With an increasing unemployment rate and more companies restructuring, “right-sizing,” or laying off workers, seeking a job is more challenging than any time in the last 20 years.
“You must have a no-nonsense approach to job seeking,” says Arnie Boldt, an expert in careers transitions. “Recognize your strengths and weaknesses and discover hidden talents that are potential job skills applicable for a new career.”
Boldt will speak on “Changing Jobs in a Changing Economy: Where Do I Go from Here?” on Monday, June 22, at 7 p.m. at the East Brunswick Public Library. This is a free event. For more information visit www.ebpl.org, or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boldt understands just how difficult it is to look for a new job. His own personal experience with “restructuring” came about 15 years ago, “before the term was even fashionable,” he says. “I was reasonably happy in a job as a sales representative in Rochester when one day the boss called me into his office to explain that I wasn’t part of the company’s future. I suddenly needed to find a new career.”
A 1981 graduate of Clarkson University with a degree in technical communication, Boldt decided to help other people in similar situations by becoming a resume writer. He quickly came to understand that a great resume was only one part of a successful job search and opened a business, Arnold-Smith Associates, with his wife Gail Smith, in Rochester.
The business offers career assessment designed to help people identify skills and interests that are applicable for a new career choice, interview simulations, and a variety of workshops on subjects such as networking skills and negotiating strategies. Boldt is also the author of four books, including “No-Nonsense Job Interviews” and “Resumes for the Rest of Us,” published by Career Press. He prides himself on his experience in working with a wide array of job seekers, including skilled tradespeople, new graduates, engineers, educators, and top level executives.
The current economic climate is one of the most challenging for job seekers. “In my 15 years as a professional resume writer and career transition coach, this is probably the worst situation for job seekers that I’ve seen,” says Boldt.
Many workers find themselves laid off from companies where they have worked for 10, 15, or 20 years. Others find themselves in positions or in industries that have become obsolete due to shifts in technology or other factors.
That does not mean, however, that there are no jobs out there. “Candidates need to be flexible about their employment options and more agile in their approach. Candidates willing to shift industries, who are amenable to a career change, or open to relocation can still find opportunities,” he says.
What do you want to do? The first step in any career search is to decide what type of job you are looking for, says Boldt. Many people use a lay-off as a way to find a new career while others find themselves laid off because their job or their industry no longer exists. “In the Rochester area where I live, many people have been laid off from manufacturing jobs,” Boldt says. “These jobs just aren’t there anymore. But other jobs, such as in the healthcare industry, are available.”
Identify how much and what type of training you will need to become eligible for these new jobs, he says, then develop a strategy to get that training. You might need to obtain financial aid to pay for tuition, for example.
Technology doesn’t replace networking. “Many people think that the best way to look for a job today is to go online and look at sites such as Monster.com,” Boldt says. “Those sites can be useful, but don’t forget that most jobs today are still found through networking.”
In fact, he adds, most jobs are never published in a newspaper or online. “Between 60 and 80 percent of jobs are found through networking,” he adds.
But where should you network when you are looking for a job? “Everyone you know is part of your network: Your friends, your neighbors, the people at your church, the parents of your kids’ friends, the people you see at Starbucks. You never know who knows someone who knows someone,” says Boldt.
He suggests reaching out and explaining exactly the type of job you are looking for and asking for ideas or if the person knows someone who could be helpful in your search. “Remember, you are not putting the responsibility of finding you a job on these people. You are just asking for an introduction to someone who might help you,” he says.
Contact former colleagues who might now work for other companies. Formal networking organizations can also be helpful. Don’t stop attending trade organizations to which you belong, and look into networking organizations that are specifically designed for job seekers.
A new take on resumes. Resumes used to be seen as a history of your career, says Boldt. Today however, they should “look forward at what you have to offer a company.” The resume is essentially a tool you use to market yourself. It should emphasize your skills and abilities.
The two types of job seekers who often have the most trouble developing an effective resume are the older worker and the worker who is fresh out of school. For the older worker, Boldt suggests leaving off specific dates, such as the date of your college graduation.
Also, you may want to eliminate some of your older jobs. “Just don’t put jobs you held in the 1970s on the resume,” Boldt advises. “Your age and experience is something you can address in the job interview; you want to make sure that your resume helps you to get to that interview so you can sell yourself.”
For younger workers, “education is your biggest plus,” says Boldt. Make sure your resume mentions any internships, work-study, or volunteer positions that you have had. Athletics can also be a plus on a resume.
“Emphasizing athletics can show that you have self-discipline,” he explains. And make sure that you mention any paying positions that you have held. “Holding down a job, no matter how menial, demonstrates that you are a reliable employee.”
The most important thing is to not get discouraged, says Boldt. “Remember, there are jobs out there, to find them you might just have to be more flexible.”