STAY WHERE YOU ARE until you find the position you are seeking. We all get frustrated with our jobs and are tempted to tell the boss what to do with the job. DON'T, it will create more problems in the future than you can imagine. When you tell a prospective employer that you quit your last job because you couldn't cope with some aspect of it (say a boss that didn't really appreciate you and seldom, if ever, gave you any positive feedback), the employer envisions you as not being able to deal with similar problems in their office or plant. The ability to tolerate a less-than-desirable work situation goes with the territory in most positions.
THE SEARCH MAY TAKE MONTHS in order to find just the right position. You should take your time in finding a position appropriate to your experience, education, and skills. The rule of thumb often suggested is to allow one month of search time for each 10K of salary. Thus, for a position paying 60K, 6 months is a reasonable time to allow for locating a new career opportunity. It is extremely important that you find a position that is compatible with your skills, temperament, ethics, and career goals. In our resume service we frequently interview people who have moved too hastily and within months are seeking to reposition themselves with another firm. That doesn’t look good on the resume and it doesn’t provide you with the level of confidence needed when searching for new employment.
HONE YOUR SKILLS by taking seminars, workshops, and classes that bring you up to speed in the occupation and industry in which you are seeking employment. Community colleges, adult education centers, and universities provide ample opportunities to upgrade your skills. It is critical today to be computer literate and possess minimal keyboarding (typing) skills to effectively utilize the programs applicable to your position and responsibilities. If you cannot honestly say that you are familiar with Windows, a popular spreadsheet program, and either MS Word or Corel WordPerfect, you had best head toward your nearest education center.
DEVELOP A MARKETING PLAN that includes: generating a list of positions and firms that you are targeting; preparing a professional appearing résumé, cover letter, and related marketing materials (such as references); expanding your professional network; and becoming active in professional and community organizations.
TAKE CARE OF THE DETAILS by getting an e-mail address, staying current regarding local, national, and business news, rewording your answering machine and cell phone message (no cone-head jokes or heavy metal music), editing your personal homepage (if applicable) to insure that it is appropriate for viewing by a potential employer.
SHARPEN YOUR INTERVIEWING SKILLS by reading about the industry in which you wish to work. Professional magazines, the business section of a local newspaper, the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and the CNN Financial/Business site on the Internet can all provide valuable information regarding specific and general industry trends. Another technique that helps freshen your interview skills is taking advantage of every opportunity to interview, even for positions that aren’t at the top of your list.
THE BEST JOBS ARE USUALLY NOT ADVERTISED as executives at most firms use their professional networks–industry associations, Rotary or other service club affiliations, business and personal associates, golf/tennis friends—to put out feelers and locate candidates who might be qualified for a position they have open or a new position that is being considered. Nelson Bolles, the career guru, suggests that only 9% of employment vacancies are filled via the classifieds. I suspect it might be a bit higher today, but not much.