Monthly Archives: April 2010

How to Choose a College Major


What’s a college all about? Well, it is all about knowing how to choose a major, plan a career and get education to fulfill your future commitments. Of course, there are students who are actually aware of the college major they want to choose and their career ambition. But, there is a large number of students out there that are not well prepared when it comes to choosing a college major. Finally, when they arrive on the college campus, they just rush into a decision. The very first piece of advice for these students is – don’t panic.

Surprisingly enough, most of the students in colleges change their college major at least once in their career while there are some others that do it many times. It is, therefore, very essential to choose a career path which is an ideal one for you. Career planning is a long process. So, students should be ready to devote as much time to planning it as possible.

1. Do not just rush into a decision when it is about choosing a college major. In order to plan an appealing career for yourself, you need to examine your talents and skills and make an assessment of your interests. Today, there are a number of free career assessment tests and tools available on the internet to help you. These free career tests enable you to make a well informed decision about your career.

2. Try to know about what you value most in work. It is very important to be aware of your personal values. How do you want to make an impact on the people’s lives? How do you wish to contribute towards the growth of the community? Important values include contributing to the society, working under pressure, working independently or in group, stability, security etc.

3. The third important point is to explore career opportunities. Various college and universities also offer resources through which you can explore careers and occupations. Besides knowing about specific occupations, you should also do some research to know the future trends for these careers and occupations. You can also make use of various career exploration tools.

4. Next most important thing is to perform a reality check. Are you really interested in the healthcare industry and becoming a doctor? Ask yourself other questions like this and try to figure out what advanced degrees you require to fulfill your future commitments. You will come across multiple hurdles while doing a reality check. It may happen that you are interested in the field of human resources but your father wants you to step into the field of engineering. Just be realistic and try to overcome these obstacles.

5. The final step is definitely to narrow down your choices to be able to focus on choosing a college major. On the basis of the self assessment that you did, you can get an idea about what interests you and what does not. Decide about the careers and majors that you are interested in.

Resources You Can Use For Choosing a College Major
College’s course catalog, Professors, Classmates, College’s alumni, Family and friends, College’s career centre etc.

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Are you ready to visit a career or job fair?


Most of us take career fairs very casually and do not understand how effective a job hunting tool these fairs can be. It truly requires preparation to reap maximum benefits from education fairs. Advance preparation is always required. Whether or a jobseeker, a student, a working parent or a mid career changer, each one of us needs to do some preparation to avail the benefits that education and job fairs bring us.

It is always better not visit a job fair at all than to go there, drop your resume on the recruiter’s table and walk away. If you seriously want the job fair to help you in your job hunting process, you need to take it seriously. Whether it is about making a professional resume, your dressing sense, research or the etiquettes and mannerisms, you need to be prepared in advance while you visit a career fair in your city.

First and foremost, you need to make a resume that really sells you to employers. Carry multiple neat copies of the resume to hand them to the recruiters you have targeted. Keep the format of the resume simple and attention grabbing.

Second, do some research to know the whereabouts of the company participating in the fair. Make a list of companies you have targeted and prepare a set of questions that you can ask the recruiters during the informal interview at the job fair. Knowing about companies beforehand shows that you are actually interested in working with the company.

Third, get dressed professionally. You can just visit the career fair wearing shorts and T shirts. Follow the interview guidelines that you follow in other job interviews. Do not take career fair interviews too casually.

Fourth, get ready beforehand with a one-minute commercial to introduce yourself to recruiters. Practice giving this introduction a couple of time before visiting the fair. You can also tailor the introduction to suit the specific job requirements of the company you are interested in.

On the day of the career and job fair, carry a proper folder with you. Use the folder to keep the resume as well as the business cards that you collect from recruiters. Do not forget to carry a notepad and pen to jot down things as and when required.

Use your day at the fair on expanding your professional network. Even after you return from the job fair, you should remember to keep in touch with those contacts. And do not forget to send thank you letters to recruiters you interacted with at the fair.

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Have You Found Your Career Passion?


People are passionate about different things in life. You may be a college student, a mid career changer or a jobseeker. No matter what you are, it is good to have found your career passion. When you are passionate about your career, it means you have found a career that perfectly matches your skills and interests. Being passionate about a career means the career motivates you to perform better and deliver better results. By discovering and rediscovering your career passion, you can turn your interests into a new fulfilling career.

To be able to find your career passion, you need to clarify your interests and answer a couple of important questions. While responding to the questions, you need to answer with complete honesty. Do not try to respond to all the questions in just one sitting. You can always take your time. But make sure your answers are accurate, honest and meant for the future.

