A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert 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 of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
In This Issue (01/31/03):
- Researching careers that use math skills and abilities
- Finding a job with maximum benefits and minimal requirements
- Determining the next step when ready to make a job change
- Re-entering the workforce after getting fired numerous times
|Q:||Tiffany writes: Hi! I am currently working on a degree in math. I love math but I do not want to teach it. I have been trying to figure out other possible careers. I have thought about engineering but I do not know what kind to choose. I like to solve problems and work with equations. My father is an applications engineer. I know that Ii do not want to do what he does. I basically just love math and was wondering what some possible career choices I have.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Besides teaching the ideas for careers that use math and/or the critical skills of math that immediately come to mind are mathematician engineer statistician economist cryptographer accountant market researcher business analyst actuary and computer technician/programmer.
As you’ve probably already discovered people who are good at math have a number of very useful (and transferable) skills that can be used in a variety of careers. Some of these skills include: number-crunching problem-solving critical-thinking and observation interpreting and analyzing situations and information logical/rational thinking and organizational skills.
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Report on Mathematics in Industry found that the most important traits of nonacademic mathematicians in finding jobs are:
Take the time to research various occupations and careers that use math skills. Talk to your math professors. Go to the career center at your college and meet with a counselor. Go to the library (or online) and use resources such as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.
One final resource that I thought would be especially interesting to you is the Association for Women in Mathematics. You’ll find lots of great resources for women who are considering careers in math.
Find more career exploration resources in this section of Quintessential Careers: Career Exploration Resources.
|Q:||Blane writes: I’m in search of a profession that I can go to school for in a short period of time with the maximum benefits (within reason). Can you give me some career suggestions?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Every once in a while I get a question that makes me scratch my head and worry about the future of the U.S. workforce. When looking for careers or jobs probably the worst thing you can do is to make your sole focus how much money you’re going to make.
Don’t misunderstand me. Money is important. We put a lot of weight on our self-esteem and self-value based on our salary and income — and so does society. And of course we need an income to have all the basic necessities in life – as well as all the many other things we buy.
However as the old adage goes money does not buy happiness. There are many more important things in life and career than money. You need to find a job and career that matches your skills competencies and interests. There is no sense working in a job that makes a lot of money but that you hate — even to the point of getting physically ill (as happened to one job-seeker I know).
Of course there are some get-rich-quick schemes some of which work some of which are illegal. But these are not careers and these will not provide you with any kind of intrinsic satisfaction that we all need.
It’s a much better idea to determine the types of jobs and careers that are going to make you happy. Consider taking one of more assessments — or simply do a self-assessment — to help determine your strengths and interests. Talk to a career counselor at your high school or other adult whose opinions you value. Then you can research careers — and from that research determine the exact types and amount of education you’ll need to succeed.
|Q:||Rose writes: How can I find out what type of job I would be best suited for based on my qualifications and previous job experience? I am about to change jobs and am not quite sure what to look for.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You’ve kind of gotten the job-searching process backwards. You shouldn’t look for a new job based on your previous experience unless you are interested in simply advancing to the next level in that career path.
If you are simply looking to advance to the next level within your current career I suggest conducting a little career research and possibly conducting a few informational interviews. Talk to your current boss or someone in the human resources department to discuss career paths. But don’t limit yourself to career paths within your own company. Use the resources of the professional organization for your career. And consider conducting information interviews — not job interviews — with people who are much farther along in their careers and use the opportunity to pick their brains about the best paths for advancement in your career.
If you are looking to make a switch from your current career please remember that previous work experience doesn’t dictate or limit your job-search potential. Just about any job-seeker can identify what we call transferable skills sometimes referred to as portable skills. Transferable skills are skills you have acquired during any activity in your life — jobs classes projects parenting hobbies sports virtually anything — that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your next job. Transferable skills are usually divided into five broad categories:
Take the time to analyze and develop your transferable skills. Then determine the types of skills you most enjoy using. And then research careers that utilize those skills. And again informational interviews can help you in your research.
Learn more in the Transferable Skills<./a> section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:|| Robert writes: I haven’t worked in more than a year and I was fired from my last two jobs. I have no references.
How can I turn this mess around?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You can turn your situation around by determining and solving your problem — or problems. I would guess that journalism is not the career for you but perhaps you weren’t fired for job-related reasons.
So the first question you need to ask yourself is why were you fired from your last jobs. Be brutally honest with yourself. Is it because you do not have the skills to be a journalist or because you shirked your job responsibilities — or worse?
If you truly believe you have the skills and abilities to be a journalist then you’re going to need to go about rebuilding your career. The best method for rebuilding your journalism career is probably though freelancing or working on the staff of a small newspaper or magazine’possibly even volunteering your efforts just to get your foot back in the door.
If you’ve now come to realize that journalism is just not for you then your next step is to take a long step backwards and take a long hard look at yourself — examine your interests your abilities and your transferable skills. Research careers that better suit who you are and what you like doing. Consider volunteering or temping to get rid of the long unemployment gap.
Finally you’re going to need to work on your job-search skills. Remember that job-hunting is really a marketing function. You need to package yourself — in your cover letter resume and during the job interview – as the best candidate for the position the employer has open. Everything you say and do must express how you are better than other job candidates. You must overcome the stigma of being fired – it often shines through — and focus on the positive on the future. Be prepared to have an answer about how your last jobs ended but don’t dwell on it.
Consider reading my article Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth.
You might also consider reading this article: Ten Questions to Ask Yourself if You Still Haven’t Found a Job.