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Slime-free Career Networking

Networking got a bad name because too many people saw it as transactional: I’m going to use you/you’re going to use me/let’s hope I can get a better deal on this trade than you do. That approach can have kind of a “meat” market, last-call-at-a-singles-bar flavor, and fear of getting caught in that flavor is one reason many women work late at their computers instead of going to an event where they might actually meet someone who would be good to know. On the other hand, if you meet someone you might want to do business with and don’t acknowledge that’s what you want, even to yourself, you close off any possibility that something good could happen.

What to do? When you meet someone at a business function, whether it be an industry group or women’s conference, that person is a prospect, and it’s okay to think of him or her that way . . . it’s even expected. If you meet the person somewhere else and you’re not sure if he or she would like to be seen as a prospect, you can do a quick qualifier and see how the response. If you say, for example, “Oh, I sell beauty products” to someone who owns a beauty salon, and she says, “What do you think of these appetizers?” you know that she might want to be your friend but not on your call list.

Be purposeful with your best prospects
At the other end of the spectrum are great prospects with whom it is clear from the start that you have something in mind. You have to be clear with them about what you want, too.

Just after I moved from Texas to Washington, D.C., I had lunch at the Jockey Club with a man named True Davis, a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden and high-level pharmaceutical industry executive. True was a mover and a shaker, and it was a real coup that he was meeting with me. I didn’t have a job, needed one desperately, and my mother, who had gone to high school with True, had suggested I call him for help. I did, and he graciously said yes. So I ended up going to lunch at the ritziest place at which I’d ever eaten, with True, who at the time was by far the richest and most powerful man I’d ever met, a man with tons of connections. I hadn’t done any homework on True, so all I really knew was that he was an important friend of Mommy’s. And I hadn’t thought through what I wanted, so I didn’t ask him for anything.

What I got from this encounter was an excellent lunch.

What else could I have gotten? At the very least, I could have procured a few introductions and interviews that would have greatly advanced my job search. I could have said to True, “I’m interested in working on the Hill for Congressman So-and-So, whom I know you know. Would you be willing to give his office a call on my behalf?” Or, “I’d love to get an administrative position in one of those prestigious Dupont Circle associations that I know you belong to. How do you think I should approach them?” At the very most, who knows what more a specific request might have yielded? But I blew it because I hadn’t done my homework, thought through what I wanted, and developed a powerful pitch around it. Which, by the way, he would have expected me to do and respected me for trying.

Even as recently as a few years ago, I still hadn’t completely learned my lesson. Flying back to New York from a speaking engagement in Detroit, I noticed Ram Charan, legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors and business writer extraordinaire, sitting in the plane’s first-class cabin. I was very familiar with his work, which I find amazing; to be perfectly frank, I had a big business crush on Ram, he was, at the time, my idea of who I wanted to be professionally when I grew up.

Since I believed then, as I do now, that you should try to meet people who do things you admire, I worked up my courage and seized the moment when I saw him standing alone by the luggage carousel after the plane landed. I forced myself to make an introduction, gushed like a schoolgirl over his work, and asked for a meeting. Tomy amazement, he agreed.

So when I got back to my office, I called his assistant, Cynthia, a lovely woman recognized my neediness and, despite her boss’s very tight schedule, managed a 15-minute meeting wedged in between Ram’s consulting sessions in New York. I arrived at the meeting, immediately offered my credentials (because by this time, at least I’d learned I have to credential myself with blues), and realized I had to make some kind of pitch. So I suggested we find some way to work together in the women’s market. Ram looked vaguely alarmed, told me that wasn’t really his sort of thing, and confessed that he had only agreed to see me because he thought I was someone else — some business muckety-muck’s daughter. A gentleman through and through, Ram then graciously declined my idea. That was it. He did, however, send me a standard issue, unsigned Christmas card that year and has continued to do so every year since, which jazzes up my office.

