Questions and Answers with Career Expert Carla Barrett
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Carla Barrett is the owner of Career Designs, a career and job development firm based in Northern California.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Obviously, researching companies can be a very time-consuming process. What advice do you have for streamlining the process or getting the most bang for your buck, in other words, the most information in the least amount of time?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||The quickest way to get started is by researching the company Website. Most large and many small companies now have their own website with lots of information on what they do, how they got started, and what their goals are. You can find most companies online by typing their name into a search engine. If you are not able to find a Website for a particular company, you can call them and request an information packet on their products and services. [Editor’s note: See also our Quintessential Directory of Company Career Centers and Quintessential Careers Guide to Researching Companies, Industries, and Countries.]|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Is company research all about the Internet exclusively these days? Or are there still valuable print resources that have not been supplanted by the Internet?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||One of the best ways to really get the inside scoop is through a process called The Information Interview. An information interview is an interview that you initiate and in which you ask the questions. The information interview is a low-key, informal experience that is probably your most valuable tool when making decisions about your career. Information interviewing is one of the best ways to gain knowledge about a particular job or career field by talking to people who do the work in which you might be interested. To learn more about this process go to Informational Interview Guide. [Editor’s note: See also our Quintessential Careers Informational Interviewing Tutorial.]|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| It’s difficult to pin it down to just one mistake, so I will name the three that are at the top of my list of biggest mistakes you can make in the job hunt.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the best way for job-seekers to figure out what career will give them the greatest happiness? Which assessment tools would you recommend if any, and what techniques do you use for really getting at a client’s/student’s career passion?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The best method for discovering your ideal career path is through story-telling (a method developed by Richard Bolles in his book What Color Is Your Parachute). In this method, you have the career explorer think of a time when he or she was doing something he or she really enjoyed and where there was an accomplishment. The career explorer tells his or her story to another person, usually a career advisor, who then writes down the skills they heard the person use in the story. After telling at least seven of these stories, the career explorer has a clearer picture of favorite skills and how he or she can use these skills in an enjoyable career.
If the job-seeker wants to use career assessment tools, I recommend taking at least three tests. Some of the most popular tests are the Self-Directed Search (SDS), Meyers and Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Strong Interest Inventory, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and the Career Occupational Preference System (COPS).
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Opinions differ on the extent to which the economy is recovering, and the employment picture seems to change from day to day. From your observations and experience, just how tough is the job market today? How can job-seekers achieve success and stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Today’s job market is tough, but even in a down market there are always jobs. The job-seeker will need to take a more creative approach to finding a job. Job-seekers need to use tools and tactics that make them stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by creating a Career Portfolio with at least five examples of how they have used their skills. This approach has been used for years by artists, musicians and writers. Types of things to include are, letters of recommendation, certifications, awards for excellence, and samples of their work.|
Carla Barrett is the owner of Career Designs, a career and job development firm offering services in Northern California. Carla’s focus has been on training in state-of-the-art methods for coaching individuals toward success and fulfillment in their careers. She personally trained with Richard N. Bolles, author of the best-selling career guidance book What Color Is Your Parachute? As a native of the Redding area, she teaches career exploration classes at colleges, high schools and various learning centers in Shasta County. Her most recent project was a survey conducted with some of Shasta County’s largest employers. The survey addressed the question, “What drives employer’s hiring decisions?” Read one of Barrett’s articles on the Redding Employment site.
Check out all our interview with career experts in Quintessential Answers: Q&A’s with Career & College Experts.
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