Friday, February 29, 2008

What Teens Ought To Know About Cell Phones at Work

Statistics on cell phone usage indicate that about 1/3 of all teens or pre-teens in the United States carry a cell phone. Also, about 25% of all cell phone revenues come from this age group.

We didn't need to see those statistics to know cell phone use is prevalent among teens. Working teens should brush up on cell phone work etiquette as the summer job season approaches.

1. Don't answer your phone every time it rings. Send it to voicemail.
2. Don't be on your phone while you are ringing up a customer at the cash register.
3. Don't put your phone on speaker, so that you can hear your friend while you continue to work.
4. Stop texting when a customer, coworker or your boss is speaking with you.
5. Your cell phone ringer should not be louder or more disruptive than the company phone ringer.

Read the entire list of Cell phone Don'ts at work at BullsEyeResumes-College blog

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cell Phone Etiquette for College Students

I was on the telephone with a college administrator when her student assistant showed up for work. The administrator, asked me on hold, put the phone down and I could hear her giving work assignments for the afternoon to the student assistant.

While giving the student instructions, the student's cell phone rang. The student immediately answered the phone, jumped up and asked the administrator to wait for a while as she completed her call. The administrator took a few seconds to come back to me and said she needed to do a little professional development coaching and would get back to me.

I imagine I know what happened next. Quite likely the administrator spoke to the unprofessional behavior of her student staffer.

We all know that cell phones are everywhere on college campuses and in the case of many students, considered to be an extension of an arm permanently fixed to the ear. College students talk to friends before classes, after classes, between classes, before lunch, during lunch, after lunch etc. To control the invasion of the cell phone into the classroom, faculty now post signs in classrooms, outside of classrooms and even add notes to syllabi about cell phone use and protocols.

The incident led me to think about a few points of cell phone etiquette for teens and college students at work. By the way, these rules are not meant to in any way diminish the ability of this generation to be flexible and multitask like no other group before.

1. You can't answer your phone every time it rings, especially when speaking with your boss.

2. You can't be sending text messages on your phone while ringing up a customer at the cash register.

3. You can't be speaking so loudly on your phone while in the store room of a major department store, that customers can hear you while shopping.

4. You can't put the phone on speaker, so that you can hear your friend while you continue to work. Other workers do not want to hear your conversation.

5. Your cell phone ringer should not be louder or more disruptive than the office phone ringer.

6. When your employer is giving you assignments, get a notebook. Do not take notes about work on your phone and take those notes with you, especially when others are expected to come in and pick up on the same assignment.

7. If you are at work, the public restroom or the lunch counter is not the quiet place to take calls.

8. Leave your phone in the office and do not bring it into meeting unless you are expecting important, revenue generating calls, and voicemail won't do.

9. Don't give customers your personal cell phone number and do company business that way.

10. While you are at work, on company time, for heavens sake---remove the earpiece!

I did not get to follow up with the administrator so I don't know exactly what she said, but I am pretty sure some of these rules were included.

Maybe I shouldn't assume that only college students need reminding of these rules. Feel free to share.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

9 Key Elements of a Good Reference Letter

It's that time of year again when job search goes into high gear with millions of new college and high school graduates job hunting and pounding the pavements.

Job seekers might be looking to you for letters of recommendations and letters of reference.

To draft a good reference letter for a job seeker, use these nine tip

Read the complete article at

1. Stay positive, honest and personal.
2. Qualify yourself early in every reference letter you write.
3. State the nature of relationship you had with the job seeker.
4. State why the opportunity to support this job seeker excites you and state your feelings about being asked to write this reference letter.
5. Identify which 2 or 3 specific behaviors and qualities which, in your opinion, are most meaningful to the employer.
6. Why would the job seeker be a good fit for the organization in question? How could they bring value to the bottom line?
7. Write about your willingness to work with the job seeker again.
8. Share your availability for follow up.
9. When writing a reference letter, it is not the time to err on the side of brevity.

The overall goal is to be superfluous, long winded and relevant.

