Career Key

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

Practical Advice for Setting up an Information Interview

Information interviewing is one of our top ten recommended ways to learn more about jobs or careers that interest you.  It fits in with Step 3 of High-Quality Decisions: to learn more about your career options.

For more practical advice on how to set up an informational interview, I highly recommend the last chapter of Roadtrip Nation: A Guide to Discovering Your Path in Life called "Do it Yourself: How to Set Up Your Own Roadtrip Experience." I've read a lot of career advice books and this one offers very practical ways of handling "cold" calls or emails.  Plus it has great interviews with lots of different types of people that will inspire you.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Popular Career Advice e-Book "2010 What Job is Best for Me?" Just Released

If you're looking for a helpful career advice resource on smart career decision-making, we just updated our popular career e-Book, "What Job is Best for Me?" The new 2010 edition is now for sale in the Career Key eBookstore.

You can purchase it for $8.95 or save by purchasing it with The Career Key test for $14.50 (over 20% off separately purchasing the two).

We updated links and added new material about evaluating a career's job outlook, job satisfaction, and using social media to get career information. To learn more you can see a the Table of Contents at our description page for the What Job is Best for Me? e-Book.

The 2009 What Job is Best for Me? received an excellent review from the Blog so we are confident you'll find the 2010 edition a valuable resource.  We always welcome your feedback so please let us know what you think. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Last Chance to Vote For The Career Key in the USDOL Challenge

This is your last chance (and last you'll hear from me about it) to recommend The Career Key website as a helpful tool for job and career seekers as part of the U.S. Department of Labor's Tools for America Challenge. Help us get listed along with the "big guns" like Monster & Career Builder!

Tell your friends and obviously please vote for other sites you find helpful.

Deadline to vote for Career Key in the DOL Challenge is 9 p.m. EST tomorrow (Friday, January 15).

A huge thank you to our voters so far!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Using Your Decision-Making Style To Improve Your Career Planning

When you make career decisions - whether it's a career change or choosing a college major or training program, it helps to know what kind of decision-maker you are. Some decision-making styles are more productive and effective than others, like being "planful" or "intuitive."  Others, like "delaying" or "paralytic", are obviously less helpful and lead to career indecision. Young people may be more "compliant" in their decision-making, following blindly what peers or parents tell them to do instead of focusing on their unique qualities and career interests.

The more self-aware you are, the better prepared you are for changing styles if you need to, moving through inevitable roadblocks. You'll find that these decision-making styles apply to other life decisions so knowing yours can help you in non-career related areas too.

In general, there are eight decision-making types:
  1. Planful
  2. Painful
  3. Intuitive
  4. Impulsive
  5. Compliant
  6. Delaying
  7. Fatalistic
  8. Paralytic
(Dinklage, L.B., 1968)  Rutgers University Career Services' career decision web article has excellent descriptions of each type.

To complicate things, you may change styles in the decision-making process. You may start out as "planful" but end up in a more "paralytic" state because of a loved one's unexpected negative reaction to a career choice.

Anticipating and planning for challenges are part of why it's important to follow the Decision Balance (ACIP) method of career decision making. And putting the whole process in context of what you know about your decision-making style(s) can really improve the outcomes of your career planning.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

U.S. Job Satisfaction at Lowest Level since 1987: Our 8 Recommendations for Maximizing Your Job Satisfaction

According to a Conference Board survey released today, job satisfaction in America is at its lowest level since 1987 when the survey was first done.  Satisfaction has dropped to 45% from 61.1% of 5,000 households surveyed. The least satisfied age group is under 25; 35.7% of them say they are satisfied with their jobs.

If you feel dissatisfied in your job and need help figuring out what's wrong and how to fix it, read our helpful website article "Job Satisfaction." We offer 8 recommendations and activities for maximizing your job satisfaction.

