Compiled by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Page 3: Advice from career experts on how workers and job-seekers can take proactive stance to improve their jobs and careers, even in tough economic climate.
On this page, tips for leveraging your strengths and accomplishments, updating your skills, remaining flexible, and being persistent.
Return to main page of Attacking the Job Market and Workplace Proactively in Tough Times.
Know and Leverage Your Strengths and Accomplishments
Remember when you go into that interview, that you are selling yourself to the employer. Before the interview try to develop a list of 4 to 5 things that you accomplished while in your last job. Make reference to those accomplishments repeatedly during your interview.
- — Sue Chehrenegar
Recognize your own strengths. Step out of yourself for a moment and realize the way companies themselves are grappling with the changes in economic patterns. Take a look inside at what you can do to be a positive force to assist your current or future employer today. How can you make a positive difference? Making a strong contribution will be felt by managers, co-workers and possibly the entire company. If you are job-seeking, stay clear on your accomplishments. Underline ways in which you have helped previous employers succeed. Be full of your own light. Staying calm and positive in a storm is a great quality in an employee at any level of any organization.”
- — Inspiration Maven Erica M. Nelson, author of
Prospect When You Are Happy
Get really focused on the results you achieve for your employers, and every time you are asked by anyone “What do you do?”, answer this question instead, “Why should I pay your salary?”
- — John West Hadley, Career Search Counselor,
If you are focusing on only one thing, you are not doing enough to protect your career or obtain a new one. Other things you should be doing, particularly while employed are:
- Make yourself indispensable to your company
- Solicit regular reviews and feedback on your performance, not just annually
- Keep an updated “kudos file” — items from managers, peers, customers, vendors, and suppliers
- Join and contribute to industry organizations.
— August Cohen, Career Consultant, GetHiredStayHired.com
Step back and answer the question, “What I have already done either individually or as part of a team that has produced a positive, measurable contribution to the bottom-line result for someone other than myself?” People looking to hire someone don’t care how much you know or how much you can do until they know what you have already done for a company like theirs that produced a positive, measurable, contributing to the bottom-line result. The more you have an answer to that, the less you have to “fudge” what you tell prospective employers. The next step is to target companies that most urgently need that kind of result. Then if you have been accurate in your targeting, all you have to do is find a way into that company, tell them what you’ve already done for companies like them and then enroll them.
- , author of four books, including
Get Out of Your Own Way at Work
- , Perigee.
Have confidence in yourself. Look back and see what you have accomplished in all the years you worked; see how far you have traveled to be where you are today. If you are beating the bushes looking for a job, never let the interviewer sense any feeling of anxiety. You have a lot to contribute to the work world!
- — Rachel Ingegneri, Author of
Get very very clear on what you want your next job to look like. Before finding yourself in that commonly desperate jobless situation, take time to take stock. Do self-evaluations on interests, skills, strengths, and values to determine what kind of job and company matches you — where you would be best suited and most fulfilled.
- , Career Coach, Workshop Facilitator, Author, San Diego County, CA
Identify, develop and market your most relevant skills and abilities, in your resume, your 30-second elevator speech, and all your networking situations.
- — Steven Provenzano, CPRW/CEIP, President,
- , and author
Top Secret Executive Resumes
Update Your Skills
Make sure your job skills are up to date. Enroll in a class or training session if necessary to show that you are staying on top of the very latest trends and technologies in your field.
- — Rona Borre, President and CEO, Instant Technology, Chicago, IL
For workers or job seekers in the field of marketing or advertising, get trained in the basics of search-engine marketing. Search engines have become the number one way that consumers gather information daily. There is strong demand for professionals with search marketing backgrounds even as advertising and marketing budgets are cut.
- — Katie Donovan, Training Director,
Stay flexible. Too often, [troubled times are] when people start to lay low and stay out of sight, but it’s really when people should demonstrate their flexibility in learning new things, trying new jobs, and embracing change. [Flexibility] demonstrates an open attitude, which often translates into a positive attitude, which is exactly what a company needs in these otherwise trying times. Career-killer attitudes include: “It’s not my job,” “I know this job better than anyone else, so I have nothing to worry about,” and “I’ve been in the workforce for 30 years; why should I have to take a class on anything.”
- — Sharon DeLay, CPCC, CPRW, MBA, certified career coach and career confidence specialist, who works primarily with recent college graduates and those over 40 in career transition;
Keep applying and don’t lose heart. The job-search process is not like it was the last time you looked for a job, whether that was 5, 3, or 1 year ago. You probably won’t be submitting paper. You’ll be submitting your resume to a company’s Applicant Tracking System, and it probably won’t result in an acknowledgement from a person. You probably won’t be able to follow up with a person. It may be weeks or months until you hear something. Remember, these all used to be bad signs, but now they aren’t necessarily; the flow of applying has changed, and you have to change your mindset with it or else you will find yourself plunging into the Job-Search-Why-Doesn’t-Anyone-Want-Me-Abyss. Instead of complaining about the time it takes to fill out on-line applications, use the time to answer the questions thoroughly, completely and using all your best online manners — spelling, grammar, full sentences). Make sure you set up job alerts, so that you are alerted when jobs of interest are posted. Most of all, hang in there. You WILL get a job. You WILL.
- — Quintessential Careers Regular Contributor Maureen Crawford-Hentz
Don’t give up. When the news around you seems bad, it’s easy to say to yourself that your efforts will not make a difference. They will. Being proactive means consistency — doing one thing every day no matter what. These small actions will lead to big action and big results.
- — Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, Career, Life, and Mentor Coach; President,
See also these Job-Hunting During a Recession Articles for Job-Seekers.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.