25 "Do-You-Knows" of Networking

Rejuvenating our contacts is a must for those of us thinking about changing careers or reentering the workforce. The possibility of networking yourself to your next opportunity is well known.

I stumbled on to this list of "25 Do-You-Knows of Networking" at Networking Insight.

My favorite tips for Networking?
1. Create personal cards and keep some in every bag, purse, coat etc that you have. Two great inexpensive sources of professional business cards are: Vista Print and Prints Made Easy

2. Givers Gain! Networking is not about what you can get it is about what you have to offer. One of my favorite resources on Networking is the book, Masters of Networking.

3. Join professional associations to connect with people who are in your profession or in a profession you are thinking about. Here are two of the best lists of professional associations on the web:
The Internet Public Library

4. Social Networking sites like LinkedIn and Spoke are good, but should only be a start.

You will still need to get personal!

Exploring the "Gap" Year Alternatives

If you are graduating from high school this year, you might be considering taking a break before going to college or starting a career. If you are, think about doing something meaningful and explore "gap year" activities.

According to Wikipedia, the term, "gap year" refers to a "prolonged period (often, but not always, a year) between two life stages. This "gap year" is also known as a "year out", "year off", "deferred year", "bridging year", "overseas experience", "time off" and "time out". Taking this time off is actually very popular in Europe and Australia where young adults are encouraged to take a break after high school and before or after college. Graduates are urged to take on meaningful experiences during this time for personal exploration before moving to the next life stage of career or college.

Your graduation from high school or college this year could offer you the same opportunity. You might be thinking about taking the time off, especially if you are not sure what your next career or higher education step should be.

The question to ponder is whether or not taking the "gap year" off a good thing for you?

The answer of course is - it depends. You will want to weigh the pros and cons of taking this time off.

Here are some Pros:
1. Take the time to explore careers so you can become clearer about what to pursue
2. You may be tired of school and would not do well in classes anyway. This might save you money
3. You might be able to save some money to return to school, get an apartment or some transportation
4. Traveling could help you to explore geographical options and other cultures

Here are some Cons:
1. You may never want to return to college or further your education. This is probably the most common reason you will hear.
2. Once away from school you could lose touch with teachers and others who encourage you to further your education.

Some colleges understand this urge that high school graduates have and are now getting on board with innovative programs to meet the needs of these students. A recent article in the US News outlines "gap" year plans from Princeton University in New Jersey.

Princeton University is planning to send 10 percent of their incoming freshman admitted to the school overseas for a year to work in the social services. They will actually do this before these freshman students even set foot on the Princeton campus.

Here are some articles about finding meaningful ways to spend your “gap” year before or after high school or college:

How to Become a World Citizen; Before Going to College
The Gap Year by Susan Griffith
Year Out Group
Gap Year Program in Israel for North American Youth
Gap Year Gives Perspective

Saturday, February 23, 2008

How To Get an Interview With a Top Employer

The Black Collegian Magazine has been published since 1970 and is a great free resource for college students and college career centers.

Published by IMDiversity, The Black Collegian was developed to help college students of color seeking information on careers, job opportunities, graduate/professional school, internships/co-ops, study abroad programs, etc.

The magazine is distributed on over 800 campuses nationwide, primarily through the career services offices and is completely free to students.

This spring's mega issue has a great article written by Kim Wells, Director of Career Services at Howard University. The article features interviews with HR professionals from major corporations with campus interviewing programs like KPMG, IBM Global Services and Target.

These HR professionals provide answers to the following questions from Wells:
1. What should a student do to secure an onsite interview?
2. What do recruiters really want?
3. What should students know to get an interview?
4. What gets the attention of recruiters?
5. What final pointer would you offer students?

Pick up a free copy of Black Collegian from your college career center to read the complete answers to these and other questions.

Check out Black Collegian Online as well.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Career Transition Resource List

How serious are you about a career transition or career makeover?

Even when dissatisfied with jobs or careers, many employees hesitate to make changes. Don't feel bad, it is wise to err on the side of caution when making career decisions.

