Tag Archives: Career Satisfaction

Bridge Burning: A Matter of Trust

No doubt you’ve heard the cliché “don’t burn bridges,” but what does it mean in relation to professional development and does it really matter?

Blog 03-31-15 long pierGiven the vast digital networking system, what one does (or doesn’t do) often will find its way to the curious observer and/or potential hiring manager. In other words, YES, it does matter.

Burning bridges can be as simple as not giving a courteous two-week notice, to acting in a nonprofessional manner, and to searching for a job while on a current one (literally). To clarify reasons for the crumble, we’ll review each of the three paths mentioned.

  • Not giving a professional two-week notice. If employed and accepting another offer, professionalism dictates you give the current employer adequate notice to find a replacement or proactively train an existing peer. By not giving proper notice, the company could suffer financial loss, peer hardship, and/or customer disapproval.
  • Acting in a nonprofessional manner. If you’ve been in the workforce for any time at all, you’ve seen fellow (ex) employees do some rather unusual things during separation. Yelling, cursing, throwing things or bouts of anger will automatically drive an immovable chasm.
  • Searching for a job while on a current one. I’ve seen this more times than I wish to admit but for any employee not satisfied with their employment situation, this is fast-pass ticket out. Taking advantage of company equipment (computer, phone, and time) to search for and inquire about another job is downright unethical. Do yourself a favor and don’t rationalize by claiming the search has been done during breaks, that’s not going to fly.

If you are not happy with your current situation, do the professional thing, give proper notice and promote the transition for both parties (you and company). Most employers know if their workers are glad to be part of the organization so you’re not fooling anyone via covert actions. What you have done is break the bonds of trust.

Should you care if trust is broken? Yes.

Planning on mentioning the job you just violated on the resume or for reference purposes? Plan again… and if you don’t think the job will come up in searches, you may want to think again on that one too.

On a side note, if you happen to be in an industry-specific sector, many hiring managers and executives network at the most inopportune times. It is not uncommon for these individuals to discuss employee occurrences such as terminations, promotions, and bridges. Thus, after burning one or two bridges, there may be no more bridges to cross and finding a new job may be more difficult than expected.

Fair or not, people talk, people search, and people gossip. The manner in which you depart a company is fodder during networking events.

Truth about bridges, a strong foundation leads to many wonderful adventures while a crumbled foundation leads nowhere.

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com 321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Career without Care

DSC_0123Think about it, without CARE, there can be no CAREer. Several days ago the realization that the first four letters of career is a word all by itself rushed to the forefront of my imagination. Naturally, and for those who know me, forefront occupancy will never be enough as the next question rebounded recklessly: “Other than residing under the same roof, could there be a connection?”

For many, the concepts of career and care have nothing but a few letters in common. While it can be quite obvious for the satisfied few, a career without care simply never would do. Typically this is where I would ask: “How do you define your work and performance effort? Do you care about your career or does a distinction exist, if so, where?”

Unsure, here’s a quick list indicating four letters may be missing in your life: “if you…”

  1. Are unhappy
  2. Curse the clock for its apparent slow-motion tease
  3. Use vacation time the moment it becomes available
  4. Never arrive at work early or remain until the project is complete
  5. Wake up each morning with cold sweats, leg cramps, and a migraine
  6. Take an extra ten minutes in the kitchen area stirring your morning cup
  7. Daydream about winning the lottery, believing this will be your lucky week
  8. Can sleep only after artificial elements have been introduced into your body
  9. Multi-task with Facebook while texting more than work duty accomplishments
  10. Pretend to work the final 30 minutes of your shift… tip of the day, you’re not fooling anyone except yourself

As a career coach, I insist one cannot live contently without the other. In other words, if one does not “care,” there can be no “career.” Bet you’re asking for advice on how to put “care” back in your “career.” Am I right? Thought so.

I’m not a guru offering a sure-fire cure to career unhappiness. The resolve is as unique as you are and must come from you, actively. In other words, happiness does not enter unannounced or without conscious AND physical effort.

Good news on the side, it is NEVER too late for happiness… if you believe otherwise, well, I guess it may be too late.

