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(ARA) -  In the wake of increased layoffs and cutbacks, the unemployed and employed alike are worrying about their careers. This makes 2010 a prime time to evaluate your own employability and take steps to strengthen your career options.

In December 2009, a poll by CBS News and The New York Times revealed a growing number of people are considering making a change in their career choice, with 44 percent pursuing job retraining or other educational opportunities. In the same poll, 40 percent of the respondents said they had moved to another city or considered moving in their search for employment.

A positive attitude goes a long way.
"Nearly everyone, employed or not, is searching for career security," says Robert Gray, director of career services at Brown Mackie College – Northern Kentucky. "If you find yourself out of work, try to maintain optimism. A person with a positive outlook tends to get quicker results and better results. A negative attitude is reflected in your persona. It can communicate a bad vibe and make it seem like you are simply looking for the next thing to complain about."

With optimism in mind, the tight job market can present opportunities that tend to be overlooked when employment options are more abundant. You can take steps to brighten seemingly lackluster employment prospects by taking stock of your skills, level of education and even your hobbies, advises Gray.

Self reflection often reveals new opportunities.
When a job ends, allow yourself time to reflect on what makes you happy. "Assess your life in general," Gray says. "Are you happy with your house or could you maybe get along living in a smaller one? What about your car?" Downsizing your monthly expenses can alleviate financial pressures, making it easier to maintain a positive attitude.
Gray suggests making a list of your three greatest strengths. "Strengths are always easy to think up," Gray says. "Weaknesses aren’t quite as forthcoming, but they are good to know." He suggests asking family, friends and co-workers about your weaknesses. Armed with this knowledge, you can update your resume to include a comprehensive explanation of your qualifications. "It doesn’t hurt to ask others for advice on what to do. A fresh set of eyes on your life, interests and skills can open up new options that haven’t yet been seriously considered," Gray continues.

Reflection time also provides the opportunity to explore educational paths and new careers. If the option of changing careers doesn’t appeal to you, check out certification programs that can bolster your qualifications in your current field. You can find information at

Fill any gaps in employment with productive activities.
"It is generally easier to find a job when you have one. Simply having a job implies marketable skills and the ability to complete the assigned work. It is important to address any gap in your employment history," Gray says. "While you’re unemployed, involve yourself in activities that suggest you are still being productive, still have enthusiasm." He suggests volunteering at a hospital or homeless shelter, or participating in church activities.

Working alongside others allows for the ever-important step of networking. "You never know when or where you may meet somebody who may be in a position to hire you, particularly if they know you personally," says Gray. "Attending school is a perfectly acceptable gap in employment. Still, it can benefit you to find something to do to be productive. Experience is experience, even if there’s no pay in it."

Keep your career in perspective.
"We should not allow ourselves to be defined by our careers or employment status. Other things make you who you are – not just your career," Gray says. "That’s an important point for all of us. If you live for you job and get your fulfillment from it alone, you’ll lose your sense of self if you’re let go. On the other hand, if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life."

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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