How to match job to your credentials

Dear Joan:
As someone about to reenter the job market, I have a question that I have not seen addressed in the materials I've read: How do you search for a job that you haven't been able to put a label on?

I've been through all sorts of exercises to define my interests and skills, and on the basis of that and my resume, I've come up with some broad categories that I might fit in. The categories seem so general, I haven't been able to tie them to a specific position. So, I feel stuck at the start: I don't feel that I can just walk into a personnel office and say something like, "Hi-do you have anything that fits me, Human Resources/Science/Management/Communications? Figure out where I fit, please.

I feel that I should be doing my search by discussing specific jobs or positions- but then, how do I find out what a company has? Perhaps I have the wrong view of how specific and certain of what she expects the job seeker to be?

If you compared 10 similar jobs in 10 companies, you would probably find 10 job titles. It's no wonder you're frustrated, particularly because in your case you also have four categories to explore. Chances are, if you try to find one job that fits all four categories, you will be sorely disappointed.

You are absolutely correct in assuming you need to find out where your skills fit, because a company probably won't do it for you. However, your quest for a specific position need not be as exact as you may think.

Four separate resumes
The important thing is that you stop thinking in terms of all four areas collectively, and begin thinking about them one at a time. If you list all four categories in your job objective, you will look like you don't know what you want to do.

You are fortunate in that you have four separate job categories in which to seek employment. I suggest composing four resumes, each with one major category as its focus.

The way to do this is to start with one of your broad areas, like human resources, and pull from all your past work/volunteer experiences those accomplishments and responsibilities that fit under Human Resources.

This may mean writing what is known as a functional resume, which describes your functional skills and abilities and simply lists your job titles and dates of employment at the end, just above your education. It is not a chronological account of each job you ever held. Rather, it is a summary of all the accomplishments and responsibilities you have experienced. For example, the categories listed on your functional human resources resume could include: coordinating, supervising, training, hiring, budgeting, etc. You can then support each of these with examples taken from all of your experience.

Under "coordinating" you may want to list results you achieved as a coordinator of scientific research, of training programs while in the military service and as a coordinator of the schedules of people you supervised.

Check job titles
To find appropriate names for the positions you are qualified for, I would suggest asking friends to check job titles in their respective companies. Another approach is to attend meetings of professional groups in your functional areas and ask people for the titles their companies use to describe certain jobs.

Be sure to ask them for descriptions of the responsibilities and the reporting relationships, to give you an idea how the job fits into the corporate picture. You might also request a brief meeting with a few of the members of these professional organizations.

If you call some of these people, and express a sincere interest in their professional organization, they will usually answer a few questions regarding job types and titles in their companies. If they don't know enough about another department to help you, ask them if they would mind referring you to someone in that department. Also ask if you can use his or her name in your introduction when you call.

Professional journals and newspapers often quote names and job titles within the text of articles.

An excellent place to look for job titles is the want ads. Read them from front to back and write down any job title that seems to describe the kind of job that fits any of your four functional areas. If you do this for a few days, patterns will begin to emerge and you will get some ideas.

It is not necessary to write a job objective on your resume. In each cover letter you send, mention the specific job for which they are advertising. If a position looks particularly attractive, type a special resume and use that specific job title as your objective.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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