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 (10/07/05):
- Examining how colleges make admissions decisions
- Struggling with the advice of professional resume writers
- Finding business schools with entrepreneurial programs
- Working with an executive recruiter in a job-search
|Q:||Indrani writes: I read an article of yours at quintcareers.com. I had a question about college admission. I just switched out of AP U.S. history and was wondering if that was indeed the right choice. I know that I could have handled the course. Yet I do not think I could have handled the course in addition to studying for the SAT. My other courses include: Honors English Honors Spanish Honors Physics Honors PreCalculus and AP Chemistry. Now I am in Academic U.S. history. Will top colleges look badly on my decision? Will they not admit me because I did not take AP U.S. history?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Let me start by saying that while I have no idea of your high school grade point average if you are taking a mix of honors and advanced placement classes you must be a student who excels academically.
Everyone has a different interpretation of top colleges but if you are talking the elite colleges (such as the Ivy League) then you need every advantage you can get. However course selection and grades are just part of these school look at in applicants.
Obviously for the vast majority of colleges standardized test scores are also an important factor. So if you felt one more advanced placement course was going to hurt your SAT prep then I think you made the right choice. You are obviously showing you can take (and I assume succeed in) academically challenging courses so your next goal should be to get the best score you can on the SAT.
The third element that college admissions folks examine is involvement — and not just being involved but also taking leadership in at least one organization. It’s much better to have leadership experience in just one organization than be a member of 10 groups.
Finally just about all admissions professionals I talk with tell me that they also look between the lines of applications for other elements. They are looking for students who are going to bring something new to the campus as well as students who seem a good fit for the school.
I suggest you meet with your guidance counselor and talk about your college goals. Your counselor can then help you map out what you need to do over these next few months to maximize your chances for getting accepted.
You can also read what various college admissions professionals say about a variety of these issues by reading our annual report Answers to Common College Admissions Questions published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:||Pat writes: I desperately need help with my resume. I am not getting interviews. I have tried working with two different resume professionals and they just don’t seem to get the type of resume I need. They just send me lots of bulleted statistics instead of polished prose. Please help.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Here’s a simple test you can do at home. Answer this question: are you a resume expert? If yes then you don’t need to hire a resume expert to write your resume do you? If no then why are you wasting so much time and money disagreeing with the resume experts?
Resumes do need to tell a story — one that convinces the person screening the resumes that yours is worthy enough to have you interview for the position — but there are other ways to tell a story than long paragraphs full of information that no one is ever going to read.
A resume is a marketing document designed to first grab the attention of the reader and second convey enough information to get you the interview. Thus long paragraphs with lots of wonderfully polished prose are going to get you nowhere. The resume will appear too dense for most readers (thus flunking the first test). And speaking in generalities rather than specific accomplishments will convey the message that you have nothing to offer (thus flunking the second test).
The only good news for you is that many people think they are experts at resume-writing. Most are not. If you are actively in a job-search and sending out resumes and getting no responses I would seriously examine your resume. You can try and fix it yourself by researching how to write a strong resume or you can pay an expert to do it for you (and then actually heed his/her advice).
Find all the tools you need to develop write and polish your resume in this section of Quintessential Careers: Resume and CV Resources for Job-Seekers.
|Q:||Nathan writes: I was hoping you could help me in my college search. I know I want to be an entrepreneur. I don’t want to hold a typical job working for someone else. As a junior in high school I have a good amount of experience in the business world. My academic marks are on par with the top universities in the country. Do you know of any colleges that offer programs for people who want to operate their own business empire? A small business just will not do. I appreciate any help you can offer me.|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: One of the biggest trends among students your age is this strong entrepreneurial desire. Many of the high school and college students I encounter talk about this strong need to make it on their own.
My personal theory — and I have no real research to back It up — is that many of you have witnessed the lack of loyalty employers have showed your parents and family members through the many rounds of corporate ‘rightsizing’ over the last decade (as well as the dotcom bust) and thus you have this lack of trust that has manifested itself into a desire to control your own fate.
There are many business schools around the country that offer entrepreneurial programs including my own so all you need to do is find them.
Of course I thought finding them would be an easy task but all the college search sites I visited either used a keyword menu that did not include entrepreneurial studies or yielded zero results when conducting a keyword search.
So my best advice would be to search for the universities and business schools that most interest you — by size location etc. — and then while that list is still fairly large search each of the business schools for majors minors special programs related to entrepreneurship.
Finally you don’t necessarily need to find a business school that offers such programs but I’ve found that hearing the stories of both successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs as well as actually running a small business is extremely beneficial for budding entrepreneurs.
Get more information about colleges and college planning in this section of Quintessential Careers: College Planning Resources for Teens.
|Q:||Kelly writes: I’ve been using an executive recruiter to find a new job and it has worked well. I just came back from an interview for a job that is perfect for me and with a company I want to work for. I immediately called my recruiter and told him how I felt. Should I still write a thank you letter to the employer? I don’t want to upset my recruiter by going around him. What do you think I should do?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I’m glad you wrote me this question because I don’t get many emails about working with recruiters (also referred to as headhunters) and they can be a valuable addition to your job-search.
There are recruiters for just about every profession/industry and location. The relationship is often stronger when a recruiter contacts you but job-seekers — especially those with several years of experience — should at least research potential headhunters when undertaking a job-search.
A couple of other pieces of information. Recruiters work for the employer and they get paid when they place someone in the position. Job-seekers never have to pay a fee to reputable recruiters — because the employer pays the fee.
That all said yes you should always tell your recruiter exactly how you felt about a particular prospective employer ‘ especially when you are as sure as you seem to be. It’s then the recruiter’s job to push your candidacy with the employer.
However working with a recruiter does not suspend basic job-search etiquette and you most certainly should write thank-you notes to all the folks you interviewed with. Doing so will not undermine the recruiter.
For more information and articles related to using headhunters please go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Recruiter/Headhunter Resources Directories & Associations
Finally check out these Sample Job Interview and Career Thank-You Letters published on Quintessential Careers.