A Field Guide for Voluntary & Involuntary Career Changers

Vasily Ingogly M.A., M.S. Copyright © 2007 Metier Career Coaching All Rights Reserved


Table of Contents

Letting Go

1. The Dilemma
2. Naming The Loss
3. Grieving The Loss
4. Exercise: Self Care Plan

6 7
7 8 9 10

Finding Career Satisfaction

1. Identifying Your Interests
2. Identifying Your Style (Strengths)
3. Identifying Your Needs
4. Identifying Your Ca&ing
5. Exercise: Interest Worksheet
6. Exercise: Strengths Worksheet

11 13 14 15 16 17

Defining Your Life Goals

1. Goals, Change, and Anxiety

Surviving Career Transitions


2. Congruency: Goals and Identity
3. Your Career Vision and Mission
4. Exercise: Setting Congruent Goals
5. Exercise: V alues and Personal Integrity
6. Exercise: Your Personal Vision

20 21 22 24 26

Figuring Out What You’re Good At

2. What Are Abilities and Ski&s?
2. Identifying Your Abilities and Ski&s
3. Exercise: Abilities and Goals
4. Exercise: Ski&s and Experience
5. Exercise: What’s Transferable?

28 30 31 33 34

Planning Your Career Trajectory

1. Analyzing and Setting Goals
2. Motivation and Success
3. Developing Short and Long Range Plans
4. Exercise: Analyzing Your Goals
5. Exercise: Your Motivation and Obstacles
6. Exercise: Developing Your Plan

35 39 40 42 43 44

Marketing Yourself In Your Chosen Niche

1. Career Choice and Career Satisfaction
2. Researching Career Niches

A. Career Assessment Tests Surviving Career Transitions

45 47


B. Internet Research C. Library/Bookstore Research D. Interviewing for Information

48 48 49

3. Developing a Personal Marketing Plan
4. Exercise: Living a Fulfi&ing Life
5. Exercise: Researching Career Niches
6. Exercise: Writing Your Marketing Plan

50 52 55 56

Writing Resumes That Get Interviews

1. Selecting Resume Focus and Format

A. The Chronological Resume B. The Functional Resume C. The Combination Resume D. The Curriculum Vitae 58 59 60 61


2. Selecting Resume Content
3.Writing Cover Letters
4. Preparing For The Interview
5. Exercise: Draft A Resume and Cover Letter
6. Exercise: Interview Practice Questions

62 65 67 68 69

Your Ca&ing And Your Life

1. Putting The Pieces Together
2. Growth As A way of Life
3. Tracking Your Progress
4. What’s The Next Step?

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70 72 73 74

5. Resources


cover photo used with permission of BigStockPhoto.com

Surviving Career Transitions




his Guide was originally developed as a workbook for a career transition

group at a church, to provide assistance and support to members of the parish who

were unemployed or underemployed. It has been edited to address the needs of those who have lost their jobs, or who are considering a voluntary change of job or career, either early in their careers or mid-career. Its advice will also be of interest to those who are facing retirement and wondering how they will find meaningful tasks in their new lives. Retirement is, after all, another kind of career, and some find a sense of true calling there that they never experienced in the workaday world. All those who the original Workbook targeted have since found other employment, and some of them have decided to change careers. May it be of use to all those who use it in their journey toward joyful, meaningful lives!

Vasily Ingogly M.A., M.S. Late Summer, 2007









Surviving Career Transitions


Letting Go


hange is almost always accompanied by some degree of grieving. Even if the change is leading you in a new and exciting direction that speaks deeply to who you are,

there is still an element of loss involved: perhaps loss of an earlier dream; or loss of a solid sense of security in your life; or loss of a sure income stream. Part of you is excited about the prospects; another part of you is fearful of failure (or even afraid of success); and still another part wonders: what have I done? What have I given up for the sake of something new and different? This applies to retirees as well as new and experienced career changers. Standing next to us in the shadows as we look toward the future is a cloud of witnesses: all those people we have been, and who we have left behind. Here is the child who wanted to be Indiana Jones and go on Great Adventures; here is the serious young college student who wanted to write the Great American Novel; here is the passionate young person new in her career and determined to Do Great Things and Make A Name For Herself. “We’ve been there before,” they say, shaking their heads sadly as they pull back into the darkness. “Down that road is the Adventure you never had because it wasn’t practical and the time wasn’t right. In this computer is the potential Novel you never wrote because you just couldn’t find the time or inspiration to do it. That Office in the corner should have been yours, but you decided it was best to settle for something less.” These ghosts know how to speak to us of what we have lost, and of the doubts and fears that made us lose those things. They know our limitations well, because it is our limitations that forced them into the shadows and stripped them of their power to effect change. But as you struggle with the loss and the doubt, who will speak for hope and the future? Which one of your inner selves will be your advocate? Are you ready to be that advocate for yourself?

Surviving Career Transitions




ne of the things we sometimes do to help us bear a loss is to deny ourselves the right to grieve. We might say things like this to ourselves: “I shouldn’t feel this way,”

or “I’m making a big deal over nothing,” or “I’m lucky to have this opportunity, I shouldn’t regret the past.” Or we throw ourselves into pursuit of change, telling ourselves we’ll deal with the loss later. It’s normal for human beings to have mixed feelings about life changes, and it’s normal for human beings to approach loss in different ways. Some of us deal with the loss immediately, recover, and move on. Others put off grieving until the time is right to face it (and there is sufficient time to grieve and let go). There is no standard timetable for grief, no “correct” template for the grieving process. It’s important for us to recognize, however, that whenever change happens to us, there will be something lost. The college graduate entering the job market has moved beyond her college days, and may be giving up friends and a lifestyle that has its own pleasures and terrors. The mid-life career changer may be giving up a certain vision of himself as a career person, and is in a sense starting over again. The retiree may have lost a sense of herself as a person with a clear direction in life and wonders how she will regain that sense of meaning in her life again. The fact that great and wonderful things may happen to us as the result of change does not eliminate the sense of sorrow and anxiety we feel because we are giving some things up. We should rejoice in the positive side of change; but we should also realize that we have a right to the sense of sorrow we feel for everything we have given up in choosing a different path. What will you have to give up for the sake of change, whether voluntarily or involuntarily?

Surviving Career Transitions




hen I left a 24-year-long career as a software professional to pursue graduate studies in psychology, I felt like I was turning my back on a solid career and success for the

unknown and the possibility of failure. Would I be able to make it on a reduced salary? Could I still get through a graduate-level program of studies? How would I handle being an intern, whose peers would be mostly folks fresh out of college and who would not understand what I had already accomplished in my life? How could I be doing this at an age when most of my peers were looking at retirement down the road? Although some friends were supportive, others questioned my sanity: “What are you doing, you have a great career; don’t throw it all away at your age!” In fact, I had been considering a career change for nearly fifteen years when I made the move and entered graduate school. It wasn’t the sudden, overnight move it appeared to be to others. I liked software development; I was an expert consultant on software development processes, and respected in my field. I had acquired an MS in computer science, and had provided consulting services to major national and international companies. Overnight, I went from expert to novice. It was a humbling experience. I felt that a chapter of my life had closed and a new one opened; and although I looked forward to the new chapter, yes, I felt some regret that the old one was no more. I grieved the loss and moved on, and resigned myself to exercising my software interests as an amateur. My former career would become my hobby. Since then, I’ve managed (much to my initial surprise) to integrate my software interests into my counseling and coaching career. My former career lives on, and I firmly believe that whatever skills we have achieved in our life can be transferred to a new career if we choose to do so. Mourn your loss, but look for opportunities to use the transferrable skills you have developed as you move into the next phase of your life.

Surviving Career Transitions




hat self-care do you need to do to help you manage stress during this time of change and loss? List one or more items in each category which you are ready and willing to commit

to doing over the next two weeks.

