Manitowoc County Job Center - Manitowoc WI

Archives

Categories

Search

Newsletter

Mar 31

Laid-off workers need to keep skills sharp

Posted in Job Center at 2:59 pm

Losing a job can mean losing more than just a paycheck. Without some planning, an extended layoff can cause job skills to fade and make someone less attractive to potential employers.
And it’s not just the unemployed 8.1 percent of the workforce that has to worry about a personal brain drain. Add in those working part time or who have given up looking for a job, and the Labor Department says 14.8 percent of the U.S. work force is “underutilized.”

Whether they can speak a foreign language or analyze financial spreadsheets as easily as sports statistics, those people need to find ways to keep their skills up.

“Maintaining your skills and advancing your skills is critical to advancing if you’re employed, and getting a new job if you’re unemployed,” said Dean Tracy, a recruiter and career coach in San Ramon, Calif.
But how do you stay on top of your field when you’ve been downsized? Tracy and other career counseling experts identified three potential avenues: continuing education, professional organizations and volunteering.

Continuing education
Even for those who are not out of work, learning new skills or brushing up old ones is always beneficial. Several experts said classes that offer certifications are particularly helpful.
“What it tells the employer is, you’re not sitting around wondering what to do next, you’re taking the initiative,” said Tracy. Those who can’t attend a class should look for online training.
Technology and business models have evolved so rapidly that anyone who got their education 10 or more years ago is no longer current in the market, said Don Straits, president of the Auburn, Calif.-based executive search firm Corporate Warriors: “That MBA from Stanford that you got in 1978 or 1980? That and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee.”

Underscoring that idea, Straits said it is vital for today’s workers to take advantage of Web-based technologies. “I won’t say they need to be Twittering,” he said, referring to the fast-growing service through which users to send out short messages. “But they do need to be connected or involved in Web 2.0. It’s not just a matter of surfing the Web any more.”

Social networking, he said, is a good place to get acquainted with the expanding possibilities online. It’s an area that is easily self-taught, and one that can have numerous applications once you’re back in the workplace. As a bonus, establishing a network of contacts can also help during a job hunt. Pointing to a 24-year-old staffer at his company who has 4,000 “friends” on MySpace and 300 connections on LinkedIn, Straits said, “He will never have a problem connecting to a position.”

Experts in using resources like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn may be able to help others by teaching a class or leading a workshop for a professional organization. Another possibility is to seek an adjunct faculty position at a local college.

“Having a faculty appointment is never a bad thing,” said Roy Cohen, a master coach for The Five O’Clock Club, a New York-based career coaching network. An added plus: “You have access to other faculty members you can network with.”

Professional organizations
Beyond the potential for teaching fellow members, professional organizations typically offer access to broader workshops and seminars. But Straits said it’s important not only to join, but to be active in professional groups. “One of the best jobs in any association is the membership chairman,” he said, “because you are going to get to know every single company or individual in that organization.”
Professional organizations also often need help with tasks like maintaining their Web sites or organizing their finances, providing more opportunities to put languishing skills to use.

Volunteering
Donating your time can also add some interest to a resume and demonstrate a commitment to community that may impress a potential employer.

Tracy says it’s a mistake to rule out listing a volunteer position on your resume: “Just because you got paid or didn’t get paid does not diminish the importance of that being a job that enables you to enhance your skills.”

If you’re searching for a suitable spot, look for organizations that connect volunteers with nonprofits needing expert help. The Taproot Foundation is one national group that provides pro bono help with things like strategic planning, annual report preparation and marketing.

Taproot recruitment manager Melanie Damm said the group has seen a huge influx of volunteers in the past six months. Though at times Taproot had been limited by the number of pro bono consultants it could recruit, now there is a bit of a problem finding projects for all the volunteers in some cities. But, she said, “we still have shortages for very specific sorts of skill sets” like Web site development and graphic design.

Being open to working as an unpaid intern at a for-profit company, or volunteering to help on a specific project, may get you in the door. Cohen, of The Five O’Clock Club, has a client who approached a company offering to be an apprentice that was accepted. “They were very taken with his strategy,” he said.
It’s a tactic that worked for Shawn Graham, the director of MBA career services at the University of Pittsburgh and author of the book, “Courting Your Career.” In 1997, he was downsized by the retail company he worked for and decided to try the career counseling field. He approached three colleges seeking to volunteer in their career offices, and one took him up on the offer. A few months later, he was given a paid spot there, and has since moved up in the field by working at two other universities.
Graham said, “Sometimes just calling up and offering to help on a project can be the toehold to get into the organization.”

Mar 12

Tips to help you reinvent your career

Posted in Career Article, Tips & Tricks at 12:51 pm

Consider volunteer work or going back to school

There is no way around it: Everyone will have to find their own path to career reinvention.
You just need to be open to change.
Here are some tips from Francyenne Maynard, director of career services at North Lake College in Dallas, to get you started:
Make a list of all the things you enjoy doing and those you don’t. Before targeting a specific industry, you will need to determine what brings you joy. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing? Look at your past experiences, whether paid or not. For instance, when you volunteer at your church or for the local PTA, is there something that you are particularly good at or that you constantly get “recruited” to do, such as planning events or fundraising?
Figure out what you do well. Think about what your strengths are. Ask your family and friends what you are particularly good at — many times they may know a particular field that you would be good at that you may not have even considered.
Have a career plan. Think of transferable skills that you bring to the desired job and how you can make yourself marketable. Get work experience, volunteer or see if you can obtain an unpaid internship in that field.
Network, network, network. More jobs are gained through networking than by any other job search strategy. If you would like to be an event planner, for example, start by planning events for your friends free of charge and ask for referrals. Then, plan an event for your church or community organization. This sort of networking not only helps you gain valuable experience to add to your resume, but it also “gets the word out” about you to other people. We all have networks — our friends, family, real estate agent, banker, insurance agent, barber, hairdresser. (These are all people that know other people and can spread the word about you.)
Go to school. Consider taking classes at night or online.
Do informational interviews. Ask people what they like and dislike about their jobs. See if you can do a job shadow — that is, spend some time on the job with that person.
Volunteer. This is an excellent way to obtain work experience in a new career field. The only difference is that when you are volunteering, you are unpaid. Volunteer work still can be listed as experience on a resume or portfolio and is an excellent way to expand your networking opportunities.
Go to your community college career center. Meet with a career specialist who can help you identify your skills and make yourself more employable in that area. Also, consider going back to the school where you got your degree and taking advantage of alumni services.