As much as I appreciate the holiday card, if I’d taken the time to develop a more precise pitch, I might have had a shot at working with new and powerful clients. Maybe if I’d said, for example, “I do a lot of training around relationship management, which would be an excellent fit with the work you’re doing on superior execution, and I think we could do X, Y, and Z together,” I could have at least gotten a second conversation. Instead, I essentially burned a very high-value prospect.

The moral of these stories: Save pitching your best prospects until you have a specific purpose or goal in mind that you can clearly articulate, and until you have thoroughly done your homework, which includes thinking through the benefit of what working with you or otherwise supporting you would do for them. Keep reading I’ll show you how.

Not the usual suspects

At this point, your goal should be to cultivate a diverse group of potential prospects rather than being bogged down by narrow definitions of who can help. So, your prospects might include not just your boss, but your boss’s boss, his counterpart in the next department, and his executive assistant. Not just your colleagues, but your competitors as well. The speaker you admire at a conference and the senior manager you meet at a wedding or party. Anyone with shared interests is a possible prospect, even if you do not share the same immediate goals.

Consider this scenario: You’re up for a plum assignment, along with several candidates in your company, and various decision-makers meet in the corner conference room to choose who gets the nod. Your boss is in the room and you know you can count on his support. But there are several others there, too, who don’t have any reason to support you; in fact, they have reason to argue against you because they want their own person to get the job.

Those people are prospects, too.

So you need to start thinking about indirect ways to cultivate those relationships. At the most basic, you might simply engage them in an occasional conversation. Or perhaps you could provide a useful piece of intelligence now and again “Hey, Tony, I thought you might like to know . . .” Tony still may not actively help you once he gets to that conference room, but he’ll be far less inclined to actively argue against you, and he may be more easily swayed to accept you over the person he’d originally thought would be the better choice.

As for your competitors, think of it this way: If you are competing with someone, you both have the same goal, which implies you have a similar vision. If you view this person as a prospect, thinking about a way to carve out the territory so you can support him or her in his or her piece and he or she can support you in yours, you have turned a competitive relationship into a functional, value-producing one. Politics really do make strange bedfellows.

This is an area where men often have an edge because they do not take competition as personally as we do, nor do they retreat from conflict as often. After a big ball game, men have no problem going out for drinks with players from the other team. We, on the other hand, just want those girls from the other team to go away — they’re bad girls and we don’t want to play with them anymore. We see the relationship context; men see the competition. We see girls who wanted to beat us; win or lose, guys see other guys who like baseball the way they like baseball and that’s what’s most important.

If you can make the mental shift that allows you to see your competitors as both competitors and potential prospects, you put yourself in the right mindset to win.
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by Ronna Lichtenberg,

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If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

The Networking Buddy System for Job-Search Success

What do deep sea diving, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and a job search have in common? Success and sometimes even survival depend on using the buddy system.

Most extreme sports enthusiasts agree that having a buddy for support is the key to success; but in a job search, having a fellow job-searcher to network with and for accountability can propel your success.

Take Joan and Cathy, for example. They work in different industries and in different job roles. Both were laid off at about the same time. They met at a local networking group and hit it off immediately. They began to explore other networking opportunities together.

“Going to networking events for the first time was hard for me,” Joan relates, “I tend to be shy and don’t feel comfortable being the new person. I hated not knowing anyone there. But now, Cathy and I go together. It’s opened up a whole new realm of events I never would have attended without her.”

For Cathy, “The hardest thing for me was follow through. I’d tell myself ‘I’m going to check out this new event’ or set goals for my search for a certain week and just not follow through. Joan has been great in holding me accountable for my goals and keeping me on track.”

Accountability – The Buddy System in Action
Joan and Cathy have hit upon one of the most important benefits of the buddy system. Accountability!

Too many times, we fall victim to distractions from the job search. The trap of sleeping late, watching TV, and playing on the Web can ensnare us. With no one but ourselves to hold us accountable for our job-search goals and plans, time can just slip away. It’s so easy to lose balance between personal needs and wants and our job search.

