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August 2009
Successful Transitional Job Search
by Susan Reynolds

Many people with whom I’m working are addressing a very changed market for their skills.  So this month I’d like to focus on the particular challenges of repositioning a career within a new and different industry.  Many industries are simply “gone”.  It is highly unlikely that new opportunities are going to arise in these industries that are probably not going to ever recover to their previous vibrancy, even as the economy turns a positive corner.

First, as I’ve emphasized so many times, a job searcher must do a careful and realistic inventory of their transferable skills and capabilities.  Then the work history must be assessed to ascertain whatever parallels exist between the type of work and positions that have been performed previously with the type of work and positions that are more likely to exist in the future marketplace.  Next, extreme care must be taken to evaluate the language with which the work history can be explained.  Many times, vernacular and terms are very specific to a certain industry.  “Translate” the skills to other industries and scenarios!  Don’t necessarily speak in specific terms.  Perhaps using more general terms, such as “clients”, “projects”, and “products” instead of naming them specifically will reap rewards in being better transferable and better understood.  Always think in terms of what the audience will relate, comprehend, and see in their business needs.

I often read resumes that are so filled with the terms and slang of a particular industry that it is very difficult to see what other opportunities could ever arise.  By being more general in description, terribly restrictive career “cubbyholes” could be overcome!

Susan Reynolds is a senior partner at Newmarket Careers in Santa Clarita, a job search and career strategy firm geared toward managerial, executive, and senior level professional careers.  She can be reached at or

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