career planning en-US Career Advice for Those With Vanishing Professions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/career-advice-for-those-with-vanishing-professions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="Man at loom" title="Man at loom" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The &quot;Plan B&quot; storyline of &quot;30 Rock&quot; surely resonated with millions of the unemployed. In this episode, comedy writer Liz Lemon discovers that she is the only one among her coworkers who has no alternative plan for employment when her show (TGS with Tracy Jordan) is placed on &quot;forced hiatus.&quot; As she frets about her future, she encounters a travel agent and other shadowy people whose professions are no longer a &quot;thing.&quot; (See also: <a href="">Contingency Plans</a>)</p> <object width="512" height="288"> <param value="" name="movie" /> <param value="true" name="allowFullScreen" /><embed width="512" height="288" allowfullscreen="true" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" src=""></embed></object><p><a href="">Watch video</a></p> <p>Many people find themselves in similar circumstances to Liz. Their former professions and industries are vanishing.</p> <p>Some jobs (independent travel agents, for example, as mentioned in &quot;30 Rock&quot;) have nearly disappeared, but the industry itself is still thriving. Some industries are dying, though the professional disciplines within those industries are still viable.</p> <p>According to a report by IBIS World, the <a href="">top 10 dying industries</a> include:</p> <ul> <li>Wired telecommunications</li> <li>Newspaper publishing</li> <li>Mills</li> <li>Photofinishing</li> <li>Apparel manufacturing</li> </ul> <p>The decline of apparel manufacturing has been most evident to me. For many years, I worked with professionals who have experienced near-constant turmoil in this industry. On a regular basis, local plants were closed. At first, manufacturing activities were moved to company-owned facilities offshore, and then outsourced to third-party trading agents and vendors overseas.</p> <p>Studying the paths of people in many disciplines (operations management, merchandising, design, engineering, sourcing, etc.), and observing changes in companies' organizational structures have given me insights into ways of preserving, advancing, and realigning careers in changing conditions.</p> <p>Here are steps to take if your profession or industry is disappearing.</p> <h3>Transfer Your Skills to a New Industry</h3> <p>Start by researching new fields and identifying skills needed to excel in specific positions. Pinpoint industries that are growing and hold interest for you. Arrange <a href="">informational interviews</a> or simply talk with friends who have expertise in your targeted fields. Listen as your contacts describe their work; then brainstorm ways to transfer your skills to new industries. Supplement your research by reading <a href="">online postings</a> and studying industry news to get an a feel for high-demand positions and their requirements.</p> <p>Next, convince potential employers that you have the skills they need <em>without confusing them about your past experiences</em>. Translate your existing skills into terms that hiring managers can understand. If in doubt, use plain language to give an accurate portrayal of your strengths rather than unintentionally distorting or overstating capabilities.</p> <p>Specific tips for job-search documents (such as resumes, letters, and online profiles):</p> <ul> <li>Substitute standard word use for industry and company lingo</li> <li>Reframe accomplishments in terms that an outsider can understand</li> <li>Avoid the purely functional resume that highlights skills but obscures work history (<a href="">see why I don't recommend a functional resume</a>)</li> <li>Use a chronological resume or combo chronological/functional resume to place skills into context and show career progression</li> </ul> <h3>Move to a Different Country</h3> <p>Leaving the country for a job may seem like a dramatic move. This option may be unrealistic due to personal issues. But industries disappearing here may be expanding in developing countries, creating opportunities for those willing to relocate to another part of the world.</p> <p>For example, many U.S.-based plant managers and engineers in apparel manufacturing accepted jobs doing nearly identical work overseas when manufacturing shifted to new locations. Or they leveraged existing skills to new roles in sourcing, production management, product development, and social compliance.</p> <h3>Go Back to School</h3> <p>Figure out whether you want to reinvent yourself completely or make some modifications. Think about the time and money you are willing and able to invest for the purpose of getting yourself ready for a new profession or industry. Depending on your goals, you may:</p> <ul> <li>Freshen your skills, which may involve taking a computer class to broaden your knowledge of technology-based applications</li> <li>Finish your degree, if you left college short of graduation</li> <li>Earn credentials in a specialized area, such as project management</li> <li>Completely change directions; start a career in nursing after working in manufacturing, for example</li> </ul> <p>Career counseling (<a href="">typically free at community colleges</a>) can help you to make decisions about what types of education and training to pursue. To minimize expenses associated with going back to school, apply for <a href="">scholarships</a> available to non-traditional students.</p> <h3>Take a Lousy Job</h3> <p>Taking an average job with great benefits may be a possibility, but such positions seem to be non-existent right now. So, you may need to accept a <a href="">lousy job</a> to help<em> </em>pay the bills while you reinvent or update yourself. Be strategic to get yourself ready for the next job. For example, take an entry-level job in your target industry.