First question: Are you unemployed? If so, this article is for you, even though the focus is toward someone with interests in technology fields.
Do you keep up with your field by reading about new developments and looking for new areas that can help in your knowledge enhancement? If not, that is a cost-effective approach to stay sharp in your field.
How far has your educational experience gotten you? Do you have an Associate degree? Bachelors? Masters? As someone in the technology field you should know how important that “piece of paper” is. Most often it will not matter how much experience you have, how many things you have done, or even how many books you have written. The lack of a bachelor’s degree, at a minimum, from an accredited institution will generally place your resume at the bottom of the pile.
Do you have experience in your field? Yes, this question is to be considered because of so many new college graduates with the bachelor’s degree mentioned above but no experience. While you are in school, take advantage of any internships available. If the internships involve a paid position, that will give you the “best of both worlds.” Even if it is an unpaid internship you will gain from the real world experience.
Now, let’s say that you have all of the above. You achieved your baccalaureate degree years ago and have worked at a company for many years until being laid off in the currently sluggish economy. You have the degree and experience but still no job. Have you refreshed your interviewing skills? You can sign up with various job sites and gain from their interviewing tips. The sign up and tips are generally free.
While you are out of work, what can you do to help alleviate that problem? Get involved with various help sites and apply your expertise to help others. You never know who may be looking for help and what needs they may have. You could help someone with a specific need and that could lead to a consulting assignment or even a permanent position. Your expertise could be noticed and you could be offered an opportunity to author a book.
You may be wondering if I, Stephen J. Link, have first-hand experience with all of these items that have been mentioned. That would result in a simple, documented, YES. I was unemployed from my trade as a programmer many years ago; and for a rather lengthy period of time. The first step made to hedge against the unemployment situation was to start my own computer consulting business – Link Em Up. Through local networking (yes, others are quite important in helping you out of a rut) I was able to procure two programming projects which could be sold nationwide. I also acquired opportunities to write other small programs for use locally by various consulting customers.
It was during that time that I became heavily involved in a free tech support site. I would mention the name but the site has become commercialized over the past few years and I have strayed away from it. During my involvement with that site it was noticed that I was actively involved and knowledgeable in the MS Outlook area. Because of this I was offered and accepted an opportunity to write “Link Em Up On Outlook” (ISBN 1-932802-01-0), available from Holy Macro Books.
Now, as a published author, I was thinking that would put my resume at the top of the pile. At least somewhere up there? Nope, I had over fifteen years of experience, multiple programs available nationwide, an AS degree in Computer Programming, a published author, and I was still not a successful at finding a fulfilling job as I would like to be. What was missing? Maybe a BS degree would help.
I found a local accredited college that would accept my AS degree toward the first two years of their program so I enrolled in their weekend college, Business Administration area, for the final two years of a BS degree. I was aiming toward a Master’s Degree with a focus on Database Design but that can wait. After serious consideration and discussion with those who should know, it was determined that an MS degree may not be as valuable as certifications in multiple areas. The fact that certifications are more economically feasible than a $60k MS degree helped in that decision!
As you have probably noticed (and is mentioned above), networking is a valuable tool in acquiring the job where you will be able to apply your skills and shine brightly. While in college, get involved in various clubs that are associated with your area of study. Get to know your professors and advisors quite well and show them that you know the subject matter. They are your best resources to getting a job because they are well connected in the local community and will be an excellent liaison between you and the employers who could benefit from your skillset.
Take the internship opportunities. If you are not working, this will provide something to do along with experience that can be placed on your next job application. If you are working outside of your area of study, try to work the internship in addition to your “regular” job for the experience it will provide. If that “regular” job does not provide benefits and the internship pays as much or more, take the internship for as many hours as you can.
What college should I enroll in? How can I pay for it? Your author is an advocate of attending a local school to acquire your baccalaureate degree. They are the most likely to be connected to the employers in your area. Apply for college loans to pay for your education. Sure, that is debt which will have to be paid back, but the interest rates, flexibility, and time frame for repayment are a great advantage.
What is the biggest secret to success? Find a job that you enjoy. When you enjoy the job and get a paycheck for it, that is the ultimate situation. Although you may not always enjoy the people you work with, you can always gain satisfaction from a job well done.