Have a look at some of these important questions –

What do you love doing in your free time?
What skills come to you naturally or without effort?
What are your favorite classes and subjects?
What is dream job or dream career?
What activities energize you the most?
What have been your life-long interests?
What are the areas you are considered an expert in?
What values do you most cherish?
What type of books and magazines do you love reading?
What type of community services are you involved in?
What are your deeply rooted beliefs?
What things do you do to help people?
What are your goals in life?

Take each of these questions carefully and one by one. Do not make a hurried response. Think and contemplate. Respond to each of the above mentioned questions with honesty. On the basis of the results or the preliminary research, you need to find out the theme that runs common through all of these. Finally, you can prepare a list of potentials jobs and career paths to choose from.

Whether you are a college student, a fresh jobseeker or a career changer, it is everyone’s right to live a life of fulfillment. It is never too late to start a career which you are really passionate about. Your career passion does not only lead you to a fulfilling professional career, but it also brings happiness in your life. To be able to find your career passion, you need to take a look deep inside you. In this way, you can bring happiness both to your life and career.

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Filed under career counseling, career planning, job search

Networking Your Way to Job Search Success


Are you one of those people that simply shy away from using their professional network, because they think it’s all about asking people for a job opening? First and foremost networking is not all about calling your contacts and asking for a job. Networking is about meeting new contacts, building relationships and taking sincere interests in contacts. As you keep building credibility on the professional network, job information will follow itself. Besides, there are many ways of getting job information without annoying people. In fact using a professional network for job search success is a game. And if you are looking for benefits, you have to follow the rules of the game.

People on your professional network may not want you consume much of their valuable time. And you are not supposed to take up their valuable time either. While you keep taking sincere interest in your network, you can ask a contact to have a 10-minute meeting with you. Now, do not take up half an hour in the meeting. It will only irritate them and scare them away.

While networking with people, you should never underestimate the value that each single contact has on your professional network. Each new contact you make friends with may know another 400 or 500 people helping you to expand your network even more. So try to understand the value of each person you have already networked with.

Nothing comes for free. To receive something, you need to give too. So, networking is also kind of a give-and-take relationship. You need to devote some time on networking on a regular basis. You may come across a great job and career article while surfing on the internet. It is a good idea to share the article with your contacts. Do not forget to add a brief note to add to it a personal touch and make your contacts remember you. When one of your contacts sends or recommends you an article or a useful link, do remember to thank them by sending a brief thank you note.

Patience is always the key to successful networking. So, have patience while making contacts. Nothing should discourage you. Just persist until you start getting results or benefits from the professional networking. It is not a one-time process; you need to continue expanding your network and building credibility on the network.

You need to accept the fact that professional networking can really help you through the job hunting process. You can get useful job information via the network. You can also keep up to date with the changing trends in the job and employment industry. In addition, you can also establish long-term relationships with your contacts if you continue to be sincere and believe in the give-and-take phenomenon. Make networking a habit and you will soon see yourself availing the career and job opportunities it is expected to bring you.

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Using Your Resume to Negotiate a Higher Salary


A resume is your first impression to the prospective employer. And there is no denying the fact that it is almost impossible to change the first impressions. Therefore, your resume should be made in such a way that it markets you and sells your skills. The first impression which is created by your resume should generate a sort of urgency in the employer to get in touch with you as soon as possible. It may just happen that you are losing thousands of dollars in income only because your resume is not made or written in the right way or it sells your skills short. Given below are some essential tips about winning resume strategies that will help you negotiate a higher salary.

Show the Employer that your are a High Return on Investment
As a jobseeker, you really need to convince the employer that you are going to be a high return on investment. Just throwing around phrases like ‘results oriented’ and ‘go-getter’ will not do. You need to provide some quantifiable evidence as the proof. What was your value on your last job? Mentioning the achievements from your last job on the resume always adds weight to the resume. The quantifiable evidence can be in terms of revenues, sales figures and anything that is associated with number and proves your worth.

How Wide is Your Experience?
Years of experience that you carry always has a key role to play in negotiating high salary. However, it is not only the number of working years which count. Quality is always the most important. Candidates can mention their experience both in terms of industry knowledge or transferable skills as applicable. If you worked for one specific industry, try to show to the employer the in-depth knowledge that you have about the industry. If you changed industries while staying on the same occupation, you need to show to the employer your transferable skills. You need to show the skills that you used to fill the gap between one industry and another.

Compel the Read to Want to Know More about You

If you thought the role of your job resume was just to inform the employer, you seriously need to give it a second thought. The task of a resume is certainly not to inform the reader but actually compel them to want to know more about you as they read it. Is your resume tailored to this purpose? Now, a resume that entices the reader to want to know more about you must be well written, well formatted and well crafted. The resume should not have unnecessary details which will only lose the reader’s interest. If you include too less, that also becomes a problem. So, you need to strike a balance between how much should you include and what the result will be.

