Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Considering Career ReEntry in a Scary Economy

With the unemployment rate of 6.1% and the much publicized job losses on Wall Street, it is a scary time for people who are considering going back to work.

Over the last few months job seekers have increasingly shared their concern that more layoffs have increased competition in the job market. With more 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.

In addition to advising career reentry professionals to stay positive and focus on the advantages they have to offer, here are some concrete actionable steps job seekers should think about:

Revisit and revamp resume writing
Get help with a free resume critique from a professional resume writer. This is not the time to get your career reentry resume tossed for mistakes and errors which can easily be avoided.

Sell current job skills and the need for less training
Employers looking to reduce costs in a tight economy may want to save time and money by hiring workers who need less training.

Be willing to take part-time hours and less benefits
Many career reentry jobseekers who want to reenter the workplace are willing to so on a temporary basis at first. Employers love part-time employees who offer the scheduling flexibility during difficult times.

Consider volunteering to gain new skills
If you were exploring workplace reentry into a new career, where you might not have all the experience you need, consider volunteering. Not only will the experience give you an advantage in your new career, you may parlay this volunteer work into a long term relationship when the economy improves.

Resume and Interview FAQs

Penn Foster Launches Online Medical Assistant Associate Program

Source - PennFoster.edu

Penn Foster College has recently launched its Medical Assistant Online Associate Degree Program!

With the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting significant growth in the need for healthcare workers such as Medical Assistants, it made perfect sense that Penn Foster would add this option to their catalog. New job openings for Medical Assistants will grow 52% in the 10 year period between 2004 and 2014.

The Medical Assistant program at PennFoster will incorporate training about Law and Ethics in Medicine, Medical Terminology and Anatomy and Physiology.

Graduates will be eligible for employment in:

Nursing Home
Medical Group Practice
Home Health Agencies

Click here to learn more about enrollment.

5 Signs it is Time to Change Your Major

The National Association of Colleges and Employers is a professional organization of college career centers and employers who recruit entry level new college graduates. Here are some of the results from a NACE survey where 1,218 college students were asked about the influences for chosing a major.

- 66% said they’d picked a major based on their career interests.
- 7% chose their major based on its perceived earning potential.
- 6% picked their major following the advice of friends and family.
- 12% said they just sort of drifted into their major.
- 9% cited other reasons, including inspiration from their teachers.

Once you have chosen a major, it is not unusual to contemplate making a change. How do you know when to go ahead and actually make the change?

Consider this checklist:

1. You are struggling in your current major core courses
2. Your core courses are boring and uninteresting to you
3. You realize that you chose your major for the wrong reason
4. You keep wanting to explore other classes
5. You have taken a class in another major that you found really interesting or where you did really well
6. You have developed a curiousity about other careers

Before you make the decision to change your major, connect with your academic department or the career center so that advisors can help you manage the paperwork required to make the transition.

So take some time to critically evaluate your reasons for choosing the major you’ve selected.

If they don’t add up, don’t be afraid to make a change!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Amazing Careers - Actor Paul Newman (1925-2008)

Paul Newman, a Hollywood favorite with an amazing career spanning several decades passed away on Friday.

Newman's long life is testament to the fact that multiple, successful careers are possible and career highlights can come at anytime in life.

Here are just a few of Paul Newman's career highlights:

- Navy career in World War II
- Recognized and highly regarded film career from 1954 to 2005
- Raced Nissan cars in the mid 70's to 90's
- Winning race car driver at 70 years old
- Started Newman's Own at 57 years old.
- Philanthropist donating $250 million from the Newman's Own brand
- His first movie was The Silver Chalice in 1954
- Last worked on Broadway at 78 years old
- Voice of Doc in the movie Cars at 81 years old
- Politically active and ranked 19th on Richard Nixon's list of enemies
- Nominated for an primetime Emmy for producing Empire Falls at 80 years old

For more on Paul Newman's career.

Friday, September 26, 2008

How College Grads Turn Off Employers

With unemployment rate at 6.1%, the highest in five years, unemployed college grads need to think seriously about what employers are observing from them in the job search.

