Career Key

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Age-old occupation: communion bread baker

Many job titles lie hidden – waiting for people choosing a career to find or create them. I thought on Christmas Eve day, the communion bread baker would be a perfect example of a job title you won't find in any database. To be honest, I’d never thought about who makes this bread or how it’s made, but you can learn some interesting details in this NYT profile of a family business baking communion bread.

It just goes to show that you never stop learning about new types of work – and researching career choices is a lifelong project. You can never find all the interesting options because they are unlimited.

Whether you will be tasting communion bread this holiday season or simply spending time with friends, we wish you a safe and wonderful holiday season. Give yourself a well-deserved mental break from the “career project.” Your concerns about your future can wait for a few days.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Work/life balance – post recession career planning

For many in this recession, getting a job, much less a family friendly job, is the goal. But for those of you choosing a long-term career path, what does the current economy mean for your future flex-time schedule? Probably not much - time is on your side. While these positive benefits, seen by some executives as “frills,” may be cut back now, chances are they will return .

In her blog post, “Will Family Friendly Jobs Disappear?” NYT reporter Lisa Belkin describes some of the preliminary impacts of the recession on flex-time policies, on site child care, and nursing mom benefits. These types of family friendly benefits are mostly from large employers in the corporate world and some government agencies, not small businesses. See Working Woman Magazine’s 100 Best Companies for Working Mothers. Of course if you’re self-employed, you can set your own rules; the only catch is you need to be self-sustaining.

If one of your primary career concerns is to have a family friendly workplace or flex-time for a favorite hobby, then you should include a strategy for achieving it in your decision-making. This recession won’t last forever.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowed in with the Muppet Show

Like many across the country, we’ve been snowed in here in the Pacific Northwest. You’d think I’d have lots of time to post to The Career Key’s blog – but my young son has had other ideas. Schools are closed so all of us, husband included are holed up at home. And my laptop is like a magnet for my son so having it open and working is impossible. Unless we’re watching The Muppet Show on the Disney website or YouTube….

This is one of my favorite Beaker skits for those Investigative personalities interested in a science career – The Banana Sharpener.

And for Realistic personalities interested in becoming a professional chef, The Swedish Chef Makes Donuts, is a great introduction.

This gives me an idea for a future post, how about matching Muppet personalities to careers? Dark times call for lighter measures… Stay warm!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Learn Something Colorful About Networking & the Corporate World

It’s hard to find someone who says something new about networking, but I found a new resource from which everyone can benefit. I just finished reading an excellent book by Pitney Bowes executive Keith R. Wyche called “Good Is Not Enough: and Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals.

Intended for women as well as people of color (but useful for everyone), I found its suggestions unusually practical and useful, especially for Enterprising personalities interested in the corporate world. If you’re thinking about a career in business, you should read this book. It provides a lot of detail about how to succeed in that environment so you can decide whether that career option sounds right to you.

The book is not solely about networking, but includes tips on creating a career blueprint, goal setting, and specific suggestions for excelling in your current job. Mr. Wyche also discusses personality traits and how important it is for your career to match them. He gives an example of someone who switched jobs in a sales career from a supervisory to a non-supervisory position because he didn’t like and wasn’t good supervising people – and as a result ended up happier (and made more money). This person had the good fortune to have Mr. Wyche as a mentor, but also the smarts to sit down and think about his personality traits and what types of jobs matched them. In our words, “Know Yourself.”

I would also recommend this book to Caucasian men for a minority’s perspective on the corporate world in addition to the practical advice. If you haven't worked for, worked with or supervised someone of color - you will. Being able to work well with different types of people is one of the Foundation Skills (People Skills) described in our article Identify Your Skills. And knowing something about how people approach the world is part of learning that skill. I'm still learning...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Career Key Licensee, College Foundation of North Carolina, Highlighted in ASCA School Counselor Magazine

In “Career Exploration North Carolina Style,” 6th grade Waynesville Middle School counselor Annette Husson, Ed.D., highlights the online career center of an organization that licenses The Career Key, the College Foundation of North Carolina ( They also partner with another of our licensees, The article appears in this month’s issue of the American School Counselor Association magazine, School Counselor. CFNC is a nonprofit partnership between Pathways of North Carolina, College Foundation Inc., and the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.

Ms. Husson describes CFNC’s career center as “divided into four areas: Work, Learn, Life and My Portfolio. Student have an opportunity to take [The Career Key] that matches their interests with careers…”

After describing all of the career center’s benefits, Ms. Husson concludes, “[a]ll in all, this is one well-developed easy-to-use tool for educating North Carolina’s middle and high school students about career options.”

I also have a personal connection with CFNC, because they made it possible for me to attend Princeton University. In 1989, I graduated from the public school system in Raleigh, North Carolina and received financial aid and student loans sufficient to attend an Ivy League school (along with my parents’ help) – no mean feat. In the 10 years I spent paying off my loans, even after I needed a deferral once for unemployment, they were wonderful. I never felt bad about sending in my monthly check to them.

North Carolina students are very lucky to have such high quality educational resources, not just in career planning and financial aid options but also in its educators like Ms. Husson. I am proud to be a product of them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dr. John L. Holland, 1919 – 2008

On November 27, 2008, one of our best known, influential and respected vocational psychologists, Dr. John L. Holland, died in Baltimore, Maryland. (photo courtesy of American Psychological Association) We are particularly sad to hear of Dr. Holland’s passing. The Career Key and The Self-Employment Key tests, as well as versions of The Career Key test adapted for use in different countries, are scientifically valid measures of the 6 personality types of Holland’s Theory of Career Choice. Dr. Holland's contributions have helped and will continue to help millions of people through our website, our licensees, as well as through other scientifically valid assessments based on his work.

