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Bruzzese: Tough times a good time to assess job skills

It’s a confusing time for many workers as they face a rocky economy that has hit many industries hard, resulting in limited career growth opportunities and even layoffs.

But what to do? Begin looking for another job? Stay put and hope for the best? Go back to school and learn completely new skills?

Susan Guarneri, a career coach with decades of experience in a variety of industries, says that while it’s time for workers to “take stock,” it would be a huge mistake to panic about the current job market. Instead, she says it’s time to take a candid look not only at the future economic health of certain industries, but to also determine how certain skills and abilities can be transferred to other jobs.

“Some people are going to be doing what they’ve never done in their lives up to this point – they’re going to really be looking at their careers and deciding if they’re really in the right place,” she says. “A lot of people are going to discover they’re in careers they hate.”

The first step, Guarneri says, is to take advantage of free resources for those who need some information about the future for various industries, and how their skills might fit into different jobs. For example, she recommends checking out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site (www.bls.gov/oco/cg/home.htm), which provides not only a look at job futures, but gives an idea of expected wages, working conditions, training needed, etc., in addition to listings of various types of jobs available in individual states.

Further, if you’ve never done a skills assessment, you might want to check out CareerInfoNet: www.careerinfonet.org, which also can direct you to variety of sources to help you evaluate how you might fit into other jobs or industries.

The key, Guarneri says, is to not focus on the fear that you might lose your job – or become overly anxious if you’ve already been laid off.

“You really have to take stock and figure out what will work for you. It’s false thinking to believe that you can magically fix it all right away,” she says. “Look at this as a chance to figure out what you really want to do.”

For example, just because you’re good at math doesn’t mean you have to be an accountant. With thousands of jobs in hundreds of industries, the possibilities to combine something you really love with your skills is greater than many people believe, Guarneri says.

“A lot of people have this notion that they’ll never find a job that will provide them with the salary they need, so they don’t even bother to try,” she says.

Guarneri says there are four cornerstones of making sure a job is a good fit for you:

1. Motivated skills. Identify what you really enjoy doing and “what you’re reasonably good at.”

2. Burnout skills. “This is something you’re good at, but you hate doing it.”

3. Personality type. “This is your behavioral style – the natural flow of who you are as a person.”

4. Values. “This is why you get up in the morning and go to work. It’s more than a paycheck for you.”

“Once you use valid, objective methods to make these decisions, then that’s your career DNA. That’s your benchmark to determine where you want to go, what you want your job duties to be and – if you see those burnout skills – to know when to run for the hills.”

Guarneri (www.assessmentgoddess.com) cautions that even though it’s a scary time for many workers, she says no one should “rush and replicate a horrible situation they just came out of.”

“Just take a breath and rest. Think about what you want to do. Do your due diligence and check out a business or industry that interests you. Use your network to find your way into industries that interest you, and consider whether you’re going to need more training if you decide to change careers,” she says. “And, most of all, you’ve got to get over the mental hurdles that get in your own way.”

Anita Bruzzese is author of “45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy … and How to Avoid Them” (www.45things.com). Write to her c/o: Business Editor, Gannett News Service, 7950 Jones Branch Dr., McLean, VA 22107. For a reply, include a SASE.

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