I can still remember the day when the factory I was working at closed. It is still so fresh and vivid in my mind, although it was four years ago. Four years ago that my life ended, and it was four years ago that I began to sift through the puzzle how to get to work again. I had thought that I was in the right job, because I had a great paycheque. The work was terrible, but the people were good though – well, most of the time – but I still hated to go to work. I was the last one there at the beginning of the shift, and the first one to leave every day.
You see, my job was a mystery to me. It was a mystery because there was no way that I could solve this problem, there was no way that I could get out and transition into something else. I never even wrote a resume to get this job, for seventeen years I had been working here, figuring out how to survive to the next paycheque. That was when I loved my job – pay day! …. for about the ten minutes it took to spend my pay, anyway. For me I was living my own version of “Survivor” – surviving every day – and I was on Exile Island every day at work, living on a barren, friendless, empty piece of rock. Know what I mean?
Then the place closed. They would not let me back in, and I had no idea at all what to do next – I was just devastated. There were a few choices that I knew of, but really, it was still a mystery. Then there was a contract position from the Government to run an “Action Centre” to help the workers that were all affected by my plant’s closure to adjust to new jobs, training, and job selection. I had no idea what this was about, but I knew I wanted to help out, and I knew without a doubt I was the person for this job. I earned the job of Co-ordinator of the Action Centre, and that was the day I was borne again.
I still did not have a great “moment” when I knew what I should be doing, but I knew what I liked. Working with the counselors and facilitators, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I asked around, performed some information interviews to find out more, and then decided I need to figure this out and become a counselor. This was the moment my job seeking went from being a “mystery” to a “puzzle”. It was a puzzle, because I knew what I wanted, just not the way to get it.
A puzzle is a systematical process to solve a particular problem, where the mystery is defined by www.dictionary.com as “anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.” Up until this point for me, job seeking was a mystery – I had thought literally FOR YEARS I wanted to do something different, and had no idea what to do. However, the mystery was slowly changing into a puzzle to be solved…
Many job seekers that I see every day are in the stages of “mystery” rather than problem solving the puzzle. There is a systematic process that many miss out on, but it is not rocket science, it is not a real secret, but there are steps.
- Figure out what you like and what you don’t in regards to a workplace – time of work, hours, pay, etc.
- Take a few moments to reflect on what was a good time in your working life, and what felt good to do in the past and what you felt that you were good at
- Reflect on what you have done in the past that were moments of pride and accomplishment, these are the stories that you can use in your resume, your interviews, and in choosing your next work home
- Perform interviews with workers and employers to determine your fit with the sector, the position, and the employer
- Write a cover letter and resume targeting the specific job you want to apply for – there is no such thing as a “skeleton resume” – for maximum results, you need a targeted resume
- Perform interviews and determine the fit factor of the workplace both to you and with you
Of course, this is a very, very simplified design, but the basics are here. All that is needed once you have the blueprint is to make the process work. Getting some help sooner rather than later makes sense, so that you have time to make mistakes, find options, and then to make the process work. Once you have a puzzle in front of you rather than a mystery, it is only a matter of making the pieces fit. If your job search is still a mystery, what piece are you missing?