Regardless of whether the economy is in recession or boom times, due diligence is very important when considering career transitions.

Here are some career resources offering free career advice on exploration and transitions:

1. Check out the November 2007 blog entries here at November is National Career Development Month and so for each blog entry that month, read a different piece of career advice.

2. Check out the top Career Blogs and bookmark your favorites. BullsEyeResumes recently debuted on that list. (We are pretty excited about that since although BullsEye Resumes has been around for six years, our blog is pretty new.)

3. Bootstrapper's 50 Tools to Change Career Paths.

4. Read Anita Bruzzese at 45things. Check out her new book "45 Things You Do That Drive Your Boss Crazy…and How to Avoid Them"

5. Read relevant career articles at BullsEyeResumes

Get Fired Up After Getting Fired!

One of the professional associations that I subscribe to is "Women In Technology International" (WITI). I read a great article by Margaret Heffernan titled "Fired Up".

She recounts her own personal behavior after being fired for the first time. Here is what she says, "I felt my whole world had come crashing down around me. I was in a job that I adored. I was passionate about it, believed in it, and had no concept of ever doing anything else. Sleepless for days and torn between rage and grief, I made my indignation felt far and wide. If my company was going to fire me, I thought, it should suffer. So I tried to humiliate it and its leaders in every way I could find."

She continues to say how she regretted her own behavior which left her with a bad name. She recounts also what happened after her father was fired at 55 even though the company called it "early retirement."

Read the rest of the article for her recommendations on how to get fired up after getting fired.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Career Education Programs Could be a Solution

Short term job training through vocational programs could be an answer for the state of Indiana.

A recent study conducted by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems finds nearly one million Indiana workers lack the necessary skills, education and training to succeed in Indiana's workforce.

This translates to 23.6% of the state's workforce or about 931,366 adults ages 18-64. The study, released by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, will be examined by a committee that will ultimately make recommendations which could become a blueprint for small or medium-sized businesses.

Some key findings in the study:
-16.5% of adults struggle to earn a living wage
-12% have not finished high school
-Indiana ranks 41st in the nation in the percentage of working-age adults with an associate's degree or higher.

Ford Motors Does Another Payout!

From payouts to buyouts, this Ford Motors timeline shows that the writing has been on the wall for this troubled company for a while. Hopefully the employees affected by these latest round of buyouts, will manage the imposed career changes and find success in new careers.

Ford Offers Buyouts, Early retirement offers to 54,000 - January 2008
Ford Motors offers early retirement buy outs to 54,000 hourly workers and replace them with lower-paid workers. Thursday's announcement came after Ford reported narrowing its losses in 2007 but warned that the outlook for U.S. sales in 2008 remains grim.

FORD'S Hourly buyout acceptances reach 38,000 this year - November 2006
As part of its North American turnaround plan, Ford Motors confirmed today that so far this year about 38,000 of its UAW-represented hourly workers accepted package offerings for voluntary separation from the company.

New Ford CEO to Get $18.5 Million Payout - September 2006 Ford Motor Company new chief executive gets an annual base salary of $2 million and a $18.5 million sign up bonus.

Judge Likely to Approve $10.5 Million Ford Payouts - March 2002
Easy approval is expected for Ford Motors proposed $10.5-million settlement of two class actions suits stemming from controversial and now-abandoned manager evaluation system. About 500 current and former mid-level managers would receive $5,000 to $100,000 each, minus attorney fees. The payments are meant to reimburse workers for unpaid raises, bonuses or promotions. About 80% of the class action members who were not active in the two lawsuits would get $5,000 or $14,000, depending on factors such as whether they took a buyout offer.

Payouts for low performance Is insult being added to injury - July 1998
By fall, Ford Motors is offering 5,000+ white-collar workers cash and other incentives to leave the company and move on to new careers. Only workers deemed "low performers" or "average/solid performers with limited potential" will be eligible to participate, according to a Ford memo obtained and printed in the Detroit Free Press.

Boomers Working Well Beyond Retirement!

This blog entry from Shifting Careers at The New York Times.

