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The Map – A Guide Through The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Feb 14, 2012 in Job Search

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Finding a job in the current climate is a full-time job in itself, but there are ways to make things easier on yourself. Use these points to draw a map to navigate through the job search jungle.

What’s your skill-set?

Firstly, be honest with yourself about the skills you have. Sit down and make a list of the jobs you’ve held in the past, the dates they covered, and the skills required. If you’re an experienced professional, limit your outlines to the most recent ten years. If you’ve been out of the workplace for a while, then list any relevant voluntary posts. If you’re new to the world of work, think about any mentoring or extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in, including sports or drama. This information forms the basis for the professional experience section of your resume, which in effect is your calling card for jobs and can also be used to help fill in application forms. Other sections typically include some personal details, including how employers may get in touch with you, and relevant educational qualifications. Have a basic prototype curriculum vitae (CV) that you can use as the basis for different types of jobs and industries.

Where are all the jobs?

Secondly, think about the type of job you want, and where those jobs are advertised. Local newspapers and job boards are a great start, but many openings are now advertised only on the Internet. Many appear on professional job boards, but several are advertised only on the website of an organization. Many more openings are not advertised at all, and this is where you need to think laterally about your contacts. Do any of your friends or relatives work in organizations that are hiring? Which school did you attend? Are you aware of any alumni who have gone into businesses that are expanding? What agencies can you think of who deal with your industry, and have you registered with them? What technical and specialist trade magazines are there in your area? Even if they don’t carry situations vacant, the news items offer an insight into companies that are expanding. Many local libraries carry copies of trade magazines, so you can browse at your leisure.

Target your application

Thirdly, once you’ve found a vacancy that looks promising, go through the job description carefully. Make a grid of how your skills and experience are the best possible match for the vacancy, and mentally prepare for your interview by thinking of at least two, preferably three, concrete examples of how you displayed those skills in previous posts. Take your base cv and target it for the post.

Expand your skill-set

If you’re finding that many promising job advertisements you spy ask for skills outside your area, think about how you can upskill yourself. Is there a local college course in your area? Could you work on a voluntary basis for an organization to refresh your skills, and do some good at the same time?

Be realistic

You may also find, especially if changing industries or just starting out, that you need to revise your salary expectations or the type of role you’re willing to take. At the moment, it’s an employer’s market, and although history tells us that everything moves in cycles, flexibility is the key at present. You may also need to be extremely creative in the job titles and keywords you use to carry out your search. Once upon a time, a secretary was a secretary. Now, he or she may go by the title of executive assistant, virtual assistant, or clerical executive. And who’d have thought a librarian’s post would be advertised under the title of information alchemist?

Be patient

However you choose to carry out your job search, be patient. The right job is out there somewhere.

This guest post is contributed by Sally Derby. Sally is an experienced office manager with over twenty years of successful personal job-hunting experience in the administrative field. She writes for Degree Jungle on the topics of interviewing and helping candidates to sell their skills and expertise, on paper and in person.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Snake – Shedding Your Skin

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Nov 4, 2009 in Career Path, Job Search, Self Improvement

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In my recent article for the American Library Association, I offered some tips for moving from one industry to another. Just as snakes shed their skin, professionals sometimes need to shed some of the work they’ve done in order to land a new job.

Snakes shed the outer layer of their skin as they outgrow the old one, and even those that are not growing shed; replacing their worn scales with new, healthy skin. Some snakes shed every few weeks, others shed only about once a year. A new layer continuously develops below the surface of the old skin preparing for use. The snake begins the shedding process by rubbing its nose against rocks or other hard objects to start the separation of the old layer from its lips, and then crawls out of its old skin. This is why the old skins are often found intact where they were abandoned.

Whether your need to shed your old skin comes from economic pressure or from a desire for new challenges, any professional seeking to change industries need to first consider these points:

1. Determine What You Like to Do Most

You’ll have more success selling yourself to others if it’s for work you love to do. Employers are looking for what you’ve done in the past five years, so you will have to create links to a new industry by drawing from your most recent employment first.

Within that recent experience, identify the transferable skills. Everyone has them, and employers are looking for them, so determine what measurable, comparable skills are your strengths. Is it Excel? Managing sales teams? Technical writing? Cataloging? Focus on the skills you like.

2. Ascertain Who Else Uses that Skill Set

Take your transferable skill set and look for similar keyword strings on the Internet. Remember to use synonyms. What is “budgeting” to one company may be “forecasting” to another.

3. Consider Your Geographic Mobility

Some areas of the country are hard hit by the economy; others are not. Consider moving to a new area where there is greater demand for the industry you are moving in to. Your chances of finding a job in a new city with lower unemployment are much higher.

While most companies do phone interviews to start, you may be asked to interview in person within a few days. Being in or near the city where you are looking for work is always easiest. Many of us have friends and relatives across the country willing to help out; there are lots of people looking for short-term roommates.

4. Make Yourself Relevant — and Accessible!

Write your resume with the future in mind. Use all the related keywords you’ve found to re-tool your job descriptions. E-mail address and cell phone are fine for contact information, and use a local address on your resume whenever possible.

Obtain interim employment wherever possible. You’ll meet people who need help immediately who can also help you network. Taking temporary employment shows that you have a good work ethic and are serious about learning a new industry.

Strategically network in your desired geographic areas and industries. Join LinkedIn groups and look for job fairs or conferences where you can meet people who work at your target companies. Eighty percent of jobs are obtained through personal networking, not ads or employment agencies.

Consider retooling your skill set by retraining — many state and local governments provide assistance in this area. Contact your unemployment office and your local library to find out about programs offered in your area.

5. Follow Up … then Follow the Golden Rule!

One hundred percent of people leave a first message, but fewer than 15 percent will call a third time. Don’t give up. Keep trying to reach people who may have information for you. (Give them a few days to call back between messages, though.)

Do Unto Others

When you do find a job, make yourself available to others who may need your help and would benefit from the story of your journey.

>>>Based on the overwhelming response to this article, I’ll be hosting 2 interactive webinars this month with a focus on CHANGE:

CHANGING INDUSTRIES 

Learn how to specifically extract relevant experience from your background in order to change industries.  Please join me for a roundtable discussion of EXACTLY how to transform your resume into something that will translate from one industry to another.  The first 10 people to register will receive one on one telephone resume consultations prior to the webinar and have the option to participate as confidential “before” and “after” examples in the webinar.

 

CHANGING CAREERS 

We will layout unique executable strategies for people seeking to move their careers in a new way altogether.  Explore ideas to help you in choosing where you want to go and making an individual roadmap to get there.   Again, the first 10 people to register will receive a one on one telephone consultation prior to the webinar and have the option to participate as confidential “before” and “after” examples for other participants.

JOIN ME AND OTHERS FROM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA THAT WANT TO SHED THEIR SKIN!  The best way to get new ideas is to participate!

Carolyn Thompson

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