People everywhere are scrambling to regroup as they cope with the recession and a shaky job market. Many are looking for work for the first time - at least in a long time. Others are having to refocus and take a different path after losing their current job. One of the biggest issues seems to be figuring out how to market a particular skill set - and for some, the question is, "Do I actually have marketable skills?
Sometimes it's not what you've got that counts - it's what you do with it! As publisher of Workamper News, a magazine that helped recreational vehicle travelers (RVers) - including many retirees - find work while they traveled, I often heard from women who said, "I've never worked outside the home. I have no marketable skills." The truth of the matter was that they did not lack marketable skills... they just didn't know they had them!
In order to successfully market your skills, you have to know your current skills level. Begin by listing things you do each day. Even things that seem mundane and unimportant to you may have value to an employer. Consider a stay-at-home mom, for instance. Her skills might include: budgeting, organization, time management, child care, food prep, housekeeping, chauffeuring, recreational activities director, personal shopper, counselor, communicator, teacher's aide, and more. If she had a particular craft or hobby that could translate into marketable skills - like flower arranging, sewing, photography, or teaching piano - there might be even more to add to the resume.
Once a list of current skills is created, it is easy to see where improvements or enhancements can be made. If you have a college degree in English, you might wish to take the necessary block of education courses to gain teaching certification. Because there is a national shortage of teachers, in states such as Arkansas, there are now programs where persons with degrees in certain fields can take weekend courses and gain "emergency" teaching certification. If teaching isn't your cup of tea, look at your skills list and consider what interests you or is available in your area, and find ways to make this a reality. Online courses can lead to certification in a myriad of fields. Community colleges provide evening and weekend classes to help you broaden your horizons - and your skillset.
Look around and see what is needed in your area - then take the steps to qualify yourself to meet the need. In my community, drilling for natural gas is booming, and classes are available to train workers for all aspects of the oil and gas industry. This field was not even a possibility in our neck of the woods just a few short years ago, and many residents would have never dreamed they would someday do this sort of work. But by matching their skills and training to the opportunities around them, they are fortunate to have a new, great-paying career! Because of the influx of people who are working in the oil and gas industry, area motels and restaurants are flourishing, creating a greater need for support staff such as housekeeping, maintenance, and food service. While these may not be the jobs you envisioned for yourself, they do provide fairly decent wages and help to put food on the table.
More and more ads are appearing for Certified Nurse's Aides (CNAs) and Home Health Aides for in-home assistance with the elderly and infirm. Training is often provided at area nursing homes for a small fee - or in some cases, at no charge if the students agree to sign on with that facility afterward. As our population ages, more and more jobs will become available in this field. Many skills used to rear children and run a household readily transfer to this market.
Finally, I always told potential job applicants to be flexible. Just because you got a degree to teach junior high math doesn't mean you have to do just that. Your skills in mathematics, working with people, and more may qualify you for any number of options you had not previously considered. Think outside the box. Ask yourself what you want to do - and what you do well - then find ways to market to those skills and desires. Yes, the job market today is scary - and in some fields, fairly tight. But there is always room for creative, flexible people who know how to market what they've got. Are you one of them?