Moments mirror: With such a grand portion of life defined by our career, it would be shame to regret what could have been if only… if only “Career held Care.”

By now, I hope you are scratching your head, not in confusion but resolve. NOW is the time to grab those four letters in your life and career, holding on tightly and never letting go. 

Truth is, there are no certainties other than this moment, not even this evening is guaranteed. I now ask one simple request, for the next five minutes, SHOW you self you care and then SHOW someone you love… little things like this will move mountains… just gotta trust me on this one.

Turning another year older today, I am…

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs

Career Success: Visualizing the New Year

Last week we discussed the bright possibilities that are brought on by the New Year. We discussed how, in order to make progress in finding personal and professional success, there MUST be changes. post clips for blog

The first step highlighted in this process was visualization. Anyone can daydream, but I thought we could walk through specifics that will help make your daydream productive, one that leads to a better future.

Take a moment and close your eyes. Picture your life as though it were drawn on a transparent sheet. Now, picture your dream life in the same way. In your mind, lay the “dream” transparency on top of the “real” one. Where are the differences? Does your house look different, or your hair, or do you? Is there someone beside you in either one?

What about your career, your school, your personal life? Does it stay the same when you lay the sheet down or is there something bigger and brighter on your “dream” sheet?

* Time to quantify: On a scale of 1 to 10, how different is your vision for your life from your actual life?

No matter the number, don’t forget that I’m not here to bring you down. It’s ok if you recognize that you are far from where you want to be. If anything, that means you still have an adventure on your hands.

I’ve heard it said that Complacency is the enemy of Contentment. Yet, many people who feel they’ve “made it” to where they always wanted to be will find just that – Complacency.

Regardless of your proximity to the goals of your dreams, the point is that there is something you can do to make this year unbelievable.

Right this moment, get some scrap paper and brainstorm without boundary. Consider it an exercise in the stream of consciousness, an exercise which may seem silly but can be the spark igniting a new and exciting journey.

While brainstorming, write down every career idea you’ve ever had. Notice the keyword: idea… these are not necessarily jobs you have had but jobs you have always wanted to have. After scattering the many career/job ideas, time to make a list of top two or three that are realistic in nature. For example, if you want to be a professional soccer player but you are not the athletic type, be realistic and don’t prioritize soccer. Then again, given your background, experience, and personality, if you always wanted to be a counselor, you may want to place that on the top three choices.

Your Visualization chart may look something like this:

brain stormOnce you’ve got several ideas scattered across your page, chug a glass of water, put some headphones in, and go for a walk. The exercise will get your blood and brain pumping, and the music will spur your imagination.

Come back later to the scatter-sheet and start in on the branches. Pros, cons, details, length of time you’ve secretly wanted to do it. For every career option there should be at least four to five branches. If you run out of paper, get more. There is no excuse not to finish this.

This is the paper that you want to put away for a day or two. Just put it in a drawer and resume your normal life. Your subconscious will keep up with it for you. When we come back next week, we’ll take the next steps. In the meantime, get dreaming!

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: dhuffman@edu-cs.com to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services, www.edu-cs.com
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Your Career Edge: Informational Interviews

DSC_0023With the majority of employees NOT satisfied with their career and company, an effective method to increase the likelihood of a good company culture connection can be found through informational interviews. Though few conduct such diligence, doing so will place you at the advantage.

Recently working on an assignment for Education Career Services, I illustrated the steps involved when a networker and jobseeker finds a company they’re interested in and wants to make a new connection with them for further networking purposes in the form of an informational interview.

I realized soon enough into the writing process that I had never really done that before and just as quickly tossed the thought to the side as a waste of time. After all, I have certainly acquired jobs through networking contacts in the past, and have several times in my younger job-seeking days cold-called companies to introduce myself and ask about any open positions.

Sometimes networking and doing just enough was enough to land a job, sometimes not, and most of the time the company simply did not match my expectations culturally or professionally. Looking to enhance the hits and eliminate the misses, the concept of informational interviews suddenly became clearer.