When asked to identify the biggest mistakes recent college graduates make during the application and job interview process, employers cited the following:

- 69% say that new college grads who are acting bored or cocky in the job search
- 65% say candidates are not dressing appropriately
- 59% candidates coming to the interview with no knowledge of the company
- 57% cited new graduates not turning off cell phones or electronic devices
- 50% are not asking good questions during the interview
- 39% cited candidates asking about pay is before the company considered them for the job
- 23% cited candidates who spam employers with the same resume and/or cover letter
- 20% cite failure to remove unprofessional photos/content from social networking pages, Web pages, blogs, etc

Some recommendations to be more competitive:
-Customize your communications.
- Get involved.
- Leverage the Internet.
- Clean up your digital dirt.
- Read - Looking for a Job? Make it easy for employers to find you. Set up a professional voicemail and email account

The basics still apply as well. Be respectful of the recruiter's and arrive on time. Dress conservatively and turn off your cell phone. Be sure to remind the employer that you are really interested in the job.

Fall Schedules Affected by Gas Prices

Several colleges including 2-year colleges in South Carolina modified fall school schedules to help students save on commuting costs.

Some of the big changes?
- Eliminating Friday classes
- Creating one day schedules so that students could come to campus just one day per week
- Ramping up online classes
- Helping students out with gas cards

One 18-year old nursing freshman, Bridget Morton whose schedule would now allow one less 30-mile round trip to Cheraw school, told the Aiken Standard, "It is a big help. Gas prices are through the roof."

Savings are actually going beyond the gas tank, since some adult students also had less need for childcare programs.

The reaction of schools to gas prices really demonstrate the flexibility in vocational training programs that understand that responsibilities of todays students.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Does Your Career Need a Bailout?

I spoke with a colleague yesterday who shared that his depreciating 401K and disappearing home equity would probably delay his planned career bailout, otherwise known as retirement, in Feb 2009.

He joked that the proposed $700 billion business bailout was the government’s way of forcing baby boomers like him to stay in the workplace longer than planned. He was ready to move on and counting the days to an encore career. His already scheduled 21-day career bailout cruise would give him just enough time to think more seriously about what that encore career could be.

His planned career bailout was at least coming after 15 successful and enjoyable years doing work he liked. His company, like many others, was serious about keeping baby boomers on their payroll and so my colleague didn’t think he would mind working on his job longer than planned.

Our conversation, as it always does with him, made me think.

How many of us wish we could bail out of our own careers right now? How many of us would be devastated if we had to stay in our current job longer than planned? How many of us think our current work feels like a prison sentence and would stress significantly, if we knew we had to stay longer?

If you are considering exploring your career options and executing a personal career bailout you should know that the government will not - I repeat - will not, come to your rescue. No. Your successful career bailout from an unhappy workplace will have to come as a result of your own honest self evaluation; your own decision to no longer be shackled by work that paralyzes rather than excites and your courage to map a new journey for yourself.

As an eternal optimist, always thinking of possibilities, a tight economy or heaven forbid a layoff, could be the career awakening that many dissatisfied workers seek. It has worked for many people. This could be the time to reexamine not only one's finances, but one's life work and make a commitment to move towards more satisfying careers.

So, in addition to planning for life after layoff, we should also be thinking about life if we have to stay in our jobs longer than planned.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Men's Wearhouse National Suit Drive

Kudos to Men's Warehouse on their National Men's Suit Drive in recognition of their 35th anniversary. I have been a fan of Men's Warehouse for years since they started offering discount cards for new college grads years ago.

Certainly to give the best impression in the job interview a business professional suit is necessary.

As their advertisement says, "For many unemployed men, a new suit is the first step toward a second chance." The donated attire will be distributed by local non-profits to benefit at-risk men and youth who are transitioning into the workplace. If you or someone you know is going back to work, one of these donated suits could help you.

To participate, simply visit one of 550 Men's Wearhouse stores to donate gently worn professional attire including suits, sport coats, slacks, ties, and belts. All donations are tax deductible, and participants will receive a 10% discount off their next Men's Wearhouse purchase as a special thank you. They will also contribute a new dress shirt for every donated suit they receive.

The program ends on October 31, 2008.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Financial Careers for College Graduates

MoneyNews.com actually reported that New York City's financial sector lost 2,000 jobs in June 2008. This is as a result of a severe downturn as banks and brokerages see their profits shrink.

If you are still choosing a career direction or choosing a college major, financial careers still offer options. Although there are losses in sector now, analysts are still projecting growth in the number of these jobs available moving forward.

Employment of accountants and auditors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2014. Changing laws will increase the need for accountants. Private companies will continue to need accountants. Accountants who have a lot of special skills, such as certified public accountants (CPAs) and certified management accountants, should have the easiest time finding a job. Learn more.

Financial Analysts
Financial Analysts have a college degree in business, accounting, statistics, or finance. Many will get a master's degree in business administration (MBA) also.
Math, computer, and problem-solving skills are vital as are good people skills and communication skills are needed to work with clients. Learn more.

