Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Help changing your career

Almost everyone is either look for a great career-or dreaming about changing his or her current one.

Toward that end, Simon & Schuster just published the second edition of its career design guide, The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success/

It's a large order, but Simon & Schuster thinks it can help fill it if you consider the following plans:

 1. Don't make unnecessary compromises.  Most of us start off assuming that major compromises are inevitable. Instead, start with a blank canvas and fill it in with what is important; what you most want. Then get creative in finding ways to make what you want actually happen. If considerations arise, for example work-life balance, think of it as a problem to solve, not impossibility. A creative outlook can help solve the most difficult problems

2) Make it a project. If you don't need a new job right away, forget about job-hunting until your target is clear and specific. Design it first. Then search for it when you know exactly what you are seeking.
 
3) Become a career detective. Look for clues about how you and the workplace best fit together so you don't wind up squeezed into the wrong job. Since employers pay you to perform specific functions, the first place to look is what you do happily, naturally, perhaps even brilliantly: your innate talents. Your goal is to turn some of your clues into definite components: specifications for you future work. If you are ready to look for work that is more than just another job, read the Wall Street Journal The Pathfinder, the career guide to designing the career that fits you perfectly.

4) Research jobs that seem to fit. Read, search online, and talk with several people who do the job you are considering. Keep whittling down until you can decide on specific job descriptions. Specificity has power. Casting a wide net is usually a mistake. Start your job search with definite targets. Find organizations with a healthy culture and a humanistic philosophy, where you will be treated with respect. Even though they are definitely in the minority in these dog-eat-dog times, they do exist.

5) Stand out with effective personal marketing.  A great resume is much more than a history of your past. It is an advertisement; and you are the product. Like all great ads, its message should be "If you buy this product, you will get these specific benefits." Check out the world's most used resume-writing guide, written by the staff of Rockport Institute, How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume. Tailor your resume to the specific job you are seeking.
 
6) Conduct a smart job search. Few people find the perfect job through online listings. Decision-makers prefer to hire people they know. The most effective strategy is to find creative ways to get to meet and speak with several decision-makers: people who could actually hire you to do the job you want. Then, when a job becomes available, you have something better than the perfect resume, you are known.  Check out Orville Pierson's book The Unwritten Rules of the Highly Effective Job Search.
 
7) Focus on communicating your strengths and enthusiasm for the job. There is a split in hiring strategies today. Some organizations look for the person with the perfect resume. Others know that, in an ever-more-competitive world, they need to find the best people. Sometimes that person does not have the ideal resume. They have something more important: desire, skill, talent, the right personality, a vision for the future of the organization, and a commitment to perform with excellence

8) Persist. An effective job search takes time. You may be rejected several times, perhaps many times before you land the job you want. Since we all tend to resist discomfort, it is natural to avoid any activity that leads to what the mind interprets as failure. As a result, people often give less time each week to their job search. Defuse this by realizing that you will hear "no" many times before you hear "yes." If you don't get the response you want, don't give up. People who usually get what they want have a simple secret: they keep making requests. Often the sequence goes like this: no, no, no, no, no, no, YES

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