PLANNING YOU CAREER CHANGE AND ASSEMBLING THE TOOLS


STEP ONE: 

What if you don’t know what you want to do?
Your job hunt will be more comfortable if you can figure out what type of work you want to do. But you are not alone if you have no idea what you want to do next! You may have knowledge and skills in certain areas but want to get into another type of work. What The Wall Street Journal has discovered in its research on careers is that most of us end up having at least three distinctly different careers in our working lives; it seems that, even if we really like a particular kind of activity, twenty years of doing it is enough for most of us and we want to move on to something else!

That’s why we strongly believe that you need to spend some time figuring out what interests you rather than taking an inventory of the skills you have. You may have skills that you simply don’t want to use, but if you can build your career on the things that interest you, you will be more likely to be happy and satisfied in your job. Realize, too, that interests can change over time; the activities that interest you now may not be the ones that interested you years ago. For example, some professionals may decide that they’ve had enough of retail sales and want a job selling another product or service, even though they have earned a reputation for being an excellent retail manager.


We strongly believe that interests rather than skills should be the determining factor in deciding what types of jobs you want to apply for and what directions you explore in your job hunt. Obviously one cannot be a lawyer without a law degree or a secretary without secretarial skills; but a professional can embark on a next career as a financial consultant, property manager, plant manager, production supervisor, retail manager, or other occupation if he/she has a strong interest in that type of work and can provide a resume that clearly demonstrates past excellent performance in any field and potential to excel in another field. As you will see later in this book, “lack of exact experience” is the last reason why people are turned down for the jobs they apply for.

How can you have a resume prepared if you don’t know what you want to do?
You may be wondering how you can have a resume prepared if you don’t know what you want to do next. The approach to resume writing which PREP, the country’s oldest resume preparation company, has used successfully for many years is to develop an “all-purpose” resume that translates your skills, experience, and accomplishments into language employers can understand. What most people need in a job hunt is a versatile resume that will allow them to apply for numerous types of jobs. For example, you may want to apply for a job in pharmaceutical sales but you may also want to have a resume that will be versatile enough for you to apply for jobs in the construction, financial services, or automotive industries.
We found that your best approach to job hunting is an all-purpose resume and specific cover letters tailored to specific fields rather than using the approach of trying to create different resumes for every job. If you are remaining in your field, you may not even need more than one “all-purpose” cover letter, although the cover letter rather than the resume is the place to communicate your interest in a narrow or specific field. An all purposed resume and cover letter that translate your experience and accomplishments into plain English are the tools that will maximize the number of doors which open for you while permitting you to “fish” in the widest range of job areas.

Your resume will provide the script for your job interview.
When you get down to it, your resume has a simple job to do: Its purpose is to blow as many doors open as possible and to make as many people as possible want to meet you.
So a well-written resume that really “sells” you is a key that will create opportunities for you in a job hunt.
This statistic explains why: The typical newspaper advertisement for a job opening receives more than 245 replies. And normally only 10 or 12 will be invited to an interview.
But here’s another purpose of the resume: it provides the “script” the employer uses when he interviews you. If your resume has been written in such a way that your strengths and achievements are revealed, that’s what you’ll end up talking about at the job interview. Since the resume will govern what you get asked about at your interviews, you can’t overestimate the importance of making sure your resume makes you look and sound as good as you are.

So what is a “good” resume?
Very literally, your resume should motivate the person reading it to dial the phone number or e-mail the screen name you have put on the resume. When you are relocating, you should put a local phone number on your resume if your physical address is several states away; employers are more likely to dial a local telephone number than a long distance number when they’re looking for potential employees.
If you have a resume already, look at it objectively. Is it a limp, colorless “laundry list” of your job titles and duties? Or does it “paint a picture” of your skills, abilities, and accomplishments in a way that would make someone want to meet you? Can people understand what you’re saying? If you are attempting to change fields or industries, can potential employers see that your skills and knowledge are transferable to other environments? For example, have you described accomplishments which reveal your problem-solving abilities or communication skills?

How long should your resume be?
One page, maybe two. Usually only people in the academic community have a resume (which they usually call a curriculum vitae) longer than one or two pages. Remember that your resume is almost always accompanied by a cover letter, and a potential employer does not want to read more than two or three pages about a total stranger in order to decide if he wants to meet that person! Besides, don’t forget that the more you tell someone about yourself, the more opportunity you are providing for the employer to screen you out at the “first-cut” stage. A resume should be concise and exciting and designed to make the reader want to meet you in person!

Should resumes be functional or chronological?
Employers almost always prefer a chronological resume; in other words, an employer will find a resume easier to read if it is immediately apparent what your current or most recent job is, what you did before that, and so forth, in reverse chronological order. A resume that goes back in detail for the last ten years of employment will generally satisfy the employer’s curiosity about your background. Employment more than ten years old can be shown even more briefly in an “Other Experience” section at the end of your “Experience” section. Remember that your intention is not to tell everything you’ve done but to “hit the high points” and especially impress the employer with what you learned, contributed, or accomplished in each job you describe.

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Daily Dose of Everything