Loan Officers
There are 3 kinds of Loan Officers. Commercial loan officers work with businesses.
Mortgage loan officers help people buy houses or other real estate and Consumer loan officers work with people who want a loan for personal things like a car. Learn more.

Bookkeeping Clerks
More than 2 million people worked as bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks in 2004. They work in all industries and in local, State, and Federal Government. Also, many work in the accounting, tax preparation, bookkeeping, and payroll services industry. Those working for employment services firms are growing in number. About 1 out of 4 bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks worked part time in 2004. Learn more

Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents help people buy and sell houses. They know what their neighborhoods are like and can know, from reports, approximately how much money a house is worth. Their knowledge includes real estate laws, loans and funding a house and sales/marketing skills. They are paid typically by getting a small percentage of the price of the house they sold. Learn more

Teens and Parents On Technology like MySpace

Teens and parents should know that more and more employers are looking at social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to screen potential employees.

A Pew Foundation survey from late 2007, shows how teens see and use techology compared to how their parents see and use technology.

The research shows that today's parents are staying involved with the online lives of their teens:

- Percentage of parents who check to see websites viewed by their teens after their child gets off the internet? 65%
- Percentage of parents who know whether or not their online teenager has ever created his/her own social networking site profile that others can see at sites such as MySpace or Facebook? 74%

Since employers are paying such close attention to social networking sites to screen candidates, parents have to not only know that teens have profiles on these sites, but know more about the type of content as well.

For curious parents, MySpace Unraveled, could be a great resource.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Electrical Wiring Classes for Unemployed Adults

The Greenwood Career and Technical Center in Mississippi is offering new classes for unemployed adults to get certified in masonry and electrical wiring.

Students become certified at the end of 160 hours. Not only do they receive this certificate, they receive an Occupational Safety and Health Administration card to demonstrate to potential employers that they have received the training.

The program is supported by the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation. In addition to these programs in masonry and electrical wiring the center is also offering shorter programs in welding, automotive repair, brick masonry, basic computer applications, cake decorating, and art.

Greenwood is a rural area in Mississippi where the median income for a family was $26,393 in the 2000 census.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Time is of the Essence if you are Job Hunting Online

Risesmart commissioned Kelton Research to conduct a survey on the amount of time jobseekers spend job hunting online.

Here are the survey highlights:

*Among jobseekers who use the Internet in their job search, 58 percent of respondents searched online at least an hour per day.

*Of those respondents who searched online at least an hour per day, the average time reported searching online is 2.5 hours per day.

*Among jobseekers under 35, nearly 40 percent spend 2+ hours per day searching online.

*Nearly 1 in 3 workers (32 percent) who are currently employed are spending at least an hour a day online in job searches.

*1 in 10 online jobseekers search for 4+ hours per day.

Are these statistics representative of your online job search?
Consider these job search strategies to make the most of your job search online:
1. Manage your time. Use a timer set for every 20 minutes. It is so easy to go off task as you follow the blinking cursor.
2. Always keep your online communication professional.
3. Personal contacts are still important; follow up with an email when possible.
4. Follow the instructions for uploading your resume.
5. Instead of heading right for the application, research the company first.

Older Worker Friendly Workplaces

If you are a mature jobseeker currently job hunting, you are not alone.

I discovered this great little assessment which I thought might be of some value to you. Even though the assessment is written for employers to evaluate whether their workplace is older-worker-friendly or not, a jobseeker can find benefits in knowing how employers are thinking.

The survey is based on older-worker-friendly characteristics that were identified by
older workers in Wisconsin, as something likely to attract and retain older workers to an employer.

Questions are classified in the following areas:
- Recruiting: Asking employers if they use the terms "Maturity, Good Judgement or Work Experience" in their job postings?

- Hiring, Retention, Evaluation and Promotion: Does the employer provide information on topics of interest to older workers such as flexible benefits and alternative work schedules?

Check out the entire assessment here.

Choosing a College Major this Fall

Are you having a problem choosing a college major?

Are already in college and have not selected a college major or minor as yet? Before you start thinking that you are alone, you should know that almost 80% of college students are unsure of a major when they enter college and almost 50% of college students will change their major at least once before graduating.

Based on my experience working with college students, it is a good idea to have a college major identified by the sophomore year. As you ponder your major choices, there are four key college campus resources that all ne college students should connect with as soon as they arrive on campus.