February 11, 2008, 11:25 am
Trading Retirement for Something Else
By Marci Alboher

“The encore career is not a retirement job. It’s not a transitional phase. It’s not a bridge between the end of real work and the beginning of real leisure. It’s not leftover time to be killed. It’s an entire stage of life and work — a destination and category of work until itself.”

Marc Freedman, “Encore” (PublicAffairs Books, 2007).

The “encore career” is the brainchild of social entrepreneur, Mr. Freedman, whom I interviewed for today’s Shifting Careers column. Through his nonprofit organization, Civic Ventures, and the book, Encore, Mr. Freedman has been working furiously to create a blueprint and tools for a generation of aging baby boomers who want to spend their later years productively.

When I started my interview with Mr. Freedman, he warned me that he might sound a little loopy because his 4-week-old son has been behaving like a newborn. I was captivated by him, even in his tired state. For nearly three hours, he talked about all the ways that individuals in the second half of life can remain engaged in work while improving the world around them.

He recited facts and quoted studies, described ambitious programs (like, the Purpose Prize he created to award money to social entrepreneurs 60 and over), and offered case studies like Gary Maxworthy, a former food executive (and Purpose Prize winner) who developed a system in his encore career to deliver fresh produce to food pantries throughout California.
About three hours later, I felt a mixture of hope and frustration.

I was hopeful because the efforts of people like Mr. Freedman will provide support for those of us who are passionate about giving back and want to continue to work — rather than live life as an extended vacation. I was frustrated because it will take a lot more than one man, one organization and one book to make his visions a reality for the millions of people who want to do something meaningful in their later years, but may not have the means.

Read the interview. And read Encore, the book. Mr. Freedman has some powerful ideas and suggestions. Now, he just needs to get more people to listen.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Looking for a Cool Summer Job?

Check out CoolWorks!

If you are into the outdoors and thinking about an exciting opportunity for this summer, you want to explore Cool Works.

Summer jobs in national parks like Yellowstone in Idaho, Montana or Wyoming; Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and Everglades National Park in Florida are listed at Cool Works.

If you are interested in the environment, "green" jobs or just being outdoors, these are definitely opportunities to explore.

Cool Works allows you to create your profile and subscribe to their free weekly email updates or subscribe to their RSS feed so you can get the latest on available jobs.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Excellent College Resume Resource

If you are still struggling to get a first draft of your resume completed, take a look at this impressive list of resume templates (select Quick Start Resume Templates) at

Listed by majors, the site offers you many options to get an initial resume draft on paper. Once you have a first draft complete, do yourself a favor and take it to your college career center so that a career center staff can help with proof reading.

Feel free to contact BullsEyeResumes as well for a free resume critique and suggestions about how to enhance this essential job search tool.

Keep in mind that even though the samples are listed by majors, you are not tied to any one specific layout.

Read BullsEyeResumes Interview FAQs and Resume FAQs as well.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Advice for Changing Careers and Coping With Job Loss

As I write about General Motors' buy out offers to 74,000+ employees, I think about the changes to come in the lives and careers of these employees. Careers and employment will never be the same for these laid off workers even with cash payments of up to $140,000. Some of the displaced workers will welcome the buyout and others will not be happy with the pending career changes. CNN Money speaks to some of the difficult choices workers at GM will make.

"Those who leave (GM)and agree to sever all ties with the company - including giving up lucrative pension and health care coverage - will receive a lump sum of $140,000 if they have 10 years of service. They will receive $70,000 if they have less than 10 years of service."

These GM employees might perceive career changes or disruptions as a loss. These articles offer career advice on how to manage careers through changes like layoffs.

-10 Tips on How to Survive Job Loss
-Coping With job Loss
-Professionals in Transit
-Typical Reactions to Job Loss
-Financial Planning Association
-Job Loss can Lead to Depression

Going Back to Work For Yourself

If you are thinking about starting a business after retirement, a home based business is an option. Home based businesses make up about 50% of all businesses in the US.

