Wednesday, December 31, 2008

6 Surefire Ways to Recession-Proof Your Career

Recession fears continue to shake some workers' confidence about their current jobs. Here are some tips to help you “recession proof” your job.

§ Take a class at a local college or university and get serious about some additional training. Experts widely believe we are living in a "knowledge economy". The more committed you are to lifelong learning and training, the more recession proof your career will be. Education is very accessible today via online programs, onsite training and flexible weekend programs.

§ Keep meeting targets and objectives at work. Find ways to do more with less, work as efficiently as possible and look for ways to help your company save money and increase productivity. Keep your "Kudos File" current. This is where you keep all the compliments you have received on your work. It will help you quickly update and disseminate your resume if needed.

§ Join a professional association and become involved with other people in the same career. Maintain your contacts or connect with people you may not have talked with in a little while. Keep in mind that you are not connecting to ask for information or help, but to bring support and value if you can.

§ Volunteer for tasks outside your job description but don’t neglect your responsibilities. Become the "go to" person on the job without taking on everyone’s projects. If your company has already had job cuts, you may pick up additional assignments outside of your regular duties. These extra assignments could be a way to gain new skills. However, you do not want to take on more than your bandwidth can handle. Although you do want to be seen as a team player, you don’t want your own projects and assignments to suffer.

§ Do environmental scans both inside and outside of your organization. Pay attention to the marketplace. Don’t just watch the stock market. Stay abreast of what is happening with your company's key customers and suppliers. If your company’s suppliers and customers are having a hard time, your company may very well be facing the same issues.

§ Consider other ways to use your skills and make money part time. Do you have skills that are in demand? You might be able to earn some additional income? Imagine for example you work in a medical billing capacity for a large hospital, could you possibly take on additional medical billing work for smaller independent medical offices? Not only does this help you build a network of other potential employers who have sampled your work, it could actually lead to starting your own business.

Campus Jobs are Real Jobs Too

For many college students working while in school is a must and a reality. Whether enrolled in 2-year, 4-year or a vocational training or career education program, campus jobs are often at a premium and college students try to land them early in the semester.

One of the problems I continue to see on college campuses is that working on campus is not considered to be serious work by many students or by departments that hire them. It is not unusual to hear college students say something like – “Oh, I just work on campus”. Aside from the fact that no one ever “just works" anywhere, since all work is important, campus employment offers really significant benefits for college students. Putting aside the schedule flexibility and the short commute, college students can gain the following real advantages by working on campus:

1. Meet college and univesity staff beyond the classroom. Most employees on college campuses love to work with college students and speak positively of their experiences. University employees are always willing to support exemplary student workers with letters of recommendations or become a reference for them in a job search or internship search.

2. Gain real, marketable skills in your preferred career area. College campuses are just like other organizations with employees in pretty much every functional area. For example, business students seeking real experiences can find college internship programson campus working in accounting, finance, HR, marketing and/or communications offices.

3. Develop an understanding of the actual job search process. Many campus administrators put college students through the actual hiring process. If resumes and interviews are needed, students get to walk through the actual hiring process. On many campuses there are formal application processes and students have to do more than just show up to get hired. They actually have to conduct a competitive job search.

4. Develop actual professional soft skills which are necessary for workplace success. Office etiquette, workplace social savvy, communication skills, following instructions etc. are all valuable skills that college students need to learn.

At the urging of many college career centers, some campuses are taking a more serious look at how they model the real world of work for they college students they hire.

I was part of the rollout of such an initiative as a Job Developer at my own alma mater’s college career center, many many moons ago. We didn’t realize how cutting edge we were back then. (;> Since then I have introduced the concept to other colleges and the students and staff are better for it.

Campus jobs are real jobs too and college students need to use the opportunity to develop real networking relationships and real job skills.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Career ReEntry in Scary Times

With unemployment rate almost at 7% and the much publicized job losses, it is a scary time for people who are considering career reentry.

Over the last few months job seekers have increasingly shared concerns that layoffs have increased competition in the job market. With qualified workers in the market for jobs, some career reentry professionals fear that competition will make it harder for them to find work.

No doubt that is a significant possibility and from what I am seeing and hearing, it is scaring many people.

My advice for career reentry professionals is to stay positive and focus on competencies and job skills. Here are some actionable steps career reentry professionals should think about:

Revisit and revamp your resumes
If there is ever a time to make sure a career reentry resume is in tip top shape, it would be now. Many online resume writing services offer free resume critiques. Some resume writers work exclusively with career reentry professionals and older workers who want to work in retirement, transition careers or return to the workforce. Here are two Career Reentry Resume Samples to use.

Sell current job skills and the need for less training
Employers want to reduce costs in a tight economy. Many employers will want to save time and money by hiring workers needing less training. Job seekers should focus on finding employment using job skills already mastered. Having required job skills and competencies can be a significant advantage for the jobseeker who hits the ground running.

Consider part-time hours and fewer benefits
Many career reentry professionals who want to go back to the workplace are willing to work in temporary jobs. Typically in a slow economy, employers find temporary, part time workers an advantage. Additionally, part-time employees provide scheduling flexibility that employer need to staff during times of greatest need.

Volunteer to learn new skills
If you are exploring career reentry into a new career and don't have the required experience immediately, consider volunteering. If you can afford to do it, volunteering is a one good way to learn new skills, get a foot in the door and establish new contacts.

Dumbest Business (Career) Moments in 2008

Just read Fortune Magazine's 21 Dumbest Moments in Business 2008. It seemed to me that we could easily reword the title as the "21 Dumbest Career Moves in 2008". Why? Because every one of those so called dumb moments in business, probably ruined someone's career or at least caused a lot of career embarrassment.

We have all made mistakes at work, I am sure. I can't imagine how I would feel, if one of my blunders made Fortune Magazine. I don't think any were as significant as the list here, but nevertheless, I know some people had some sleepless nights over many of these.

Case in point is the # 1 in the list - The CEO's of the big three automakers arriving in Washington DC in three separate private jets to beg the American taxpayer for a loan. As Fortune says, "Like someone arriving at a food bank in a limousine, the chief executives of the three major U.S. automakers spark outrage when they fly their corporate jets to Washington D.C. to beg Congress for a multi-billion dollar bailout".

Talk about a public relations blunder. Do you think anyone lost a job over that oversight?

To make amends for the error, the three CEOs decided that for their next visit, they would take a road trip to DC in hybrids. This was blunder #2 on the list.

Why wasn't that any better? If flying in on a corporate jet was an over sight, driving 10 hours to DC appeared to be over kill. Funniest part of that story is that the car driven by the Chrysler CEO, The Aspen Hybrid, will soon be discontinued. Someone was overthinking on that one for sure.

My other favorite is the CEO of Countrywide Bank, Angelo Mozilo, responding to an email and hitting "Reply All" rather than "Forward". He meant to forward the email to a colleague and instead replies, speaking ill of the home owner/customer who had sent him the email. The poor customer was actually emailing Mozilo, as the CEO of the company to get help with his home loan.

Of course, I don't think Mozilo lost his job over that one. Countrywide had bigger problems. Imagine if that had been another employee of Countrywide. I am thinking that email may have been their last.

Read the entire list here. The one about Steve Jobs from Apple was particularly interesting. If you love politics, both John McCain and President Elect Barack Obama get their props for dumb business moments also in 2008.

If I could pick, I would add Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the career as another major career blunder for 2008 also.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Three Weeks Without My Computer

If it were not for a really great Christmas holiday with my family, the last few weeks would have been horrible. Why? My computer died.