-A faculty or chairperson of a college program
-An assigned academic advisor
-The career center to learn more about career assessments
-Connect with the First Year Experience program if your campus has one in place

Read more about college majors here:
College Majors in Demand
Does Double Majors = Double Trouble?
Top 10 Careers for College Grads
Helping a Teen Choose a College Major

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Texas College Gets Donation for Tech Education Center

Blinn College, a two-year college based in Brenham, Texas, received a $150,000 donation from a manufacturing consortium for its new technical education center.

The donation is from MIC Group, Tarlton, and J.B. Poindexter & Co. and The Technology Institute is expected to be completed in fall 2009. The facility will be 11,000 square-feet and will be built in the Brenham Business Center on two acres of land donated by the Brenham Community Development Corp.

The center expects to train 1,200-1,500 people a year there, in manufacturing, electrical, construction crafts, mechanical, leadership and management, and health fields.

Blinn College has raised about $1.2 million in cash donations, with costs estimated at $1.4 million-$1.7 million. The college is seeking to raise $2.5 million, which will cover construction, establish scholarships and initial operating costs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Job Losses on Wall Street

In March 2008 Bloomberg reported over 34 000 job losses had already happended in the financial sector on Wall Street. By March 2008 Lehman Brothers, had already cut 18% of their employees and Merrill Lynch had eliminated 4.5% jobs. Add to that the job losses from Bear Stearns' collapse and fast forward to more job losses when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch gets acquired by Bank of America.

This is just the latest fallout due to the sub prime mortgage conundrum and the subsequent credit contraction. No one is clear exactly where the bottom will be for job losses in the financial services sector.

Before we relegate these disappearing jobs to just finance executives on Wall Street, we should know that these job losses go well beyond the boardroom. Think about technology staff, administrative support workers, lawyers and employees who will lose their jobs across all functional sectors like Human Resources, Marketing and Operations.

I am sure that many of the well "Linkedin" folks on Wall Street will call on their connections and line up new opportunities in smaller boutique firms both in and out of the investment banking sector.

It will take some longer than others to wrap their heads around life after layoff.

My hope is that recent college grads who chased their dreams to Wall Street within the last two years have learned enough professionally to be marketable and made good networking contacts.

Some quick job search tips to consider before the adrenaline dissipates into fear:
- Collect work samples if possible
- Download your kudos folder
- Get LinkedIn
- Consider relocation - do not rule out overseas
- Change careers
- Begin a Meetup group
- Join your ex employers' alumni association
- Call your parents and siblings; get them networking for you
- Work with outplacement firms
- New grads should reconnect with their college career centers

If all the finance pundits and economists are right and jobs will continue to disappear until 2010, folks in the financial sector have to get comfortable with change and hang on for a bumpy ride.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2008 Top 50 Colleges for African Americans

Every year Black Enterprise Magazine offers up a list of what they consider the Top 50 Colleges for African Americans. To compile this list, the magazine surveyed 700+ African American higher education professionals, including presidents, chancellors, and student affairs directors.

Fourteen hundred four-year colleges met the initial criteria for consideration based on accreditation status, 3% of African American student enrollment and had enrollment data submitted with the U.S. Department of Education.

Here is the list:

1 Spelman College
2 Howard University
3 Morehouse College
4 Hampton University
5 Georgetown University
6 Stanford University
7 Swarthmore College
8 Fisk University
9 Amherst University
10 Harvard University
11 Columbia University
12 Wake Forest University
13 Clark Atlanta University
14 Wesleyan University
15 Yale University
16 Tuskegee University
17 Xavier University
18 Florida A&M University
19 University of
20 Brown University
21 North Carolina A&T State University
22 Pomona College
23 Princeton University
24 Williams College
25 Cornell University
26 North Carolina Central University
27 Johns Hopkins University
28 Oberlin College
29 Emory University
30 Dillard University
31 Duke University
32 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
33 University of California-Berkeley
34 Tennessee State University
35 Northwestern University
36 Jackson State University
37 Smith College
38 Vanderbilt University
39 University of Virginia
40 Grambling State University
41 Wellesley College
42 Morgan State University
43 Barnard College
44 Haverford College
45 Davidson College
46 New York University
47 University of Southern California
48 University of Maryland - College Park
49 South Carolina State University
50 Carleton College

Are Americans Really Sexist? 100 Most Powerful Women in the World

There is an awful lot of talk about sexism and gender bias in the current political campaign. Whether you are a fan of Senator Hillary Clinton, or Governor Sarah Palin you have to admit that both have put topics like glass ceilings, workplace politics, family, worklife balance and gender bias back in the headlines.

