Sunday, 1 April 2012

How to Figure Out What Job You Want!

For Career Seekers, Changers & ReInventioneers … but these tips work for any job researcher!

5 Ways to Catapult Your Job Choice Research to the Next Level!

1)   The obvious but not always overly effective methodNational Occupational Classifications (NOC)… it’s a starting place but it’s not the be all and end all of career and job research.  For every one of the 40, 000 jobs listed in the NOC (and goodness knows how many in the US version:  Occupational Outlook Handbook), I’m convinced there are another 40+% more jobs that are not listed or for which the titles can convey a dozen different job descriptions.  And I think I’m underestimating there, it’s just we’ve never really had anyone do the stats on it so it’s anyone’s guess.   

a.    Alberta’s Learning Information Service (ALIS) is a great resource for occupational research and many other fantastic career reinvention information.  Sure, it has some specific Alberta only related info, but tons of it is universal to any career development question.  Check it out!

2)   Use job search sites to find out about jobs!   Read job descriptions in your area of interest, current industry and all around the edges of anything else you’d like to align your talents to.   Monster, Workopolis, Indeed/Wowjobs or any other targeted sites you like.  And, what better place to go look for the requirements of any number of jobs than the job posting, itself.

a.    Don’t forget that companies you’re interested in may NOT post on job search sites;   many of the biggies don’t feel they need to or they may have a longer job posting on their own site, so always check those out, as well.  And create a bookmarked/favorites list to monitor them and track their jobs, even if the job doesn’t seem to be a fit for you… you can gain valuable insights from watching similar, not just exact job matches.

3)   Ask!  For every job you see advertised, when they have a contact listed, follow up and ask them for a more detailed job description.  Any client that I’ve ever encouraged to do that has met with an easy way to really tailor their resume to match the job.

4)   Read Resume Writing books!  Yes, Virginia… that’s what I said.  You’d be shocked (well, I am!) at how many people never think to go read a How to Write Resumes kind of book.  There are usually dozens in most public libraries.  Amazon and all the other usual suspects have oodles to choose from.  And they can be delivered right to your door!  Re-sellers like Abebooks and the amazing Powell’s in Portland, Oregon (one of my favourite spots to pick up my own career related resource books) have them in great shape at greatly reduced prices! 

a.    Proviso:  not all resume books are created equal: IE. have excellent well-developed, “give you a hope in h-e-double toothpicks of getting an interview” samples.  And career change resumes are really hard to find viable samples of because the chance of you finding one that is similar to what you want to do is around slim and none.  That’s why I recommend hitting the library.  You can photocopy the ones you want and take them home. 

b.    Remember, most Career Changers have more to prove than someone who is already in the chosen profession!  I haven’t written a career change resume yet that wasn’t more densely packed with details and specifics and accomplishments than one I wrote for someone already on that career path.

5)   The Horse’s Mouth … a tried and true approach for finding jobs, but it’s also amazingly helpful for figuring out what kinds of jobs might be out there for you and how to make the switch. Since many folks decide on a career change while they’re still ‘in’ a job, that old “networking” thang is still one of the best methods of doing research. As much as we all know we should network regularly, few of us do.  So, to find out about actual jobs, this is a necessary evil.  But do the other homework above first, so that you aren’t wasting time.  And then, once you’ve shortlisted your career path research down to 3-4, plug into your network to get an information interview so you can find dig down deeper.

Of course, there’s more involved in this process (It’s such a hub and spoke kind of thing, career development and change.  You do a few things over here in research, then you play with your resume, then you do some informational interviews, then back to research again, and so and an so forth.  It’s like lifting weights.  You do some reps on one machine, then switch to another and another and then start the circuit all over again, but maybe in a different order.)

Another great resource for finding out about jobs and their specific requirements is good ol’ LinkedIn (LI).  Stay tuned in later posts for more effective ways to do Passive Networking (yes, it means you don’t have to cold call!) with people you find in cool jobs on LI.

If anyone you know needs help with any of the aspects of ReInventing themselves, please check out my website!  I look forward to helping you find a more rewarding life at WORK! 

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