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 (12/13/02):
- Mastering the art of resigning gracefully
- Job-hunting strategies for the multi-talented
- Answering three job interview questions
- Checking references and work histories
|Q:|| Mary Jo writes: I’ve been using your site a lot over the past few months and the resources you offer helped me tremendously.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been offered a job did an assessment and accepted their offer but can’t seem to locate information about giving notice and negotiating a smooth transition with my current employer.
Am I not looking in the right places? Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated and thanks already for the help thus far.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: One of the most important rules — call it etiquette common sense whatever — that job-seekers must always remember is to NEVER burn any bridges with previous employers. No matter whether you hated the employer or your supervisor it is always best to leave on as pleasant terms as possible. Job-hunting is a funny process and you never know when you’ll run smack right into your former supervisor or former employer (through a merger or other circumstance).
So to make as smooth a transition from your current employer to your new one you’ll want to act professionally and follow company guidelines. Specifically:
Finally when composing your letter of resignation — and yes always resign in writing — be professional. Keep the letter or memo short and sweet and to the point. State your intention of leaving (giving a specific last day) give reason for leaving (but only if you are comfortable doing so) and thank both your supervisor and the company for the opportunities you have had working for them.
Also be sure to check out these sample resignation letters.
|Q:||LK writes: Could you tell me the best sites for a person who has so many skills that they just want to post a resume for the interested parties to read and give me an offer that Ii can’t refuse? Really! I’m serious!!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I am always wary of job-hunters who think too highly of themselves or who feel they have so many skills that employers should be pounding down their doors. Nine times out of ten it turns out that the job-seeker has mediocre skills and abilities at best and simply is indecisive about his or her job-search.
With job-hunting a sharp focus on jobs and employers is almost always more successful than some scattershot approach.
So you’re first step has to be to narrow the field of job possibilities. Conduct some occupational research and develop a list of jobs that fit your skills interests and abilities. Once that step is complete then start examining potential industries and employers. I’ve found that some job-seekers really benefit from a tool we use in business called a SWOT Analysis where you examine your strengths and weaknesses (the best part) as well as the threats and opportunities in various career fields. Read more.
You also need to expand your job-search beyond just a few Internet job sites. You cannot afford to limit your job-seeking opportunities — and you need to be an active participant in the job-search rather than passive. Consider some of the other avenues of job-searching: networking recruiters cold contact job postings want ads and alumni/career services offices from your previous schools.
In the end you need to remember that networking is typically the best tool for finding a job. It’s also a good tool for learning more about various occupations and jobs.
You should also consider using the Job-Search Checklist found on Quintessential Careers.
Finally go to this section of Quintessential Careers to find some great networking resources.
|Q:|| Bill writes: What would be your best answers to the interview questions below?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Before I get to your questions let me state something I have mentioned previously in this column. Job-seekers must always view the job interview as a sales call. You are a salesperson selling your unique mix of talents skills and accomplishments to a prospective employer. The employer is doing a little selling as well but the burden is on you to make yourself look like the best candidate for the position.
With that idea in mind here you go:
Don’t forget that there are LOTS of job interviewing resources available at QuintCareers.com — for free to all job-seekers. One of the best resources is the job interview database where we list the most common interview questions posed to experienced job-seekers and new college grads. Check out all of our interviewing resources.
|Q:||Pablo writes: Hello just a quick question: How do employers typically go about checking references? Or more importantly what us the process they use to check a potential employee’s work history?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me address the ‘how’ but let me also address the ‘when.’
The How: When checking references employers usually start at the top of your list and go down favoring professional references over personal references. They use the contact information you provide – usually by phone or by email. To check on work history employers simply call the human resources departments of the companies you list on your resume or job application and ask that they verify the dates of your employment; they may also ask about job titles and any other legally allowed tidbits about you.
If you’ve had some employment gaps or other problems it is better to address them in other ways then to fudge start or end dates of employment.
The When: I know you are going to think I’m evading the answer but the when really depends on the employer the economy the industry and a few other factors. Because of recent scandals my sense is more employers than in the past are carefully checking employment histories and references. Remember though that employers don’t usually start checking references until you made it into the group of finalists’so you have a positive head start.
Some employers will only call one or two references and if they give glowing comments about you then the employer often stops there. However if you are getting only lukewarm references not only are you in trouble but the employer will probably go a little deeper into your background. Please remember to always ask people if they are willing to be a reference and then always keep your references in the loop about the progress of your job-search.
The bottom line: NEVER lie or mislead on your resume and always strive for the best references possible.
Read my article published on QuintCareers.com: References: The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References in Your Job Search.