Of the many emails I have received over the last year, one of the most heartbreaking was from a viewer named “Sheila” (name changed obviously). After working as a civil servant for most of her life, and dedicating herself to the city in which she lived, she was unceremoniously, heartlessly dumped.
At the age of 62, she found herself moving closer to her children, and struggling to find work in her field. This is not uncommon.
Plenty of Americans are finding themselves in this “gray area” of being either over-qualified or under-qualified for open positions. Many of the jobs I feature on my FOX and Friends segment are perfect for those of you who need to either “switch gears” or “bide time” until the economy improves. Think of this as something to do in the meantime, until the job market improves.
Here are some ideas:
Create Two or Three Resumes. Does your resume scream overqualified? Translation to Human Resources is too expensive, and that is what your resume may say about you at this point in your career. For instance, don’t list ALL management duties, instead condense them to “areas of experience” or “workplace initiatives”. Whatever the language is, you need to scale back the resume you currently have. I think one page is enough, but still, I see multiple resumes with too much information. Put down company, title, duties, dates, and education. Let them use their imagination of how you may fit into their job instead of you explaining in a three-page resume how much experience you bring and how much it will cost them.
Search Related Fields. Say you used to work as a paralegal for a mortgage brokerage. That is one of the hardest hit professions right now, but how can you take that experience and translate it to a similar field? The key is to list your past duties, but either a) water them down to more generic descriptions such as “handled mortgage applications” or b) break out the legal duties you practiced but cater them to the job you are currently applying for.
Don’t Vocalize Salary Expectations. This is the No. 1 mistake people make! A common question you will be asked in the interview is past salary. You don't have to answer this; it's nothing but a trick from the interviewer to determine if you have salary expectations that are too high. If they have multiple applicants, they need to get down to business in the interview, and if you verbalize what your last position paid, and that number is more than they want to pay, they will tune out every answer from that point on during the interview, and it will be over. Always let them put out the first “number”. Phrases to avoid the question: “I made a fair wage, I’m looking for a fair wage, I just want to be able to enjoy my work and make a salary comparable to others in my field/position.”
Consider Benefits Versus Salary. Always ask what the dental, medical, and retirement benefits are when looking to possible transition or switch careers. That is income, and even if the job is greeting customers at Home Depot, if there is a full benefits package that is considered income. Add a good 20% in your mind to what they are telling you the job pays.
Education Reimbursement. If a job is less than desirable, but you are focused on changing careers and think you may need to go back to school for additional training, consider if the company offer education reimbursement. This is especially true if you are a military veteran.
Weigh Work/Balance. It is easy to think that because you have worked for years, even decades, at a particular job, that job is the only thing you are willing or qualified to take. If you are pushing retirement, or in retirement, consider the hours and stress on your body. It’s important to look for work that you will enjoy, not just something to bring in additional funds on top of Social Security benefits. If you are a recent college grad, think of the extra mental capacity you will have to think about your next job, while you are doing a job that is simple, pays decently, and gives you a bit of emotional security. The better your current mental and emotional situation, the better chance you have of stepping into a better job in the next few weeks or months.
Cheryl Casone joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in September 2007 as an anchor. She also serves as a financial contributor on FOX News Channel (FNC), and provides weekly job reports. Click here for more information on Cheryl Casone.