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.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (04/23/04):
- Researching salaries to obtain best job offer
- Asking questions at the job interview
- Breaking into the field of event planning
- Handling “stay-at-home-mom” gaps on resume
|Q:||Olga writes: How much money do I ask for my first job? I am applying for a job in the printing business in computer graphics or desktop publishing. I have a professional certificate education.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You ask a great question and it’s one where many job-seekers fall short. Before applying for any job — and most certainly before any job interview for the position — job-seekers must conduct a little research in salary and other benefits and compensation.
And there is no reason not to do conduct research — because there is so much information available.
For general salary information often times the best source is one of your industry’s professional organizations — because many of these groups conduct salary surveys on a regular basis. Another source is your network within the industry; conduct your own informal survey of professionals you know to gain knowledge about salaries job titles career tracks etc. Your school’s placement office (and teachers/professors) should also have some basic salary information. And of course there are multiple sources online (such as salary.com) that provide salary information by job title AND location (factoring in cost-of-living).
For company-specific information you may need to do a little more digging and use a bit more finesse. Interestingly some companies are putting salary information on their corporate career centers. For other companies you may need to have an inside contact to get you the information.
Please remember two things though. First even though you are armed with all this great salary information you always want to push salary discussions to later job interviews — and certainly not on your first interview. You will lose negotiating power if you disclose your requirements too soon. Second always look beyond salary to some of the other benefits (“perks”) that the company offers including things such as vacation days personal days health insurance life insurance education reimbursement profit-sharing retirement savings etc.
One final piece of advice — especially for first-time job-seekers — never sound too desperate and never accept just any job offer.
Take a spin on the Salary Negotiation Tutorial found on Quintessential Careers — as well as all the other Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools and Resources.
|Q:||Mary writes: When going on a job interview the interviewer asks the specific questions that you are to answer and after answering all these questions the interviewer may ask if I have any questions? What should be the questions that I ask so that I know if this is the job for me especially if I am changing jobs?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You raise a great question here. While career experts often spend a lot of time teaching job-seekers the art of selling themselves in a job interview it is often unsaid how important it is for the employer to also sell you on the opportunity’ and the importance of job-seekers to find an employer and a job that fits them well.
So while it is always important for job-seekers to ask questions at a job interview — because it shows the employer you are interested — you should also have a plan for asking the types of questions you need answered to provide you with enough information to make such an important decision if a job offer should come your way.
With larger companies more and more of this information is being placed on the pages of their online career center so be careful not to ask something that can easily be found.
Some types of questions you could ask to learn more about the company and the opportunity:
Learn more about corporate culture by reading this article published on Quintessential Careers: Uncovering a Company’s Corporate Culture is a Critical Task for Job-Seekers.
|Q:||Annabel writes: Hello. My name is Annabel and I’m interested in a career in event planning. However I’m not totally sure what it’s about – besides planning meetings and such — and what to study in college and how to break into the field. Can you help me with this? Thank you.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Based on the number of questions I get about event planning this field must be one of the hot and trendy career paths for young adults. From what I understand more than $75 billion is spent annually on conducting meetings conferences and special events. Planning a meeting conference or event for an organization or business whether for profit or not is a complex process that involves much more than facility selection menu choices and budgeting.
As an event planner you may be in charge of organizing events that range from small gatherings to large banquets. Event planners need strong organizational and inter-personal skills. Just about all types of companies and organizations sponsor some types of special events – from trade shows and sales conferences to fund-raising events. Event planning careers provide opportunities to be employed by corporations non-profits clubs hotels cruise lines convention centers – or even running your own event planning business.
While there are some certificate programs available for event planners I would recommend a four-year business degree with an emphasis on marketing and hospitality management.
You can gain experience by working part-time interning or volunteering with organizations that do special events. Consider starting with a local catering company or perhaps a local non-profit that is gearing up for its annual fundraiser. Condcut informational interviews with folks in all areas of the industry.
Seasoned verterans of event planning can also gain the designation of Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) from the Convention Industry Council.
Two industry magazines that you might want to review include Special Events Magazine and Event Solutions Magazine.
Finally here are a few event planning professional organizations:
|Q:||Nancy writes: Do you have any suggestions on how to explain/validate long periods of professional work gaps in a resume? I am a “Stay at Home Mother” and need some convincing and creative ways to describe this recent position on my resume. I would appreciate any input.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I know I risk the wrath of some of the women reading this column but I don’t really like to see resumes that under experience list something cute such as “Household Manager” or “Domestic Coordination Specialist” as job title for women who stay at home to manage their households and parent their children. Of course with a traditional chronological resume if you don’t list something for when you stayed at home you will have huge gaps between jobs.
So you really have three options. First you can take the approach listed above and make your time at home a category under experience. And while I realize there are many responsibilities involved — I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home dad for a few months a long long time ago – I still don’t think from an employer’s prospective that it qualifies to go in this section.
Second you can reorganize your resume into a functional or hybrid resume that is organized around skills clusters (such as communications leadership organizational etc.) rather than specific jobs and experience. Unfortunately this style of resume is a bit on the outs right now because employers fear you are hiding something by taking this approach.
Third you can look beyond your household and compile all the volunteering freelancing or other part-time or educational experiences you may have had and use those to show that you were still using and perfecting your skills.
Remember that the goal of your resume is to get your foot in the door — to get you that job interview — and once in the interview you can decide how to position yourself – your experiences skills and accomplishments — in order to sell the employer on your candidacy.
Learn more about mastering resumes by using one of more of the excellent resources found in the Resume and CV Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
Stay up to date with the latest salary information form LiveCareer’s Salary Calculator!