True enough, back then it was easier to get jobs since I was still quite young and tended to be content with lower-skilled jobs (and less pay) while in college. With a fast-forward nod, the need to progress has out-paced the college minimalist lifestyle and has been replaced with reality. Fueled by a progressive perspective, I have come to appreciate the value/benefit of career diligence.

With career in mind, here’s a six step plan to make a more consistent company connection:

1. Know your career interests and research them
To best prepare for a successful informational interview, first understand what types of work you are really interested in doing. Make a list of all the types of jobs you’ve always wondered about or had an itch to try. Don’t waste company time or your time either if you’re just shooting in the dark and don’t know what you want to do.

2. Know who you want to interview
It’s a good idea to start with people you know first, if for no other reason than practice. Try interviewing friends, relatives, students, co-workers, neighbors, etc.

Research companies of interest and write down a list of questions that come to you during your research. Use such resources as the internet, the library, career counseling centers at schools, and employment centers. One thing is for sure, you don’t want to go into an informational interview unprepared, so don’t rush this part.

3. Make a phone script for each call
Once you get a chance to talk to one person, you should politely ask if they may suggest someone else you could arrange to talk to another time. If the work interests you, you will want to get as many opinions as possible about the industry and job specifics, comparing notes later.

4. Interview your contacts using 20 interview pre-written questions

Though you have 20 questions at hand, select the ones most fitting – do not attempt to ask all 20 questions the person on the other end of the line may not have the time.

If you are meeting with the person, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be polite and professional. Refer to your list of prepared questions, but be flexible enough in your conversation to allow for spontaneous discussions, should they arise.

It’s generally not recommended that you use a recording device during the informational interview. This can be a turn-off, and you don’t want to get started on the wrong foot. A notepad, however, is fine.

5. Track each interview with your action plan worksheet
Immediately after the informational interview, it is best to record your impressions and other important thoughts or information. Keep the information from each on a separate “action plan” worksheet as you may need those names and information later.

6. Write a thank you letter
Be honest, sincere, and clear with your words, and you can’t go wrong when sending a thank you letter. When possible, make sure it’s a handwritten thank you letter as these types of notes set you apart, are more personable than an email message, and will keep you in a contact’s memory.

Discussing the industry, job responsibilities, expectations, and culture with those in the field better prepares the seeker to create a match. For those interested in delving deeper into informational interviews as well as other career focused methods, visit our library of resources.

Article penned by Bret Hoveskeland
Education Career Services
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

 

Career Breakout: Holiday Networking

The end of the year does not mean the end of career networking. Quite the opposite, NOW is the ideal time to spread the news of your value and contributions. To detail, let’s respond to a brief summary and question submitted last week by a recent college graduate, Chris Alcott:

I graduated with a business degree earlier this year and was hoping that would be enough to get a decent job offer. I’ve been unemployed for the past 18 months due to a downsizing. Looks like no one is  bringing on new employees and the only thing going on are holiday parties, gatherings, and a hiring freeze. Last November and December I resigned to wait until January to re-launch my job search and concentrate on my final semester of classes. What’s your thoughts… are the last two or three months of the year a waste of time for the unemployed? If not, what are your suggestions?”

To set the record straight once and for all, the final three months of the year are not a waste of time for the unemployed and can be quite successful.

Career fact: Seasonal help, even part time, is at a full-time high during the final quarter.

If you’re thinking a low-wage job for a month or two is below your status, crawl out from that rock you are renting and wake up. Though many seasonal positions are for a short stint, not all are. Believe it or not, a solid percentage of those hired during this time progress into full-time positions with promotions and salary increases.

Though I know little about Mr. Alcott, gaining a seasonal position will add strength to your resume by way of added customer service experience. Not only will one achieve a paycheck, the psychological benefits of getting out there and contributing to the household will create a positive impact. Being a recent graduate, many employers look at the soft skills offered and use that when measuring up candidates.

Looking to turn that seasonal position into a full-time position? Here’s a tip, employers are always searching for top-notch employees to join their team, in any industry.

