Education and Careers: The Paths We Choose

We all know that education prices are skyrocketing, and the return on investment (ROI) is not so clear. Degrees, they say, used to guarantee a job, and now jobs that used to only require a bachelor’s degree require a master’s, and so on. This means that the ROI has decreased, and that higher education is undergoing inflation. Technological changes, moreover, are eliminating midlevel service jobs.

According to a May 2011 report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, full-time workers with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, 84 percent more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma. If workers, then, with a bachelor’s degree are now filling jobs that those with only a high school diploma used to have, then living conditions and salaries for them are poor, and salaries for those without a degree are unlivable. In this situation, it is necessary to earn a higher degree, and yet, hard if not impossible to receive a decent ROI for the time and money spent.

In comes online education. Online higher degrees are becoming more credible and more common. And as if on a linear train of thought – in comes free online education, offered from top universities around the country (MOOCs). Moreover, the career opportunities that only a degree-in-hand allow are merging with online ed options: just a few weeks ago Georgia Tech announced that it was merging with Udacity to provide a reasonably-priced computer science program. In the totally unbalanced situation of higher than reasonable brick-and-mortar degree prices versus free online education, hybrid models are emerging as one way of answering to the issue for positive ROI outcomes.

ROI: What Does It Really Mean? OR Is Money What It’s All About?

According to government projections, by 2020, only three of the thirty fields with the largest projected job openings will require a bachelor’s degree or higher to fill the position: teachers, college professors, and accountants. Most of the available positions will be midlevel jobs not easily replaced by technology such as retail sales associates, fast food workers and truck drivers.

College graduates who majored in zoology, anthropology, philosophy, art history and humanities are now among the least likely to find jobs appropriate to their education level, while nursing, teaching, accounting, and computer science graduates are the most likely. Graduates with degrees in marketing, finance, human resources, and advertising are seeing an increase in career opportunities and therefore ROI.

‘While engineering and computer science consistently rate among the top-paying college majors, students should also research employment demand and hot skillsets,’ Andrea Porter, communications director at Georgetown’s CEW, said to USNews for a piece called ‘College Majors With the Best Return on Investment.’ “Research what skills are most valuable in the labor market… and depending on those ‘hot skills’ you can also obtain a certificate that will provide you skills that will set you apart,” she added.

Katie Bardaro, a lead economist at PayScale (an online salary database), contributed to the piece by stating that engineering, physics, computer science, and mathematics boast strong earning potential and low unemployment rates, which can help prospective employees reap the highest return on their education investment.

Many are concerned, because where there are jobs there isn’t enough talent and where there is talent, jobs are limited. And since ROI is usually only calculated by the maximum money one receives for their time spent in college, top-paying careers which are in-demand are listed as the top careers.

If you are cut out for the analytical work, these advisers say, then do it! For the money.

But what about for those who don’t necessary need the maximum paying career – those who see what they want to contribute and what they themselves are talented in as important first, and then wish to identify how to make a living? Is money the most important thing to all of us? When did economical ROI become the most important aspect of continuing one’s education? And the answer of course, is always for some, and for other’s: when this became a concern.

No, money is not the most important factor for all of us. “Teachers aren’t in it for the money,” for example, is a common expression of the profession. But money can help us get places. Money is necessary to survive. A decent paycheck, good working conditions, and fulfilling our dreams is the ideal for many of us.

If money was the only thing that mattered, then perhaps we would all heed the advice of the higher education advisers who say – enter computer science now! Perhaps it is not that we do not have the ability, talent or work ethic, but simply, that our interests lead us somewhere else. Some of us have our own visions to follow. What then?

Fulfilling Our Highest Visions

We have an economy that is based on creating revenue by selling things we don’t need cheap and making a profit vs. filling real world needs for humanity’s benefit. We are conditioned to want more money and certain things – often brands. There is too much competition in fields we don’t really need, and too many shady businesses and practices that take advantage of people. Imagine if we focused on the best and putting capable people into jobs that actually serve people, imagine if money didn’t matter the way it does for people and businesses of today. But it does because money is the most powerful thing in our world. Even knowledge doesn’t come close to the power money allows a person to yield.

Technology should make things easier on all of us, not take away a limited amount of jobs and further the economic gap between the wealthy and the poor, making only the hardest jobs that cannot easily be filled by technology what’s available to uneducated people. All people should be well-educated. All people have potential. Meaningless jobs should be filled by computers, and people should be encouraged and able pursue their dreams. Make the world a better place. Make themselves better. Make others better. And help the community.

