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 (05/07/04):
- Overcoming the label of being overqualified for positions
- Starting early learning and preparing for career choices
- Handling issues of employment gaps and being fired on resume
- Giving notice and making smooth transition to new job
|Q:||Douglas writes: I don’t think I’ve seen this issue in your column before. I’ve been in the same career — banking — for about 10 years now. I am looking for a new job but find that the response I get from many of the employers is either none or that I am overqualified. I love what I do so why should I change? What should I do?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: There’s a dirty little secret in job-hunting and if you’re a job-seeker with several years of experience — or worse in middle management — you may have been exposed to it as Douglas has. What is it? It’s the label hiring managers put on mid-career job-seekers who appear to have one of three flaws: too many years of experience too much education and/or too highly paid in current or previous job. Yes it’s the label many job-seekers fear: being overqualified. Overqualified is code for will not fit the current position – and be forewarned that it is a difficult label to overcome.
What can you do to overcome this unfair label? Unlike other job-hunting problems or negatives if you feel you are going to be labeled as overqualified you must be proactive. You will probably need to develop an entirely new job-search strategy- – changing the way you write your resumes and cover letters as well as how you sell yourself in job interviews.
Here are just some of the tactics you’ll need to use in implementing this strategy:
Read more – including five more tactics you can use — in my article Fighting the Overqualified Label: 10 Tactics for a Successful Job-Search.
|Q:||Shalynn writes: I am in the eighth grade and I am wondering about college. I would like to be an engineer. I am wondering if you know the preparations and courses I should take while I am in college.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think it is fantastic that at such an early age you are thinking about your future and about possible careers. And engineering is a great field. What interests you about engineering — and how much do you know about careers in engineering?
You are in a great position to learn more about the field while building a big support base if you follow some of my advice. I assume that you must know at least one person who is an engineer. If so start there. If not then ask your parents friends and teachers if they know someone in the engineering field. Once you have identified at least one person who works as an engineer approach him/her professionally and ask for an informational interview — and perhaps a chance to also do a job shadowing. If you have great rapport with this person you could consider asking him/her for names of other people in the engineering field that might also be willing to meet with you. Before you know it you will have a wealth of information about all types of engineers (and there are aeronautical chemical civil electrical industrial mechanical nuclear petroleum as well as others) — and a great network to get advice about colleges internships and jobs.
Wait! One more thing. As I advise all my younger students do not panic if in the next four years before you even get to college if your interests change dramatically. There are so many jobs and careers out there — and there will be even more in the eight years or so before you finish college and are ready to start yours — so learn as much as you can about engineering but be prepared to be flexible and open to other options.
Check out this section of Quintessential Careers for links to job and career sites related to engineering: Jobs in Architecture Building Construction Engineering.
|Q:|| Tasha writes: I have a question. I was fired 06/03 but I don’t use my last employer on my resume so there’s a huge gap of employment and I don’t know what to put on applications for reason for leaving when really I was fired for a misunderstanding without opening a can of worms with an interviewer.
Example of gap: 11-2001 thru 12-02 is my last employment history on my resume. When I worked 12-02 thru 06-03 but I was fired and don’t use this employer on my resume.
Can you give me a suggestion — please?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Yours is an interesting situation. Before I even get to the issue of the job you were fired from let’s start with what you’ve been doing in the year since you were fired. Have you worked at all during this time? Have you volunteered your services? Have you received additional education or training? You must find something to fill this gap — other than job-hunting or sitting home feeling sorry for yourself over being fired for some sort of misunderstanding. If you have not done anything — start doing something NOW.
While a resume is a statement of facts it is also a sales document — it needs to convince the prospective employer that you are worthy of an interview. And in my opinion a short stint is much better than having a much longer gap on your resume. Regardless of the month hiring managers will see 2002 and think that you have been out of work for two years and there must be something wrong with you. It’s just too long of a gap. You could consider using a functional or hybrid resume centered around skills clusters but many employers favor the traditional chronological resume because it’s easier to find the information they need.
As for job applications simply put ‘left company’ as the reason. You certainly do not need to go into any detail on the application. Again the application is designed to weed out applicants so it too is a sales document for you. Once in the interview you may need to address the issue — so be prepared with a short statement about how you were fired over a misunderstanding being very certain to address the lesson you learned from the experience so that you show a positive attitude and growth. Do not blame your previous employer or manager; accept your responsibility in the issue but do not dwell on it.
And don’t worry too much what this past employer will say about you. The one benefit of living in such a litigious society is that most employers are very unwilling to say anything too negative about current or former employers for fear of being sued.
Finally it sounds as though you are having a hard time rebounding from being fired. If so consider getting some sort of career counseling to deal with these feelings. You might also benefit from my article Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth published on Quintessen
|Q:|| Mary Jo writes: I’ve been using your site a lot over the past few months and the resources you offer helped me tremendously.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been offered a job and accepted their offer but can’t seem to locate information about giving notice and negotiating a smooth transition with my current employer.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Kudos to you for understanding the importance of not burning any bridges as you transition from your old employer to your new one. You should always leave an employer on good terms – even if you leave hating the company job co-workers or boss(es). The world is a small place and you just never know when you will run into previous bosses and co-workers.
The key issue with resigning is to do so with class. Give the proper amount of notice which for most professional jobs is two weeks. I suggest putting your resignation in writing – just so there is a record of it. Offer to stay longer if you are integrally involved in a major project. In most cases your boss will take the news graciously but be prepared for some negative vibes. In some cases your current employer will make a counter offer to try and get you to stay – and you could consider it but we’ve found that counter offers simply just prolong your inevitable departure.
Here are some other do’s and don’ts of resigning gracefully:
Read all my do’s and don’ts of resigning — along with samples of job resignation letters and memos — in this article on Quintessential Careers: Resigning with Class: How to Diplomatically Resign From Your Job.