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 (01/30/04):
- Determining timing for a second follow-up to employer
- Planning a career change into event planning
- Deciding on best resume format for new job
- Getting career back after short stint in jail
|Q:|| Jeffrey writes: I had an interview on Jan. 9. Then after the interview I sent a thank-you letter on Jan. 10. The hiring manager gave me some reply as follows: “Thanks for coming and talking with us. I think the entire interviewing team was impressed with your enthusiasm and that quality will certainly play a factor in our decision’ As I mentioned to you we will likely be able to provide you more information about your status soon.’
But so far (until today) I have not received any more information from him. My question is: When can I do “second-time” follow-up? I hope that he doesn’t think I am desperate. If I should send “second-time” follow up what can I say and how to say? Please advise.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think the new mantra for job-seekers — until (or if) we see a vastly different job market — needs to be ‘patience patience patience.’ Many employers are taking their time filling job slots perhaps saving some money in the budget by not replacing someone so quickly perhaps to really take the time to find the ideal candidate for the open position. Regardless of the reasons for job-seekers it means a prolonged interview process with longer waiting periods and greater anxiety.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that so far you have done everything perfectly in seeking this job. It sounds as though you interviewed well you wrote an immediate thank-you letter and you even have gotten some feedback about how you did.
What’s your next step? Call the hiring manager — starting today. Since you were given no definite timetable as to when the employer is going to fill the position you should take the initiative and keep in contact. You will not sound desperate — you will sound interested — if you do it correctly. In your follow-up phone call do not whine about how long its taking to fill the position or that it is inconvenient to you or that you really really want the job. Instead simply restate your interest in the position talk about your fit with the position and stress how you are ready to make an immediate contribution. If you have some news such as completion of more training or career development share that as well.
Job-seekers must follow-up all job leads. Be aggressive and assertive but not rude annoying or sniveling.
Read more in my article published on Quintessential Careers Following Up All Job Leads: Don’t Wait by the Phone.
|Q:||Sarika writes: I am thinking of a career change that will let me plan events or set up for events. I have no experience in planning events; however I do have a great interest in it. How can I go about getting my foot in the door — or where can I go to get some basic experience. Obviously I’m thinking of small events at first (parties bridal showers etc.) but I’m not sure where to turn w/no experience.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Congratulations because you are already about half way to a successful career change. So many job-seekers know they want to change careers but have no idea what they want to change into – and you have already looked at your interests and determined that event planning is the new career for you.
The next step has to be for you to gather more information about the field to build your network of contacts assess your skills and accomplishments (to see how many will transfer from your current career to event-planning) consider additional training/career development and gain experience.
There are numerous print and online resources to gather information about event-planning but the best method (once you have a basic understanding of the field) is conducting informational interviews with people working in jobs you want to have. And not only will you learn vital inside information from these interviews you will also be establishing a network in your new career field.
You’ll need to read about transferable skills — those skills that are universally used — to see what skills carry over from your current career. From your informational interviews you may also discover you need additional training/professional development.
Finally you’ll need to gain experience. I suggest — if you are currently employed — volunteering with a few caterers and event planners in your area. You’ll learn the ropes while gaining valuable experience and more network contacts. You could also spread the word to your personal network of friends and family that you are now an event planner and ready to tackle any job regardless of how small.
|Q:|| Allison writes: I thought I’d take a chance and see if I could have a question answered that I didn’t find addressed on your Quintessential Careers Website. (Excellent site by the way).
I am required to turn in a resume for a school district with whom I am applying. I have been in the same type of position for 9 years doing relatively the same type of work (counseling). Since each of the jobs I have held have virtually the same description how do I address that under the work experience?
I wondered if I should do a functional resume and bullet all the skills I have acquired through the years and then just list the schools (or districts) in which I have worked under the work experience.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Kudos first for planning in advance — and for doing the research — in regards to your resume. Resumes are extremely important documents and I am always amazed at how many bad resumes I see – poor focus too wordy ugly/boring appearance with typos and misspellings. Resumes are one of the main tools with which prospective employers judge you — and help them decide whether to call you for an interview.
The key element of resumes you are missing is that a resume is not some statement of job duties or descriptions. A resume is about showing how you took a job and made it your own — and helped the employer in the process. A resume highlights your key accomplishments in every job. And even when you have held similar jobs over a long period you should still have quantifiable accomplishments in every position.
So you certainly could make a functional resume where the job-seeker chooses about three broad functional skills areas but what would you list under the functional categories? Not job duties. But I think a standard chronological resume would work fine for you as long as you take the time to sit back and examine your accomplishments in each job.
Here are some Quintessential Careers resume resources that you may find useful:
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I have been in the information technology field for the last 13 years because of some weird circumstances I was sent to jail for the past 6 months and now I’m out on parole. How do I get my career back on the right path? How do I tell potential employers about my parole but not hurt my chances of landing the job.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Probably the most important three elements to your success are realistic expectations patience and practice.
Be realistic. Unless your skills are in such high demand don’t expect employers to jump at giving you a second chance. The good news for you is that your incarceration was for such a short time that your skills and experience are current. It’s much harder for job-seekers who served much longer jail terms to regain the edge in their former careers.
Have patience. It doesn’t help that today’s job market is still so bad and that information technology job-seekers without a record are facing long job-searches. You may get lucky but be prepared. And you might take a look at smaller companies which are often more flexible than larger ones. But keep in mind that you may need to take a survival job switch careers or get additional training or certifications before you land another full-time professional job.
Practice your pitch. Remember that you never want to bring up your record but you must be prepared to explain it when it does arise. Use mock interviews to practice explaining the facts behind your situation. Be honest — with yourself and the prospective employer — and be sure to focus on what you’ve learned and why it would never happen again .
I would also recommend reconnecting with your network of contacts working with a career counselor (perhaps from your former college) and working or volunteering part-time to get new experience on your resume and dissolve that 6-month gap of prison time.