Archive for January, 2010

An honest look at jobs in academia

January 29, 2010

The process of getting a job at a college or university has long been shrouded in rumors, innuendos, and mystery.  I’ve had clients who believe they have been rejected for reasons of race, sexual orientation, age, or social class.  Maybe they have –  I don’t know.

Now along comes an interesting and honest look at the search for a new faculty member in Middlebury College’s department of media studies.  The author, Jason Mittel, shares the stages of selection from the avalanche of initial interest to the finalists to the winning candidate.  What I think is remarkable in his story is that the search committee used today’s technology to aid in identifying the best people.  They used skype interviews to meet some candidates and assess their effectiveness at communicating.  The list of top candidates was shortened during this process, and culminated in personal interviews.  I find this chronology honest, and economically and ecologically responsible.

If you are looking for a job in an educational setting, you should read From 30 to 1: the job search resolves.

And if you need help in presenting the appropriate skills and strengths, please feel free to contact me for assistance.  You can get further information at

Keeping your network warm

January 27, 2010

Some time ago, I addressed a group of job-hunters who were wrestling with age discrimination as well as the conventional challenges of looking for a new position.  As older workers, they were sharing strategies of how to draw on their experience and yet appear eager to learn new ways.

There were two recurring themes expressed by every member of the group:

I never thought they’d let me go after all those years.

I wish I hadn’t let my network grow cold during my last job.

The members of the group, all of whom were at least 50 years old, suffered from a sense of loyalty that had led them to complacency on the job.  And oh, how they regretted it now.  Because they had felt secure, because they believed that hard work would earn them some security, they had not kept meeting new people or expanding their horizons professionally.

When I asked what they will do differently when they land that next job, they agreed that this time around they will keep in touch with valuable contacts.  They will join organizations and they will keep in touch with each other, their new job-hunting pals.  Yet even then, while voicing resolve to do things differently, at least one person said it seemed disloyal to enter a new job while planning a survival strategy if that one doesn’t work out.

What do you think?  Is it disloyal to start a new job while planning for a possible job change down the road?  Does networking take time or energy away from learning/performing your new work?

I hope you will post a comment about how new employees can protect themselves by keeping their network warm and alive while committing their best efforts to settling into that new job.  It’s a challenge!

Job Creation: is anyone there?

January 22, 2010

So, what does it take to create jobs in this country?

I was watching analysts on Inside Washington, my favorite weekly political talk show this evening, and they were debating the connection – if any – between the recent Massachusetts senatorial election, the Wall Street financial houses, and unemployment.  I tried hard to understand the points, because this is something I don’t get.

A winning political campaign would begin with explaining how policies governing our largest banks affect or don’t affect employment.  A candidate who cannot do this will be labeled out of touch or elitist.

What do you think will encourage job creation? I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you are an employer, what will it take to get you to expand your workforce?  If you are a job seeker, what have you observed about who is hiring right now? Are you being asked about your views on the economy in job interviews?  What do you say?

What can a career counselor do for you?

January 15, 2010
  • Do I find you a job?
  • Do I take you shopping for the perfect interview outfit?
  • Do I advise you on financial matters?

Sadly, the answer is no.  If it were yes, you’d love me more.

What I do is steer you into the hard work of deliberate career planning.  That includes analysis, reflection, skills identification, financial goal-setting, and networking.

You’ll read a book or two.  You’ll speak to people in a friendly, curious way.  You’ll read a blog and maybe even write a comment.  You’ll write a book or game or toy review.  You’ll get organized and keep notes on your contacts.  You’ll get out into the community and explore it in new ways.

Is this fun?  Well, I hope so.  In fact, the more fun you have in the process, the more you can be sure you’re looking in the right direction.

Sometimes it’s not fun.  It’s sad and even depressing to reflect on your career steps of the past.  If you just took what was offered you, if you settled for the status quo that you hated, if you accepted that underemployed condition as your inevitable reality, it’s painful to recognize.

If you would like to feel more fulfilled in your job, if you would like to be certain that you’re using your God-given gifts to make a difference in your time on earth, this may be the year to do it.  Now may be the time to contact a career counselor, a coach, or a career center at your local community college.