Joan and Cathy relate, “We have a favorite networking group that we go to each week. It meets at 7 p.m. on Monday, so we grab dinner before and set our action plan for the week. We plan to go to one other group meeting each week and decide which one it will be over dinner. Finally, we review what was to be accomplished the previous week to make sure both of us stays on track.”

Achieving Balance
The other end of the spectrum is becoming a “job search-aholic.” For many of us, our identity is tied up tightly in our career, while others need a job right away just to make ends meet. No matter how great the need or desire for a new position, conducting a job search 24/7 non-stop can actually be a detriment to a successful campaign.

Once burnout sets in and enthusiasm begins to wane, how can you be at your best when you interview or even network?

The buddy system is an ideal way to protect against burnout while keeping on track! Note how Joan and Cathy have used this system:

“We help each other set reasonable goals for the week and remind each other that it’s OK to go have some fun. Our rule is that our job search is like our full time job, and like any full time job, that means most weekends are off.”

Joan notes, “This was especially important to me. I was setting unrealistic goals for myself. I was spending all my weekends and evenings on the Internet, searching for jobs and applying for almost everything I came across. I was so discouraged, tired and all around just burned out. Cathy helped me see that not only was I spending my time unwisely by using only the Internet for my search, but that I also needed to be more balanced so I could always keep my best face forward in the search process.”

When to Leave the Buddy Behind
As with all great systems, there are times when the buddy system is best left at home.

Job fairs are one example where carpooling can be great, but once inside its time for some one on one networking. You want to be prepared to speak face to face with a recruiter and possibly even have an on-the-spot interview. This would not be a good time have you buddy by your side!

Another buddy system no-no is to take your buddy along with you to interviews. Even having the buddy wait for you in the lobby can result in points off with the interviewer.

Finally, when at a networking event, move around and meet people. Network! It’s what you came for. Just because you and your buddy came together doesn’t mean that you have to stay side by side the whole time. Mingle and get to know others at the event. Expand your relational network, find out information about local companies and increase your contact list! Then meet up with your buddy at the end and compare notes!

Buddy as Resource
Developing your network is an integral part of your success in a job search. Taking full advantage of all the resources available to you is key to success. One of the most useful resources you may find just might be your job-search buddy.

Use your buddy as a sounding board for ideas and goals as well as frustrations. Keep each other balanced and on track, but know when it is appropriate to go solo.

Whether climbing Mt. Everest or looking for that dream job in your own back yard, use the helping hand of a buddy to reach maximum success.

by Clay Barrett

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If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

Fantastic Formulas for Composing Elevator Speeches

While many Elevator Speeches are written by sales reps to pitch products and services, the formulas from which the speeches derive can be easily adapted to situations in which the product is you, the job-seeker. This roundup of formulas suggested by experts should provide food for thought for the method that works best for you in planning and outlining your Elevator Speech.

For example, Certified Professional Virtual Assistant Jean Hanson suggests this formula:

  1. Who am I? (introduce yourself)
  2. What business am I in?
  3. What group of people do I service? (be specific — do you have a niche?)
  4. What is my USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What makes me different from the competition?
  5. What benefits do my customers derive from my services?

Here’s how it could be adapted for a job-seeker:

  1. Who am I? (introduce yourself) — No change
  2. What business am I in? — What field or industry am I in?
  3. What group of people do I service? (be specific — do you have a niche?) — What position am I in? In what capacity do I serve?
  4. What is my USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What makes me different from the competition? — No change
  5. What benefits do my customers derive from my services? — What benefits can employers derive from skills, based on my proven accomplishments?

Hanson says that in a selling situation, the listener’s unspoken question is “Why should I do business

with you?” — Similarly, in a job-hunting situation, the listener’s tacit question may be “Why should I (or any employer) hire you?”