Many of my regular readers already know that my work computer became infected with a nasty virus. No one really knows the source of the virus, but the most probable source was from an infected downloaded. Since I write resumes, it is not unusual for me to receive several documents as attachments. Based on the consultants at McAfee, whatever it was, it had attached itself to my operating system. Several attempts to scan and rid the computer of these pests all failed. I finally had to get a new computer in place this past week.

Our home, at last count, has 6 computers, including mine that died. Had I replaced my laptop, which my teenager destroyed with a spill last year, I wouldn't have had to attempt sharing computers with family.

My husband uses four computers - 2 MAC's and 2 PC's, all for work. I felt lost and confused trying to use the one to which I was assigned. His mouse is set to use the right and left clicks contrary to how most people use theirs and his computers are password heavy and applications light. Sharing time with the kids on their computer was just not happening.

It is amazing how one gets used to working in a particular posture and location. The chair is different, the view from the window is different and the inspirational photos I keep around me are absent.

It's good to be back!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fewer California Students Pass High School Exit Exam

One in 10 high school seniors from the class of 2008 failed to pass California's exit exam by graduation. This 10% failing rate was the highest since the test became mandatory in 2005.

Some say the reason the rate dipped was because the graduates in Special Ed programs had to take the same test.

The LA Times reported that, "Special education students' graduation rate dipped nearly 3 percentage points for the class of 2008 because of the requirement". Special Ed students can stay in high school until they are 22 years old and can continue to take the exit exam.

Some fear, however, that many who failed do not continue to take the exam after failing the first time. For example in 2006, nearly 39,000 did not pass the exam in time for graduation, and in the two years that have since elapsed, fewer than 4,800 have passed.

The article continues that efforts to narrow the achievement gap between white and Asian students and their black and Latino peers also showed little success.

State Senator O'Connell who wrote the legislation that introduced the exit exam said, "We know all students can learn . . . no matter what their economic status or native language," he said. "We must continue our efforts to close the achievement gap."

Beginning in their sophomore year, students have several chances to take the two-part test. A score of at least 55% on the math portion, which is geared to an eighth-grade level, and 60% on the English portion, which is ninth- or 10th-grade level, is required.

What do you think about an exit exam to get a high school diploma?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Your Online Past Could Kill Your Job Search

If there was ever a testimonial about how an online persona can affect your future career, check out the questionaire that potential employees in the Obama administration have to complete.

Here are some sample questions that cut right to the chase:

“If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.”

“Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)”

“Please list, and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column, or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the internet.”

Imagine if every employer started to do this? The Class of 2009 should be wise and start cleaning up that online persona now before it is too late.

Does it mean that you won't get hired with a compromised online persona? No it doesn't mean that. The key is to make a good faith effort to fix the issue.

One of the biggest challenges I see with college students is they don't know what their image might be online. When they do find out, sometimes it is hard to get the owner of the content to do the right thing.

One suggestion is to Google yourself periodically to see what kind of online persona you have and whether or not it could kill your future career.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why College Students Shouldn't Pay Resume Writing Fees

We have been helping college students with resume writing for years. However, our first piece of advice, is always - Have you been to your college career center for help?

After years of career center operations experience, I am still always amazed how many students do not take advantage of resume writing services in college career centers.

Although not all centers have the same offerings, here are some of the FREE resume writing services available from college career centers:

- Handouts and sample college resumes appropriate for your major
- Lists of action verbs to help you get the latest industry buzz words on your resume
- Resume critiques offering feedback to enhance your resume and make it more attractive to employers
- Employer and recruiter feedback on your college resume is available through information sessions or even via email
- Online resume databases that allows you to store multiple resumes to distribute to employers who are interviewing on campus

Before considering paying professional resume writers, visit your college career center and talk to a career counselor. Many of these same career counselors work part time as professional writers for other services.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Are Helicopter Parents Important? I think so.

Wikipedia defines helicopter parents as those who pay extremely close attention to his or her child or children, particularly while they are away at college. The term "helicopter parent" suggests that like an actual helicopter, parents "hover" nearby, able to swoop in quickly to address, fix or handle situations for their college students.

The term is mostly used in a derogative way on college campuses, sometimes by college career center professionals who are fielding calls from parents about job offers. Since these helicopter parents are accused of rushing in to prevent any harm or failure from befalling college students, sometimes, despite protests from the children they seek to protect.

Valerie Strauss in an article for Washington Post, says helicopter parents "are needy, overanxious and sometimes plain pesky -- and schools at every level are trying to find ways to deal with them".

As colleges and universities attempt to "deal with" helicopter parents, school administrators must balance other research that shows that students with strong parental involvement do better in school. The Harvard Family Research Project found that teens, whose parents played an active role in their education, do better in school and are more likely to enroll in college.

If parental influence supports better attainment in high schools, why would that not hold true for college students? Opponents of helicopter parents would seem to say that once their children are enrolled in college, parents should immediately take a hands-off approach.

With showing a 6-year college graduation rate in the US at 56.4% in 2006 and the 2003 annual ACT survey showed that only 37.5% of two-year college students were graduating within three years, would colleges not want more helicopter parents involved?

Experience, Inc., a provider of career advice and job hunting tools for college students and alumni, surveyed more than 400 students and new graduates on the involvement of their parents in their college or university life. The overwhelming majority of college students described their parents as moderately involved. Twenty five percent of students in the survey responded that their parents were "overly involved to the point that their involvement was either annoying or embarrassing." Only 13% of the respondents said their parents were not involved at all.

Is it possible that parental involvement at the college level could enhance rather than hinder college student graduation rates and should college administrators now begin to embrace rather than reject helicopter parents?

The College Board and the Art & Science Group found that almost 30% of college-bound seniors surveyed wished their parents did more to help them look for and apply to colleges. Only 6% wanted their parents to do less.

To help helicopter parents, the College Board offers this quick 12-question quiz to help parents gauge the current level of involvement with college age children.

Whether or not, one agrees or disagrees with the outcomes of the quiz, it does offer the opportunity for personal reflection and could be the foundation of a conversation between teenagers going to college and their parents.

I moved this post and wanted to share the comments:

Anonymous said...
of course parents play an important role in the education of their children. why would people call it pesky to want to be involved? i think more partners with school is better.

June 20, 2008 5:46 PM
Marcia said...
You are correct. Students succeed when parents continue to be involved. As with all things, balance is important as children get older and take on more responsibilities.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

5 Ways to Focus on Your Education

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and so I wanted to flatter the Penn Foster College blog by sharing an entry from their vocational college blog for distance learners.
Many distance learners agree that the most difficult part of studying online is staying motivated. Because students must take the initiative to complete their courses completely on their own, without the physical presence of teachers and other peers, many students find it easy to become distracted and discouraged in their work. Don’t let this happen to you – plan ways for yourself to stay motivated before you’re tempted to stray from your books. Use these five motivational tips to stay on task:

1. Connect with your classmates. Visit our MySpace page, Facebook groups, Penn Foster Proud Group on, or even a Yahoo! Group and start conversations with your fellow classmates. Talk about your day, your studies, whatever will keep you connected, motivated and give you that sense of “classroom” in a virtual environment. Once you begin talking to fellow Penn Foster students, you may even find a few in your area that will be willing to start a physical study group! Having the support of your peers during your studies with Penn Foster is extremely rewarding and important.

2. Discuss what you learn. Find a friend or relative who has similar interests or who would enjoy hearing about your studies and let them know what’s going on in your classes. You’ll understand the material better when you have a chance to explain it out loud and will be motivated to stay on task in order to keep up with the conversation.

