Consulting, Publishing, Engineering

Career tactics

A colleague who has recently been laid off wrote to me asking for advice on job hunting. The secret, of course, is to not look for a job only when you need one, but to work on your career all the time, even when you are in a “permanent” position.

Here’s the advice I gave him. Names have been changed (and indicated with curly brackets) in a couple of places:

Hey, {Joe Schmo},

You are already doing the first most important thing by participating {in our local STC chapter}. It shows that you’re active, interested, experienced, willing to work. We’ll have a lot of people here at the {next meeting}, it will be a good networking opportunity and you’ll also have an opportunity to work with (and network with) the people on your committee.

Other thoughts are:

  • Make a business card, and carry it with you always. Give it to everyone you talk to (technical communicator or not!)
  • Don’t lose track of your {big company name} colleagues who got laid off–most of them will eventually land at some other company, and they already know you and your work.
  • Write some content for our local STC newsletter (send to {editor}) and/or other local publications. Easy things to write about include book reviews, software/tool comparisons, or descriptions of events you’ve attended. If you get the chance to submit a bio paragraph, go ahead and say something like “always available to discuss opportunities”.
  • Participate in listservs (like techwr-l, stc-reform, any SIG lists to which you may belong). Make sure you are showing off your expertise by responding with a thoughtful response to someone else’s question (providing value of some kind)–even if it is just a link to a resource or a brief description of something similar that happened to you and how you resolved it. DO NOT post a message that says “Hi, I’m Joe Schmo, and I’m looking for a job”. Let them get to know you first.
  • Now is the perfect time to polish up your skills and your presentation by working on your own web site and/or blog (and then, of course, adding the URL to your business card).

Good luck, {Joe Schmo}, and keep me posted!
I suppose I could also have told him about my book Career Tactics for Technical Communicators, but I figured he already knew about it and that’s why he asked me in the first place.

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