What to Consider When Making a Career Switch

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We’re no longer of a generation that chooses one career and sticks with it.  While our grandparents may have stayed with a single company their entire working lives, nowadays people bounce around companies, continents, and career paths all the time.  Unfortunately, this means that our forefathers may not be able to give us the best advice when we decide we want to make the transition.  So here are some important things to consider while making that uncertain, foreboding, and always exciting career switch!

Assess Where You’re At

A crucial part of changing direction is determining exactly where you currently stand.  It’s important to understand why you want to make a change, and what specifically you have at the moment that you want to modify.  Is your work unfulfilling, not paying you well enough, or leading to a dead end?  And are there ways you can remedy these current problems without jumping ship?  Making a career switch is a huge task, so instead of falling into the “grass is always greener” mentality right away, it may be wise to evaluate whether or not you can find ways to be happier where you currently are.

Do Your Research

Before you make any hasty decisions, it’s important to understand what you’ll be getting yourself into.  You don’t want to transition out of a career just to find the same problems in the new industry you’re entering.  For the new field that you’re considering, make sure you have a solid understanding of salary range, career path, corporate culture, and so on.  You don’t want to glorify a new career solely because it presents a change, and then come to find out that you were happier beforehand.

Get Qualified!

Just because you feel passionate about a new position doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to come easily to you.  Even if you’re an expert in your current field, you may find yourself having to start from scratch when you transition to a new one.  Figure out what prerequisites are essential for the new career you’re pursuing, and accept the fact that you may have to spend considerable time becoming qualified for the new position.  This might mean taking classes, learning new skills, or hitting the books and catching up on industry literature.

Make Connections

Another step to start thinking about is how you’re going to work your way into the “in crowd” of your chosen industry.  It’s important to know the right people when you’re making a career switch, as they’ll be able to impart advice, make introductions, and present you with new paths to consider.  To that end, think about finding a mentor you can chat back and forth with as you grow and become more established in your new vocation.

Making a career switch takes courage, so pat yourself on the back if you’ve decided to embark on this transition.  Remember that it won’t always be easy, but that the best things in life take hard work and tenacity.

Best of luck,

The Doostang Team

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Improve Your Image to Increase Your Income

By Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC – GetInterviews.com

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Being unemployed, under-employed, or under-paid may happen at any time. Several strategies can be effective in increasing your income, regardless of how fully employed you may be.  Savvy approaches to get your skills noticed aren’t just for the unemployed.  If you are dissatisfied with your employment situation, try these methods to improve your bottom line!

1.  Make your accomplishments visible.

Use the corporate structure in place at your organization to ensure that your contributions are recognized by the right people.  For example, almost everyone serves on committees of one kind or another and the purpose of a committee is to accomplish certain goals deemed important by the company.  Volunteer to take on additional responsibilities as part of a subcommittee and clarify everyone’s tasks for inclusion in the minutes. The documentation you have just created is typically circulated throughout the organization, so you don’t have to highlight your own contributions. The corporate structure has taken care of announcing your accomplishments for you. Follow up after the task is completed to close the documentation loop with your contribution clearly recorded. This type of strategy works equally well with non-profit Boards and community groups.

2. Make yourself valuable.

Contributions outlined above will also make you valuable to the organization. Most companies offer many opportunities to extend your value, such as special projects, community involvement, or employee morale-boosting events. Being valuable doesn’t mean compromising yourself.  Select an activity that is consistent with your own values or interests and your value will be multiplied by your enthusiasm for the project.

Be certain you are central to the corporate mission.  It is easy to lose sight of your value if you have been under-valued in this serious economic downturn. Don’t allow a negative job climate to erode your confidence.

3.  Make yourself viable (as a candidate).

Qualify for special projects and new positions within an organization as well as for an entirely new position by presenting yourself as a viable candidate. Basic credentials form the foundation of a solid applicant, however key aspects include skills and characteristics that set you apart from the competition. Enthusiasm is one example, but also consider areas of additional training. Broadcast the unique work history that qualifies you for the position, project, or negotiation.

4.  Be a Team Player.

A “can-do” attitude and quiet acceptance of responsibility will be noticed.  What is your work ethic?  In other words, if your work is caught up, do you kick back or look for areas to jump in?  The latter is highly valued in most organizations. Say, there’s a major direct-mail campaign that everyone is discussing, but it’s in another department. Walk over and offer to help out.  Even if you feel the task is menial, the work has to be done – that is the sign of a hands-on manager, a role that is typically valued.

