Transition Guidance

Success during your transition is the result of an honest self-assessment, developing sound financial and career planning objectives, aggressively pursuing your job search strategies and a little hard work!

Title:2nd Career Planning

Author:Robert W. Lindsey. All rights reserved.

After conducting an honest self-assessment, you should have a better awareness of who you are, what you want and how your capabilities and interests might best relate to the world of business. You have also avoided the major error of those who seek just a job and don't plan for a career. For many seeking employment, the want ads or an employment agency become the sole source of information about jobs. There are better ways, and we will show you!

In a planned career campaign you research, evaluate, and direct your efforts to predetermined goals. Your plan should include: assessing yourself and where you "fit" in the job market, preparing financial goals, developing career goals, examining job hunting strategies, executing a resume and letter writing campaign, networking, mentoring, interviewing, and negotiating. When you first consider seeking a second career, or are graduating from school, or separating from the military, begin your planning at least six months out. Even in today's relatively favorable job market, it may take another six months before you land a job! Planning is vital to a short and successful job search, and timing should be a critical part of your plan. A plan can, and will, enhance your chances of not only finding a job, but finding the "best" job in the quickest period of time.

Job Classifications:

Finding where you "fit" into the job market is a critical, initial step in your job search. Don't sell yourself or your qualifications short, but don't waste time researching a career path that is not appropriate because of a lack of training, education or experience. If the career path you desire requires additional training or education, do it as soon as you can, before leaving your current job, graduating, or departing military service. You'll never regret the choice to improve yourself and your skills. Know the job classifications you're qualified to pursue; clarify them or change them as necessary.

The job market is so vast and complex it is best to approach it with a simplified view of classifications. Think of job classification more in terms of education, training, knowledge, responsibility, experience, and authority levels. Jobs are often classified into three markets or categories. These are:

  • Unskilled
  • Skilled or Semi-skilled
  • Professional

Unskilled - labor is the largest job market and requires the least amount of education. Repetitive tasks on production lines are typical of unskilled labor. Upward mobility is possible but requires a company willing to train internally. Responsibility in unskilled jobs is usually restricted to meeting standards established by the company. Pay can be minimum wage or higher.

Skilled & Semi-skilled - markets are generally associated with either the trades (electricians, plumbers, carpenters, masons, pipe-cutters, mechanics, etc.) or clerical occupations. Many skilled jobs require a great deal of responsibility, technical ability and knowledge. If you plan to enter the trades, study labor unions. In some states labor unions have gained a monopoly organizing the trade occupations. Knowledge of unions will also help you with the membership process when trying to get a job where unions are organized. While unions are experiencing an overall decline in the United States however, they usually still provide good pay and benefit packages. If it's a non-union, or "right to work" state, then it's a more competitive market and wages will tend to be lower.

Professional - The market is designed to accept those people who want specific positions in an organization as opposed to a job in general. Entry-level management positions are training levels used to progressively advance college graduates or new hires into greater areas of responsibility. Professional positions require:

  • Upward mobility in a chain-of-command or into a staff function
  • Significant leadership, supervisory or management skills
  • A college degree or high level of technical knowledge
  • Adding profits, stopping losses or fixing costs
  • Above-average people skills

While pay and benefits vary, they are usually good. However, the skilled trades in many cases have caught up with many professional jobs in overall pay. Many entry-level professionals don't make comparable wages for several years.

Job Search Principles:

As you start your job search remember the following principles: First, the "perfect candidate" principle dictates that in a hiring situation, the employer measures you and your skills against an "ideal" candidate. Your cover letter, resume and interview will be judged against this ideal candidate. The employer is looking for someone within specific guidelines. Therefore, you should stress the qualifications the employer wants, and ignore the ones you're missing. Never volunteer any information about yourself that doesn't fit the employer's ideal. Concentrate on the employer's major concerns - nothing more.

Second, the "weeding-out" principle is the process of eliminating candidates perceived as being wrong for the job so as to make the most efficient use of the interviewer's time. Given fifty applicants for two positions, the employer disqualifies eight applicants before giving any interviews and, during the interviews, weeds out six more candidates. The two positions are filled by the applicants who denied the employer any reason to disqualify them. Do not reveal too much information! Don't give a company a reason to weed you out. Do convince the employer you have the qualities desired, but not the liabilities.

The greatest adherents of this principle are the Human Resource or Personnel Departments. They sort though hundreds of letters and resumes weeding out inappropriate applicants. If you send your correspondence to (or if you are being interviewed in) a personnel office, they usually can't hire you but they can disqualify you. Remember to write directly to the person who is making the hiring decision. If you are inevitably interviewed by a human resource/personnel specialist, as you very likely will be, maintain your enthusiasm and positive interest, but as stated above, be careful about revealing too much and maintain your discretion.

The "Perception" principle states you are what an employer perceives you to be. It's not how smart, likable or valuable you are, but how you're perceived that matters. An employer will make their decision based on the perceptions of you formed in your brief interview and other encounters, and on little else.

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