</p> <h3>Wait Until Your Job Resurfaces</h3> <p>I know this approach sounds crazy, but some professions do resurface.</p> <p>For example, apparel patternmakers nearly became extinct. People in these positions interpreted creative designs into patterns for use by manufacturing, plus they assured proper fit. But when plants were closed locally, their jobs began to disappear. However, as garment fit became more prominent as a brand differentiator, demand for patternmakers began to increase &mdash; until more industry changes diverted this role to overseas vendors.</p> <p>Likewise, retail sales associates are disappearing from the employment landscape as shoppers turn to online stores. But as boutique shops and luxury sellers re-discover that high-touch service can garner premium prices and generate high profits, demand for amazing retail sales professionals may grow.</p> <h3>Continue Searching for an Opening in Your Profession</h3> <p>There may be a couple of openings in your profession or industry now, either with companies who maintained traditional positions or because the professions have resurfaced. Such positions may be tough to land because of stiff competition from experienced professionals. Be careful to evaluate the long-term viability of these potential employers &mdash; they may be run by visionaries who can channel your strengths in a new direction, or they may be getting ready to shut their doors, forcing you to look for another job again soon.</p> <h3>Do a Combination of the Above</h3> <p>Moving from a vanishing profession to a vibrant one isn't easy. Based on my observations, those who made the most successful transitions leveraged high-demand and highly transferable skills (relationship building, vendor evaluation, decision making, staff management, and leadership); took risks with start-ups, turnarounds, or companies moving overseas; and continually developed their capabilities. Plus, they were always plotting Plan B.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">25 Awesome Websites to Help You Get a Job</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">9 LinkedIn Changes Every Job Hunter Should Make</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Great Ways to Improve Your Resume Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">8 Job-Getting Tips from a Guy Who&#039;s Hired 500 People in the Past 5 Years</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">Hate Your Job? It Could Be Your Fault</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting career planning changing jobs industry Tue, 26 Apr 2011 09:48:09 +0000 Julie Rains 521609 at Is It Better to Specialize or Generalize? <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/is-it-better-to-specialize-or-generalize" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="special tree" title="special tree" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I&rsquo;ve formerly written about the virtues of <a href="">specializing</a> within the confines of running a business and seeking clients. And as an entrepreneurial tool, specialization is quite a valuable skill to have.</p> <p>But what about those of us who are employees, not entrepreneurs? <a href="">Are we more employable &mdash; and ultimately happy</a> &mdash; if we become proficient at lots of things (i.e. to generalize), or to become really good at one or two things (i.e. to specialize)?</p> <h2>The Debate</h2> <p>As tends to happen, this article was born of a debate on the topic. The fellow I was debating with is a very successful CEO who has made his mark with a variety of companies. The businesses have varied slightly in nature, but the general industry and his involvement in each business has remained the same.</p> <p>His argument is that to specialize in your chosen career &mdash; and to stick with and further develop it &mdash; is the best route. You become very (very) good at what you do, and are seen as an expert in the field. He believes that specializing is the way to establish a solid career path, make good money, and derive a sense of career (and personal) satisfaction.</p> <p>I don&rsquo;t necessarily disagree. But for the sake of argument, my points of debate centered around the possibility that <strong>specializing leads to career boredom, limits job options, and can ultimately do yourself out of a job if your area of specialty becomes obsolete.</strong></p> <p>Let&rsquo;s look at some contributing factors.</p> <h2>Specialization</h2> <h3>Pros</h3> <ul> <li>You get <strong>higher wages</strong> for having specific knowledge.</li> <li>You are a <strong>desirable employee</strong> in your area of expertise.</li> <li>If you specialize enough, you can become a leading expert <strong>in demand for satisfying ground-breaking projects</strong> or additional work on the side that complements your job.</li> </ul> <h3>Cons</h3> <ul> <li>You have less job security if your area of specialty becomes obsolete.</li> <li>Many areas of specialty require a <strong>university degree or educational certification</strong> of sorts (which is not a problem per se, but might financially &mdash; or otherwise &mdash; be a stretch to achieve).</li> <li><strong>If you are too specialized, the company can&rsquo;t use you for other tasks or jobs</strong>, thus decreasing your overall flexibility as an employee.</li> <li>Too much time working at your specific area of specialty can lead to <a href="">career boredom</a>.</li> </ul> <h2>Generalization</h2> <h3>Pros</h3> <ul> <li>The more possibilities you have for making income, <strong>the less you will feel hard economic times</strong>. Then again, if your area of generalization is too vague, you may become too expendable and be the first in line for company layoffs.</li> <li>To be a generalist often means you keep learning new complementary skills. This continues to build a <strong>good base of employability</strong>, in addition to conquering the long-term boredom factor.