Every year StartupNation pulls together a list of the top 100 Home Based Businesses. StartupNation wants to remind people that many large corporations like MicroSoft and Dell were both home based at one point in the very early stages.

Here are the top 10 home based businesses from the StartupNation's Top 100: (read the entire list here as you research more)

1. Medical Solutions International
2. Surefire Marketing
3. Ocean Summit Travel
4. Wizard Industries
5. Steam Showers
6. Free Underdog
7. Birol Growth Consulting
8. Home Remedies
9. Write2Market
10. The Welcome Committee

Bookmark StartupNation to read start-up checklists or to join in discussion forums with others who share your dream of home business ownership.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Vocational Training for "Green Jobs"

The Mayor of Washington DC announced a major "green jobs" initiative in September 2007. The goal is to build the area's workforce through "green buildings, transit jobs, climate and renewable energy solutions and solving the city's water quality problems," says Bracken Hendricks for American Progress.

The "green economy" has grown rapidly over the last several years and poised to explode into a billion dollar industry. This "greening" of the economy will lead to increased need for skilled workers.

Students in vocational programs such as Automotive, Construction and HVAC will have opportunities in the future green economy as we move towards greater energy efficiency.

Think seriously about jobs and careers in this area as you consider which vocational or career education program might be best for you. As you evaluate employers, look for companies that are going "green".

Saturday, February 9, 2008

78 Year Old College Junior

If the fear of returning to school is holding you back, here is someone you want to know about - 78 year-old, college junior, Charles William Dodd.

Dodd, at 75 years, was one of the oldest freshman ever to enroll at Winston Salem State University. He is an Elementary Education major who responded to the shortage of male teachers in elementary schools.

"I mix and mingle and I am not looked at as an oddity; everyone is very courteous to me," says Dodd.

Learn more about this septuagenarian at Black College Wire.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

4 Books to Consider Buying Before Graduation

I know we spend our time talking about jobs, careers and options, but wanted to share these easy-to-read resources for you as you approach graduation.

1. What They Don't Teach You in College - Tips on all the grown up stuff you are going to have to handle post graduation.

2. Life After School Explained - A witty look at growing up and getting into the real world.

3. How to Survive the Real World: Life After College Graduation: Advice from 774 Graduates Who Did - Learn from others just like you.

4. Zero Debt for College Grads: From Student Loans to Financial Freedom - If you have loans, you need to consider this book.

Green Collar Jobs?

Everybody's talking about "going green", "green collar jobs" and the "green economy".

A recent article in the Washington Post offers this explanation of what these might be all about. The term "green collar", which has been around since 1992, is primarily used by those who have been involved with environmental work. It is a spin off from the terms "blue collar" or "white collar"; both terms we know pretty well.

If you are looking for a recession proof career - consider going "green". Raquel Pinderhughes at Urban Habitat identifies and lists "green" jobs in these 22 specific sectors:

-Bicycle repair and bike delivery services
-Car/truck mechanic jobs, production jobs, and biodiesel gas-station jobs
-Energy retrofits to increase energy efficiency and conservation
-Green building
-Green waste composting on a large scale
-Hauling and reuse of construction materials and debris (C&D)
-Hazardous materials clean-up
-Manufacturing of solar panels, bike cargo systems, green waste bins, etc.
-Materials reuse
-Non-toxic household cleaning in residential and commercial buildings
-Parks and open space expansion and maintenance
-Printing with non-toxic inks and dyes
-Public transit jobs related to driving, maintenance, and repair
-Recycling and reuse
-Small businesses producing products from recycled materials
-Solar installation
-Tree cutting and pruning
-Peri-urban and urban agriculture
-Water retrofits to increase water efficiency and conservation
-Whole home performance, including attic insulation, weatherization, etc.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Informational Interview Questions?

Informational Interviews are a great way to find out more about a career or job especially as you try to decide which vocational training program to pursue. (Get more interview tips at BullsEyeResumes Vocational Interview FAQs)

The Informational Interview is a good way for you to get greater insight into a job or career by interviewing someone who is actually in that career or job.

