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 (11/07/03):
- Handling multiple job interviews while starting a new job
- Researching careers paths related to chemistry
- Advocating the use of career portfolios in job-hunting
- Assessing employer personality/skills tests and assessments
|Q:|| Irene writes: I’ve been unemployed for a month and just accepted a “temp to perm” position this past Friday.
Here’s the catch: Friday afternoon I’ve already received two more calls for much better positions (after accepting the temp job). One is through a family member and I am sure to get that position. The other is also a good possibility. With a potential few interviews during my first week of the “temp to perm” job…how do I pull all of this off? The temp position is 99% to go perm with good attendance etc etc…and it’s an 8 – 4:30 position. Is there a way to schedule interviews around this? (especially when I have to dress up?)
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I have always advised my clients that job-hunting is often very streaky ‘ one often goes long periods of nothing happening — and then it all seems to happen at once. And now you are faced with a number of decisions.
First what is the ethical thing to do? Since you have accepted this new position and have already started working there do you abandon it so quickly because other opportunities have arisen? My opinion is that there is certainly no harm in interviewing but if you get offers from both new opportunities that’s a different decision.
Second what’s the best career opportunity for you? My advice is always to follow the opportunity that is going to give you the greatest satisfaction or do the greatest good for your career – in the long-term. Which of the three jobs is best for you?
Third how can you go on job interviews when you are working all day? You have a couple of options. You can ask for earlier — or later — than normal interview times (such as 7:30 or 5:30). Or you can try and interview over your lunch break. Or if those options fail you can show up late or leave early (and change to interviewing clothes away from your current job).
And finally if you do interview and get a job offer from one or both places and you decide to take one of them you would certainly not put the current job on your resume; it would just disappear as though it never existed (as you would do with any short-term stint).
|Q:||Mark writes: What qualifications do I need to become a chemist? Is it financial viable? Pro’s and con’s of this career? Where in the world can I follow my career?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First and foremost as with ANY career decision what you need to decide above all else is whether you have the interest and skills and abilities to be a chemist. Do you enjoy the analytical and laboratory aspects of chemistry? Would you want to work in industry government or education? How many chemistry courses have you taken? Have you talked with any chemists about career paths?
According to the American Chemical Society (ACS) most chemists are employed in one of four areas: industry (60%) academia (24%) government (9%) or non-traditional (7%).
While a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in some area of chemistry (organic polymer macromolecular medicinal etc.) is required for the most basic lab jobs many of the better career tracks require an advanced degree including a doctoral degree in chemistry. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics projects most of the growth in this field to come from pharmaceutical companies and in research and testing firms.
Is the career financially viable? Even though I cringe at that question the ACS reports that in 2000 the median annual salary of its members with a bachelor’s degree was $55000; with a master’s degree it was $65000 and with a Ph.D. it was $82200. Median salaries were highest for those chemists working in private industry; those in academia earned the least. Recent college grads with just a bachelor’s degree earned a median starting salary of $33500 in 2000.
|Q:|| Anonymous writes: I believe the career portfolio is an important job search tool; however many of my co-workers are not convinced. I want to know some statistics that will reveal that many employers are actually interested in interview candidates who come to the interview with a career portfolio. I am a business technology teacher at the secondary level and I teach my students job readiness skills. We will be creating career portfolios in all of the classes I teach this fall. I would like the other teachers to do this as well. I am the business department chair and I want to provide some information that explains how powerful a tool the career portfolio really is.
I have visited lots of sites but I do not see info that tells me which businesses in particular are using or want their applicants to come with a career portfolio. Can you help me help my students and other educators at the secondary level?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Unfortunately I cannot give you the statistics on the number of employers who require or are interested in career portfolios. I can however state that I am a big proponent of career portfolios because they are just another selling tool in the job-seeker’s career toolbox. A resume states what someone has accomplished but a portfolio can actually show it! There is nothing more powerful in my mind than pulling out a hefty portfolio of your work and placing it on the interviewer’s desk with a resounding ‘thump.’
And while career portfolios have traditionally been used by job-seekers in the arts more and more job-seekers across all disciplines are using them as a way to develop a career focus document experiences and accomplishments and as an aid for prepping for job interviews.
In fact one of my colleagues actually supports the development of two portfolios an external portfolio used for job-hunting purposes and an internal one used for career development.
All businesses ideally want job-seekers with experience and a portfolio is the tool to document that experience. Things that can be included in a career portfolio include:
Just one final note: Do not send portfolios to employers unsolicited; job-seekers should bring portfolios with you to the interview.
Read more about career and job-search portfolios in this article published on Quintessential Careers: Your Job Skills Portfolio: Giving You an Edge in the Marketplace.
|Q:|| Chris writes: I just finished reading an article you wrote regarding interview preparation. You briefly mentioned potential employers using assessments testing for personality and skills to help in their hiring decisions.
I am curious to hear your honest opinion on the subject of assessments which attempt to measure potential — assessments that are supposed to be able to predict a candidate’s job performance and potential for growth and advancement.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Let me first state that I am a strong believe in using career assessment tests as a personal tool for career development and career direction.
And I think there is some value to assessments that employers use to measure skills vital to a job — typing tests for secretarial positions — but I am really against tests that demean job-seekers especially low-wage job-seekers.
I am on the fence about personality tests. I remember this one discussion with an employer that used personality tests almost exclusively to decide whether prospective job-seekers would ‘fit’ the organization. The top management was convinced that only a certain personality type would succeed in their company and they only hired people who matched that profile.
In an era of diversity — however we define diversity — I think having employees of all personality types could only add to the creativity and decision-making of organizations.
As for tests that supposedly measure things like honesty and morality or future job performance I say get rid of them. They are a liability to using people skills to evaluate prospective employees and I do not support their use at all.