Photography: ChrisL AK
If you’re in career planning mode right now, you’re not alone. Even entrepreneurs occasionally need to find opportunities. The economy has people scrambling to find new jobs, new careers.
Career planning does not have to be a daunting task. Here are some suggestions and preparations to consider.
1. Have a plan. Execute your plan one step at a time, and don’t get discouraged. Part of your plan should include updating your resume, writing a strong cover letter to sell your skills, and creating a schedule for job hunting and sending out applications. This is common advice but bears repeating: treat your job search as a job in itself.
2. Take job retraining.
Retraining does not have to cost a lot of money. Your options include government-funded retraining (based on various eligibility requirements), interning, or any number of open courses online that are offered by numerous top colleges and universities. Some of these courses might be relevant to your desired job retraining.
If you’re currently working for a company, check to see if your employer has a retraining program. Ask your boss or colleagues. If you’re asking your boss, make it clear that while you’re enjoying what you are doing, that you would like more of a challenge. Start there, gain their confidence that you are not going to quit, then ask for their suggestions. Carry on from there.
3. Use the right tools.
Get tapped into social media. Use social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, MySpace, etc. The writing’s on the digital wall, and a lot of opportunities are found through social media.
The key to surviving the work force changes is to embrace them, embrace the online age. In face, it’s utter crucial. Older workers who are not comfortable with social media or even just searching for work online will lose job opportunities to those who make it part of their career improvement toolkit.
Learn to leverage your networks. Newspaper career sections are thinning out where they are not disappearing altogether. Sure, it’s not easy searching online for work that you don’t even know is there. It’s not like grabbing a newspaper and a red pen to circle possible jobs to apply to. That’s why social networks are so valuable, allowing people to pass on job alerts.
Use an RSS job search Radar. Most job listings websites allow you to either receive alerts by email or to subscribe to an RSS feed. You can go one step further by employing a tool such as Yahoo Pipes to build a custom RSS Radar for your job search RSS Radar. An RSS Radar is a web agent that aggregates and filters the RSS feeds of multiple websites (in this case job sites). Supply your own filtering criteria (location, salary, title, etc.) to only produce the job listings that you really want.
4. Build your own business. Moonlighting used to be widely frowned on, but having a side business is so much more common now, especially since job security is dwindling. There are many opportunities online, though this approach has negative connotation thanks to the hucksters. If you’ve been reading Geekpreneur in the past, you know that there are legitimate ways to earn money working online.
5. Write about it. If you happen to be one of those fortunate types who saved enough money to coast through a period of joblessness, put it to good advantage. Take some time off, maybe even write about your skills, to share your knowledge with others in online articles. Depending on what and how much information you share, not only might you get a regular following of readers, you might earn some income from it, either as a freelance writer or by monetizing your own website. It’s not for everyone, but it is possible.
Here are a few more specific approaches to career planning.
1. Make a list of terms used in your industry. Are there any types of jobs directly or indirectly connected with those? For example, “health” has work in the medical field, pharmaceutical, and even fitness. There’s a lot of room in there to find a career.
Explore work that’s peripherally related to niches you like. There might be something you’ve overlooked. Brainstorm a list of the types of jobs in your current industry. Think also of related niches not being satisfied, and what kind jobs might be there for the filling. You might even be able to create your own job – that IS the entrepreneurial mindset.
It’s been said that sometimes you find your dream career quite by accident. But in fact, it’s often not what you’d set out to do.
2. Track trends. There are many ways to track trends (job, technology, consumer, society), and doing so could lead you to opportunities that you hadn’t thought of before. Some tracking tools to consider:
- Headlines. TV, newspaper, websites.
- Google Trends.
- Digg, Reddit, Mixx, and other social media voting sites where fresh articles are headlined.
- Job boards.
- Freelance job listings.
- Yahoo Pipes for custom filters.
3. Brainstorm opportunities. List 100 possible ways to make money in the niche/ industry that you are interested in. Write down everything that comes to mind without judgement. When you have 100 items, filter out those that don’t interest you or are not feasible. With what’s left, compare to any trends you’ve been tracking. Opportunities might reveal themselves.
Whatever approach you take, and whether you’re looking for a salaried career or something more entrepreneurial, learn to be resilient and pragmatic. Consider multiple sources of income instead of relying on just one, and you might find far more opportunities suitable for you than you had considered.