Every day provides an opportunity to do better than the day before. The new year always brings with it resolutions on how to improve, and getting money and finding work that we enjoy is almost always at the top of the list. Read through the following tips and apply them on your journey. Create your own reality and never accept defeat.
- Identify your personal skill sets. Assessing the things that you love, like, have experience with and are good at is the first step in finding a career and long term employment. Take a top-to-bottom inventory of skills and interests; identify industries that need those skills; and then update, adapt, and refine those skills with short-term training programs that quickly lead to paying jobs.
- Create a personal marketing plan. Once you have evaluated your skills, you’ve got to develop a plan on how to get yourself known by the people who are potential employers and/or funders. In this job market, there are literally thousands of people competing for the same positions. While maintaining professionalism, think of ways to distinguish yourself to potential employers. This might include learning about their personal interests, and sending letters customized to reflect their tastes, or tastefully designing your resume to reflect the branding of targeted companies.
- Learn to manage your emotions. The frustration of facing a myriad of nos, next times, and not today’s can kill get your job search even before it gets started if you let it. Prepare yourself for the journey by recognizing that nothing comes easy, and that a ton of disappointments will only lead to major successes if you persevere and stick to your plan. Make the time to talk about your feelings with someone, or even create your own support group. Do not allow negative emotions to strangle your future.
- Don’t let the ex ‘X’ you out. Criminal records often plague Black men seeking employment, but even this hurdle can be surmounted with a plan. From looking into state laws that protect ex-prisoners’ rights, to practicing how to deal with interview questions regarding incarceration, it is possible and essential to tackle this issue head on by applying the right information.
- Get a degree or specialized training. Now is the time to invest in a college degree, a master’s degree, or gain skills in a technical profession. A high level of education is not a guarantee of job security, but it is becoming a must to be competitive. During this recession, most of the jobs lost were of the low-skill, livable wage variety that many blacks have relied on for decades. According to Businessweek, the portion of jobs that will require a college education or higher over the next 10 years could increase to 63 percent. Don’t take the risk of being left behind, and use this time to acquire the highest level of education possible.
- Find an internship or volunteer. No matter how old you are, volunteering and/or interning are excellent ways to get the inside track on job openings at organizations. It’s a great way for an employer to assess your skills and motivations. It also opens up networking opportunities as well, since you’ll be able to communicate with all sorts of individuals. Giving your time can also help you build your resume and stay active between full-time positions.
- Clean up your credit. More employers than ever are doing credit checks on potential applicants. Get ahead of the game by investigating your credit status: Attain copies of your credit report, dispute entries that are incorrect, and enter into relationships with creditors to develop plans to eliminate debts. Take steps to re-establish good credit, like opening a secured card and paying current bills on time. It is never too late to start improving your credit rating, which can help your job prospects.
- Improve your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Time between jobs is an excellent period to work on “soft skills,” like making eye contact, delivering short verbal pitches of your professional abilities, and conducting practice interviews. Similarly, “social skills training” sounds fluffy, but the ability to get along with others and be perceived as “likable” is central to getting hired and retaining employment.
- Enhance your network. African-Americans tend to participate in networking groups and career sites like LinkedIn less often than other groups. It is critical to break free of our cultural tradition of “sticking to our own” in the job search arena. Learn about professional organizations and clubs related to your fields of expertise, and utilize as many web networking sites as possible. Ask for business cards, and follow up with new contacts easily using online tools.