As a country we have yet to deal with a lot of the gender bias that exists in today's workplace. A couple of the issues to be addressed include less than equal pay for equal work or qualified women being overlooked in favor of less qualified men.

However, to be fair, those who would decry America for gender bias should take another look at the 2008 Forbes.com list of the world's 100 most powerful women. Quick math shows 55% of the women are from the United States.

Despite the picture the Forbes List of 100 most powerful women shows, there are still major gender bias issues on the table since only 3% of America's biggest companies have female chief executives.

It made me wonder what percentage on such a list would we be happy with? Is the main concern the types of roles women hold? For example, not counting Queens, there are 8 women who hold the highest political office in their countries representing less than 5% of countries worldwide.

Here is first 25 women in the list: (See the complete list here)

1 Angela Merkel Chancellor Germany
2 Sheila C. Bair Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. U.S.
3 Indra K. Nooyi Chairman, chief executive, PepsiCo U.S.
4 Angela Braly Chief executive, president, WellPoint U.S.

5 Cynthia Carroll Chief executive, Anglo American U.K.
6 Irene B. Rosenfeld Chairman, chief executive, Kraft Foods U.S.
7 Condoleezza Rice Secretary of state U.S.

8 Ho Ching Chief executive, Temasek Holdings Singapore
9 Anne Lauvergeon Chief executive, Areva France
10 Anne Mulcahy Chairman, chief executive, Xerox Corp. U.S.
11 Gail Kelly Chief executive and managing director, Westpac Bank Australia
12 Patricia A. Woertz Chairman, chief executive, president, Archer Daniels Midland U.S.
13 Cristina Fernandez President Argentina
14 Christine Lagarde Minister of economy, finance and employment France
15 Safra A. Catz President and chief financial officer, Oracle U.S.
16 Carol B. Tome Executive vice president and chief financial officer, Home Depot U.S.
17 Yulia Tymoshenko Prime minister Ukraine
18 Mary Sammons Chairman, chief executive, president, Rite Aid U.S.
19 Andrea Jung Chairman, chief executive, Avon U.S.

20 Marjorie Scardino Chief executive, Pearson PLC U.K.
21 Sonia Gandhi President, Indian National Congress Party India
22 Risa Lavizzo-Mourey Chief Executive and President, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation U.S.
23 Sri Mulyani Indrawati Coordinating minister for economic affairs and finance minister Indonesia
24 Dr. Julie Gerberding Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention U.S.
25 Michelle Bachelet President Chile

Sunday, September 14, 2008

100 Words College Students Should Know

Who doesn't like a list. Ever so often, I run across really interesting lists of things. This time it is a list of top 100 words that all high school students should know.

This list of 100 words is compiled by the American Heritage® dictionaries.

"The words we suggest," says senior editor Steven Kleinedler, "are not meant to be exhaustive but are a benchmark against which graduates and their parents can measure themselves. If you are able to use these words correctly, you are likely to have a superior command of the language."

Here are the top 10 on the list. How many do you know? How many would come in handy if you were job hunting?

Remove the ones you know and develop a strategy to learn the others.

Find the entire list here!

Career Re-Entry Resume Tips

As you continue to strategize for an effective job search strategy to reenter the workplace, you should consider seriously what you want employers to know and think about you. Your resume and job interview are two good places where you get the chance to show a company why they cannot afford NOT to hire you.

Keep these tips in mind as you write your career reentry resume and prepare for job interviews:

1. Be cheerful and high energy in your in-person or telephone job interviews
2. Talk about the benefits of your experience, your professional maturity and the relevant expertise you offer
3. Make sure your resume content is current and include relevant information only
4. Speak to the long term value you can bring to the company
5. Share stories in the job interview about outstanding outcomes in prior assignments
6. Look at the benefits of a functional resume
7. A cover letter will focus your background on relevant, recent experiences
8. Talk about your ability to collaborate and work with diverse folks from Baby Boomers to Millennials.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Job Hunting? Dust off Your Online Persona

Who doesn't know yet that employers peruse social networking sites to find out more about potential new hires? Who doesn't know that a negative online person could stall a job search?

Apparently some jobseekers still don't.

I did a career session today for a lively group of athletes. A quick, show-of-hands indicated that close to 90% of the group had at least one of the three big social networking sites - YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. I asked the group, "What would your YouTube, MySpace or Facebook account tell an employer about you?"

The responses ranged from laughter to teasing and heckling each other. I suspect many of them, as friends, knew what was on each others' accounts. A few participants asked more seriously, "Why are they looking at your private, personal stuff?"

