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 (10/24/03):
- Abusing network of contacts is a job-seeking no-no
- Overcoming introvert traits to succeed in job interviews
- Removing old information on resume key to success
- Identifying Ph.D. work in progress on curriculum vitae
|Q:|| Anonymous writes: Network. Network. Network.
I followed all the networking and other advice you and every other career guru offers. I’ve been out of work for over 2 years now. Nobody in my network will return my phone calls or emails anymore because of course they all have jobs so they can’t understand why I don’t. They’re tired of hearing about me not having a job. They’ve asked me not to give their names as references anymore because they’re tired of all the phone calls from people who end up not hiring me anyway. Without references I don’t have a chance of finding work.
I have no job and I’m so demoralized that I don’t even have it in me anymore to bother to look for one. I have no friends left. I spend every moment of every day by myself. I have nobody to talk to. And oh yeah I have a truckload of skills training and experience going to waste.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me state how sorry I am that you are in your current situation. I think desperation and poor job-search techniques have had a hand in your stretch of unemployment.
There is a fine line between using your network and abusing your network. People in your network aren’t the ones who are going to hire you; networking is based on the premise that we live in a small world and our network serves as our ears for the potential job openings. I’m not hiring but I just heard that Company X is in need of someone with your qualifications so I give you a call and let you know about the opening. Networking is and probably always will be the most powerful tool of job-hunting — when used correctly.
There is no question you are desperate — and I feel for you. But you have to understand that hiring managers do not hire people who are desperate for a job — any job — hiring managers want job-seekers who are a good fit and have an interest in the job and the company.
And I think you are still traumatized — on some level — by getting downsized. Just about everyone gets fired or downsized at some point in their careers and you need to find a way to put that behind you and move forward. There is no stigma — unless you put one on yourself.
At one point you WERE getting interviews but I am guessing your desperation or trauma over being fired was telegraphed to the interviewer — and that’s why you never received a call back or a job offer.
My best advice? You need counseling. Call your alma mater and speak with a career professional. If you don’t want to do that see if there is a one-stop career center in your area. These publicly-funded career centers can help you regain the confidence you need and rebuild your skills so that you can get a new job and begin rebuilding your life.
Use this URL to find a local government-sponsored career center: Career One-Stop Center Service Locator.
For more advice on networking go to this section of Quintessential Careers: The Art of Networking.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I am bashful but present a calm exterior to the world that is frequently misinterpreted as arrogance. I swear if someone asks me one more time why I’m so quiet I will hurt somebody. Anyway because I tend toward reticence and am not “perky” (but by no means rude or unfriendly) I am consistently turned down for jobs. I cannot become a perky outgoing person over night nor am I an actress but I certainly need to eat. What can I do to increase the likelihood of getting a job?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Job-hunting is always harder for introverts — from networking to interviewing so much of job-hunting is focused on how well you can interact with people and make good impressions — skills much better suited for extroverts.
And you’re right shy people can be easily seen as arrogant. In fact when I first met my wife I was sure I would never have anything to do with her socially because she appeared to me as someone who was arrogant and superior. Later of course I discovered that she was simply a shy person around people she didn’t know.
The best advice I have for you is to find a way to channel some degree of extrovertism when you really need it such as in networking and interviewing situations. So much of job-hunting deals with first impressions and while you can overcome negative first impressions with a lot of effort it makes more sense to try and manage that first impression. You don’t need to be “Ms. Perky” but you do need to appear friendly and approachable.
You might consider working with a career coach or other professional who can work with you in developing some simple exercises and running through some mock interviews so that you become comfortable in these situations.
Finally I think you need to overcome this issue about being an actress. The best job-hunters — the most successful job-hunters — know how to act in interviews. Acting is not lying; acting is adjusting your job-hunting to fit the current situation.
If you decide to consider a career coach use the Quintessential Careers Directory of Life and Career Coaches.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: Five years ago I went back to work (permanent part-time) after sporadic work as an advertising media buyer while raising young children. That job lasted five years — great hours and great pay but the bad economy forced me out. Now I’m finding that trying to find another job like it is very difficult. I’m wondering if it may be because my resume dates back 23 years and some people that I am applying to were barely in grade school then. I think that they may not want to have someone my age work for them. How can I impress them with my experience but not intimidate them with my age? I really am not looking for advancement I just want to do a good job and go back to my life. Is this a deficit?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Without even seeing a copy of your resume I can tell you with much confidence that your problems most likely fall into two areas: your resume and your attitude.
Let’s deal with your resume first. Older job-seekers need to take a refresher course on resume-writing because I see this problem all too often. First you need to remove all job experience from 15 years ago. No one cares what you were doing 15 (or 20) years ago and even if it is relevant experience the job itself has probably changed dramatically since that time. Next you need to remove dates on your education. Remember that a resume is a sales document designed to get you to the next step — the job interview; thus you want your resume to have all the ingredients (and none of the hindrances) that will get you that interview.
Moving to your attitude. I have found that seasoned workers often have a certain air of superiority when interviewing especially when the interviewer is much younger. You don’t want to necessarily impress the prospective employers with your YEARS of experience — that’s not important — you want to impress them with how your unique combination of skills education and experience (accomplishments) makes you the ideal person for the position.
Job-hunting is about impression management. Fix your resume and then adjust your interviewing techniques and you should be on your way to getting some job offers.
For more advice see this section of Quintessential Careers: Job and Career Resources for Mature and Older Job-Seekers — Including the Baby Boomers.
|Q:||Don writes: I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. and was wondering how I would identify that on my vita under education. I will not finish my course work until March 2004 and will have my comprehensive exams completed in the Fall of 2004 followed by the dissertation. Could you offer any advice on the format?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: In the educational section of your CV you simply put the dates when you expect to complete various aspects — the two most important of course are ABD and Ph.D.
Be careful about these dates because with my experience with Ph.D. programs dates can easily change due to workload political winds etc. But it’s good that you are thinking ahead and working on your vita.
Ph.D. – Expected completion 2005
Let me conclude with some other general tips for writing resumes and vitas:
You can find key resume and vita advice tools and samples in this section of Quintessential Careers: Resume and CV Resources.