Monday, December 14, 2009

"Slow Careers"

I recently read on article on this subject. A "slow career" is defined these days as a cultural shift, and as a slowing down of one's life pace...either because of choice or because the slowdown is thrust upon you. The article states that frequently this slowdown leads to the development of better self-understanding and increased ability to deal with the demands of life, employment, etc.

I think we will see more "slow career' participants in the coming years. Our population is aging, and although the baby boomers are probably the healthiest, both physically and mentally, of any group that has ever approached "old" age in this country, many of these folks will opt out of their present "fast' careers situations as soon as they can,,or they will be pushed out. What is interesting is that this phenomenon sparks interest in younger people as well. The stress and pace of modern careers and modern lifestyles, coupled with the challenging economic times, makes the concept of a slow career very attractive for various reasons to some. Think about this concept as you ponder your next career move. Your physical and mental health may thank you in the future!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Train the Teachers Better!

Here we go again. Secy. of Education Ann Duncan recently delivered a speech calling for more and better teacher preparation in USA teacher education programs. Secy Duncan said that in order to make sure that the US remains competitive, more time, attention and yes, financial resources must be given to better teacher education.

All of this is well and good, but we have several huge roadblocks here.. including our cultural bias against educators in general (on the whole we pay them little), the poor morale of American teachers( about half leave the profession in five years) and our odd ability as a culture to blame teachers for many of society's ills...poor student performance and high property taxes among many others.

What is it going to take to change the way we educate our teachers, who in turn educate our children?
First, teachers need respect. No one with any brains enters a profession where so little respect is given to those within it. Second, teachers need support, and that includes the support of administrators (themselves former teachers) parents, community leaders, etc. Finally, teachers need exposure to the work world that their students will be living in; business and education still rarely mix, and I believe that is one underlying reason we find ourselves in the economic mess that we are in.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Downtime Vrs.Missed Opportunities

Are you glad that you were laid off? Has it given you a sense of relief?

Perhaps for some the questions above might come as a surprise, however many recently laid off people report a sense of relief and sudden peace that the ax has finally fallen and they can leave all the stress and anxiety their job produced in them behind. If you were fortunate enough to receive a severance package that provides not only an income but health benefits for several more months it is tempting to delay any job/career search and just kick back for a while.

So, do you do it? Do you go "on vacation" from life and chill out? My advise is sure...you earned it....but the job/career search can be a long and arduous road and will probably take more time than you think so decide on a reasonable break and then get back into the saddle as soon as you can. Make an action plan; include in it the services of a career coach/counselor and get busy. If this action plans includes a career change as well, then you have another complication adding to the timeline. Do not delay!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pulling Out All the Stops

Yesterday I volunteered to critique resumes at a local job fair. I met with a young women who had just earned her master's degree in school counseling. She was bemoaning her lack of a job, saying that area schools (she meant public schools) were just not hiring. I asked her a series of questions and her answers immediately showed me that she had not pulled out all of the stops in her job search. Had she gone to her university's career center for help?... had she looked into employment in any private schools in the area?...had she joined any professional associations or her alumni association and tried networking through those?...had she tried social networking sites?...had she expanded her search outside of this area, especially into places where there were immigrant populations speaking the languages that she speaks? and finally, had she considered her transferable skills and how to use them to secure employment in another area of counseling?...Obviously, this young women had not...and that is one reason that she does not have a job right now.

In this market, it is very important to "pull out all the stops" and leave no stone unturned when looking for a job. Make sure that you do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Career Change and Networking

I recently read a blog entry written by an MBA who has spent the last seven years in the financial world. He has decided that he wants a career change but has been having trouble making connections. It has just occurred to him that while he has many connections in the financial world, he has yet to establish any in his target career. How can he establish such connections when he has no experience as yet in the new career (much less a job or any training)? My advise to him would be to work with a career coach who expertise includes how to network and how to get experience and contacts in your new career. Remember, the best investment you can ever make is in yourself>

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A New Reality

One of the things that I enjoy as a career coach is the variety of clients that I service. Besides my private practice, I also volunteer at my local one stop career center where I use my group skills with a new collection of people each week, many of them immigrants to the US. It always strikes me how different we are as a people and yet how similar. What I am hearing from all my clients is how the "new reality" of job and career search is challenging the mental and perhaps even physical health of most of us, and what I continue to tell everyone, from the newest immigrant to the executive at mid career is the following: continue to hang in there, work your network, prepare career plans A, B and maybe even C, be positive, and be good to yourself even in the smallest way. Remember that you are the president of "You" Inc. and it is in your best interests now and in the future to always be prepared for changes in your work life.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Over on Career 'Rocketeer'

Have a look at this article about Making a Career Plan. It appears on Career Rocketeer, which is also on my linklist to the right.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work"

I recently read an essay entitled "The Case for Working with Your Hands" based on this forthcoming book by Matthew B. Crawford, which will be soon published by Penquin Press. The essay, like the book, puts forth the premise that many of our young people, in their parents' quest to provide them with future "success" are hustled off to college and pointed at "cerebral" professions rather than allowing attention to be paid to natural tendencies for "hands on" work. Therefore education and work become "abstract and distant". The author makes quite a case for his theories.

