Submitted by Krisa Bortz.
To say its challenging finding the right career in this job market is an understatement, particularly with gaps in employment. The challenge of returning after raising a child or trying to secure a position upon recent graduation, it’s an uphill battle.
At the start of the job bust three years ago, I learned most companies received 500 applications for every open position. Statistics show this average holding true in 2010. Add to the mix fewer jobs are available due to downsizing. Does the average job seeker (recent graduate to seasoned professional) take any job at this point? How does an individual seeking the “right fit” attain their dream career against a stacked deck?
Here’s a hint: Maximize your graduation and continue supporting YOUR VALUE via professional development; this means diversifying and building the many skills you offer. Many current job seekers, including me, have expanded their skill sets with online classes and unconventional experiences. For those getting ready to graduate, DON’T STOP THERE!!!!
Bringing it to a personal note, how am I transitioning back into a full-time career? In 2006 I fell victim to downsizing and was laid off like so many others. I applied for everything I was remotely qualified for and spent countless hours sending resumes. I did receive a few responses, even though my resume was outdated. Unfortunately I didn’t look into other skills or learn new computer skills and searched only conventional job listings. I simply thought my four-year journalism degree was enough.
Shame on me for being naïve. But are there any recent graduates out there thinking the degree was enough? I thought so.
After unemployment ran out and jobs became scarcer, I gave up and took a temporary job as a retail photographer. The job was fun but did not satisfy my passion to grow within a career. Hanging it out, I stayed three years while raising a child to a reasonable daycare age. Sad to say, I never felt I lived up to my potential.
I continued to apply for positions in my degree field, but the economy continued to spiral downward. I started to take online classes in new software to extend my skill set (raising my employment chances). When sought-after positions required specific skills, I sought online training for them. About this time I started to use social networking in my searches.
Now that I’m ready for full-time re-employment in my degree field, those extra skills I picked up are helping my resume stand out from the stacks. Seems like every position I’m applying for requires skills far beyond what I learned in books or classrooms.
My journey into a retail industry helped me better understand interactions with clients and meeting their needs. Understanding client relationships are essential in all careers. For those not finding a position in your degree, don’t undermine your future by not accepting a retail position during your transition. The value of retail experience will follow you, especially in gaining great communication and conflict resolution skills.
I’ve learned you cannot rest on your laurels and let your paperwork get the position for you any more than merely applying to conventional positions in conventional help-wanted ads. Brush up on your skills, update your resume, leave no doors closed, and NEVER stop growing. You never know where your perfect career is hiding.
Thank you Krisa Bortz for sharing your story and giving our readers an opportunity to gain a great deal of insight. Without doubt, these are difficult times requiring more than a passive approach.
Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International, www.careersi.com
Education Career Services, www.educationcs.com
Creator, The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com