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 (10/20/06):
- Helping high school student find her way with career
- Sending resumes out to all the local employers
- Determining when follow-up becomes unacceptable
- Explaining why short stints should not be on resume
|Q:||Kathy writes: I just read your article Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. I plan to have my daughter read the links you suggested. My daughter is making decisions about AP coursework and is a little lost about what she wants to do. The school she attends just gave them some sort of aptitude test. She scored highly in the working with people and the arts areas. This is a fine way to start thinking about what she wants to do but she is lost when it comes to finding out what type of real life jobs exist in these areas. What do you recommend she do to get some real job insights?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: It’s never too early to be thinking about careers but please remember that what interests a teen at 15 might not at 20. As I have mentioned before I am all for having high school students thinking about possible careers but I am against high schools putting students in career tracks at such an early age.
Here’s my recommendation for her next steps. First do some more assessment — take a personal inventory of the classes and activities she likes to do and then take another assessment or two (which you can do online or possibly through the school’s guidance department). The goal should be a solid list of interests and skills as well as some career direction.
Second begin exploring careers that match up with her interests by using sources such as the Department of Labor’s Career Guide to Industries (online and in print) which can be found from Quintessential Careers. These sources will provide all sorts of information from expected job growth to working conditions to education required.
Third talk with people working in those areas of interest. She should conduct informational interviews and ask about job-shadowing opportunities. As she begins to look at colleges she can also talk with professors in the areas that she has the most interest.
To find specific career exploration tools go to this section of Quintessential Careers: Career Exploration Tools and Resources.
|Q:||Pamela writes: I have been actively looking for employment in the legal field for over 3 months. I have 6 years experience but have moved to smalltown USA and there aren’t many job postings. Is it acceptable to send a ‘blind resume’ to all the attorney’s in the area via email even though they aren’t advertising employment opportunities? What should I say in the first paragraph?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: I am so glad you sent me this question because I feel like the method of job-hunting you are proposing is the most overlooked and underrated tool of job-seekers.
The direct method of contacting employers — something I call cold-calling employers — often leads to multiple opportunities and job leads. It is a great method for job-seekers who are searching for a job in a specific geographic location.
When you consider that most of the job market is closed — that most job openings do not get advertised — then the two most important methods for tracking down those job leads are through networking or cold contact.
Here’s what you must do. I recommend both an email and postal mail strategy. Gather the names (double-check spellings) and addresses for all the attorneys. Develop or polish an amazing cover letter and resume for each attorney. In that first paragraph of your cover letter state the three reasons why you are a perfect candidate to work in that law firm. (Hint: One way to customize each letter and resume is by using some of the same words the lawyers use on their Websites.)
Finally follow-up your letters and emails with a phone call — and ask for an interview (even if no jobs are currently available.)
Find more specific guidelines and tools for directing your own direct job-search by reading this article published on Quintessential Careers: Cold Calling: A Time-Tested Method of Job-Hunting.
|Q:||David writes: I interviewed at a very hot high tech startup company about a month ago. They expressed interest in me but told me that they move slowly on hiring and that I will need to be patient. I followed up with the VP who interviewed me and she told me to reschedule a meeting with her a few weeks out. When I sent her an email regarding that meeting she apologized and said that she was extremely busy but that she had asked someone else on her staff would ‘reach out’ me later in the week. It has now been a little more than a week and I have not heard from this staff person. Do I proactively contact that person and try to schedule my interview? Do I email her and say that I’m touching base and that I have not heard from this other person?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: It’s not just hot high-tech companies that have extended the employment cycle; one of the biggest trends I’ve noticed in job-hunting over the last few years has been the great increase in the amount of time it takes from first interview to job offer. Many employers seem quite content at dragging their feet through the process potentially losing some top talent to other organizations in the process.
But at least this particular employer gave you fair warning. That said it does NOT mean that you should be passive in your approach. Just because the hiring cycle has been extended it does NOT mean you should not still be following-up with the company.
By all means contact the VP (or the VP’s assistant) — by whatever means you are most comfortable. There are so many possible scenarios ranging from the staff person never getting the message to his email going into your junk folder by mistake. So pick up the phone or send an email and politely inquire whether the staff person has tried to contact you. As with any follow-up be certain to again express your interest in the company and how you can make a contribution.
Patience and persistence are some of the most important words for job-seekers these days. Don’t ever give up getting the job until you know the employer has hired someone else — and never stop politely and regularly checking-in with the hiring manager.
Read more in this article on Quintessential Careers: The Art of the Follow-Up After Job Interviews.
|Q:||Bonnie writes: I just read Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change and Growth. You say that If you are fired in a job within 3 months you should not list that on your resume. Can you tell me why I should not list that employer?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: A resume is a critical marketing document that you construct to convince a prospective employer to invite you for an interview and then ideally offer you a job. It is not meant to be an all-inclusive document of your entire life nor your entire work history.
A resume should ONLY contain the relevant information that is going to get your foot in the door.
If you were fired from your last job after only three months but you had some amazing accomplishments and the work you performed is extremely relevant to the job you are seeking then you can certainly consider including it on your resume.
That said anytime an employer sees a short tenure on a resume it begs the question — why is this person looking for a new job after only such a short time on the job? And that means if you actually get the interview you’ll need to be prepared to explain why you were fired.
Thus unless the job is extremely relevant to the position you are seeking it’s better to have an employment gap on your resume than have to explain why you were fired.
Get lots more resume tips tools and samples in the Resume Resources section of Quintessential Careers.