How do you know when it’s time for a career change?

In yesterday’s blog I listed a few of the reasons why people choose to change career paths. But how do you know when it’s time for you to make such a massive change? Sure, your boss is annoying this week, but does that mean you should give up ten years of seniority to take a chance on something new?

If you currently have a job the best answer to this question is that if you constantly find your self thinking that you need to make a change – well then you probably need to make a change.

If you are currently out of work, it can be easier to make a change, but it’s harder to know if it’s the right time. However, being unemployed offers some flexibility. You can look for jobs in your current field, and other fields your interested in moving to at the same time, or you can go back to school while you’re looking for a job.

No matter what else is going on, being unemployed is a great incentive to rethinking your career path.

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Welcome to New Career Week – this week is going to be a themed week focusing on everything involved in taking the step to start over in a new line of work.

Starting over in a fresh career isn’t easy. In fact, it can be fairly terrifying to take the step and say ‘it’s time for something new’. There are a number of good reasons to take that step though. A few of the more common are:

  • Dead end job: If your current career is just a dead-end, you may want to find a new path.
  • Out of Work: Many people start a new career after loosing a job, and having trouble finding a similar position.
  • Work Stress: Whether you just don’t like the job you have, or are under high level pressure day in and day out, work stress can take a serious toll on your health – and has a lot to do with many people seeking new career paths.
  • A Dream: Some of us have always had a dream job we just didn’t go after. Maybe it’s time to pursue that dream.

Over the next week, we’ll review how to know when it’s time to change careers, finding a new career path training and education, and finding how old experience can help in pursuing a new career.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a lot of great info available for job hunters. Here are a few good blogs you may not have come across before.

Get that Job Online is a long running blog covering offering job hunting advice, links to useful information and coverage of the economic situation.

george’s employment blawg is written by St. Louis labor and employment lawyer George Lenard. In it he covers employment law, working trends, career and job hunt information and the labor market.

The Labor and Employment Law Blog stopped adding new posts last June, but for three years it provided information on labor and hiring laws for HR reps and managers. I think it’s just as important, if not more important for a job hunter to know this information than an HR rep. You can’t protect yourself if you don’t know your rights and responsibilities.

Finally, Breakout Resumes focuses, as its name suggests on resume advice and interviews, but touches on all aspects of a job search.

An increasing number of employers are asking applicants to agree to a credit check before they can be hired. 16 states are contemplating laws against employers demanding credit checks, according to the KYPost; but most job hunters are willing to deal with the check if it gets them a job.

The US Postal Service will be cutting more jobs this year. Legally, the USPS can’t have layoffs, instead as current employees retire they are not hiring replacements. The USPS is expected to lose around 30,000 jobs this year.

Lastly in the week’s news, today is the last day to participate in Making Referrals Week. Small businesses depend on referrals more than any other form of advertising, and the more business they get, the more employees they need. Some economists feel that it will be small businesses more than anything else that pull us out of our economic lows, so let’s give them our support.

When is the last time you told a ‘white lie’ on your resume?

Most job hunters do at one point or another, and I have some very serious advice on this point: DON’T.

The common thought behind resume white lies seems to be that an employer can’t possibly check the details of every resume they receive, they’ll never notice a little exaggeration or fib.

And for the most part, that’s true. After all most resumes don’t get a very detailed examination – it takes less then a minute for a resume to make the short list or end up in the shredder.

There is some detailed information available on why resume lies are a bad idea. However, the short version goes like this:

Aside from being ethically wrong – not a minor consideration in its own right – you will probably get caught eventually. Resumes that make the short list can frequently go under much closer scrutiny then the initial glance over every resume receives. And even if something doesn’t pop when the employer checks your references or background, they will notice when you don’t have the skill you claimed.

If the lie is found out before you are offered a position, you will not be offered one. If it is found out after you are made an offer but before you are officially hired, the offer will (legally) be withdrawn. If it is found out after you are hired, you will likely be dismissed from the position, and depending on the details of the ‘white lie’ may face legal action.