Perhaps I am too partial to romanticizing education. I truly believe that it is one of the most powerful forces in the world; that knowledge, not money, should be the most powerful. However, true education, education of this magnitude, is not, I believe, about pushing out “job-ready” graduates with “hot skills” at the right time or moment to enter a certain market. I believe the true graduates are the ones who leave college having faced themselves, and the world around them, and are ready to enter it; that specific skills are as important as life-skills, self-confidence, and general intelligence. That these hot skills don’t in fact add up if graduates are looking at the job market to pick a career, rather than finding their career based on their innate talents and desired life, whether this means that they work in advertising, as a teacher, professor, fisherman, farmer, agriculturist, or politician. We must find our own path and therefore happiness instead of the world demanding, stealing, insisting it away from us.

So while education is a good and now an almost necessary cost in the vision of this country and our place in it, and while many things influence our futures in a numerical and calculated way – our parent’s education, our education, society’s demands, and media influences – we must insist on making our own dreams and happinesses real. ROI is not only about money gains, although it is often discussed in this matter. You are not a determined by the money you make.

Of course, we must have some kind of practical plan. We have to make it work. And following our happiness, indeed can take a lot of work. And many make their visions work by combining them with one of the strong in-demand fields such as in science, technology, education or business. If we love the outcome, then the work in the end means something. This, in my opinion, is what matters.

10 Resume Misconceptions Job Seekers Encounter Throughout Their Careers

Over the years I have had clients approach me with misconceptions about résumé writing, cover letters and other written information they have submitted for their next career move. As the world of work constantly changes with technology, there are still some areas of writing résumé, posting and etiquette that still hold true and probably will indefinitely.

I was told that my résumé can only be one page

Remember that the résumé is your “Ad” to the employer. Think… when you read a newspaper or online ads are they long or short ads. “You want to catch ’em quick!” I am not saying or agreeing that all résumés need to be one page, but your summary should be compelling enough to entice the reviewer to contact you and to invite you for a phone screen or interview.

If you are networking at a job fair, a one page résumé is good enough. Once you speak to the representatives at the job fair, you leave the impression in hopes for the next step. You can prepare an in-depth résumé for the hiring manager or next level invitation 2-page résumé with highlighted skills, titles, and keywords.

However, there are certain types of résumés that are will be four to five pages long due to the content they contain by request of the employer. One type that come to mind is the federal government résumé. They have an online format to complete a résumé, but also allow you to upload a résumé. For more information on what is required, please go to USAJOBS.

Having bad credit will bar me from most good jobs

Careful here… I have heard this to be true for many jobs but NOT always. Yet still… you should still be aware of you stand with your credit. Now while you are looking for a job, your credit rating is probably the last thing on your mind while looking for a new job. Maybe you’re taking a second or a third look at your résumé and cover letter, or you are working with career coaches, friends or family review it. As of this writing, we are pretty much through with the financial crisis but it has become practice that companies will consider it a standard operating procedure for many companies to do a credit check, along with checking out your work and education references, or even doing a drug test or checking to see if you have a criminal history. This is especially common with large Fortune 500 companies, financial companies (banks, security companies, federal government (US), etc.)

I repeat, I recommend that you keep an eye on your credit to see where you stand. A rule of thumb is to keep your score at 720 and above to be considered to have good credit. Credit Karma is a site that allows you to review you pull your report and score at any time. Use this site not only while you are job seeking, but to keep wraps on your status with creditors and potential identity theft issues. Review this article at CreditCards.com for more information.

Recruiters or the hiring managers will call me; I don’t need to follow-up

Really… following up is the part of the process to applying for a job. Employers usually list an opening and closing date for jobs. It is appropriate to follow-up one to two weeks after the closing date of the job announcement. If the job announcement states “NO CALLS ACCEPTED” or “NO FAXES ACCEPTED” then follow instructions, they will contact you if you meet the qualifications they state they are looking for.

I have to list my salary requirements on my résumé

No, you do not need to list the salary requirements on the résumé but if asked, please be honest. I coach my clients to provide a range when asked by the employer. Or, if my clients have already researched the position of choice and I will guide them to address it in a short narrative format that provides leverage when negotiating salary at the interviewing table.

I’ll add ‘References available upon request,’ hobbies, my age, and marital status to my résumé

No. It is understood that you have references. When asked to provide them, determine how many are necessary, and choose which references will best represent you for this particular position. Contact your references so they will expect a call or email from this company, and discuss the job with them so that they can represent you in the best possible light. Please, please, please do not add your age, hobbies and marital status to your résumé. This is not needed and can be considered as discrimination.

Cover letters are a waste of time and recruiters or hiring managers do not read them.

This is not entirely true. Cover Letters are used as an introduction and should accompany your résumé, whether e-mailed, posted on a job site, mailed, or hand delivered to an employer. Do not think that recruiters or hiring managers do not read them, because THEY DO! When writing your cover letter make it a powerful introduction that makes them want more. A strong fact and figure to support your credentials in the cover letter can support your case to getting an interview which is one step closer to getting that job. There are a couple of exceptions where cover letters may not be needed or necessary. They are at job fairs or when you are introduced to someone in person. But all in all make sure all of your career documents stand out and show out.