Next is a variation on Hanson’s formula adapted from Randy W. Dipner Meeting the Challenge, Inc., along with our illustration (in boldface) of how it can be adapted for a job-seeker:

List target customers. Group them and ultimately define THE customer. — List target employers. Group them and ultimately define THE employer.

Define the need or opportunity. That is, what critical issue does the customer face? — What need or issue does the employer face?

Name the product or service or concept. — Introduce yourself.

Place the product, service, or concept into a generally understood category. — Identify yourself in terms of a job function or contribution. What do you do?

List the benefits — not the features — of the product, service, or concept provides to the customer. Group or prioritize the benefits to identify the single benefit that is the most compelling reason for the customer to buy the product, service, or concept. To the maximum extent possible, the benefit should be quantified. — List the benefits — not the features — that you provide to the employer. Group or prioritize the benefits to identify the single benefit that is the most compelling reason for the employer to hire you. To the maximum extent possible, the benefit should be quantified.

Develop a statement of the primary differentiation of the product, service, or concept. The differentiation is the single most important thing that sets your product, service, or concept apart from the competition or state of the art. — Develop a statement of the primary differentiation of yourself. The differentiation is the single most important thing that sets you apart from the competition.

Tony Jeary, author of Life Is A Series Of Presentations, offers this Elevator Speech formula:

  • Define your audience universe.
  • Define your content or subject matter.
  • Define your objective.
  • Define your desired image or style.
  • Define your key message.

A formula that probably has more components than the average job-seeker will want to use is offered by the UK-based Adding Value Masterclass and adapted here:

  • Pain — Paint a graphic picture of the “pain” or problems that the employer is experiencing.
  • Credibility — Your qualifications for solving the problem.
  • Solution — Specifically hint at how you can provide a solution (but don’t give away the farm before you have the job).
  • Gain — Explain the benefits the employer will experience.
  • Impact — illustrate the difference those benefits will make in the organization.
  • Emotion — Describe how the benefits will make the employer feel.
  • Prove — Provide evidence that support your claims through examples or stories.
  • Money — Job-seekers should probably skip this step.
  • Risk — Remove any remaining doubts they may have by removing the risk.
  • Close — Reiterate the key points and ask for an interview or other appropriate next step.

Author, speaker, and consultant Marisa D’Vari suggests starting the Elevator Speech process by writing down three key points about your product (you, in this case) and discussing how these points will benefit the listener.

The business school at Pepperdine University suggests knowing your audience and knowing yourself, including key strengths, adjectives that describe you, a description of what you are trying to let others know about you, and a statement of your interest in the company or industry the person represents. Armed with that knowledge, the job-seeker can then outline the Elevator Speech using these questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I offer?
  3. What problem is solved?
  4. What are the main contributions I can make?
  5. What should the listener do as a result of hearing this?

The School of Management at George Mason University offers some particularly good Elevator Speech examples for college students. See also Elevator speech: who, what, why in 30 seconds, (found when your scroll to page 2) adapted from career author Donald Asher, that’s especially good for college students in networking situations.

You’ll notice that one thing nearly all the experts have in common is their espousal of the importance of stressing your benefit to the listener and touching on how you’re better than the competition. This principle encompasses many names — Unique Selling Proposition, value proposition, benefit statement, competitive advantage, deliverables, differentiation — but the bottom line is the same. What can you bring to the employer, and how can you do it better than anyone else?

Finally, the most unusual Elevator Speech formula we came across was from a blogger who calls herself “Qureus” and suggests integrating astrology into one’s elevator speech.

by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

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You should be well equipped with these most in-demand I.T Certifications/Exams, Before searching any job, Visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