Nothing in this essay surprises me. As a coach who has spent lots of time assisting adolescents in making post secondary choices, I have been aware for years of the disconnect in our American culture between what is seen as "real" work and hands on work. Mike Rowe, the star of "Dirty Jobs", a popular television show on the TLC network, has stated that Americans have declared war on work, or "hands on" work. Parents, before you begin talking to your children about post secondary education, which I agree all young people need, make sure that in your desire to do the best for them, you allow their personalities, interests and abilities to help drive their choices. A four year degree from a college or university is not the only answer, and in this day of outsourcing and massive layoffs, a young person who is equipped to earn a living with both his brains and his hands can indeed do very well in life.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Creating a Career Transition Plan

Have you ever done anything of major importance without developing a plan of action first? People who are buying a home, getting married or taking some other big momentous step in their lives usually try to insure their success by making a plan of action first, and then sticking, more or less, to it. Surely this must also be true in making a career transition. When you are ready to look for the answer to the question "What will be my next career step?", try making a plan of action first! Assess all aspects of yourself, update your resume, research, pay very close attention to networking and not just Facebook or Twitter, develop and set short and long term goals, and be flexible enough to make adjustments along the way. How can you do all of this? With the assistance of a career transition professional, of course! Don't think you can do it all yourself! You hire a realtor to help you select a home, you partner with a wedding planner to give a wedding; why not find a career coach to help you take that next very important career step? You will be glad you did.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Education as Your Next Career

Almost every day I see another article full of recommendations about entering Education as a career field and as an answer for those who have lost jobs as a result of the US recession. As an educator myself (years of teaching in public secondary schools, adult education and university level) I certainly encourage anyone with both the interest and desire to go for it. The US Department of Labor is calling for a shortage of workers in education within the next five years. However, be aware of the following: a general shortage of teachers will not happen everywhere...for instance, in many New England states where the population is aging rapidly, teachers who retire will generally be replaced only in the cities where the immigrant population will be the only population showing growth; real shortages exist now in special education, secondary mathematics and science and that will continue..if these specialities are not your forte, then chances are you will not make the cut. Finally, it is a fact that half of all new teachers, no matter what their ages or preparation leave the profession within the first five years. Culturally, we are not a society that values teachers, not in respect nor in salary.

If you plan to become an educator, go into it with your eyes open. Shadow a teacher, do informational interviews, volunteer in the classroom setting if you can. Make sure you understand what you are getting into. Do not enter education, or any other career for that matter, unless your personality type, interests, values and transferable skills match that of the field. There is a lot more to teaching than "summers off"; you and our children deserve better.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Australian career education project calls for greater career awareness for young children

A recent top news story in the Australian press reports on Principals Australia, a career education project sponsored by the federal department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations which calls for career development concepts to be included in a new national school curriculum in that country. The article termed this "career counselling" and this led to an outcry from various sources calling the idea presented by the project "crazy stuff", among other very negative comments.

The projects sponsors countered by citing research showing that children as young as six can identify what they thought they wanted to be upon growing up. Since children identify with their parents and their parents' careers at young ages, the sponsors feel that explicit exposure to career developments ideas, etc, would be helpful to encourage children to see that there is a wide range of careers out there, beyond what their parents do.

As an educator and a career coach, this is far from "crazy stuff"...in fact, I recently served on a committee that awarded mini grants to teachers teaching at as young as the kindergarten level to fund career exploration projects. It is never too early to gain more knowledge about the world of future..especially about the world of future careers, and that indeed applies to all ages.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Half of Life is Showing Up (and Being on Time)!

