Choosing a Career Path That Pays Off

Choosing a Career Path That Pays Off

If you have any teenagers in your life, one of many things you may have heard them complain about before is being forced to decide what their future will be before they’ve even filled out a college application.

However, there’s a good reason for that: Without choosing the right courses in ninth grade, they may not get into the right classes in tenth, eleventh, or twelfth grade. Without those credits on their record, they may not get into the right degree program. Without that degree, they may not get the right entry-level job. Without that job, they may not have the work experience for the career of their dreams.

  1. How do people in these jobs spend their lives?

Be honest: How did you get an idea of the type of job you think you might like? If it came from movies or TV, where sharply dressed hotties spend eight hours a day making stirring speeches while taking time for brunch with their friends, it probably has little in common with reality.

The best way to find out what’s involved is to set up an informational interview with someone who holds that job now or held it before. They’ll provide you with a clearer picture of your new career, and they may be a useful contact later.

  1. How likely is it that you will find jobs in this field?

Having a picture of the job market is critical. Some fields are overcrowded with people who didn’t look into these numbers before and have trouble finding steady work as a result. Other areas vary wildly by geography, and you may not want to uproot your life.

If you don’t, depending on where you live now, you may not have too many options when it comes to potential employers. Study the employment outlook for people who hold the position you want to pursue. It may not be worth the trouble.

  1. How should you structure your education to get one of these jobs?

Learning how to work in your chosen field isn’t as simple as getting a degree or diploma with a matching name. You need to know which fundamental skills and knowledge employers will expect of you after you graduate, as well as the more specialized skills that will help you move up within the field over time.

To get a sense of what these are, study advertisements for the type of job you will want after you’ve completed your program, as well as the position that is two or three levels higher. This will help you choose the best electives, or search for extra courses to take outside of your program. 

  1. Are the skills you’re obtaining transferable?

Even if you follow the above two steps, there is no guarantee that you won’t experience periods of unemployment. To make them as brief as possible, you should ensure that the talents you’re developing will serve you well outside of your chosen field, as well as within it.

When it comes to your skill set, breadth is just as necessary as depth; versatility counts as much as suitability. Always be in demand, even if the employers demanding your work aren’t the ones you’d hoped. If you can get hired again quickly, you’ll be more appealing to your preferred employers later.

  1. What are the economics of this path?

There’s no getting around it: The money matters. Not only do you need to take into account the sticker price of getting your new credentials, but how much pay you’ll be giving up while you’re in class, and how soon your new salary schedule will allow you to clear away any loans you took out for the purpose.

Unless you’re independently wealthy, you can’t afford to think seriously about the financial rewards of your new career path, as well as the intellectual and emotional rewards. Be sure to find out what kind of compensation you can expect on average, and where to look for above-average pay.

I hope you found this article helpful!

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How to Ace the “Tell Me” Questions in Your Next Interview

How to Ace the “Tell Me” Questions in Your Next Interview

In most interviews, some questions are just bound to come up. The classic “Tell me about yourself” ice-breaker is a guarantee, and the way you respond will set the tone for the rest of the interview.

When the interviewer phrases a question with “Tell me,” use this as an opportunity to show your personality and use an anecdote or story that explains your answer. Check out the “Tell me” questions below as a guide to practice and feel confident about your response!

  1. Tell me a few things about yourself.
    Consider beginning by sharing a few personal interests which don’t necessarily relate to work. Your answer should focus on your experiences and skills that will be relevant to the position and company for which you’re interviewing. Turn your answer into a concise, compelling pitch that illustrates why you’re the right pick for the job.
  2. Tell me why I should hire you.
    Prepare by making a list of qualifications for the position, and then determine how to discuss your qualities that will meet the specific job requirements. Your answer should be brief and should highlight why you stand out among the other applicants. If you possess qualifications that make you unique in the candidate pool, emphasize these when answering this question.
  3. Tell me about the type of work environment you prefer.
    Interviewers generally ask this question to determine how well you’ll fit in at the company. Be honest but be sure to let the interviewer know you’re adaptable. Do a bit of research on the company culture by checking out the “About Us” section of the company website.
  4. Tell me about a project or improvement that you have spearheaded.
    Ideally, you should be able to talk about something work-related, but don’t panic you don’t have any examples. Talk about a situation where you had to take on a significant challenge. Tell your story in steps.