Physical (Exercise, Diet, Medical, etc.):

Mental (Managing Attitudes and Thoughts):

Emotional (Managing Feelings):

Social (Community, Family):

Spiritual (Worship, Prayer, Fasting, Meditation, Almsgiving, etc.):

Surviving Career Transitions


Finding Career Satisfaction


nterests include the types of activities that you are drawn to; these will need to be present in a job or career that you are considering if you are to stay motivated. It’s likely that we

are born with certain inclinations, and learn as we grow up that some activities are rewarding to us because of who we are. Other activities may attract us for intellectual, emotional, or other reasons. It is important to note that interests do not necessarily correlate with skills (we’ll talk about skills in a later session). Note that it is possible to be:

• Very interested in performing certain activities, but not yet possess the skills to perform them (this is often the case for young people starting out on a career, or sometimes for mid-life career changers who are looking at moving into a different career) • Highly skilled at performing certain activities, but have little real interest in them (this is sometimes the case for those who are experiencing “burnout” in a job they chose for pragmatic reasons rather than for an intrinsic interest in the field)

It’s important to understand that some people are drawn to working with machinery, and some are not; some like working with numbers and detail, some do not (and so on). We are made differently, and most of us understand this. However, in assessing how well certain careers fit us, we need to go deeper than this and figure out which activities we have experienced positively in our lives, and which negatively – and further, what it is about those activities that has caused us to experience them positively and negatively.

A person who always loathed mathematics in school, and who finds that working with numbers drains his energy probably would not find working as a mathematician, mathematics teacher, or accountant rewarding even if he was good at it. On the other hand, a person who found himself looking forward to doing his math homework in school, and who had a difficult time tearing himSurviving Career Transitions

self away from working with numbers, would probably find working as a mathematician, mathematics teacher, or accountant rewarding and would have the motivation to acquire the skills needed to do the job.

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tyle is the sum of the strengths you bring to the work environment when you are at your best. Your strengths define the way you prefer to get results on the job. Creating or find-

ing a work environment in which your strengths are appreciated and exercised is a big part of job satisfaction. Strengths are related to or derived from our personalities, which define who we are. We are probably born with certain aspects of our personalities, and its structure tends to develop very early in life. If you are forced to work in a way that stresses your limitations rather than your strengths, you will probably be uncomfortable in your work environment. Understanding our strengths and limitations is an important part of building careers that fit us.

It’s important to understand that different people have different strengths. One person’s ideal work environment may be hell on earth for another person because it allows the first person to use his strengths and does not allow the second person to use his strengths. For example, a person who is very good at getting people to work together effectively might not do well in a career where he has very little contact with people. A person who is very detail-oriented and good at pursuing every angle of a concept probably will not do well in a career context where he is he is forced to deal with the big picture only and required to develop high-level concepts and pass them on to others for completion. He’s likely to be perpetually frustrated by his job!

Recognizing and working within the boundaries defined by your strengths is not a sign of weakness; it’s part of recognizing that not every person can be as effective in every work environment. We’re all unique, and uniquely gifted.

Surviving Career Transitions




eeds include the things you need from your work environment to be at your best. This is the kind of support you need in a job to bring out your strengths, and to allow you to

work within your limitations. It’s likely that needs develop in response to the frustrations and rewards we experience as we try using our strengths in the pursuit of different activities. This process starts in childhood and continues through adolescence and young adulthood. So we see that career satisfaction involves finding or creating a career that allows you to follow your interests, using the unique set of strengths you have been gifted with, in a work environment that provides you with what you need to use your strengths.

Needs can be understood as polarities or continua of work environment characteristics; some examples include

• The need for clear direction versus the need for being a self-starter • The need for task variety versus task dependability • The need for harmony versus the need for controversy • The need for order versus the need for spontaneity • The need for high levels of stress versus the need for low levels of stress

It isn’t right or wrong to be at one end or another of these continua. Different people need different things from their work environments to do their best, because their interests and strengths are different. In fact, the most effective work teams often include a variety of people who bring their unique giftings to bear on the solution of common problems.

Surviving Career Transitions




rederick Buechner describes a calling as the place to which God calls us where our deep joy and the world’s great need intersect. The word “vocation” comes from the Latin root

vocare, to call.

I believe that the types of activities we’re drawn to, the strengths we bring to our careers, the support needs we have, as well as our abilities and skills (we’ll talk about these in a later session) are all part of a calling. We need to be able to “read” these aspects of ourselves so we can prayerfully use them as we decide on career direction changes and on the selection of specific jobs.

Some callings are very specific and appear early in life. Consider, for example, Mozart who composed his first music at the age of six or seven. Other callings may be broader in nature or vague, and may appear later in life (often this happens as a person looks at the choices he has made and finds them somehow unsatisfying). Sometimes a calling appears suddenly and is thrust upon us by Providence. For example, Roman Catholic author Walker Percy worked for years as a physician, but became ill and could no longer practice medicine so he began writing fiction. He spent the rest of his life as a novelist and essayist. There is an element of mystery to this process, and it is sometimes hard to see where we have been led until we look back in reflection on a period in our lives. For one person, there is a clear and singular voice calling them to a specific place. For another person, there is a gentle pull toward this area in preference to that area. One thing seems to be certain: we will find ourselves the most happy when we are most truly the persons we have been created to be.

Where are you being led?

Surviving Career Transitions




ist three to five things you have done in your job or some other context that were satisfying for you, gave you a feeling of accomplishment, and which you would like to do again

(without regard to how well you did them):

List three to five things you have done at work or in some other context that gave you little satisfaction or sense of accomplishment, and which you hope you never have to do again (without regard to how well you did them):

List three to five things related to vocation or avocation that you once wished to do and which still appeal to you, but which you have given up on for practical or other reasons:

Reflection: What does this exercise tell you about the sort of potential activities you should seek and avoid in a career or job as you begin your search?

Surviving Career Transitions




ist your strengths as you understand them in the table that follows, either because you recognize them in yourself or because of the things other people have told you. Next to

each strength list what you need from your environment to use that strength.
I believe my strengths are: What I need to use my strengths:






Reflection: What does this exercise tell you about the kind of environments you need to do and be your best? Have you been able to use your strengths to the best of your ability in past jobs or careers, or in other areas of your life? Why or why not?

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Defining Your Life Goals



hat kinds of feelings do the words “goal-setting” stir up for you? Do they make you feel energized and eager for action? Or do they make you feel enervated and wishing you

could avoid the task of goal-setting? Our feelings and attitudes toward goal-setting vary on a continuum based on our past experiences, our attitudes toward change, and our loci of control (which we discussed the first time we met).

• At one extreme are people who thrive on change and prefer it to stasis. They tend to see goalsetting as a challenging and enjoyable activity and seek it out. Life is what they make of it; they see it as an adventure, and they are in large part in control of the outcome. These people tend to have internal loci of control. • At the other extreme are people who see change as dangerous and prefer the comfort and reliability of stasis. They tend to see goal-setting as a laborious and fearful activity, and avoid it. Life happens to them; they see it as a journey fraught with peril, and they have little control over the outcome. These people tend to have external loci of control.

Most of us operate somewhere between these extremes, and our ability to embrace change fluctuates with our life experiences, our life stage, and circumstances. It affects the way we react to events in our lives, like job losses. But no matter how uncomfortable the need for change and decision makes us, we need to understand that doing nothing means making a choice. If we choose immobility in a stressful situation, things will happen to us that we may or may not be happy about, and inactivity may result in our losing sight of the path that we are called to trod.

Should we take things as they come and make the best of them, or be active agents of change in our lives? This is not an easy question to answer. To wait endlessly for further information before Surviving Career Transitions

we make our decisions, or to assume that the Universe or God or whoever will provide us with a specific job opportunity and absolutely clear path to follow when the time is right, may cause us to miss the fact that we need to do our part. There is a time to listen and wait, and a time to speak and act. Sometimes operating from a position of integrity and faith means taking what we’ve been given, making our decision carefully, and take the long leap into darkness.

Stress and anxiety are not evil or bad things by nature. Stress is a natural response to change in our lives: we may experience distress from negative events like a job loss, a death, a failure of health. But we may also experience eustress from positive events in our lives like a promotion, a marriage, good news. Stress and a little bit of anxiety can be destructive influences in our lives, or they can be what keeps us going, keeps us moving toward making positive changes for ourselves.

Setting goals is difficult. If we set goals that are easy for us and do not experience any stress or anxiety at all when we consider implementing them, we may not be strongly motivated to pursue them. Furthermore, the goals that are really worth reaching for are often those that provoke a certain amount of anxiety in us when we think about them. By finding the point at which our goals provoke a tolerable level of anxiety in us, we can find the point of optimal stress for us that will hopefully motivate us to seek to be everything that we are intended us to be.