Keep in mind the goal of the Informational Interview is to learn more, not ask for a job. Here are some examples of informational interview questions you can ask. Be sure to write them down before you meet with the professional. Also be very respectful of their time and stick with the schedule you arranged.

1. What do you do in a typical day on your job?
2. What training or education is required for this job/career?
3. What personal qualities or abilities contribute to success in this job/career?
4. What do you find most satisfying and most challenging about your work?
5. What was your career path after you graduated from your vocational program?
6. What opportunities for advancement exist in this career?
7. What entry-level jobs in this industry would you recommend as the place to begin a career?
8. In your opinion - how has this job/career changed over the last 5 or 10 years?
9. How do you see the job/career changing over th next 5 years?
10. Which professional associations or journals would you recommend?
11. If you could relive your career path in this industry, what would you change? Why?
12. Do you have any advice for me on my resume?
13. How can I change it to improve responses from employers in this field?
14. Who would you recommend I speak with to get more information about this job/career?
15. May I use your name when I contact the person you recommended?

The career advisors on your campus would love to help you connect with someone who would be willing to help you this way. Potential candidates could be:
1. Alumni
2. Program Advisory Board members

Do not limit yourself to face to face informational interviews. Remember that it might be more convenient to do your informational interview by phone or even email if it will be more convenient for the professional who is taking time to help you.

Consider Green Collar Jobs if Reentering the Workplace

As you consider career reentry, think about going green.

You have probably noticed the increase in talk about "Green Collar Jobs" and wondering exactly what that means.

A recent article in the Washington Post offers this explanation. The term "Green Collar" is a spin off from "Blue Collar" or "White Collar" terms we know well. The term has been around since 1992, according to Tom Pitoniak, from Merriam-Webster. Pitoniak says that originally it was primarily used by those who have been involved with environmental work.

Raquel Pinderhughes at Urban Habitat identifies and lists green collar jobs in these 22 specific sectors based on the result of employer interviews:

-Bicycle repair and bike delivery services
-Car and truck mechanic jobs, production jobs, and gas-station jobs related to biodiesel
-Energy retrofits to increase energy efficiency and conservation
-Green building
-Green waste composting on a large scale
-Hauling and reuse of construction materials and debris (C&D)
-Hazardous materials clean-up
-Manufacturing related jobs - solar panels, bike cargo systems, green waste bins
-Materials reuse
-Non-toxic household cleaning in residential and commercial buildings
-Parks and open space expansion and maintenance
-Printing with non-toxic inks and dyes
-Public transit jobs related to driving, maintenance, and repair
-Recycling and reuse
-Small businesses producing products from recycled materials
-Solar installation
-Tree cutting and pruning
-Peri-urban and urban agriculture
-Water retrofits to increase water efficiency and conservation
-Whole home performance, including attic insulation, weatherization, etc.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Top 50 Military Friendly Employers

One way to create a targeted job search strategy is to work from a list of employers that are all looking for you.

From time to time I mention different Lists of Employers, already filtered for you with specific needs in mind.

Many college graduates have military experience and this list form G.I. Jobs is a good place to start a job search.

You can find the complete list of 50 companies at G.I.Jobs

Top 10

1. BNSF Railway
2. Union Pacific
3. ITT Corporation
4. EG & G (Lear Siegler)
6. Schneider National
7. Johnson Controls
8. CSX Transportation
9. ManTech International
10. Applied Materials

3 Surefire Ways to Recession Proof Your Job or Career - Part 2

Recession fears are really shaking some workers' confidence in their current employment situation. In fact I spoke with two people last week who saw changes on the horizon with their employers.

Here is Part-2 of "Surefire Ways to Recession Proof Your Job or Career":

Volunteer for tasks outside of your job description while not neglecting your responsibilities. In a Slacker Manager blog post, Anita Bruzzese, nationally syndicated newspaper columnist on workplace issues, encourages workers to become the "go to" person on the job. "You don’t want to be a doormat, of course, dumped with all the bad stuff, but being able to step in and keep it all from going down the dumper will not only endear you to everyone, but help develop your reputation as a key player," says Bruzzese.