In 2008, Dr. Holland received the Award of Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology from the American Psychological Association, “presented to a person … who has made distinguished theoretical or empirical advances leading to the understanding or amelioration of important practical problems.”

According to the November 2008 issue of the American Psychologist magazine, the award citation reads:
“For outstanding contributions to vocational psychology and personality. John L. Holland’s hexagonal theory of vocational interests and his research have shown the importance of vocational environment and vocational personality interactions. His research shows that personalities seek out and flourish in career environments they fit and that jobs and career environments are classifiable by the personalities that flourish in them.

Further, he was a pioneer in work on assessments of university environments and their influence on students and in the development of knowledge about nonacademic accomplishments. He also contributed significantly to research on originality and interpersonal competence. With wit, wisdom, and intellectual prowess, he has for five decades influenced and inspired students, colleagues, and practitioners of applied psychology.” [Emphasis added]
To read the complete citation and biography, please visit the NCDA website page here.

To truly realize the benefits of Holland's Theory and respect his work, it is important for people using career tests to choose ones that are scientifically valid measures. Unfortunately, most online career tests on the Internet are invalid and can harm you. If you are not sure whether a career test is valid, visit our website or please read this short article.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

4 Ways to Find Your Best Place to Work

Working with like-minded people, people with the same personality type or compatible types, leads to job satisfaction. I’m sure you’ve seen, either in yourself or in others, how this statement, part of Holland’s Theory of Career Choice, rings true. Even celebrities can serve as examples.

I recently saw Elvis Costello interview Sir Elton John on his great new talk show “Spectacle” on the Sundance Channel. Sir John said that early on he knew he wanted to be involved with music. If he couldn’t make it as a musician, he said, he would work in music publishing, songwriting, or some aspect of the business. And true to his goals, he got his start as a “tea boy” in a famous London music publisher’s office, carrying around tea and gathering up stray sheet music. He said that although the work was drudgery, it was exciting to be around and work around musicians and songwriters. We all know how success has followed him.

To find your best place to work,
  1. Read these 6 statements about Holland’s Theory of Career Choice.
  2. Learn what your highest two personality scores are and think about the types of people you’d enjoy working with. Past job experience and relationships may help guide you.
  3. Brainstorm how your life, both through a career and leisure activities, could incorporate your dominant personality types. In your day job, you might work in one environment (social work) and have fun “off the clock” in a different environment (fixing classic cars).
  4. Consider careers that combine your top two personality types. Ideally you would find an occupation that was the best of both worlds. For example, an art gallery owner combines the Enterprising and Artistic personality types. You may be able to create one through self-employment. Like a therapist who counsels businesspeople, lawyers, and other Enterprising people.

Using these suggestions to identify working environments that are compatible with your personality will help you choose a career likely to lead to job satisfaction. Why not work with people you like?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Have you given up?

News media is now calling rethinking your career options as “giving up” on the job market. Is the negative spin really accurate? I don’t think so. If you really loved your career path and it was perfect for you, I doubt you would be “giving up” on your job search. And unemployment, should you be lucky enough to receive it for more than a few months, is insufficient to live on. So “giving up” to sit on the couch with your TV is a limited option for most.

You may think, easy for her to be upbeat because she’s employed. But I’ve been unemployed, like most people, off and on during my working life. And I have no better job security now than anyone else in the private sector. There is also no surf and turf Career Key Xmas party in my future.

But I admit, the economy is worse than it has ever been in most people’s working experience – and it’s hard to stay positive. Especially if you have, like I do, a nagging suspicion that most people who profited on creating this mess are still sipping mai tais by a pool somewhere….

An optimistic, activist approach is still more likely to result in long term success. Reevaluating your career options is an investment in your future. As long as you avoid procrastination and disorganization by following this 3 step process to choose a career path, it will be the best time and money you’ve ever spent.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Get Creative with Self-Employment

How do you convert your hobby, dream, or passion into a successful small business idea? Even if you are not an artist, this excellent article in the NYT Shifting Careers column about Artistic entrepreneurs showcases artists who made the leap and lessons learned. Science has proven the connection between job satisfaction and matching your personality with self-employed careers. Once that match is made, you can work on starting your own business if that’s right for you.

In a self-employed career, whether it’s in art, social work, or as a scientist, here are some lessons learned from others’ success:

Embrace new technology and make it work for you. Getting started on the Internet is relatively cheap. But one of the biggest challenges to starting a business is the “Google” business model, where advertising is supposed to be the holy grail – and your sole source of revenue. With the proliferation of free Internet content, open source software, etc., making money can be a challenge when people expect everything for free. Not everyone can drive traffic to their site with the words “green, sex, cancer, secret, and fat.” Get creative about providing something of value people will pay for.

Business (making money) is not evil. I know it’s hard to say this after Wall Street’s implosion. But ideology only gets you so far (and so poor). I’ve written before about my late artist grandfather who was trained in the early 20th century to distrust and disdain commercial art. And yet it was his beautiful commercial work, America's first children’s moveable books, that supported his family during World War II. Making a living trumps ideology – but they need not be mutually exclusive.

Job experience in different fields can be an asset. For people who have changed careers at least once, your experience – working with different types of people and exposure to a variety of customer needs can really work to your advantage. You get needed perspective about what people want and need – which is what business is there to provide.