How Can You Take Advantage of Opportunities on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is continuing to get bigger and bigger and it continues to be a great resource for businesses and employees to connect with one another.
One of the best things about LinkedIn is the Shared Connections feature. This feature makes it possible to find people like potential clients and then see what connections you have in common. Shared Connections then makes getting a virtual introduction that much easier.
Building up a strong LinkedIn network and being willing to introduce others (in good faith, of course always use your best judgment) can also increase what opportunities you can get in the future.
B2B marketing is often built through trust and word of mouth. Having a shared connection is a great way to start establishing some of that trust from the very beginning.
LinkedIn also has a community of active participants. LinkedIn Answers serves as a knowledge base where business representatives can establish authority and expertise by participating in the ongoing discussions. LinkedIn Groups is an opportunity for business professionals to interact with other topics relevant to his/her interests. One business successfully used LinkedIn Groups as a way to build business leads. This business opted to engage in relevant industry discussion and offered business services when requests were made, thereby bringing in a highly targeted business lead. Actively participating in LinkedIn is often one of the best ways to not only help people out, but also to make a connection for your service and even generate leads.
Answering questions across LinkedIn Answers and LinkedIn Groups doesn’t mean to simply put out the marketing blurb, but to really engage and offer feedback and solutions. Again, social media is most effective when it is genuine.

 

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5 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Find Top / Star Employees

Successful business people are always looking for their next rock star employee. The question is where do you find them? The good news is that the latest LinkedIn stats, 60 million professional profiles spanning 200 countries, would indicate this is a good place to look.
Many of us already have a LinkedIn account, and if you don’t, LinkedIn is free and easy to maneuver. The trick is incorporating some strategies (habits, if you will) into using LinkedIn.
Below are five easy things you can add to your LinkedIn strategy to give you greater exposure to top talent.

 

1. Build Connections

In the course of your daily business, you never know where your next sale is going to come from. The same can be true for recruiting. It’s important to connect and build relationships with a variety of different people. For example, my LinkedIn profile has connections from prior jobs, clients, and local entrepreneurs I do business with. It’s great when I can make introductions between people with varied needs.

 

2. Join Groups

In addition to being a part of groups for your personal and/or professional benefit, join a couple of groups that might help surface candidates. Let’s say you’re always looking for sales professionals. There’s a LinkedIn group – The Sales Association – that you might want to join as a way to connect with possible candidates. They have almost 20,000 members, are affiliated with a national association, and have a job posting system when you’re ready to let people know about your next opening.

3. Engage with Questions and Answers

Once you start connecting with groups, look for opportunities to engage with people in discussions. Notice people who share your culture and enter into a conversation with them. I belong to a group called Social Media in Organizations. This group offers multiple channels to talk about workplace social media – discussions, webinars, articles, a book club, etc.

4. Get (and Read) LinkedIn Updates

This is a quick and easy way to recognize people for promotions, awards, and accomplishments. People will remember you. Since much of your LinkedIn profile is static, this is a way to regularly let people know what you’re up to. I’ve seen some of my connections post in their status “Looking for a Senior Accountant. Got a lead? Let me know.”

5. Embrace Mobile

Keeping up with all of the information available can be a daunting task. That’s why I like the mobile version of LinkedIn for my phone. I can check updates while I’m waiting at appointments, so staying on top of the activity doesn’t have to be a time-consuming chore. LinkedIn offers versions for the iPhone, BlackBerry  and Palm.
Over the years, LinkedIn has taken some hits for being nothing more than an online repository of names. But these days, more and more people are becoming reacquainted with it. Since most people have a presence on LinkedIn, it’s an obvious place to keep tabs on what’s happening in the marketplace. And as small business owners, you can easily leverage LinkedIn to find talent.

If you are serious about your professional career and want to pass your IT Certification exam in first attempt and don’t want to waste your precious time and money then visit http://www.ComputerTipsnTricks.com/ITcert.htm for Free Practice Exams, Free Study Material / Books etc.