I can just post my résumé to a major job board and wait for the interviews to come to me

BE CAUTIOUS with this! I have never heard of jobs just coming to a candidate unless you have a rare skill or trade that hard to find in the WORLD. Just because you post to a job board does not mean you do not have to do the due diligence of following up with the employer to see where you stand. Continue to abide by the instructions that are posted on the job board and the announcement posted but FOLLOW UP.

I applied for the perfect position that was written just for me-the phone should be “ringing off the hook”

You would not believe how many times I have heard this one or have experienced this myself. But as just the same, there are others that are saying the same thing. Not long ago, there was a Program Manager position that client knew it was perfectly written for him. He tailored the résumé for the position, submitted the appropriate documentation expected a call and did not hear a word. Why? Many recruiters are probably receiving a mass amount of résumés and they do not have the time to call everyone back. This is true for small and large companies. In small companies many recruiters are serving in roles as HR professionals and administrative roles and do not have time to call. And for large companies, it could be sheer volume of résumés coming in that your phone may not be “ringing off the hook”.

I always use a picture with my résumé

No, break the habit please. I have seen and heard recruiters and hiring managers discard résumés due to this. In many countries it is illegal to discriminate in hiring based on the race or gender of an applicant, so many employers would actually rather you didn’t include your picture as it can lead to allegations of impropriety. The only example of this is if you are applying for a performing arts position (dancer, actor, model, etc.) then it will be appropriate to include a picture.

I want my ‘formatted résumé’ to be seen by employers on the Internet… so I’ll place it in their text blocks, anyway.

You should follow the rules that they have set for their online application program. No it is not necessarily a trick or scheme from the employer. I have seen where applicants neglected their direction and not gotten a phone interview or invited to the interview because the company could not read or understand the information submitted to them. Applying for a job takes work so take the time to complete the boxes and fill in the information they require. Many times they will have a place for you to upload your ‘formatted résumé’ into their system.

ENFP Careers Advice

ENFP personalities are one of the 16 personality types from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and are known for being fun, open and enthusiastic. Their career strengths are different to those of others personalities. This means there are some jobs and careers they are well suited for and others that they may find challenging and less enjoyable.

Everyone needs careers advice that’s specific to their own personality and situation rather than generic guidance and as a career coach, and an ENFP myself, I know the advice below is spot on!

1. Start with your heart

As opposed to diving straight in and examining your skills and qualifications, try first considering what you want to do. People with this personality need to enjoy their careers as for them work isn’t just somewhere they go or something they do. For them it is often an expression of who they are. This means that it needs to be meaningful and fulfilling.

So the first piece of careers advice I would give is ‘Start With Your Heart’. This isn’t the same as saying just follow your heart as there are certainly other factors to be taken into consideration, but first of all look inside and decide what you really want to do.

2. Career strengths – build on them

You might think it sounds obvious to build a career based on your strengths, but sadly it’s all too easy to follow a path better suited to someone else. This is usually because you aren’t aware of your strengths or possibly you’ve received inappropriate advice.

The career strengths people with this personality often have include great people skills, creativity, adaptability and the flexibility to turn your hand to many things if you want to.

There are many areas where you can use these including teaching, social work, counseling, psychology, marketing, design, event management and many creative areas.

3. Got weaker areas?

In the same way that they often have signature career strengths, there are usually areas they find more challenging. This often seems to include follow-through, the need for flexibility, attention to detail and impersonal environments or those they perceive to be critical.

It makes sense to avoid career paths which don’t need your strengths but instead demand skills in an area you are less talented in. This can include auditing, accounting, computer programming and other detail-oriented IT work, manufacturing, cold calling and admin work.

This doesn’t mean you need to look for work that doesn’t include any of these things as most jobs will have elements you are not as keen on, but you may find it easier to flourish in a role that doesn’t focus on one or more of your weaker areas.

4. Finding the right career – more than personality

Although your personality is undoubtedly important and can be a helpful guide when finding the right career, it shouldn’t be the only thing you consider.

Other factors to consider include: skills and skill level, qualifications, interest areas, which jobs and careers paths are available and growing in the area where you are looking.

5. Job hopping or undecided? Build variety into your career path

These folks love variety and have many interests, as do people with a scanner personality. This can result in a low boredom threshold and if their current job doesn’t offer them variety or challenge they may end up job hopping.

To avoid the many disadvantages of job hopping, try building variety and change into a job or career path. Ways to do this include working in environments with a lot of change, doing project-based work, having 2 different part-time jobs or working for a small company where you get to do many different roles.

If you’re an ENFP and have been following generic careers advice and found yourself miserable in your job, that may have been where you’ve been going wrong. There’s nothing wrong with you, you’ve just been following the wrong advice. Perhaps now you need to look at careers advice tailored to you.