Archive for September, 2010

Dear Readers: Help!

September 26, 2010

I’m trolling for information from you, or at the very least, a few ideas.  Thoughts.  Reflections.  Hopes.

I’ve been invited to be a guest on The Career Clinic next Saturday, Oct. 2.  It will be a live broadcast, and I’m sure you’d be welcome to call in or send an email.  But first,  I want to hear your ideas on the topic of Career Optimism.

True, the economists have declared the recession over (pause to snicker); in fact, they claim we bottomed out last year.  Well, moving right along… what about you?

I ran this topic past a couple of friends, who said they know people who have given up looking, who refuse to be retrained, who know they have somehow already retired.

Come on, folks.  I don’t think jobs as we know them have come roaring back into possibility, but…

I want to hear from you.

Is there a difference between perception and reality?  If you think so, how do you keep them separate?

I only know from my hard-working clients (and they do work, I know) that interviews job offers do happen.  Therefore, based on these brave folks, I have not given into despair.  I have not stopped the learning process about everything I can find about the job market.  And I have definitely not retired!

Here’s your chance to add a note about your views on the topic.

And here’s your invitation to join us next Saturday, Oct. 1 at The Career Clinic on at noon eastern time, 11:00 central time. Let’s share our sense of realistic optimism.

It’s Fall: Happy New Year!

September 20, 2010

I can’t be the only one who thinks of fall as a new start.  The occasional cool breeze, first at night, then anytime, feels so refreshing, even energizing to many of us.

And to many of you.

My phone and email, somewhat sluggish during August, are working overtime.  You are calling for the first time or for a follow-up. You’re reading blogs.  And I’m delighted to hear from you.  There are job interviews going on, and (I hope) job offers.  There are meetings and productive conversations about work and career decisions taking place.

If you need to have a career conversation about the direction of your life, I’ll be delighted to speak with you.  Add a comment here or contact me at

Meantime, Happy New Career Year!  The time is now.

High School Reunion – some thoughts

September 16, 2010

Career tributes are overdue to my high school classmates of some years ago.  We “girls” of an Episcopal boarding school gathered recently for a few days of hilarity, sharing stories, catching up, and reflecting. ( Well, the reflection came on the trip home, because there wasn’t much silence going on during those three days.}  I have marveled at the seeds of fascinating careers that I didn’t predict at the time.  What happened to those teen-agers of the late 50s who seemed to care about (1) shaving their legs, (2) the height of the boy invited to the dance, and (3) getting into college?

  • The one who didn’t get math at all became an English teacher who claims to have never disrespected her students.  She’s also an educational consultant for schools dealing with military families.
  • The one who did get math and most everything else (except singing) became an entrepreneur and bookkeeper for small businesses.
  • The one who liked art and art history became an art appraiser (the most logical career choice among us).
  • The one who wanted to sing on Broadway became an attorney.
  • The quiet one who went on to study history in college became a successful opera singer in Europe.
  • The one who played the piano became a career counselor.

There were 11 of us gathered in one spot.  We were teachers, tutors, secretaries, educational advocates, musicians,  volunteers, wives, moms, and grandmoms.  Of those who did not attend, we have ministers, community volunteers, a computer trainer, a potter, a development officer for a university, a museum marketing specialist, and a knit shop owner.

How did this happen?  I have no idea, because we couldn’t have named many careers at the time.  Most of our mothers did not work outside the home, and I do not recall our teachers giving feedback on our strengths that could have pointed the way to occupations.  I think we were well-grounded in the basics – we laugh about our daily French classes, frighteningly intense math, several years of Latin, biology, chemistry, music…  Those basics led to college, whether for a semester, two years, four years, or more.  And jobs led to careers and career changes.

To young people today pondering their options and facing a daunting job market, I say to just keep taking steps.  Your world may change as much as mine did, and you will gather someday with your high school pals marveling at the paths you have taken.  I hope your future reunion is as much fun as mine.

Thoughts on the job search: what’s the first contact?

