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Evaluating Your Career

Evaluating and establishing a career change after several years in the field can provide a sizeable advantage. At this point you have gained the experience and knowledge to effectively compete for desirable positions. There are several steps you can take to increase your marketability and land the perfect position for your career goals.

    Don't apply for just any position, and don't start hunting before you know what your ideal job factors are. Take a moment to consider the following before applying

  • What job title do you seek? Check out the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics to see the variations of what may be out there for your skill set and degree. Another option, and a great database for a variety of employment information, is O*Net OnLine
  • What salary do you hope to earn? Again, there are several resources to help you determine what is average; check out www.salary.com and www.acinet.org to get started.
  • What are the major skills you would like to utilize? You can search skills and competencies
  • What is your preferred company or work environment? Browsing LinkedIn company profiles and O*Net OnLine can lead to a wealth of company information. From there, you can begin to research the particulars of the places that stand out to you.

Jot down a few notes of your own job buzzwords and seek out positions and companies with similar ideals. The employer is looking for the right fit for the job, and you should be seeking out the right fit, too. So should you. Make sure to consider your competencies and strengths as you're deciding where and how to reach out and apply.

Job hunts aren't exactly what they used to be, and taking a new approach is a key portion in finding the right place for your next dream job.

Update Resume

Take a look at your resume. Does it

  • shout out your accomplishments
  • Paint a vivid picture of your strengths (or competencies) for the reader?
  • Above all else, does it make your value to an employer immediately clear?

If not, it could use an upgrade.

Employers can be swamped with resumes for each opening. You want anyone who holds yours to know THEY WANT YOU! This message can be lost in a sea of dry, bland descriptions and vague wording. Tell them what you've done and be clear about what you are good at! This is your opportunity to stand out from a dull pieces of paper.

A few suggestions as you revise

First: Review the basics. It may have been a few years since your last foray into the job market. There is always a new tip or two to improve even the best resumes. Be sure to check out the resumes tab under Career Links for Everyone to find additional detail and tips.

And remember...

  • It is crucial to tailor your resume for each position you apply for.
  • Describe accomplishments, responsibilities, and achievements in a way that suggests they are completed (e.g., "monitored," "managed," "organized"). Start with this power word list and apply those that relate to your experience.
  • Be mindful of avoiding two common resume mistakes
    • Focusing on your needs: Remember that positions are being filled based on competencies of the individual, not specific job tasks or responsibilities. Researching the position and the company will help you discover the major competencies the position requires.
    • Focusing on responsibilities instead of results: When describing your previous work positions, discuss brief points of achievement and results rather than your routine tasks or duties.

Don't forget - every resume that goes out must have a cover letter attached to it! Whether or not the job post asks for one, it is a crucial component. One thing to keep in mind as you compose your cover letter is that this is the one place where you are able to tell them why you want to work there and what you know about the company. Check out a few resources

A general overview on navigating through the composition of the "dreaded" cover letter

Tips and basics on the cover letter format and contents

"Ask a Manager: What does a good cover letter look like?"

Making the Most Of Your Network

As with any tool, it's all in how you use it. Networking, particularly social networking (read: fun), can be the difference in finding and receiving your dream job - you just need to know how to use it!

IMPORTANT Everything and anything you put out onto your networking pages, personal or otherwise, becomes a part of your "portfolio" for employers to see. While everyone is human and needs to have a life, be mindful of what you post and how you respond, and imagine how you would feel if your future boss was looking at it. The more useful, professional, and supportive information and thoughts you contribute, the more followers you will gain (thus the more opportunities you'll discover).

Social Networking

Social Networking is a critical buzzword in today's job hunt, but it shouldn't be confined to traditional connotations. Networking online is easier than most people think - in fact, chances are you've already dabbled in the skill. Ultimately, it becomes a matter of taking a few new steps in the direction of professional social networking and you'll find the rest often comes rather easily.

For those completely unfamiliar with the ins-and-outs of social networking in a professional sphere, take a moment to review some quick, informative resources

Social Media Literacy (for those starting truly from scratch)

For insight on what sites are out there, what they are about, and how they can help you, this comprehensive summary should be extremely helpful

And for those already in the realm of social networking, but looking to take new steps into its abilities in professionalism, see these

And for the real advanced group, make a point to check the score of your online presence! Go to www.klout.com for information on checking your online "score" and learning quick and easy ways to tweak your networking and increase your visibility.

Social Networking: Four Points for Gaining the Most From Your Profile

"As with any tool, it's all in how you use it"

  1. Remember that networking is a symbiotic relationship. You will not gain much from simply hoping that the people in your networks will provide you with resources and opportunity. It is necessary for you to share and contribute as well.
  2. Think about your professional branding: what you want to do, what you're interested in, what your network connections are interested in. Post content and concepts that will attract local professionals interested in the same information. Convey who you are in how you post and interact
  3. Regularly Contribute: The more you contribute, the greater level of visibility (read: opportunity) your profile will have. Update often with interesting and useful content.
  4. Transparency and authenticity: You need to be honest and clear with your postings. You never know what will grab someone's attention, and it would be an awful occurrence to catch a job opportunity with misleading or false information.

Twitter Tip: Hashtags are your search companion. Try searching #tweetup followed by the name of your city. Search for companies and products that you appreciate. Follow those similar to you and your tweet feed will eventually become a constant resource!

Try a few of these other searches and start following those that intrigue you

#jobs #msu General words for your field ("marketing" "advertising")
#careers @helpingspartans Follow the companies you would love to work with!

Facebookers: Find the companies you're interested in and follow them. Look at what they post and what others post to them. Pulling together the big picture of what is valued to the company gives you insight into what is important in their employees; engage in conversations and posts that are meaningful and contribute. Your brand loyalty can become something to capitalize on. It is about being social and building potential future relationships, NOT about asking for a job (don't do that. It likely won't work).

Face-to-face Networking

  • Everyone you know could be a potential lead for a new job. Put it out there that you're looking for something new, mention a few of your strongest professional qualities and skills, and keep checking in!
  • Perfect your "elevator speech"
  • Find opportunities and meet-up groups and organizations in the area (this is where social networking can be especially helpful)
  • Be creative! For examples and a great resource, MSU alumnus Kevin Donlin (author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast - Guaranteed!" and with David Parry, "Guerilla Job Search") has a helpful website for discovering some creative and practical ways to uncover new jobs

Brush up on interview skills and tactics

While some choose to relocate, there are often local and untapped options:
Attend networking or job fair events in your area. Even if they do not result in to an immediate position, the events may lead to new opportunities through others in attendance.

Think small. Often people believe that the only way to advance is to "move up" in position, salary, or company size. This is not the case. Incredible opportunities with smaller companies are often not advertised in want ads, Internet sites, or other traditional measures. Try cold-calling or simply walking into the places where your skills or expertise may serve well.

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