Finding quality career opportunities in today's economy means more than responding to classified ads on job boards and in the newspaper. You need to find ways to set yourself apart from your peers so that employers view you as an expert in your field and seek you out for your expertise. Granted, some fields will be harder than others to gain notoriety, but you should first focus on local groups and associations then work yourself up to gaining recognition on a national level. The real truth is that you don't have to be the best or most talented in your field. You just need to work towards a certain level of distinction. Here are some ways to make others aware of your skills and talents in your field.
Write in trade publications/journals. Most trade publications are really just an open forum for the exchange of ideas and information within the profession. In most instances you don't need to have a PhD in your field or already be a recognized figure within the profession. The best way to get your work published is to write 2 to 3 articles and contact the editor of the publication directly. Let them know that you have articles that you would like to publish and ask what topics he or she is really interested in right now. Another idea is to get published in non-trade journals. For instance, if you are a dietician and are finding it hard to get your articles printed in association journals, contact a local paper or parent magazine and offer to write an article about healthy eating habits for children. Once you get published somewhere you will find it much easier to get published elsewhere.
Join professional organizations. Probably the quickest and best way to improve your stature in your field is to join and become active in the local chapter of a professional organization. Once you have established yourself as a member, work to become a member of the executive board. Board members of most organizations tend to be first to know about happenings in the field. By becoming a major presence in these groups you will gain access to information about employment opportunities, as well. Additionally, being viewed as an expert in your field locally means employers will come to you with opportunities.
Join civic organizations. This idea is perhaps networking 101, but most civic organizations are comprised of mainly of business owners, executives, and community leaders. If these people aren't hiring then they know someone who is. By becoming active with events within these organizations, members will come to you when they hear about opportunities or have questions relating to your field. I know a lot of people who've found great positions and even started their own businesses through their involvement with civic organizations.
Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn., based corporate recruiter and career consultant specializing in the areas healthcare and information technology. If you would like any additional information, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org