September 7, 2010

Today’s guest blogger has provided a creative way of looking at the differences between applying for a position online (safe, comfy, on your terms) and walking into a workplace to apply (scary! business hours! appearance!).

Meet Louise Baker:

In the current economic climate, people are searching both online and offline in the hope of landing a job. Looking through job listings on a website and walking in to ask about a position are very different things – it’s not easy to say which is better, because they both have their good points (as well as the inevitable downsides) but the experiences are definitely unique.

For one, jobhunting online eliminates the need for a face-to-face with potential employers, at least initially. You can post your resume online without ever leaving your pajamas. It’s economical and saves you the inconvenience of having to dress nice, battle traffic, and suffer waiting rooms and awkward overtures. You don’t have to ask if the position is open if it’s already posted on a job site, after all. You know they’re hiring.

The internet also gives you the benefit of operating on your own time and letting you fix your mistakes before you send anything out – you don’t have to worry about giving a bad first impression when you can carefully control everything you say, at your own pace, sitting in your own living room.

However, staying online means staying anonymous. You may have sent your contact info, but what makes you stand out among all the other applicants? This is where it comes in handy to make housecalls. Bosses remember faces more than resumes. If you can get your foot in the door for a real meeting, you have a much higher chance of making the cut. Coming to see an employer in person shows your dedication and enthusiasm in landing the job.

Another downside to online jobhunting is the prevalence of scams and misinformation. It can be hard to trust job listings when you know most of them are only trying to squeeze you for a buck. The great thing about applying for jobs in person is that you can be sure the receptionist won’t try to sell you real estate in Nigeria.

At the end of the day, there are pros and cons to both methods of jobhunting. The internet can save you energy and gas, but doing things the old-fashioned way might give you an edge on other applicants. Jobhunting in person might lead to less stress, but it also requires more of your time and a dedicated effort to running all over the city. The decision is up to you. Consider your lifestyle, your resources, and how much you’re willing to invest in your jobhunt. I’d recommend experimenting with a little of both methods – you never know when lightning will strike and you’ll get that call, and in today’s economy, it could make all the difference.

Louise Baker writes about online degrees for Zen College Life. She has recently also wrote about the best schools online.

Note from Anne:  Thanks, Louise, for taking the initiative to contact me and share your observations.  I think you put it very persuasively, and there are lots of people out there who need to be persuaded, that you are way more memorable when you have appeared in person.  Just make that memory a positive one!  (But that’s for another posting.)

Once again: What Color is your Parachute?

September 5, 2010

With great pleasure, I hold in my hands the 2011 edition of What Color is your Parachute, by Richard N. Bolles.  What’s new?

  • the size is approximately the same as in 2010,
  • the “Tough Times” edition subtitle is gone,
  • it’s just as much fun to plow through as any previous year

This may not be the Tough Times edition, but it is clear that we are still dealing with the recessionary job market and the fears of those legions of jobhunters. What can be said to offer courage?  Bolles does not let us down: he has found a new way to look at things.

Of all the features of this book, what catches my attention the most is the attention paid to JOLTS.  That’s an acronym for the government’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (  I followed Bolles’ suggestion and consulted this site.  Whereas I don’t begin to understand it all, I can see that there are strict limits on how  government labor statistics are gathered and disseminated.  What this tells us is that every month, jobs open up in every field and many of them are filled.  But not all. This site is a marvelous prescription for those of us who get profoundly discouraged by the stubbornly persistent high unemployment statistics that greet us on the news.  I also learned that contract workers are generally not included in these stats.

Okay, now I feel a bit better.  In any field that my clients wish to enter, there is turnover.  People leave their jobs, they are laid off, they take time off, and they will need to be replaced.  Parachute 2011 reminds me that are so many steps to take to further your chances of employment in a field you will like that there is no time for whining about statistics.

I’ll be writing much more about this new edition of the classic – but meantime, jobhunters, get to work!  It’s a new month and new openings are being filled  Just like always.