Monterey Herald

Success in today's job market


As companies continue to lay off employees the race to land a new job will become more intense.

In a tight job market do everything you can to demonstrat­e your value. Look for ways to monetize your contributi­ons. Make sure your boss knows what you do so she can defend you in layoff discussion­s. Do everything possible to help your boss shine and make her life easier.

However, if you have kept your skills up to date, aren't happy in your job, and are concerned about the company's long-term viability, seriously consider taking the severance package. In the 90s when IBM, Apple and GE were laying people off, those who got out earlier got better severance packages. And the ones who landed successful­ly had the most marketable skills!

If your severance package includes career transition services, take advantage of them. Prior to starting my career coaching practice, I managed career centers in Silicon Valley. I was amazed at the number of job seekers who neglected to use or put off until the last couple of weeks the career services their company paid for.

Review the terms of any severance package carefully before signing it. Consider investing an hour with an employment attorney to have the severance agreement reviewed. There may be contingenc­ies or limitation­s that you don't understand. You also may be able to negotiate a better package than the one offered by the company. One of my senior clients did just that and successful­ly negotiated a much larger financial package with fewer restrictio­ns on her immediate employment options.

Here is what to do now.

If you are currently working on legacy products or services, invest in new skills and technology; your future depends on it. Yes, it may cost you to take those classes or earn that certificat­ion. In the long run, it will make you more competitiv­e, potentiall­y shaving months off your job search!

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. If the company downsizes, you want to be ready to hit the ground running. Or, if an unexpected opportunit­y pops up, you don't want to waste time getting your marketing materials ready for prime time.

Practice articulati­ng your skills and key areas of expertise. A successful job search requires that you know and communicat­e what you can do for a company. If you are not sure, invest in a good career coach who can help you sort out your skills. If you don't know why an employer should hire you, they certainly won't know why they should hire you!

Brush up on your interview skills. Do you have a great answer for “Tell me about yourself?” Something that is interestin­g, relevant and not just a recap of what's on your resume? Are you comfortabl­e explaining why you are in the job market? Can you answer, “what are your weaknesses” without shooting yourself in the foot? Are you prepared to share a recent accomplish­ment

and its importance?

And, finally, are there people who you've been meaning to ask for a reference

or recommenda­tion? Now is the time to ask, when you are feeling confident and the reason for the recommenda­tion is still fresh in the other person's mind. Ask them to jot down a few sentences in an email or on LinkedIn. You

will be glad you did!

Mary Jeanne Vincent, career expert and strategist, has a coaching practice in Monterey.

She may be reached at 831-657-9151, mjv@ careercoac­, or

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