I volunteer at a local job and career assistance organization where I teach a once per week resume writing workshop. Every week the staff overbooks my class just so a reasonable amount of people will show up...usually it is half. Why don't people come? I suspect that these folks have not yet learned that half of success in work life (and also life in general) is showing up! Some people also do not understand the importance of being on time. Frequently, I have latecomers...I allow those folks in a few moments late, but after five minutes, no one is admitted. The other half of success in work life (and also life in general) is appearing on time. Perhaps this is why your polished resume did not get you an interview. Did you submit it by the deadline date? Might your colleagues at work be upset with you because your share of the latest project was not in on time? Was a reason why you were denied a promotion because you have to be chased for items due..and everyone else around you resents that? Being on time is a necessity in the American workplace these days. Just something as seemingly slight as being there and being there on time can make a world of difference.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Personal Branding

I have been reading so much about personal branding lately. Articles on it are everywhere; there is even a blog on it! While as a career coach/consultant and a professional I well understand the importance of developing a personal brand in this economy, my concern is that in trying to forge that "personal brand" in resume writing, we miss out on the importance of showing skills and abilities in all aspects of the career/job that we are targeting. Remember that employers want well-rounded employees first and foremost. Your resume should contain about 50-80 keywords, not 20 or 30. Make sure that you can truthfully "comment" on most of the items in the job description in front of you as you write. Then concern yourself about how you are unique, and how you can communicate bringing added value to the employer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Using the Internet for Your Job Search

The Internet has become the single biggest tool that most Americans use when searching for a new job, and it is a wonderful tool...but it is just that...a tool, and how you use that tool will have a huge effect on how successful your job search will be. First, you must do your homework and find out which one of all those job boards posts the most jobs that you are qualified for, and with the salary that you feel you can command. While social networking sites like Linkedin and Twitter are all the rage, nothing beats face to face, one on one contact, so do not ignore old-fashioned ways of networking. Tips from friends, a mention of something available from a web contact to whom you have offered help ...this is the way to tap the job market. Talk to everyone, even if you cannot fathom how that person might be able to help you...you never know.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Further Education, Anyone?

So many times lately, there have been articles in the media about the number of adults going back to school for further education and/or retraining, rebranding, as an answer to today's job and career challenges. As a teacher and trainer, I have always believed that furthering one's education is great...however, these days I am not so sure. If you think that going back to school is your answer, you first have to decide in what? Many of these articles tout the education, finance or healthcare fields as prime targets, but there are many different avenues in all of these as well as in other areas..so which one do you choose?? and what if none of those avenues appeals to you? How will you know that you will both enjoy and profit from the going back to school experience before you commit?

The answer is research,,and a targeted step by step search leading you to a decision that is right for just you...right in that you will have the personality, ability, and interest to profit from the training/education. Make that decision carefully...and seek out the consultation expertise of a trained professional ( and not the admissions counselor at an institution of higher learning near you). You will be glad you did.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Career Education in the Schools

As someone who offers career development and transitions services to all age groups, from high school students through Baby Boomers, and has experience with all these groups as well, I read this morning yet another posting about career education, or lack thereof, in the public schools. It is my belief and experience that when true career development education is not taught through the curriculum in public middle and high schools what results, among other things, are young people who are clueless when making post secondary choices, as are their parents for them. In our recent past, these young people overwhelming go to four year colleges, then take 6-7 years to complete, if they ever do, because of continual changes of major. Many finish/drop out with little to no marketable skills, and are the first to be let go in a downturn. They select a path simply because they do not have a grasp ofwhat else there might be..and besides everyone else is doing the same thing. For any parents or teenagers/college students and parents of same reading this blog...find out what your school is offering in terms of career development/transition services and take advantage...job shadow..do an internship, schedule informational interviews and before you make the usually very expensive decision, especially in these times, on post secondary education, make sure that you have an idea of "where you are going" and why.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Belated Goodbye to "Shifting Careers"

I just this week found out that "Shifting Careers", a column about the changing world of careers in this country has been discontinued by The New York Times, where it appeared. What a shame that in times like these, this well written, well thought out column has been let go. Its title, "Shifting Careers" I found to be so pertinent today. Even if you think the latest job and career turmoil has not had an effect on you, stay tuned. In the world of career development, things are shifting more and more each day...young people about to graduate from post secondary education will find a challenging job market, even those with "high demand" majors. People at mid career need to be aware that their "solid" job can disappear in a moment. Baby Boomers face a particular challenge as they ponder "retirement" and what it will mean in the future. Gather your resources, read as much as you can about the future of career development and work in this country, remember that there are people (like career coaches) who can help you, and by all means, get ready to be flexible.

Monday, February 23, 2009

It's Past Time for a Resume Tuneup

When was the last time that you tuned up your resume? What? You don't think you need to..? Everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to have an updated resume available at all times, and especially now. Yes, we in the D.C. area are partially insulated from what is going on nationally, but be aware...no one is completely protected...

So, take out that resume and look at it...is it just a list of job titles and dates and responsibilities? That isn't going to cut it anymore...today you must show value, accomplishment and skills. How do you do that? Well, you can sort through the many, many books, articles etc. on the internet on this topic........or you can get it done professionally, with a career coach to help you.

Don't delay in these challenging days. Until next time...