A reader asks, "I'm out of work and don't think I can afford a career coach. What do you recommend I do?"
My response: Although a career coach can help you develop tailor-made strategies based on your goals, here are five things you can begin doing today that will help you move in the right direction.
1. Try Some Self-assessment and Introspection
Getting reconnected with yourself and your goals is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself - and it will help you in a job interview. Skills assessments or personality/behavior assessments have been around for decades and are well known to help provide clarity to maximize strengths and leverage behavior for success in the workplace. Once you pinpoint the kind(s) of work you would like to do, you can start what I call the "marketing" phase.
2. Update Your Resume
Take your time with this. Assess not just your skills and responsibilities, but most importantly your accomplishments. What were the results of your efforts? Hiring managers want to see not just what you did, but why it matters. Remember to give yourself credit for the time you've spent volunteering - fill in the gaps on your resume by including some of the events and activities you have been involved in, and again, be sure to focus on your actions and the results.
3. Get Connected
Most likely, networking played a role in some or all of your efforts to obtain previous positions. Connect with people from your professional past by making a list of: people you have worked with or worked for, clients, classmates, friends and community members, to name a few. LinkedIn is a great place to start to find people you have lost touch with. Let your contacts know the kind of work you are looking for and keep them updated on your progress. I teach job seekers how to master networking skills - an art that many people are not comfortable with. Successful networking requires an authentic, focused, pro-active, and professional approach.
4. Get Support
There may be some days when you feel like your situation is never going to change. I don't believe we simply "get over" anything; rather, we get "through it". This is why having a support system of friends, family members, or a professional coach or counselor to whom you can tell the absolute truth is critical. Also, try reaching out to others who have been in the same situation in the past. If their job search was recent, ask them what tips they can give you - what worked and what didn't? Just being able to share and get support from other folks who have been in the same boat is invaluable.
5. Display a Positive, Pro-active Job Search
It's completely normal to have ups and downs throughout your job search, but be sure you don't exhibit the behavior of someone who is frustrated, worried or angry in public. People want to be around (and work with) people who are positive and confident. When you are talking with acquaintances, neighbors, employers, former co-workers or anyone who is not your trusted confidante, they should see you as moving forward with a clear plan and a positive attitude.
Ask the Writers
We love to hear from our readers. If you have something you would like to ask our writers, please send us your questions.