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Dear Teressa: How Do I Re-energize for My Dream Job Search?

October 8, 2013

Dear Teressa,Dear Teressa

I currently work part time in education and I absolutely LOVE IT!!! But I’m working a full time job I totally dislike. How does a single mother with two children, break into a career that she absolutely loves, even after exhausting her “network,” applying to numerous jobs in the education field, extremely active on LinkedIn and still not getting any results????

~LaKisha

Dear LaKisha,

I know how exciting it is to find what you love!  I’m glad for you!

According to your letter, you’ve already broken into the field that excites you.  That’s a big step, so don’t discount your success.  Build on it.  Your part-time position has provided you with the opportunity to identify your passion for education and gain valuable experience.

Given what sounds like a level of frustration, now might be a good time to take a deep breath and take stock of your situation.

When searching for a new position, in the same industry or a different one, it’s important to have a strategy – a well planned approach.  Assess your strategy against the following 10-point plan.  Going forward, incorporate any missing elements into your personal plan for achieving your dream.

  1. Identify the kinds of positions you’re interested in:  teaching assistant, classroom teacher, administrator, counselor, etc.
  2. Develop a solid understanding of the required skills, experience and qualifications for the position you want.  Conducting informational interviews with people in the field can enhance your knowledge of the range of positions and the experience entrants are expected to have.  It can also help you build a network.
  3. Review your professional background – work experience, education and training, volunteer work – and note all relevant training and experience.  If you need to fortify your knowledge or experience base, get the necessary training and certifications, volunteer if you must.  Fill the gaps that your review surfaces.
  4. Work with an expert to develop a professional resume, including a statement of your goals, one that positions your applicable experience in a way that will get the attention of prospective employers.
  5. Today, many application processes and introductions, are electronic. When you apply for positions online, or send written material to those with whom you network, be sure your all of your communications represent you well – a crisp, business-like appearance and relevant content.
  6. Work with someone who is an experienced interviewer for the kinds of positions you’re interested in.  Have the person ask the kinds of questions that are likely to be posed in an interview.  Practice your responses.  This is not a suggestion to fabricate experience you don’t have.  It is an invitation to do what professionals in all fields and at all levels do.  They prepare.  Thinking through how you would like to respond to interview questions will get you ready for the day you sit face-to-face with a hiring manager or panel.  Practice so that you present yourself honestly and to your best advantage.
  7. Continue working your network to identify opportunities.  Seek out face-to-face interactions.  They better cement you in the minds of your advocates than do emails or phone calls.
  8. After each contact with a prospect, a networking opportunity or an interview, ask yourself:
    ▪       “What did I learn about this organization, my field of interest, etc?”
    ▪       “What did I do/say well during this conversation or interview and should remember to do/say next time?”
    ▪       “What should I do/say differently, next time?”
    Keep notes on what you learn, what you did well and your plans for improvement.  Review them before each job search conversation – whether it’s networking or an interview.
  9. Write a thank you note to those with whom you network, have informational conversations or interview.
  10. Lastly, be patient.  It takes time to get well-prepared and conduct your search.  Today, it’s not uncommon for searches to take six months to a year, or more.  What is important is being persistent and strategic.

LaKisha, thank you for sharing your question with the Spirit of Purpose community.  Your question will serve others because it speaks to what’s on the minds of many.

Wishing you a clear path to your dream.  Looking forward to hearing how you progress.

Teressa Moore Griffin

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