How To Effectively Compete In A Tough Job Market

Getting In Gear For Career Success

prepared financially in case of a job loss.

“By the time I got laid off, I wasn’t debt-free, but I was prepared.” Relying on savings and severance, McDonald, 36, decided at the beginning of 2003 to devote his energy to new career goals.

Volunteering helped jumpstart McDonald’s early gigs in video production. “I volunteered on student films. If someone was coming to town and [was] working on a small film, I would volunteer. Then I started getting calls from all these different avenues–people [I'd met] where I volunteered, people from the school. I’ve had to turn things down.”

In the past year, he’s worked on the filming of the Fourth of July Concert on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the NFL Kickoff Show, and Black Entertainment Television’s Walk of Fame show honoring Aretha Franklin.

While McDonald was successful in finding a new career path that fulfills his passion, there are many opportunities in a variety of fields that professionals often overlook in seeking employment. Experts offer advice on how to be more proactive in your search.

Forget your job title. “We need to look at the résumé and not the job title and job level in [the] industry,” explains Hall. “[Opportunities are lost when] we don’t connect the skills from our résumé to the skills industries and companies are looking for.” She gives an example of a vice president of marketing with a consumer packaging background who limits their search to similar positions. “[As a recruiter,] I can call and say, ‘Here’s an aluminum company in a B to B market who needs exactly that skill.’ [Th
e candidate] says, ‘Oh, no. I want Kraft or Tide.’ I say okay. We don’t push.”

Thinking about skills more conceptually than literally, says Hall, helps job seekers think more broadly and become more receptive to opportunities they may come across.

Look at nontraditional industries. “A lot of folks who are very positively-motivated like to go after what I call the ‘sexy’ jobs,” says Watson. “In an economy like this … maybe a person who was in high tech [should consider] distribution.” There are many instances when experience in areas such as sales, project management, and marketing can be transferred to other industries. According to Watson, many less popular companies have “upgraded their workforce significantly [by] pursuing refugees–the best and brightest from the glamorous world of tech.”

Once you’ve established yourself in your new position, you may have even more opportunities than before. “[If you're] a person who delivers results,” he continues, “you are able to distinguish yourself fairly rapidly.”

Expect a pay cut. It may not be the case in every situation, but professionals should expect to make significantly less money when switching industries.

“People look at their salary history and they feel that because they made X, then that’s something that they always should continue to make,” Watson explains. “But salary history is directly tied to the value that the company [where] you worked placed on the specific knowledge that you have. Once you move outside of being a holder

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