Career Refresh: Take a New Approach to Finding a Job

If you find yourself struggling with career issues created by the recession and our new global economy, you are not alone. From learning how to manage a newly tightened budget at home to accommodate the loss of benefits at a job you are hanging onto by a thread, to having to reinvent yourself and your skill set to find a new job in a market overrun with downsizing companies.

Rather than focusing on things that you don’t have in your career, maybe it’s time to redirect and take a positive approach to opportunity. Here are some tips to help you refocus:

#1 Soul Searching: What do you want out of your career? Take a long look at your current skills. Are you a writer or editor at a newspaper that is barely surviving because print and subscriptions are diminishing? You don’t have to leave the world of journalism, you just need to reposition yourself in the marketplace and convert your talents from print to electronic. This is just one example. We all have skills that we have cultivated over the years; it’s a matter of looking at those skills and visualizing how they can translate to a new industry.

#2 Earn a Certificate or Degree: Specialize your skills. Become an expert by learning the most up-to-date approaches in your field. Advanced degrees and industry-specific certifications can make you stand out in a sea of applicants. Education is a top priority in today’s society and secondary education institutions are stepping up to the current demand. From degree completion programs to graduate, post-graduate and certificates, most schools offer convenient ways to expand your knowledge. Some great examples are: online and distance learning opportunities, accelerated programs, college credit for work experience, and flexible course options to help you gain the knowledge that you seek.

#3 Find a Niche: Companies do it when they sell a product to you, why not use this same tactic when selling yourself to an employer. Define your own, personal selling proposition and promote it. This goes back to soul searching what you want out of your career (#1). Once you decide what your career goal is, then build a personal marketing campaign around it. You’re not just a project manager; you’re a project manager who specializes in new technology product launches. You may decide to earn a certificate or degree to support your specialized niche choice and make you a more valuable hire.

#4 Build Your Network: With the social media explosion, it is easier than ever to network with friends, family, ex-coworkers, and old school chums. As an added value for adult learners, many colleges and universities provide excellent insider connections through their career services centers. Think of technology as your ally. Connect and keep up with hundreds of people a day. LinkedIn, Facebook, Webinars, job fairs… the more you talk the talk, you will then start to walk the walk, and be able to do it with confidence and the support of your network.

#5 Cover Letter Overhaul: Email or letter, this is the perfect opportunity to position yourself at the top of the heap. This is an open invitation to sell your talents, don’t waste it. Your initial communication should be specific to the job offered and how your skills fit perfectly into their organizational goals; and may even transcend other positions in the future. Let them know that you have invested time and energy learning about their company and have put serious thought into how they will benefit by having you on their team. If they want to know about your past education and employment history, they will get it from your resume, don’t be redundant by telling them again.

#6 Nail the Interview: Be prepared. Know the organization that you want to work for inside and out. What are their mission, values and goals? How can you help them get there? If you can’t readily find this information on their website… ask. It’s just as important for you to find out if you will be happy working at that company, as their need to know if you are a good fit. Prepare a short list of questions to ask of the hiring manager when the opportunity arises… and it always does.