The Career Doctor: Career Advice for All
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 (03/11/05):
- Struggling with Quarterlife career and job issues
- Writing resume for job-seeker with extensive work history
- Addressing near-completed degree on cover letter resume
- Determining best method of emailing network contacts
|Q:||Jessie writes: I feel that I am stuck. I am 26 years old and have already had four jobs since graduating college with a degree in political science. I keep thinking that the new job is the one but it never is. I feel like I want to go back and get a master’s degree — that might help me discover what I want to do. I feel pressure from my family to act my act together but I just don’t know what to do. Can you help?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I want to prepare some of my readers for what I am about to say because even I don’t know where I totally stand on the subject but here goes’
You appear to have some of the classic symptoms of what experts are now referring to as the Quarterlife Crisis an infliction that hits folks in their twenties. The Quarterlife Crisis is marked by high anxiety about your career — and finding your ‘true’ career multiple job and/or career changes fears and self-doubt about achieving career and personal goals depression and feeling lost or adrift.
Experts say that the crisis hits folks in their twenties because after years of learning the system of how to succeed in school college grads are thrown into the world of work with no real understanding of how to succeed in it. Others blame how pop culture has portrayed work giving younger workers unrealistic expectations.
For you older readers it’s a play on the midlife crisis where people in their 50s start to question their career and life choices sometimes making radical changes.
I think there are two things you need to start doing immediately.
First stop worrying about what society and others think about who you are where you are in your career and what you should be doing. It’s your life; take control of it.
Second take a weekend or part of a vacation and spend some alone time conducting some serious self-assessment. What are your passions? What are the types of activities you love accomplishing? What do you dislike? What first inspired you about political science? Where do you want to see yourself in five years? Spending this time should allow you to begin getting clarity about your next steps in terms of career and education.
For more help and advice read my article published on Quintessential Careers: Navigating the Quarterlife Crisis to Career and Personal Success: Five Strategies for Fulfilling Your Dreams.
|Q:|| Ira writes: I have been asked to create a brief resume for a friend who has an extensive career history.
He has a professional background which is varied and I feel that ‘everything’ he has done is very relative to the situation he is applying for.
I feel the resume needs to combine both functional and chronological aspects of his career and expertise however the same problem arises — it ALL seems relevant.
How should I target/focus this resume? What could be deemed unnecessary if anything? How can I condense a 20 year work history and list of achievements into 1-2 pages?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The number one rule of resume writing is focus. You must have a focus when you write a resume. A resume is not a work summary; it is however a marketing document that clearly shows why a job-seeker is the perfect candidate for the job.
If your friend truly has a varied work experience you could categorize those experiences within the resume — but why not just do a standard chronological resume? (A side note for inexperienced job-seekers: everything goes in reverse chronological order with the most recent information first.)
Also the rule-of-thumb is that you do not want to list work experience that is more than 15 years old partly because you do not want to give away information about age and partly because technologies in most fields have changed greatly in the last 20 years.
As for page length you can certainly go to two pages for someone who has that much experience and some resume writing experts say you can make an executive resume as long as it needs to be.
As you are writing the resume remember to focus on quantifiable accomplishments.
Other key resume rules: make it perfect/avoid all errors; use traditional fonts/sizes; avoid graphics and excess colors; provide detailed contact information; do not include salary information names of supervisors or references.
One other tip for someone who has a lot of experience. If you have done a number of projects or consulting work you might consider an addendum to your resume that focuses on them specifically.
Bottomeline? This resume sounds like it may be too much for an amateur to tackle. I would probably recommend that your friend make the investment in a professional resume writer.
|Q:||Linda writes: My husband is retiring from the service. He has made his way up the ladder from an enlisted personnel to an officer. He is in the engineering field. The problem is most of the minimum requirements for positions he is applying for require a bachelor’s degree. He is approximately 20 credit hours away from this and still actively in school. What are some suggestions on verbiage for the cover letter and resume to address this?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First kudos to your husband both for the service to our country but also for working on furthering his education in preparation for work in the civilian sector.
Your husband has three things working for him right now. First many employers are actively seek transitioning military veterans because of the extensive experience and training they receive while in the service. Second engineering is an occupation back in demand. Third he is close to completing his degree.
Here’s how you address his situation on these key documents.
On the resume. The goal of a resume is to secure a job interview. I would start with a summary of qualifications section outlining his three or four key qualities that make him the perfect candidate for the job he is seeking. One of those bullets should be his college education the others should focus on his experience. Since he is actively working on his education I would list education next and when you list the degree he is receiving put the date you expect him to be done with it. Then list his experience. I would also have a section on his advancement from enlisted personnel to officer.
On the cover letter. Remember the key task of the cover letter is to sell the hiring manager just enough so that he or she will review the resume. You want to start of strongly identifying the key strengths — and ideally tie those directly to what the employer is looking for in a job candidate. In the second paragraph I would highlight some of the specific accomplishments of the work experience along with the number of years in the field. In the third paragraph I would mention the near-completed degree and the specific date when it’s expected to be completed.
Note: some employers will substitute years of experience for an incomplete education. For example college grad and five years experience or some college and eight years of experience.
|Q:|| Jackie writes: I’ve been emailing my contacts and people in my little network and I’m wondering what is best to put in the subject line. I’m just concerned that some people will just delete them right away if they don’t know who its from or if something vague appears in the subject line. Some of these people I’ve just met at various networking socials and some I’ve only met once. Do you have any suggestions?
Thanks so much for all your help!
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: First let me congratulate you on focusing on one of the most overlooked aspects of job-hunting — building and maintaining a relationship with a group of people who might help you identify job opportunities in the future — your career network.
So how do you email folks some of whom you have met only once at a networking event where you exchanged email addresses?
Well you don’t want to leave the message line blank… and you don’t want to say something that sounds like spam…
So I would go with either just your name in the subject line or your name and a qualifier…. like Stetson Marketing Grad Jackie Olson … or something along those lines.
Or… if you know of them from some specific affiliation with a professional organization you can put something like: Daytona Beach Advertising Federation — Jackie Olson….
I think as long as you have a couple of identifiers in the subject you should be fine.
And just as important: Use the first paragraph of the email to remind the person you are emailing of the connection the two of you share before you launch into the rest of your email.
Looking for more advice about the power of networking — and why you should be doing it all the time and not just when you are job-hunting? Go to this section of Quintessential Careers: The Art of Networking.