To be successful and satisfied at work is no accident. It’s unlikely without the help–strategic and supportive–of others. Seeking help in your job search and career advancement increases your effectiveness and efficiency–saving you time, money, and unnecessary discouragement.
No matter what your job, age, or experience; no matter how successful you feel; regardless of your formal education; and no matter how thrilled or miserable you are in your current situation, you can find people skilled and interested in helping you improve your employment situation.
Below are some common career scenarios. Read and check the statements that apply to you:
___ I love my job and industry and I’m committed to developing new skills, adding to my knowledge, and cultivating relationships.
___ I seem to have drifted from my original goals (or didn’t have any to begin with), making job changes in crisis mode–laid off, quit, or let go. My work is OK at best, horrible at worst.
___ I like my work and field, but I am paid less than the market for what I do.
___ I have been passed over for promotion, and I’m not sure why.
___ I am returning to paid employment after caring for family members. I wonder what marketable skills I have.
___ I hear that networking is the most effective way to land a good job, but I don’t have many contacts, and besides, I don’t want to be a job beggar and impose on others.
___ I’ve been laid off. I’ve been offered outplacement services, but I don’t know if they’ll be much help because I want to change career directions.
___ Going back to school sounds like a good idea. Maybe another degree will make me more marketable.
___ I’ve responded to lots of online job postings but haven’t had many interviews, and have had none for jobs I’d really want.
___ I’d like to update my resume, but I’m not sure how to make it most appealing.
___ I’m so stressed on my job that I wish I could quit, but I panic about money.
___ I hate the job search process and may contact a headhunter this time.
___ My friends and family are trying to help me, but nothing’s working. I’m down and discouraged.
___ I feel good about my search and target, but am not sure how to answer questions about why I left my last job.
___ I’ve tried reading books and taking classes, but I still haven’t figured out what I want to do.
For any of the scenarios that apply to you, help is available. To find the right person to assist you, follow the steps below.
#1. Tell the Truth to Yourself: How are You Stuck?
The checklist above is a great beginning. Getting clear about what you need help with is key to finding the right resource.
#2. Identify the Appropriate Resource Type
Read through the descriptions below to determine which categories of people resources fit your needs. Resources are listed from most comprehensive to most specialized.
→ Career Counselors, Consultants, and Coaches. To define a career direction, develop a job search target and strategy, learn how to network, get feedback on your resume, and prepare for interviews, consider hiring a career consultant (or counselor/coach). You’ll receive personalized assistance for any or all phases of the career development and job search process. Expect to pay hourly or project-based rates. (This is the kind of help I provide.)
→ Agencies. A number of non-profit, educational, government, and private-sector groups provide career services. For example, colleges and universities often offer career assistance to alumni. Missouri provides Career Centers for the public. Vocational rehabilitation services are available, and you can find “retail” career counseling within the for-profit sector. Many agencies charge only modest fees, and some are free–especially state-sponsored groups. “Retail” services through a firm cost much more.
→ Recruiters, Search Firms, Headhunters. These are companies that identify, screen, and prepare candidates for interviews for mid-to-upper-level jobs. They are best for candidates who are very focused and have a strong track record in their industry. Sometimes search firms will recruit successful people into considering new jobs.
If you don’t have recent, relevant experience, such companies are useless. Specialization is common, e.g., medical, legal, CEO, technical, creative, sales, etc. The hiring company pays the fee in one of two ways:
1) Retained:The firm gets paid whether or not they fill the position. If unsuccessful, the firm won’t get rehired.
2) Contingent: Recruiting firm get paid only if/when the position is filled.
→ Temporary/Employment Agencies. For entry level, temporary, contract work or permanent “placement,” here’s another potential resource. Some specialize in areas like accounting or human resources. Some may include mid-level jobs. The employer usually pays the fee. Avoid agencies where you pay the fee.
→ Resume Writers prepare your resume for a fee. Some simply type what you give them. Others will help you fashion one and prepare generic cover letters. They are most useful when you have a clear target, don’t have a way with words, and/or don’t have basic computer skills.
#3. Ask for Referrals to Your Target Resources
Once you’ve determined the type of assistance you want, ask people you trust for recommendations or referrals. Although you will find resource listings online, your best leads for the right kind of career help are from satisfied clients.
The lone-ranger mentality may have worked for a 1950’s television show, but it’s counter-productive in a successful and satisfying career. Enlisting the knowledge, skills, and perspectives of a career advisor is a small but very powerful investment you make in a rewarding career.
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A COUNTER-INTUITIVE WAY TO HIRE
Most companies recruit candidates to fill jobs. Instead, Intuitive Reseach & Technology’s recruiters look for standout talent. Read about their unusual approach here.