Dr. Randall Hansen is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home page of The Career Doctor.
If you have any career- or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue (02/15/02):
- Career/Work values and job search strategies for undecided job-seeker
- Searching for career passions values and career direction
- Keys to writing thank you letters and interview follow-up
- Strategies for finding and using job references
|Q:||Kenn writes: I would like to find a new career or even new location for old one and would like to try and find someone on line that can help me out in this endeavor. Do you have any idea of where I can find a person or site that may be of help??????|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I’m not sure whether you simply want a new job or whether you want to change careers — or whether you simply want to move. Perhaps you’re not even sure what you want.
May I suggest some critical career self-assessment exercises?
First to help you develop a clear picture of your work values and passions I recommend you use the latest assessment added to Quintessential Careers: Workplace Values Assessment: Do You Know the Work Values You Most Want in a Job and an Employer — and Does Your Current Employment Reflect Those Values?
Second once you’ve identified your core workplace values I urge you to take the next step and develop a personal mission statement. Reading this article should help you accomplish the task: Using a Personal Mission Statement to Chart Your Career Course. The article also has links to various sample mission statements including my own.
Third take your self-assessment one step deeper and complete a SWOT analysis on yourself and your career. A SWOT analysis has you examine your job/career strengths and weaknesses while examining the potential opportunities and threats in various career choices. Read: Using a SWOT Analysis in Your Career Planning.
Fourth whether or not the first three steps helped you or not you could also consider using a professional career counselor – who can help you with some one-on-one advice and guidance. You can find a directory of career counselors by going to the Career Counselors Consortium.
Finally remember that Quintessential Careers has tutorials on job-hunting as well as articles on job search strategies career change relocating and long-distance job-search and much much more.
|Q:||Mikaela writes: I am 21 and having a mid-life crisis!!! I will graduate from the University of Maryland with a degree in Marketing this May. One problem — after a few internships I am convinced that I do NOT want to go into marketing in fact I do not want to go into business at all. The past few months I have been drawn to medicine — specifically pediatric cancer — but I’m not sure that med school and being a doctor is in my future. So I have been considering law school — possibly to study medical ethics or patient advocacy. Basically I want to help families who are faced with difficult medical decisions — what careers do this? What kind of education should I be trying to get now? Does law school make sense? HELP PLEASE!!!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Mikaela first please take a deep breath’at 21 you are far from a mid-life crisis! And knowing my background and love of marketing I am saddened by your change of heart’but fear not because it is never — never — too late to discover what you really value — what you’re passionate about in life.
It sounds as though you may have worked through some issues and discovered the one thing you are passionate about: helping people. I laud that decision. I always think of social work when I think of people whose passion is to help other people. There are some great resources for people considering social work as a career. Check out the Social Work Career Quiz The New Social Worker Online and from the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook: Social Workers which is simply a fantastic resource. Finally Barry University’s School of Social Work also has a nice section on Careers in Social Work.
My advice to you however does not mean that getting a medical degree or a law degree is out of the question. And in fact if you wanted to get involved in social work given your stage in college you would probably need to get a master’s degree in social work.
I strongly advise you to use your network — or develop a network — and seek expert advice. If your college offers sociology or social work courses go speak with the professors and talk to them about your career goals. If your college has a pre-law or pre-med program go talk with the professors involved and gather information and advice. See if your college town or home town has a patients’ advocacy organization and see if you can meet shadow or intern there to gather information and advice.
Best of luck to you in finding your career direction.
|Q:|| Agnes writes: Hi I’m Agnes. I need to know how to write a perfect letter after the first interview for the job of Flight Attendant.
Could you please send me some samples as soon as possible.
Many thanks for your help
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First as I tell all job-seekers who are smart enough to realize the importance of thank you letters congratulations on helping yourself stand out from the crowd of other job-seekers who don’t bother to write thank you letters.
Thank you letters are fairly easy to write although there are variations to cover specific issues that may have arisen from the interview such as dealing with a negative issue or perceived problem. Your goal is simply to thank the employer (and be sure to send thank you letters to every person who interviewed with you) for his or her time to stress your interest in the position and your fit with the organization.
You’ll find some great samples by going to this section of Quintessential Careers: Sample Job Interview Thank You Letters. It may also be helpful to read this article written by my partner Katharine Hansen: FAQs About Thank You Letters.
Finally don’t forget that you can’t just sit back once you’ve mailed (or emailed) the thank you letter. You also need to follow-up with the employer after you send the letter being sure to express your interest and enthusiasm for the job and inquiring about the status of the job search. Have more questions? Read our article The Art of Follow-Up After Job Interviews.
|Q:|| Dave writes: I was digging around your career site looking for information on how to make best use of references. I am considering asking 2 former managers and 1 personal friend to be references for me but want to know how much coaching I should give them.
Do you have any articles or advice on this topic?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: We’re working on an article on the subject but since it’s not quite completed — or even scheduled for publication as I write this answer — that me give you the outline version of the importance and power of references.
First never ever put names of references on your resume. References belong on a separate sheet of paper that matches the look and feel of your resume but is simply titled ‘References.’ And never give references to employers until they request them.
Second think strategically about reference choices. You want the people who are going to make the strongest recommendations for you. Former supervisors do not have to be references especially if they did not know all your accomplishments or you fear they will not have glowing things to say about you. Sometimes former co-workers make the best choices. Again the key is people who will say positive things about you.
Third you ideally want about three to five references — people who can speak highly of your accomplishments work ethic skills education performance etc. For experienced job-seekers most references should come from previous supervisors and co-workers though you may also choose to list an educational (mentor) or personal (character) reference. For college students and recent grads there is a little more flexibility but ideally you have several references from internships or volunteer work in addition to professors and personal references. Avoid listing family members; clergy or friends are okay for personal references.
Fourth get permission. Before you even think of listing someone as a reference be sure and ask whether the person would be comfortable serving as a reference for you. Most people will be flattered — or at least willing to serve as a reference — but you still need to ask to be sure.
Fifth get complete information from each reference: name title company address and contact information (daytime phone email cell phone etc.).
Sixth keep your references informed (and perhaps coached). Make sure each reference always has a copy of your most current resume knows your key accomplishments and skills and is aware of the jobs/positions you are seeking. Again the best references are the ones that know who you are what you can accomplish and what you want to do.
Seventh be sure to thank your references once your current job search is complete. Some companies never contact any references some only check the first one or two and some check all. Regardless these people were willing to help you and thanking them is simply a common courtesy.