You regularly scroll through online job boards like Monster.com, Indeed, Careerbuilder, etc….And submit a resume for job after job…BUT NEVER HEAR BACK!
Know that you are not alone! …And keep in mind: Using these sites is an easy way for companies to filter out resumes that don’t exactly fit the profile that they are seeking! …especially those that are flooded with resumes!
It does NOT MEAN that you don’t have valuable skills and talents to contribute within an organization!
But if you are a job seeker (OR ASSISTING A JOB SEEKER) who
- has limited or no experience in the targeted field,
- does not have recent work experience (or employment gaps),
- lacks specific credentials/other training requirements or
- is simply looking for a new, more fulfilling career direction…
THIS MAY NOT BE THE MOST EFFECTIVE JOB-SEEKING STRATEGY!
HERE ARE MY SUGGESTIONS for those of us with “specs” that may not match precisely the advertised job “specs”:
Start by identifying your strengths and talents/projects that excite and energize you/where you want to go/ what you are interested in doing/where you can contribute most…
And when you begin to discover (or rediscover) whatever it is that makes you feel most alive, FIND A WAY TO DO MORE OF IT!… And look for people who are involved in this activity, this field! YOU NEVER KNOW who may help you to open new doors!
“Opportunities do not float like clouds in the sky. They’re attached to people. If you’re looking for an opportunity, you’re really looking for a person.” Workplace writer Ben Casnocha Or in Brandon Beauchamp’s words (on a visit with the Local Business Advisory Council staff of the Mental Health Association, Rockland County), “We know in the professional world that making personal connections is so important for getting ahead, finding employment.”
So how do we find those individuals who may be connected to opportunities?
A friend of mine, Cindy Moorcroft, and her career path come to mind…
When first coming to the Capital Region in 1986, Cindy’s goal was to develop a high school component to the Albany Free School (a long-standing, alternative school in Albany’s South End). Cindy had worked as a math teacher for a number of years prior to moving here. Once here, Cindy became active in the local social justice community and ended up accepting a coordinator position with the Women’s Building. At the same time, she volunteered with many political organizations, including HIV/AIDS advocacy and service organizations.
In 1989, Cindy became interested in massage therapy as a way to support social activism AND healing in the HIV/AIDS community. She enrolled in school and became certified as a NYS licensed massage therapist. Cindy’s ultimate goal was to find employment in this field. In the meantime, she accepted requests by different organizations to offer her services gratis. Along with her massage therapy table, she would bring her enthusiasm and compassion all over town!
At the same time, Cindy began approaching organizations with an offer to seek grant opportunities to fund an HIV/AIDS massage program (and ultimately, a position for her!) One of these organizations was Whitney Young Health Center. The program director asked Cindy if she was willing to lead a reflexology workshop for students at Hackett Middle School. Cindy accepted this volunteer opportunity. The director was impressed with Cindy’s enthusiasm and initiative. Once she learned that Cindy was a N.Y.S. certified teacher, she found a way to employ Cindy under a “health educator” budget line. Cindy worked in this position for seven years!
In seeking out individuals who may be helpful, the best place to start is where you are – right now! Is there anyone in your department whose job looks interesting to you? How about other departments? Ask these individuals if you can meet with them/ask them some questions about their job/how they got there. Share your interests and experiences.
Who else do you know that works in a job/career field that interests you (or who might know someone who could be helpful to you)? …Friends, family, neighbors, One Stop Employment Center counselor, other folks you encounter (librarian, health care people, store managers, etc.)
Professional or interest group meetings provide great opportunities to meet people in your field of interest…LinkedIn can provide opportunities as well.
And impromptu conversations outside of work can be unexpected sources for connecting and learning about opportunities! Whether you are speaking to someone before or after your exercise class, chatting during intermission of a concert or introducing yourself at an “official” networking event…Let people know what you are looking for and the experiences and skills that you bring… AND ask them about their work, career path, etc.
NOT EVERY ENCOUNTER OR MEETING will lead you closer to what you are looking for. While an essential process, it’s very much TRIAL AND ERROR! The clearer you are on what you want to accomplish from each encounter, the greater the probability that you will find it helpful!
• seeking opportunities to strengthen your experience, skills and/or confidence? Volunteer opportunities? Temporary projects? Advisory roles?
• looking to better understand what different positions entail? Expectations and responsibilities? Skills, experience, credentials required? Workplace culture? Pace? Values?
Or like Cindy, are you seeking employment with a non-profit organization, willing and able to secure funding for a position that matches their goals AND your interests and abilities?
And even learning that this new direction, workplace or type of job is not for you can be helpful…before you invest a lot of time and financial resources! You also may meet someone who knows of a better-matching opportunity for you…and can personally introduce you to someone who can open that door!
And that one open door at Whitney Young Health Center has ultimately opened many others for Cindy and her career path! In 1998, Cindy along with several other therapists founded the Center for Natural Wellness Massage School. For almost twenty years, she served as a science educator at the massage school and for the last twelve years, as their Director of Education.
More recently, Cindy’s interest in health and wellness led her to further education and an opportunity with Albany City Schools. Last year, Cindy completed a Master’s degree in Communication Skills from Empire State College….And this past September, Cindy started an internship in a special education class at Hackett Middle School. Thirty years into her professional life, Cindy remains excited about learning, applying her wide range of skills and making a difference!
I am happy to meet with you to discuss your unique career path and how to apply these strategies to your goals! Call me for a free consultation!
Marsha Lazarus, MBA
Career/Workplace Coach and Trainer