Unemployment and Career Transitions, Challenges and Opportunities

The current national unemployment rate is 9.6%, with New Jersey equaling that number and being one of the highest state percentages in the nation. In the face of fierce competition for the available positions, perhaps it is a good time to evaluate options and explore opportunities. First, let’s address some of the key issues when facing unemployment or a career transition.

Job Loss and Transition can be very Stressful

You may feel vulnerable, angry and unsure of your direction. Take control and view this as an opportunity. You can take stock and do some self-evaluation/awareness to determine where your interests/strengths lie and what you would like to do. There are several tools available to help you evaluate your personality type, potential career paths and a combination of strengths and “best fit.” Career coaches can administer such tools as Myers Briggs Type Assessment/Profile and DiSC profiles to create a report for conversation regarding your future career path. Your coach can guide you and assist you to find potential jobs to explore.


While it is normal to experience some degree of loss or anxiety, it is important to channel that energy and attack the job hunt head on. Don’t dwell on the “why’s and what’s” of your current situation. Keep your eye on the prize and create a roadmap to get ahead. Get your resume updated, create a LinkedIn profile, start reconnecting with former colleagues and network, network, network!

Get a Plan

Ask yourself the following:

  1. What new skills could I acquire to increase my marketability?
  2. What existing skills could I improve upon?
  3. Are there educational programs that would increase my value to a potential employer?
  4. What low-cost and free assistance can I access?

Look at Job Descriptions

Do you have what employers are looking for? If your skills are not up to date, find places to update them. A couple of free online tutorials for basic skills are listed below: (and many more are available if you search the web)

Microsoft products: http://www.microsoft.com/education/Tutorials.mspx
Typing: http://www.typingtest.com/

Could Your Skills Use a Facelift?

Have you let licenses or certifications lapse? If so, you may want to renew and update. If you are not currently working, temporary work is a great way to keep your skills sharp, learn new industries and many temporary agencies even offer additional skills training.

Should I Go Back to School?

Check the job postings. Are there programs/certifications that might help to augment your current skills and position you better for a future employer? Check out local educational opportunities (adult education, college courses) as well as online learning opportunities. Seminars, workshops and night courses can provide extra skills or certifications. To find a community college nearest you, visit www.aacc.nche.edu/Pages/CCFinder.aspx or, for online opportunities, go to: www.elearners.com.

Who Can Help and How Do I Get Myself Out There?

Networking is the key. Join interest groups, pay your dues for those professional organizations and start to reach out. Attend events, volunteer. Industry associations are often non-profit and in need of volunteers. They would then be great for references and recommendations. Make sure you have a positive online presence. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, are all great ways to get your message out there and ask for guidance.

While unemployment or career transition can be a challenge, it can also be an opportunity. Take control, assess your needs, create your plan and achieve your objectives.