Career Key

Author: Career Key's President and CEO, Juliet Wehr Jones, GCDF, J.D.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween from Career Key

In luck, I found a career path depicted in pumpkin – fishing. I imagine most commercial fishers today use more than a rowboat, but I know that some Maine lobstermen still get their start in a small boat with an outboard. So maybe this isn’t so unrealistic…

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Watch out for your favorite career options

Make sure your eyes are open when making a career decision. It’s a long proven fact: we tend to disregard information that contradicts our perceptions or biases, and we welcome information that supports them. This prejudice exists whether you are choosing a career or trading in high-risk derivatives. See former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan’s Congressional testimony last week.

Translated for the person choosing a career: watch out for your favorite career options, especially if you have little negative information about them. Avoiding the tendency to shut out contradictory information by following an eyes-open process to making a good career decision. We give you the tools for this process (all science based), including a Decision Balance Sheet and a real life example.

As I wrote before about negative career information, no career option is perfect. You just need to be prepared to deal with the “cons,” as well as celebrate the “pros.”

If only our financial gurus would make good decisions!

Monday, October 27, 2008

4 Tips for Finding the Best Career Blogs

If you’re choosing or changing a career, the best career blogs help you learn about a particular career – ones that help you answer, what would it be like to be a _________? Many career blogs focus on general day to day work advice, the best of which are in our blogroll. But if you’re researching a specific career path, learn about it from someone doing the job or working in the industry.

Here are 4 tips for finding the best career blogs:
  1. Search your favorite engine or blog program (Google’s Blogger, Live Search, etc) using your matching career interest: like “veterinarian blog.” Be sure to include “blog," otherwise you get everyone’s post about a veterinarian.
  2. Look at the blogroll. Even if you find a blog that’s not exactly what you want, they often have links to others in the same industry that might be better.
  3. Don’t settle for just one. Seek out different viewpoints. One person might love her job, another might not.
  4. Be critical. Treat the information like anything on the Internet, consider the source and view it with a critical eye. Don't be surprised if some blogs may contain political/social views you disagree with. But that’s the workplace…
To give you ideas, I’ve listed some of my favorites for the Realistic Personality type, organizing them by Career Key’s groups. For more Career Key groups of matching careers, visit our online article "Match Your Personality with Careers."

Agriculture & Natural Resources
American Farm Bureau Young Farmer Blog
Life of a Farm Blog
The Tiny Farm (Organic Micro-Farming)
Blogriculture (check out their extensive blogroll of agricultural blogs)
The Beef Blog
Canada’s Forestry Blog
Steve’s Forestry Blog (U.S.)
Interested in groundskeeping? Love baseball or sports? What if you were in charge of a stadium grounds? Murray Cook’s Field Blog is for you….

I couldn’t find a good commercial fisher’s blog; if you have a suggestion, please email me. They’re probably busy out on the boat…

Safety & Law Enforcement
Community Corrections Officer Blog
The World Through the Eyes of a Paramedic
Firefighter Blog (California, Wildland) They also have an interesting fire related blogroll.
FirefighterHourly Blog (urban firefighting)
Diary of a Police Officer (U.S.)
Blues and Twos – Police Officer’s Blog (UK)
The Policeman’s Blog (UK and Canada)
Acadia National Park Blogs (Student Park Rangers)
Daicey Days: Baxter State Park Ranger Blog
Occupational Health and Safety Magazine: As I See It

eContent: Engineering Blog Quest 2008 (find reviews of non-commercial engineering blogs)
Civil Engineer Blog
Not Only Bridges
Curious Cat: Science and Engineering Blog
Chemical Engineering World
Ocean Engineering Blog
The American Surveyor Blog

Transportation and Distribution
Flight Level 390: America from the Flight Deck
My Flying Blog
A Pilot’s Blog
Captain’s Blog (Cornelia Marie); when searching for ship captain blogs, watch out for those Star Trek spoofs!

Crafts – Structural
The Carpetology Blog (yes, all about carpeting)
C-School Blog: Construction Management Education
Construction Contractor’s Digest

I hope this list inspires you to find other blogs in your areas of career interest and for your highest scoring personality types. Our goal is to help you make the best career decision and the more information you have, the better. Feel free to comment or email me with suggestions and feedback.

Career Key and Career Clusters

My excuse for a week's absence from the blog is that we have a couple of major projects going on: the largest is to match Career Key test results to the U.S. Department of Education’s 16 Career Clusters and over 900 O*Net occupations. Many government, school and college counselors would like a Holland Theory/Career Key link with the Career Clusters as their use becomes more widespread. We hope to have this complete by the end of November.

If you are a counselor or career development professional with interest in this project, please let me know. I welcome your input.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Career planning success whether you are 17 or 50

Learning about your career options and planning and preparing your career path are proven success strategies, regardless of generation. Top guidance and career counselors are trained to provide this kind of help. Ideally, you get realistic and practical advice along with encouragement to reach for higher goals.

A good example of top notch career guidance is Ilene Frommer, who was recently profiled in the New York Times. She is a guidance counselor at a public high school in Sonoma County California. Once you read about a typical day in the life of Ms. Frommer, you’ll not only appreciate the critical work she does, but also the work of thousands of other excellent school counselors across the country. Visit her high school’s online college and career planning resources to see what top quality advice she provides her students and parents. If you’re a working adult contemplating a career change, much of the advice is timeless.

