Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tool Up for Midcareer Job Hunt

Tool Up for Midcareer Job Hunt


While finding a new job in a recession is tough, midcareer job seekers have some advantages, career experts say.

Midcareer workers have experience under their professional belts that younger colleagues don't. And they have the versatility that comes to practitioners who have picked up various skills along the way, recruiters and counselors point out.

But positioning yourself right in a midcareer job search is still a must in an economic environment that finds employers cutting hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. Here are five tips from experts on finding a job.

1 Review your résumé.

Midcareer job seekers should make sure their credentials, especially for technology, are up to date.

"It's important to keep your skills refreshed and updated," says Kim Isaacs, director of ResumePower.com, a career-advice site. "People in midcareer can get very complacent, and they may rely on their employer to sponsor training. Don't rely on your employer, because they may not have your best interests at heart."

Instead, take charge of your own professional development. "It's just very competitive out there. If you go into the job-search world and you see a lot of skills on job postings, you need to have those," Ms. Isaacs says. "Even if you're happy in your job, once in a while go out and look for your job title and see what skills are being requested frequently."

2 Look for hybrid jobs.

Midcareer workers could help themselves find a new spot during the recession by looking for hybrid jobs, which require knowledge of more than one skill, says Betsy Richards, director of career resources at Kaplan University, an online education service.

"If you can show you have multiple talents, you have a better chance of getting the job over someone who has spent their whole life being very focused," Ms. Richards says.

"We are moving away from the focused job where someone is only doing, for example, finance. Instead, they might be doing finance and project management," she says.

3 Network.

You've built personal and professional relationships over the years -- now use them.

"Tap into your contacts, and your contacts' contacts," says Jill Silman, vice president with Meador Staffing Services in Texas. "If you've gotten 10, 15 or 20 years under your belt, then your reputation can work for you. If you are kind of a quiet player, then you are going to have to rely more on your network."

Don't be shy about telling people you are looking for work. "You tell a couple of people, and they tell a couple of people," Ms. Silman says. "It won't hurt to have more eyes and ears out there looking on your behalf."

4 Know your online tools.

Ms. Isaacs suggests that job seekers "build their own brand." That can include creating a Web site to highlight your portfolio of work and qualifications.

This recession will be the first time some out-of-work midcareer workers use the Internet to find a job, and it's important to learn how to conduct an effective online search, Ms. Richards says.

Focus on job boards that target specific industries or salary ranges, rather than a general listing service, advises Bob Skladany, chief career counselor for RetirementJobs.com. "Ask yourself: 'Where would an employer post a job for someone with 10 or 20 years of experience?' " he says. "If you go to specific job boards, you are apt to do much better. The entry-level jobs tend to get broadly posted."

5 Be flexible.

Because the recession has increased the competition for jobs and squeezed companies, job seekers should prepare to take a pay cut, Ms. Richards says.

"Expect a lesser salary than what you are used to because of competition," she says. "There are a lot of midcareerists out there looking for work. There are a lot of people out there who have a lot of experience."

Ms. Isaacs says that as a way to get started, workers can take positions with fewer-than-ideal hours, or even relocate or enter a new industry.

"In this tough job market, you need to be flexible. Consider temp work -- it's not a bad thing. Consider contract work," Ms. Isaacs says. "Consider relocation or a career change. Because there is such a big applicant pool, employers can be selective. So that's why it's important for job seekers to know what their transferable skills are."


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