Recently, the SF Bay Area Queer Nightlife Fund (QNF) hosted a career development workshop for workers in local queer nightlife who are facing the reality of our queer venues either opening slowly with limited capacity, or not opening at all for the foreseeable future.
QNF feels that part of our mission is to help queer nightlife workers maximize their earning potential to best weather the COVID-19 pandemic storm. So, we launched the first of what may be a series of online career development sessions or services to best equip local queer nightlife workers to procure gainful employment so they can pay the bills.
We kicked off our career development track with a three-part workshop led by well known corporate job coach and human resources expert, Deary Duffie. The workshop, “You, Inc.” Reimagining Your Career, offered strategies to help struggling workers expand their likely career options by looking back at their career history, examine their job situation with respect to their values and job attributes, and look forward to envision the gap between their ideal job and their current employment situation, and the action steps required to bridge that gap.
In the interest of sharing this information as widely as possible for those who might not have been able to attend the workshop, here are some key takeaways from the event.
- Look back on your work life and Identify the peaks, valleys, significant events and turning points in your life thus far. Attach dates to these career events. Plot on a timeline if that helps. Then try to identify how you felt during the peaks and valleys. What behaviors or attitudes do you remember displaying? Were there certain areas of knowledge or specific skills that contributed to those situations? Then assess the transitions between peaks and valleys and ask yourself your motivations, problems, support mechanisms and other factors that contributed to the upward or downward trend. Obviously, what you are aiming for is more peak experiences in your future professional life.
- Reflect upon the values and job attributes that manifest in fulfilling work for you. These values and attributes can be used to make career decisions going forward. Think about things like geographic flexibility, life/work balance, diversity, integrity, money, working solo or with a team, and any value or job attribute you feel might have significance in making decisions on where your career might lead and what types of work will be the most meaningful.
- Inventory your knowledge domain and job skills. Identify everything you can think of that you know or can do. Dissect your work life carefully and thoroughly for this information. Think broadly. What you are trying to find are transferable skills. These are skills you have now that can be directly linked to future employment. Have you done analysis or problem solving? How are your oral and written communications skills? Are you good at time or project management? If you need to do an online search to help identify such knowledge and skills, there are lots of suchs lists available to prompt your generations of your own list. Now sit back from your list and try to make relevant transferable connections between your past work and work you want to do in the future. When talking with employers during interviews or networking situations, learn to be strategically vague, talking more generally about your experiences if your target industry is different than what you have done in the past.
- Network! That can seem like a bad word to some people, especially introverts, but it is vital to ensuring a robust work life future. Networking is another way of saying building mutually beneficial relationships with people in your current or target profession or industry. And make sure to keep records of who you meet and what you learned from them. Most jobs are attained these days through a direct referral. So these networking relationships are really important to ensure you remain employed.
- Undertake informational interviews with people in industries about which you do not yet know enough to make you feel comfortable applying. People love to talk about themselves and the work they do. These quick interviews (keep them short) can provide valuable information and connections. However, never ask for a job during such interviews. That’s the kiss of death. Just listen and ask questions. That’s how you will both gain knowledge and create a truly valuable networking relationship.
- When interviewing for a job, research the business or company thoroughly ahead of time. Leverage any contacts you might have in your network who work there or might know those who do.
- Diving deep into creating a resume was beyond the scope of this workshop, but Duffie offered some great tips. Describe your results, not just work responsibilities. Employers like results-driven employees. Part of creating this results focus is what Duffie called identifying your STAR stories (Situation, Task, Action, Result). These STAR stories can be used in your resume and during interviews or networking opportunities. STAR stories connect your transferable background and skills to your desired job, help you answer interview questions better, and help you better identify skills and behaviors you may need to add or improve upon in your job toolkit.
Duffie offered other useful information and guidance during the workshop, but QNF hopes the above synopsis helps everyone to find new work within this challenging employment landscape in which we all now find ourselves.
QNF would like to publicly thank Deary Duffie for agreeing to lead this first of our career development offerings. We hope to offer more opportunities for queer nightlife workers to gain information or skills necessary to remain working and living in the Bay Area so that when nightlife returns full steam we have the foundation of people to help it blossom into something even better than it was before the pandemic.
You can donate to QNF to help with their work on our Donate page.