This is an excerpt from Career Development in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism.
The steps of the positioning process form the structure of this book. Each step includes a question that summarizes the goal of that step; these are the questions you will be trying to answer as you go about the positioning process. Some of the questions are very similar to the questions that are traditionally asked of applicants during interviews. However, they take on a different meaning when applied to the concept of positioning because you are asking them of yourself.
Proximity Is Everything . . . Well, Almost Everything
Where do I want to work?
Positioning starts with determining where you want to work, or your career goal, if you know what it is. Because most people have trouble delineating their career goal, the emphasis at this point is on the immediate goal of determining your next job. Then it is a question of positioning yourself close to the people, job, and organization that will advance you in fulfilling your career goal. When you ask yourself, Where do I want to work? you are already in the process of moving toward the position you seek. Chapter 2 walks you through the process of answering this question and provides examples of people who have successfully positioned themselves.
Being Proactive, not Reactive
Do I actively seek the job I want, or do I wait for it to come to me?
Attitude is a vital component of positioning. A proactive person has a curious attitude and finds out what needs to be done and then does it rather than waiting to be told what to do. When I sought a position in western Maryland, my actions suggested to others that I had a proactive attitude. In turn, when you seek a field experience or internship, you are demonstrating a proactive attitude. For the most part, the job search process associated with the traditional model is reactive, whereas the job search process associated with the positioning model is very proactive. As the question suggests, in the traditional model, you wait for the job to come to you. You wait for the organization to advertise the job, and then you apply for it. Chapter 3 applies the principles of being proactive to your career development. Don't get upset if you don't view yourself as a proactive person. By following the positioning model and the techniques described in this book, you will become more proactive in your job search. An added bonus is that people who are proactive get better positions, promotions, and advancements.
Why should they hire me?
How do you prepare yourself for your next job? Whether you use the traditional or positioning model, you will find chapter 4 unlike any other in most career development books because it approaches the job search process by starting at the end of the process, evaluation. This chapter provides an insight into the link between the evaluation instrument (the documents and rubrics hiring organizations use to evaluate candidates for employment) and the job description. You will also learn how your application will be evaluated in the traditional model. With this insight comes key knowledge of how to prepare for eventual employment. The chapter also shows how to use job announcements to determine the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences (KSAEs) you will need in order to prepare yourself for your next job. By starting your career development at the end, with evaluation, you are actually starting at the beginning.
Am I prepared for the job I seek?
If you are on one side of a river and want to get to the other side, you build a bridge. You don't sit there and watch the water flow by. In chapter 4, you first determine the knowledge, skills, abilities, and experiences you need for the job you seek. Then you develop a plan to obtain them. Bridging is the process of obtaining the appropriate skills for your desired job, whether it is a new job (horizontal bridging) or a promotion (vertical bridging). Chapter 5 describes several bridging techniques and offers advice on developing the KSAEs you need for your next job. It starts with the selection of your major and includes obtaining field experiences, internships, and even summer jobs. Professional development is also discussed.
How do I meet the person who will hire me?
Although the concept of networking has been around for a while, it needs reexamination, particularly in terms of professional positioning. Chapter 6 introduces the concept of professional networking. It is more than just making contacts; it is making quality contacts, or the right contacts, and it includes addressing technical and content competency. Professional development is one of the key avenues for developing professional contacts in any field, and it is an important aspect of networking. Think of it this way: If you position yourself, you will know who will hire you. In fact, you have probably already met this person. And, because you have already met and talked with this person, in all probability you have already networked with him. In other words, you have assessed what he can do for you in terms of your career, and conversely, he has assessed what you can do for him in terms of his needs.
Casing the Joint
Do I know everything about the organization and the job I seek?
Now that you know where you want to work and have prepared yourself for the job, you need to investigate the organization. Casing the joint is another way of saying researching the organization. In the seven-step sales model, this is the survey phase. It doesn't matter whether you are reactively responding to a position announcement you saw on the Internet or using the positioning model to proactively seek an organization where you can potentially work. The more you know about where and for whom you want to work, the better able you are to position yourself for the job. Chapter 7 reviews some of the traditional research techniques from the perspective of the positioning model. It describes a methodology for researching the field, organization, and position to determine whether this is where you want to work.
The One-on-One Interview
Who within the organization can hire me?
As part of your job search process, you identify the person within the organization whom you need to contact regarding a job. Your next step is to contact that person or someone who can introduce you to that person. This initial contact is what we call the one-on-one interview, in which you explore job opportunities and how the organization can use your skills. This interview incorporates most of the steps in the seven-step sales model. The one-on-one interview is unlike the traditional interview in that it occurs at the beginning rather than at the end of the process, and you are not in competition with anyone else for the position at that time.
The Formal Interview
How should I prepare for a traditional interview?
Depending on your circumstances, even within the positioning model it's entirely possible that you will take part in a formal interview as part of the job search process. In the formal interview process, the organization announces the job and people apply and compete for the position. In some cases, it is a formal process. If you have positioned yourself well for the job, it may be more of a formality. Chapter 9 helps you prepare for the traditional interview.
Developing Your Communication Tools
Do I have the communication tools I need to obtain my job?
Three chapters focus on the communication tools that you will need to obtain your job. In the positioning model, you might never be asked for a copy of your resume. However, you should certainly be prepared in case you are, or in case you are applying for a position through the traditional model. Chapter 10 addresses the nuts and bolts of preparing an effective resume. There are other ways, though, to communicate your skills to a prospective employer besides a resume. Chapter 11 discusses the value of preparing a portfolio and business cards. Finally, because you may need to send a letter or e-mail to the person who will employ you, it is helpful to know the proper format and etiquette for writing cover letters and e-mails. These are addressed in chapter 12. All of these communication tools are sales instruments that sell you and what you are capable of doing. They are you.