Surviving Career Transitions






n the context of goals and career, congruency means there is a match between who we are and what we are trying to become. In the last section, I spoke about interests, strengths,

and needs, and connected these things to our callings: what we have been made to be in this life. It’s good to define goals that stretch us to be and do our best; but if the anxiety and stress we experience arise from a poor fit between our goals and who we were made to be, it may be a sign that we are not being sufficiently attentive to our callings in setting goals for ourselves. Setting incongruent goals for ourselves often leads eventually either to failure or to deep dissatisfaction with our careers. Setting congruent goals leads to a career grounded in meaning and a passionate love of what we do to earn our paychecks.

Congruency requires having a clear personal vision of our callings, and a mission that defines for us how we will realize that vision. Lack of vision and mission leads to aimlessness, settling for second best in life, compromises that may be pragmatic but do not help us achieve what we need to do in our lives to reach wholeness, purpose, and integrity. Consider, for example, a young man who is given a certain calling, and he knows it is his heart’s desire. But through lack of clarity in understanding who he is and a certain spiritual blindness, he ignores that calling in his career choices. Instead of considering how he has been fashioned in making decisions, he follows the voice of the world: he chooses training for a career that will make him look successful in the eyes of his peers, a career that will bring him wealth and prominence. He chooses an easy way out that will bring him a guarantee of employment and all the things that the world defines as “success.” The years go by and he gets all that he wants. But underneath his outward success, he feels a certain emptiness, a dissatisfaction with who he has become: what if he had followed his heart instead of listening to the voices of the world? How would his life have been different if he had chosen the path of congruency rather than the path of outward success?

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areer vision should direct us toward achieving our goals. It should also inspire us to take action. A vision that doesn’t inspire isn’t going to motivate us to reach our goals! A vi-

sion is like an energy field that surrounds us and nourishes us. Our mission defines how we will reach our goals, and it is informed by our personal vision. Our vision therefore needs to be one we sincerely and deeply believe in.

A vision reflects who we are called to be. It therefore must be congruent with our interests, personal strengths, needs, and goals. In addition, it must be oriented around our sense of personal integrity: the principles and values that are most important to us. We need therefore to define a personal vision based on our sense of integrity, then test it against our calling and goals to make sure they are congruent. If they are not, we need to identify the source of the incongruity. Do we understand our interests, strengths, and needs? Have we identified goals that are congruent with them? Do we have a true sense of personal integrity that is grounded in our dearest principles and values?

Once we have defined a personal vision, we can define a personal mission by looking at our vision and our goals, and identifying:

• The changes we need to make in ourselves to achieve the vision and goals • The steps we need to take to make the vision a reality

As we pursue implementation of our careers, we need to periodically revisit our vision and mission statements, and evaluate whether we are on track. If we are not, we need to take whatever steps are necessary to return us to the right path.

Surviving Career Transitions




efer to the Interest Worksheet and Strengths Worksheet you completed in the last section. In what way are your interests and your strengths related to each other? Do they fully

support each other, or is there a tension between them? If there is a tension there, what is its source? For each area on the Strengths Worksheet, define below up to three goals for yourself that fulfill your interests and use your strengths (in other words, that are congruent).

Goals that will improve your spiritual life:

Goals that will improve your intellectual life:

Goals that will improve your emotional life:

Surviving Career Transitions


Goals that will improve your relationships:

Goals that will improve practical aspects of your life:

Reflection: how do you feel when you imagine yourself achieving these goals? If you find them easy to contemplate achieving, try pushing the boundaries by setting each goal a little higher. At what point do you start feeling some anxiety about the outcome and find yourself thinking “that could never happen?” Consider setting “stretch” goals for yourself.

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ersonal integrity encompasses the values or principles that you stand for, that give your life and work meaning. Review the following list of words, and circle the top three words

that reflect your sense of personal integrity. Only circle three. If there’s another word you would like to choose instead, write it down in one of the blank spaces provided – but choose only three words total (this will force you to be clear about your most essential values).

health strength fun love kindness grace understanding beauty adventure courage risk leadership inspiration change honesty patience fairness compassion

freedom spirituality service sacredness security home family community partnership growth enlightenment happiness joy support contribution advocacy respect power/influence

honor trust creativity invention opennness imagination planning building challenge discovery learning self-expression feelings nature action rules persuasion encouragement

mastering winning accomplishment peace quiet serenity inner strength intuition play truth nurturing wholeness safety vigor/vitality ______________ ______________ ______________

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Reflection: Look at the life goals you defined in an earlier section. Are your goals consistent with the values you circled above? What would a career that supported your goals and was consistent with your principles look like? What sort of changes would you need to make in your attitudes and in your life to help you find or make such a career?

Surviving Career Transitions




t this point you should have thought about a set of goals for yourself that are congruent with who you are and the values behind them, and you have done some preliminary

thinking about the shape and feel of a career that would be consistent with your goals and values. You should also have some idea of your interests and strengths, and what you need from your work environment to support those interests and strengths.

Look for general principles or a general “thrust” in all the material you’ve worked on in the homework assignments last week and this week. When I’ve done this sort of work, I’ve discovered certain things about who I am and my career needs and preferences. For example:

• I need a lot of variety and day-to-day change in my career • I like to work at the boundary between concepts and bring them together • I need to know that what I’m doing makes a difference in people’s lives • I am excited by opportunities to use my gifts at the “cutting edge” in a field • I am by temperament both analytical/technical and creative/artistic

You should at this point be able to make similar statements about yourself. Try writing down a few statements reflecting things you’ve come to realize (either in group or before you came into group) about your career preferences and needs here:

· · · ·

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As you reflect on the statements you’ve written above, think about how you might formulate a vision statement that encapsulates in a single sentence who you are and who you are trying to become. For example, a vision statement based on my own self-insights might look like this:

I make a difference in many people’s lives by helping them “connect the dots” to find meaning and truth in their life narratives, and by helping them take steps toward making positive changes in their lives by using my technical and creative skills in a variety of settings.

This is in fact pretty close to how I currently define my career vision. It’s rather wordy and may seem convoluted to someone else, but it makes sense to me – and that’s the important thing. I also understand that it’s a working definition that will change over the coming months and years. When I read this vision statement, it has a sense of rightness for me, because it arises out of the self-insights I’ve achieved. I believe that it’s congruent with who I am, and my current understanding of what I am meant to become, yet I’m ready to revise it as my self-understanding grows.

See if you can construct a preliminary vision statement for yourself:

Reflection: how do you feel when you read the vision statement you’ve constructed? Does it seem congruent with who you are, and your current understanding of what you are meant to become? Don’t worry about how you might achieve this vision of yourself yet; we’ll discuss this aspect of career planning in the next section.

Surviving Career Transitions


Figuring Out What You’re Good At
2 . W H AT A R E A B I L I T I E S



bilities represent your capacity for accomplishing things in your career. They’re part of your giftedness, but they’re not necessarily the same thing as the things you have actually

accomplished. You might have been gifted with an ability for convincing other people to follow a certain course of action, for example, but the jobs you have held have not given you the opportunity to exercise this gift. Abilities are strongly connected to who you are, and finding a vocation or avocation that allows you to exercise your abilities usually results in a high degree of satisfaction.

Skills, on the other hand, represent the things you have learned to be good at in your career. They are things you have accomplished, and are not necessarily the same as your abilities. For example, you may have learned to work well with numbers and develop an excellent business plan, even though these are not things you have been given a natural gift for. Finding a vocation or avocation that allows you to exercise your skills may or may not result in a high degree of satisfaction, depending on how congruent the skills are with who you are (your calling).

The difference between abilities and skills is therefore the distinction between what you would be able to do and what you have actually done. Both are important to know, since together they represent those aspects of yourself that you might use in a career. But the opportunities to use abilities and skills is not limited to your career: you might also find opportunities to use them in avocations or volunteer work, or in your life in the family and church, for example.

Bear in mind, though, that you will spend a good portion of your life working at your career. Forty hours is a quarter of the time available in a week. If the time we are given here is a gift, should we spend a quarter of it working at something that doesn’t reflect who we have been created to be? If we choose a job primarily to get food on the table, in what other ways will we fulfill

Surviving Career Transitions


our callings by exercising the abilities we have been given? In other words, how can we be good stewards of our abilities and skills?

