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How to Jump Start Your Job Search


How will I find another job in my field of engineering or technology? How long will it take? How much competition will I have? Suppose no one will hire me. Who will pay my bills? Will I join the ranks of the homeless? What do I do now? If your thoughts and feelings are similar to these, you are not alone.

Job hunters typically fall into one of three categories: 1) those just entering the job market after high school or college graduation; 2) those who are currently jobless, but had full time employment previously; and, 3) those who are employed, but are looking for a different job. The last category includes people seeking new jobs in the same career field for reasons of money, career advancement or personal fulfillment, as well as those pursuing a change in careers.

One major factor in today’s labor market is the change in the employment process. For example, 30 years ago when you accepted a job offer you often could expect to spend your entire working life with the same employer. If you worked hard and demonstrated your loyalty, the company would provide rewards in the form of pay increases and other perks.

By the mid-1970s, trends began to shift. You valued job security, but may have discovered that your employer had other plans for you. Layoffs, common by today’s standards, became a terrible new reality. Employees asked, “What happened to the belief that employees are a company’s most valuable assets?”

The 1980s and 1990s brought even more changes. Mergers and acquisitions were in vogue and thousands of people lost their jobs. Those who escaped layoff often suffered “survivor sickness.” Symptoms included anger, hurt, fear, and guilt. Some managers ignored the post-layoff healing process and never addressed denial with their remaining employees. Companies became populated with depressed workers. In addition, advances in technology changed job performance expectations and increased the pressure on employees to stay abreast of current conditions.

Now, fast-forward. It’s the 21st Century. It’s time to take a fresh look at how you are competing. Your approach to changing careers or dealing with job loss can make the difference in how fast you transition to something new. No matter which category you fall into, there is hope. Accept the realities, and let the suggestions that are in this article help you develop an action plan for finding a new job or career.

Employers recruit energy, enthusiasm, inventiveness and desire among other things. Candidates are valuable to companies because of the skills they hold that can produce results. However, if your career is off-track, you probably will not have any of these things to offer. Therefore, your job search starts with you and a self-assessment regarding your career choice.

Until you can answer the question, “What do I want to do?” you will probably have a tough time getting your job search off the ground.

Once you have decided what direction you want to take, it’s time to start writing. The purpose of the résumé and cover letter is to describe your skills and capabilities so accurately and persuasively that you get lots of invitations for interviews. Keep in mind that résumés do not get jobs; interviews do. Use your résumé to help you get the first interview. Think of it as a “foot in the door” opportunity.

There is a lot more to looking for a job than most people realize. Job-hunting is a full time job. It takes energy, commitment, a willingness to get out and network, meet strangers and toot your own horn when appropriate. For most people it is not something they enjoy doing. The reality is that it happens to most of us at some point in our career whereby we have to look for job. You can prepare yourself by having an up-to-date résumé ready to go in case of emergency. You never know when you might need it.

For those of you that are employed, but are seeking a career change, many of the same rules apply. You will need a résumé that sells what you have to offer in relationship to what the potential new employer is seeking in terms of job requirements. Customize anything that you send out and as a result, you will set yourself apart from your competition.

It can be a difficult job to get out of bed in the morning, much less make phone calls every day to create a network. But, you have to do it if you are serious about your job search. And you can do it with some self-talk and the help from networking groups and outplacement services. Some companies even offer this benefit to laid-off employees. Take advantage of everything others are willing to provide in the way of assistance. Don’t be like the woman who was so angry with her employer for laying her off that she refused to attend the free outplacement seminars that were offered to her.

Think positively. Don’t let your age, race, gender, nationality or anything else that you cannot change about yourself become an excuse for why you are not up to looking for a job. There’s a lot of discrimination in this world and there is little that you can do about it. You have to put your best face forward and do your best to network and meet people who will appreciate you for the abilities, skills, and work experience that you have to offer.

Research the organizations that you will be talking to, even if you think you don’t want the job. At the very least, it’s good practice. At the very most, you never know whom you will meet and where the great impression you create will take you. The Internet is an excellent resource for finding information on just about every subject you can think of. Even privately held companies often have Web sites offering a wealth of information.

Lastly, select your references carefully. If you are concerned about what your references might say about you, hire a reference checking service to find out for you. Neutral references can kill your chances for a job offer. You need people who will speak highly about you without reservation. Coach them and ask them to keep an up-dated copy of your résumé close to their telephone so that they can easily refer to it. Once you accept a job offer, don’t forget to thank your references. You many need them again in the future.

Carol Hacker is a business consultant, seminar leader and author of over 250 published articles and 13 books including the bestseller, Hiring Top Performers-350 Great Interview Questions for People Who Need People. She can be reached in Atlanta at 770-410-0517

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