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 (08/13/04):
- Struggling with successfully closing the job interview
- Overcoming youthful criminal and credit problems
- Researching various career options for military spouse
- Preparing for career as a college professor
|Q:||Ida writes: I haven’t been having much success on interviews and I don’t know why. I seem to do well but I never hear back from the companies. And just yesterday at the end of yet another interview the interviewer actually told me not to expect to hear back because I was not interested enough in the position to ask for it. What did he mean?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The good news is that your job-hunting strategy including your resume and cover letter is in good shape. The bad news is that your interviewing style needs revamping.
To me there are four parts to a successful interview:
First research on the company and type of interview style expected. The more you can learn about the company and what to expect in the interview the better prepared you will be — which should make you appear more relaxed and confident. Don’t memorize your responses but do be prepared to showcase your accomplishments.
Second the dress and non-verbals. First impressions are critical in interviews and you must appear dressed to fit the part along with a warm smile firm handshake and good eye contact. Posture is also important as is all your body language. And remember that impressions also matter with receptionists and support staff so always be polite and appreciative of everyone you come into contact.
Third the interview itself. You must be prepared with stories (answers) for all the common interview questions — and you must have questions prepared for the interviewer. You must also ALWAYS keep in mind that a job interview is a sales call where you are doing your best to convince the employer you are the ONLY candidate for the job. It’s this area where you definitely seem to be having problems. There is a fine line at times but you must be aggressive in a job interview; being passive is often (mis)interpreted as disinterest. Always close an interview asking about next steps — and the timing of those next steps. And I recommend if the interview went extremely well to even ask for the job. Read more in this article published on Quintessential Careers: Closing the Interview.
Fourth follow-up. Your job is not done as you walk out of the interview. You still need to write a thank you note and you need to follow-up with the employer to show your continued interest in the job. Again there is a line between not calling enough and calling too often. Use your judgment. If you choose to not do these things again the employer may decide you are no longer interested in the position.
And don’t forget that we have a vast number of interviewing resources in this section of Quintessential Careers: Guide to Job Interviewing Resources
|Q:||Marcus writes: What should do if you have a high GPA some solid references from your school and previous jobs but also have a criminal record from when you where 17-24. I never went to jail but I did get a suspended sentence for some felonies and had a couple of misdemeanors during that time period as well. Since then however I have really excelled being on the dean’s list in my school and am sought after by several companies who are unaware of my criminal past or my bad credit. Any advice?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I have lots of advice for you but overall let me stress do not ever lie about your past when asked about it. Having criminal and credit issues are problems enough without compounding it with lying about it. What you want to do instead is show how you have learned from your past mistakes.
Unfortunately for you there is a growing trend among employers to do complete background checks — including criminal and credit checks.
So what can you do? First never bring these issues up in the early phases of the job hunt. Do not mention these indiscretions on your resume or cover letter. Do not offer the information in the initial interview — sell yourself first so that the employer’s view is an extremely positive one of you. As you move to a second interview and move to being one of the finalists for the position then it may be time — before the employer does the background check and discovers the information — to come clean. But remember to come clean in a way that shows the MANY lessons you have learned since those days and how you are a completely different person now.
And of course if the prospective employer has you complete an application that asks if you have a criminal record you will need to list it — and you will be forced to discuss the issue in that initial interview which will be a much tougher sell.
Remember that you will have solid credentials… a college degree earned with a high GPA work experience (including internships in your field I hope) and good references.
|Q:||Heidi writes: Hello I am a 36 year old female wanting to get a “career.” I have one semester of college under my belt as a history major and have a 3.5 GPA. I would like to go into the museum field but it is very hard to get a job in museum studies. Funding is bad and most people have at least a master’s degree. I enjoy history but I also love science and technology computers and have even thought of business. I don’t want to teach and although I love science I am bad at math! I am an army wife and am not able to just relocate to any city I wish. Any suggestions? Are there websites for finding careers based on some interest questionnaire?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Well first don’t let your age be a hindrance to any career you pursue. It is NEVER too late to change careers. And while being a military spouse will make your job search a bit more difficult it should not make it impossible.
You are on the first step of finding a career. Looking inward and evaluating your likes and dislikes and strengths and weaknesses is invaluable.
You have a couple of options for your next steps. You could go the career assessments route. There are quite a few of them — both online and in print — and your college career services office should have access to a number of them. While they are often helpful remember that they are basically going to tell you the same things you already know — you like history science and technology. The counselors there should also be able to give you some direction. To me some career options would be museum curator city/county historian historical tour guide company archivist reference librarian and computer help desk technician.
Another option is to conduct some informational interviews to explore various career options. Schedule meetings with the director of the local museum library and historical society. You might also interview some chief information officers of local companies as well as park rangers of local historical sites. Informational interviews are great ways to learn more about careers and career paths — and build your future network of contacts in your new career field.
Finally another option is to head online and conduct your career research on the Web. There are many sites with detailed information about careers’ and most professional organizations also have Websites. You could start here in the Career Exploration Resources section of Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Stephen writes: My name is Stephen and I am a college student thinking about becoming a college professor; I have a couple of questions to ask you. My first question is what is the minimum requirements for an entry level in order to become a college professor. As a follow-up I would like to know what type of college I could go to in order to become a college professor in Criminal Justice. That is what I am going to school for; I would greatly appreciate any help you could give me. My other question would be what would be a good job that I could have in order to enhance my chances of looking for a job as an associate or assistant professor in a college?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: A career as a college professor is a good choice as experts predict there is going to be a major shortage of professors as many Baby Boom (and older) professors retire over the next decade or so.
Why do you want to be a college professor? I hope you have been positively influenced by one or more of your current professors and thus you want to continue the tradition of educating future generations. My greatest satisfaction as a professor comes from seeing a student empowered by his or her new knowledge — and sometimes that happens in the classroom but sometimes it happens years later as the learning finally sinks in.
You are correct in assuming you need at least a minimum of a master’s degree to teach at the college level. You could teach at many smaller schools and community colleges with a master’s degree — and you might also be able to find part-time work at larger colleges. However the better jobs with the better colleges require a doctorate. When you earn a doctorate you also learn how to conduct research in your field and one of your obligations as a professor — besides teaching of course — is to expand the knowledge base of your field by publishing articles in academic journals.
You can best prepare for your future career by being the best student you can and by gaining teaching experience perhaps starting with tutoring and moving up from there. I would also recommend talking with some of your current professors in the criminal justice field and ask them about the best choices for gaining an advanced degree in your field.