Surviving Career Transitions






ou may possess certain abilities that you have been able to use in your past career or avocations. These can usually be identified by asking yourself: what have you done well at,

and have wanted to do more? When we are given the opportunity to use our natural abilities, we are almost always energized by the opportunity. Do you remember engaging in an activity and having the hours fly by? Or completing an activity and wishing that you weren’t finished so you could continue it? Often, these are signs that you’re engaged in exercising a gift. They are skills that are also abilities.

Abilities that are just potential may be harder to recognize, since they represent abilities you would be good at but which you haven’t had an opportunity to use in your past career or avocations. These can often be identified by asking yourself questions like: what have you wanted to do but have never found the opportunity to do? What were your dreams as a child, as an adolescent, as an adult? What have you thought you’d be good at, but have never tried for one reason or another? What have others suggested you’d be good at, and you’ve found yourself thinking, “Yes, I just might be good at that?” If you can identify potential abilities, what would you need to be able to use them in a career or avocation?

Identifying skills is often easier than identifying abilities. What do you know you’ve done well in the past, and what have others told you you’ve done well in the past? What do you have a lot of experience doing? Good sources for skills are performance evaluations, job applications, interviews, and your current resume.

A good way of helping you identify abilities and skills is to ask those closest to you these questions: What do you think I’ve done well in the past? What do you think I’d be good at? Don’t forget to examine abilities and skills in contexts other than the workplace: school, hobbies, family life, church and volunteer work.

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abilities. to...”):

efer to the Interest and Strengths Worksheets you completed in an earlier section. They may help you identify your abilities. Also, ask those who know you well for input on your

List three to five abilities you’ve thought you might be good at using but haven’t tried (“I’m able

List three to five abilities others have said you might be good at using but that you haven’t tried (“Others say I’m able to...”):

List three to five abilities you have used that you know you’re good at, which energize you and/or give you a sense of satisfaction (“I’m able to...”):

Surviving Career Transitions


List three to five abilities you have used that others say you’re good at, which energize you and/or give you a sense of satisfaction (“Others say I’m able to...”):

Reflection: How are the abilities you’ve identified related to the goals you defined last week? To your vision statement? Do they support your achieving your goals and realizing your vision for your career? How?

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or this exercise, you may find it helpful to look at past performance evaluations, job applications, your current resume. Think about past interviews. You may also want to ask

others for input on your skills (“What do you think I’m good at?”).

List three to five skills you know you excel at:

List three to five skills others have said you excel at:

List three to five skills you are competent at and have a lot of experience doing:

Reflection: How are the skills you’ve identified related to the goals you defined in the last section? To your vision statement? Which skills do you most prefer using? Which skills do you least prefer using? Do these skills support your achieving your goals and realizing your vision for your career? How?

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5. E X E RC I S E : W H AT ’ S T R A N S F E R A B L E ?

of paper.

ook at the abilities and skills you’ve identified. Are they general, or specific in nature? Try to reword each of them so they are as general as possible. For example, if you listed as a

skill: “I’m skilled at tracking time and expenses for my projects around the house and budgeting my money,” you might reword it to make it more general like this: “Can develop budgets for organizations and manage expenses against them.” You may record them below, or on another sheet

Reflection: Do you see how your abilities and skills can be reframed so they represent transferable skills that could be used in a variety of careers? Continue working at identifying your abilities and skills, and making them transferable.

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Planning Your Career Trajectory
1 . A N A LY Z I N G



hen we define goals, we usually first think of the endpoint we’re moving toward. For example, there was a point a few years ago when I decided to make the commitment to be-

come a counselor and coach. It’s important when initially setting goals and deciding which ones to implement to avoid getting lost in the details (not being able to see the forest for the trees). When you first started group, your goal may have been something like: “Find another job so I can feed my family.” Hopefully, you have considered whether or not you need to revise or extend your goals based on the exercises you’ve done for homework up to this point.

Once you know where you want to go (and you should have some idea of this now), it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get there. Think of the goal as a process rather than as an endpoint. Answer the question: “What things do I need to do and in what sequence to reach my endpoint?” The things you need to do will depend on the nature of your goal, but will also depend on your abilities and skills (which you analyzed in the last session). For example, it became clear early on that I might possess the potential for becoming a psychotherapist, but I didn’t have the background to do it. That is to say, I thought I possessed the abilities but I didn’t yet have the skills. I therefore broke my goal down into these subgoals: Get a graduate degree; acquire experience; get licensed; go into private practice. Note that each one of these subgoals can be broken down further into subsubgoals, and so on.

As you think about the earliest subgoal, ask yourself if there are things you need to do to prepare yourself for that subgoal (base your analysis on your abilities and skills). For example, before I could get a graduate degree in psychology, I needed to: Take several required undergraduate courses as prerequisites; pay off my debts and save money; apply for financial aid; get transcripts; etc. Continue breaking down subgoals and looking for prerequisites until you feel that how you will implement the lowest level goals and what you need to implement them is clear. Surviving Career Transitions

Look for interdependencies between your goals as you break them down into subgoals. For example, you might have elements of a health goal you want or need to address before you start a new career (careers with the police, fire department and military all have certain health standards, so you might want to take care of any health subgoals before you start your career change subgoals). A good way of showing interdependencies is to represent your goals with a graph, in which the connecting lines show dependency. Here is a graphic representation of this process using my goal as an example:

Undergrad Courses

Get Education

Acquire Experience

Become Licensed

Start Practice

Prepare Financially

Process For Becoming A Counselor

Having broken down my goal into subgoals, I look for prerequisites; in my case, there are two. I would then carry the process down a level, breaking each subgoal into lower level goals until I fully understood the tasks I needed to complete to achieve my goal, and interdependencies between the tasks.

Once you’ve broken down your goals into subgoals, you need to prioritize the goals based on weighting criteria. You can define these criteria by looking at the interests, needs, and strengths you identified in week two; and the core values from week three. In addition you may have some practical criteria you want to add; for example, cost to implement or time to achieve. You want to set up a matrix with your goals and subgoals down the left, and your criteria across the top. For each criterion, assign a weighting factor based upon its importance to you. Give a 1.0 to the most Surviving Career Transitions

important criterion, and a 0.1 to the least important criterion, and assign weighting factors to each criterion based upon these endpoints (for example, a criterion midway in importance would get a weighting factor of 0.55). Allow a column for averages. The matrix will look like this:

Criterion 1 Weight Subgoal 1 Subgoal 2 Subgoal 3 0.25

Criterion 2 0.55

Criterion 3 1.00

Criterion 4 0.70 Average

Rate each subgoal based on how well it fulfills or supports each criterion and put these values into the “cells” of the matrix. If a subgoal doesn’t support the criterion at all, give it a 0.0. If it supports the criterion fully or perfectly, give it a 1.0. Now multiply each cell value by the weighting factor (easy to do in a spreadsheet!). Highlight items with a weighted value of 0.50 or greater so they stand out. Calculate averages for the weighted values (in parentheses). You’ll end up with something like this:

Criterion 1 Weight Subgoal 1 Subgoal 2 Subgoal 3 0.25 1.00 (0.25) 0.30 (0.075) 0.80 (0.20)

Criterion 2 0.55 0.50 (0.275) 1.00 (0.55) 0.20 (0.11)

Criterion 3 1.00 0.75 (0.75) 1.00 (1.00) 0.90 (0.90)

Criterion 4 0.70 0.60 (0.42) 0.75 (0.525) 0.50 (0.35) Average 0.424 0.538 0.390

To calculate the averages, you add up the number of values in a row and divide by the number of columns with data in them. For example, the average for Subgoal 1 was calculated like this:

(0.25 + 0.275 + 0.75 + 0.42)/4 = 0.424

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Look both at the subgoals with the highest average scores, and also look at the subgoals that satisfy the largest number of criteria. For example, Subgoal 2 satisfies three criteria and has the highest weighted average score, so it would be a top candidate for implementation. Select subgoals that will implement all the criteria that are most important to you. In the example, Criteria 2 through 4 have weights greater than 0.50, so they’ve been highlighted. Subgoal 2 addresses all three of these criteria, so it is likely you’d select it first for implementation.