After we discussed briefly what "private" really means on the internet, I could see light bulbs going off and faces changing. I shared some of the latest survey details from Career Builder that showed that 22% of recruiters are using social networking sites to research candidates. This actually represents a 100% increase since 2006 when only 11% were using these sites.

Nine percent of recruiters said that even though they currently do not use social networking sites to screen job seekers, they planned to start soon.

I shared that jobseekers should also know that 34% of those recruiters who looked at these social networking sites, found information that caused them to discard a candidate from the pool of possible hires. Of course there is no guarantee that a recruiter is not using their own personal bias to make the decision. The fact is, these social networking sites could stand between a job seeker and a new career.

Here are some of the major concerns hiring managers noted as they checked up on candidates online:

41% - posted information about them drinking or using drugs
40% - posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information
29% - had poor communication skills
28% - bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
27% - lied about qualifications
22% - used discriminatory remarks related to race, gender, religion, etc.
22% - screen name was unprofessional
21% - was linked to criminal behavior
19% - shared confidential information from previous employers

I think many of the young professionals in my session, left thinking about how to clean up what employers might consider their negative online personas.

Additional resources:
-Can you get a job by advertising yourself on Facebook?

-Using Social Networking to Kickstart Your Career

Boeing Machinists Vote to Strike

On Saturday, September 5th, 27,000 Boeing employees, members of the International Association of Machinists, (IAM) went on strike. With bad blood between the negotiating parties, federal mediators were not able to help avert a strike.

Boeing is a major employer of machinists and it is estimated the strike will cost Boeing a $100 million per day.

In May 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported median hourly wage-and-salary earnings of machinists were $16.71 per hour. Machinists in aerospace product and parts manufacturing had a median salary of $18.46.

The number of machinists in the US has declined as the manufacturing sector continues to lose jobs to China and India. In 2006 there were 397 000 machinists in the United States and projections show a decline of about 12,000 jobs by 2016. Depending on the length of the Boeing strike, this attrition could be accelerated.

Despite the decline in this profession, there are still opportunities for extremely skilled machinists. Explore your options carefully if you are considering specialized vocational training in this area.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can a Minor Help Your Major in College?

Some colleges and universities offer and promote minors to college students as a way to round out their college education and gain more marketable job skills. College students on campuses without minors might pick up double majors or in rare cases, a triple major.

College minors offer a secondary area of study and could be a real asset to a college graduate if the minor enhances or broadens their knowledge in a complementary field. In an article for the NY Times, Joe Cuseo, author of “Thriving in College and Beyond: Research-Based Strategies for Academic Success and Personal Development," says “a minor is a hidden weapon. It can be a good marketing tool, or it can be a way to explore a second interest and still graduate in a reasonable time.”

Some of the other advantages of a picking a minor in college include:
- extra preparation at no additional cost
- less work than a double major

After working in four different colleges helping graduates and employers discover each other, so to speak, I am convinced that the job skills that employers want can be developed without a minor or a double major.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers survey employers every year to see what they look for in a new college grad.

Here is what the employers said in 2007.

(5-point-scale where 1=not important; 2=not very
important; 3=somewhat important; 4=very important;
and 5=extremely important)

Communication skills 4.6
Strong work ethic 4.6
Teamwork skills 4.5
Initiative 4.4
Interpersonal skills 4.4
Problem-solving skills 4.4
Analytical skills 4.3
Flexibility/adaptability 4.2
Computer skills 4.1
Technical skills 4.1
Detail-oriented 4.0
Organizational skills 4.0

How do college students really build these skills and competencies employers want on campus? By being an active college student who not only studies, but gets involved.

So, as you think about your college experience and whether or not to add a minor, think about how you can develop these job skills from:
- leadership roles in campus clubs and organizations
- volunteer work or community service
- college internship programs

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Politicians Don't Understand; We are in a Recession!

Sometimes I think I am not paying enough attention to the media or I am not listening to enough talk radio since I don't hear a lot of talk about the recession in which I think we are mired. Since I am in the career development profession, I am meeting a lot of people who have lost their jobs or are afraid of losing their jobs. The 6.1% unemployment rate announced last week by the Department of Labor, confirms that people have a lot to worry about.

I actually didn't need to hear the numbers to know that many people are having a really hard time making ends meet and are experiencing difficult times.

Here are some of the barometers that I see just in my everyday routines:

1. The length of time it takes for me to get on to the freeway via the on ramp. I was thinking traffic was light because it was a slow summer. However, the kids are back to school and the traffic from nearby new housing developments has lessened significantly.

