How to Grow Yourself Professionally While Job Hunting
Michael Pollock is a big believer in research— but getting his clients to dig through a book to find it is a different story. The president of Pollock Spark, a creative professional consulting firm, says that although job seekers utilize the Internet and social media when looking for work, they are less inclined to enlist a book that may enrich their process. As a result, they often overlook public libraries, which provide some of the best tools to help them grow professionally.
“I say go to libraries and talk to other people who are looking for jobs,” Pollock says. “At libraries, you find a broad range of people and [tap into] the power of those people who have a whole other set of information in their heads.”
Pollock and other career consultants say libraries are good portals for professional growth—whether you are in a professional or creative field, career enrichment opportunities are only a click, seminar or meet-and-greet away.
Enrich and Engage
In central New England, Christine Bolzan, CEO of Gradate Career Coaching, has worked with nearly a dozen local libraries to offer free seminars to job seekers.
“I think in difficult times, people turn to the public library for support,” says the veteran career coach, who has tapped the library to help her deliver one of her most important messages: “Continue to develop your skills while seeking that next position.”
First things first, Bolzan says. Take a step back and examine the skills you may need in order to take your next professional step. “If you lack a specific technical or language skill, or a particular certification, it’s advisable to take a class and remedy that,” she suggests. Consider it an investment in your career; telling a hiring manager you are enrolled in a course will demonstrate your dedication and commitment to the field.
Where should job seekers invest their time? It depends on their field, Pollock says. In the case of creative professionals, film, motion graphic and illustrator software skills are always essential to master. Take an online course if you feel your skills are rusty, he says.
Business-based professionals can consider expanding their horizon by learning a second language with software such as Rosetta Stone . The increasingly multi-cultural landscape of the job market has made Spanish a sought after skill. With more than 400 million Spanish speakers worldwide—including half of the Western Hemisphere—there has never been a more important time to learn it, Bolzan says.
“I taught myself Italian and French just by borrowing [the Rosetta Stone software] from the library,” she says.
Know How to Network
Once you have the skill set, show them off with style, Bolzan says. “Networking may be the single most important skill every job seeker needs to master,” she says.
But successful schmoozing doesn’t come without engaging in the right techniques. Pollock says that your behavior at a networking event—be it a cocktail party, a Meet Up http://www.meetup.com, or luncheon—can help grow both your professional and social swagger.
“Don’t try to get a job there,” Pollock says, “Ask people what they do and soak up as much of that as you can.” Such conversations may lead to an unexplored interest that could take you to the next steps in your career, he says.
Additionally, many libraries hold their own events that allow plenty of leeway for professional growth. “A lot of libraries are holding networking events as a way to share information and practice,” Bolzan says. And if not, some have bulletin boards featuring career-minded gatherings.
Start a Blog
If you’re not enriching yourself in a social setting, consider doing it on screen and keep a blog. Pollock says the act of writing everyday is not only liberating but can help add to the unique history of you and your career. “Part of growing yourself professionally is doing a self-examination and looking back at things that you thought you did well, or other people told you that you did,” he says. “You have to look at your own history and figure out what is unique about you.”
Blogging, whether from a library workstation or from your own home, can showcase a wider range of your interests and knowledge outside of your job search.
“Be out there and be very clear on who you are as a person and what value you are,” Pollock says. “That way, when someone looks at you, they can say, ‘that’s exactly what I need.’”
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