Now, look at your goals; does Subgoal 2 have any predecessors? If so, they will have to be implemented before you can implement Subgoal 2. Select a small number of goals initially to implement based on priority and dependencies so that you can achieve some early successes and avoid being overwhelmed. When you’ve finished implementing your highest priority goals, go back to your prioritization scheme and select another one for implementation!

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2 . M O T I VAT I O N




hat have been your best motivators in the past? Think about times when you’ve set goals for yourself and succeeded at them. What’s worked for you?

For each (sub)goal, decide what motivators will work for you to keep you moving toward that goal. You may find some are intrinsic, like your love for the activity. For some, you may need to supply an extrinsic motivator: a special vacation, new set of clothes, new computer, etc. once you’ve reached the goal. Also think about the consequences of not meeting each goal, and write these down, too.

As you work toward meeting your goals, periodically check your level of motivation and adjust your plan as needed to keep yourself motivated.

Finally, for each goal, determine what obstacles might keep you from success. Document them, along with a plan for each to help you deal with or overcome each obstacle. Again, some obstacles might be internal, and some might be external.

Go back and look at the vision statement you developed for yourself. A good vision statement should work as a powerful motivator, reminding you constantly of the reason why you’re working at accomplishing your goals.

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nce you’ve decided which goals you’re going to tackle, you need to estimate durations and assign dates for complete goals and subgoals. The first step should be acquiring any

resources or training you need to begin the earliest subgoals. This will involve understanding your abilities and skills (from last week), and what’s needed to complete the goals. You will also need to determine how you will get the training or experience needed, which may generate additional predecessor subgoals. Figure out the effort needed to accomplish your goals, what else you need to accomplish in the coming months and years, and assign durations based upon your best guess as to the effort involved and the time you will have available to work on each goal.

Based on all this information, list the goals you are planning to accomplish:

• In the next six months • In the next year • In the next five years

Plan on updating this list of goals every six months. Keep it where you can refer to it often (I keep mine in my daily planner).

Here’s an example from my own life:

Goal: Become a licensed counselor and life coach. Subgoals: Get education-acquire experience-licensure-private practice Subsubgoals: research field and schools-apply to schools-select school- (etc.)

The predecessors for the get education subgoal turned out to be things like: take required undergrad courses; pay off bills; save money; etc. The first predecessor could be broken down into a list

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of the courses I needed with their prerequisites, so it turns out the very first thing I needed to do was take a Psych 100 course at a local community college. This item went into my six month plan.

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4 . E X E RC I S E : A N A LY Z I N G Y O U R G OA L S


sing the guidelines provided:

1. Break your goals down into subgoals 2. Identify any prerequisites for the subgoals 3. Continue until the scope and effort for each subgoal’s clear 4. Identify any interdependencies between goals 5. Identify your criteria from material in weeks two and three 6. Assign weights to your criteria as shown 7. Prioritize all goals and subgoals using weighted criteria 8. Select subgoals to implement based on the weighted results

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5 . E X E R C I S E : Y O U R M O T I VAT I O N




ist motivators that have worked for you in the past:

For each subgoal you identified in the last exercise, indicate which motivators will help you keep moving toward your goal:

What obstacles might keep you from success? How will you deal with each of them?

Reflection: Read your vision statement. Does it work as a motivator for you? Why or why not? How can you use your vision to keep you moving toward your goals?

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y six month goals are:

My one year goals are:

My five year goals are:

Surviving Career Transitions


Marketing Yourself In Your Chosen Niche



he material covered in this Guide so far has provided you with a number of components you can use to build an understanding of what you need and want in your career:

• Activities/interests you seek in a career • Strengths/gifts in various areas of your life • What you need to be able to use your strengths/gifts • Goals that are congruent with your interests/strengths • The core values that are important to you • Your vision for who you are called to be • Your abilities/skills and how they can be generalized • The things that motivate you for success • Short and long range plans for reaching your goals

One of the keys to living a balanced and fulfilling life is finding ways of living out this selfunderstanding through your career. Other ways of living it out are through volunteer work, church, hobbies, and your social life. It is rare that any one aspect of a person’s life will address all aspects of his/her self-understanding, but as was pointed out in an earlier week, you will spend a substantial part of your life working, so career choice is particularly important.

Career satisfaction results from a relatively high overlap between a person’s self understanding and the constraints and opportunities afforded by a career choice. The lower the overlap, the lower the degree of career satisfaction. Through the exercises done so far in group, you should have a fairly good idea of who you are and where you want to go. Now comes the hard part: figuring out which career “niches” would lead to a high degree of career satisfaction for you.

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You might think of the self-understanding you’ve developed to this point as an area in a “space” in which one direction represents interests, a second direction represents strengths and needs, and a third abilities and skills. Within this space, your self-understanding floats like a fuzzy cloud (labeled “You” in the following diagram).

Career 3 YOU Career 1

re n an gth Ne d s ed s



lit bi



Career 2

Notice that three career or job choices are represented as “niches” in the same space. Career 2 doesn’t overlap with your self-understanding at all. Careers 1 and 3 overlap to a similar degree; they would probably provide equivalent degrees of career satisfaction, but for different reasons. The portion of “You” that is not overlapped by your career choice represents aspects of your selfunderstanding that aren’t addressed by your career. Unless these aspects are met in some other way in your life, you are likely to experience some degree of dissatisfaction with your life.

The next step, then, is to identify career/job “niches” that would provide you with acceptable levels of job satisfaction based on the self-understanding you have been developing.

Surviving Career Transitions




or most of us, there is no One Perfect Career. Instead, there are a number of careers and jobs in which we could find equivalent levels of job satisfaction. Some of us will choose

an “off the shelf” career, and find a place in the job market where we fit reasonably well. Others will choose to “roll their own” careers, finding perhaps an unfilled or partially filled niche and creating a career to fit it. The approach we each choose to take in seeking out a career depends on our personal level of comfort for risk, stress, and ambiguity.

There are several productive approaches to researching career niches. Four are suggested below.

A. Career Assessment Tests If you go to a career counselor, he/she will probably administer one or more test instruments to assist in developing self-understanding. These typically include:

· Personality tests, which help the taker understand strengths and needs. Some of the most common ones used in career counseling are the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), 16PF, California Personality Inventory (CPI), and FIRO-B. · Interest, ability, and skill inventories. Some of the most common ones used in career counseling are the Strong Interest Inventory, the Holland interest inventory, and the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey.

Some of these instruments must be administered by a professional counselor or psychologist (administration requires a certain degree of certification or licensure). However, there are informal versions of some of these instruments available in career resource books and online, and some of them can be taken and scored online, with the results being interpreted by a counselor either online or through mail/phone calls (the MBTI and the Holland Interest Inventory are available

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through a number of sources). Also, a lot of information on career tests is available in the Google Directory (directory.google.com) at (click on links indicated):

Business>Employment>Careers>Skill and Personality Assessment

B. Internet Research You can find all sorts of free career advice including career descriptions on the internet. A good starting point is the U.S. Department of Labor’s online Occupational Outlook Handbook, which you can reference at: http://www.bls.gov/oco

The Google Directory topic on changing careers is also useful (directory.google.com). It can be accessed by clicking the following links:

Business>Employment/Careers>Changing Careers

A variety of counseling and coaching options (some online) are available through the Google Directory at (click on links indicated):

Business>Employment>Careers>Counseling and Management

A number of excellent resources for job searches and career research are available on the Google Directory at (click on links indicated):


C. Library/Bookstore Research

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Both Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores have good career related sections. Ask at the information desk for their location. Borders books can be ordered through:

http://www.amazon.com Barnes and Nobles books are available online at:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com (Use their book browser)

Many career and job search resources are available at your local library. Ask at the reference desk for help.

D. Interviewing for Information This involves making an appointment with someone in the field you’re interested in to discuss what it’s like to work in the field, and what opportunities exist in the field. It is not interviewing for a job, so you don’t bring your resume to an informational interview. The best way to find out who you can talk to is to talk to friends and family who might have contacts in the field, and have them recommend you to the person. Alternatively, you might find names of people in the area through a search of professional directories or an internet search. Be sure to write down any questions you need to ask in advance, and send a thank you note after the interview.