3. Chart your progress. Design your own map of completed classes and post it somewhere that is visible daily. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes with watching your goals be accomplished. When times get hard, you can always turn to your chart and see how far you’ve come.

4. Reward yourself. You get rewarded for good credit and safe driving, why shouldn’t you reward yourself for doing well in your coursework. Whether it is a night on the town, a new dress, or even a new car, setting up a reward system just may be the extra push you need to succeed.

5. Take time for fun. If you’re spending all your time working, studying, and watching after the kids, you’ll likely suffer in all areas. Everyone needs some down time to re-group. So, set aside a little time every week for a favorite activity. You’ll be more productive when you return to your work.

What helps you stay motivated? Do you have any tips or suggestions to add to our list?

Source - Penn Foster blog

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reading, Riting, Rithmatic and Now..Ringtones? Classes via Blackberry?

In an attempt to make education even more accessible, The Louisiana Community and Technical College System this month introduced its innovative LCTCSOnline. The system is being promoted as one of the first education systems to offer college courses on a cellular device.

"Anytime, anywhere, no matter where you live in Louisiana, you'll have access to higher education," said LCTCS President, Joe May.

Effective January 5, 2009, LCTCS will offer 21 primarily education and business courses via cell phones at a cost of $63 per credit.

Here's more from the Shreveport Times:
The program was funded with a $500,000 grant from the Louisiana Board of Regents and developed in only nine months with the help of Pearson Custom Solutions, which designed the technology and the courses; AT&T, which worked out the cellular transferability, and the Public Service Commission.

"We placed our money wisely," said Sally Clausen, commissioner of higher education.

"Our investment will pay dividends."

About 800,000 students across the U.S. are enrolled in online courses, Clausen said, but "Louisiana is the first to offer them on a cell phone. I'm proud to be a part of it."

Friday, December 12, 2008

Competition for College is Getting Steeper

I commented on this post yesterday and wanted to share the posting here. It is a guest post from Todd Johnson at College Admissions Partners

Many of the most selective colleges are starting to release their application numbers for 2007 and as expected the number of applications at many of these very selective colleges again set records. Here is the bad news: (bad news if you are not a very competitive candidate)

Harvard applications are up 18% to more than 27,000
Princeton applications are up 6% to 20,188
Stanford applications are up 2.5% to 24,564
Brown applications are up 7.5% to 20,505
Duke applications are up 5.4% to 20,250
University of Virginia applications are up 3.8% to 18,776
University of Chicago applications are up 18% to 12,267
Northwestern applications are up 12% to more than 25,000
Amherst applications are up 17%
Dartmouth applications are up 10%

But enough of the bad news because there is some good news also. According to a survey of 386 colleges by the National Association for College Admission Counseling the average college acceptance rate is still 69%.

In other words, as long as you are willing to consider a school outside the most selective colleges, there is still a reasonable acceptance rate with most colleges. As always, don’t get hung up on the name of the college. Find the best college for your needs and if it one of the most selective, have a good safety.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Plaxico Burress Shoots Himself in the Career

Any of us who have worked with new professionals to help them start and manage careers, can’t help but wince every time we see another promising professional sabotage their own career.

In this case it is Plaxico Burress.

You don’t have to be a huge football fan, I sure am not, to know his name. It has that ring to it. That sound that affixes it to your brain the first time you hear it.

The latest news is that Plaxico Burress has being arrested on weapons charges because he allegedly shot himself in the thigh? If that news wasn't bad enough, it seems the incident took place in a nightclub. Who, except someone with bad judgement, goes into a nightclub with a gun?

This is just the latest in a string of news about poor judgment from athletes who seem bent on destroying their own careers.

Of course this destructive behavior is not just limited to just athletes. Although not everyone takes a gun into a nightclub with them, others make bad choices as well.

Remember Denning McTague? The intern who tried to sell historical documents he stole from the US Constitution Center on eBay?

Without getting into the psychology of why some people might be predisposed to harm themselves professionally, there may be some things that professionals can do to avoid shooting themselves in the career.

- Find a mentor whose behavior you can model and whose judgment you trust.
- Stay grounded. It is really exciting to be in the limelight or even just be the new superstar at work. However, keep your focus on a long term career and think through the excitement.
- Ask for help. Be honest with yourself and ask for help if you feel things are slipping out of your control.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Laid Off Workers Take Over the Factory

To use a famous quote from an Oscar winning movie in 1976, Network, the employees at a Chicago manufacturing company seemed to be saying, "We are mad as hell and not going to take it any more!"

About 200 employees, very upset about lost vacation pay, disappearing medical insurance and lack of severance pay, have staged a "sit-in", at the factory where they worked. The company failed to give the 60 days notice that is required by law before shutting down and instead only told workers 3 days before closing the doors.

Workers were also angered by the fact that the management team did not show up for a meeting scheduled for this past Friday.

It appears that monthly sales for the company, Republic Windows and Doors had fallen from $4Million to $2.9Million during the last month.

Although not a popular practice here in the United States since the 1930’s, a little bit of internet research showed that it is not uncommon in other countries for workers to “take over” companies.

Case in point, a few weeks ago, Vivex, makers of windscreens for cars, was taken over by 360 workers in Venezuela because of the non-payment of the "utilidades" or profit bonus. Workers are demanding that the government nationalize the company and look at the books to verify company losses.

Thank heavens there are no such chants, yet, for the government to take over companies like Republic Windows and Doors. However, one has to wonder what is to come. Have we set a bad precedence for choosing to bail out some companies and not help others? If Congress chooses to support Ford, GM and Chrysler with a $17B bridge loan, who will be next in line?

Who is going to bail out the millions of small businesses that may have to close their doors?

Employees need to really stay focused on their work evironment and scan the horizon for possible changes that may impact them.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Thinking About a Job in Construction

If you are thinking of jumping into the construction industry keep in mind that big builders reported big losses in 2007. The continuing real estate slump is resulting in job losses among construction workers and those in related jobs. In fact, unemployment for construction workers hit 9.4% in December 2007, with just under a million people out of work in the industry. However, pay close attention to what kind of stimulus package rolls out of Washington DC. If the planned infrastructure enhancements are approved, there may be room for new hires in construction.

Some reported builder losses in 2007:
-Hovnanian lost $469.3 million in 2007
-Toll Brothers lost $81.8M in Q4 2007
-Pulte Homes posted a 2007 Q2 loss of $507.6M

If you work in construction or a related industry, stay positive and start exploring your options at these construction job search sites:
Construction Work
Craft Staffing
Dry Wall Florida

Friday, December 5, 2008

More Education and Training Means More Pay for Women

Did you know that high school graduates earned 25% more than high school dropouts in 2007? Also, women who drop out of high school were twice as likely to be unemployed women who graduated from high school.

Here is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics says: (Based on full-time workers 25 years and over)

Education - Less than High School
Unemployment Rate in 2007 - 8.2%
Mean Earnings in 2006 - $24, 136

Education - High School
Unemployment Rate in 2007 - 4.3%
Mean Earnings in 2006 - $30,251

Before considering dropping out of high school, explore all your options with a high school counselor or advisor.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Employers Lowering College Hiring Projections

Every year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers,(NACE) surveys employers to get a sense of their projections for new college hires.

In light of the nationally uncertain economy, NACE did a follow up survey August to October.

