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 (12/17/04):
- Getting the most out of informational interviews
- Returning to the job market after 2-year layoff
- Writing resignation letter for short job stint
- Starting over after multiple firings
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I am currently trying to follow the advice of career planning and job hunting books regarding how to find a job — by networking conducting informational interviews and sending the word out to as many people as possible that I am looking for a job or that I would like to ask them questions about their career fields. While I have had some success in getting interviews and getting some information the sad fact that the books never prepared me for is dealing with REJECTION. Not rejection by prospective employers since I haven’t started applying yet but rejection from people I ask for information and who tell me that I need to know what I want. Or the feeling that I just made a bad impression by the act of asking questions and showing my ignorance — yet isn’t that why I am asking questions because I am ignorant and I am seeking information? What should I be doing?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Let me first begin by saying rejection is part of all aspects of job-hunting. Job-seekers need to develop a bit of a thick skin to deal with it. That said rejection should really not be a big part of the informational interview process. Most people like to share their knowledge and expertise with others.
Informational interviews are about spending time with someone in higher up in your career field (or potential career field) in a highly focused conversation that provides you with key information you need to launch or boost your career.
I think your problem is you are going about the informational interviewing process all wrong. You shouldn’t just randomly ask people for an interview. Nor should you ask really obvious questions in the interview.
It’s the job-seeker’s obligation to be prepared — to conduct research and have a working knowledge of the career field and about the person you are interviewing.
Remember that your goal in an informational interview is to glean advanced knowledge from the person you are interviewing to build rapport and a relationship — and ideally add that person to your network of contacts.
Learn more in the Informational Interviewing Tutorial found on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Marjorie writes: We relocated 2 years ago with the plan that I would not work. Now 2 years have gone by and I want to go back to work. How do I explain the gap of time on my resume or cover letter? I am 56 years old dealing with age discrimination in this town as well. I have a double whammy trying to get employment. Help!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me stress that you do NOT need to address the issue in your cover letter. You don’t ever want to point out a flaw or comment on something negative. A cover letter is a sales document designed to raise enough interest for the prospective employer to glance at your resume. Starting your letter with something like ‘even though I haven’t been employed for two years’ is bound to end any chance you had.
You can deal with the gap in a couple of different ways on your resume — and you SHOULD be prepared to discuss it at the interview.
Have you literally been doing nothing the past two years? No part-time work? No temping? No volunteering? No freelancing? What about continuing education? Any of these things could easily mask the gap. And if you haven’t been doing any of these things now might be the time to start!
You could also consider using a functional style resume where your resume is organized around skills clusters rather than a chronological order of work experience. But beware because this style of resume has lost some favor over the last few years.
As for your age issue remember to remove all older jobs (more than 15 years) and take dates of all your degrees/educational experiences.
Finally consider adding a qualifications summary at the top of your resume — the two to four things that make you the ideal job candidate. It is not only a trendy item that employers like but it helps give your resume focus.
Find more advice and resources for older job-seekers in this section of Quintessential Careers: Job and Career Resources for Mature and Older Job-Seekers — Including the Baby Boomers.
|Q:|| Anonymous writes: After checking out your website I didn’t find a sample resignation letter that I can use as a reference. I was wondering if you can help me. I just started a job last Monday and now I need to quit since I found a job that would pay way more than I’m getting now. I took the job since I needed one badly and I just moved to the area. After saying that I am dependable reliable… (per my references which are all true) now I am quitting. I feel bad and nervous when I hand them the letter.
I will start my new job on next week so I don’t have two weeks notice to give them. Can you help me write a good resignation letter?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Okay. I’m sorry (well’ not really) but I need to start my response with a lecture. Do you understand how unfair it is — on so many levels — to go through the hiring process accept a job work there for a week and then quit? It’s unfair to the employer for the time and costs incurred and unfair to the other job-seekers who did not get the job offer because you did.
And I hate to say it but you should feel nervous! I usually talk about the value of a positive resignation letter — you never want to burn your bridges by leaving on bad terms — but in this case I cannot imagine what you could say that placate your employer.
But whatever you do don’t start of the letter saying you are leaving because you kept interviewing once you had this job and now you are leaving because you received an offer for a much more high-paying job. Wow. Salt in the wound.
Simply write a very short and sweet letter thanking them for the opportunity and apologizing for leaving so quickly and suddenly. Volunteer to help in any way you can and state your last day of employment.
Finally please remember that money is not everything. Money will not bring you happiness if you are not in a career/occupation that you are passionate about. If you are generally unhappy find the time to conduct some career assessments.
Read this article published on Quintessential Careers: Resigning with Class: How to Diplomatically Resign From Your Job.
|Q:||Bob writes: Just read your advice on getting fired. My situation is extreme. I’ve been fired more than six times and have not held a job for more than six months. I haven’t held a job in my career field since October of 2002. I have no good references and only a bad employment record. What’s my first step in starting over?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I think your first step should be to decide if you are in the right career field. Fired six times? Either you are in the wrong career or you have an extreme case of bad luck. And remember you could love a certain career but if you do not have the basic competencies it should not be the career path you follow.
Your key task to rebuilding. If you decide to stay in the same career field you should focus on building up your confidence skills and references. Consider temping or freelancing. Since it’s been a couple of year you may need to brush up on your skills by getting more education.
If you decide it’s time to make a drastic change I think your best course is to spend the time and energy conducting a detailed self-assessment of yourself. Examine your likes and dislikes what you enjoy doing and what you hate doing what excites you and what turns you off. Examine your strengths and weaknesses. Take some online career assessment tests. Research careers. Consider working with a career professional to map out some possible new careers.
Finally no matter what you do make sure you really examine why you have gotten fired six times. If you are unsure consider asking one or more of your former bosses to give you the straight information about why you were let go.
Use some of the many resources found in the Career Resources Toolkit found on Quintessential Careers.