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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, February 1, 2010, 1:40 am

Commentary: Learning how to beat a bad job market

By Anne Greenblatt

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    SSU workshops to  help you adapt,  use networking

    Anne Greenblatt

    Anne Greenblatt

    Given the California economy, this state and Sonoma County face a “difficult year ahead” with unemployment expected to remain high through 2010, according to Jerry Nickelsburg, senior economist with UCLA’s Anderson Forecast and speaker at the Sonoma County Economic Development Board’s “State of the County.”

    Employers continue their reluctance to hire – especially in our largest job sectors of government, retail, construction and hospitality – and often ask employees to reduce hours and take on increased workloads.

    Opportunities that do exist – in health care, the wine industry, emerging green economy or business and professional services – may not be advertised or require re-training or entrepreneurial ingenuity.

    How do we survive and even thrive in tough economic times? By building up our career resilience. The resilient person has the ability to bounce back after disruptive change, actively manage his or her work life and maintain a flexible attitude of self-employment, whether inside or outside an organization.

    Career resilience means first of all clearly understanding ourselves and who we are becoming. We need to clarify what our current interests and strengths are, how we stay confident and motivated to do our best work, what values drive our choices and what kind of contribution we make to organizations and/or customers.

    It means actively exploring the work world to understand future trends and changing opportunities. Resilient people reach out to others to nurture and build their personal and professional communities. This expands confidence and helps us deal with stress and maintain a realistic perspective.

    Resilient people nurture their well-being and optimism. They determine a realistic plan of action, take calculated risks and change course to respond to changing realities. The heart of career resilience lies in continuously developing the knowledge, skills and confidence to make a visible and motivated contribution in the marketplace.

    Moving forward in our career is as much about learning and growing as it is about developing smarter work habits or job search strategies. Continuously developing and strengthening our skills in tandem with the rapidly changing workplace has never been more important. Our security lies in our employability.

    However, before we can move forward, it is vitally important to take time out to clarify who we are becoming and listen for what calls to us. Then we need reach out to explore the changing economy and opportunities emerging, career entry points and skills required. Web sites such as Sonoma County Job Link, at www.socojoblink.org, the U.S. Department of Labor’s ONET at www.online.onetcenter.org and JobStar San Francisco at www.jobstar.org can help. Professional organizations and conferences in one’s field are usually a goldmine of information and well worth joining.

    People are often our most dynamic source of information. Social networking is important, but requesting a short meeting face-to-face to explore the emerging economy is often crucial to building active networks and learning about opportunities that might fit who we are and what we have to offer. It’s important to ask for advice, perspective and possibly another contact, not directly for a job.

    Once we’ve taken the time to assess ourselves and explore options, we are in a better position to make decisions, choose a path and determine what skills and knowledge we want and need to develop.

    When we put ourselves in the driver’s seat and embark on a path, new ideas, directions and opportunities have a way of showing up in unexpected places. Our confidence and optimism go up, stress goes down, and we find or create work that is satisfying and rewarding.

    •••

    Anne Greenblatt is a career counselor and training professional with more than 20 years of experience in community, university and private-practice settings. She is in private practice in Santa Rosa, helping clients assess their strengths, learn about opportunities, plan their education and career development and find jobs. From 2002 to 2009, she was career services lead at Sonoma State University. Prior to that, she served as a trainer at Sonoma County Job Link and as a career counselor at Stanford for 14 years.

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