Consider an employer’s perspective… what are they looking for with their seasonal bunch? Here’s another clue (or two) about the evaluation process, gaining full-time status, and what you need to highlight on and off the clock:

* An eagerness to learn and a drive to represent the company mission
* Confidence and an initiative to do what needs to be done without complaint
* To ‘think’ and ‘act’ professionally, without compromising patience, quality, or production
* Dedication, aptitude, and loyalty to perform tasks outside limited job duties
* ‘Show’ you are a keeper… and yes, your boss is watching and his or her observations will be relayed to the company elite

Career fact: Networking is at an all-time high during the holiday season.

While on the topic of networking during the holiday season, I would like to introduce a wonderful resource I have been taking advantage for years,  http://www.cultureandmanners.com.

Thanks to the polite folks at the Culture and Manners Institute, let’s review the following insight…

Networking does not mean you become a walking/talking resume. Think of networking as research. As said in previous Etiquette Tips, the best way to start and continue a conversation is to ask questions:

What do you do for a living?
How long have you been with that company?
How did you first become interested in that company?
What do you like best about your company (or job)?
How did you get started in that field?

Holiday networking is not just job research, its company research; because you learn which company has happy and satisfied employees and which ones don’t. (One person badmouthing their company might just be a malcontent. Three is a pattern.)

Here is the best part. When you ask questions of another person, you show you are taking interest in that person and that makes people feel good about them. This is what etiquette is all about.

Some people who are out of work avoid holiday parties. Never fear to admit you are out of work.  Everyone has been there. Networking skills honed in holiday season are valuable assets when you do find employment. Now get out there and party.

For those interested in receiving an Etiquette Tip of the Week, check out their site mentioned above.

The final few months of the year can prove to be career successful. In other words, Chris, don’t get discouraged and do get yourself out there!

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available
material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.EducationCareerServices.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Bridge Building/Burning

I was recently asked what steps, if any, one should take when leaving a current job.

Without hesitation, the manner in which you leave a company can (and will) haunt you. Just ask Dwight about the negative consequence when requesting (or demanding) movement. Quite bluntly, there are right ways (professional courtesy takes the lead) and not-so right ways (temper tantrums and threats) to leaving… much depends if you want to build or burn the bridge you’ve worked hard to construct.

Tip of the decade: BEFORE you consider leaving, make sure you’ve considered how it will affect your employer, your career footprint, and that leaving is what you really want to do.

Rule #1: Don’t make a rash or emotional decision

Unless you are put in an extreme moral or ethical dilemma, or an illegal activity, consider holding off at least 24 hours until finalizing your decision. Making hasty judgments based upon what might be a minor situation typically is not in your best interest.

The value of holding off until the following day gives you time to cool down, think rationally, and discuss the pros and cons of making a life-changing decision. For clarity, be sure and review the situation and your reasoning with a close peer or family member (specifically your life partner) in person… not over Facebook or Twitter.

After the emotional dust settles and, if you are determined to part ways, consider two possible paths and decide which works for you. Here’s my take on what NOT to do versus what you should do.

Here’s what you should NOT do when quitting your job:
* Do the Dwight (samples of his bad behavior available upon request)
* Ignore your responsibility by not showing up to work when you are scheduled to be there
* Text or use Twitter to let your boss know you are leaving
* Yell, blame, or use nasty language while walking out the door
* Blasting your boss or company on the Internet

Now that you know a few of the things NOT to do, let’s take a look at a few things you should do:
* Possess a positive attitude and professional demeanor
* Develop a well-written letter of resignation, highlighting positive things about the company, the people, and the products/services
* Give a minimum of a two-week notice
* Consider how your leaving will affect the company and your co-workers
* Continue working hard and productively up to (and including) your last day

Rule #2: Display professionalism at all times

Changing jobs rarely is easy. For the employer, it takes time to locate and train new employees and this could mean a loss of revenue (if a sales person leaves) or it could mean a disruption of service (if a technician or office personnel calls it quits). Without proper notification and time for a replacement, you put your previous boss and company in jeopardy.

Rule #3: Slamming the former boss/company could dunk your career

Employers appreciate employees willing to do the right thing upon departure and typically will “pay it forward” in the form of a solid professional reference. According to employer surveys, business references have increased dramatically as future employers value the opinion of former supervisors. How do you think a potential employer would react if he or she contacted your former supervisor and nothing but unkind words were shared? Thought you would agree with me.