Networking: Why Its Important and How To Do It Better

Hello Friends,
We all know what social and career networking involves; it is the developing and maintaining of contacts and personal connections with different people in your niche area who might be advantageous to you and your career. Networking has helped me to get every job I have ever had, in addition to helping my businesses obtain and retain clients. With Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, we have all become gurus of sorts in the world of social and career networking. If you are a good web designer or developer, you know the importance of social and career networking both on the web and in person. However, in my experience, many designers and developers are introverts by personality, so though it is easy for them to networking via the internet, the actually person to person social or career networking is a little more difficult to them. In my opinion, both are equally important.
If you, your company, or your blog have 5000 plus followers on Twitter, but you do not know anyone in your actually city that is in your profession, then networking can only take you so far. In order to use networking, and let it work for you, you must take advantage of all avenues, and you must realize that it is a two way street. In this post, I will discuss why networking is important and gives some tips on how to improve your networking skills.


Reasons Why Networking is Important:

Meeting people
Remember that the basic element to networking is meeting people, and the more people we know in our profession or career, the more we can improve our chances of growing your business, blog, or freelance work. The whole point of networking is to meet people, in order to expand your imprint to as many people as possible.
Contacts
Another get benefit of networking is that you can build your contacts. Collecting and updating contact info, like phone numbers and e-mail addresses, is a great way to expand your name and to have people you can count in your field on when you need them.
Work or employment
Networking is a great way to get jobs, clients, or projects. In fact, it has helped me procure all of my jobs, because you can directly speak to potential clients or employers, or you can even be recommended by a person you meet while networking. The potential is unlimited.
Learn from others
When you meet people in your niche field, you have the opportunity to discuss and learn from them, and them from you. This sharing of knowledge is one of the most important elements of networking, because learning from actual professionals in the field’s real life experiences is priceless.
Promoting yourself
Another benefit of networking is the ability to promote yourself and get your name out there. Especially if you are new to a community or new to web design or development, networking allows you to link to other people in your profession, which can help you get more well-known in the field.


Tips to Improve Networking:

Business cards
Business cards are an important element to networking, because it is how people will get in contact with you. I suggest making your business cards a true representation of your artistic ability and originality. I suggest spending a little extra money and time designing your business card, because it is a networking opportunity that stays with a person and can really impress potential clients. Every business uses business cards as a way to network and advertise, but with web designers and developers, I recommend using creative business cards so that prospective clients can immediately get a taste of your potential.
Keep in regular contact
Remember that once contact is made, it is important to continue and keep the contact with the colleagues you meet through networking. Networking is only effective if it is long-lasting and endures beyond the initial contact. Thus, I recommend continuing to email, Twitter, call, or even ask for a lunch meeting with people you meet through networking. Just holding their business card is not enough to constitute networking, you must get to know each other on a personal level, and so make sure you continue to stay in regular contact with those you meet through networking.
Thank people
In order to take full advantage of networking, you must be grateful for those you meet through networking and those who have assisted you or your company. A simple thank you goes a long way, and when you show appreciation for fellow colleagues in your field, that appreciation will be remembered and rewarded. So, remember to say a simple thank you to those you have benefited from through networking.
Be helpful
Another way to improve your networking skills, remember to be helpful to others you have met through networking. The philosophy I use is, “You scratch my back, and I scratch yours,” meaning that when someone is helpful to me, I always pay it forward or pay it back. When we first started this blog, we had so many other bloggers giving us tips and suggestions, that now that we have been around for a year, we have the ability to give back to those blogs through guest posts, or we pay it forward and help other design and development bloggers we have met through networking. So, be helpful to those you network with, and you will be remembered.
Take the incentive/Never feel inferior
Remember that when it comes to networking, you need to take the incentive and not wait until people come to you. Never feel inferior to others, even if they have more experience than you, have higher ranking blog, or are even a celebrity of such in your niche field, because they are still human and approachable. If you wait for people to come to you, networking will never happen. So, be proud of your accomplishments and realize that you deserve to be in the networking mix, because as much as you have to gain, you have to share.
Do not have an agenda
The last, but most important tip when it comes to networking is NOT to have an agenda. I know this seems contradictory, because your reason for networking is ultimately marketing, but remember to be genuine with your attempts to network. When I say do not have an agenda, I mean do not contact or network only for the sake of networking. Really use this as a way to legitimately get to know people in your niche field, and the positive results will come naturally.
By Admixweb.com

