Understanding today’s career opportunities

Debra LeClair, a licensed psychologist and owner of Platinum Principle Training & Development, and Susan Gunther, owner of People Friendly Strategic Solutions, both work to create stronger companies. As an executive coach, LeClair helps managers become leaders and Gunther, as a business consultant, guides companies into becoming transformational organizations.Here’s a recent discussion they had on how to approach a career change in today’s economy.Gunther: When I lost my retail job many years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to convince me that it was an opportunity instead of the end of life as I knew it.As it turned out, I changed careers and embarked on an adventure that allowed me to live in new places, help people in ways that never occurred to me, and do work I love. Despite being miserable in my previous job, I probably wouldn’t have made a change had I not been reorganized out.LeClair: The increase in job losses of the last few years has certainly created loads of stress, but as I speak with people, much to my surprise, many have seen it as a true transformational opportunity. There is often excitement about moving forward, but also fear of finding oneself worse off. We view our careers as our means to survive and often the way we become fulfilled on a much deeper level. The most common reason a person will leave their job is because of a poor relationship with their boss. In those cases, positive social connection and gaining respect has been lost or never developed. Tools for successAnother reason for change involves finding a job that is a better fit in terms of skills, but also interest or even passion. The problem is that looking for a job pushes many people out of their comfort zone, causing them to feel a sense of vulnerability. The perception that “there are no jobs out there” creates even more anxiety and frankly, disempowerment.Gunther: The first step in an empowered job search is to figure out what you want to do, remembering that this is an opportunity. Today we have tools that help you not only figure out what you want to do, but also help you identify how to relate to others in a way that can make your job interviews more successful. LeClair: One tool is the Peoplemap, a simple questionnaire that helps you understand your particular communication style and how it can enhance or detract from communication with a person who may be in a position to recommend or hire you and who has a different communication type.Gunther: Jobs definitely are harder to find in this economy, but it’s an opportunity to hone your all of your skills.Once you’ve identified what industry and job you want to work in, you’ve narrowed your search scope considerably. You can then start researching the companies, trade associations and industry-specific websites that are a good fit.And never underestimate the power of networking. Of the jobs or clients I’ve worked with, most resulted from someone I knew or came from a referral.Networking is also a two-way street. It’s give and take. Be prepared to volunteer, help with a favorite project, or co-mentor each other.Susan Gunther is a strategic management consultant and owner of People Friendly Strategic Solutions, and may be contacted at susangunther@pf-strategic-solutions.com. Debra LeClair, licensed psychologist and executive coach, is owner of Platinum Principle Training & Development in Manchester. She can be reached atdleclair@platinumprinciple.com.