Career Key

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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2 Positive Steps to Handle Family and Friends’ Influences on Your Career Planning

Your relationships with family and friends have a big impact on your career choices and career decisions – and the holidays focus on these relationships more than any other time of year. Are you stuck in career indecision and feel your friends or family might judge you for it? Are you considering a career they might not approve of?

Especially in the U.S., where so much focus is on your job (think social gathering and the typical opening question – “how’s the job search?” or “how’s work (or school)?”), handling career questions or opinions about your choices from those close to you can be awkward.

Here are 3 steps to positively anticipate and handle those questions and influences using The Career Key’s High-Quality Decisions self-help article:

  1. Identify any pressure you feel from family or friends – positive or negative – about your career plans. To help you, download a free “Decision Balance Sheet” and complete it for the job or career options you’re considering. Check out this list of Career Choice Consequences to help you “see” what issues may be weighing on you. Your choice may be so welcomed by your friends or family that you feel uncomfortable pressure to be successful or “perfect.” Expectations may need to be lowered.
  2. Make a plan for how you will handle each person’s concerns or reactions to your career choice or career indecision. That way you’re not left unprepared (and maybe anxious).

For example, if you’ve been laid off and you haven’t decided if you will go back to school, then prepare and practice a script for how you will answer your mother’s well-meaning but loaded question at the holiday dinner table, “how ARE you?” Instead of saying “things are fine,” which you know will result in cool or hurt silence, wouldn’t it be better to say:

“I’m deciding on whether to go to grad school. I had two informational interviews last month with graduates of the ___ school I’m considering and I’ve got two more scheduled for after Christmas. It’s pretty interesting what’s I’ve learned about _______(the post-graduation job market, financial aid, interesting classes)."
Imagine how your mom will brighten at hearing about what you are doing. With mothers, sometimes giving them more information is better than less, right? (I hope my mother is not reading this post.)

Or if you are seriously considering a career change from a more secure (if such a thing exists anymore) career like a civil-service government position to starting a business – how have you planned for the risks or consequences and your significant others’ reaction to it?

Take advantage of family and friends well-meaning interest in you to make sure your career plans and research are as organized and “on track” as you would like. It may have the side benefit of forcing you to set goals for yourself – short-term, realistic and achievable – to get things moving in a positive direction.

Friday, December 4, 2009

New NCDA Article on Using Career Interests to Organize Matching College Majors, Career Clusters, and Career Pathways

If you're a career counselor, school counselor, or career development professional, please visit the National Career Development Association's Career Convergence web magazine feature article this month, "Relating Interests to College Majors, Career Clusters, and Career Pathways."

The Career Key's author Dr. Lawrence K. Jones and I wrote the article to discuss the challenge of this project (using Holland's Theory with these other classification systems not based on interests), its importance, and how it can be used. We also hope to get your feedback.

How one classifies or organizes occupations and educational programs by Holland interests and work groups can sound boring to many people (but not to us!) - and yet it is a major reason that The Career Key is so practical and useful. You can see our classification system for matching careers at our website article, "Match Your Personality with Careers."

We want to thank the NCDA and Career Convergence editors for working hard with us to make the article possible.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

3 Ways to Use Twitter to Explore Careers and Job Options

Now that I have been sucked into Twitter, I am surprised to discover some valuable ways it can be used for career exploration. I admit to being skeptical in the past, but I am starting to change my mind.

Just like “lurking” in a forum or following a blog, following someone on Twitter can teach you lingo, show you trends, and even get you contacts through direct email. You can use it as a way for you to follow your “community” of people interested in similar occupations or industries.

1. Find and follow Twitters who work in and talk about a career that interests you.

While you can use Twitter’s “search” box, I found it quicker and more helpful to use lists of Twitterers already generated by others that are organized by occupation or career interest.

For example, the social media guide Mashable has several lists organized that way, like:

Designers, broken down into subcategories like Web Designer, Graphic Designer, etc.
Environmentalists (for people interested in Green Careers)
You can see all of Mashable’s Mega Lists here.

You can also use your favorite search engine to find a list. I “googled” “best lawyers on Twitter” and got a useful hit, “20 Twitterers Lawyers Should Follow on Twitter” at the Legal Intelligencer Blog.

Using Bing, I found a result for “Twitter Lists for Journalism and PR” at the Journalistics Blog.
Talk about great information if you’re interested in becoming a journalist – this post alone tells you a lot about the industry and trends.

2. Find and use #hashtags related to your career interest.

According to Twubs, a #hashtag is:
A user-created standard for identifying tweets belonging to a topic. Simply include the tag in your tweet and other people searching for the same tag will be able to find it. A user-created standard for identifying tweets belonging to a topic. Simply include the tag in your tweet and other people searching for the same tag will be able to find it.
Sites like Twubs organize them into groups and allow you to search for #hashtags. So for example, there are #hashtags for everything from #photography to #astronomy. I just started one for #choosecareer.

3. Think about how you use Twitter (or the Internet for that matter) and what that behavior tells you about yourself.

What topics do you search for? Who do you “follow”? Who on Facebook do you “fan”? What political or social issues are you passionate about? For more activities, go to “Learn More About Myself” at The Career Key website.

Use what you learn about your interests and passions to move forward in your career exploration and decision. If you want more career choice tips and want to follow me on Twitter, please do! I'm "thecareerkey" - which you can see in the box at the top right of this blog's homepage. I welcome your feedback! Twitter icon above courtesy of