The Career Doctor: Career Advice for All
A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Readers: 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.
Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis. 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.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (5/05/06):
- Dealing with non-compete clauses as a job-seeker
- Creating a new job proposal for a new position
- Deciding whether an MBA is the best career path
- Getting the help needed to balance college and life
|Q:||Ashlee writes: I need your help. I just got a job offer that I have been waiting for but in the paperwork they sent me they included a non-compete clause for me to sign. This was never discussed during the interviews. What is it why did they include it and must I sign it?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: For certain highly competitive industries I can understand why employers want new hires to sign non-compete clauses but I am not a big fan of them. They are basically designed to limit your ability to change employers and work for a competitor — or to become a freelancer and compete directly with your former employer.
The limits of a non-compete clause can be broad or specific — they can either be geographic-specific or a detailed list of competitors that are off-limits. There is also usually a timeframe to non-compete clauses.
The key for you ‘ and any job-seeker in your situation — when asked to sign a legal document you should immediately contact a labor attorney to get legal advice on the limitations of the agreement as well as possible counteroffer suggestions. You might be able to negotiate terms such as the list or type of competitors the breadth of the geographic scope and the length of time the agreement lasts.
Remember like all parts of the job offer parts of the agreement may be negotiable — and if they are not then you still might be able to negotiate a better offer for agreeing to sign the clause.
Finally from my understanding different courts in different states look at these agreements differently — with the key aspect a striving for balance between the need to protect an employer with the rights of job-seekers to find gainful employment.
Read more in our latest article published on Quintessential Careers: Dealing With Non-Compete Clauses and Agreements.
|Q:|| Carol writes: I have read your Quintessential Careers article Moving Up the Ladder: 10 Strategies for Getting Yourself Promoted with great interest because of my situation.
It has been recommended I write a proposal to create a new position for myself to move into. I am having a difficulty finding a template as to how to create such a document. Can you make any suggestions.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: If I am reading between the lines correctly I am guessing that someone within your organization has suggested that you create this proposal but even if I am mistaken the advice I am suggesting will be useful.
One caveat: If you have not been encouraged to create such a proposal from someone higher in the organization tread lightly because management could view such a proposal as you being unhappy with your current job.
There are several keys to success here.
First you need to conduct research. Try and determine if other similar organizations have the type of position you are proposing. If so gather as much data as possible to build your case. And even if your search is fruitless by conducting the research you are building your network — and perhaps other more interesting opportunities may arise from it.
Second you need to do a detailed (as possible) cost/benefit analysis. You have to show for the added costs of the position (including salary benefits etc.) that there i s also an added benefit — such as increased efficiencies reduced costs more revenue etc. The more numbers you have to support your proposal the better.
Third you really need a champion of the new position in upper management. Someone who is going to sing your praises and push for the new position. This person could be your mentor — or anyone else in your internal network.
How likely it is to be approved depends on the strength of your proposal and how flexible the organization is to new ideas.
|Q:||Mary writes: Hi wondering if you can help with some advice. I am a 38 year old managing a mechanical business. In 2005 I completed a degree in business management and cannot believe the value received from it. I have gotten a lot from the experience — and I want more of it. My goal is to fully understand businesses of all shapes and sizes. How beneficial would earning an MBA be to achieve my goals?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: There was an article published in Business Week a few months ago titled ‘Is the MBA Overrated?’ One of the points the article makes is that from their research the MBA degree is not a requirement to reach the upper levels of management in U.S. corporations. However top executives who did have an MBA earned almost 20% more than their counterparts without such a degree.
But I also think the logic of the article is flawed because while the MBA degree has been around for a long time it’s popularity and importance really reached a higher level starting in the 1980s — meaning that many of today’s top executives are from an era when the MBA was not as popular as it is today. I think if we were to do a similar study of mid-level managers instead of senior management we would see a much different picture with the majority holding an MBA degree.
That said of course I am in favor of everyone continuing with their education. Life should be an on-going learning experience and to not only move ahead in business but to learn more about business you should consider obtaining an MBA.
What is an MBA? It’s a Master of Business Administration degree granted after one to two years of graduate-level university study that provides training in the theory and practice of business management. The MBA is basically a document that certifies that you have a general competency in all the major functional management roles you’ll find in the modern corporation.
Read more in this article published on Quintessential Careers: The Master of Business Administration: Is the MBA Worth the Time Effort and Cost?
|Q:||Jamie writes: I am in my second semester (freshman year) of college. It’s hard for me because I am working two jobs and I am taking care of my deceased nephews two little boys and I am living on my own and I am doing this ALL BY MYSELF. Both of the boys have health problems and I can barely afford childcare I am behind in my classes and I really want to do well so I can graduate on time. How can I stay focused in school when I have so much going on in my life?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The first year of college is hard enough that I cannot imagine how you also work two jobs and take care of your nephews. I give you a lot of credit and as much as I can do it via words I want to encourage you to keep moving forward with your college education. Your college degree will pave the way for a career and better-paying jobs over your lifetime.
First I would seek out family members who can help you share the burden of not only caring for your nephews but the cost of caring for them as well. Surely you must have some other family somewhere nearby.
Second I would investigate what governmental and social service organization programs are available to assist you. I am confident you can find one or more programs that can aid you in the care of your nephews.
Third I would explore employment options on campus such as the work-study program so that at least one of your jobs would be located on campus. These jobs often have very flexible hours and sometimes you can even work in the academic department of your major or minor studies.
Fourth I would talk with all my professors and explain my situation. Don’t ask for special privileges but inform them of the challenges you are facing. If nothing else your professors should be sympathetic to your situation and who knows they may know of some resources that can help ease your burden.
Please get the help you need so that you can not only stay in school but excel in it. College should be a wonderful time of learning and discovering more about yourself — not just another burden in your life. Good luck!!