Even if you do not have access to a counselor like Ms. Frommer, thanks to the internet you can take a page from her playbook (forgive the sports metaphor) and learn from her career planning approach, which is similar to ours. In fact, Naviance – the online course, college and career planning system her school uses, includes The Career Key as part of their product. Whether you are 17 years old or 50, the lessons are the same – research and planning, career information and preparation, are your tickets to success.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Second-guessing your career path

Having doubts about your career decisions is normal – at least for people I talk with about choosing a career and in my own experience. Like buyer’s remorse, you may feel a twinge of uncertainty as the financial aid office cashier takes your check and your decision to enroll in that master’s degree becomes final. Or when you attend your first staff meeting at a new job and you feel out of place – and out of your depth. Or opening your business doors and for the first few hours you don’t make a single sale.

These gut-clenching moments are a natural part of taking risks, a necessary part of career growth. Ideally, you want to be in a position to go back over, in your mind, the process you went through to make your decision. You want to be comfortable that you looked at all your options, learned about them, and thought about the consequences before making your decision.

One step we recommend in making a good career decision is to think of all the obstacles and consequences you will face from your chosen path, and to anticipate your responses to them. For example, if you know a significant other (family, friend, partner) will criticize you for your decision, decide how you will answer that criticism – before you receive it. (that school is too expensive, all lawyers are crooks, men don’t become nurses, etc.) Often, second-guessing your career path occurs when you receive negative comments about your choice. If you’re already prepared for criticism, then there is nothing new to think or worry about. You’ll be prepared, as I was, to cheerily say “not ALL lawyers are crooks – I’ll be the 1% exception!”

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Self-employment and starting a business in tough times

Now may not feel like the time for taking financial risks, especially starting a business. But maybe you don’t have a choice. Leaving a job or being unable to find a job because of a poor economy sometimes pushes people into self-employment, whether or not it is something they dreamed of doing someday. That was my first experience with self-employment and I know the twin feelings of dread and excitement. How do you make the best of it?

Visualize success. Embrace self-employment, either as a short or long term career choice. The more you fight it, the less energy and enthusiasm you’ll apply to marketing yourself and your business. There is a reason that successful sports athletes visualize success; studies show visualization works.

Understand how your personality type influences your business success. By working in an environment that matches your personality, you’ll be more likely to achieve success. Know yourself and know your options.

Identify your strengths and weaknesses and adapt your business to them. If you’re a writer/artist/lawyer/salesperson who is not good with or interested in financial record-keeping, pay someone else to set up your bookkeeping and file your taxes. It may pinch your wallet, but you’ll hurt more in time and money later if you screw it up.

Effectively use your time, especially if you are still job searching. If you haven’t given up hope on landing a job but want to take on contract work to pay your bills, plan out your work time. You don’t want to do a poor job on both your job search and your business.

By carefully evaluating yourself and following a science-based process to make a startup decision, you avoid the mistakes many people make of reacting to crisis. By being optimistic and forward looking, you’ll avoid a paralyzing funk and take action instead.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Little Perspective on Survival of the Fittest

Walking on Seattle’s Alki Beach this morning, I came across several markers commemorating the first white settlers landing in Seattle during a November storm in 1851. Among other survival techniques, the native Americans taught the settlers how to nurse their babies on clam juice. To a mother like me, if this isn’t survival of the fittest, then I don’t know what is. These two pictures (courtesy of show the cabin the settlers lived in and the schooner “Exact” they arrived in. And then think about Seattle in November. For the most part, it's windy, wet, dark and cold.

So as we go through this economic crisis, it helps to get a bit of perspective on hardship. Most of us, like my Generation X, know nothing of the Great Depression; our grandparents’ money quirks are the only connection we have with that time. So the story of these settlers and the native people that helped them, reminded me of how fortunate we are to have electricity, warmth, and shelter - the basics. And puts our other worries and concerns in perspective.

Informational Interviews Book: A New Career Resource

I recently came across Michael Gregory’s new book, “The Career Chronicles” and found it a helpful addition to my favorite career information resources. I’ve read a lot of career books, and this one is an excellent resource if you are at the informational interview stage in your research. The author asks questions like "would you choose this career again?" and how school did or did not prepare you for your work? All excellent questions you should be asking.

Look at the list below of careers and if you are interested in one of them, The Career Chronicles covers it. I organized them by Holland personality types, and grouped the careers by Career Key work groups:

  • Engineering: architect, engineer, landscape architect
  • Life sciences: soil scientist
  • Physical sciences: geologist
  • Medical sciences: pharmacist, dentist, veterinarian, speech pathologist
  • Social research: psychologist
  • Mathematics & Statistics: computer engineer
  • Literary Arts: writer
  • Drama & Dance: television broadcaster
  • Social Services: social worker, clinical therapist
  • Nursing, Therapy and Specialized Teaching: nurse
  • Educational and library services: teacher
  • Finance: accountant, banker
  • Law: lawyer
  • Promotion: marketing manager, public relations specialist
  • Sales: real estate agent, insurance sales agent, financial advisor

You can match additional careers to your personality here. You can also see another review of the book on the National Association of Admission Counseling website. Mr. Gregory interviewed over 750 professionals to write this book and the information is helpful and insightful. I recommend it.