5.  Learn a New Skill or Language

It is the time of year for Adult Education catalogs to start arriving in the mailbox. The programs offered are often not as trivial as one might think.  Adult Education has progressed far beyond ballroom dancing and ethnic cuisine. Think critically for a moment about the competition – peers at your current job or other candidates.  How many actually have second language skills or specialized technology training? These are two common offerings in most community education programs, so begin using a few evenings to develop skills that set you apart from others.

6.  Tune in to Market Perception of the Company.

Hear some less-than-positive reports from customers or the competition?  Let the boss know.  Granted he or she may already be clued in, but this behavior speaks volumes about your loyalty and business acumen. If the boss already knows of the bad news, you have still distinguished yourself by identifying trends and putting the well-being of the division and company first.

Build on this basic list to polish your image. Everyone has had experiences with poorly performing staff members, as peers or subordinates. At the other end of the spectrum, there are also examples of outstanding employees.  Typical characteristics include ingenuity, good work ethic, and pleasant demeanor.  Consider what is valued in your own industry, and project the image of the type of person you would like working for you! Highlighting unique qualities can increase your value, visibility, and personal bottom line.

About the Author: Alesia Benedict, Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and Job and Career Transition Coach (JCTC) is the President of GetInterviews.com, the country’s leading resume writing firm. They provide professionals with customized, branded resumes and career marketing documents. Her and her firm’s credentials include being cited by JIST Publications as one of the “best resume writers in North America,” quoted as a career expert in The Wall Street Journal, and published in a whopping 25+ career books. Established in 1994, the firm has aided more than 100,000 job seekers to date. All resume writers are certified writers. GetInterviews.com offers a free resume critique and their services come with a wonderful guarantee — interviews in 30 days or they’ll rewrite for free!

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Doostang News December 27: New Year’s Resolutions for Your Job Search

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The New Year signifies a shot at a New You – a chance to hit the reset button, so to speak, and realign yourself in a direction that leads to better health, more exercise, or greater knowledge.  The problem is, junk food tastes so much better than Brussels sprouts, you don’t have the time to keep up with all the daily news sources and stay on top of the New York Times Bestseller List, and that one-year gym membership loses its shine in February.  It can be hard to stay on top of your goals, but if you make the effort when it comes to your job search, it really will pay off.  Moreover, if you set short-term, concrete milestones for yourself, you’ll be more likely to stick it out.  Here are some ideas:

  • Resolve to build out your professional network.  Hold yourself accountable and vow to meet a certain number of people – say, two – per week.  You could also decide that you will attend one to two networking events per month.  Picking a number and sticking to it is important, and it’s also a helpful way to track the people you meet and when you met them.
  • Promise to yourself that you’re going to really make your job search a full time job, and set a goal for yourself as to how many jobs you will apply to each week.  If it helps to break it down to a specific number of jobs per day, do that; just make sure you set a goal and don’t fall below it.
  • Decide to have a happier, healthier year by taking up a hobby or volunteering.  It’s hard to sit in front of a computer all day and search for a job, so commit yourself to an activity or join a group that meets once a week, and make it a part of your routine.  It’s important to get out and remain social, so that you don’t get too worn out by your job search and lose steam.
  • Commit yourself to learning a new skill or subject matter.  Use your free time to broaden your mind, and consider taking up something that will allow you to bring more to the table at a new job, so that you can become a more attractive candidate to hiring managers. Were you always hoping to one day learn Spanish or HTML? Now is the time to do it.
  • If 2010 was a rough year for you as far as job search goes, consider seeking the aid of professional services that will look over your resume or coach you on how to perform in an interview.  Perhaps this is something to add to your holiday wish list for those who have no idea what to get you.
  • Make a resolution to build your online presence and leverage social media channels to get a job.  Sign up for various social and professional networking sites, and craft an image that you want employers to see.  Consider starting a blog that serves as an online portfolio of work or as a further networking tool, and make sure that you update it once a week.
  • Perhaps the most important resolution is to find a way to stay positive, even though you may be feeling anxious about not having a job.  A positive person will be more productive, will exude enthusiasm and confidence to hiring managers, and will be more likely to land a job that they enjoy.  Do what you can to keep your head up, whether it’s yoga, a weekly movie night, time with your kids, or anything else that relaxes you and keeps you happy.

Staying on top of New Year’s resolutions isn’t always easy; but if you really think them through, establish small milestones for yourself, and follow a set course, you’ll effectively end up where you want to be!

Happy New Year,

The Doostang Team

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