By Amy Geffen
If you are feeling like it’s time for a change in your career, there is no better time than now. Here are some ideas for launching your job search campaign for 2017.
SELF-ASSESSMENT – Before you can change jobs or careers or industries, you need to do some self-assessment. Think back to your life, not just your work life. What were your best moments, highlights, and accomplishments from school, work, volunteering or extra-curricular activities? What are your best skills? What do you value in the workplace? What kind of people do you want to work with?
Whether you want to stay in your field and change jobs or you really need a total change of industry or city, here are some ways to position yourself for a new job or a new career. Coming from someone who has transitioned four times from ESL teacher to college administrator, to association manager and then to executive, and now to a career coach, the following tactics are essential to a successful career transition.
RESEARCH the new field not just by looking at websites and the trade journals. Join the professional association and become active. Attend a conference. Contact people in the field you are interested in. Get the information meetings where you can dig deeper into the companies, their mission and the career path of the people you meet. You want to ask key questions: What are the challenges they are facing? How did they get to this point in their career?
WRITE A PLAN - Create a targeted marketing plan that outlines your specific job targets, names of companies, associations, foundations, or universities where you would like to work. Make a list of your network and keep track of who you contact and when and the names of the people they introduce you to.
EXPAND YOUR NETWORK – Your network is everyone you know, including family, friends, previous colleagues, previous supervisors, and personal assistants. Keep growing your network by joining your alumni association; join a professional organization or association and get involved with a committee or project; volunteer for a cause you are passionate about, or with a non-profit that can use your skill set.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS – Go back to your best accomplishments, the highlights of your career. Think about what you are most proud of. Write them up in the P.A.R format: Problem, action, result. Above all, you want to be seen as a problem solver.
TRANSFERABLE SKILLS – What are the key skills you have used and will be required in the new field? Skills such as digital marketing, accounting, and business development are critical in both for-profit and non-profit organizations. Basic skills such as writing, oral communication, presentation skills, planning, organizing, and budgeting are highly desirable and transferable.
BRANDING YOURSELF – Once you have figured out where you want to work, and what you have to offer, then you have to package yourself. You are that person who with years of experience with specific skills can now help the company solve its problems precisely because your background is different. You come with a fresh perspective, a new way of looking at things.
FOLLOW-UP – Be prepared to face opposition and obstacles and negativity. Just like selling a product or service, which can take seven or more touches, selling yourself into a company will take time and repetition. The initial phone call, info meeting, the cover letter, the resume, the interview, the second interview, the third interview, the proposal, the follow-up emails to each interview…all are an important part of the job search process.
FIND A BUDDY – Find someone else through your friends and network who is in the same situation or who can be good listener –someone you can check in with once a week. How are you doing, what did you do last week? What are you doing this week? Share tips, tactics, and strategies.
GET A COACH – If you wanted to build your strength you might go with a trainer, if you wanted to build a skill such as playing the piano or speaking a foreign language, you might take private lessons. With a job search you might want to get a career coach, someone with the expertise to help you focus on your job search, keep you motivated and accountable.
Job searches are not sprints. They are marathons. Be prepared for the long haul. Stay healthy. Stay focused. Stay in touch!
Amy Geffen, Ph.D. is a Five O'Clock Club Certified Career Coach with over 30 years of experience in non-profits, associations, and college administration. She has worked with financial, insurance, and engineering professionals as well as academics and non-profit executives. www.geffencareers.com