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 (05/21/04):
- Finding employment after college graduation
- Considering a career in historical preservation
- Looking for personality test to help with career change
- Using transferable skills to strengthen job-search
|Q:||Andy writes: I am an April 2004 college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. My career search is looking bleak. I can’t find work anywhere. Please help me. I also need to find a job in the area rather than relocate.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: There are too many unanswered questions here. I need to know where you are in identifying career paths. I need to know if you have any work experience any internships or residencies.
So the first thing you need to answer for yourself is what you want kind of work you want to do now — and in the next few years. Are you interested in some sort of counseling position that utilizes your education or are you looking into other possible career paths? My best advice for you is to talk with various people to formulate some ideas on possible careers. Talk with the career services office at your alma mater with one or more of your former professors with your family and with other trusted members of your network. If you did not want to go into counseling your other career choices are really unlimited.
Next take stock in identifying your accomplishments — in the classroom and from any kind of experiential activities (such as projects volunteering and work experiences). Whenever possible quantify those accomplishments. For example if you were a resident adviser in college in your accomplishments section mention how many residents you were responsible for how many programs you developed etc. I tell my clients this activity is where you describe how you made each job your own. As you conclude this exercise I want you to then see if you can find the two or three accomplishments that make you unique — your unique selling proposition (USP).
The third step is writing or revising your resume to match the career field you want to enter — clearly identifying your accomplishments and your USP. You’ll also want to review all your job-hunting techniques – cover letters interviewing skills etc.
The final step is using your existing network of contacts while also building it with more local contacts since you plan on staying in the area. Networking is the key to getting your foot in the door to start your career. Your network of contacts – people who know you (or know people who know you) — is a key resource of information about potential job leads. You might also consider conducting a few informational interviews to learn more about possible career paths — and to build your network.
Tools from Quintessential Careers to help you in this process:
|Q:||Anthony writes: My girlfriend is a grad student in architecture but she is finding she doesn’t like it. She is battling herself everyday about what she wants to be. She is looking into historical preservation. Any advice you might have would be appreciated thank you.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I’m sorry your girlfriend is having problems. Unfortunately especially given the job market the last couple of years some students graduate college and go immediately to grad school — to avoid the job market and avoid having to make a decision about what they want to do in their careers. As with your girlfriend’s situation this path can often lead to multiple problems.
Historical preservation is a growing career field — and involves many disciplines including architecture but also history urban planning environmental design and geography.
According to the National Trust for Historic Preservation ‘Positions exist at all levels of government in nonprofit organizations and with private firms. In the public sector the National Park Service state historic preservation offices and local government preservation divisions all work to preserve America’s heritage. Examples of nonprofits include the National Trust statewide preservation organizations and hundreds of local groups. Private firms that provide preservation expertise include architects planners archaeologists and historical research firms.’
Besides national organizations there are also state and local organizations. If this career truly interests her I suggest she immediately talk with her professors and people from several of these preservation organizations to determine if continuing her current path is the right choice for what she wants to do.
And if she decides to stick with architecture check out this section of Quintessential Careers for links to job and career sites related to architecture: Jobs in Architecture Building Construction Engineering.
|Q:||Tanya writes: I am looking to change industries. I have been in insurance for 10 years and I have experience in several areas but I am bored and not very excited about my job. I am thinking of taking a personality test to match me in a job that will hopefully be more fitting. Can you tell me where to start and what services would be best? I really want it to be available online.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Career change is a big step and while I believe personality tests have a place in the process I believe you first need to spend some reflective time with yourself examining your likes and dislikes. You also need to decide if you are simply bored with your job – or bored with your current career path. Literally sit down with a pen and a piece of paper and make two columns — likes and dislikes — and start putting activities into each column. Don’t just use work activities — include everything from hobbies to volunteering. The key to this activity is to rediscover who you are and what you really like — to find what energizes you.
Once you have a better feel for yourself then consider taking one or more assessment tests. Each one is different; some of these tests will give you results that give insight to your work or management style others will show careers for people of similar types and others will simply give you insight into who you are. For established job-seekers my current favorite is CareerMaze (which you can find at CareerMaze.com). The results from this assessment include both a specific career-relevant discussion of your workplace personality and a list of job types compatible with your personality. For high school or college students I recommend the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey (JVIS). The JVIS accurately measures your interests showing how they relate to the worlds of study and work and mapping out your route to an interesting career (and you can find it at JVIS.com).
If you do decide to make a career change then your next steps are identifying your transferable skills and accomplishments. Transferable skills are skills you have acquired during any activity in your life — jobs classes projects parenting hobbies sports virtually anything — that are transferable and applicable to what you want to do in your next job. General categories of transferable skills include: communications; research and planning; human relations; organization management and leadership; and work survival. (See the next answer for more details.)
And while I know my advice is beginning to sound repetitive once you decide on a new career path you MUST immediately begin building network contacts in your new field.
Finally consider reviewing all the career change resources available at Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Stephanie writes: I am a career counselor for an IT training school. I am looking to find some information on assessment tests for locating transferable skills. Our students have already chosen a particular career path therefore I don’t need a "self directed search" type of assessment. I am looking for something more a long the lines of identifying their T-skills from past work experience. Any information will be helpful.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I don’t know of any assessment tests for locating transferable skills but I can give you an outline that I give my students for identifying their transferable skills. I think it’s fantastic that you are attempting to help your students be better prepared for the job market. And once your students have identified their transferable skills these skills become a key factor in their resume cover letter and interview strategies.
And since you know the career field you can also develop specific skill sets for that particular industry which might include skill categories such as technical adaptability multi-tasking etc. Have your students conduct research of job postings for their career paths; it’s from these postings that your students should develop their skills categories. My advice is to keep the number of broad skills categories to three or four and then to have detailed examples of the experiences with those skills within each category.
If you are advising your students to stick to chronological resumes they can still use this skills information to rewrite how they describe their work experiences’ emphasizing these skills with keywords throughout their resumes. They could also consider developing separate pages to enhance their resumes — a document for transferable skills and for completed projects.
Learn much more including specific examples of job-seeker transferable skills in this section of Quintessential Careers: Transferable Job Skills.