I am adding onto my last job search tip, where I discussed focusing on your strengths. As a career coach in Atlanta and online I often meet people who are returning to the work force and those who are brand new in the market. Both groups may have a difficult time defining their strengths. They don’t give themselves credit for their accomplishments.
I advise them; Think of past examples that highlight your strengths. Your strongest skills are the foundations for your resume, on line profiles and interviews. Take some time and think of specific examples of things that you did to show an employer that you have demonstrated those skills in your past. It does not necessarily have to be on a job. For example, suppose you are excellent at recruiting or fund-raising as a volunteer. You could say that you were able to recruit a large percentage of your neighbors to join a neighborhood watch committee. And perhaps you could even guess at the percentage. You could quote the fact that you were able to inspire people to donate 15% more on the United Way campaign than in the previous year. Employers love things to be quantifiable. If you are just graduating from college you might want to talk about the success of a group project that you led, what you did, and how you succeeded, earned an A for the team. Managers are eager to not make a hiring mistake, which is very costly, so the more you can assure them that you have the skills to do the job, have succeeded in the past, the more likely you will be the one that they remember.
This is a continuation of my tips for women in transition, pre post or during divorce.
Acknowledge that you have value in the market. As a career coach who offers career testing and coaching for women in transition I have noticed that their self-confidence is visibly shaken. What many returning women do not know is that maturity and life experience are valued by employers. Many mature workers, after an initial adjustment, are used as examples to younger employees, often providing “big picture” perspective. It is difficult to find employees with a good work ethic, and re-entry workers often exemplify this valued characteristic.
Focus on your strengths and abilities. The more you know what you are good at the more focused your job search campaign will be. Think about your past, whether it be during volunteer work, early job or school appearances, or activities in the home. What do you feel that you did the best? When did you feel that things came easily, where the tasks were like “second nature?” What have you received compliments about? When people come to you for advice? For example, are you known as the one who “gets things done, is very detailed, has a sixth sense when it comes to people.” All of these areas can have application in the workplace. If you don’t know, you might want to contact some trusted friends and ask them what skills and personal characteristics are your strengths. You may be surprised, pleased and encouraged about the positive feedback you will receive. These strengths are used in resumes and job interviews. The clearer you are about what your best abilities are, the more likely you are to convince an employer.
I have been invited to speak at Atlanta’s Divorcetown USA’s Help and Hope Fair on September 27, an event for individuals pre, during or post divorce which features exhibitors and speakers, concurrent educational session, and a panel discussion to guide people through this journey. As part of this event I am offering several tips to help with career or job coaching during this stressful time.
If you find yourself in a situation where you must climb “back in the saddle again,” re-enter the job market after an absence, it can feel overwhelming. As a career coach, who specializes in new beginnings, I have worked with many folks in this situation. I have learned a few things working with this wonderful group of people. Half of the battle is realizing that you do have value in the job market. Armed with a little knowledge, possibly a skill upgrade, and the desire to “get up on the horse again, in control,” many job seekers have found a new beginning, an exciting career, or a return to a previously satisfying job. Here is my first tip, and I plan to post more every few days.
Tip 1 Decide on your approach, career exploration or job search.
First, you should determine your approach, career or job search. Decide if you are targeting a career change or a return to previous employment. If you want to change careers, you can be involved in an exciting career assessment process where you look at your interests and aptitudes and research career choices that are trending and have high growth. You might enter a new career through training, developing skills in a volunteer capacity. Many of my clients when re-entering the market, find it helpful to do a two phased approach. During phase 1 they quickly develop the skills to obtain a job, to pay the bills, but they seek one in a work environment of interest. That way they can check out the field, make contacts and develop some experience. In phase 2 they begin long term training, possibly paid by an employer, to go for a long term goal. For example, somebody brushes up her skills to be a receptionist in a mental health center and later returns to college to earn a Masters in Social Work or become a Licensed Professional Counselor.
In my next several tips I will focus on job coaching techniques for finding a job, perhaps returning to something you have done before.