In a tight job market, there are ways for job seekers to show potential employers that not only can they fill a job need, but they can potentially save an employer money by having little start-up training time, and they can be an on-site expert in their field.

Through demonstrating specialization or large amounts of knowledge in a specific area, job seekers can show a high level of value to potential employers while achieving job satisfaction. Specialization can make the process of looking for a job much easier for the specialized job seeker.

Through job specialization, a job applicant can realize some benefits in the job market.

Specialization in a niche sets a job seeker up as an expert in their field. For positions that require a great amount of knowledge, like nursing or computer/IT, specialization separates you from job applicants with generic pools of knowledge.

Specialists can command a greater amount of money than non-specialists. When an applicant for a job shows an expert level of knowledge in their field, a company may be able to justify better pay for that specialized knowledge.

Job specialization is in itself a form of marketing, a tool that makes an applicant stand out from others. It helps brand a person in a field, and in local markets, a person with specialized knowledge may find their name come up often, a great demand placed on their knowledge.

People with job specialization have credibility in their position that creates trust for and reliance on their expertise from others.

An expert in a field has knowledge that is not easily replaced. Many jobs emphasize the importance of having broad knowledge, but in many technological and medical fields, a wide range of knowledge is not as valuable. A nurse with a specialization in heart medicine will find her niche within a cardiology practice much easier than an RN with a broad area of practice.

Specialization often means doing repetitive work, which may sound annoying in practice, but in a field someone loves, doing the same thing over and over is not as problematic. Specializing in the right thing is key, but it is important to remember that people who know how to do the minutia involved in jobs and do it well will always be in demand.

Similarly, because specialization involves what some consider drudgery, fewer people are willing to do it. Be it becoming the person in the office who knows everything there is to know about a computer program to being a neuro-surgeon, specialization requires work some consider boring. If a person is willing to specialize, simply the act of specialization may be enough to set them above other job applicants.

Employers often post narrow job requirements, such as knowing a couple of specific computer languages. Sometimes these narrow requirements are not the whole of the job but are posted as a way to weed out under qualified applicants. These narrow requirements will automatically eliminate many job seekers. By knowing the narrow requirements that employers post, an applicant has a far better chance of making it to the first interview.

I am a member of the Career Collective, a group of  resume writers and career coaches. Each month, all members discuss a topic. Please follow our tweets on Twitter #careercollective

This month we are discussing helping job seekers stay focused and encouraged during the holiday season.  I encourage you to visit the links below to read other members’ posts as well!     +++++

manwishingforjob

The holidays can be one of the worst times to find yourself out of a job.

Not only do you face pressure to attend family functions and buy presents, but it can also be very difficult to get an interview during the short work weeks, and all the vacation time that tends to pop up for recruiters and HR staff during winter. Still, it’s important that you don’t give up your job search over the holidays simply because people are hard to reach. In fact, this time can be an excellent point to begin a job search, for several reasons.

First, you have the greatest opportunity for networking during the holiday season. If you’re attending a lot of parties and functions, you’re guaranteed to run into acquaintances that may or may not know you’re looking for employment. Go to dinner parties and family gatherings as often as you can. Be ready to pass out your business card or resume at a moment’s notice. You’d be surprised how often a conversation over a punch bowl can serve as a preliminary interview. You’ll be exposed to plenty of people in a variety of fields. It’s an excellent way to build some connections.

Another often overlooked benefit of job hunting during the holidays is that most people don’t do it. Because so many quit just before the holiday season, or put off hunting for a job until after the new year, you have a great opportunity to get yourself out there before the glut of new applicants drifts in. Work with HR employees and recruiters now, while everyone else is still polishing their resumes to show on January 3rd. You’ll be forefront in everybody’s mind, even if you don’t get the interview until later.

December is also a great time for you to work on putting together a great presentation online. Because so many hiring executives will be traveling or spending vacation time at their homes, email and the internet may be the best way to get in touch with them. Make sure you have a great presence on all the social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also put together a slide show resume on SlideShare. You never know – an employer may get your cover letter while he’s eating Christmas dinner, but just because he’s not in the office doesn’t mean he won’t read it.

Most importantly, don’t get discouraged, no matter how long the job search takes. If you convince yourself that you’re never going to land an interview, or get your foot in the door of a new career, you probably won’t. Perseverance will serve you much better than luck. If you give up on the job hunt until it’s business as usual in the places you want to work, chances are that they’ll have already filled the position you want to occupy.

Treat the holiday season like any other job hunting time, and give it everything you’ve got.

