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How to uncover hidden jobs: try rearranging your skills

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THE job market may be tight these days. But there are jobs going unfilled and job seekers going unemployed because the applicants, innocently enough, actually ''hide'' jobs from themselves.

If you keep hearing, ''Sorry, we don't have an opening for your type of work, '' then it's time to create new kinds of work for yourself. How? By rearranging your skills and giving the new structures other titles. It's all legitimate, all valid.

You did the same thing as a child. You took a pile of building blocks, and, depending on your game, sometimes you built a bridge. Sometimes you erected a tower. Sometimes you tore the tower down, discarded some blocks, added others, and built a castle or a corral or a cabin. The same process creates new job opportunities for you.

To begin, you need lots of building materials. Placement officers and employment specialists call these ''marketable skills.'' You probably have been asked several times to ''make an inventory of your skills.'' It's a good idea, but how do you go about it? And what, really, is a skill?

A skill can be an ability developed by formal training. A skill can be an activity for which you have been paid. It can be a specific technical competence. Or it can evolve from the tasks of a craft. But that's not all.

Your skills include all the means and methods by which you accomplish day-to-day living - the way you deal with people, how you use information, and what you do with things. You started accumulating skills in childhood. You continue adding to your skills as an adult.

A thorough inventory of all these useful abilities gives you a wealth of materials from which to construct and perform other jobs.

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