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 (11/29/02):
- Following up all job leads is essential to success
- Knowing the proper do’s and don’ts of holiday parties
- Dealing with pay cuts and short job stints on resume
- Finding a way out of boring job to new career
|Q:||JT writes: I’ve sent my cover letter and resume to many potential companies and have gotten several responses that say “thank you for sending us your information we’re reviewing your qualifications and we’ll call you if you meet any of them.” Is this just saying thanks but we don’t need/want you or would is be acceptable to call them in a few days and ask if they’ve reviewed it? Just curious.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I want every job-seeker reading this column to stop and repeat these words: ‘In order to be most successful in a job-search I must follow-up all job leads.’
Follow-up is almost as critical as developing the job leads in the first place. What’s the point of doing all the preparation in finding the job leads developing your cover letters and resumes and mailing off your job-search package if you are then going to just sit around the phone computer or mailbox waiting for employers to contact you? Only a very small percentage of employers will ever make that first move.
Job-seekers must be aggressive in following up all job leads. You need to say in your cover letter that you plan to contact the employer in a specified (and relatively short) period of time – and then you must do so! I can’t say often enough that the old adage about the squeaky wheel getting the oil applies to the job-search. The job-seeker who shows interest — in a professional manner — will get more attention from the employer. And more attention often leads to a job interview. Don’t go overboard by calling everyday but you have to make the effort to follow-up. As long as you act professionally following-up will keep your name in the mind of the employer.
But how do you develop job leads? Here are the top ten methods for discovering job leads: networking professional organizations college career and alumni offices cold contact job fairs want ads Internet job boards corporate career centers recruiters and pounding the pavement. You can find more information about each of these methods in a new article on Quintessential Careers: 10 Ways to Develop Job Leads.
|Q:||Pat writes: The holidays are approaching and my company recently announced that we will be having an office party in a few weeks. This will be my first-ever corporate holiday party and I really don’t know what do. Are you allowed to have fun at these things? How much? Or do you need to stick to business and be professional?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Ah company holiday party events. I’ve experienced the entire spectrum of them from dull and boring to decadent and dangerous. The good news is that you have the power to use the office party to have some fun and advance your career — or you can misbehave and cripple your career. Here are some basic do’s and don’ts to survive and thrive at any office party.
Do remember that although office parties are intended as social events to reward employees and raise morale they remain strictly business events. Do act as though your behavior is being observed every minute (because it probably is).
Don’t pass up the invitation to an office party; not attending could hurt your reputation. And when you attend do spend at least 30 minutes at the party for appearances. But don’t overstay your welcome by partying until the wee hours of the morning.
Do conduct yourself professionally at all times. Don’t use the holiday party as an excuse to blow off steam. It’s still a company function so proper etiquette and decorum matter.
Don’t bring the party lampshade gag gifts for the boss or any other crazy stuff you might do at a personal holiday party.
Do enjoy yourself at the party. Employers spend the big bucks to reward their employees so be sure to enjoy the only holiday gift you may be getting from the company.
Don’t spend all evening talking business. You’ll forever have the label as the office bore (if you don’t have it already).
Interested in reading even more company party guidelines? Read one of our newest articles on Quintessential Careers Holiday Office Party Do’s and Don’ts.
|Q:|| Anonymous writes: Since 1992 I have worked for several different companies. About 3 years ago I switched employers and stayed there about a year before joining a start-up company. I had been employed by the start-up for about 8 months before they were acquired by my original employer.
I’ve been asked to take a substantial pay cut. So I’m somewhat torn between staying with this company and looking for new employment locally. I suspect that even at my reduced salary I might be faring better than the local wage scale. Then there’s also the problem of my resume. I’m concerned about how bad my resume looks with all the moves in such a short period of time. A co-worker said that since I was only gone for about a year and now back I started that I should just list the current company as “1992 to present”.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The current state of the economy is affecting workers and job-seekers in so many ways from layoffs to reduced hours to pay cuts. And everyone is frustrated including the employers and the employees. And you face multiple issues.
First because you work for an out-of-state employer I suspect your pay is much higher than the local wage scale which as I have mentioned in previous columns is pretty weak. But rather than guessing I suggest you hop on the Internet and do a little salary research. You can conduct your research by going to one or more of the several salary Websites and/or searching for similar jobs and comparing wage scales. Once you’ve completed your research you need to develop your options. If you decide to accept the pay cut I would try to negotiate a timeline for a return to compensation at your previous levels. I might also negotiate an increase in other non-compensation benefits such as more time off.
Second please do not ‘fudge’ your resume. There is nothing worse than lying or providing misleading information on your resume. By definition a resume is a statement of facts about your educational and work experiences. In your situation you have solid work experience with a number of companies that shows your ability to stay with employers for extended periods of time. But just as importantly job-hopping is so much less an issue than it used to be. Employers know that numerous factors (mergers economy rightsizing dotcom bust etc.) have led to many job-seekers having more short-term job stints than in the past.
Find more information about salary and salary negotiation tactics by going to this section of Quintessential Careers: Salary Negotiation Resources. And you can get more information about writing your resume by going to the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Bridget writes: I need HELP! I’m currently and have been for the past 4years working as a Recruiter/Human resources. I’ve recently gotten promoted to an HR Generalist. At any rate I’m SO BORED with this job I just want to cry sometimes. I am very grateful that I have a job and my co-workers / manager really like my work but I just think that I spend too much time at work to be unhappy. I just can’t stand it. I went to college and got my degree in marketing with an emphasis in promotions and special event planning but I accidentally got in HR and have been here ever since. I’m dying. HELP!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Please promise me you will take some time off as soon as possible and get your life and career in order. No one should be working in a job that brings you to tears. You are still young and it’s still early in your professional life so career change should not be too difficult for you. The harder decision and work will be making the commitment to actually change your situation.
One of my personal and professional priorities is helping people find their life and work passion. We’re only on this Earth a finite time so we should try and find what we enjoy doing — what we’re good at — as early as possible. Besides the fact it should be the right of every job-seeker having a job that fits you — that you have a passion for — will also help your mental and physical health.
So how do you do it?
First go back to your college major. Why did you choose marketing and event planning? Are you still interested in that field? If not then take the time to do some self-reflection and self-assessment. Examine the types of activities you enjoy. Is there a hobby you really love? Is there any aspect of your current job you enjoy? Consider taking one or more assessment tests; there are several good free ones on the Web. Once you’ve developed some ideas of activities you enjoy the next step is researching potential careers that use those skills.
Second make a career change plan. Once you know the type of job(s) that interest you the next step is developing a plan to make a career change. Making a successful career transition will require some mix of these elements: further education or training gaining work experience in the field organizing transferable skills developing a new resume and networking.
Read more in my article on Quintessential Careers: The 10-Step Plan to Career Change.