Below are industry results from the 146 employers who responded to this follow-up survey:

Agriculture: -14.2%
Construction: -19.6%
Manufacturing: 0.3%
Distribution & Utilities: -17.6%
Trade: -7.4%
Finance & Insurance: -6.2%
Business Services: -3.1%
Professional Services: 1.7%
Government: 19.8%

Before you give up on your preferred industry you should note the following from NACE:
Employers who participated in both the August and October polls (N = 146) are expecting to decrease their original hiring levels by 1.6 percent. Nevertheless, when compared with the number of actual hires from these firms for the Class of 2008, the expectations for the Class of 2009 are still 1.3 percent ahead of last year’s actuals.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Laura Bush Planning her "Career" After the White House

I saw Laura Bush on Meet The Press this past weekend with Tom Brokaw as she talked about her work with the women of Afghanistan.

As Mrs. Bush outlined much of what she had done in her role as First Lady to champion the cause of women globally, I sensed she was preparing for her new life and "career" beyond the White House.

Didn't think about it until just now, but does one refer to being First Lady as a career?

Whether you call it a career or not, her transition from the White House to whatever she does next will be pretty similar to career transitions made by many women every year.

Medical Assistant Vocational Training Program Checklist

Found a really great checklist for you if you plan to attend Medical Assistant training in a vocational program. Here is a quick summary from Medical Assistant blogspot:

1. Contact the vocational training school or online program and ask questions.
2. Ask if the program is composed, managed or taught by experienced medical assistant professionals.
3. Review the program syllabus.
4. Find out the program's success and pass-rate, the percentage of students that graduate successfully, sit certification songs and land jobs.
5. Ask about the vocational training program refund policy.
6. Choose only courses that meet your specific educational needs and goals.
7. Check the vocational school's recognition and accreditation status.
8. See if the website has a blog or public forum to read comments from students.
9. Examine the vocational school's address. Is it a physical address or virtual.
10. Ask around and seek advice from professionals in the field.
11. Know what employers want and the future outlook of the medical assisting career.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

International Exposure is Good for College Students

Read a new blog post at YSN and wanted to share this article excerpt I wrote last year about the value of international exposure to new college grads.

Study Abroad programs are becoming increasingly attractive as more and more college students seek meaningful ways to spend college breaks or explore true diversity of cultures. Additionally, as students return and share their positive experiences, others sign up to head overseas as well.

Two great resources for students considering studying overseas are and Semester at Sea. is a comprehensive online source of information about educational opportunities for high school students, college students or graduate students wanting to study in other countries. It includes information on summer programs, internships, service learning programs and overseas volunteer opportunities. The information is easy to follow and is sorted by subject, country or city.

Semester at Sea, run by the Institute for Shipboard Education, gets academic sponsorship from the University of Virginia where students can apply for credit for the 2007 summer trip. This trip will have students traversing the Western coast of Central America and South America. Stops this summer will include Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Financial aid is available to help students cover the $8000+ cost of the just over 2 month journey onboard the floating university. The Fall 2007 trip is scheduled for stops in Japan, Thailand, China and India while Puerto Rico, Brazil, South Africa and Mauritius are on tap for the Spring 2008 journey.

No study abroad program is without risk and students and parents should do all the required due diligence to make sure these experiences do not end with less than positive results. Some general advice to be safe on a study abroad experience are as follows and include some tips from the University of Chicago's Study Abroad program:

1. Be alert at all times. Remember you are in unfamiliar surroundings

2. Trust your instincts

3. Be cautious and protective with your cash

4. Observe political gatherings from a distance

5. Learn where the nearest police station, hospital and embassy is located

6. Stay sober and away from drugs and alcohol. This is not the time to lose focus

7. Be particularly alert while on public transportation and in public places

8. Be mindful of new friendships that develop too quickly

9. Make copies of all your important papers. Keep a set of copies with you as well as leave one at home.

10. Be inconspicuous and try to blend in as much as possible. Avoid being the noisy tourist

11. Check in often with home. Have somewhat of a routine so that folks at home will know if you are off schedule.

30 Career Lessons from Barack Obama's Campaign

It's been almost a month since the Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, won enough electoral votes to become the 44th president of the United States of America.

At that time I wrote a list of 30 career lessons that I thought that everyone could learn from Barack Obama's campaign.

I thought about it a bit and decided that these lessons were important enough to share with my high school readers as well. It really is never too early to start thinking about long term career planning.

1. Set personal goals
2. Stay away from those who say “You Can’t”
3. Plan and prepare for the long haul
4. To land a meaningful job, prepare for a really tough interview
5. Keep improving through the job search and beyond
6. Develop a personal board of advisors for support
7. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people with diverse thoughts
8. Develop a backbone. Even successful careers can have disappointments
9. Think around, outside and under the box. The way forward may not necessarily be clear or straight ahead
10. Don't expect your career paths to be logical to everyone looking on
11. Don’t burn your bridges behind you. You may need a reference or two eventually
12. Be mindful of what your associations can say about who you are
13. You don’t need to have all the experience in the job description to apply
14. Job descriptions get rewritten all the time
15. Be open to the fact that you might be underestimated
16. Some people will like you for the job and some will not
17. Some will laugh behind your back when they find out you are applying for a certain job
18. The real work begins after you land the job
19. Know your competition and do not underestimate them
20. Think transferable skills. eg. What skills did I develop as a community organizer or PTA President that could be valuable when changing careers.
21. You may have to say things during an interview to impress your future boss
22. You have to build consensus to move ideas forward
23. Keep track of your accomplishments; no one else is obligated to do that for you
24. You may find people want to hang around you, just because you are successful – not because they care
25. Education and training mean something
26. Hard work and discipline pays off eventually
27. It is not a shame to strategically plan your career
28. Many people are not working in their college majors
29. The more people who support you and your ideas, the more successful you will be
30. You are always preparing for your next career opportunity, regardless of what you are doing.

Are People Happier With Their Own Jobs During a Recession?

It would appear so.
At the same time that Gallup polls say 82% of Americans think this is a bad time to be looking for work, 91% of people in another survey are saying how satisfied they are with their own jobs. Does that surprise anyone?

Here is what Gallup says, “At a time when Americans' ratings of the country and of the nation's economy are near record lows, the percentage of U.S. workers feeling "completely satisfied" with their jobs -- now 48% -- is at the high end of the range seen in the past eight years”.

Add that to the other 42% of workers in the US say they were “somewhat satisfied” with their jobs and you are left with only about 9% sharing that they were dissatisfied to any degree with their current jobs.

It makes sense to me that as the job market becomes tighter and layoffs increase, people are more prone to reshaping their perspectives of their own jobs and looking at their work in a different way.

I think it is at times like this that the “glass is half full” principle takes over. Instead of thinking about their own career dissatisfaction at work, people begin to be more grateful about being able to work or having a job. A bad economy will make our own career issues seem not so bad.

I conduct a Career Makeover workshop every quarter for staff in a midsized company. My audience last week was smaller than they have been for the last 4 years. A quick poll of the group found, not surprisingly, that these working people were pretty satisfied with their own work. None were anxious to make any career changes, but thinking more long term.

In fact the audience for that session was much more optimistic about opportunities in their own company. They were much more willing to look for opportunities to build careers inside of the company rather than think about jumping ship.
It made me think about how bad it must be for the 9% who were "somewhat dissatisfied."

It just goes to show that so much of our care with our jobs and our careers is really in how we think about the situation. When we reframe our perspective on work and employment, we can probably become happier with our own jobs.

Reminds me of the old saying which internet research attributes to the Italians, “I felt sorry I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”

Monday, December 1, 2008

Why Baby Boomers Will Have to Work Longer

Ok...finally the economists are admitting it - we are in a recession and it seems that we have been in it for the last year.

