professional skills

Posted: January 2, 2013
By: Clay Cerny

A new year is a good time to make dreams and wishes turn into reality.  For those who want to change something about their career, here are a few things to keep in mind:

If you don’t have a job

The job marketing is improving, but far from great.  You will need to work hard and be patient.  That said, several of my clients found new jobs in December, which is normally a slow month for hiring.  Keep the faith, and keep looking.

My number one recommendation for anyone currently looking for work would be to review all of the tools you are using.  Start with networking.  Is there anyone you haven’t contacted or anyone you need to follow up with?  Next, give your resume and cover letter a second look.  Are both documents selling the points that employers want to see?  Finally, be ready when the phone rings.  Practice your interviewing skills

If you have a job

Be ready for change.  Companies will continue to lay off employees, often without warning.  That’s the bad news.  What’s good?  Some companies are hiring, and a few are even paying higher wages.  The trend for the past five years has been small raises or no raise at all.  The only way for most people to get a decent increase in pay is to find a new job.  Be ready if someone comes to you with an opportunity.  Better still, make your own opportunity through networking and applying for new positions.

If you are a student

While the news is also slightly better for college students (more jobs, slightly higher wages), it’s still not good.  How can you stand out in a competitive market?  Be aware of the professional skills that you are developing in classes, projects, and internships.  When you look for a job, present those skills in your resume and during interviews as something an employer should value.

Whatever your career status, take some time over the next week or two to prepare for whatever 2013 will bring – good or bad.  The more you prepare now, the more likely you will be happy about your career on January 1, 2014.  Happy New Year.

Posted: December 28, 2012
By: Clay Cerny

In a recent post, I described a client who is being laid off because of a trend to make employees buy their trucks and routes.  We could debate this managerial strategy.  As I wrote, I’m not a fan of making employees carry most of the risk.  However, my client faced a different, more immediate problem.  He needed a job.

My client assumed that that all trucking companies were following the same model.  Maybe more are, but not all.  We quickly identified four companies that pay drivers as employees and do not require that they own their trucks.  I also talked to him about other ways he could use his skill as a driver to earn a living.

My client’s initial problem was that he faced a career roadblock without thinking about alternatives, ways to work around a problem.  In the face of job loss, most of us go through a similar type of despair or denial.

What should you do if you or a friend are facing a career roadblock?  First, analyze the situation calmly and rationally.  Ask this question:  What kind of employers need my skills?  Make a detailed list of your professional skills and start thinking about what kind of industries and companies employee people with those skills

Another good way to get around road blocks is to talk with people you’ve worked with in the past, especially supervisors or managers who appreciated your work.  Don’t ask them to help you get a job.  That’s a big turn off.  Instead, ask them for advice.  What skills do they see as your strongest?  Where do they think you should look for work?  Do they have any insight about how you might change careers?  Humans love to give advice (especially bloggers).  Take advantage of that resource.

There are other ways around career roadblocks, too many to list here.  The key is to recognize that you are stuck and find a way to move forward.  Keep a positive attitude and stay open to new ideas.  For many successful professionals, a career roadblock offers an opportunity to find a new, better job.  The first step is always to believe in yourself and know that you can move forward.