Spring Clean for Your Job Search

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As we look to spring and thoughts turn to spring cleaning, planting flowers and mowing lawns, it's also a good time to re-evaluate your job search plans. Has your approach been working well for you, or have you met with little success?

If your job search strategy isn't panning out the way you planned, consider the following changes:1. First thing to evaluate: does your target job exist?

Are you looking for a job that doesn't exist? It's possible your type of position is no longer being filled as a full-time job, but will go to a contractor. Some positions are being replaced with automated systems or being sent overseas, and other jobs are going to contractors and short-term workers instead of permanent employees. (Temp to perm has become a reality for a lot of people.)

Even if you're doing everything "right," if you are looking for a job that doesn't exist, you're likely going to continue to be very frustrated. Your choice? Either a) hang a shingle (maybe a virtual shingle) and think about going into business for yourself as an independent contractor or b) read on!

2. Take some classes.

It's easy to retrain for job skills, as many community colleges and other service organizations offer classes and certifications. You can also turn to online classes, either for credit or for your own edification. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which are offered by a variety of educational institutions online, are increasingly available. A study by Duke University and RTI International said 73 percent of employers would appreciate candidates who completed MOOCs.

3. Is it time to change career paths or directions altogether?

Research and identify growth fields and careers to learn if you may be a good candidate for opportunities in the new industry. Make sure to target your resume and other materials to your new goal employer. (This is very important, as transitioning between fields is not an easy thing to do, especially when there is a lot of competition for jobs.) Talk to people about their work and prospects in their industries. Read articles that feature future projections for industries and identify those that interest you and where your skills are a good match. Be realistic about your interests and opportunities, and you may find a new field is just the ticket to a new job.

4. Make sure your job search materials help you stand out from the crowd.

If you have a tired and outdated resume, people will assume you are not suitable for their workplace. For example, nix the "objective" and the language detailing what the company can do for you. Focus on what you offer the organization and more employers will come calling.

5. Don't be too picky.

Do you have a certain vision of the type of job you're willing to do? Maybe you don't even LIKE the work you did in the past, but you have your mind set on doing it again. Have you been too particular about the type of people or places where you want to work? (A 20-minute commute - absolutely not! Work for him – are you kidding? When pigs fly!) I am not suggesting you take just "any" job, but it may be a good time to take a good, long, hard look at what you want and decide if you need to change your goals.

Maybe a longer commute is worth it if you can land a job at X company or in Y field or industry. Decide what parameters you can change and refocus your search with new vigor. You never know how opening up a few new windows may result in an open door.

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