Keep all these details and tips in mind about to create a resume that makes a ‘perfect’ fist impression and entices the reader to want to know more about you. By using these tips, you can definitely expect to receive job offers at the upper end of your salary scale.

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Filed under jobs, Resume

3 Important Tips for Improving Your Online Career Portfolio


The online career portfolio of an individual happens to be the public face to employers. It is through your portfolio that employers and clients will perceive your work. Creating and improving your online portfolio requires much attention. To represent you work and yourself effectively, given below are some important tips to follow.

Tip #1: The Layout of Your Online Portfolio
Most of the people do not actually realize the true value of an online career portfolio. You need to put a lot of effort into creating it. One of the most important tips to follow is the appropriateness of your career portfolio. The choice of material for the portfolio should be done keeping the specific goals in mind. It is really a difficult decision as to what you should include and what should be left out. Include material which is relevant. Anything which is not relevant to your goals should be left out.

Excessive material in your online portfolio is a complete no-no. Keep your portfolio concise and attention grabbing. Including too much material will only distract the reader’s attention. No one would like to plow through loads of irrelevant information. The page should be named ‘Portfolio Page’. At the same time, the layout should be plain and simple, so that readers do not need to guess or think where to click to find the information.

Tip #2: Choice of Content
While putting the content, you need to keep your target audience in mind. It is important to remember that people who will view your career portfolio online include employers, clients, industry experts and business professionals. Step into the employer’s shoes to think what they will look for in your work portfolio. Include skills, talents and abilities that industry experts will look for to know about your work. The content of your portfolio will include both text and images. Upload images that add value to your portfolio and represent your career goals. Keep the standard of the content quite professional.

Tip #3: Don’ts of Online Career Portfolio
While creating your career portfolio and presenting it online, you need to remember things that you should not do. Do not include any material online that creates a cheap impression your work. Do not use materials that are dated. Do not just post anything online. Ensure that the material is flawless before you put it online. Do not club your portfolio material with other materials. It will only confuse the readers and distract their attention.

By following the 3 important tips mentioned above, you can create a flawless and entirely relevant portfolio which represents your work in the most effective and precise manner. An online career portfolio created in this way will attract the reader’s (employer’s, client’s, employer’s, industry expert’s) attention and add value to the material. And therefore, you will increase the chances of landing job interviews and get hired.

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What Do Career Aptitude Tests Measure?


Career aptitude tests are meant to measure your mental development and intellectual abilities. They make you aware of how well you can perform under a given situation. Today, you have multiple resources to analyze your aptitude. You can find a number of such career tests on the internet, both paid and free services. By taking these tests, candidates come to know about their capability to comprehend instructions and then apply their previously acquired skills and knowledge to make good inferences. These tests tell you how you will perform in your future.

Career Aptitude Tests vs Attainment Tests
The aptitude career test, as mentioned above, analyses your general capabilities for predicting your future performance. Though these tests are a part and parcel of all psychological assessments, they vary from one group of people to another. Aptitude tests differ for people belonging to different cultural groups.

On the other hand, an attainment test is different from an aptitude career tests. Attainment tests are meant to measure your academic achievements. They are used to predict your achievement in different subjects including social studies, science, mathematic etc. Attainment tests do not differ in terms of people belonging to different cultures.

Aptitude Tests vs IQ Tests
How do you know whether you are a genius, an average or an idiot? IQ tests are designed to test how you have developed mentally. Though aptitude tests also do the same thing, they measure your intelligence for predicting your future performance. In most of the cases, an aptitude test may be the same as an IQ test. Owing to court’s rulings, however, aptitude tests do not use the term IQ or do not interpret the IQ scores as the result of an aptitude test.

Your Encounter with an Aptitude Career Test
Before you start taking the aptitude test, you will be given a solved practice test paper. First of all, you need to understand the requirements of the test. After this introductory preparation, the tester will provide you with a long questionnaire, containing multiple choice questions. You will need to answer all the multiple choice questions within the provided time limit. Do not worry if you are given a maximum number of questions to answer. They are given to candidates to test their capability of handling stressful situations. Both your accuracy and speed are tested through the career aptitude test.

What Characteristics Do Aptitude Tests Analyze?
If you take an aptitude test, you will come know about your ability to perform your role in future. These tests analyze some of your most essential characteristics. These are as follows.

  • Logical Thinking and Analytical Skills
  • Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Leadership Skills
  • Comprehension and Communication Skills
  • Capabilities you can work upon and improve
  • Your Hidden potentials that you can use to perform your role

Psychological testing companies have also developed job-specific career tests. Specialized career aptitude tests assist employers a lot in selecting the right candidates for specific job positions. For candidates, these tests have to play a crucial role in determining the right career path. Jobseekers, students and career changers need to take these aptitude tests seriously to become successful in their careers.

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Filed under career counseling, career planning, career success, Uncategorized