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ou know who you are, and what sort of job you would like to have. Now it’s time to change viewpoints and look at yourself from the perspective of the potential employer.

It’s useful to think of the job search as selling yourself, and the overall job search strategy as a marketing effort. To guide your efforts, you can develop a personal marketing plan which outlines how you will approach selling yourself with individual companies you have targeted for your job search in the process of researching career niches.

In developing a personal marketing plan, you need to consider things like:

Geographical target areas. Are you seeking a job in your current location, or considering other locations? If you’re staying in the area, how far are you willing and/or able to commute to work? Are there certain areas you’re excluding from your search? There are a number of resources available on the internet or your local library that compare the desirability of places to live. You can do a search for “best places to live” at www.google.com, or ask your local research librarian for help.

Salary and benefits requirements. What salary range would you consider for a job? What is the minimum salary you can take and maintain your standard of living? Remember to keep cost of living in the areas you’re targeting in mind. What is the average starting salary for someone with your skills and abilities in the careers/jobs you’re considering in the geographical areas you’re targeting? Again, these things can be researched on the internet or your local library. What benefits would you like to have? What are the minimum benefits you would consider?

Desired career and job characteristics. Go over the material you’ve worked on in group, and review the characteristics you find desirable and undesirable in a career or job. Which careers and jobs you’ve identified are most attractive, and which least attractive, given these characteristics? Order

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the careers and companies by priority. Which fit your understanding of your calling, and which seem to conflict with your understanding of calling?

Your career niches. Collect the list of companies you are interested in applying to in your target areas, with contact information (preferably, names of individuals to call or mail). Get as much information about these companies as you can, from their web sites, brochures, magazines, etc. Evaluate each for goodness-of-fit to your geographical, salary, benefit, and other career needs and career goals. Try to find out what the requirements are for positions in your selected career niches. Can you present your abilities and skills in a way that meets these requirements? If not, what would you need in the way of experience and/or training to make yourself an attractive candidate for these positions?

Contact priority and time frames. Set up a schedule for contacting the companies you’ve identified, and for following up on contacts based on the priority you’ve assigned to each company. Use this schedule to drive your job search effort, modifying it as new leads are identified and as your understanding of the career niches you’re investigating expands.

The next step will be developing one or more resumes, cover letters and interviewing strategies that you can use in implementing your personal marketing plan. We’ll discuss these components of the job search next time.

Surviving Career Transitions






eview your homework from past sections. Identify three to five of the most important elements of a career or job in each of the categories below:

The activities I’ve done in a past job or other context or that I’ve dreamed about doing that I most strongly desire to do in the future are:

Circle or otherwise highlight those activities you will pursue in a job or career. How will you find opportunities to do the remaining activities (volunteer work, church, life with family & friends, hobbies, etc.)?

The personal strengths I most need to be able to use in the future are:

Circle or otherwise highlight those strengths you will seek to use in a job or career. How will you find opportunities to use the remaining strengths (volunteer work, church, life with family friends, hobbies, etc.)?

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The personal goals I most need to be able to achieve in the future are:

Circle or otherwise highlight those goals you will pursue in a job or career. How will you find opportunities to meet the remaining goals (volunteer work, church, life with family & friends, hobbies, etc.)?

The personal values or principles I most need to be able to live out (or up to) in my life are:

Circle or otherwise highlight those values or principles that are most important to a future job or career.

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The transferable abilities and skills I most want to be able to use or develop in a career or job are:

Circle or otherwise highlight those abilities and skills you will seek to use in a job or career. How will you find opportunities to use the remaining abilities and skills (volunteer work, church, life with family & friends, hobbies, etc.)?

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ist the resources you will use to research career niches (specific tests, web sites, library research, books, interviews for information, etc.).

Use the results from the last exercise (Living a Fulfilling Life) to identify characteristics you want or need from a career niche, and document how well each career option you investigate using the resources identified above fills each of your requirements (a table, grid, or spreadsheet works well for this). After you have done your research, list the careers and any specific jobs you’ve found that seem to provide the best fit to your self understanding and sense of calling (use additional sheets of paper as necessary).

Surviving Career Transitions




se an outline like the following one and develop a Personal Marketing Plan:

Personal Marketing Plan Your name Date of plan

I. Geographical Target Areas II. Salary And Benefits Requirements III. Desired Career/Job Characteristics IV. Career Niches A. First Career i. First Company Company information Goodness of fit to your needs Company employee needs Priority and time frame for contact ii. Second Company etc. B. Second Career etc. V. Resources A. Marketing Materials i. Resumes and cover letters ii. Web page iii. Portfolio B. Networking and Job Contacts

Surviving Career Transitions


Writing Resumes That Get Interviews



our resume is a personal marketing tool. The goal is to get the reader’s attention as quickly as possible, and to pique attention so the reader wants to know more about you.

This often happens in the first few seconds after the reader picks up your resume, so you want to make sure you’ve chosen the right format to present your skills and accomplishments in the best possible light. First impressions are often everything when it comes to resumes. Remember, the most important information needs to begin at the top of the front page of the document!

There are two ways of approaching resume focus:

1. You may know the requirements of a specific position you’re applying for, or are applying to a specific job at a specific company. Or you may have a short list of specific career objectives and want a specific resume for each of them. In this case, you create a targeted resume for the specific objective(s) you are interested in. 2. You may have a more general career objective in mind rather than a specific job or a specific career, or you are conducting a lengthy job search and wish to address specific position needs in a cover letter rather than in the body of the resume. In this case you would want to develop an inventory resume that “inventories” your skills and accomplishments.

Once you’ve determined your focus and have one or more resumes you want to write, you need to decide on a format for each of them. There are three main resume formats, plus the curriculum vitae:

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A. The Chronological Resume Information is presented chronologically; that is, you describe your most recent job first, your last job second, and so on. This is the most common resume format and many employers like it because it’s easy to identify the candidate’s employment history. You should use this format when:

• Your employment history is steady and consistent with no major gaps and no recent major career track changes • Your employment history shows progressively more responsible positions • Your titles are significant or you have been recently employed at companies that have a major reputation in your field • Your greatest accomplishments have been accomplished in your most recent jobs • You are seeking employment in a job or career where this format is expected

A typical Chronological Resume has a structure similar to this (note: there are many possible ways to do this, see examples in books and/or the internet): Contact information: Name, address phone information Objective: A short description of your job objective (optional) Experience: For each job held, starting with the most recent, give your job title, the dates you worked for the company, the company name and location, and a set of bullets describing your job responsibilities. List the most important responsibilities (or those you want to highlight) first. If you’ve been in the job market a long time, you may only want to cover the past ten years or so. Education: List your degrees, majors, where you went to school, dates schools were attended. Between Experience and Education, the potential employer should be able to put together a continuous employment and education history. Professional Affiliations: If you belong to professional associations, list them here (optional). Surviving Career Transitions

B. The Functional Resume Key skills, accomplishments and qualifications are highlighted first in the resume, without regard to when they happened in your career. Career history and educational history are deemphasized. However, many employers don’t like this format since they assume you’re trying to hide something in your career history. It is most useful when:

• The skills and accomplishments that you need to highlight for your career search occurred earlier in your career • You are a recent high school or college graduate • You have been out of the market for a long while and are trying to reenter • You’re an older worker who wishes to deemphasize age • You have held a number of unconnected positions • You are changing career tracks or returning to a previous line of work

A typical Functional Resume has a structure similar to this (note: there are many possible ways to do this, see examples in books and/or the internet): Contact information: Name, address phone information Objective: A short description of your job objective (optional) Qualifications Summary: Short description and/or bullet list spelling out your qualifications for the position(s) you’re seeking Experience Highlights: Bullet list of accomplishments organized by functional area rather than by position or time (think of the functional areas that are relevant for the position you’re applying for) Employment History: List of position titles, companies, locations Education History: List of degrees, schools attended Professional Affiliations: If you belong to professional associations, list them here (optional).

