issue, if you dread your manager’s voice it’s probably time to look for someone new – your manager should be someone that you can turn to for mentorship, not someone that you avoid interacting with.

2 – You don’t know how to advance in your career

This happens to almost everyone. Your supervisor or boss has no plans to leave, but until they do your job and responsibilities will remain the same. Don’t bide your time, waiting for the magical moment when you will get promoted despite the fact that your team member is still around…it probably won’t happen. Most companies have specific team structures and unless someone quits, you won’t get that unheard of promotion.

3 – You feel like you aren’t learning anything new

The first few months, or even years, of a job, or overwhelming because you are likely learning a huge amount of new information. The minute you feel comfortable its hard to imagine starting the whole process over again. But if you are new in your career, it’s important not to get complacent. If you feel that there is more for you to learn, but your current job isn’t giving you the opportunity to grow, consider moving on for the sake of your future.

5 – You are jealous of coworkers who quit

This might seem like a no brainer. If the minute you hear a coworker is leaving your first reaction is “I’m so jealous,” it’s time to begin your search seriously. Don’t chock it up to a bad day at work; your gut reaction is confirming that the next person out should be you.

Leora Kanner is a media buyer/planner working, playing (and sometimes job hunting) in NYC. She loves entertainment, travel, and music and can often be found drinking too much coffee or walking in the park (even in the cold!) 

 

 

Combatting Ageism…Can It Be Overcome?

Sadly, one of the challenges in job search today is having to deal with Ageism. And even sadder, is age discrimination for people who are about 45+. Not that it is fair to discriminate based on any age, but the problem has expanded to the “younger, older” people if you will. To complicate matters, many people who are now classified as the “long-term unemployed” often fall into this category of 45+ and must endure the biases about being out of work for a long period as well as the fact that they are “mature” workers.

Sometimes the discrimination is somewhat discreet, with a job seeker sensing the problem in action… or via awkward questions during interviews.  Other times, the bias is very direct with an interviewer stating the age concern as a reason the person is being ruled out. Even better, I have seen a couple of emails where a candidate is told that they are too old! (Can you imagine that someone would be foolish enough to put that in writing?!)

Is it possible to overcome ageism? Well, as I always say, there are some things we can control and other things we cannot, whether we are talking about ageism or anything else in life. The priority is to focus on what you can control and do whatever you can to increase the odds that people will see you for your VALUE and not focus on your age.  After that, commend yourself for a job well done and take pride in your efforts.  So here are some ideas that may help:

  • Physical Appearance:  It is important to present a professional, up to date image – is your haircut dated? Is your clothing in style? Your wardrobe does not need to cost a fortune but it should be in sync with the times.
  • Technology: Be aware of what today’s standards are and what is accepted as general knowledge. If you do not know what a tablet, iPad, or kindle is, then you appear dated. Are you using a smartphone of some sort? Do you know what FaceBook is? Do you know what LOL means?  Do you know how to use email? You do not need to be an expert on all of these but if you want to be viewed as cutting edge, then you need to understand the jargon and usage of such items.
  • Résumé and LinkedIn Profiles: How far back do you go? More than the last 15 years is usually not necessary, unless there is older experience that is relevant to your current target. If that is the case, there are a variety of ways to present that information without reflecting how old you are. (And please, delete words like “seasoned” from your résumé!)
  • Energy: Do you reflect an energetic image or a tired one? Be sure to regularly participate in physical activities that improve energy levels and foster a youthful image.
  • Salary Flexibility: Sometimes employers and recruiters fear that older workers will want too much money.  And while it is always nice to have a salary increase, job seekers need to show flexibility. Keep in mind that your paycheck is not just about salary – there are usually various other benefits that you may be able to negotiate (health benefits, vacation time, etc.)
  • Market your strengths: Be targeted. Focus on your strengths and how you can help the employer. Showcase the value you bring to the table. It is about what you can do for THEM.

Do you have any other ideas? Please share them!