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 (10/11/02):
- Applying practical marketing principles to job search
- Determining the cause of receiving no interviews
- Growing use of multiple types of background checks
- Dealing with consequences of tuition reimbursement plan
|Q:||Laura writes: Since moving to Daytona Beach 5 years ago I have worked for ten employers and also tried self-employment. (Four of the jobs were temporary.) Only one of those employers was a good match for me but unfortunately they went out of business nine months after I started working for them. I am a highly qualified Accountant/Bookkeeper but it seems this town is unwilling to pay a decent salary to someone with my skills and over 25 years experience. My age (over 50) may also have something to do with my inability to get a good job offer. I have been on several interviews but I seem to come in second or third choice.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think now is the time to reinforce the whole concept of a job-search as a marketing campaign. Your cover letter and resume are the key marketing promotion documents and the job interview is the critical sales call. If you then look at yourself as a product it puts job-hunting in a much different light.
You have a number of issues/problems/concerns that need to be addressed. First I let me preface the rest of this answer with the depressing news that the Central Florida job market is one of the weakest and low-paying that I have ever researched. So as you’ve discovered job-seekers need to keep their expectations tempered.
Your resume. There are a number of issues you need to deal with here. First you need to remove older job experience and take older dates off your experience and education so that employers can’t easily guess your age. Next you need to do something with all the jobs; ten jobs in five years is a huge red flag. I would consider lumping all your temporary work into one grouping in a traditional resume — or consider going to some sort of functional resume where skills are emphasized and employment history is secondary. Next are you current with your training/technology skills — and if so does it come across on your resume? So much of accounting and bookkeeping practices have changed even in the last 10 years that employers may assume older job-seekers still do it the ‘old’ way and may be resistant to change. Your task is to not let them assume that!
In the interview. Your resume can only do so much for you — which is basically get you to the interview. Now you need to sell yourself to the employer. Don’t go into interviews as some older workers do with anything but a positive attitude – focused on how you can make an immediate contribution to the company (rather than relying on all your years of solid experience). Attitude especially with older workers is critical.
I strongly recommend that you read some of the articles and other resources in this section of Quintessential Careers: Job Resources for Mature and Older Jobseekers.
|Q:|| Terita writes: I have a spotty career history. My chosen major in college was public relations and after two positions in the field I realize that this is NOT what I want to do.
I have spent the past 10 months looking for a job and I have 4 calls and two interviews to show for it. Needless to say I am desperate to find out what it is that I am doing wrong and why I can’t even seem to get an interview. I have sent out over 1000 resumes since then.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me say how sorry I am that you have not been able to find your career niche; I know it can be a frustrating time especially when coupled with job-search struggles. And as you have so unfortunately learned the shotgun approach to job-hunting — sending v olumes of resumes to an unfocused group of employers — almost never leads to any kind of job-search success.
So you know what you don’t want to do but what is it you DO want to do? If you don’t have the answer you need to stop everything and first find some acceptable job and career paths. Do some self-assessment. Work with the career services professionals from your alma mater.
Finally you need to learn how to find a job. It’s a lot harder than mailing out lots of resumes but the returns are much greater. You’ll want to build and use your network of contacts you’ll want to go after the hidden job market and you’ll need to be more focused on the jobs you want — and the process you use to find them and go after them. Go to QuintCareers.com to get more details about job-hunting methods.
I especially recommend you read my article 15 Myths and Misconceptions About Job-Hunting as well as another great article written by my partner Katharine Hansen: Ten Questions to Ask Yourself if You Still Haven’t Found a Job. Both articles are published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:|| JS writes: My new prospective employer has already made me a job offer which I have accepted. They have provided the offer letter to me that states it is contingent upon successful completion of the background checks which include criminal drug and credit history. I am only concerned about the credit history because my wife and I filed bankruptcy and had our house foreclosed on recently.
What are the chances of them checking my credit? If they do check my credit what are the chances of them retracting their offer due to my credit?
It is a financial institution which I have heard is typically more concerned with prospective employees credit reports.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: It’s certainly true that many employers have become more diligent about performing reference and background checks of prospective employees but that doesn’t mean that you are going to have this job offer rescinded. I understand that a financial institution may be more cautious of hiring employees that have a checkered financial past but given the number of U.S. households that have declared bankruptcy over the past few years coupled with no real data that shows some connection between financial stability and on-the-job success I have reservations with employers using credit checks.
The bigger question I believe is if the employer asked you anything such as ‘we’re not going to find anything when we do these background checks are we?’ and if you replied in a not so honest manner. Then the issue is not so much your lack of personal financial worthiness but your honesty and trustworthiness — much bigger issues to employers. So while you never want to raise negative issues in job interviews you also need to be prepared to deal with such negatives if the employer asks a direct question.
As long as you were completely honest in the interview then sit tight and think positive thoughts. Many employers ask for references and say they will perform background checks but most are not nearly as thorough as you might think.
Get more help with job interviews in the Guide Job Interviewing Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Elsa writes: I recently completed my MBA program which has been partially reimbursed by my current employer. Part of the reimbursement agreement is to stay with the company for 12 months following graduation. The current job I’m in is extremely limiting and stressful and I’m not sure I can endure it for another 11 months. How likely is it that a new employer will cover any higher education expenses that may not be reimbursed if I leave my current employer? Thanks!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You are experiencing the double-edged sword of employer educational support. While many employers value and encourage their employees to get additional education or training it usually comes with strings attached — and often the strings are just dumb. While I see nothing wrong with employers requiring an employee to stay for a certain period of time — after all they contributed to the financing of the education — I do have an issue with employers who do not give increased job responsibilities (and a new salary to match) to those employees.
I would encourage you to read the fine print of the reimbursement agreement — and tread carefully. A better solution than trying to leave the company causing bad feelings and taking a huge chunk from your bank account is to approach the employer with a proposal for a new position – or at least a position with more responsibility. Better employers will realize the benefit of using their investment in you to its fullest rather than losing it to you quitting or shutting down on the job.
And a cautionary note to all job-seekers considering an employer-sponsored education reimbursement program: take your time and know all the guidelines. Another job-seeker recently emailed me about a similar situation where he received his MBA from a prestigious university — after the strong encouragement of his employer — only to receive no change in job status and a token $1000 raise while his classmates were all receiving job offers almost double his current salary.