Still thinking about NOT doing the right thing, take a look at how Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard is handling his attempt to leave the Amway… just saying. Ultimately, the choice, manner, and consequence are up to you.

Looking for sample resignation letters as well as additional information about this or any other career-related topic, use the comment field and our team of certified writers and coaches will take care of you. For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Artistic Representation and the Sell

Though on the surface the resemblance may be unclear, the connection tying the selling of art is directly related to career management. Professional relationships between buyer and seller or employer and employee, involves a great number of factors. What happens when disconnects occur, morphing positives into negatives?

Artists Square’s member Rhonda Newhook expands on the concept of undesirable persuasion in artistic transactions by responding to the following questions asked by a member of our audience.

“As an artist, is it easy to deter someone from buying a painting that they love by your actions or words? If so, how do you think an artist should represent themselves or their work?”

Persuasion in Transactions

As an artist who paints not just for herself, but to share her inner visions with the world, the necessity of actually selling my work has become an experience which brings a commingled sense of joy and tension.

On the one hand, I find myself thrilled that this person whom I have never met is interested in actually paying money for the privilege of owning the fruits of my brush. On the other, I have come to realize that I cannot help but ponder upon the reasons why they are desirous of the purchase in the first place, and by extension, wrestle mentally with the possibility that I might not approve of their intentions towards my work once it becomes their property.

Career Tip: Accepting a job offer means accepting the corporate culture, attitudes, ethics, and intentions. In other words, make sure you don’t join a team that goes against your moral and ethical principles.

Perhaps I am not being too clear upon my meaning here. You may be wondering ‘how does one have undesirable intentions towards a piece of art?’ It would seem a valid question, and it comes with an answer which is only fully understandable when it is your own creation to which the price tag is attached.

Imagine pouring your heart and soul upon a canvas to create a vision of which you are proud to offer for sale, and when a serious buyer offers up the desired amount you are told the painting was intended to serve as an art-class example of what a painting ‘should not be’. Or worse yet, they want to add their own “finishing touches” to your completed work. I have seen both happen, but not to me personally.

Insulting to think of, is it not? What would you do in such a situation? I know what I do. I call it negative persuasion.

Career Tip
: Working environment plays a huge factor in your psychological state; in order to increase job satisfaction, ensure mutual respect is part of the environment.

Negative persuasion is a technique I use in order to talk a potential buyer out of a potential purchase of my art.  I do this when I do not feel right about letting that particular person obtain a small shard of my soul in the form of my art. Maybe I feel uncomfortable about their intentions toward the piece, (as aforementioned), or sometimes even when I just get a negative vibe from their personality and judge that they are not worthy of my work, regardless of any offered remuneration.  Negative persuasion is my saving grace when their money cannot purchase my peace of mind.

Career Tip: If you feel an intense sense of negativism during interviews, you may want to reconsider the desire to be part of the company; after all, rough estimates claim that over 75% of all employees are not satisfied with their current job… if possible, prevent yourself from being in that number.

When it comes to selling art, the process of not accepting the offer is both simple and difficult to teach and employ. In essence, you are changing their mind, or ‘talking them out of it’. How you do this, though, will by necessity be different in each arising case. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is very difficult.

The trick is to not make your desire to change their mind too obvious. To do it well, you must make them think that it was they themselves, and not you, who changed their minds about the purchase. I guess that the easiest way to explain it is that negative persuasion is an art unto itself, and like any incarnation of art, it must be practiced to be mastered.

Career Tip: Don’t burn potential bridges by being rude or discourteous. If offered a position you don’t want to accept, reply with a professional letter informing the hiring manager of your decision. Doing nothing at all or ignoring an offer may come back to haunt during your job search.

Submitted by: Artist’s Square Member Rhonda Newhook. View her work at:
http://artists-square.com/m/photos/browse/album/RhondaNewhook-s-Visual-Art/owner/RhondaNewhook

Thank you Rhonda for your helpful insight.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Dissatisfaction: Informational Interviews, Part 3

We last covered O*NET’s website and how its in-depth database of career information can be an effective tool for preventing career dissatisfaction. While I discussed its many uses, I neglected to mention (trust me, this was on purpose) a major shortcoming of the online database: it’s very impersonal and not always a good indicator of whether or not you will enjoy your work environment.

