The Career Coach is In

Starting a job search

Question:

I have been with the same company for 12 years now and need (badly) to make a change. I have no idea where to start, what to do! I don't even know why someone should hire me. HELP!!

Answer:

Ok, first, take a deep breath. You sound in your e-mail like you are really stressed. It's hard to look at the big picture when you are stressed and unable to see options that might be staring you in the face. Now, let's look at putting your job search strategy together.

Important first step: What are the skills and experience you have to offer a potential employer? Why should someone hire you? If you don't know, NOW is the time to find out.

This can easily be done. There are various types of assessments you can take, some available online, such as checklists, card sorts and experience stories. If you need some help preparing your list, hire a career coach or counselor. Don't forget to include the "soft" skills as well as the "hard" skills when putting your list together. They can be just as important when marketing you. 

You must be able to identify what your skills are and how they will help your next employer solve their problems. Today, whether you are working in a for profit or not for profit, employers pay for results and what you can produce for them. And those who are succeeding are the ones who know what they have to offer and what they are capable of doing better than some of their competition. Be able to explain situations, actions and results for each of them. This will help you later when you put your resume together and in the interviewing process.

And at the same time, I would encourage you to look at what is really important to YOU. What do you feel passionate about? What's at the core of who you are and where do you want to make a difference? If you have to work 45-55 hours a week, why not do something you enjoy and feel good about doing?

Next, get out your Rolodex or Palm Pilot and start making a list of folks you can talk with about your search. Ask them such questions as what skills they believe you have, how they go about doing job searches and where they see you fitting into an organization. You want to make it clear that you are coming to them for INFORMATION, not a job. And don't cross that boundary. You want information from them and suggestions of other helpful people to whom they can refer you. 

If you haven't already built a network, now is the time to do it. Join a professional organization so you can meet people. Don't just be a checkbook member though. Get involved!!

Still breathing, right?? OK...

Third step: Prepare your marketing package. This is critical to your search. This includes your resume, cover letters and in some cases, a portfolio of your work. If, for instance, you are in marketing or communications, you might want to put samples of your work together. Put together a strong package that reflects a summary of your qualifications, professional experience, education and memberships/affiliations. Someone with your experience doesn't need an "objective." Show what you have accomplished, your skills and results. Think of it as "This is what I did, which resulted in..." As mentioned before, this will help you in the interviewing process, as well.

And one more step. Be sure you surround yourself with folks who you can count on and will help pull you up when the times get tough. Hopefully, there won't be too many of those times but just in case, it's always helpful to have a supportive group around you. You can also turn to these folks if accountability is an issue for you. Ask one of them if you can check in once in awhile and let them know how you are doing.

I have attempted to highlight, very briefly I know, suggestions on how to put your job search strategy together. I could have written an entire column on just one of the steps. There are a lot of other "techniques" and suggestions that I could have included. Bottom line, though, is you have to do what is right for you and at your own pace. After all this is about you, right?

Take care of yourself. Even though I haven't seen your resume, I am sure you have a lot to offer. There is an organization out there looking for someone just like you! Good luck!

By

Marshall Brown

 |  August 11, 2010; 8:27 AM ET  |  Category:  Career Change , Career Exploration , Job Search Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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and ALSO, really appreciate your optimism! It's what a lot of people need right now in their job search!

Posted by: blogalotzoe | August 12, 2010 6:38 AM
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