</li> <li>Your increased range of employability also means you have <strong>greater chances of being employed closer to home</strong> than a specialist might. You will <a href="">save money on transportation</a> and other expenses that a specialist might bear (even with a higher income that might not cover these adjustments).</li> </ul> <h3>Cons</h3> <ul> <li><strong>Employers might not know how best to place you in their organization</strong> if your skills are too spread out. They may not view you as reliable or tenacious enough with any one job or skill set to be worth hiring.</li> <li><strong>Without a solid idea of what you do, you may find yourself searching, both for personal identity </strong>as well as groping in the dark for what to do next, and for what type of employer you&rsquo;ll work for next.</li> <li>Less focused job searches are more difficult to endure.</li> </ul> <h2>Personal Experience</h2> <p>I come from both the specialist and generalist categories, but find my overall career path solidly identifies me as a generalist. Here is a random list of careers I have had:</p> <ul> <li>Television Producer and Host</li> <li>Actor, Singer, Dancer</li> <li>Administrative Assistant</li> <li>Property Manager</li> <li>Certified Financial Planner (CFP)</li> <li>Outdoor Education Field Guide</li> <li><a href="">Writer</a> &mdash; Travel and Personal Finance</li> </ul> <p>Delve deep enough into any one of these careers, and I can match it with a certain degree of education that I attained for it (usually in conjunction with working in the field), and a degree of specialty within each career (i.e. the types of properties I managed, tv shows I worked on, the type of writing I do, etc).</p> <p>But the skills I learned and employed in each career were not autonomous, and instead complemented the requirements of the next career.</p> <ul> <li>Without my administrative experience, most subsequent careers wouldn&rsquo;t have run nearly as smoothly.</li> <li>Without my time as a CFP, I wouldn&rsquo;t be writing about personal finance today.</li> <li>My acting and tv experience has been instrumental in the emergence of a few possible hosting positions on financial shows that were near misses (such is the industry).</li> <li>And without the full range of careers, I would have been hard-pressed to pull off an appearance on <a href="">live national tv</a> without breaking a sweat!</li> </ul> <p>So in my personal experience, despite the inherent benefits of choosing an area of specialty and sticking to it, I have found that being a generalist has given me the variety I crave, while still helping me to build a life-long career path that is satisfying and lucrative. Or at least satisfying. (I am a writer and professional hobo now, after all. The money doesn&rsquo;t exactly keep me driving the latest sportscar, but the circumstances allow me to live on the road full-time &mdash; which is currently more important to me.)</p> <h2>Food for Thought</h2> <p><strong>Does your area of specialty have wide employment opportunities?</strong> How specialized is it &mdash; will it put you in more demand, or is it a skill that is easy enough to acquire that many people have it?</p> <p>If possible, choose an area of specialty that still has a fairly broad market and use. <strong>If your specialty is too obscure, you will limit your options.</strong></p> <p>Whether you generalize or specialize, <strong>try to push yourself beyond comfort zones regularly</strong>. This will help you to grow, continue learning, and stay motivated and energized by your work.</p> <p>Some career options require specializing right off the bat. For example to be a medical doctor is considered to be a specialty of sorts, but even within the range of medicine, there are hundreds of areas of specialty you can further explore. What each reader will define as a &ldquo;specialty&rdquo; versus a more general career can vary. For example, is a GP (general practitioner) a specialist or a generalist?</p> <p>In reality, <a href="">career choices</a> are a very personal thing. Other people may let their personal experience cloud the issue and say you &ldquo;should&rdquo; do this and you &ldquo;should&rdquo; do that. Instead, allow own interests, goals, and ideas to determine what you do, as that will get you closest to a career that will make you happy.</p> <p>Here is an interesting article that discusses the <a href="">benefits and drawbacks of specialization within a managerial role</a>. It appears that there is no clear answer as to whether it is best to generalize or specialize.</p> <p>So instead &mdash; as usual &mdash; <a href="">balance</a> appears to be the key.</p> <p>On that note, <strong>what about being a &ldquo;generalizing specialist&rdquo;?</strong> As the best of both worlds, a generalizing specialist is a jack-of-all-trades and master of a few. They beat out generalists for their deeper breadth of knowledge, and beat out specialists for having more range and flexibility, and a better working knowledge of how it all fits together.</p> <p>So is it better to specialize or generalize? What is your experience?</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <div align="center"><a data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-count="above" data-pin-tall="true" data-pin-save="true" href=";;description=Is%20It%20Better%20to%20Specialize%20or%20Generalize%3F"></a></p> <script async defer src="//"></script></div> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="" alt="Is It Better to Specialize or Generalize?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 College Courses That Will Boost Your Career</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Answer 23 of the Most Common Interview Questions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">11 Essentials Every Business Traveler Needs to Pack</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">10 Ways to Combat &quot;Impostor Syndrome&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">You’re Fired! 20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building career planning generalizing specializing Fri, 27 Nov 2009 15:00:02 +0000 Nora Dunn 3883 at