Onward and upward

With a statewide unemployment rate of 10.5 percent and industries crumbling, it almost seems absurd to think about making upward career moves. But an awful economy doesn’t need to equal personal unhappiness in your work life. Dena Sneider, a career counselor of 15 years and cofounder of the Bay Area Career Center (www.bayareacareercenter.com), gave us some advice on what to do to for your career in the current economic climate.

Don’t stay stuck. If you’re not content with your current job, start the process of figuring out what type of work is best for you. Can’t get yourself out of bed on a Monday morning? No excitement, energy, or engagement in your work? Sounds like it’s time to start searching for a position that will use your skills and make you happier. The economy is in turmoil, which can mean that opportunities are opening up for those keeping an eye out.

Keep perspective. If you’ve recently been laid off and need to find a job just to pay the bills, keep in mind that it’s only temporary. "Take jobs knowing exactly why you are there," says Sneider. "Be prepared for your move back into your career when the time comes."

Explore other options. "The best time to figure out what you want to do is when you are employed — you can network, take classes, or volunteer," says Sneider. Start planning for a career change several months or a few years from now. If you’re unemployed, take advantage of any opportunities you can to gain experience. Sneider often meets people who know what they don’t want, but not what they do want, and they spend time sorting through hundreds of ideas.

Think outside the box. "People who were passionate about what they did are losing careers right now and not knowing what they’ll do," says Sneider. "What people did to make a living may not be possible now, but they can find something close." Think about how your talents can be used in a different industry. Perhaps your passions can be channeled though a new outlet. Or you may find that you can revitalize rusty skills or lean new ones.

Be optimistic. "Just because finding the right job is harder now, does not mean it is not possible," Sneider reminds us. "Be optimistic — once you figure out what you want, go forward!"