Defining Transferable Skills for Your Job Change or When Changing Careers

There are four steps to identifying and translating your skills and experiences when you are writing resumes and cover letters for making a job change or changing careers:

Step One – Brainstorm

Brainstorm a comprehensive list of all of your skills. Use your resume or a cover letter to jumpstart your brainstorming.

Step Two – Basic Elements

Take each of the skills on your list and break it into basic elements. What are basic elements? It might be writing, problem solving, customer service, planning, research, organization, supervising, etc.

Step Three – Jargon

Comb through your descriptions to pinpoint and delete any language that is specific to your current career, but not applicable to a new one. This might include words and phrases like: client with a capital C; work product; pitch; deliverables; ERP; BPI; operating units; deploy.

Step Four – Translate

Write your skills and experiences using the language of your new job or new career.

Not sure about that language? Use job postings for clues. What are the words that are used to describe the responsibilities or skill requirements in job postings in your new job or new career?

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Stealth Search: Look for a New Job Under Your Employer’s Nose

Question:
S writes: How do I look for a job without my employer finding out?

Answer:
Use a Stealth Search

You want to make a job change. You have identified some ideas. But, you do not want your current employer to know that you plan to make a change, until you hand in that resignation letter. A stealth search is the answer for you.

A stealth search is conducted differently from a normal job search. In a normal job search, you would apply openly for jobs, ask your contacts to keep an ear open for relevant opportunities, and although you might not tell your employer you were looking, you would tell other people. In a stealth search, you are not going to tell people you are looking for a job. You are simply going to tell them you are interested in learning more about a specific career.

The tactics of a stealth search are: networking, research, and a focus on exploration.

A stealth search may take a bit longer, but it is a very effective way to make a job change without your employer finding out.

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Why Your Career Criteria is Critical

One of the reasons people get stuck when thinking about a career plan, changing careers, or choosing a career is they know what they do not want, but they have not identified what they do want. The process of creating your criteria is focused on what you do want.

Without a clear set of criteria, lots of careers can look attractive, but you have no way of evaluating if a career is right for you and no basis for making a choice between two or more possibilities. Your criteria will become your guiding force in exploring changing careers or choosing a career, deciding what path to follow now and in the future, knowing when it is time to leave a position, and plotting your career plan.

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Get Over the ‘One Career for Life’ Myth

It used to be that people chose their careers in high school or college, and expected the choice to shape the rest of their lives. They would get the education, training, or experience they needed, find an entry-level job, prove themselves, move up the ladder, make more money, get a better title, and finally, retire with a pension. They might change jobs once or even twice, but they would stay in the same basic field and company for the duration of their working lives.

Today, you can expect to have 10-12 jobs in your working life, and as many as 3-5 different careers. The younger you are right now, the more change you can expect during your working life.

In fact, you might even have more than one dream career during your working life.

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Clues for Changing Careers: Answer Love It, Hate It, Tolerate It

To get clues to potential careers you might enjoy when changing careers, it is helpful to go through the process of identifying the type of work (skills and tasks) you enjoy, what you don’t enjoy, and what you tolerate.

As you think about skills and tasks, do not limit yourself to your current job. Include your past jobs, volunteer experience, and any other experience that is relevant. Keep this list handy and add to it as you think of new ideas.

Exercise: Love It, Hate It, Tolerate It

What skills/tasks at work do you love?

What skills/tasks at work do you hate?

What skills/tasks at work do you tolerate (not love or hate)?

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Job Hunting Tips: Creating Resumes

Hunting for jobs nowadays is very competitive. Here are a few tips to help you get the edge in searching for and landing the job of your dreams.

Your Resume
Your resume is the first, and sometimes the most important part of applying for a job. Since potential employers have to sort through hundreds of applications to a few, they have to base their decisions on the first impression of your resume.

Studies have shown that about half of the employers decide to accept or reject job applications based on the related work experience listed in the resume. A third of the employers decide to reject or accept job applications based on the layout design of the resume.

1. Make Your Resume Stand Out
When preparing your resume, make sure it stands out in both look and content. It should be in a font that is appealing to the eyes. Step two is for you to make sure your CV lists the related work experience you have had in relation to the job you are applying for.

2. Make Your Resume Concise and Relevant
Avoid making your resume too long (except for those occupations where it is expected). It may make it irrelevant to the evaluator. Remember that the employer is a person to whom time is important. If your resume shows that you value his/her time by showing the most relevant information in the least amount of time, you will have won one important battle.

3. Tailor Your Resume to the Job.
You may have had previous experience that is not related to the job you are applying for. Some people keep different versions of their resume for different job opening purposes. Make sure your resume is appropriate for the job you are seeking. A one-size-fits-all resume may not be the best way to go, since the employer will have the impression that your previous efforts have not been focused enough to produce any specialization on your part. Or that you don’t have the special skills they are searching for when hiring for that particular job.

4. Highlight Your Achievements
Employers want to know that you don’t just have basic skills, but that you can add value to their organization. Don’t just list your job responsibilities. Show what you have achieved.

5. Polish Your Resume
A potential employer will know if you have put care into producing your resume. If he/she sees that you have put thorough effort into your resume, he/she will assume that you will do the same in your work. This is a big plus for you. It is not uncommon for some people to spend days or even weeks polishing and buffing their resumes. It is also helpful to have another person review your resume for typos and readability.

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Functional Resumes for Job Changes and Changing Careers

Functional resumes are organized by function or category, rather than time (chronological). The advantage of a functional resume is that you can highlight the most relevant experience, even if it was volunteer work, a hobby, or three jobs ago.

Some very conservative organizations/industries (e.g., banking, Wall Street), do not like functional resumes, so be sure to check it out first, before you develop your resume.

The basic building blocks of a functional resume are:

1-Summary/Profile

2-Skill Groups

3-Work History (Usually just a list with relevant details, but without descriptions)
-Title, Employer, Location, Dates

4-Education

5-Other Pertinent Information
-Training, Awards, Volunteer Experiences, etc.

Sometimes a functional resume can be just the ticket to that job interview you’re seeking.

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