Through months of up and down movement in modest, indecisive increments, the unemployment rate has told a depressing story about the state of jobs and the economy in the U.S. There is another story that most people don't want to talk about, and that is the story of millions of people who are working right now, but are miserable in their current careers. As the job market continues to contract, many employed individuals feel stuck on a career track they dislike, but think they have no choice since the local paper isn't exactly a haven of perfect career opportunities.
There are ways to attract the attention of a company in your dream field, or an individual with the power to connect you to a job that you want, but you have to be creative. (Do you want to be an entrepreneur? Credit is the key to obtaining small business loans. Refer to The Small Business Jobs Act: Make It Work For You.)
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Start by Freelancing in Your Dream Industry
There is nothing stopping you from going out right now and getting temporary gigs within your industry, as long as you have the skills to do the work. If you don't, you should focus on gaining the skills before you begin looking for a job in that field.
You can work as a sole proprietor and take individual projects on a freelance basis without risking your current job. To do so, look for one-time gigs on places like Craigslist or Elance, or build a website and start marketing your service locally, nationally or globally. As you meet the movers and shakers of your industry by freelancing for them, use it as an opportunity to show how reliable and knowledgeable you are. Then you can ask the individuals you work with, to keep you in mind if any permanent employment opportunities come up. Best of all, freelancing gives you the opportunity to find out what it's really like to work with these individuals and can help you avoid a permanent working situation that you wouldn't enjoy.
Blog About Your Industry
Years ago, blogs were like online diaries filled with intimate life details probably best kept secret. Today, blogs are marketing tools that can help you attract attention from people in your industry who may be able to connect you to the career of your dreams.
In order to gain the focus of influential individuals, you must have a professional blog that discusses the ins and outs, and current events within your industry of choice. Make sure to blog on a regular schedule so that it shows you are dependable. Be sure to proofread and edit posts. You can put personality into the blog to help make it engaging, but not so much that it crosses the line into unprofessional or casual. To attract traffic to the blog, talk about current events and hot, heavily-searched issues. You can also add a link to the blog in your email signature and on your resume and business cards.
Join a Professional Group
There are many professional groups and organizations that could help you meet others in your industry. You can look at groups that are focused on your particular industry, or you can join general professional organizations that industry influencers could be part of. Attend the group meetings as you would a job interview by dressing the part and with resume in hand. Be sure to converse with everyone, be polite and display your knowledge without being overbearing.
The groups you join don't always have to be local groups, you can even consider online groups such as those offered through professional networking sites like LinkedIn.
The Bottom Line
The process of finding career opportunities is evolving. It is no longer enough to scour your paper's classifieds in order to find a career you can love. Instead, you need to be innovative about the ways you look for work. Sometimes you need to just put yourself out there so that you can attract the right opportunities. (To learn more about putting yourself out there, read Talk Is Cheap: Campaign Promises And The Economy.)
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