My personal belief is that changes in our economy lowering job security and widening the income gap between people must have something to do with this trend.  I'm obviously not suggesting that we look to more European-style socialistic employment policies, but I think too much insecurity and a feeling that the system doesn't reward hard work breeds dissatisfaction. What do you think?

Vote at USDOL to Recommend The Career Key Website to Career and Job Seekers

If you like our career advice and help for people making career decisions, please recommend The Career Key website in the U.S. Department of Labor's Tools for America's Job Seekers Challenge. You can use the link above or look for Idea #34. You can also type "Career Key" into the search box.

Nearly all of our website is free, with the nominal test fee ($1 per test for group purchases of at least 30) supporting the site's operation. Plus we donate 10% of website sales to charity and no advertising.

We rely mostly on word-of-mouth recommendations (it's worked since 1997) so your vote and comments really count.  Thank you!

Students Choosing a College Major: What Employers Want from Colleges

If you're considering your college major and education options, you've probably seen at least one media source talk about the purpose of college and whether college is still worth it. And whether any liberal arts degree other than business (is that a liberal art?) has a path to financial greatness.  The hype is enough to make anyone unsure of how to make a financial investment in education.

I think the issue has been oversimplified, overly alarmist - with little helpful or practical information for students and parents of students wondering if their retirement funds are being sucked into a black hole of irrelevance.

But the good outcome of all this handwringing is the attention given to making well-thought out career and education decisions.  That doesn't mean you have to decide on day 1 of your college education what your graduation job will be.  But it does mean that you should pay attention to what interests you, what you want to learn, and how you can fit that into the first career step of many after graduation.

So as you choose your college major, you might consider what you'll learn from your chosen program in these skill areas employers believe are important outcomes for college students:

Intellectual and Practical Skills
  •Written and oral communication
  •Critical thinking and analytic reasoning
  •Complex problem solving
  •Teamwork skills in diverse groups
  •Creativity and innovation
  •Information literacy
  •Quantitative reasoning

*% of employers surveyed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities who say colleges should place more emphasis on "learning outcomes" in these skills.

If you've paid attention to anything Daniel Pink has written about the coming of the Right Brained Thinker, then you'll see that there is more to life than a business degree (not that there is anything wrong with that).  There are plenty of other liberal arts options (yes, philosophy is one of them) that will teach you the skills to excel in business or any field.  It is possible to take business courses while you study philosophy. It IS possible to think outside the college major/career path box. What a concept!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Advice for Changing Careers from the Change Experts

Making a career change is not easy. Make sure you don't overlook helpful resources from outside the career advice world.  For any life change you want to make, I highly recommend Dr. James Prochaska's "Changing for Good" book that I read over the holiday break. It was recommended to me by a fellow career development professional. (Thanks Kate Duttro! Author of the Career Change for Academics Blog)

If you are emotionally invested (like most of us) in our careers and jobs - and you're forced or by choice want to make a career change, "Changing for Good" has some great advice.

Like we do in The Career Key's "High Quality Decisions" article, Dr. Prochaska bases part of his advice about making good decisions on Irving L. Janis and Leon Mann's decisional balance research.

The free Decision Balance Sheet from our High Quality Decisions article would be an excellent companion exercise to this book.  If you can recommend any other helpful, high-quality resources like this one related to making life changes, please let me know.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year from The Career Key!

Happy New Year! I've been taking some much needed vacation - I hope you have been too.

I got addicted to cross-country skiing back when I was too poor to downhill ski (and I'm still too cheap to spring for a season pass). So when I had the opportunity to ski near Mt. Hood, Oregon over the Christmas holiday - I took it. Wow - what a couple of hours in the bright sunshine and snow will do for you!

I also have been using the down time to work on a few Career Key projects that you'll be hearing about soon:
Dr. Lawrence K. Jones, Career Key's author, is finishing up the final touches on our new Education Key website for launch in the next month or so.

I hope you have a great, prosperous New Year - with healthy family and friends.