2. The unbelievable costs of everyday food items. My jaw totally dropped on a recent trip to the supermarket to find that a bottle of domestic Canola Oil cost almost the same as a bottle of imported Olive Oil.

3. The number of conference participants willing to share a room with a colleague at a recent career conference.

What are your everyday barometers?

As folks become more concerned about job security and career stability I thought some readers might want to revisit a few of our posts about surviving a layoff or recession proofing a career.

- What's Your Career Half Life?
- The Ailing, Failing US Economy hits City and State Employees
- Top 25 Careers to Pursue in a Recession
- 3 Surefire Ways to Recession Proof Your Job or Career – Part 1
- 3 Surefire Ways to Recession Proof Your Job or Career - Part 2
- Life After Layoff

Get a Grip; What Does Your Handshake Say About You!

I see teens greeting each other and realized that many are not aware of the fundamental business handshake. We assume everyone knows how to shake hands, right? Not so.

As my teen son said to me a few days ago, does anyone expect a high school student to know how to shake hands like business people? Yes. People do.

Your handshake is one of those things that people in general or hiring managers will remember about you. If you are a teenager looking for work, keep these handshaking tips in mind when you attend a job fair, meet a manager or go to an interview:

1) Offer your hand while looking the other person in the eye. Smile, and offer a quick introduction of yourself. eg. "Hello, my name is Job Seeker".

2) Young ladies should really be sure to offer a firm grip. The key is palm to palm contact. Limp fingers with no movement do not make a handshake.

3) Two to three pumps of the hand, not too fast, will do.

4) Of course be sure your hands are clean, warm and dry.

A hearty handshake is one way to demonstrate your confidence and professionalism. Don't be shy about extending your hand to as many people as you can and practise getting your handshake just right.

Monday, September 8, 2008

From the Classroom to the Workplace – 5 Steps for Making the Transition

Landing your first job after college is an important milestone in every college graduate’s life. It took a lot of hard work and perseverance to get to the point where you are right now. Making the transition from the classroom to the workplace can be difficult for many people starting their careers. You want to do your best and may not know exactly what to do; everything is new to you. What follows is a list of things you can do to make a successful transition into your new work environment.

1. Dress for success. If you want to be taken seriously, your first impression is of vital importance. Dress professionally and appropriately for the job you have chosen. Look at your colleagues and see what the standard mode of dress is in your workplace. You can have your own style, but don’t underestimate the importance of looking the part.

2. Prepare for each day. Just like you prepared for classes in college, you should be prepared for each day when you walk in. This is not just any job—it’s your career. Take the time to go over the day’s events at the end of each day and take some notes. Know what is on your agenda and stay on top of your responsibilities.

3. Stay informed. Now that you have finished your education, it is up to you to stay abreast of what is going on in you particular field. Subscribe to journals and read about the latest trends. Know what others in your field are doing and keep up with technological advances that will help you be the best that you can be. Lifelong learning is something all career-minded people practice.

4. Know your value. You were hired for a reason: you are a highly-qualified college graduate with expertise and knowledge in your chosen field. Be confident in your abilities and don’t be intimidated. Be well-balanced and know that you made it over other qualified people and be proud of yourself. Use that knowledge to do the best job possible for your employer.

5. Be willing to learn. Although you are highly-qualified, there will be things you won’t know. Use your colleagues’ experiences and learn from them. Don’t act like you know everything and always be willing to look at things from multiple points of view. As with all things, your new career and job will be a great learning experience that will only make you better at what you do.


This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of the on line colleges. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.

Alabama College Helps Older Workers Find Employment

Northwest-Shoals Community College in Alabama started a free 'Ready to Work' program to provide career retraining ranging from soft skills such as what to wear to work, to other work skills such as math and critical thinking.

After 30 years of employment at a financial institution, Melody Austin, in her early 50s, lost her job. Austin wanted to go back to work and participated in all the activities typical of job seekers. She did resume coaching, visited employment agencies, searched the state's job boards, newspaper ads and followed-up on networking contacts from friends.

"I used all the resources I could think of," Austin said. After eight months of job hunting, Austin found work at CB&S Bank at Cherokee as a customer service representative.

Assistant Dean Brent McGill stated that approximately 140 people had graduated from the job training program that lasts around six weeks and requires three nights per week attendance. More than half of the program's participants have been middle-aged. The first class graduated in March of this year.

