Do you really only have one method for securing new work opportunities? Apparently lots of people in the working world rely on that kind of rifle-shot/one option approach to this increasingly important ability in our more fluid working world. I’m reading a book about job search that says the primary method of job search in the U.S. relies on developing a set of personal marketing tools (e.g., resume, LinkedIn profile, elevator speech, interview capability) and networking. If this does not yield success in the first 3 months, this researcher says U.S. job seekers slip into despair assuming their problem is they cannot please hiring managers. The book rightly points out that qualifications count but are often overlooked as the cause for not getting a job – qualifications are particularly important for consultants/contractors since their gigs are limited term.
In today’s fast changing world, a second strategy for developing work opportunities is developing a relatively new, specialized ability in your work focus. This way you cut down on the competition for jobs and it allows you to stay present in the minds of potential employers. Let’s look at how you might do that.
Scanning your work environment:
How do you figure out what new specialties employers are interested in?
Here are a number of options:
• Look at your work environment and answer these questions: What’s changing? Is there new technology? Has someone developed a new way of competing that is producing impressive results? Is there a new challenge to doing your work because of changing customer requirements?
• Talk to others in your work environment about what changes they observe and what the near future holds for your work
• Put a series of work descriptors and trends in a search engine and see what comes up
• Look at industry and professional publications to see what they are discussing and highlighting in their articles
Once you have a list of changes, prioritize them. Organize them based on how quickly you believe they can be adopted by your industry/profession, what specialties the change will require, and your interests.
Building Your Expertise in a New Specialty:
In a hiring world where experience is golden, the good news is that no one has a lot of experience with new changes in work processes. Because of this, you can compete by getting involved and taking the initiative to build knowledge. Depending on where the knowledge development and adoption process is, different tactics can be used.
Here are a number of options:
• Tweeting or blogging about new developments
• Putting together panels of pioneers involved in the change for industry/professional groups
• Writing short articles for industry/professional publications about what is happening
• Volunteering for pilot projects involving the change
• Reading or taking courses/webinars on the web
• Gaining new credentials in the specialty
Your goal is to be seen and heard by people interested in the change who will recognize you as someone who is knowledgeable and ready to be involved.
The path to a resilient career is staying current. Furthermore, having specialties in cutting edge techniques helps individuals build income. Traditionally, workers have seen their way to greater income as moving up in the organization but in today’s more specialized world expertise with new work processes offers a second path that is open to all workers not just the traditionally employed.
Flawed System, Flawed Self – Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences by Ofer Sharone, University of Chicago Press, 2014.