Rev up job search with degrees of separation

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imageContributing blogger John Long is a professional career coach and consultant in Atlanta who founded Two Roads Resources. He blogs at Atlanta Career Coach.

Q: I feel like I’ve used up all my ideas on the types of jobs that I should be pursuing in my job search. Any advice on what I can do to get unstuck?

A: It is normal to reach a point in a job search where you exhaust the obvious job search ideas and networking contacts. It’s at that point that you need to start brainstorming about the types of organizations that might benefit from the scope and depth of your background. Start thinking degrees of separation from your current job title.

Here’s an example: Many people assume that being an engineer is a perfect gig as the world always needs engineers, even in a recession. Engineering remains a promising career field, but some engineers, mechanical for instance, are getting pink slips. The manufacturing sector has been hit pretty hard by the recession and there has been a ripple effect resulting in the loss of jobs for some mechanical engineers.

So if job openings in your industry are disappearing, where do you turn? First, look at the same career, just in a different environment. A mechanical engineer might move from a job within a manufacturing organization to a role with a company that focuses on product service and support, refurbished equipment or green technologies.

But you need to cast the net even wider, considering roles allowing you to capitalize on your knowledge, experience and expertise. Here are just a few ideas for the mechanical engineer who can’t identify enough openings in a traditional engineering role:

Instructor in a technical school, community college or university program.
Technical Writer for product literature, as well as service and support publications.
Blog/Web Content Writer for company, consumer and public interest sites that focus on your areas of interest and specialization.
Corporate Trainer: If you can build a product, you might also be a good choice to train others on how to market, sell or service that same product.
Instructional Designer: Similar to technical writing, this role would allow you to use your knowledge to develop targeted materials for academic courses and company training programs.
College Academic Advisor and Admissions Advisor: Many specialized programs recruit candidates with a background similar to their students/graduates to serve in advisory roles.

To generate ideas for potential job titles using this degrees of separation approach, have a discussion with a mentor, experienced colleague, close friends, an advisor with your alumni association or professional associations, or career coach. The following links answer the question, “What can I do with a major in…” by offering lists of job titles that are directly, closely, and somewhat related to specific academic majors.

Loyola University Career Development Center
The University of Texas at Austin Career Exploration Center

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