Most of us already knew that right? I have been talking to Baby Boomers who see 401K's shrink and visions of planned retirement disappear.

The latest McKinsey Glogal Institute report shows "two-thirds of the oldest boomers are financially unprepared for retirement. Many are not aware of their predicament. This lack of sufficient resources will not only mean a less comfortable retirement for tens of millions of households but also depress spending in the overall economy."

Additionally, the report states many Baby Boomers actually do not want to retire and continue to work. In a tight job market, the competition is strong for Baby Boomers seeking work.

Some thoughts about finances before making the next career transition:
1. Find out the real financial situation is and will be after retirement.
2. What guidelines will affect working and receiving retirement payments from employers?
3. Will you work part-time or full time?
4. Can you continue with your existing employer in current career?
5. Can you "phase" in retirement?

So Your Summer Internship Has Not Turned Into an Job Offer

You are working hard in your internship, it is approaching the end of summer and you still have not heard from the company about a full time career offer for after graduation. Do you have any idea why?

I met up with a colleague in HR this afternoon and we chatted about her company's internship program this past summer. Of course we discussed who made the cut and who didn't. It turns out that particular intern stood out and not for the right reasons.

This intern stood out for wearing, not one but two 3/8 inch "diamond" studs to work every day. Additionally this intern was known around the building to be constantly on his cell phone, as he walked the corridors. The last straw was the fact that this intern would fall asleep constantly in meetings.

I pondered our conversation on my way home and wondered why so many college students still don't fully understand that internships are an invaluable opportunity to impress employers.

Of course it has been said before, but the following may be worth reading again:
The 10 Secrets of Interns Who Get Full Time Jobs
In Search of the Perfect Internship
Cell Phone Etiquette for College Students

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Job Interviews Show Lack of Preparation

I was on a team of interviewers recruiting a new director to execute a rather extensive job description.

The process to select the job interview candidates was pretty straight forward. The search team scored resumes of job applicants and selected the candidates with the highest scores for job interviews.

One observation from this round of job interviews is that too many job seekers, regardless of the level of the position, are just not well prepared to sell transferable skills.

After watching more than a few candidates squirm under the pressure, I thought I could offer these five tips to help job seekers prepare to sell transferable skills in the job interview.

1. Read the job descriptions carefully. Read it several times to become familiar with the skills that the company wants.
2. Know what knowledge, skills and abilities you have to offer to the employer for the specific job in question.
3. Acknowledge the gaps between what the employer wants and what you have to offer. Job seekers, who acknowledge the gaps ahead of time, have an opportunity to correct them. These gaps should not surprise you in the interview.
4. Identify career and experience stories from your background that will allow you to demonstrate how your transferable skills will compensate for direct knowledge.
5. Learn how to tell interesting stories in the interview that will make the interviewers want to engage in conversation with you.

Sample Resumes for the Holiday Job Search

We have passed Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays are approaching fast. Many teenagers and young adults are looking for holiday part time jobs. Keep in mind that the job market is very competitive right now with unemployment rate among teens 16-19 year olds, at 18.5%.

So instead of trolling the malls this year, empty handed, how about stepping up your job hunt and take a completed resume with you to add with your job application.

High School sample resumes and college sample resumes are now available at BullsEyeResumes. Use the samples to help you achieve an attractive resume layout.

Once your resume is complete please email for a FREE resume critique.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Recruiting Older Workers to Fill Employment Gaps

The Arizona Republic reported that employers realize they need to recruit and retrain older workers -- especially Baby Boomers. The article states that "mature applicants are seeking jobs in drastically changed workplaces that have gone global and digital on them, while often worrying that every rejection is due to gray hair."

Many companies are unsure how to recruit older workers.

Today's job market expects unprecedented tension as millions of older workers postpone retirement and keep working. Many work because they actually must continue to work for financial reasons. Additionally, some industries are growing so fast that they need to consider or rely on experienced older workers in the talent pool. Industries projecting to have these needs include healthcare, education, hospitality, energy, utilities, and information technology.

Companies desiring older workers emphasize flexible schedules, paid training, and phased retirement to keep or attract experienced workers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Make it Easy for Employers to Find You - Fix Your Resume!

Congratulations if you have completed your career education program, a vocational training program or college degree and are now job hunting. By now you should have a professional resume completed and ready to share with potential employers. (See High School Sample Resumes, College
Sample Resumes
and Vocational Resume Samples).

As you embark on your job search, you should know that busy recruiters and hiring managers discard resumes from good candidates all the time. Why? Because the employers are unable to connect with candidates due to incorrect contact information.

If you are job hunting you must make it easy for recruiters to find you. Here are 20 tips to help you proofread the contact information section of your resume.

Also read Resume/Interview FAQs for:
High School Students/Grads
Vocational Students/Grads
College Students/Grads

Monday, November 24, 2008

Going Back to School is Getting Tougher to Fund

One of the big drivers of the increased number of applications for student loans, primarily federal aid, has been the significant increase in the number of nontraditional students going back to school.

Of course, if you read my blog all the time, you know that the term "nontraditional student" is one I don't like. Why? Learning is a life long process and there is nothing "nontraditional" about learning as one gets older. For example, an older student returning to school for a Masters degree is not considered nontraditional, but an older student completing a bachelors degree is?

People are going back to school, many because they want to reenter old careers or start new careers and need to improve job skills. It is expected that the number of adults going back to school will increase as the economy worsens.

The Department of Education suggests that President Barack Obama will face an unusually burdensome financial situation that could force government to trim America's college aid program.

“There are a lot of things going on — more people are applying for student aid, more people are going to college, more people who qualify for the aid are showing up at school,” said Thomas P. Skelly, the Department of Education’s director of budget service, who wrote a memorandum detailing the problem to Congress.

Per the NY Times article, as of 7/31/2008, 800,000 more students had applied for grants than on that date the year before; one of the largest increases ever.

Tips for funding education in a down economy?
- Apply early
- Look for scholarships and grants
- Get advice from your college of interest
- Check employer tuition reimbursement

Debunking the Holiday Job Search Myth

Too many people believe in the myth that companies do not make hiring decisions between Thanksgiving and January.

Companies do hire and in fact may want to make those decisions before the end of this year. In a tight economy, the Class of 2009 can expect some heavy competition in the job market. This holiday season is not the time to slack off on the job search. Instead use time off from college this holiday season to:

- Stay focused and continue to submit resumes for on campus interviews or for entry level career programs with preferred employers.
- Network with family and friends during the holidays. Share your goals and plans if you are graduating next spring and do not be shy about getting help with job leads.
- Plan for an early return to campus after checking out the career center's event calendar. Chances are you can get your resume critiqued and get some early career coaching before the semester begins.
- Shop for some interview attire if you don't already have business professional or business casual attire at school.
- Making connections in a holiday job. Many students are having a hard time getting college loans right now, so if you have to work - do that.

Spending some time this holiday season on your job search will help you get ahead of the competition. Your goal should be to get hired before you walk in the spring.

Check out the Happy at Work Manifesto

If you thought only politicians had manifestos you are wrong.

Alexander Kjerulf, author of The Happy at Work Manifesto, says that being happy at work is a choice you make and if you decide to take steps towards happiness, you can be.

The Happy at Work Manifesto lists 25 rules to live by to be happier at work.

Here are number 24 and 25. Download your own copy here.