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The 10-Step Plan to Career Change

How does it happen? Perhaps you just begin to lose interest. Perhaps you find something that interests you more. Perhaps your company is downsizing. These are just some of the numerous reasons people find themselves on that precipitous cliff looking back on their career just as the dirt begins to crumble beneath them.
Are you facing that career change plunge? Do you wish you were? Take it slowly and make sure what you really want to do is change careers. Then use this 10-step plan, and you will be on much more sure footing and on a path toward career change success. Finally, remember that career change is a natural life progression; most studies show that the average job-seeker will change careers (not jobs) several times over the course of his or her lifetime.
Step 1: Assessment of Likes and Dislikes. A lot of people change careers because they dislike their job, their boss, their company. So, identifying the dislikes is often the easier part of this step; however, you will not know what direction to change your career unless you examine your likes. What do you really like doing when you’re at work, when you’re at home – in your spare time. What excites you and energizes you? What’s your passion? If you’re really unsure, consider taking one of more of these career assessments. The key is spending some time rediscovering yourself and using your self-assessment to direct your new career search.
Step 2: Researching New Careers. Once you’ve discovered (or rediscovered) your passion, spend some time researching the types of careers that center around your passions. Don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit unsure or insecure — it’s a natural part of the career change process. How much research you do also partly depends on how much of a change you’re making; for example, changing from a teacher to a corporate trainer versus switching from a nurse to a Web designer. You can find some great career information and a skills-matching service at O*NET Online from the U.S. Department of Labor and basic job information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’.
Step 3: Transferable Skills. Leverage some of your current skills and experiences to your new career. There are many skills (such as communications, leadership, planning, and others) that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your new career. You may be surprised to see that you already have a solid amount of experience for your new career.
Step 4: Training and Education. You may find it necessary to update your skills and broaden your knowledge. Take it slowly. If the skill you need to learn is one you could use in your current job, see if your current employer would be willing to pick up the tab. And start slowly. Take a course or two to ensure you really like the subject matter. If you are going for a new degree or certification, make sure you check the accreditation of the school, and get some information about placement successes.
Step 5: Networking. One of the real keys to successfully changing careers will be your networking abilities. People in your network may be able to give you job leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network. Even if you don’t think you already have a network, you probably do – consider colleagues, friends, and family members. You can broaden your network through joining professional organizations in your new field and contacting alumni from your college who are working in the field you want to enter. A key tool of networking is conducting informational interviews.
Step 6: Gaining Experience. Remember that, in a sense, you are starting your career again from square one. Obtaining a part-time job or volunteering in your new career field not only can solidify your decision, but give you much needed experience in your new career. You might also want to consider temping in your new field. Work weekends, nights, whatever it takes to gain the experience.
Step 7: Find a Mentor. Changing careers is a major life decision that can get overwhelming at times. Find a mentor who can help you through the rough patches. Your mentor may also be able to help you by taking advantage of his or her network. A mentor doesn’t have to be a highly placed individual, though the more powerful the mentor, the more success you may have in using that power to your advantage.
Step 8: Changing In or Out. Some people change careers, but never change employers. Unfortunately, only the very progressive employers recognize that once happy employees can be happy and productive again – in a different capacity. It’s more than likely that you will need to switch employers to change fields, but don’t overlook your current employer. Remember not to start asking about a job switch until you are completely ready to do so.
Step 9: Job-Hunting Basics. If it’s been a while since you’ve had to use your job-hunting tools and skills, now is the time for a refresher course.
Step 10: Be Flexible. You’ll need to be flexible about nearly everything – from your employment status to relocation and salary. Set positive goals for yourself, but expect setbacks and change – and don’t let these things get you down. Besides totally new careers, you might also consider a lateral move that could serve as a springboard for a bigger career change. You might also consider starting your own business or consulting as other avenues.
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