by: Ian McEwen
So you are beginning a new year, and you think you have your game plan mapped out. Just like the environment, as you look at the employment landscape, you can see the playing field changing. Job security is becoming a thing of the past. You are not sure if you are going to be laid off or facing early retirement. Perhaps your employer is involved in a merger or acquisition. Or, you have come to realize your career has plateaued, and your job isn’t providing you with appropriate challenges or rewards. In any event, if something is wrong with your career – do something about it!
So what do you do?
1: Don’t to allow yourself to be in denial of the obvious. Only you have the power to make the necessary changes, and for the right reasons. Don’t allow yourself to revert back into the same-old, same-old syndrome. Be committed to moving on, and don’t sit on the fence. Embrace the motto that “you fail only if you have failed to try.”
2: Don’t be jumping into the career market before you have done a career assessment. This is a good time to take stock in yourself and determine your skills inventory including your behavioural characteristics. Pay attention to your previous job evaluations which will help you formulate your strengths and weaknesses. Determine the new skills you will need to reach your “dream” job. What courses do you need to take, seminars to attend, books to read, or e-learning on the internet?
3: Take ownership of your career choices by setting goals. And make sure your goals and expectations are realistic. Just like a business establishes an annual business plan, your goals must be measurable and achievable within specific timeframes. Provide some balance between your professional and personal goals. As Glenn Chomiak of Action Business Coaching writes, “Schedule your priorities, not prioritize your schedule.”
4: Commit specific blocks of time to your career change. Be organized and disciplined. Create a working environment where you can take advantage of uninterrupted planning time. Looking for a job is a full time job – treat it as such. Work on one action step every day.
5: Establish a financial plan for transition. A starting point is producing a financial review including a thorough list of monthly expenses – fixed and discretionary. Consideration also has to be given to your benefits and insurance programs. This fiscal exercise can determine some specific timelines as to when you can make a career move, and can result in a modification of your spending habits.
6: Develop a “Resumé That Rocks” along with a focused cover letter. Excellent resumés will help you get an interview. Tailor your resumé specific to the job with factual, verifiable accomplishments. Employers do not want to read a “job description” resumé. It is important that you are able to talk to your accomplishments – significant and satisfying events both inside and outside your employment. Make a list of several accomplishments including the situation, the action taken and the results.
7: Establish a team and network of support. Your immediate family is your prime cheering section. Discuss your career plans with them openly and honestly. You may also want to engage a professional career counselor or an independent 3rd party to help position your skill sets. People who have been through similar experiences can also be an invaluable resource.
8: Research different jobs and prepare a list of job titles that reflect your experiences and capabilities. Balance your list with similar jobs you have performed in the past with your “ideal” job or the one that provides you with career progression. Employers generally look for a direct hit when matching job qualifications with candidate experiences. Except for entry level positions, employers don’t have the resources to bring in someone from the outside and train them. They want someone who can contribute immediately.
9: Don’t be afraid to take a half-a-step backward in order to take two-steps forward. Consider all the elements on your checklist. You may want to consider taking a position to which you are overqualified in order satisfy your need for finding the right company with the right culture, and with better future career opportunities.
10: Avoid colouring outside the lines. We recommend that although skill sets are transferable, you will get more results in your job search by staying inside your industry vertical. As an example, individuals with an automotive marketing background would find difficulty securing a marketing position with a packaged goods company. Marketing cars is not the same as marketing cereal.
It is over to you to get started. In our next article, we will discuss: How to Market Yourself.