Archive for February, 2010

Color Career Test - Try it Out!

February 25th, 2010
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No, it's not based on skin color. Came across this odd online test that analyzes your color preferences, then suggests what occupations you'd be best suited for. According to the Careerpath.com site, the "Dewey Color System is now the world's most accurate career testing instrument." Um, sure, if you say so. (Test link at bottom of post.)

I took it a couple of times, and changed my color selections. Yet the results were the same for the first career choice. It reminds me of other personality tests that list so many traits and generalities, you're bound to spot a couple that seem to fit you perfectly.

However, there are major companies in Hawaii that are now using more sophisticated online tests to screen job applicants. A friend of mine scored well enough to get called in for an interview. The employer went through a thick, customized report prepared by the testing firm, which outlined her strengths and weaknesses -- based on the tests, not her actual work history. My friend felt the analysis had some valid points, but she didn't agree with everything in it.

She didn't get the job. The employer said it was between her and someone who had more experience in that field. But she wondered if there was something in those test results that swayed their final decision.

Any of you have to take personality or skills tests for jobs you applied for? What's next -- genetic testing?

Give it a go and let me know what you think! Here's the link...

http://www.careerpath.com/career-tests/colorcareercounselor.aspx

(Note: after you're done, an ad will appear, which you can close to see your results.)

Employer Pet Peeves

February 23rd, 2010
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While putting together the first two Career Changers TV shows, co-producer Ron Darby and I asked employers and staffing firm owners what bugged them most about candidates who came in for job interviews. Frankly, I was surprised to hear how ill-prepared applicants were!

Here's some recurring themes:

• Candidates who did no research on company they were interviewing for.

• Sloppy appearance. Chewing gum or answering cell phones during interview. Bad body language. Failure to make eye contact.

• Resumes that were poorly written or not tailored to job being applied for.

• Lack of passion in candidate or interest in company they were applying to. Employers want people who ask good questions and show they really want the job.

I also heard complaints from staffing firms about job applicants who brought their entire family with them to interviews and left them sitting in the reception area. One even brought their dog.

Some stories were funny. Signe Godfrey, president of Olsten Staffing, chuckled when she recalled how a job-seeker wrote "911" for her Emergency Contact number on the application form.

Many of the resume and interview tips we put on the show and our website seem like common sense, or things that should be taught in high school and college. But apparently they aren't -- at least not in public schools.

However, at job-oriented schools such as Heald College (one of our sponsors), they actually devote class time to resume writing, and do mock interviews prior to graduation. The faculty and Career Services counselors coach students on how to dress, act professionally, and do the little things like sending a "thank you" note after the interview...

Which is another employer pet peeve: applicants who don't follow up after the interview aren't considered to be very interested in the job, and that counts as a mark against them.

So any employers or HR people out there who have a story to share? Also, do you think rude behavior -- answering cell phones, chewing gum during interviews -- is mostly a generational thing?

For resume and interview tips, check out Judy Bishop's excellent primers on our YouTube Channel and website at www.CareerChangers.tv

Psychologists Wanted

February 19th, 2010
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On this month's Career Changers TV show, we have a segment about job opportunities in the psychology field. When times get tough, stress and mental illness problems increase. So does alcohol and drug abuse. That means there's a need for more counselors, therapists and psychologists.

Losing your job can be devastating. Marriages suffer due to money woes. Long periods of unemployment can lead to depression and anxiety. So if there are any professionals out there reading this, who specialize in this area, we'd like to have you on the show to offer advice and tell viewers where they can get help.

Another question I'd ask: If you're out of work and lose your health insurance coverage, what do you do if you can't afford private counseling?

Sadly, at a time when more drug and alcohol treatment is needed, the State is cutting funds in that department -- which will probably lead to an increase in crime and accidents that cost taxpayers more than what is being "saved' by these budget reductions.

Relevant link: U.S. News & World Report rated "Marriage and Family Therapist" as one of the 50 best careers of 2010, with strong growth over the next decade. Median annual earnings for therapists were $45,000 in 2008, while the top 10 percent made over $71,000 a year. Your mileage may vary.

Calling the next Dr. Drew: Is there a psychologist in the house who would like to be on Career Changers TV? Please send email to richfigel@gmail.com.

For daily show times and other useful links, please visit CareerChangers.tv.

Open Forum for Job-Seekers

February 17th, 2010
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Yesterday's post on employers asking candidates about their salary histories got some interesting responses from a job hunter and two staffing firm owners (click on Comments to read them). But it raises another question: are employers using the weak job market to intentionally low-ball salaries when hiring new workers?

Signe Godfrey, president of Olsten Staffing, says business owners have to be more frugal and cautious in what they're paying new hires. I get that. However, I also understand why an employee would jump ship if they got a higher-paying offer for the same type of job -- especially if the current employer won't ante up to retain good workers. Then it becomes a lose-lose situation for the agency that placed the job candidate, the company that hired the person, and the employee who gets a bad rep for job-hopping.

Anyhow, that thread was sparked by a reader who sent me a personal email suggesting the salary topic. I love getting emails, but please feel free to post your own ideas for this blog in the Comments section!

Just be aware it may take awhile before it appears because of the comments moderation system the Advertiser has in place. If I'm in meetings or writing, it could take an hour or two for me to approve comments. I will read them all though, and try to bring in experts to answer questions related to job searches, career education options, and starting up your own business.

So what would you like to know more about? Before your ask, you might find some answers on our website: www.CareerChangers.tv

Why do employers want salary histories?

February 15th, 2010
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Originally, I was going to write about employer interview pet peeves today. Then I heard from a reader who has her own pet peeve with employers: Why do they persist in the "archaic" practice of asking job candidates about salary history? Does it really matter what you used to earn, possibly doing work that was totally different?

In her case, she left a high-paying job on the mainland to return home for personal reasons. She was willing to work for a lot less because she was interested in starting a new career, and she was financially well off. However, she wonders if putting down her past income caused potential employers to consider her as being over-qualified.

I asked a couple of staffing firm owners what they would advise in that situation. Should she omit salary history information, or add a note that explains she's willing to work for considerably less than what she used to make? If I get any advice from those job placement experts, I'll post it in the comments section.

I'd love to hear from employers, HR people, and job-seekers on this topic, plus any other pet peeves you have related to the interview and application process!

So tell me, is past salary history really relevant anymore?

Today's links: Good U.S. News piece on "How to Be Your Own Career Expert" and "7 Questions for Every Career Changer."

Worth thinking about even if you are currently employed!