Sure, O*NET is highly accurate and updated regularly but will it truly give you a feel for the career of your choice? Chances are that it won’t; it should, ideally, be used to weed out careers in which you have no actual interest or compatibility. In order to truly understand a career you must invest a deal of time and personal interest into it.

One effective means of doing this is conducting an informational interview. No, you’re not looking to be hired; you’re looking for information from the most reliable source: a professional in your current field of interest. This information gathered, like O*NET’s, is intended to help you make an informed career decision before you dive into a job or occupation headfirst. Yes, I said gathered. The main difference between a job interview and an informational interview is, in an informational interview, you will be asking all of the questions.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go over some of the advantages of conducting an informational interview (think of this as added motivation). For one, it’s a great way to network with professionals, increasing the amount of people in the industry you know, which certainly never hurt anyone. Furthermore, since you will be asking the questions, you’re in control of what you learn. Take that opportunity to ask about typical day-to-day activities and relate them to your wants and interests, making sure to note whether or not you can see yourself happily performing these tasks. These interviews also involve much less stress, allowing you to ask questions that are typically taboo during a job interview (for example, benefits, salary, vacation time, etc.).

So how does one go about obtaining an informational interview? Perhaps by social networking; by taking out an ad in the classified section of the paper; by sending an e-mail or personal letter to businesses; or maybe even a simple phone call? Well… yes, actually. All of those are common methods for securing an informational interview with an individual.

Keep in mind, these interviews are informal, so the questions you ask can be very straightforward and honest. Nonetheless, even though informational interviews are informal, there are still some basic ground rules to follow: dress appropriately, be polite and punctual, and, most importantly, prepare the questions you will be asking ahead of time.

There’s nothing worse (and unprofessional) than wasting a participants time by being unprepared. Not only will this lessen the information gathered due to ineffective questioning, but it could also cost you a needed contact, referral, or recommendation. Take the time to think—truly think—about what you need to be asking. You only get one shot with an individual; make it count… trust me.

So—I’m sure this is the part you were waiting for—what questions should I ask during an informational interview? That depends upon you (time to get introspective). You’ve already used O*NET to find careers you’re interested in; now, it’s time to put that career to the test to see if the reality will be right for you, both now and in the future.

Here are some good questions to ask that may prevent future career dissatisfaction:

  • Describe a typical day for yourself to me. Do you have a set routine?
  • On average, what salary level can I expect in this career?
  • What benefits does someone in this profession normally receive?
  • What advancement opportunities, if any, exist and how would I take advantage of them?
  • What settings or environments can I expect to commonly work in?
  • Where is this job heading in the future? What changes can I expect?
  • Does a chain of command exist? If so, who will I be working under or over?
  • What other career professionals can I expect to work with?

 These are just a few of the many examples of questions you should consider asking your interviewee. Be personal by asking questions as simple as possible. If you’re worried you will grow bored of the job, express that to him or her. You have an opportunity to ask questions that are normally off-limits. Don’t waste this chance by asking questions that are easily discovered online on websites such as O*NET.

As a rule of thumb, if you can easily Google the answer, it’s not worth asking.

Remember the person you’re interviewing is participating in this interview mostly for charity. After the interview is over, always send a thank you note. While the choice is up to you, a handwritten note is more personal than an e-mail and shows your appreciation for their time and help. Also, they will be more likely to remember you this way. E-mails get stored inside computers; letters and notes end up on desks and generally stay there for a while.

All of this may seem like a tall order, especially when it’s easier to choose a career and deal with the consequences later. Consider this, you wouldn’t buy a house without walking through it; you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it; and you certainly wouldn’t marry somebody without getting to know them. Why would you make an important life decision such as a career choice without discovering all the facts?

As I pointed out in part one of our series, a majority of Americans are unsatisfied with their current career. These “dead-end jobs”, as they are lovingly referred to, can be prevented by an investment of your time and effort. Do you want to be another statistic? I didn’t think so.

