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 (09/24/04):
- Understanding value of using a career portfolio
- Deciding about listing short-term job on resume
- Developing a winning strategy for job fair
- Helping an English college grad find a career
|Q:||Betty writes: I’ve heard and read some things about developing career portfolios but why should a job-seeker do it? And do you have examples of portfolios as well? I have found your site very informative!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think all job-seekers should take the time to develop career portfolios for a variety of reasons but before I get to those reasons let me give a quick overview of what career portfolios are all about.
A career portfolio (sometimes referred to as a job skills portfolio) is a tool that a job-seeker develops to give prospective employers a complete picture of who you are including samples of your work — your experience your education your accomplishments your skill sets — and what you have the potential to become — much more than just a cover letter and resume can provide.
A career portfolio has these benefits to job-seekers:
First by compiling a portfolio a job-seeker is forced to conduct a comprehensive audit of work experience and accomplishments education and training skill sets and honors and achievements. By conducting this audit I have found that many job-seekers discover things they have done that they had overlooked in the past.
Second developing a portfolio forces the job-seeker to become organized. Once the portfolio is complete the job-seeker will know how to quickly find all vital job-search materials and work samples.
Third a well-organized and detailed portfolio makes a strong statement about who you are as a prospective employee and shows exactly the type of work you have accomplished in past jobs. Employers are always impressed by quality portfolios.
Read more in my article Your Job Skills Portfolio: Giving You an Edge in the Marketplace published on Quintessential Careers.
Also you can see an example of an online portfolio by viewing my portfolio: Dr. Randall Hansen’s Career Portfolio.
|Q:|| Kevin writes: In your article about getting fired you advise to not include a job that resulted in a firing if it did not last more than three months. I recently got fired from a job after only two months of employment appealed the decision and then lost the appeal. This was my first “real” full-time position after college and I have decided not to include it on my resume.
As I search for a new job can employers somehow do research and discover that I omitted this job? Also how did you arrive at the three month figure?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Job-hunting — for job-seekers — is about showcasing all the positives about what you can offer prospective employers. Even if you have had some bumps in the road — and who has not — your goal as a job-seeker is to downplay them as much as possible so that the employer sees you as the ideal candidate to fill a position.
Please let me emphasize that I say downplay and not lie or hide the truth. I never support any efforts by job-seekers to lie on resumes cover letters or job applications.
First let me ease your mind a bit. Many many college grads have bad first-job-after-college experiences so please do not be too hard on yourself. Only a small handful are lucky enough to find a job in their ideal career with their perfect employer.
Can a prospective employer find out about your short first job? If you are looking for a job in the same industry or same small geographic area it is slightly more likely that at some point — not necessarily as you are searching for a job — that it could be found out. And again as long as you never lied about it — such as on a job application where some ask if you have ever been fired from a job — you have nothing to worry about. And many employers don’t give out negative information about former employees for fear of legal action.
Why the three-month number? Because a three-month (or less) gap in employment history is not going to raise too many eyebrows especially in the current job market. A longer gap however begs the question of what you have been doing all that time. You again have an advantage over other job-seekers because many college grads take a few months after college to catch their breath and recharge their batteries before heading to work.
Here’s the article Kevin is talking about: Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth.
|Q:|| Colby writes: I was invited to a Job Fair at the end of the week and am extremely excited but nervous as well. I have never been to a Job Fair so I am unsure what to expect. The fair is for entry-level ticket sales positions within the 12 “Major League Soccer” teams around the country.
The biggest problem I want to address is how to distinguish myself from others in such a short more informal than a 1 on 1 interview setting in such a short time. I am interested in all 12 teams in various locations so I am extremely open to any suggestions.
Thank you very much for your time.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Job fairs are great tools for job-seekers to make contacts — and possibly make good enough first impressions to be called in for an onsite interview with one or more prospective employers.
And you are absolutely correct ‘ you need a strategy for success.
The first thing you need to do is know everything possible about the requirements and expectations of ticket sales employees. What are the key skills these folks need?
Second you need is information on each of the teams. You need to have information on each one partly to decide if you really would work for any of them and partly to showcase your knowledge.
Third you need to do is choose your top teams and plan your job fair strategy.
Fourth you need to do is plan your sales pitch. Some experts refer to such a pitch as your elevator speech — the same amount of time you have to sell yourself to someone you meet on an elevator. While the basic pitch may be the same you will want to tweak it some based on your research of the teams. Your elevator pitch tells the recruiter exactly why you are better than all the rest of the folks at the job fair.
You also need to make strong eye contact smile and have a firm handshake. You should try and establish rapport — even if just for that short time.
Finally be sure and get each recruiter’s business card (contact information) — and then write a strong follow-up thank you note to each one of them.
Read more about job fair strategies in my article The Ten Keys to Success at Job and Career Fairs.
|Q:|| Joyce writes: My daughter has just graduated from an excellent university with a BA in English and she has no direction to pursue a career. She was told that she would need either a teaching certificate or grad work to find a job. She has no interest in teaching but she is really good at writing and editing.
What kind of careers are open to her and where can we look for information? I have suggested she go back to the college career center and tap in to the alumni association. in order for her to write some letters for networking purposes.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The good news for you and other grads and parents is that the situation your daughter faces is not that uncommon. I’ve found that many liberal arts majors get caught up in the learning — which is wonderful — but at the expense of career planning. And going to grad school with no clear direction would be a waste of time and money.
The bad news is that there is very little mercy in today’s job market. Employers expect even entry-level job-seekers to have work experience.
English is a wonderful major because communications is vital to all organizations. Employers are always talking about the need for good communicators.
What your daughter needs to do is find a career focus. I would suggest she start by examining her likes and dislikes. What have been the activities she has enjoyed the most over the last few years. Next she should meet with a career professional from her alma mater and do some serious brainstorming. And yes sure she could use the alums for informational interviews and networking.
She might also try volunteering or temping while she is developing her career focus — because the more careers she tries out the more she’ll know what she does and does not want to do.
Finally she should remember that finding a career is often a lifelong process.
Read more in my article published on Quintessential Careers: Developing a Strategic Vision for Your Career Plan.