There are far better ways to present yourself in a positive light then lying about what you have done and can do. Just don’t.

Not everyone stops to think about what kind of resume they are writing. But everyone should. Picking a resume style that highlights your strengths can make a huge difference in a job search.

There are generally 3 kinds of resumes: chronological, functional and combination.

A chronological resume focuses on job history. Chronological resumes suit you if you have had mostly steady employment over the past several years, and have made strong contributions to the companies you have worked for.

If you haven’t built up an employment history – either because your new to the job market or have frequent gaps in your employment, but you have skills and qualifications that can benefit the company you are applying with, a functional resume may be the way to go. A functional resume focuses on what you can offer the company now, rather than what you have done in the past.

Finally, a combination resume is a mix of the other two styles. If you have a decent, but less than wonderful, job history, and have a reasonably strong skill set to offer, a combination resume may be the way to go.

Whatever style of resume you pick, make sure you put your best foot forward. Because employers don’t spend much time looking at each resume, it’s even more important that your resume tells the employer at a glance why you are perfect for the job.

I have frequently been amazed, appalled, and horrified at some of the interviews I have conducted.

Ladies and gentlemen, while not generally considered a tool for a job hunter, I commend to your attention a good ettiquette guide. Miss Manners is the classic of these, but many good examples exist and can be found in your local book store or library.

In the mean time, please consider the following recommendations:

  • Turn off your cell phone. Or if you must leave it on, set it on silent – NOT vibrate. And please don’t pull it out to check in the middle of the interview.
  • Take a shower the morning of the interview, and wear clean clothes.
  • Remember what your mother taught you – don’t interrupt, and say thank you before you leave.
  • Gum, breath mints, hard candy and anything else in your mouth should be swallowed or spit out before you arrive for the interview.
  • And don’t forget to be respectful.

Good luck!

Following up on yesterdays mention that the details of the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports can help with focusing a job search, USAToday has posted an interactive article on how different industries are expected to do in 2010. If you have are looking at relocating this year, have several different industries you can focus your job hunt on, or are considering going back to school for training in a new industry, you might want to take the time to check out this 2010 Job Growth Forecast.

According to USAToday, construction and manufacturing are two of the industries still faces serious job losses in 2010, but even in those industries there are some bright spots – among them Colorado is expected to see increased hiring in both of those industries.

If you are looking to change careers, education and health care are still expecting steady growth nationwide. You may not be ready to go back to school for 2 years to become a nurse or paramedic – but EMT training is far shorter, and can help get a job at a clinic, hospital or ambulance service.

Knowing what industries are hiring in your state, or what state is the best move for your industry, is always useful when making a decision about a job hunt, or a possible move.

The Federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics released unemployment information for February on Friday. At the moment unemployment is holding steady at 9.7 %

It’s important for any job hunter to keep track of the economy and unemployment situation. Knowing that employment is increasing in part time temp work, and falling off in construction can help you target your job search. So take the time each month to read up not just on the national unemployment rate, but the unemployment details the BLS puts out, and the local employment situation in your area.

It is worth noting that the unemployment rate only counts folks who have been actively looking for work in the past 4 weeks. It does not count what the Bureau of Labor and Statistics refers to as ‘discouraged workers’ – those who want employment but have given up trying to find it. The number of discouraged worked has nearly tripled since last February – don’t let yourself become one of them, and if you are, it may be time to rebuild your enthusiasm and try again. As hard as the job hunt can be sometimes, there is a job out there for you, if you keep on looking.

Keeping track of your job hunt – If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, job-hunt.org offers advice on not going insane while job hunting.

According to the Wall Street Journal, layoff numbers in February are the lowest since 2006.

A lot of job hunters hate those personality tests that are becoming more and more common. Here are some tips on taking employee selection tests.

Hope you had a good week. Be well, be safe, and keep hunting. I’ll see you tomorrow.

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