24: I recognize that power, status symbols, a corner office or even access to the corporate jet won’t make me happy at work. It feels good at first, sure, but the thrill quickly fades and it can never make up for a bad job.

25: Happiness at work comes from the things you and I do here and now.
I will get others involved and I will start now.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Planning for College? Think Ahead to Manage Your Debt

The average debt load for the class of 2007 in Pennsylvania was $23,613. This happens to be the sixth highest in the country. Here are some of the published average debt levels for graduates in the region: (Source – PennLive)

$27,566 at Lebanon Valley College
$26,300 at Penn State
$22,853 at Dickinson College
$20,256 at Shippensburg University
$19,555 at Millersville University

You will notice that the state schools, Shippensburg and Millersville, although lower are not that much lower. The question is whether or not this is good debt or bad debt. It certainly is better than having a car loan. Everyone knows that as soon as you drive off the lot with a new car, it begins to depreciate. In simpler terms, the older the car, the more wear and tear and therefore the lower the value of the car!

That is the exact opposite of the education loan or it should be. The older you get, the more career mileage you get, the more valuable YOU become. As long as you are outpacing the interest on your education loan, and growing your career, the better life should be for you.

That does not mean that college students should go loan crazy. Remember that they will need to be paid back. The more you can do to limit loans eg part-time jobs or community college, the better able you will be to buy that nice car after graduation and the sooner you will be able to move into your own place.

November is National Career Development Month!

The theme this year is "Inspire Your Career, Develop Your Dreams". If your current career is getting the better of you, there is no better time than this month to start making some new choices towards achieving career nirvana.

Of course, as we all know, this is a tough time to make the choice to leave your current employer, if you don't have to. If you are unsure where to start you might want to consider the 30 activities I shared with my blog readers last November 2007, one for each day.

Here they are again:
Day 1 - Career Change Requires a Positive Attitude
Day 2 - Analyze Your Job
Day 3 - Evaluate Your Skills
Day 4 - Grab a Career Book
Day 5 - Focus on Training
Day 6 - Start Reading Career Blogs and Articles
Day 7 - Start a Career Journal
Day 8 - Start Working on a Career Portfolio
Day 9 - Get a Handle on Workplace Stress
Day 10 - Join Your Alumni Association
Day 11 - What's in Your Personnel File?
Day 12 - Enhance Technical Skills at Work
Day 13 - Thinking About Starting a Business
Day 14 - Join a Professional Association
Day 15 - Rejuvenate Your Contacts
Day 16 - Volunteer!
Day 17 - Create a Kudos Folder
Day 18 - Research Upcoming Job Fairs
Day 19 - Update Your Resume and CV
Day 20 - Explore Career Assessments
Day 21 - Job+Holiday=Stress; Get Some Perspective this Season
Day 22 - Look for Work Life Balance
Day 23 - Are career Myths Holding you Back?
Day 24 - Share your Resume and get Feedback
Day 25 - Learn About Informational Interviews
Day 26 - Identify 2-3 Career Options
Day 27 - Identify Gaps in Skills and Competencies
Day 28 - Register with 3 Employment Websites
Day 29 - Put Your References on Notices
Day 30 - Spend Time with a Career Coach

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Free Resume Writing Workshops to be Offered at Michigan Campus

Michigan's Flint Journal (9/24, Mostafavi) reports that a free workshop called How to Write a Winning Resume will be offered to the community on Saturdays at the University of Michigan. Bob Barnett, associate dean of UM-Flint's college of arts and sciences, will present the resume writing workshops.

Barnett said that he was shocked by a recent news article listing prices people would have to pay for help with resume writing especially in a dour economy. His resume writing workshops will cover everything from organizing information and formatting to selling one's self through presentation of work experience and education.

In addition, a group of volunteers who have experience with resume writing will also help Barnett give people one-on-one critiques of resumes.

Barnett said, "I think a good resume is more important now than at any point in recent history because the job market is so tight and so many people are applying for one job." He explained, "Employers are seeing hundreds of resumes. You want your resume to come to the top of the pile in any way [it] can."

If you need resume writing help, use these Vocational Resume Samples. Additionally, feel free to contact BullsEyeResumes for a free resume critique.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Paying it Forward in a Tough Economy!

My husband and I were in line yesterday at a major retailer known for cool cotton attire. It was a pretty long line and we soon found out why. It appears that the store and other affiliates were offering a sale, giving a 30% discount to shoppers who had retrieved a coupon online.

Well, since this store is not on our regular routine, (we were actually in the store next door and thought we would go in), we did not have a coupon. Of course we expected that we would be paying full price or at least the store two-fer sale price.

After a few minutes in line a patron who was exiting the store, having made her purchase, asked who in line did not have a coupon. I spoke up and she gave me hers with the instruction to “Pass it on” since someone had passed it to her. Before the ethics police accost me, I should share that the coupon clearly stated – “for multiple uses by friends and family”.

I think that was pretty nice of her and so I passed it to the person behind me. She was last in line and so as she went on to another cashier, my cashier told her that they would be happy to pass it on to other customers.

Although no one really said it in line, I think I know what people were feeling - the slow economy had caused the scaled down staffing. The line was clearly taking a while since only two cashiers were available to run the entire adult section of the store. The children’s section had two people also and their lines were even longer. Everyone there, I think, was feeling the bad times and so the sharing of the coupon helped to lift spirits and foster conversation.

It made me think about how bad times can really promote unselfish behaviors. If we are all in the same boat, why not help someone else?

So I was thinking, with over a million layoffs and job losses this year so far, chances are you know someone who might be unemployed and looking.

What would it take for you to:
- share some information
- offer a lead on a job
- promise to help someone look out for them
- follow up if and when you hear about an opportunity
- help a jobseeker with someone you know

Chances are – it won’t take much out of you and you could be making someone’s day or a better holiday for doing it.

Paying it forward is not just about job search either - don't let the economy stop you from helping someone if you can. A friend in Florida who is in the Rotary club is still asking for funds to help 5 families with their Thanksgiving. What can you do? If you want to help, let me know and I will send you their address!

Career ReEntry Without More College Education

No one can underestimate the value of new training and new education if you are seeking career reentry into the workforce. However, in the current economic downturn, many potential career reentry workers are worried about getting hired if they don't have the education they perceive employers want.

A recent FOX Business article offered encouraging news for career reentry workers - of the 15 fastest growing jobs for 2006-2016, 10 do not require a college degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Express Employment Professionals, the fifth-largest staffing company in the US, helps about 350,000 employees find jobs in 35,000 companies in the U.S. every year. Here is a profile of the 350,000 jobseekers they help:
- 12% have a four-year college degree.
- 42% have a high school diploma, some high school education or a GED.
- 33% have some college
- 13% have either an associate’s degree or a graduate degree

The jobs they help workers find include everything from warehouse stocking positions to management and executive roles at an average contract rate of about $12 an hour.

For most of Express Employment’s clients, a high school diploma is sufficient--and for those clients who do request a staffer with higher education, they also want someone who has the right skill set. Says Sean Simpson from Express Employment, “A degree is one thing, but if you don’t have the right skill set to match up, they don’t want you.”

Start evaluating your job skills today, develop a comprehensive resume (Career Re-entry Resume Sample) and get ready to start your competitive job search.

Information Source - FOX Business

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thinking Outside, Around and Under the Box in a Bad Job Market

"People are going to have to be creative and take a broad approach to their (job)search," says Russ Gerson, CEO of Gerson Group. Gerson shared his advice with Sarah Needleman in a recent career article for Career Journal.

