The Job Coaches: Take steps to retool skills, rethink options

Dr. Dorothy P. MooreBy Dorothy Perrin Moore

A new beginning requires re-examining one’s skill set. To assist, academic institutions are offering programs that address the needs of workers in transition.

Among the types of offerings are certification programs, part-time career re-engineering and more. The objective, perhaps best stated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is to enable people to “reconnect, renew, refuel, relaunch, re-enter, retool, reinvent, rekindle, reinvigorate, redefine, re-create, rethink, re-establish and re-equip.”

How can this approach assist the woman in transition who has no definite job prospect? First, she should focus on a personal profile based on an inventory of her talents. This will enable her to examine the full spectrum of job and career options she is capable of filling. It requires thorough research on prospective firms in fields of her competency. Then, she must use this knowledge to build more flexible approaches for new career options.

The position you are seeking may only exist because you show an employer how your set of skills can contribute to the firm’s bottom line. Developing a new profile and self-image can lead to creating a job niche. For example, assume you are a recent journalism graduate or laid off reporter, but the newspaper business has reduced columns and coverage due to a fall in subscriptions and advertising. How do you take your set of writing skills, which the majority of people in the labor market do not have, and turn it in to a creative position?

If you present yourself as a reporter primarily, you have not renewed, refueled or relaunched. You may be presenting the image that narrows your job opportunities. In short, you are showing employers your skill set in a closed box. The real skill you have is the ability to write, to articulate, to communicate, to market, to state things clearly, to improve the numerous essential documents all firms generate. Market it.

Suppose your background is in fabric design, but due to the large number of textile companies that have left the Carolinas, there appears no way for you to get your foot in the doors that remain. How can you use your creativity to launch your job search in new directions? Looking at the field more broadly is one beginning. Closely examine the spectrum of jobs that are being advertised. Visualize where additional openings might occur. Then determine what business skills might best fill out your resume for these potential openings. You might want to add some courses in marketing and advertising from your local college or technical school to expand your job search opportunities and also to develop new networks, friends or associates who may recommend you to an employer.

There are other avenues. If you are still in school, you are probably already aware of the vast array of services offered by the institution’s career service center. Graduates, and sometimes those unable to complete a degree, may not be aware that these services also are available to them. In many cases, institutions wave fees for the services in the interest of building goodwill (and possibly attaining future contributions). Many extend the services to members of the community as well.

If you elect retooling by taking a new program of study, it will be important to determine as nearly as possible what your future set of skills will be and how they will relate to the job market. Watch out for quick fixes that have no new jobs attached or require a substantial investment on your part. Stay focused on the return on investment for your time, effort and dollars.

Most of all, remember that you are the framer of your image and skill set. The steps you take in retooling are important.

Do the homework. Effort and perseverance count. Make at least three new contracts every day. Stay healthy, avoid hibernation and keep up your exercise and fitness program.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is professor emerita of business and entrepreneurship at The Citadel.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 18, 2009.

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