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C. The Combination Resume This format combines the best of the chronological and functional resumes. It begins with a summary of your skills and accomplishments (functional), then provides an employment history that supports the skills and accomplishments (chronological). This format is well-accepted by employers. It is most useful when:

• You have a steady, progressive employment history • You are applying for a position requiring a chronological format but want to highlight skills from earlier in your career • You are writing a targeted resume and need to be able to match your skills to the requirements of a specific job

A typical Combination Resume has a structure similar to this (note: there are many possible ways to do this, see examples in books and/or the internet): Contact information: Name, address phone information Objective: A short description of your job objective (optional) Qualifications Summary: Short description and/or bullet list spelling out your qualifications for the position(s) you’re seeking Experience Highlights: Bullet list of accomplishments organized by functional area rather than by position or time (think of functional areas that are relevant for the position you’re applying for) Experience: For each job held, starting with the most recent, give your job title, the dates you worked for the company, the company name and location, and a set of bullets describing your job responsibilities. List the most important responsibilities (or those you want to highlight) first. If you’ve been in the job market a long time, you may only want to cover the past ten years or so. Education: List your degrees, majors, where you went to school, dates schools were attended. Between Experience and Education, the potential employer should be able to put together a continuous employment and education history. Professional Affiliations: If you belong to professional associations, list them here (optional).

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D. The Curriculum Vitae A curriculum vitae is typically expected of job applicants rather than a resume in academic, education, scientific, and research positions. It is much longer than a resume, and contains detailed descriptions of your education, work history, awards, publications, and projects. It is a way of presenting extensive academic and professional credential to an employer. If you are applying for positions outside the U.S., the term curriculum vitae may mean something more like a resume so check for expected contents in the country you’re applying in.

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nce you’ve decided which resume format or formats would work best for your situation, how do you identify content in the work you’ve done so far and incorporate it in your

resume(s)? You can extract most of the information from the material you’ve developed in the course of doing the exercises in this Guide, as indicated below:

Job Objectives – Reflect on your career goals and personal vision statement. Think also about the abilities and skills you want or need to exercise in your career. In light of your short and long range career plans, and the requirements and expectations of employers in the career niches you’re interested in, develop a concise statement of objectives that is congruent with your self understanding and at the same time addresses the needs and expectations of the potential employer.

Experience – Look at the skills and experience exercises you filled out earlier. Considering the expectations of the career niches you’re interested in, which skills and experiences can be transferred to your new career niches? Develop a summary of your skills and experience that will be compelling for potential employers in your career niches.

Qualifications – Know your career niches! Are certain types of experience expected for the types of jobs you’re interested in? Do your potential employers expect a certain number of years of experience? Do you need special licensure or certification? Be sure to provide license or certification numbers so a potential employer can check on your qualifications. How about specialized skills that may be needed to qualify for a certain position?

Accomplishments – What have you done that will make your resume stand out from the crowd? Make sure your accomplishments are relevant for the positions you’re planning to apply for. Let’s face it, if you’re applying for a job as a loan officer, most employers are not going to care whether you’re an excellent first grade teacher (or nuclear physicist). Accomplishments that are impressive

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in one career niche may be totally irrelevant in another. And I’m afraid no one cares to hear about your hobbies or personal life - unless that information about you is directly relevant for the position at hand. The best approach is: stick to business.

Functional Areas – If you have chosen to prepare a functional or combination resume, you want to put some thought into the functional areas you will use to present your accomplishments and skills. What functional areas are important in the career niches you’re applying to? What functional areas are not as significant in those niches? For example, technical skills may be less important if you’re applying for a creative job than if you’re applying for a high-tech job.

Employment and Education Histories – Include all employment and education over the past ten years. Try to make sure there aren’t any gaps in the record (if there are significant gaps, you’d be better off using the functional resume format). Provide time ranges for each period; usually, month/year when you started and month/year when you finished that job or educational venture. Provide the company/school name, and location (city and state). Provide your job title or position; if you had several titles or filled several functional niches in a job, I’d recommend listing the one that would be most meaningful for the career niche you’re trying to get into provided you had significant experience in that area.

Professional Affiliations – List any professional organizations you are currently a member of, that would be of interest to a potential employer in the job niche you’re applying for. An affiliation that is meaningless to a potential employer in your target job niche is probably best left off your resume.

Hobbies, Clubs, and Volunteer Work – Generally, I suggest leaving these things off your resume unless they’re directly relevant to the work you’re applying for (for example, I have volunteer crisis line work I’ve done in the past on my resume, which is directly relevant for my work as a counselor). Your potential employer is probably looking for a reliable and productive employee, not an

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interesting person. An exception might be non-profit work; volunteer work would be of interest to many non-profits, since it indicates a certain level of dedication to and involvement in your community.

Surviving Career Transitions




aving been in the position of reading many resumes and cover letters from job applicants, I can tell you that my personal preference for resumes and cover letters is: Short and

Sweet. My other advice is: grab the reader right away, and make sure your grammar and spelling are absolutely impeccable, or you’ll lose him/her. If you have a hard time with writing, grammar, and spelling, I’d advise asking someone to edit your resume and cover letters to make sure they’re first rate. A good bet would be a friend who has written job-getting resumes; you can also find freelance writers who can help you with this for a small fee (you might try a freelancer site like www.elance.com, where there are many experienced writers available).

Most books I’ve seen on writing resumes and cover letters recommend tailoring each cover letter for a specific position. This is generally good advice. However, I tend to have a few basic templates that I use for cover letters (the danger of revising an existing cover letter is that you may overlook position specific information you’ve written for another employer, which is a sure way to get your resume thrown in the circular file unread).

A good way to get a feeling for what a good cover letter looks like is to check out the many books of sample cover letters that are out there (books of sample resumes also often provide sample cover letters). You can browse through these at your local bookstore, and also find sample cover letters online.

The goal of your cover letter is to introduce you to a potential employer, to demonstrate your interest to the employer, and to stimulate his/her interest in your resume. This means the cover letter should be written from a marketing perspective – even more so than your resume! Keep it short and sweet, one or two short paragraphs. Indicate where you heard about the employer (and the specific job you’re applying for, if that’s the case); provide some indication that you know something about the company that resonates with your interests and experience; be upbeat and positive;

Surviving Career Transitions


and indicate that you will be following up with a call, and would like to meet with the employer to discuss opportunities.

Who should a resume and cover letter go to? Whenever possible, to the person directly hiring for the position. This is where networking and ingenuity can pay off. You want to make sure your resume is read – and by the right person!

Surviving Career Transitions


4 . P R E PA R I N G F O R T H E I N T E RV I E W
ou’ve made a number of contacts, and you’ve been asked by one of them to come in for an interview. Congratulations! That means the company is interested in you. You probably feel excited and pleased, and more than a little anxious about the process. The best strategy for dealing with your anxiety is: be prepared. This means:


• Making sure you have an impressive and well-written resume and cover letter. • Knowing your strengths and accomplishments, and being prepared to give examples of each. If you’ve done the work in this Guide, you should be in good shape here. • Knowing something about the company you’re interviewing with, and how your strengths and accomplishment fit the company’s needs. Why are you someone they should consider hiring? • Dressing appropriately for the interview and being on time. Appropriate dress almost always means business (conservative) attire. This usually means conservative suits, shirts/ blouses, shoes, socks, and ties. Save the trendy outfits for the clubs. • Being prepared to discuss gaps on your resume, career changes, many job changes, and any other “uncomfortable” data in your background. • Bringing (if appropriate) samples of your work. Be prepared to leave these with the interviewer, and don’t expect to get them back. If you’re sharing something from a previous position, make sure you’ve obtained permission to use it in your portfolio. Our anxieties are rooted in the unknown, and are fed by the insecurities that surface in our self talk (the things we tell ourselves about a situation; most of the time we’re unaware of this internal dialogue we’re conducting with ourselves). The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said that we are disturbed not by the things that happen to us, but by how we react to them. If you are nervous about the interview process, ask yourself what it is that you’re nervous about: what’s the worst that could happen? Presumably, not getting the job. But is that the end of the world? There will be other interviews on other days. Try telling yourself: This is practice … if I get the job great, but if not, I’ll do much better on my next interview. Figure out what positive messages you need to hear to help you put the interview in proper perspective; write those messages out, and read them to yourself before the interview. And remember: blowing an interview can be a positive learning experience, too.

