Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Advantages of Being a Young Job Seeker

News regarding the current recession can seem pretty scary, particularly to college students and recent graduates. We haven't even gotten our foot in the door while experienced workers are being laid off left and right. However, there are a few major advantages that young candidates have in a tight job market.

The first major advantage young workers have is that we cost employers less money. When companies are trying to cut costs, candidates with lower salary expectations are a plus. Older workers already have higher salaries and have gotten accustomed to bonuses and other perks. They also cost their employers more in terms of benefits, such as health insurance.

Another big advantage for young workers is that we are more willing to travel and usually open to moving for a job. And since many of us don't yet have spouses or children, we are usually able to work longer hours and take on more responsibilities than our older co-workers.

Finally, young workers are familiar with technology. Certainly many older workers are very tech-savvy, but today's college graduates have been raised around computers and have probably taken several computer courses while in school. We understand that technology is constantly changing and that computer skills are essential in almost any occupation.

If you are a recent graduate, don't be discouraged by the headlines. Just be aware it may take longer to find a job and you may need to compromise a little. Gaining experience is the focus for the first couple of years out of school, so be open to moving to where the jobs are more plentiful or working at a less prestigious organization.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors: History

Who majors in history? Future business executives, lawyers, politicians, and writers. With a history degree, you are not limited to a particular occupation or field. Many history majors go on to obtain a doctorate, business or law degree. If you aren't sure about graduate school (or want to take a break from school), but still want a history-related job, consider the following careers:

1. Librarian Although many librarian positions require a degree in library science, many smaller libraries will accept a bachelor's degree in any subject. Knowledge of history would be a great advantage for a librarian since many people visit libraries in order to conduct historical research. My hometown librarian was also the town historian . Whenever I was writing a paper and needed to research the area's history, he was the person to consult. Librarians must have good interpersonal skills and patience because they interact with visitors of all ages. Average annual salary: $50,970.*

2. Curator Curators acquire items for exhibit collections, develop database systems used for record keeping, conduct research, supervise museum staff, and negotiate the sale or loan of items. They promote the institutions for which they work by attending community events, educating the public, and organizing tours. Budgetary guidelines and institutional policies are also part of a curator's responsibilities. Most curators work for museums, universities, or local government. Demand for curators is expected to grow much faster than average through 2016. Average annual salary: $46,000.*

3. Archivist Archivists appraise, acquire, preserve, and classify historical documents. They may conduct research related to documents and provide assistance to other researchers needing to use these documents. To make access to records easier, they copy them to other formats, design classification systems, and maintain computer databases. Demand for archivists is expected to grow faster than average through 2016. Average annual salary: $43,110.*

4. Museum technician/conservator Museum technicians assemble exhibits, clean items, and arrange artifacts for display. They may specialize in a certain type of artifact, such as books or paintings. Additional responsibilities include giving tours, supervising volunteer workers, and determining repair needs. Demand is expected to grow faster than average through 2016. Average annual salary: $35,350.*

*For more details about the each job, including responsibilities, values, skills, and projected growth, visit O*Net.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors: English

English majors have skills that employers highly value: critical thinking, communication and reading comprehension. People with English degrees can be found in a wide variety of industries and occupations. Some careers for English majors to consider:

1. Copy Writer
Copy writers create advertising copy and promotional materials. They collaborate with clients, marketing executives, and salespeople in order to obtain necessary information about a product or service. Their work might appear on product packaging, internet advertisements, bulletin boards, or in brochures. Average annual salary : $50, 660.*

2. Personnel Recruiter Recruiters identify qualified candidates and match them to employers who need their particular skills. They work with hiring managers to find appropriate candidates for openings within a company and keep applicants informed during the hiring process. Communication and interpersonal skills are essential as recruiters must maintain positive relationships with both job seekers and the companies for which they recruit. Demand for recruiters is expected to increase faster than average through 2016, according to O*Net Online. Average annual salary: $44,380.*

3. Technical Writer Technical writers create instruction and operations manuals for various types of equipment and machinery. They must be well versed in relevant technical terminology and operating procedures, and may need to consult with engineers and other professionals. Technical writers may also help with drawing sketches or selecting appropriate photographs for manuals. Demand for technical writers is expected to increase faster than average over the next eight years. Average salary: $60,390*

4. Editor Editors revise books and articles before publication. Not only do they check for grammatical and punctuation errors, but they also rewrite content to enhance clarity and verify facts and statistics. Other duties include generating story ideas, assigning topics to writers, and layout design. An editor may work for a newspaper, textbook publishing company, website, magazine, or other organization. Demand is greatest for editors with web experience. Average salary : $48,320.*

5. News Reporter /Correspondent Reporters report news stories for newspapers, magazines, websites, or broadcast. They may conduct extensive research and interview a variety of individuals in order to gather necessary information. Reporters must work well under pressure and have excellent investigative skills. Average annual salary: $34,690.*

*ONet Online

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors: Psychology

Many college students choose majors in the liberal arts and sciences, but have trouble determining what careers they can pursue once they graduate. Law school and teaching are common routes for many liberal arts majors, but you may not feel that those careers are right for you based on your interests and personality. It may require more flexibility and creativity, but finding a career is possible with a liberal arts degree. I'll be writing a series of posts detailing jobs for different liberal arts majors.

The first major I'll focus on, psychology, is second only to business as the most popular major for college students in the United States.

