Dear Matt: I got laid off a couple months ago and haven't found a job in my industry, how can I reinvent my career and job search? What can I do to open up doors to a new job?

Matt: I agree with Joanne Meehl, a Minnetonka-based career coach who is also the author of "The Résumé Queen's Job Search Thesaurus and Career Guide," (www. TheJobSearchQueen.com), who points out that a couple of months in today's market is really not that long to be out of a job - unfortunately. Before giving up on your current career, consider changing your approach to the job search.

There are lots of options to ponder, says Meehl. Have you attended meetings for professional organization in your field, to learn what's new and how to make contacts? If cost is an issue, some will reduce the meeting fee for you if you are out of work, especially if you volunteer to help with the meeting. Have you attended networking groups within your field? Have you talked with your college career center (they work with alumni) or other schools to find out the latest trends in the field? They may even know what companies are hiring.

Are your skills transferable to a different industry? If you were in sales and marketing in the manufacturing industry, could you do the same type of job in the technology or healthcare field? If you are in management, can you lead teams in other types of organizations? Think about your skills and expertise and look for jobs with those qualifications - not just the last industry you worked in.

Be active - don't sit back and simply post résumés to big job boards and expect results. In fact Kent P. Johnson, partner with St. Paul-based staffing firm Da Vinci Search (www.davincisearch.com), points out that studies show that less than 50 percent of all jobs are posted on the big job boards. Use resources like LinkedIn and Plaxo to connect with people who can help with your job search. Don't just register, but get to know the nuances to use them even more effectively.

"Don't be one of hundreds who apply for a job the traditional way," says Johnson. "Instead, find out who the people are that can help you get hired within each company. You need to fortify your network."

Don't try to become something you're not - just try to expand the way you attack your job search using different methods than what you have been using.


Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to askmatt@startribune.com.