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: email@example.com. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (01/16/04):
- Following-up job leads without sounding desperate or anxious
- Choosing careers/professions based on amount of vacation time
- Obtaining information about a career as a pharmaceutical sales rep
- Deciding upon best path to take to pursue a career in finance
|Q:||Gary writes: I had two interviews with a company that I am very interested in seeking employment with. The first interview was with the hiring manager and the second was with his peers and superiors. The second interview went extremely well and the hiring manager even told me I did great! I followed-up with an e-mail two weeks after the second interview with the hiring manager and did not receive any response. I also followed-up with him via telephone and got his secretary who informed me the company was still in the process of interviewing for the position. How do I find out where I stand and how can I get to speak directly with the hiring manager without appearing to anxious/desperate. I am currently employed and actively interviewing with other companies and would like to know whether I am still being considered for the position with the company I had two interviews with already.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Kudos to you for realizing the value of following-up with prospective employers. All job-seekers please take note: your job is not done once the job interview is over; first you must send thank you notes to all the folks you interview with and second you need to follow-up with the hiring manager and continue showing your interest in the organization.
Employers have had the luxury in the last couple of years to really stretch the length of the hiring process some to many months beyond the initial interviews. I think we’ll soon be seeing a change once the employment environment improves for job-seekers. In the meantime how does a job-seeker follow-up without sounding desperate or becoming a nuisance?
If the hiring manager is avoiding your calls it could be a bad sign — but not necessarily. If you cannot reach him because his secretary is screening his calls consider calling during lunch time or after business hours — where you may be lucky enough to catch him or at least be able to leave a voicemail message. And since you have his email address send him an email follow-up.
So how do you not sound desperate? Well first don’t act like it. I actually think following-up about once a week is not unreasonable. Calling everyday is a warning sign to employers. But here’s something more important than the frequency — the content of your conversation. Whenever you do call have a topic of interest to discuss first — perhaps the employer was in the news (about a new product sales growth or something else positive) or perhaps you have news (such as completed more training or some accomplishment)’ and once you have discussed the news (and shown your continued interest in the organization) then you can casually ask about the status of the job opening. And if you do get a job offer from one of the other leads you are pursuing by all means call the hiring manager and let him know — it could backfire on you but it might also hasten the hiring process if you are the top candidate for the position.
Read more in this article published on Quintessential Careers: Job Interview Follow-Up Do’s and Don’ts.
|Q:||Josh writes: What careers offer lots of vacation time (besides educational careers)?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: There may be other professions that offer as much vacation time as those of us in education enjoy but the bigger question is why are you so focused on vacation time as a factor in choosing a career? To me that’s almost as bad as when people ask what professions pay the highest salaries? Why? You need to find a career that is going to give you personal satisfaction — that’s where you will be your happiest and most productive.
Overall the U.S. lags other Western countries in the number of vacation days offered with the average around 13 days per year. Entry-level workers often start with one or two weeks of paid vacation. Usually the longer you are employed and the higher you are within an organization the more vacation time. When I worked at People Magazine I had six weeks of vacation time (not counting paid holidays personal time and sick days). Obviously these numbers vary by employer/industry/profession.
I think the more telling statistic in this current era of overworking employees to increase productivity is that several studies have shown that the average worker is unable to use his/her allotted vacation days because of work demands. And low-wage workers who actually get vacation time often have to work other jobs during their vacations to make ends meet.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: Hello I am writing you to ask you for some expertise help on what would be the best way to go about a pharmaceutical sales rep job ….Like what should I major in? Whether to get a bachelor’s or master’s degree? Any info you could give me would be more that appreciated…. Thank you very much.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Before I totally address your questions let me first get on my soap box. Over the last couple of years the sexist job opportunity for college grads and career changers has been pharmaceutical sales representative. During that same period I think the most misunderstood job opportunity has been that of pharmaceutical sales representative. Most of the job-seekers I’ve talked with have this illusion that the job is glamorous offers autonomy and pays amazingly well. The reality is that this career requires a lot of work and determination — and if chasing doctors is your idea of glamour then so be it. High earnings potential? Yes with the right company in the right location with the right amount of persistence.
I know some former students and clients who are in pharmaceutical sales and love it — while others who thought it was their dream career have changed careers yet again. So just do your research and go into this career with a realistic view.
Requirements vary by company but the basic package you should have is a bachelor’s degree (in any field though a business field might give you an edge) and previous sales experience (through summer jobs internships etc.). An interest in science/medicine is beneficial but not necessary. Master’s degrees are generally not required — and may make it harder for you to land an entry-level position.
Because of the popularity (and demand) surrounding pharmaceutical sales there are numerous books and other sources of information about this career. Your best bet? Use your network to find a couple of people currently working as pharmaceutical sales reps and conduct informational interviews to learn more about their impressions and experiences. Informational interviews are highly focused conversations with established professionals that provide you with key information you need to launch or boost your career — and can often provide you with critical feedback about breaking into a career your credentials and more.
Learn more about informational interviews in the Informational Interviewing Tutorial published on Quintessential Careers.
Conduct research on pharmaceutical sales rep jobs by visiting this section of Quintessential Careers: Jobs in Health Care Medicine Pharmaceuticals and Social Work.
|Q:||Furqan writes: I have a bachelor’s degree in Finance. I have not yet gotten any experience. I want to further my education. I am confused about if I should pursue CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) or MBA in Finance. Which do you think would help me penetrate the job market?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I’m going to offer some advice but here’s what I suggest you do to get the best possible solution to your situation.
You need to identify the specific career path within finance that you want to pursue’ research various finance careers conduct informational interviews with finance professionals and intern/volunteer to obtain experience in finance. Also talk with your professors and career professionals about careers in finance.
Typical career paths for people with a finance degree(s) include: investment banking commercial banking corporate finance money management financial planning insurance and real estate.
According to the Association for Investment Management and Research (AIMR) the group that manages the CFA the CFA has become known as the designation of professional excellence within the global investment community. ‘Around the world employers and investors recognize the CFA designation as the definitive standard for measuring competence and integrity in the fields of portfolio management and investment analysis.’ To be eligible for the CFA however you need to have three years of acceptable professional experience working in the investment decision-making process.
By the way many of the better MBA programs also require several years of experience so your best option may be to join the workforce and get some practical finance experience under your belt before pursuing one or both of these options.
Learn more about the CFA by going to the AIMR Website.
Learn more about the types of jobs and career paths in finance by going to this section of Quintessential Careers: Jobs in Business Management Finance Accounting Marketing and Sales.