1. Human resources manager - Human resources managers perform a variety of duties. They usually are in charge of identifying vacancies, recruiting candidates, screening applicants, and conducting interviews. They mediate disputes among employees and work to ensure positive relations within the organization. Another important responsibility of human resources managers involves managing worker compensation and benefits programs to ensure that they are competitive and that they comply with legal requirements. In addition, they advise management on organizational policies such as equal opportunity employment and represent the organization during hearings or investigations related to personnel issues. Several years of work experience in human resources, such as working as an assistant to the manager, are usually required. Average annual salary is $84,440*.

2. Social services manager - Social services managers oversee community services and communicate with organizations to ensure that community needs are met. They organize staff and volunteers, maintain records, and determine community needs by conducting research. Demand is expected to increase much faster than average and the average annual salary is $54,530*.

3. School and vocational counselor - School counselors help students choose coursework, plan their careers, and deal with personal problems that might interfere with their academic performance. They also meet with parents to discuss behavior issues and academic performance. In addition to counseling, they may also be responsible for helping with standardized testing and helping students with college applications. Excellent organizational skills are necessary due to the detailed paperwork that must be completed. Demand for counselors is expected to increase over the next several years. A master's degree in counseling or psychology is usually required. Average annual salary is $49,450*.

4. Mental health counselor - Mental health counselors work with patients in groups or individually and help them with a variety of mental and behavioral issues including drug addiction and depression. They must help develop treatment plans, communicate with other health professionals and keep accurate records. Demand for mental health counselors is expected to increase much faster than average over the next five years. A master's degree is usually required and average annual salary is $36,000*.

*Source: O*Net

My next post will focus on jobs for English majors.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creating a Job Search File

When looking for a job, it can be hard to keep track of all the positions you've applied for and all the other information related to a job search. You don't want to receive a call about a possible job and forget that you even applied. Therefore, I recommend keeping an organized file that includes all the information you need about your current job search. I personally use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of information related to my job search. I have worksheets for companies I would like to work for, recruiting firms to contact when I'm closer to graduating, and positions for which I've applied.

Some suggestions for what to include in your job search file:

1. Jobs you've applied to with information such as company name, job title, date applied, and contact information. You can put a check when you receive a reply.

2. Interviews you have been on including questions that were asked (to practice for future interviews), contacts you made, and when you should hear back.

3. Contact list including job title and company.

4. Reference list of your former co-workers, supervisors, team members, and professors that have agreed to serve as references.

5. Company list including industry, location, and key information (history, recent news, financial performance, and organizational structure).

6. Job boards that you have registered at, usernames, passwords, and what information you have included in your portfolio/profile.

It may seem like extra work to create a job search file, but being organized in your job search will keep you accountable and will ease some of the stress related to job hunting. If you have any suggestions for what other information might be helpful to keep track of in a job search, please comment.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Six Interest Areas and How They Can Help You Choose a Career

An interest area is a way of categorizing careers based on where and how you like to work. Your values and personality will influence your interest areas. Because this categorization combines important factors, it can be very useful when choosing a career.

A brief description of the interest areas:

1. Conventional

Conventional people like organization, structure, and stability. They prefer work that requires attention to detail and routine.
  • conventional personality traits: honest, dependable and conscientious
  • good jobs for conventional types: accountant, actuary, budget analyst, receptionist, bookkeeper, medical records technician, legal secretary, insurance underwriter, office clerk, pharmacy technician

2. Investigative

Investigative types enjoy solving complex problems and appreciate abstract ideas. Science, math, and engineering are areas in which investigative types usually excel.
  • investigative personality traits: curious, rational, intelligent and independent
  • good jobs for investigative types: software engineer, actuary, financial analyst, economist, physician, chemist, physicist, medical scientist, computer systems analyst

3. Social

Social types value relationships and gravitate towards the "helping" professions such as nursing, counseling and teaching. They enjoy working with people and communicating.
  • social personality traits: patient, friendly, generous and supportive
  • good jobs for social types: registered nurse, dental hygienist, physical therapist, teacher, home health aide, social worker, school counselor, police officer, occupational therapist

4. Artistic

Creativity expression is highly valued by artistic types. They prefer work that does not follow a clear set of rules or regulations.
  • artistic personality traits: idealistic, sensitive and unconventional
  • good jobs for artistic types: architect, editor, art director, producer, graphic designer, copy writer, musician, photographer, librarian; drama, art or music teacher

5. Realistic

Realistic types enjoy working outdoors and prefer work that is hands-on. They like using machinery or tools and would probably not enjoy most office jobs.
  • realistic personality traits: practical, athletic, stable and hard-working
  • good jobs for realistic types: electrician, plumber, truck driver, civil engineer, welder, firefighter, pilot, radiologic technician

6. Enterprising

Enterprising types like to start and carry out projects. They don't mind taking risks and are well-suited for leadership roles.
  • enterprising personality traits: persuasive, confident, decisive and ambitious
  • good jobs for enterprising types: lawyer, sales representative, manager, recruiter, education administrator, business owner, controller

How do you use an interest area to choose a career? First, realize that you will probably have a primary interest area and a secondary interest area. You should focus on the two or three interest areas that best fit you. Most careers will combine two or three interest areas, so choosing a career based on your interest areas isn't always simple. Ideally, you will identify the careers that combine your primary and secondary areas. I recommend the book 50 Best Jobs for Your Personality by Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin, which includes a test that will determine your interest areas.