Do environmental scans both inside and outside of your organization. Pay attention to the marketplace. This does not just mean to watch the stock market. Keep on top of what is happening with your company's key customers and suppliers. Even when you work in one of those so-called recession proof careers like Education, Healthcare or Security, there are still niches that might not do well. For example, during a recession, parents may opt to pull children from tutoring programs to save or conserve money. Although this is the Education sector, private organizations are more susceptible to cuts than say K-12 or college education.

Think about other ways to use your skills to make money. Do you have job skills that you might be able to capitalize on to get 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?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Choosing a Reputable Vocational Program

Vocational training and career education schools are, for the most part, reputable institutions that do an amazing job of training students and helping them build careers.

If you have questions, faculty or administrators are usually only too happy to help.

Here are some questions to ask of your admissions advisors as you evaluate a vocational training program:

1. Get some idea of the program's success rate. Ask about the percentage of students who complete the program. A high dropout rate could be an indicator that students don't like the program or that teachers and content were not good.

2. Ask about how many graduates find jobs in their chosen field? What is the average starting salary? The Career Placement office can help with that.

3. Ask for a list of recent graduates. Ask some about their experiences with the school and avoid schools that won't share that information with you.

4. Find out how much the program is going to cost inclusive of books, equipment, uniforms and lab fees. Are those fees included in the overall rates quoted or are they extra?

5. Ask about accreditation and transferability of credits from one school to the next.

If you have enrolled and feel your needs are not being met. You might need to file a complaint about your vocational program:

If you are not satisfied with the quality of the instruction or training you received from a vocational program you should:
- Talk to faculty members or the school administration
- Report the school to the Better Business Bureau
- Report the school to your local or state consumer protection office
- Report to state Attorney General's office and the Federal Trade Commission

Reentering the Workplace Intelligently

I was watching Financial Advisor Suze Orman speak with a 52 year old woman who was starting all over after a divorce.

Of course, as she always does, Orman reassured the woman that even at 52 she could definitely become the Interior Designer she wants to be.

Orman cautioned the future designer to "reenter the workplace intelligently". In other words, be cautious about accumulating student loans when you reenter college later in life. Orman's suggestion was to earn an income to take care of bills and life and go to school part-time.

For the most part, Orman's advice to proceed cautiously is good.

There are numerous education options to explore which will give the flexibility you need:
- Online programs
- Weekend programs
- Evening only programs
- Community college as a much less expensive option for the first two years
- Certificate programs

Before selecting any program however, do the self exploration required to be sure you are selecting the right program for you and your future career.

In addition to selecting the right program for the right career, explore funding sources for college.

Ask your college advisors and financial aid officers about grants, scholarships, assistantships or fellowships as well.

More advice is available in Orman's latest book - Women and Money.

Whatever approach you take, the time to start is now.

Friday, February 1, 2008

3 Surefire Ways to Recession Proof Your Job or Career – Part 1

According to a recent CNN poll, 57 percent of the public already believes that the U.S. economy is in a recession. With rising gas prices, plummeting house values and an unpredictably shaky stock market, many employees are already feeling queasy about their employment situation and where their employers might be headed.

The Financial Times is reporting that leading US companies are shifting into recession mode and preparing to cut costs, freeze hiring and reduce capital spending.

As you contemplate your next move, here are 3 surefire ways to recession proof your career now.

 Take a class at a local college or university and get serious about some additional training. Experts widely believe that we are currently living in what they term a "knowledge economy". The more knowledgeable you are, the more committed you are to lifelong learning, the more recession proof your career will be. Education and training is so accessible today via online programs, onsite training and flexible weekend programs, explore your opportunities to learn more.

 Keep doing a good job of meeting targets and objectives. Find ways to effectively do more with less and to work as efficiently as possible to maintain and increase productivity. Bring your "Kudos File" current so that you can quickly update and disseminate your resume if needed.

 Join a professional association and become involved with others in the same career. Maintain your contacts or connect with people you may not have touched basis with for 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.