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 (09/23/05):
- Contemplating career change to solve unhappiness
- Offering suggestions and advice for getting a raise
- Struggling new college grad seeks job-search help
- Discussing career goals in a job interview
|Q:||Pete writes: I have been reading your past columns on your website and would like to seek your advice. I have a post-secondary education in business with a major in accounting and am also a designated accountant (i.e. CPA). After six years working in this field I have done well in all the positions I have held and always have high praise from my managers/co-workers but I find myself unhappy as most of the work does not interest me (i.e. either too easy for me or too stressful). Do you think a career change is the answer to my problem?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: My cardinal rule of career coaching is if you are unhappy in your work then it is time to do something. If you don’t the unhappiness will continue to grow and spread not only to your job performance but also to your personal life.
I think many of us are smart enough and talented enough to perform well in multiple types of jobs and careers the harder part is finding the ones that we’re both good at and passionate about.
But before you consider changing careers entirely since you have a fair amount invested into accounting perhaps you should first explore all options in your field. It sounds like you have held jobs that are on opposite ends of the spectrum and that you might be happy in the middle somewhere. Explore your options. Do you have a mentor? A former accounting professor? Solicit advice.
If you’ve been a reader of my column for any length you know that I value people following their bliss their passion. By conducting some quality self-assessment you may find yourself looking at other careers that use your skills for numbers but you also may find that while you have a knack for numbers that your passions lie elsewhere.
I’m also a big believer in everyone taking the time to have a ‘career weekend’ annually where you can assess where you stand — professionally and emotionally — whether you have achieved personal career goals you set in your prior retreat as well as establish new career goals for the year ahead. These goals can relate to any aspect of your career from establishing plans for getting a raise or promotion changing jobs changing careers going it by yourself (as an entrepreneur or consultant) or heading back to school.
And for those who need a little help with managing your careers check out this latest quiz on Quintessential Careers: Career Activist Quiz.
|Q:|| Lindsey writes: Hi Dr. Hansen.
I have a bunch of questions related to getting a raise. Is there a time of year that is better for employees to approach their supervisors about a pay raise? If so will it benefit employees a great deal to wait until such time? How should I be prepared for the meeting? What are some common mistakes workers make when asking for a raise?
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The best time to ask for a raise is at your annual review but you can certainly ask for a meeting to discuss raises at any time’ the ideal time if you don’t have an annual review is at the end of an organization’s fiscal year as they are planning for the next one — so that they can incorporate your raise into that plan (and while there is still money in the budget). Of course if you just landed a major client saved the organization a ton of money or otherwise had a major success’ those would be good times to ask for a raise too.
Employees need to remember that asking for a raise is like being on the job-hunt again. No matter how good you are no matter what your accomplishments since your last raise unless you can document and quantify your successes and accomplishments you will not get the raise you hope for.
Thus the biggest mistake is not going into the raise meeting with a bulleted list of accomplishments.
The second biggest mistake is thinking you will receive a big raise. Most employers go by percentage increases and those percentages are usually pretty low… so employees should have realistic expectations for how much to expect.
Finally you should have outside documentation such as industry salary surveys to show how much you are underpaid compared to your peers. Never make requesting a raise into a personal battle; keep it professional at all times.
|Q:||Greg writes: I’m a recent college graduate took part of the summer off to travel and am now in the job market’ and it is depressing frustrating and not what I expected. There are just not that many job postings and the ones I do like and apply to I rarely hear back anything. I have had two phone interviews. Help!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I get worried when I get letters such as yours that we are not doing enough as your professors to prepare you for the harsh reality of job-hunting. What did you expect? That there would be five amazing employers waiting for your return so they could all offer you a job? But hang in there because perseverance is critical
The reality is that the job market is still an employer’s market meaning that the employers still call the shots. And the Central Florida market is simply a tough nut to crack.
That said let me once again reiterate that the most successful job-seekers will follow a three-prong job-search strategy.
The first prong is networking. Networking is all about having as many eyes and ears seeking information on job openings for you. If you have a very small network of family and friends one of your most critical goals should be expanding your network by conducting informational interviews joining local professional organizations and attending job fairs.
The second prong is job postings. There are lots of places to find job postings and I would experiment with all of them until you get the right mix for you. Many organizations post openings in the career/employment section of their Website. There are numerous region-specific Websites (including newdpaper sites) as well as industry/profession-specific job sites. Finally of course there are some of the big big national and international job sites.
The third prong is a direct (cold call) sales pitch mailed or emailed to the hiring managers at companies where you would like to work. Not many job-seekers seem to take this approach any more. This strategy involves identifying a set of organizations that appeal to you tracking down the name (and proper spelling) of the hiring managers and then sending off a cover letter and resume package to each of them.
Bottomline’ you need to be doing multiple activities related to your job-search every day so that you can get the interviews — and job offers — you desire.
You can find additional information and resources in the Job Search 101 tutorial found on Quintessential Careers which includes the 10 things you need to know and do to land your first job.
|Q:||Cathy writes: I am having difficulty answering the question "What are your career goals and how do you see a career here meeting those goals?" I don’t even know where to begin. Please help me!!!|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Everyone should have some career goals. Career goals relate to where you see yourself in the next five to ten years and it is through these goals that many of us develop a career roadmap. Of course many folks — like me — have multiple career goals along with multiple careers!
If you have gotten along fine in your career without having any goals that’s okay too. I’m betting you probably had them somewhere but just never formalized them into something like what you’re being asked for in this question.
Of course in a job interview you have to always remember that every answer you give to every question asked MUST relate to the employer and show your fit with the organization. Thus in an interview you have to show how the job you have applied for will fit into — and help you advance your career goals.
Please note. If one of your career goals is something like to retire within two years I would not mention it. I am not suggesting you lie I am suggesting that you do not have to disclose all your career goals — only the ones that are applicable to the job at hand.