Gerson Group is a global recruiting firm with offices in London and New York, specializing in placing employees into alternative investment, asset management, capital markets, equity research, real estate and wealth management jobs. In other words, they place employees into lucrative careers on the trading floors and corner offices on Wall Street.

As job losses on Wall Street add up, Gerson is advising jobseekers to think outside, around and even under the box to secure employment. Already in 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirms that over 100,000 jobs have been cut in the financial sector, making it the largest sector experiencing job losses, ahead of the auto industry.

As expected, smaller banks are jumping in to pick up the slack in business and are actually doing some hiring. The problem for Wall Street ex-employees is that these jobs are not all in New York. That points to one option job seekers should most definitely consider - relocation.

Other options the pink slip crowd from Wall Street will have to explore? Lower salaries. Many of the smaller boutique financial agencies, cannot handle investment bank sized payrolls.

Other career options suggested in the Needleman article for financial professionals caught in the Wall Street conundrum:

- Financial communications: If you're an experienced financial analyst, you are likely adept at determining what information is appropriate to divulge. Consider a career here.
- Wealth management: Ex- traders should look for opportunities on the buy-side at hedge funds, insurers and investment-management firms where their analytical and quantitative skills would be an asset.
- Risk management: Problem identification and isolation is something that traders always do instinctively and so a career in risk management is a definite option.
This career advice to think about parallel industries and transferable skills is not just for those who have lost jobs on Wall Street, but for anyone whose job may have trickled on right out of the economy.

Source - Where the Jobs Are For Wall Street Pros, by Sarah E. Needleman

Take 20 Minutes on this Skills Profiler

If you are considering a Career Education or Vocational Training Program use the Skills Profiler to create a list of your skills and match them to job types that need those skills.

A job skills profile can help you:
- strengths
- areas of weaknesses
- occupations that can utilize your current skills
- find gaps you need to fill
- create a good vocational resume
(Skill Based Sample Vocational Training Resumes)

If you use the Skills Profiler from the Department of Labor, you have the choice to print, save or bookmark it in your browser.

Plan to spend about 20 minutes completing your job skills profile.

Monday, November 10, 2008

10 Things to do Before the Pink Slip Arrives

I read a great article at Career Solvers about what to do before the pink slip arrives.

Many of the career reentry professionals who read my blog are concerned about the pink slip possibility. Many have returned to work and are feeling some "last-in-first-out" anxiety.

Of course no one knows for certain, if a pink slip is in the future, but it pays to be prepared.

Tips mentioned in the article:
-audit your resume (sample career reentry resumes)
-gather testimonials
-do a favor for someone
-join a professional association
-get a flu shot
-manage your finances
-avoid toxic people
-spend time with family

Of course the author Barbara Safani, expands on each and so you want to read the entire article.

Other articles:

Stop Muddling Through Your Job Search; Get Focused!
Is it a Good or Bad Time to Look for Work?
More Job Losses on Wall Street - has some additional ideas about what to do if you fear job loss.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Nov 3 was Job Action Day

So even though I didn't blog on November 3, which was Job Action Day, I wanted to share, what I think is a really brilliant concept with you.

The idea is that on Job Action Day, career bloggers would encourage jobseekers, employees and workers to use the day to take stock of their career situation and make plans and/or take action steps to improve their careers.

Of course there is no time like the present to start getting focused on your career, especially since November is National Career Development Month. If you are not sure of what kind of actions to take to improve your career, take a look at my blog entries for November 2007 where we added one activity per day to celebrate career development month.

Here is the Job Action Day press release issued by QuintCareers.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Teen Workers Can be Sexually Harassed Too

A law firm in the state of Delaware runs a great blog on employment law. I found this information that I think is valuable for teens. The blog entry alerts employers to the fact that the number of teenagers filing sexual harassment lawsuits is on the rise.

Here’s a quote:
Employers should also take steps to address the special vulnerability of teen workers to sexual harassment. As an item on this blog noted a few weeks ago, an ABA Journal story reported that the number of teen-aged workers filing sexual harassment charges is on the rise. Teen workers are often part-time or seasonal, and may be in the workplace for the first time. They tend to fall between the cracks when it comes to training. Many restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores have teen-age supervisors and managers as well as workers. Teens tend not to realize that the standard of conduct at work is different from what’s permissible in a social setting.

If you are a teen who supervises other teens at work, be very careful about your actions. Knowledge is power so ask your managers for details about appropriate workplace behavior.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Interview Knockout Factors From Temple's Career Center

Temple University's Career Center offers a ton of online information for college students and graduates.

I found this list of Interview knockout factors in their online interview guide and thought I would share them with you. You may have seen them before, in some form or the other here on the BullsEye College blog, but I thought it would be a good reminder in this tough economy.

• Lateness
• Lack of knowledge or skills necessary to do the job… not qualified
• Poor personal appearance
• Not prepared for the interview… no research on the company
• No confidence or poise… fails to look the interviewer in the eye
• Unable to express ideas clearly
• Only interested in the best dollar offer… instead of interest in the job
• Makes excuses during the interview, evasiveness, hedges on answers
• Negative about past supervisors or other experiences.
• Poorly defined career goals
• Asks few or poor questions about the job.
• No real enthusiasm in the company/industry/field

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

30 Career Lessons from Barack Obama's Campaign

As a registered independent voter, I read news from multiple sources. I read an article a few months ago at the Weekly Standard and thought I would save my comments until after the election.

The article was titled - Would You Hire Barack Obama? The Resume of a Chronic Underachiever, by Dean Barnett.

Barnett, a former headhunter for law firms, was reviewing Barack Obama's career and resume. His ultimate conclusion was: "The net effect is this: His accomplishments haven't been commensurate with his talents."

I wondered what Barnett would say now? Having worked in the career management field for a while, I know that there are recruiters with stories of hires who performed well beyond expectations or those hires that were overlooked and underestimated.

Since hindsight is better than 20/20, I thought I would list some of the career lessons I think one could learn from Barack Obama's campaign for the job of United States President.

1. Set personal goals
2. Stay away from those who say “You Can’t”
3. Plan and prepare for the long haul
4. To land a meaningful job, prepare for a really tough interview
5. Keep improving through the job search and beyond
6. Develop a personal board of advisors for support
7. Surround yourself with a diverse group of people with diverse thoughts
8. Develop a backbone. Even successful careers can have disappointments
9. Think around, outside and under the box. The way forward may not necessarily be clear or straight ahead
10. Don't expect your career paths to be logical to everyone looking on
11. Don’t burn your bridges behind you. You may need a reference or two eventually
12. Be mindful of what your associations can say about who you are
13. You don’t need to have all the experience in the job description to apply
14. Job descriptions get rewritten all the time
15. Be open to the fact that you might be underestimated
16. Some people will like you for the job and some will not
17. Some will laugh behind your back when they find out you are applying for a certain job
18. The real work begins after you land the job
19. Know your competition and do not underestimate them
20. Think transferable skills. eg. What skills did I develop as a community organizer or PTA President that could be valuable when changing careers.
21. You may have to say things during an interview to impress your future boss
22. You have to build consensus to move ideas forward
23. Keep track of your accomplishments; no one else is obligated to do that for you
24. You may find people want to hang around you, just because you are successful – not because they care
25. Education and training mean something
26. Hard work and discipline pays off eventually
27. It is not a shame to strategically plan your career
28. Many people are not working in their college majors
29. The more people who support you and your ideas, the more successful you will be
30. You are always preparing for your next career opportunity, regardless of what you are doing.