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Follow us on Twitter with our hashtag #careercollective and read these posts:


@MartinBuckland, Elite Resumes, Season’s Greetings and your Job Search”

@GayleHoward, The Executive Brand, “It’s Christmas: And a ho-ho-ho-hum?”

@KCCareerCoach, Career Chaos, “The Gift Every Laid Off Job Seeker Needs”

@resumeservice, Resume Writing Blog,Holiday Resume Sparkle: Outshine the New Year Job-Search Mob

@heathermundell, life@work, “Have a Holly Jolly Job Search”

@sweetcareers,Sweet Careers, “Holiday Job Search Tips for College Students 2009″

@careersherpa, Hannah Morgan: Career Sherpa, “Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Kwanzaa Cheers”

@careerealism, CAREEREALISM.com, “Holiday Tip for Job Seekers: 4 Ways to Impress Others with Your Professionalism”

@heatherhuhman, HeatherHuhman.com, “4 Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Job Hunting”

@LaurieBerenson, Sterling Career Concepts, Three Resolutions to Take It Up a Notch”

@KatCareerGal, Quintessential Resumes and Cover Letters Tips Blog, “Avoiding the Holiday Blues in Your Job Search”

@WorkWithIllness, WorkingWithillness.com, Avoid this Minefield: Drive Your Bus!”

@DawnBugni, The Write Solution “Could that sound really be opportunity? During the Holidays?

@andyinnaples, “Shift Your Focus to the Highest Impact Job Search Activities During the Holidays to Leverage Your Time”

@erinkennedycprw, Professional Resume Services, How to keep up the Job Hunt during the Holidays”

@keppie_careers, Keppie Careers, “Four tips for effective networking follow-up for the holidays and the rest of the year”

@ValueIntoWords, Career Trend, “Navigating the Mistletoe of Job Search”

@GLHoffman, What Would Dad Say, “Merry Christmas! Can I Buy You Coffee to Talk About Me?”

@BarbaraSafani, Career Solvers, “Holiday Networking Can Facilitate New Year Opportunities”

@expatcoachmegan, Career By Choice Blog, “Expat Networking: Holidays Are a Great Time to Nurture and Grow Your Network”

@chandlee, The Emerging Professional Blog, “Footprints & Associations: Job Search Tips for the Holidays”

@JobHuntOrg, Job-Hunt.org, “(Holiday) Party Your Way to a New Job”


Unemployment

It is common to feel discouraged, even hopeless, during a job hunt that runs longer than you would like. In this financial environment, some people’s job searches run for months. So here are some tips to keep in mind when the job hunt has you feeling low.

1. As they say, a job hunt is easily a full-time job. Don’t make it more than that. Put in your time job-hunting, then be sure to take some time for yourself.

Don’t give yourself a hard time for taking time off. If you don’t take down-time, the stress will wear away at your mental health, leaving you in no shape for interviews.

2. No stewing over your termination from your last job. Layoffs are ongoing, and these days, you haven’t had much of a career, if you haven’t been laid off at least once.

Take whatever lessons you can from your last position, looking for areas of improvement, and then move on. Period. You are human, you make mistakes, just like everyone else. Forgive yourself for any mistakes, then work on them.

(And your ex-boss? She’s human, too.)

3. If you’re really stuck in a rut, take some time to do work around the house that you’d never had time to get around to. Schedule those doctor appointments that you’ve been missing due to your busy schedule. Think of this as an unplanned leave of absence, and see the benefit in the time that you’ve been given.

4. Make up a new plan of attack. Plans can be invigorating, and with the time that you’ve had to reflect, you may come upon new plans of attack. Now may be a great time to head your career in a new direction. With your last job, you gained experience that you didn’t have previously.

Really search the market and see what’s out there. Look for areas of growth and opportunity, and really try hard to see your skills and abilities as freshly as if you’d never seen them before.

5. Take a class, read a book, expand skills that will aid you in your job search. Take the time to get a certification if it’s likely to pay off.

6.When the stress is overwhelming, take a mental health day, and just soak in the tub with a good book and some Merlot. Go for a walk.Take a class or something you’ve always wanted to do. Rediscover the world as it is when you aren’t wearing stress blinders.

7. Get out there and meet people. Join clubs, especially those associated with work interests, go to university lectures. NETWORK! Even a hiking club might well provide you with the contact who gets you that next job. Remember, who you know is at least as important as your training. The main thing a boss is looking for is reliability, and they get that assurance from acquaintance, however slight or second-hand, with your character.

8. Don’t take it personally when you don’t get the job. It’s not a personal rejection; you just aren’t what they need today.