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.
This issue marks the sixth anniversary of Dr. Hansen writing this CareerDoctor column… including the last three years in print in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
In This Issue (04/22/05):
- Valuing MBA degree with current employer
- Dealing with a potentially sabotaging boss
- Changing careers to follow passion for journalism
- Answering questions about one-year gap in employment
|Q:||Brandon writes: I am preparing to graduate in May from a top 20 MBA university. My current employer has supported me and paid $50000 of the total tuition for this program. After I graduate I feel these new credentials will make me worth more and I would like to ask them for a raise. Is it likely they will give me a raise even though they covered my tuition expenses or not? If yes are there any negotiation tactics that will help receive the raise I feel I deserve.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I don’t want to sound too harsh here but your employer paid a chunk of your tuition for your MBA thus you’ve basically gotten this amazing benefit already’ sort of like a very large bonus. But I also understand your feelings because obtaining an MBA gives you the credentials to earn a much higher salary and I am sure as you watch some of the job offers your classmates’ get you are envious of them.
Just about all employers who cover tuition will also recognize the degree with some sort of raise but in most of the situations I have seen that pay increase is much smaller than the jump you would get if you switched employers — partly because these employers feel like they have already given you such a great benefit and partly because you’re still the same employee (now just with a new credential).
So assuming your employer made you agree to stay with the company for a certain period of time in return for the tuition you are not in much position to bargain. That does not mean however that you cannot request a meeting with your supervisor to discuss it.
As with all raise discussions your focus should be on the salary research you have done showing the average salaries for job-seekers in your industry and profession (and location) with a newly minted MBA. Logic and research always make more convincing arguments than asking for a raise for personal reasons (such as deserving it because all your classmates are getting such great offers).
I’m hopeful your employer will be one of the handful that gives you more than a token raise but be prepared for that to happen.
And for those folks with an MBA that are looking for some online resources check out this section of Quintessential Careers: Job and Career Resources for Job-Seekers with MBAs.
|Q:||Anonymous writes: I began this question and it was becoming a 2 page e-mail. So very short and sweet and to the point. How can you tell if you are slowly being sabotaged out of a position? One quick fact my phone skills were given as one of the reasons which is just crazy. If anything I have been told by my peers and bosses that that is one of my strengths needless to say I was shocked. There are many other things that almost seem out of Watergate that I won’t go into. I just want to know if there could have been a way I could have seen this coming? Thank you.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Unfortunately bad bosses are everywhere and perhaps yours has gone over the deep end. I still remember one of my bosses from years ago who would stand sentry in the main office hallway starting at 4:30 in an attempt to ‘catch’ anyone trying to leave early. What a good use of his salary.
One study found that almost 80 percent of the employees surveyed identified their boss as a lousy manager. And almost 70 percent in that 2001 study conducted by Delta Road stated that their immediate superior had “no clue” what to do to become a good manager. Author Harvey Hornstein Ph.D. estimates that 90 percent of the U.S. work force has been subjected to abusive behavior at some time. He bases his conclusions on a survey of nearly 1000 workers over eight years.
My best advice to you would be to document everything: document all your past positive reviews and comments — and all the odd behaviors. I would also look back and reflect if you can pinpoint a situation where the boss changed from supportive to awful.
If you have a mentor within the company I would also solicit his or her help and opinion. At some point possibly toward the point of leaving I would also contact the human resources department not to help your situation but perhaps to protect others.
For better or worse the best advice is probably to update your resume contact folks in your network and begin the job-search — because your days are probably numbered at your current employer.
If you want more advice in dealing with a bad boss read my article Dealing With a Bad Boss: Strategies for Coping.
|Q:|| Sharon writes: I am 30 years old and I am not working in my chosen profession of journalism. I am currently working as a paralegal but I still have hopes of becoming a reporter but I know that is unlikely as more time passes. I married young and never established the career that I wanted. I am now divorced with two young sons and I would like to make a fresh start.
I received my degree in journalism in 1993 and I am wondering if it is of any use to me now. I am afraid that I will never be fulfilled if I don’t have the career that I want. Do you have any suggestions?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I cannot stress enough this point to job-seekers — that you must follow your passion’ and I agree that you may never feel happy if you don’t at least attempt a career in journalism. Doing something you love changes your entire outlook about work and I encourage everyone reading this column to consider if they are truly passionate about their work — and brainstorm changes if you are not.
As I tell some of my baby-boomer clients it is never too late to change careers. The rules of journalism have not changed much since your degree but it’s the lack of experience and not working in the field that is going to be your biggest hurdle.
You have a couple of options here.
First get your feet wet by becoming a freelancer. Brainstorm some story ideas and pitch them to appropriate media outlets and start building your portfolio. If you live in a community with a weekly newspaper contact them’ they often need freelancers but don’t limit yourself to local media.
Second consider taking a refresher course in journalism at a local college or university’ to sharpen those writing skills that may have dulled over the years.
Third contact one or more of your former journalism professors and seek out their advice for establishing your journalism career.
And don’t give up easily — follow that dream.
And check out this section of Quintessential Careers for more ideas and job leads: A Guide to Writing and Journalism Jobs.
|Q:||Reena writes: I had got my PhD degree in Microbiology a year ago. Since I am an international scholar I had to wait for my immigration papers to get processed for my ‘permanent resident status’ (that I got through marriage to an American citizen) for a year. I was not legally allowed to work (earn any money) for a year. Now that I have got my ‘permanent resident status’ I have started sending out job applications and I keep getting asked ‘what work I did for a year since I got my PhD’. I did do some volunteer work off and on during my year off and I also did a lot of traveling. Do I need to explain my year off in the applications that I send out? How do I explain it? I am just afraid that potential employers will not understand this explanation since none of them had to go through this themselves (some of them are really rude when they demand an explanation).|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: While yours is a very specific question I include it in the column because there are some lessons here that all job-seekers should learn.
Employers want to hire productive employees and so any unexplained gaps on a resume or vita send out a large caution flag to hiring managers. As a job-seeker your goal is to show that you were productive during any and all gaps — pursing further education or credentials volunteering or freelancing in some way staying active in your career field.
In your situation newly minted PhDs are supposed to be at one of their most productive peaks so appearing to take a year off of research would be very worrisome to prospective employers who want to hire a research workhorse. And those that don’t go to work right after the degree often to some post-doctoral work.
I would avoid the whole immigration issue — mainly because employers never want to hear complications’ they simply want workers who will show and work.
So I think you do need to show that you were somehow working during that year’ perhaps through the volunteering perhaps through some pending research or publications.