Did I miss anything? I am sure I did!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Funding Education in a Tight Economy

I wrote about paying for college in a bad economy a few months ago and wanted to add a new resource from the Department of Education.

The guide is available in English and Spanish and can be downloaded in both PDF and HTML.

If you have questions or concerns about paying for school contact:
Federal Student Aid Information Center by calling 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243).

Career Assessment Help for Changing Careers

I discovered this career assessment, Rocket Career, for those who might want to switch careers.

Of course no career assessment or career test will guarantee what one should be or not, but the feedback can always reaffirm ideas you may have about your next step.

The assessment will take you only a few minutes and here is a portion of my results.

Innovative & Risk-Taking - Your percentile ranking is 90
"I wonder what would happen if..." is your mantra, and you need a career with an element of risk to get you out of bed in the morning. You're willing to experiment, to learn by acting and doing. Your continual questioning of the status quo reflects your need to find a better way to do what people do now or a new way to do what others don't even realize needs doing. Yours is an entrepreneurial, "start-up" personality. You like to test boundaries, and your innate confidence means you're well placed in careers where power is at issue--business, politics, sales. Since you're willing to take the risks that pay off in tangible rewards, you need a career where money--or its equivalent--is the measure of success.

Creative & Free Form - Your percentile ranking is 60
You need an artistic or imaginative element in your work in order to find the career that fits. Your powers of visualization are strong, as is your ability to see patterns and trends long before others do. Though you can be impatient with restriction, you need to master the conventions of your art in order to find the structure that gives you true freedom of expression. Express yourself you must, and if you find a career that lets you set your own schedule, so much the better. Your productivity and your enthusiasm go hand in hand, so while others may be content to work for money alone, you won't find the right job till you're in a career that gives you joy.

Why I Will Be in the Voting Booth on November 4th?

It is hard to know what specific issues people ponder when they enter the voting booth. Which specific issues put them over the top for one candidate or another? It differs for everyone I am sure and even at this last minute, some people are thinking about the future and earnestly trying to make the right decision.
If the predictions are right, the long lines today, will give us a lot of time to think about our vote.

Although I write a career blog, I couldn’t resist the urge to put my thoughts on paper to express why and for whom I am voting today! There are truly career lessons everywhere.

1. My vote today will be for all the women who have struggled for centuries to balance their need to work and to care for families. For women who have been overlooked in the workplace, whose voices are never heard, who do get equal pay for equal work and who were too tired or scared to fight for that. Say what you will about Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton, these are women with a point of view who have put themselves out there for our scrutiny and sometimes even our ridicule. Whether or not you consider them intellectually equal or competent, they both have shown us it is possible what can happen if you are brave enough to say, “Yes”, when asked.

2. I vote for those who show up every day to perform, even in the face of stereotypes that would seek to diminish them personally. Be they men or women. Barack Obama’s candidacy reaffirms what many of us who are immigrants have always known - that to succeed you don’t just have to be good; you have to be two or three times as good. We know the bar against which we are measured is higher, as it should be. After all, we have to prove we are worthy of being called – “American”. Unfortunately, that same high bar has been used to measure those born here, but still considered different. I vote for those whose ideas were brilliant, but never acknowledged; those who worked hard, but were never applauded and for those who were passed over and overlooked because they were different. I vote today to reinforce, that stereotypes are just barriers to be broken.

3. My vote today is for those of us who are brave enough to reach “across the aisle”, so to speak, to develop and nurture strong relationships with those who might not look like us, but share our values. I vote for all who are willing to take a chance on the goodness of people, knowing that even after all the hard work and the crowds go home, we might still not be good enough, for reasons over which we have no control – be it race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age or sexual orientation.

4. My vote today is for all the 72 year olds, like John McCain, who know that there is still more to give and more to do to keep this country strong. For all those seniors who are still willing to answer the call for greatness, regardless of age. For all those seniors who never get weary or tire, because they feel their mission is a noble one. It is truly inspiring to me that John McCain traversed this great country, visiting up to seven states within 24 hours of the most significant election in US history.

5. My vote today is for all generations past – the uncles, the aunts, the grandparents, the parents who never even dared to dream the possibility, much less experience the reality of an African American or American Woman in the White House. For those who marched, who died and on whose shoulders we stand as we continue to explore this great experiment that is America.

6. My vote today is for my children, a young man of 17 and a young woman of 16, who are too young to vote, but so aware as are many at their age. Both are first generation Americans, Ja-mericans as we call them, meaning those of Jamaican parents born in the US, for whom the options have never been greater. I vote for them so they can continue to live in an America, where being American means something, both inside and outside this country. I vote so that they can see the greatness of America where power is transferred, without bloodshed and without violence as it should in all free societies. I vote to show them, that as Americans, they too will have a responsibility to support this great nation, participate in this democracy and protect the rights of it’s citizens to free expression. All our futures depend on it.

Go vote. The real work begins tomorrow!

Monday, November 3, 2008

With 760000 Job Losses in 2008, Job Fairs are Overcrowded!

Imagine wall to wall anxious job seekers, tired recruiters and thousands of resumes exchanging hands. CNN Money reports that we have already lost 760, 000 jobs in 2008 and so it is no surprise that job fair attendance is clearly up.

If you are looking for work, one immediate way to quickly improve your career and industry awareness is to attend a career fair. Job fairs generally have the same format and layout, cost you nothing but a few hours and give you a really great opportunity to meet hiring managers and network. Some companies may even be doing job interviews and making hiring decisions on the spot.

If you are searching online for job fairs nearby, use different keywords to find upcoming events since the names might vary slightly. Here are a few alternative ways to find a career fairs which could be of interest to you.

Search by:
- Location – eg Philadelphia Career Fair or Valley Forge Career Fair.
- Education or training – eg MBA Career Fair, Technical Job Fair
- Industry – eg. Sales Job Fair, Nonprofit Career Fair, Healthcare Job Fair
- Niche – eg Diversity Job Fair, Disability Job Fair, Veteran Job Fair, Skilled Trades Job Fair

*Don't forget to search for Virtual Job Fairs as well which are completely online events.

Make the most of these crowded events by:
- Registering ahead of time if possible. Many fairs allow you to register and upload a resume before the event. This way recruiters will get a chance to see you early.
- Identifying who you want to see and make those rounds first. Don't waste time in long lines, visit another employer of choice and come back!
- Planning that 30-second introduction. You don't have a lot of time to make a connection, so the better you handle that introduction, and speak of the position you want, the better it will be.
- Attending job fairs alone. Exploring the job fair is not a team sport. Leave your friends at the door and arrange a time to meet after making your rounds.
- Staying off your phone. Why are you there, if you plan to spend to all your time on your laptop or Blackberry?
- Talking to people. Do not just drop your resumes and run! You never know who you could meet at a job fair.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No Experience? What Employers Want on Your College Resume?

Having worked with and coached many college students and new college graduates to successful careers, I know that one of the big obstacles they face is - Where will I get the experience that employers seek?

Of course we encourage students to share information and experience from any of the following sources:

- volunteer work on and off campus
- classroom individual or group projects
- internships
- campus work study and non work study jobs
- campus clubs
- student chapter of professional organizations
- greek life leadership
- overseas experiences or study abroad
- working in a family business
- seasonal part-time jobs
- technical skills (self taught or otherwise)
- campus teams (eg. sports and music)

I have just discovered another great resource from QuintCareers. It is the College Experience Worksheet for Resume Development.

The worksheet goes well beyond just work experience but also helps college students identify their own positive skills or behaviors that employers are eager to see in new grads.