You may find a compatible person the first time around, or you may not.  If you are not certain what to look for, or you’re been ripped off in the past, I’d suggest you turn to Richard Bolles’ What Color is your Parachute? 2010, appendix b, A Guide to Choosing a Career Coach or Counselor. Here you will find the question to ask, the warning signs, and general safe procedures in finding someone who will guide you into a more fulfilling stage of your life.  Good luck!

Advice from a new hire

January 12, 2010

Yes, people do get jobs.  I’d like to introduce you to Jackie, who is one of the successful job seekers.  She could tell you that the job search process is unpleasant, or that it’s possible to stay too long in a job that isn’t working out.    But that’s not what’s on her mind.  I asked her to share her story, and here is a bit of it:

Due to the slow economy in 2009, I found myself at 44 years old looking for a new job.  I figured at my age, I better find something I really love because I would probably be doing it for the rest of my life!  So… not quite knowing where to begin, I searched for a career counselor on-line and found Anne Headley.  I was surprised to find that she really wasn’t concerned about what I had done in the past, but focused on what I WANTED to do in the future!  How fun!  She was able to pull information out of me about my skills, hobbies, etc. that I never really considered applying to my job search possibilities.  Once we determined that I should be doing what I love (my life-long “hobby” of interior design) full time, she suggested that I get some formal education on the subject so I would have something to show on my resume.

I am currently enrolled in an online interior design course.  It has taken some getting used to, but now I’m really enjoying it.

In the meantime, even though I was still employed (barely), I also had to begin looking for that fun, new job.  I applied at every company who was advertising that had anything AT ALL to do with home remodeling or decor.  I also applied for every unrelated job I found (22 of them) for which I was remotely qualified.  I went to a local job fair, contacted an employment agency and spent countless hours filling out on-line applications and faxing resumes, but no response.

When I had almost given up and taken a job selling insurance (of all things), I got a phone call from a nationally known home remodeling company that I had applied to months earlier asking me to design and sell kitchen remodels for them!  I couldn’t believe it!  I interviewed, got hired, and begin my training next week!  They even pay for me to get my state home improvement license which will come in very handy if and when I start my own interior design business.  I’m so glad I didn’t give up and take that insurance job.

So, if you’re searching for that perfect job, my advice is to hold out for what you really want as long as you are financially able to do so and good things will happen!  Good Luck!

Thank you, Jackie, for sharing your story. Your realistic narrative is refreshing, because it’s clear you’re telling it as it really happened.  I am so pleased that you were reminded that fun and work are not opposite concepts.  May this new situation be fun and fulfilling for you. You’ve come a long way in defining what you want to do and going after it.

My Thoughts are Up in the Air

January 10, 2010

Have you seen the latest George Clooney movie?  Highly touted as an excellent film, Up in the Air is about an outplacement firm that specializes in delivering bad news to employees in companies across the country.  They perfect their script, they clear it all with legal, they have a goal of ushering people in and out of the meeting within a certain time frame.

I had very mixed feelings about the film.  I’m not a film critic, but I am a career counselor who sees people after they have received that bad news.  It was stomach-turning for me to see Mr. and Ms. America being subjected to a canned speech about how their positions are being abolished.

This is not a time for anyone to be cynical.  It’s not funny.  Maybe I’m just not in the mood.

There are some very moving moments.  Here’s what I liked:

  • clips of people saying what it feels like to be terminated.  Their statements are eloquent, registering shock more than anything else,
  • one of the termination specialists actually reading a person’s resume and noting an earlier interest that can now be developed (welcome to the world of career counseling – that’s what I do),
  • excellent acting despite the revolting premise that termination is fodder for comedy and sex,
  • a haunting ballad that plays at the end, over all those rolling credits.

See it if you will and post a comment with your thoughts.

More New Year’s Resolutions for your Career

January 2, 2010

Today, I was delighted to read an insightful article by Dr. Tom Denham, a career specialist, with his ideas of effective new year’s resolutions.  I suggest that you click on the full article at  The most impressive thing about Dr. Tom’s list is that he obviously sees one’s career development as an ongoing – dare I say daily? – process.  Thus you would keep your resume current even when there isn’t an interview in sight.  You would keep your computer skills current just because. Etc.  Read the article and challenge yourself to play by his suggestions. Be ready for the opportunities of the new year.

Thanks, Tom Denham.  I couldn’t have made your points any better myself.