Presented by Brandon Hayhurst
www.EducationCareerServices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Career Dissatisfaction: Cause and Consequence, Part Two

Last time we talked about the importance of conducting research before selecting a desired career path, lest you end up in that miserable dead-end job so many Americans commute to daily. You were probably left wondering about effective methods and sources for researching career information; after all, it’s no fun researching how to research (right?). Don’t worry, you won’t be left to hang in the wind. As it so happens, a website exists that is a one-stop source for career information for almost every profession and job in existence.

That website is O*NET (http://www.onetonline.org). As the website itself states, “There are a lot of jobs in the world of work. Our job is helping you learn about them all.” O*NET is a career exploration and job analysis database containing up-to-date and  in-depth information and analysis of jobs in the workplace.

I know what you’re thinking: Something so powerful and all-knowing surely must be so advanced that it costs a lot of money, requiring much practice and learning. Wrong. O*NET is a free resource to be used by anyone; all you need is Internet access.

Once inside this great site, enter a job title or keyword into the search field. Then, the site brings up a list of related jobs to choose from. Upon selecting one, you will be greeted by a list of information, including common job tasks, necessary skills, required education and training, and so forth. These are insightful examples of things to reflect upon before selecting an occupation.

Being satisfied with your career BEGINS by knowing the reality behind the position; entering with eyes wide open and clear can place you in among the few who actually enjoy what they do. Just think how your life would be (or could have been) if your career choice was an educated one.

The old saying, ‘information is power’ brings a new meaning in your pursuit of happiness. The fact is, many people end up in dead-end jobs because they didn’t align desired expectations with the realities of their selected career path. As in my case with Marine Biology, I thought I’d be swimming with friendly sea creatures such as Flipper and Nemo, but chances were I’d be cooped up in a laboratory all day; maybe satisfying to you, but NOT for me.

There is more to consider than just your personal expectations when using O*NET when considering a career path. Many stereotype and myths exist for common occupations. These are more than personal beliefs; these are held by a large majority of the population. No doubt you’ve experienced common career myths and prejudices… for examples, males in the nursing field are still not as common as female nurses. Fortunately gender discrimination is not as prevalent as before, nevertheless, all things affecting the position should be considered.

Humor me for a second. Go to O*NET’s website–go on, I’ll wait. Search for a career or occupation you’re interested in and enter the job title into the search box. Once you’ve found the career, read the “Tasks” section. Yeah yeah, I know it’s a chore (stop your crying) but this extra effort could make a huge difference in your life.

Count how many tasks you were unaware of:

SCORING
7 or More Tasks: There’s a lot you didn’t know. Aren’t you happy we did this exercise
3 – 6 Tasks: At least you knew something. But it’s still not enough to make an informed decision.
0 – 2 Tasks: Wow! Impressive, to say the least. You’ve really done your research but I may have to hook you up to a lie-detector test.

Time to get real, don’t think that scoring “0 – 2 Tasks” means you can toss O*NET to the curb just yet. Here’s another unsung fact about career dissatisfaction: Expectations change… always. Of course, you may not like these changes; in fact, they may even be a deal breaker.

Let’s take an example to highlight how technology forces one’s career applications to change. Years ago, sports writers simply tuned-in to the radio to cover games with a pen and a pad. Now, they’re expected to travel to home and away games, cover them wirelessly via laptop, and publish their story shortly after the game. Not only does this entail a change in equipment and training, it’s also a change in work environment and job description.

How about this one: Remember the milkman? Neither do I.

Guess what, CHANGE applies to all careers and occupations and since O*NET is a constantly updating database of career information; you should bookmark the site as a favorite. After all, you never know when your desired career destination will update with new tasks, training, locations, and even pay.

All of this information definitely won’t be on the nightly news after the Kardashian’s newest escapades, so make sure you visit this West Orlando News often as we bring career insight to you regularly. And make sure to join me next time as we cover the ancient art of informational interviews, an extremely useful tool for researching career information directly from the source: the employer.

