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Reinventing Yourself: Starting down a new path

By Special Advertising Section,

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION: More Career Advice

So it’s time to change careers. Maybe your industry is retrenching — or disappearing — or maybe you “just can’t take it – not another day” in your current field. How do you identify a new path for yourself? And how do you get yourself a job in this new field?

Laura Labovich, a self-described job search makeover coach based in Bethesda, has worked with many clients who find themselves at a career crossroads. “Hone in on an industry that interests you,” Labovich advised. “Look inward and really think about the things that interest you apart from your job,” she continued. “What are your hobbies? How do you spend your time? What is your passion? What were the aspects of previous jobs that you’ve found particularly fulfilling?”

Labovich recalled a client who had been laid off from her job as an administrative aide for a real estate-affiliated company. The client had loved being a little league coach, so they looked at what aspects of the coaching experience had made her feel so good about it. They determined that being an employee training coordinator would involve many of the same skills and activities as coaching. The client also felt a strong affinity for the hospitality industry. Knowing that jobs in real estate would be hard to find for a while, she decided to focus her search in the world of hospitality.

Labovich noted that this was a particularly difficult job search because her client was changing both her industry and her job function. “She truly had the deck stacked against her, but she did a number of useful things.” First, she signed up with every staffing agency in the area, told them she wanted to work in the hospitality industry and networked inside the companies where she worked. “You can’t think of it as ‘just’ a temp job,” she said. “It’s not just a temp job; it’s an opportunity to get inside the culture of an organization,” Labovich asserted.

The client used strategic volunteer work to gain training experience and network. She volunteered to coordinate a job club that Labovich led, enabling her to put recent training experience on her resume. She also volunteered at the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) and attended their meetings. “She got a temporary position at a major hotel chain because she was networking into the hospitality industry through ASTD, and getting this temporary job was the key,” said Labovich. “They kept extending her and extending her and finally they had this internal opportunity and she applied for it. She tailored her resume to it and got it.” The job was just what she wanted: training coordinator for a large hotel chain.

Labovich stresses the importance of becoming an insider in an industry — and you don’t have to have worked in that industry to do it. People who have the easiest job searches are people who have both a functional expertise and an industry expertise, according to Labovich. The more you can identify for your potential employer your expertise in that industry, the better off you will be. Imagine a marketing manager who works in an industry that’s becoming obsolete and is searching for another job. “He or she can’t say: ‘‘I’m still a marketing manager, so it doesn’t matter where I do it.’ It may not matter to the job seeker, but it sure as heck matters to the employer,” Labovich continued. “It matters to them that you’re not just a marketing manager, you’re a marketing manager who is passionate about consumer products or fashion or manufacturing or whatever.”

This special advertising section was produced by The Washington Post Custom Content department and did not involve The Washington Post news or editorial staff. This article was written by Laura K. Nickle and Suzanne Gunther of Communi-k, Inc., hired by The Washington Post Custom Content department.

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