First, talk about the nature of the challenge you faced. Then, talk about how you analyzed the problem and identified the solution. After that, talk about implementing the solution and how you measured success. This question is mostly about your problem-solving ability. Do you leap in blind, or do you carefully step through things to arrive at a solution?

  1. Tell me about a time you went the extra mile for a client or customer.
    It helps to know the values of the employer when answering a question like this. Companies that focus on service will want to hear extraordinary tales of helping people. Companies that emphasize cost or efficiency would like to hear about how you were able to help customers while staying focused on your job. Walk through your answer in steps.

First, talk about what it was that the customer needed. Demonstrate empathy and show that you put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Then, discuss how you decided what to do next. What were the options available to you? Did you choose the best one? Here is another chance to show strategic and analytical thinking. Finally, talk about the benefit of what you did. Was the client happy, leading to a stronger relationship? Did it prevent a loss of business? Did you help your employer avoid a liability?

  1. Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult colleague.
    It would help if you never said negative things about former colleagues because it can often reflect poorly on you. You may come across as someone who’s not a team player. Answers should focus on teamwork and co-operation. Talk about how you resolved the situation or stopped it from having such an effect on the team.
  2. Tell me about a time you had to persuade someone about something.
    Situational questions like these (“tell me about a time…”) need to be answered with the STAR approach:

(1) Situation:
Talk about the situation you were in, the thing you needed to persuade someone about

(2) Action:
The action you took to convince them

(3) Result:
The outcome of your efforts.

The interviewer is looking to assess particular qualities here, namely your communication and persuasion skills.  Your answer should illustrate the degree to which you possess these skills. Ideally, it would help if you gave an example from professional life, but you can talk about personal experience as well. How do you go about talking people into things?

Branding Yourself as an Experienced Professional

Branding Yourself as an Experienced Professional

If you are an IT professional actively looking for new opportunities, ask yourself this question: Would you instead be considered a “job seeker” or an “experienced professional”? You, like most IT pros, probably chose the latter. If you want to find and land your dream job with your dream employer, you have to create the image of an experienced professional rather than a job seeker.

The Basics of Building a Brand

Hiring managers will take the time to study your online presence before they consider you as a serious candidate. They are not merely looking for someone who will be competent in a role; they want to find someone who will excel. If you’re going to pique their interest, it must be clear you are someone who possesses the “it” factor they are searching.

Therefore, it pays to invest in building an online brand. Decide what you want to be known for in your field, and then use your LinkedIn profile and your Google search results to paint the picture you are passionate about your chosen career:

  • Make sure all your personal social media profiles are set to private mode. Create professional patterns where you will reinforce your brand.
  • Polish your LinkedIn profile, making sure it is up-to-date and incorporates keywords that hiring managers and recruiters will be searching
  • Purchase a website with a domain that includes your first and last name. Use this as your online portfolio, and if you have the time and the writing talent, a professional blog.
  • Quantify the achievements listed in your LinkedIn profile and on your resume to show precisely how you make a positive impact on your employers.
  • Join professional LinkedIn groups in your niche and participate thoughtfully in the discussions you find there.
  • Subscribe to blogs, journals and other publications in your niche. Share the content you find there on your professional social media profiles.
  • Follow thought leaders and influencers in your field, retweet and share their content.
  • Comment thoughtfully on content shared by influencers.

While it may feel odd, make sure to Google yourself regularly so you can monitor the results hiring managers will see. The more original content you create on social platforms and your website, the more positive the results will be. Make sure to update your LinkedIn profile in real time, as well, so you are always showcasing recent achievements.