Presented by Brandon Hayhurst
http://www.EducationCareerServices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Career Dissatisfaction: Cause and Consequence, Part One

Growing up, I had a sound grasp as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, a few years later, I question if the eyes of my youth were simply naïve or if my adult vision has become tarnished by a cold reality. No matter the cause of this disconnect, I found it alarming that on average, only 35% of employees are happy with their current career or line of work (a recent survey conducted by the Career Thought Leaders Group).

To further explain why, several reasons of unhappiness were given, including bad (though not really sure what constitutes “bad”), bosses, time-delayed commutes where congestion ruled two-hours both ways, and lack of challenges. Naturally these are not the only issues as many of you can attest to.

As I delved into the topic deeply by conducting outside research on my own, one key point threading so much unhappiness was that people were not in the line of work they imagined they would be growing up. Sounds like a perfect lead into the topic defining part one…

Do you remember dreaming about what you wanted to be when you were older? For some it was a firefighter, an astronaut, a veterinarian, a teacher, or a bill collector (okay, maybe only a few dreamt of this job). Many of us remember these ideals as kids because we glorified them into something they really were not. So, here’s the next question: Why the gap between what we wanted and what we have become? True enough, we didn’t have all of the information back then and our priorities have also changed… having children have a way of shifting priorities… in a good way.

Still, two kids, three ex-wives, and a receding hairline later, many feel trapped within the snarls of career dissatisfaction. Perhaps now, as adults who know better, we should take the time to examine future career paths founded by truth and reality, where perceptions and expectations no longer play on different fields. And who knows, after examining objectively, the dissatisfaction ratio can be reversed.

An objective career reflection may uncover that fighting fires or flying around in space really is not that appealing… oh the dreams of a child… so innocent, so misplaced. Here’s some optimistic rhetoric for you: No matter your adult age, searching for and attaining that dream career can be yours. Yeah, I’ve heard the same story from people over and over: it’s too late to change, I’m trapped, I can’t… blah, blah, blah.

The truth is: Change and professional success can happen… but you have to be realistic, have a positive attitude, and do the work required. The first step (yes, there’s always a first step) is to research, reflect, and reboot; in other words, focus on the prize without relying upon how others define you. Being an adult infers great responsibility with the ability to filter out misinformation and external influencers.

On a personal note, when was a young pup, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Think about it, in a child’s eye every day I would visit the beach, swim with the dolphins, and save the ocean from evil corporate overlords. Then again and springing up to date, little did I know that this job required labor be spent mostly in a laboratory without the thrill of swimming with dolphins or lounging on sandy beaches. That’s what I dreamed of as a child… I doubt any career I enter now will come close. What about you, are you setting yourself up for career dissatisfaction?

Take a few minutes to reflect on your career path, then and now by completing the following:

As a child, I wanted to be a(n): __________
Three reasons I wanted to follow this career path are:
1)
2)
3)

Now that I am older (and wiser?), reality kicked in. Truth of the matter, three things I know now about the job that I didn’t as a kid include:
1)
2)
3)

By now, you’ve probably noticed that your priorities have changed, as they often do when we age. What mattered in a career as a child suddenly doesn’t matter as much anymore. In my case, swimming with dolphins didn’t stack up to holding a stable job that offered good benefits and pay. In the same vein, aligning dreams and expectations for your career must begin with step one. In other words, put your shoes on and get ready.

Satisfaction comes from making an informed decision using facts and statistics. An educated sojourner asks the question: what are the chances of actually landing the job. If your first step leads to an unattainable goal, dissatisfaction is most likely. Additional questions to consider include what are the working conditions? What’s expected of you? What type of company or services is being sold and will that conflict with my personal ethics? What’s the average annual salary?

Think about the reality of any career objective before that feeling of being trapped surrounds you. Ultimately, only you know what’s best for yourself.

Preparing for the first step is not an easy task and is often stumbled by blocks along the road. But with a clear focus in sight, it’s time to put forth the effort required to ensure dreams and reality will live together in a harmonious manner… join me next time as we examine ONETonline.org and how this career research tool can be your guiding light to a brighter and more fulfilling career.
Otters
Presented by Brandon Hayhurst
http://www.EducationCareerServices.com
Twitter: dannyatecs