Bridgette A. Lacy writes monthly about resources for the unemployed.
Durham resident Tom Rossetti decided to repackage himself as he searched for a new job. The 59-year-old Rossetti shifted from highlighting experiences to showcasing the talents he gleaned from various positions including those as a human resources consultant, café owner and car salesman.
His strategy paid off. Earlier this month, Rossetti was hired as a consultant care manager for Resolvit IT and Management Consulting in Raleigh.
Rossetti moved to the Triangle last summer, when his wife's job transferred her here from Boston. He worked with Raleigh career coach John M. O'Connor on ways to rethink his whole approach to the job search.
"I thought rather than pigeonhole myself, I should capitalize on all my experiences," Rossetti said. He highlighted his experience in customer service, sales and human relations to give him an edge.
You could apply the same method to your job search. It's a new year. It's time to revitalize, re-energize and rethink your job search.
O'Connor says to realize that values are the heart of the matter.
"Think clearly and creatively about your career options," he says. "You need to find out what matters to you in this work life. Ask tough questions. ... What can I accomplish through work? What impact on others will make the most difference? When have I been most happy? Find out what makes you unique, what gifts you possess, what energizes you and what actions add positive value to others."
Life coach Joe Green believes that 80 percent of the job search is mental stamina. That's why he created the Wake Tech Community College course, "Finding Your Compass: Where Are You Going and Why?"
This class is tailor-made for the long-term unemployed - those out of work eight months or more. "They have run up against brick walls," he explains. "They come to my class with all their tires flat. A lot of their energy has been zapped by rejection. Their belief in themselves is beginning to get worn," Green said.
"My class is designed is to put the air back in their tires and send them back out there."
During Green's 16-hour course, he leads students through an exploration, helping them find the mental stamina to hang on as they navigate searching for a new job in the changing workforce.
Green concentrates on helping students identify characteristics of heading north. That translates into clarity of vision, positive thinking, a solid belief in self, confidence, and moving with purpose and taking action.
Some people who have been unemployed find themselves heading south because they are worn down by trying to find work. They suffer from confusion, negative thinking, low self-esteem and uncertainty.
Green offers simple steps to students to keep them motivated, such as avoid the bad news of a souring economy as you look for new opportunities. "If we give in, we can become paralyzed," he says.
After students are set in the right direction, Green helps them clarify their personal vision. For many of the professional men and women who are his students, it has been a long time since they thought about what they want to do. Participants are asked about 30 questions about their talents, skills and strengths to aid them in figuring out their next move.
They get to dream again like they did as children or young adults before their lives were set on autopilot. They identify goals, obstacles and actions. "They leave with an action plan," Green says.
"We all walk through difficult circumstances, but we can survive them if we keep the characteristics of north."
Deb Hadley, dean of career readiness and employment resources at Wake Tech, says start with a honest self-appraisal. To re-energize your search, reflect on what's gone well and what hasn't. Analyze why certain strategies haven't worked.
One tool she refers job seekers to is the U.S. Department of Labor's website, www .mynextmove.org , which has tasks, skills and salary information, and features more than 900 careers. Job seekers rethinking their choice of career can also enroll in Wake Tech's new course, "Career Exploration of 16 Career Clusters and Pathways" starting Feb. 15, and "Career Makeover." The next class starts Monday, and another is scheduled for Feb. 15.
Both "Career Exploration" and "Career Makeover" are free for the unemployed and underemployed. To register, visit hrd.waketech.edu/.
Hadley also suggests getting out of the house and conducting informational interviews at companies you are interested in. See if an employee will meet you for a cup of coffee. Most people like to talk about what they do. Find out what kind of skills and training they have.
Too many applicants spend too much time behind their computers reviewing job postings instead of researching the companies they want to work for and networking with people who can help them get there.
"The reality of it is, a lot of jobs are not posted," Hadley says. "You need to go out and talk to people. Volunteer. Take a part-time job. Take skill-enrichment courses. Conduct informational interviews."
Hadley says job seekers should spend about 35 percent of their time networking; 30 percent researching companies; 25 percent applying for positions and only 10 percent cruising online job sites.
Don't confuse reading job postings with actually researching companies, Hadley advises. What are companies looking for? Employers desire candidates with good communication skills, flexibility and positive attitudes. Employers also want problem solvers who don't need a lot of direction.
So make sure you résumé reflects some of those traits. In short, Hadley says employers want to know: Can you do the work? Will you do the work? And what's it going to be like to work with you?
"Be willing to embrace change," O'Connor says. "Many people are missing opportunities to interview or win positions because of what may be considered little things. Embracing change, learning from it and not running from it allows you to adapt. To re-energize your career, make a lot of little changes. Update your wardrobe to market yourself toward what you want to do, not what you have done. Make sure your résumé is tailor-made to the opportunities you seek. Push yourself and invest time in improving all your communication skills, including online chats, emails and profiles on social networks."
"When you face unemployment, one of the tendencies is to freeze up or hold on, and that's not healthy," he says. "Through the years, I have seen that those who are the most flexible and good-natured about unemployment seem to land a job quicker."