Surviving Career Transitions





y now, you should have all the material you need to write your resume and cover letter: You’ve decided on your resume format or formats, and you’ve collected the material that will go into it. You’ve identified companies you want to contact, and know something about them. Using the sections about, draft a resume in your chosen format. If you’d like to see sample resumes for inspiration, you can find some here:


http://www.bestsampleresume.com/ There are plenty of books and web sites with sample resumes, so search on Google for “sample resumes” if you’d like to see more than are provided at the above web site. If you are going to submit your resume via a web site or email, check with the employer for preferred format. Usually, it’s plain text or Microsoft Word. Make sure your computer is virus-free before sending anything to a potential employer: infecting someone else’s network is not a great way to say “hello”! I have a plain text version of my resume as well as Word and PDF versions. The plain text version has been formatted to make it easily read by software, and includes keywords that will make it more likely that automated resume bots will find my resume. This is especially important if you’re going to post your resume on sites like Monster.com or Dice.com. Use fonts appropriate for business communication in your resume, and avoid fancy decoration and graphics unless you’re applying for a job in a “creative” industry like the graphics arts. If you’re sending out a paper resume and cover letter, print it on good quality paper: white, ivory, or off-white. If you know your resume’s going to be scanned, send plain white laser or inkjet paper. Always use a medium-weight paper; never use onionskin paper for resumes. Make sure the copy is clean and smear-free.

Surviving Career Transitions


6 . E X E RC I S E : I N T E RV I E W P R AC T I C E Q U E S T I O N S
sk a friend to help you with the interview process; review the following questions in advance and decide how you’re going to respond to each of them. Make the “fake” interview process a realistic one by dressing for the interview, and meet somewhere other than your house. Many libraries have community or study rooms you can use for this purpose. Come with the materials you would take to a real interview: briefcase, copies of your resume, portfolio, etc. Ask your friend to ask you the interview questions, mixing up their order. Ask him/her to throw in any additional questions that might seem useful to keep it real. Here are a few examples of questions I’ve been asked (and have asked) in past interviews:


• What is your greatest strength? What do you need to work on? • If we don’t hire you, what will we be missing out on? • Why are you leaving/did you leave your last position? • What sort of salary and benefits are you looking for? • Where do you see your career five years from now? • What accomplishments are you most proud of?

A great resource for interview questions is the Job Interview Questions website, which provides general advice on interviewing as well as examples of the sort of questions you might encounter during an interview. You can find the website here: http://www.jobinterviewquestions.org/

Surviving Career Transitions


Your Calling And Your Life


f you’ve followed along through this process, the path you’ve taken probably looks something like this:

Identify Your Ca&ing You began your journey by exploring who you are: your interests, needs and wants, styles and strengths, your values. These things define how you prefer to operate in the world, and implied in them is your life’s mission, your life’s work, your vision: in other words, your Calling, whether understood in a sacred or profane sense. From this sense of self understanding, you defined a set of goals that were congruent with that understanding. Develop and Fo&ow Your Vision Next, you continued your journey by exploring what you can do and what you have done. How do these things relate to the goals you have set for yourself ? At this intersection is the core of a career plan: how you will use your abilities and skills in the service of your Calling.

Surviving Career Transitions


Explore Niches and Promote Yourself Your career plan includes your short and long term goals, and the marketing plan you developed earlier in the process. Once you had a plan developed, you created or acquired the tools you needed to carry out your career plan: resumes, cover letters, contacts, networking. Using these tools, you made the plan happen. But in a very real sense you’re never done with this journey: you need to revisit, rethink, and revise your plan as you carry it out. That which is not growing is quiescent or dying.

Surviving Career Transitions





y father was a professional musician. He led a trio in the Washington, D.C. area in the years after World War II that specialized in progressive Latin-Americaninfluenced jazz. A few years after I was born, he moved his young family to the Midwest and over time gradually abandoned his dream of a career as a Great Jazz Musician as the demands of family and work consumed him. “Don’t become a musician,” he used to advise me, “It’ll break your heart.” He played in smaller and smaller clubs as the years went by, to audiences that neither understood nor appreciated his art. Years after his death, I heard Billy Joel’s song “Piano Man” and thought: that’s the story of my father’s life.


When he would play arrangements he was working on on our piano at home, he would close his eyes and be transported … somewhere else. It was clear watching him that he had been given a great gift, and that gift spoke to his heart as well as the hearts of others. And yet, he saw himself as a failure, having traded his career for the bourgeois pleasures of hearth and family. One summer when I was in high school, he played for eight weeks at the Hotel Fremont in Las Vegas – the only time since leaving Washington, D.C. that he went on the road. He had had offers over the years to go on the road, but turned them all down for the sake of his family. On his return, he spoke to me excitedly of playing to standing ovations in Las Vegas. It seemed like a kind of validation for him, proof that the gift he had been given was a real thing, and still burned in his heart. The last few years of his life, my father came to the belief that he needed to do more for people, so he volunteered at a state mental health hospital where he used his musical gifts to reach out to the most broken of the broken. No one was too twisted or dangerous to be reached, and all were human beings made in the image of God, he told me. At the time of his death, he was working three jobs: playing jazz at a night club, musical director at our church, and musical therapist at the state hospital. He was working on new liturgical music when he died, music that would look to the future while honoring the traditions of the past.. My father chose growth at the end, to listen to his calling and be true to it. I have admired him for that choice ever since. My own path has been influenced by his choice for change, and his ability at the end to dream big compassionate dreams and take action to carry them out. I don’t know that I would have found the courage to make the big changes I’ve made in my life without his example, without his love. Thanks, Dad.

Surviving Career Transitions


plan that you write and then throw away isn’t much of a plan. You need to check it regularly, measure your progress against your goals, and make sure your goals are still appropriate. I prefer to do this at least twice a year: once around New Year’s Day, and on our Fourth of July holiday here in the USA. At these times, I try to remember to check the following:


• Have I made progress toward my six month goals? Are they still appropriate? Are there any I need to carry over or scratch off the list? Are there any new ones? If I haven’t gotten certain goals done, what’s kept me from doing so? • Which of my one year goals can be turned into six month goals for the next period? Are they all still appropriate? Are there any I need to carry over to the next year or scratch off the list? As I examine my five year goals, are there any of them that I want to move into my one year goals? • Which of my five year goals (if any) are completed? Do I need to make any adjustments to them? Am I still convinced that my life is on the right trajectory for the next five years? At the daily level, I used to use a DayTimer to track specific tasks and projects to completion. In recent months, I’ve been transitioning to David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done’ methodology as a bottom-up complement to my top-down setting of life goals. If you have as hard a time as I do staying on task and need help organizing your in-basket, I highly recommend his practical approach to selecting and prioritizing daily/weekly tasks.

Surviving Career Transitions


4 . W H AT ’ S T H E N E X T S T E P ?
t this point in your journey, you may be ready to move forward on your own. Others may want some additional help on the journey, either in determining the next step to take or in finding and using career resources. I’ve provided some starting points in the final section of this Guide.


You may want to employ a career counselor to help you work through the process or a career coach to walk with you on the journey and help you integrate your career into the larger-scale fabric of your life. In either case, drop me a note on the Métier web site and I’ll help you get started with your search. Whatever your choice, I wish you well on your journey. May you find the career that speaks most strongly to the authentic human you were meant to be!

Surviving Career Transitions


Web Sites:

You can find a current list of web sites I’ve collected and found helpful on my coaching web site at the following URL: http://www.metier-coaching.com/links.html Books:

Do What You Are, Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron-Tieger. Finding a career that matches your Myers-Briggs personality type.

Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow, Marsha Sinetar. More of a helpful cheerleading type of book rather than a nuts-and-bolts career change book.

The Princeton Review Guide To Your Career, Alan Bernstein, Nicholas Schaffzin. Finding a career using the Birkman Method which is based on career style. A popular approach to career planning.

The Resume Handbook, Arthur D. Rosenberg, David V. Hizer. Resumes and cover letters. There are a lot of books on resumes and cover letters; check your library or local book store.

Zen And The Art Of Making A Living, Laurence G. Boldt. The quest for a career as a spiritual journey. A good book that helped me focus on the important questions of meaning and direction.

I also have some book recommendations and links to them on Amazon on my Squidoo lens, at the following URL: www.squidoo.com/career-change

Surviving Career Transitions


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