Baby boomers will continue to be a growing segment of the US workforce. The Bureau of Labor Statistics say that those aged 55 or older are expected to make up more than 90 percent of the projected increase of 12.8 million people in the work force by 2016.
Source - Montgomery Advertiser

Sunday, September 7, 2008

4-Year Degrees not for all High School Graduates

In a recent article in the Ventura County Star newspaper, Peter Shedlosky, a high school counselor reminded readers of the limited options in high school for students not planning to attend a 4-year college. In fact, national statistics tells us that that 70-75% of high school students will NOT go on to complete 4-year college programs.

Slashed education budgets have resulted in elimination of vocational training programs and shop classes from high school. Some schools are also eliminating career technical education programs and replacing them with college prep programs.

Readers shared Shedlosky's concern for the lack of skills training in high schools. Here were some of their comments.

- "Instead of college prep, high school students should be taught practical skills like personal tax preparation, how to invest and maintain personal records."
- "Skills like construction, welding and so forth are great skills. Getting a degree in Sociology is pretty expensive and lets face it, does not really prepare you for good, solid earning potential."
- "In my day, trade schools flourished, along side community colleges and 4-year universities. Where have they gone?"

Certainly vocational training continue to offer great options for high school graduates who want to gain good marketable skills and begin in hot careers in a relatively short time.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

What's Your Career Half Life?

"The Biological Half-Life of Engineering Ideas". That's the title of the article I just read in October's Software Magazine from IEEE. Don't see the relevance to your career just yet? Well hang in there.

The article, written by Philippe Kruchten, professor of Software Engineering at the Unversity of British Columbia, is the first installment in the career development series for the magazine.

Kruchten brings the concept of half life to career development. A product's biological half life is roughly the time it takes for the body to eliminate one half of the product taken in by natural biological means. For example, the half life of caffeine is roughly 3.5 hours. This means that after drinking a small cup of coffee, the body would have eliminated, or broken down 1/2 of it in 3 hours, 3/4 of it in 6 hours etc.

Before going too technical, here is the bottom line question, what is the half life of the knowledge you possess that keeps your career current?

Imagine you picked up one of your professional journals that is about 5 years old. How much of the knowledge in that journal would still be current and valid today? Along the same lines, if you pick up a job description in your profession and find that the buzz words are no longer familiar to you, then you might have some learning to do.

I collect old career publications and pulled a 1987 resume guide from my shelves. Immediately, I spotted differences like font types, longer paragraphs and terminology very different from today. Here is one sentence on whether to type or typeset your resume, "For economic reasons, I would have it initially typed on a correcting typewriter or a word processor."


Krutchen's conclusion? "We can't stop learning new things, or we will get empty pretty rapidly, and we will be totally useless, obsolete...".

Regardless of profession, long term career fitness demands a willingness to explore new things and to recognize that if the last time you had a new idea in your career or went to a professional conference was five years ago - that's too long.

As you evaluate your own career, do a quick career check-up to make sure you are still current. List the top 5-7 competencies you think are driving your profession forward.

Rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 on each. For any competency where you rank yourself a 6 or higher, you must have a great example that is probably no more than 1-2 years old. If you don't, then strategize to get that example on your resume soon.

This kind of inventory becomes the basis for revamping your resume or for career stories in the job interview.

When was the last time you took stock of your skills? What's your career half life and are you and your skills becoming obsolete?

Knowing where you are will help keep your career on track, especially if this recession continues to hold.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Best RSS Feeds for Jobseekers

Kelly Kilpatrick sent me an email today and wanted to know if we would be willing for her to write an article for the BullsEyeResumes college blog. Of course I happily accepted and can't wait to see what she comes up with for us. In the meantime, I checked out her website at BestCollegesOnline.com and found this awesome list of the 100 Best RSS Feeds for Job Seekers.

These RSS feeds for Job seekers are grouped as follows:

General - These RSS feeds house job listings from thousands of jobs globally. Feeds include Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com and DotOrgJobs.com.

Region Specific - These feeds are specific to state and city listings. Feeds include DallasJobs and International Jobs.

Green Jobs - If you are looking for environmentally friendly work, these RSS feeds for jobseekers will offer a lot of help. Examples include GreenIndustryJobs and TreeHugger.

Other categories listed include RSS feeds specific to Business and Finance; Education; Aviation and Travel.

Making a Smooth Transition Back to the Workplace

Check out this conversation on Blog Talk Radio that I had with Roxanne Ravenel of the Job Search Strategy Lab. Our discussion was primarily about career reentry tips for jobseekers who want to make a smooth transition back to the workplace after an absence.