Questions and Answers with Career Expert Gale Montgomery
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Gale Montgomery is author and publisher of Spiritual Affirmations for Career Development: Career Guidance and Job Development from a Christian Perspective, as well as a college career development coordinator for a Christian liberal arts college in Northern California.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Thinking “outside the box,” what’s the best way for job-seekers to figure out what career will give them the greatest happiness?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Assessments and inventories such as the Myers-Briggs by Katharine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, the Self-Directed Search and the Vocational Preference Inventory by John Holland have relatively high correlations and tend to do a good job of giving clients useable feedback on individual interests, attributes and limitations; these are available either in written form or online.
Monster.com is one of the job-seekers’ Web sites that provide clients with an opportunity to do an inventory of interests while seeking employment. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles is an excellent resource, and knowing Mr. Bolles personally, I can say that through finding his passion to help others find theirs, millions continue to be blessed each year by this book.
However, that said, I find the biggest clues to self-discovery come from re-visiting childhood interests. Children are typically free from limitations and go about their daily business in an enviable uninhibited way. Observe a group of children, and you will inevitably begin to identify character traits and activities that give clues as to how they are gifted. Occupations involving those gifts typically are the ones in which the most passion and joy are found. For example, Oprah Winfrey said that as a child, she loved to talk — notes from her teacher would say, “good student… talks too much.” Donald Trump is remembered as a child who had a strong will and a fearless attitude about everything he undertook; his family nicknamed him “the great I am.” Richard Pryor hated school and was often late; however, his teacher discovered that he loved making the other children laugh. She made a deal with him that if he came to school on time, he could have the last 15 minutes of class time to do comedy for his classmates; he was rarely late again.
The trick is to stay focused and not be discouraged by set-backs. Steven Spielberg’s father gave him a camera at a very young age and he knew that he wanted to make film his career. When he was denied entrance into the prestigious UCLA film school, he simply took a different route and went to work for one of the studios. Leonardo DiCaprio was a cute little guy who enjoyed getting attention. Unfortunately, his antics got him fired from Romper Room at the age of 5.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||You describe yourself as an expert on “using Biblical principles in finding a vocation and seeking employment.” Can you explain what that’s all about?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can, or believe that you cannot, you are right.” For far too long, Christians have had a “can do” attitude about spiritual matters and a “cannot do” attitude about career/vocations and other such matters. Before clients and I can begin working on finding a vocation and/or employment, we must first establish that God is very much interested in them finding the right vocation/employment. The “right” vocation is the one for which the client is well suited based upon interests, knowledge, skills and natural abilities.
There are several Biblical scriptures that serve as our foundation: Matthew10:29,30 in which Jesus encourages us not to be afraid for we are so important to the father that even the hairs on our heads are numbered; Psalm 139:13-16 reminds us that God knew us even in the womb and ordained our days; 1Peter 4:10 says, “as each of you has received a gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Clients are set free to choose their vocation without fear of making the wrong choice. How? Because they learn that God makes no mistakes, and nothing is ever wasted — all experiences are valuable even if only to enlighten the client about what he/she doesn’t want. Understanding the uniqueness of each person’s design, means that even if two people choose the same vocation, the two results will always look different. Additionally, clients learn that the burning desire they have to engage in some meaningful work for which they have unlimited enthusiasm and the plans that God has for their lives are not mutually exclusive. It is liberating for them to understand that He is typically the creator of the inspiration to do something that ultimately brings joy to the client and others regardless of the form it takes; it may be through music, science, art, innovative inventions, medicine, education, career counseling, etc.
When it comes to seeking employment, my advice is simple, prepare, do the leg work and trust that God has your name on a door; you simply have to find the door. When the employer says, “sorry we hired someone else,” thank them and thank God that you are a step closer to finding the right position. I had a relatively timid client who was a liberal arts major, and decided after graduating that she wanted to relocate to another state. We prepared her resume and cover letters and mailed them off to several employers prior to graduation, but nothing materialized. She graduated and left. After weeks of interviews and rejections, she was starting to get discouraged. I continued to e-mail encouragement to her, and remind her that God does not set us up to fail. In an e-mail to her responding to her recent rejection, I told her to stay encouraged because it would not be much longer. Two weeks later she e-mailed me full of excitement; it seems that the last employer with whom she interviewed did not hire her, but was impressed enough to send her resume to another employer in the same building — she was hired.
A good education, an impressive cover letter and resume are great tools to have in the employment market; however, without hope and a strong belief that there are opportunities to be found with faith, perseverance and patience, job-seekers sometimes give in and give up.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you bring from the employer’s perspective to your work in career development with students? Do you have “insider’s secrets” from having been on the employer side?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| This question made me smile. The secret can be described in five words: “have a desire to work.” Having the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities for a job or career is certainly a must, but I have heard employers says that they would gladly take a less qualified person to get someone who had a genuine desire to learn and do the work. Other intangible but greatly desired traits by the employer are attitude and communication — both verbally and in writing. “Attitude” is hard to define, but if you look forward to working with one person and find creative ways to avoid working with another, the attitudes of the two people will probably have a significant impact upon your response.
“Communication” is probably one of the hardest abilities to measure, and employers have learned to distrust great looking resumes because the employee may have paid to have the resume professionally done (complete with spell check) because the first written message or, in the first staff meeting, the person writing/speaking bore no resemblance to the person on the resume. Simple misspelled words, writing mechanics and the inability to articulate the most basic thought have proven to be some of my worst nightmares with employees. I constantly stress with clients to get friends to interview them, role play. I admonish them not to wait until the interview to begin attempting to speak in grammatically correct sentences.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most disturbing trend in job-hunting today?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| The most disturbing trend that I see in job-hunting continues to be far too much emphasis on the “job market” rather than the individual. By placing the emphasis on the job market, job seekers tend to look for the occupations that are paying the most, gimmicks and scripts. “What key words should I use on my resume?” “What should my objective say?” When you are trying to sell a product with nothing more than a script, you put yourself at a disadvantage and waste the buyer’s time. By placing more emphasis on the individual and his/her gifts/talents and ambitions, it becomes considerably easier to write an objective that is meaningful and true; that objective succinctly articulated both verbally and on a resume will speak volumes about the job seeker’s preparation and ethics — more than all of the memorized key words, buzz words and interviewing scripts. Employers are not impressed when every applicant responds to the questions with the same scripted answers.
An applicant who is genuinely interested in the position, has taken the time to link personal attributes to the needs of the organization, and responds with honesty and enthusiasm will find the right career opportunity — not just a job.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What do you feel is the most exciting or hopeful trend in job-hunting?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||There has been an increase in the number of people seeking career counseling. Applicants who have the benefit of good career counseling enter the employment market seeking a “career” rather than a “job.” They are more likely to know their strengths, interests and limitations and be more focused. All of which maximize the chances of a mutually beneficial work experience for both the employer and the employee.|
Gale Montgomery is author and publisher of Spiritual Affirmations for Career Development: Career Guidance And Job Development From A Christian Perspective. Her expertise in human resources comes after more than 20 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Her Christianity has been a lifelong journey of learning to live by faith in God’s word. In 1996, God gave her the vision to combine her professional work and her spiritual beliefs in a book. She is currently the career development coordinator for a Christian liberal arts college in Northern California. Additionally, her motivational presentations have earned her numerous invitations to speak to churches and community groups.
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