Preparing for a career transition

The relatively high rate of unemployment in New Hampshire these days would seem to be a sufficient trigger to cause workers of all types to develop a better understanding of the job search process. But we shouldn’t need a recession to get us focusing on the most effective steps one should follow when career transition happens, whether by choice or necessity.

The U.S. Labor Department informs us that the average American worker will be in his or her current job for about four years. Eight to 10 jobs over one’s working years is to be expected and planned for.

Typically, adults rely on job search techniques that were the conventional means of finding work when they first entered the workforce. Well, the times they are changing too rapidly to expect that what was done in 1985 is best for today. The search for new or better employment basically falls into two areas: exposure and research. On the one hand, job-seekers need to get their professional brand seen and heard in as many high-value places as possible, while on the other hand smart research will identify where the best places are to target this exposure. This two-pronged action plan can and should occur simultaneously.

Assuming that you have a solid idea of what industry you want employment in and you have taken the time to develop your own brand that displays your unique abilities and tangible value within that industry (big assumption, I know), then you are ready to pound the beat.

The main objective of exposure and research is to establish quality job leads. Now I wish I could tell you that there is only one source that is needed, but not surprisingly, it’s not that easy. The closest you can get is networking.

As I’ve written about before, networking is invaluable. More job leads are generated by way of leveraging the industry people you know and contacts you have than any other single source. There is a skill and attitude to networking, however. It’s much more than asking friends what they can do for you. It’s establishing and maintaining associations in which the sharing of knowledge, skills and leads is reciprocal. Being referred to hiring managers by a trusted networking source can carry significant weight.

Nevertheless, time researching must be taken to understand the chosen industry thoroughly beyond what can be learned from networking. Being able to identify trends, best practices, markets, successes and conditions that lead to failure is important. And, of course, knowing where the exciting opportunities exist is a must. If you’re just starting to investigate, some recommended places to check out are Vault.com, Hoovers.com, Wetfeet.com, and ThomasNet.com. They will give you a wealth of industry and company information that will help you gain expertise. Perhaps most importantly, they can be guides to industry-specific Web sites, where you can focus research more directly and find pointed places to post resumes.

In order to get a sense of the level of hiring going on track some comprehensive job-posting sites. There are two types. The popular and general ones like Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com and Yahoo Hotjobs have huge job opening databases, and these are regularly scanned by recruiters.

The other types are the relatively new meta search engines like Indeed.com and SimplyHired.com. They scan the big sites mentioned above along with online newspapers, industry job boards, state employment security offices, JobsinNH and other local and state-specific job boards. Use these resources as more than just a place to get information and advice — post your resume wherever possible. Dig in and find out about the organizational structure of the individual companies that are found there. Eventually, take the next step and get known by their human resource departments. Applying your newly found knowledge assertively and intelligently may help lead you out of the unemployment mess.

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Bill Ryan, founder of Ryan Career Services LLC, Concord, can be reached at 603-724-2289 or bill@ryancareerservices.com.