Employment at its base is a necessity for both those currently employed and those looking for work. Many people feel the need to have a source for income. For those who don’t have a job, it is a necessity. This reduces one’s ability to choose from many options. This means that the first job, or any job, may be accepted regardless of whether it is the best. The process of looking for a better job or starting over is possible if the first job you are offered wasn’t the best. This is why I see so many resumes that I have seen from resume writers include a list jobs that are temporary.
This is directly related to another trend that I have observed: Many of my resume clients put more emphasis on the jobs they have held or are looking for, instead of focusing on the development of a whole career. It seems that there is uncertainty around when a job will become a career. My clients have learned to see their jobs through a new perspective. I coach them to look at how these employment opportunities contribute to their career plans. Changes in how someone views their career and the jobs they have held can help them transform their self-belief and make them a better job candidate, regardless of how many opportunities are available.
What’s a Job?
Employment is a matter of personal need. It is easy to be focused on the job and the conditions. Sometimes a job is something that a person does out of necessity. However, it can lead to feeling trapped if conditions are difficult or the work requires skills not already developed. As a career coach, I have seen people feel helpless and resign when they are stuck in the same job for too long. My clients who have been in the same job for years are so limited in their self-belief that their communication and disposition reflect this.
First, it is important to change the perception of a person’s past or current job as an indicator of their potential. This is related to the problem of chronologically-written resumes. They place more emphasis on the current job than a longer view of the person’s career. Even if they only have one job, everyone is a summation of all the jobs they’ve held. Each job or series of jobs is part of a larger picture, which is the person’s career plan.
What’s a Career?
With every job they hold, a person’s career is evolving. Through those jobs, they have gained knowledge, skills and abilities. My resume writing style is different. I emphasize the skills that the person has and how they can be transferred to the next job. This shifts the focus away from the current job and encourages recruiters to examine the resume. A chronological resume requires that someone examine each job to determine or guess the skills of the person. This is not possible in a competitive market. To change a person’s resume format, I need to first help them see their job in relation to their overall career, goals, and career plan.
A career can be defined as a job that a person has over a lifetime. They may have more than one occupation at one time or they may change their interests. My occupations include writing, coaching, career counseling, educator, writer, and resume writer. Although I have held many different jobs, the work that I do is in some way related to each of my occupations. It is important to have a long-term view of your career and look at each job in light of the lessons learned and skills you have acquired. Each job contributes to the career in some way, even if it is not challenging or new. It also confirms that one is willing to look for new work or a different occupation.
My career has included teaching and leading others, regardless of my job title. From a corporate environment where I was a manager of training & development, to an academic setting with the responsibility of leading and developing faculty and teaching students, I have moved from that role. Every job I’ve held, regardless of its success or failure, has been viewed from the perspective of how it contributed to my career. This allows me to not dwell on any job that isn’t satisfying. Instead, I focus on the larger picture and how I can continue to grow my career and profession(s).
Developing Career Focus
You will see immediate results if you change the way you look at your career. Even if you’re currently working in the most unfavorable conditions, a long-range perspective will allow you to feel in control of your career. Instead of seeing a job or a series of jobs as unimportant or a failure, you should focus on the skills and knowledge that you have and continue to learn. These steps will help you develop a career plan.
Step 1: Define Your Current Occupation.
It is helpful to have a bigger picture of your career goals if you change jobs frequently. It may be easier to describe your occupation if you’ve been working in the same position for a while or have held multiple related jobs. You may also find that certain jobs can also be used to define an individual’s occupation. Teaching, for example, can be considered both a job or an occupation. However, there are other occupations related to education that teachers can pursue.
Step 2: Create a Vision Statement.
Once you have created a description for the job you currently hold, you can now create a vision statement about your career. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to list what you want to do for the next 20-years or settle on one particular job. Consider what you are aiming for in the long-term. As you acquire more knowledge or skills, are there different types of jobs in your field that you could work towards?
Step 3: Develop a Short-Term & Long-Term Career Plan.
Once you have a vision statement, you can create a career plan. This will instantly shift your mindset and give you control over your career. This is a great way for me to help clients feel empowered in their careers, even if there aren’t many options. Your career plan is a way to set short-term and long term goals that align with your vision. This does not necessarily mean that it must be a set plan that cannot be modified or adjusted, but it provides a starting point from which to work and helps to foster a proactive mindset.
Step 4: Create Job-Related Milestones.
To keep my clients’ eyes on their vision and career, I encourage them to create job-related milestones once they have a written career plan. If the goal is to acquire new skills to advance in a specific occupation, then a milestone might be a 90-day review to see if they are. If these skills are not being acquired, the next steps can be determined. These could include asking for new assignments, searching for other jobs within the same company, or looking for a job that offers more long-term value. These milestones serve as reminders and allow you to review your career plan to see if any changes need to be made.
Step #5 – Perform an Ongoing Skills & Knowledge Self-Assessment.
I get a lot of similar responses from my clients when I ask them to describe their skills and knowledge. Once you have a clear understanding of your career and a long-term view of your job, you can also develop a career plan. This can be used to measure your current skills and knowledge. This helps you determine what you’ve learned or could gain from your current job. Each job you held over the course of your career contributed to what you now have. This is something you should take into consideration when evaluating what you have and what you still need.
Step #6 – Create a Professional Development Program.
People often sign up for workshops, classes, and seminars without linking it to their career plans. It will be more beneficial to use these opportunities to advance your career and make strategic decisions about how you spend your time. It is possible that your job requires you to attend workshops and seminars that are not relevant. It is possible to learn something, or at the very least, establish a professional relationship with someone in your field. It is important to include professional opportunities in your career plan.