Questions and Answers with Career Expert Janine A. Moon
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Janine Moon is a Professional Certified Career Coach.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||One of the strategies experts suggest for job seekers making a change in careers is to gain experience before making the change full-time. Do you agree with this strategy? And, if so, how should these experiences, many perhaps short-term and voluntary, be positioned on the job seeker’s resume?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| It’s always easier to market a “proven” product than an untested one, so a job seeker will always have an easier ‘sell’ with some experience under his or her belt. Similarly, employers are more comfortable with a hiring decision backed by some measurable experience than one based on blind faith.
The number of volunteer opportunities and the need of most non-profit organizations creates the possibility that almost any job-seeker can gain experience in almost any skill set s/he needs or wishes to develop. A lifelong commitment to development via volunteer experiences creates a time frame that can be highlighted on a resume for its variety and depth of experience, to say nothing of the value to the receiving organization(s). The skills can be incorporated and focused in two ways:
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Given that most employers would prefer to hire someone with experience for any given opening, what are some ways that career-changers can demonstrate their enthusiasm for a new field, and more importantly, their ability to do a job they may not have done before?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Get the experience before applying! Again, there are so many, many volunteer opportunities that virtually any needed skill can be learned and practiced. Computer-related skills can be achieved by volunteering to assist with technical associations’ member tracking activities, or any volunteer organization’s technology area. Soft skills can be developed by working with people in virtually any social services organization, whether by helping in a soup kitchen or by handing out programs at the local theater production.
Unpaid internships abound and have no age limits. Many, many businesses would love to have an extra pair of hands to help with an understaffed area in exchange for those hands learning a new skill or developing deeper experience. It’s the career-changer’s responsibility to propose the exchange in such a way that it limits the organization’s concerns and is an obvious “win-win” for both parties.
Career changers can additionally seek new learning or training that might provide some hands-on application and experience. For example, someone who wants to move into the graphic design area could take a college or community-center course, and use that training to develop a portfolio to take along on interviews. With a little effort, the would-be designer could develop brochures for a parent-teacher organization event, a web page for a start-up neighborhood business and a program for a philanthropic organization’s black tie affair! It’s likely that the instructor of any training would have suggestions and access to organizations that could utilize a learner’s skills.
Most schools are under-funded, most non-profits are under-staffed, and many cultural organizations are led by volunteer boards that would welcome a new skill set and eager pair of hands. A career changer will be limited only by his or her hesitancy and unwillingness to seek out opportunities. Potential learning and networking opportunities abound, and are there for the asking!
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most exciting or hopeful trend in job hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| As we move from an “Industrial Age” to an “Information Age,” our job-hunting and career movement approaches are changing as well. This change (which sometimes seems evolutionary in pace!) involves the development of career resilience and self-reliance, and associated tools to support this career self-management.
To become and remain competitive in a dynamic global marketplace, employers increasingly rely on employees who can meet and, ideally, exceed the speed and shape of changes. And those employees who can stay on top of an employer’s needs and run with the direction that helps the organization meet and exceed its goals will have created his or her own job security.
While many may long for the days when the employer determined career direction and therefore, job security, today’s job market is placing the responsibility and control for a career where it can best be satisfied: in the hands of the individual who can ultimately best define work/career satisfaction. An employee’s development of his or her career self-reliance creates an exciting opportunity to find more work satisfaction than ever before and to create as much job security or risk as an individual desires.
Gallup surveys and other studies continue to place high value on the “job satisfaction” and “contribution” aspects of individuals’ motivation toward creating an effective and productive workplace. The more capable we become in guiding our own career direction, the more successful we become in the labor market and the more successful employers become in the global marketplace.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What are the top 5-10 skills that most employers are REALLY looking for these days? What are the key skills that make job seekers employable?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Although technological and job-specific skills are of obvious importance to employers, of greater importance are those known as “soft skills.” Companies are really looking for well-rounded individuals who can accept the challenges of a dynamic work environment and move the organization’s goals forward in the midst of uncertainty and change.
In a recent Chicago Tribune article, director Phil Gardner of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University said: “[Employers are] looking for fit: the ability to work in teams, communicate effectively, be aware of the social and cultural context of what they’re doing and how that allows them to relate to others.”
The essence of these skills is a set of competencies around knowing and managing oneself and one’s relationships with others, including self-assessment, empathy, initiative, collaboration, communication, and self-control. Often labeled as “emotional intelligence,” soft skills are often viewed as of greater importance in today’s new workplace than technical skills or cognitive abilities. Gardner goes on to say that “[E] mployers are adamant, they have to have soft skills.”
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest myth about job hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Perhaps the biggest myth about job hunting is that there is a “right” or “best” way to do it: that there is a “best” way to format a resume, a “right” way to interview, a “best” way to get your foot in the door, and a “right” way to ensure that you’ll make the final cut and get the job.
Given that the rules for job-hunting and career transitions are very different today than those of even five years ago, a “better” approach to job hunting includes:
In addition to a master’s degree from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science from Bowling Green State University, Janine A. Moon has an organization development background, including NTL course work. She is a member of the Career Masters Institute and the International Coaching Federation. Janine has achieved certification as a Professional Certified Career Coach™ (PCCC) from the Career Coach Institute (CCI) and is working toward Master CCC status. She achieved a No. 2 national ranking in the Business and Professional Women (BPW) 2002 ID Competition and is licensed to deliver CJ Hayden’s marketing program, Get Clients Now!™ Her current projects focus on generational differences in the workplace and “Career R&R: Career Resilience and Self-Reliance.” Her coaching practice, CompassPoint Coaching LLC, is particularly focused on people in transition… a midlife career transition; a move from college to the “real world;” the exploration of a second or even third career; and other life changes that have a tendency to “get in the way” of life/career satisfaction.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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