Elaine Varelas | Job Doc

Those with specific skills still have tools applicable to other jobs

Q. I'm a lead recruiter for a nonprofit organization in Boston. I play a part in everything from tele-recruitment to organizing recruiting events and attending numerous functions to promote our donor center. I also lead a team of four people and it's my job to ensure things run smoothly on a daily basis and that we have the donors scheduled to ensure our patients' needs are met. The problem is that I'm ready for a change. I would like to seriously start submitting resumes and making a job change, but I just don't know what types of jobs I'm qualified for. I find myself feeling that my particular job and experience is really specific to the field that I'm in now, but I don't want to continue in this capacity. How do I figure out what other jobs I'm qualified for?

A. First, I want to say I admire the work you do, and the value you bring to the "helping" professions. While your work is highly specific, the tools and skills you have developed and use on the job can be applied to many roles and many industries.

Many people feel their work is too specific to be valued in other industries, but with a good analysis of your responsibilities, the results you generate, and a great list of action verbs, you can help a hiring manager see why they would want you on their team.

I encourage people to start with a listing of their responsibilities as you have done, and go into great detail about what was involved, and the results achieved. For example, you were involved in tele-recruitment. If we ask some questions, we might find out that you managed the tele-recruitment efforts by developing a target list of potential donors, wrote the phone script to be used to solicit, trained others how to make these calls, etc.

Does this sound like there are more skills involved than you originally believed? Move on to the next area of responsibility - organizing events and do the same kind of analysis. Don't forget results, and quantify when possible. The results really make the "so what?" factor work, which is the final test of whether the data should stay on the resume or not. Look for opportunities to highlight increasing something positive like revenue, or effectiveness, and decreasing other areas like cost, errors, or saving time.

Although you did this work in a specialized field, these skills can be easily transferred to other jobs and industries.

After you develop the list of skills, start to network with people in a variety of industries. The idea is to have them see what you have done historically so they can offer ideas about what kind of role in their organization or industry require the skills you offer.

If you spoke to someone in higher education, they would see that you have skills they need in the development and fund-raising areas. Based on your event planning skills, they might also suggest you talk to someone in alumni affairs. A person in healthcare would tell you that opportunities exist in fund-raising in healthcare, and you have experience in that industry, which might make you even more marketable. A person in a sales organization might suggest telemarketing as an area for you to explore.

We haven't even started on your leadership and management skills. Going through this analysis will help you see your qualifications in a new light, and give you the chance to make some decisions about where you want to use your skills, not just settling on who will have you.

Time to focus, look for skills, value match

Q. I need help with my job search and do not know exactly where to start. I began in the finance industry working for one year in human resources as a receptionist. During my second year, I decided to pursue my interest in cosmetology. I left my job and enrolled in a seven-month program and interned at a salon in the city. Seeking a position that would enable me to use my education and professional experience in a corporate environment, I left and re-entered the job market in search of a job in one of the top beauty companies. Presently, I work for a jewelry company which is constantly going through transitional times. I have mastered my responsibilities and am looking for a path to excel, but do not see a career for myself here. To date, I have been able to interview for several positions at a good beauty company but have not found the right fit. I am very discouraged and confused as to the direction I need to take. Mainly my emotions stem from wanting to be an entrepreneur; but feeling the need for experience. I need some career coaching, but not sure as to the right places to check. Could you suggest a company? Since I have experience working for various industries, how should I go about my search if not in beauty? I do not want to show that I am looking to bounce around. How do I explain my decision to leave finance for cosmetology without out sounding regretful that I am not interviewing for a position in beauty? Also, how do I demonstrate that I will not bounce around and leave them in a moment's notice? I do not see my dream to become an entrepreneur coming to fruition now, but I need a job.

A. Don't lose faith. There are many job seekers in similar situations to yours. They are trying to figure out what they want in a job right now, and in a longer-term career. Of course, changing jobs without a good career plan can be frustrating and fruitless, and could be described as "same circus, different tent." You know you have to go to work every day, to do something for which you will earn money, but following only one area of interest can lead to the kind of confusion and aggravation you are experiencing. It is time to focus, look for a good skills and values match, and the opportunity for lots of learning.

Working with a career coach would be valuable for you. Ask friends who may have worked with someone; ask people who have worked with outplacement firms to ask someone at the firm for a referral to a private practitioner. Dan King, principal and founder of Career Planning and Management (careerfirm.com), suggests you find local specialists through the Boston chapter of the Association of Career Professionals International (acpinternational-boston.org).

Before even meeting with a career consultant, you can undertake a career review. Make three columns on a sheet of paper and begin to sort out functions and industries where you have experience. The industry list starts with financial services, jewelry, and beauty.

Add all of those in so you can see what the patterns and similarities might be. Now do the same with function. The third column should represent the cultural or environmental factors you really want on the job. You mentioned entrepreneurial a few times as something you seek out. There are many meanings to this. By looking at how different careers and roles in the industries or functions you listed exhibit those characteristics, you should be able to zero in on how to best combine your interests, skills, values, drivers, and desires.

Networking with people in your target industries and asking them to help you expand the list of potential opportunities can be very effective. Putting the puzzle pieces together in many different variations can help you see the range of options you have. If you organize your thoughts and skills by developing a job target list in this way, you can then begin a more manageable and successful job search.

Background checks part of hiring process

Q. I am a graduate student about to look for a full-time job. I will be looking for management positions, and I understand that (if convicted) a DUI from my home state would not be criminal and show up as a moving violation (because of state laws). Will this affect my long-term career as I try to move up the ladder?

A. Background checks, credit checks, employment reports, and CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) are becoming commonplace as part of the hiring process. Some employers, such as public school systems, are actually mandated by law to conduct background checks. Financial services organizations have incorporated many of these checks as standard practice, and other employers run informal electronic and online searches to find out more about applicants.

Your question raises a variety of issues, and to help, I consulted with attorney Gary Feldman at Davis, Malm & D'Agostine, in Boston. It sounds as if you were, or are about to be, convicted of operating under the influence in another state and are concerned about the impact of that conviction on potential employment in Massachusetts.

According to Feldman, "In Massachusetts, the Registry of Motor Vehicles may suspend an operator's driver's license for an out-of-state conviction for the same time period that it would have been suspended had the violation occurred in Massachusetts. Thus, assuming the home state reported the conviction to the appropriate agency and it was recorded by the Registry, a review of your driving record in either the home state or Massachusetts by your potential employer would reveal the conviction.

"Additionally, many employers in Massachusetts obtain CORI from the Criminal History Systems Board. Employers who limit themselves to CORI checks would not discover the conviction, because such checks are limited to convictions in Massachusetts.

However, if the employer performs a more exhaustive search (usually done by an investigative agency), the employer may uncover the conviction. Such third-party investigations are governed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act and require authorization from the applicant/employee before they are performed, as well as procedures as to how the information may be used."

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston.

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