Master Career Counselor

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor (MCC) by the National Career Development Association and a Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is an expert in writing resumes, effective job search strategies and interviewing success. Most recently, with over 20 years of navigating the complexity of today's world of work, she published "Finding Your Place in the World of Work", a career interest inventory (2014) and CareerView, an iPad app. As a private practice career counselor and a workforce development consultant, this blog is Carla's trove of ideas, trends, forecasts, and career tips for finding meaningful work.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Obama Calls for Job Summit At White House on December 3rd

Remarks made by President Obama on November 12, 2009:
"Over the past 10 months, we’ve taken a number of bold steps to break the back of this recession. We’ve worked to stabilize the financial system, revive lending to small businesses and families, and prevent responsible homeowners from losing their homes. And through the Recovery Act, we’ve cut taxes for middle class families, extended and increased unemployment insurance, and created and saved more than a million jobs.

As a result, the economy is now growing again for the first time in more than a year -- and faster than at any time in the past two years. But even though we’ve slowed the loss of jobs -- and today’s report on the continued decline in unemployment claims is a hopeful sign -- the economic growth that we’ve seen has not yet led to the job growth that we desperately need. As I’ve said from the start of this crisis, hiring often takes time to catch up to economic growth. And given the magnitude of the economic turmoil that we’ve experienced, employers are reluctant to hire.

Small businesses and large firms are demanding more of their employees, their increasing their hours, and adding temporary workers -- but these companies have not yet been willing to take the steps necessary to hire again. Meanwhile, millions of Americans -- our friends, our neighbors, our family members -- are desperately searching for jobs. This is one of the great challenges that remains in our economy -- a challenge that my administration is absolutely determined to meet.

We all know that there are limits to what government can and should do, even during such difficult times. But we have an obligation to consider every additional, responsible step that we can [take] to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country. And that’s why, in December, we’ll be holding a forum at the White House on jobs and economic growth. We’ll gather CEOs and small business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups, to talk about how we can work together to create jobs and get this economy moving again."

Since I'm not one of the small business owners invited to attend, here is my advice as a career counselor:

1. We are in such a dramatic technology revolution that has forever changed the way our world does business. This may likely result in a permanent loss of certain jobs (telephone operator,drafting technician,etc)that will not have significant growth again while paving the way for brand new ones (web designers, systems analysts,researchers etc). The steps needed for employers to start rehiring may likely NOT be their sole responsibility. The potential workforce may need a serious retool. All you have to do is ask a newspaper publisher if I'm right.
2. Re-tooling may mean reinventing America's idea of "career". Job security is not only dead but now fossilized. It may not be unheard of for most of the future workforce to be independent contractors that piece meal small jobs from a plethora of different opportunity sources.
3. The green collared workforce is not yet prepared for the potential of indefinite avenues of growth in biotechnology, food sciences (especially with animals) and the environmental push to reduce carbon footprints. We have barely scratched the surface of such a HUGE well of potential that demands a new type of worker that LOVES knowledge but is also completely comfortable working with gadgets and tools.
4. As a nation, we must re-brand, re-invent and reconsider our attitude of "vo-tech" jobs. Being a plumber, electrician, HVAC technician, or a mechanic have seriously been viewed as an educational safety net and option for the "less than smart" student. In reality, those jobs and workers who do them are the bread and butter of our economy. Ask any utility company about the future worker who will replace their older, aging linemen and they will scratch their heads in complete frustration and anxiety. The reason? Maybe we have overmarketed the college four year degree that is needed in only 15% of our economy. I am not discounting a college education. I am saying the associate degree, the vocational certificate and training needs equal footing in importance. Who is going to repair your broken air conditioner? Who will fix the power line downed by a winter storm?

I could go on, but that is all for now. Best wishes to all the experts converging in Washington. I hope that you remember a knowledge worker can use a wrench and hammer to ratchet our economy in a new direction of growth and opportunity.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

It may be time to reframe the word "Career"

The word, career has its root in the french word meaning "racetrack".
Makes perfect sense to me.

After all, sometimes our career feels like a race. Each morning, we start out of the gate with a sprint and reach our turns by mid-afternoon. We watch the clock and keep on track for when the day is done. Then, our race for the day is finished.

However, the word career implies so much more. It implies a race but a very long one. It implies speed, excellence and duration over time. We start a career when we begin to get paid for work. We end it when we die. The finish line comes only at the very last leg of the race.

So, how is your race going? Are you out of shape? On the wrong track? Left out in the barn? Are you sprinting with no end in sight? Are you pacing ready to crank it up to full throttle?

Career is really a word that means movement toward a destination around the bend. We can't predict exactly what is beyond it but we can prepare for it. Simple steps include:
1. Have your resume updated at least monthly.
2. Learn a new skill at least weekly (preferably related to technology).
3. Find a mentor in your field of expertise.
4. Take a colleague to lunch and brainstorm about what is likely to happen to your industry next.
5. Get plenty of rest. Every horse has a stall to take a breather and relax.

No better time than now to prepare for the future. After all, it starts tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Lethal Stress and the Workplace

Serious questions are being asked today in the wake of the Ft. Hood shooting spree in which a gunman killed 12 and injured many. One of the zillions of questions to be asked and answered will be, "What event, circumstance or trigger would set-off such vile anger to carry out such a horrific act of unfathomable proportions?" This was an violent act against the very "family" he not only worked alongside but had sworn an oath to protect, guard and help. We will be grappling with this for months as the victims' families try to cope for decades. Violence, hostility and anger have dire consequences in any workplace if certain warning signs are not noticed, ignored when noticed or minimized for the sake of convenience, fear or retribution. As the events of Ft. Hood continue to unfold, it is not unlikely that some will indicate noticing subtle behavioral changes while others observed the same types of routinized actions of a man known to be typically kind and quiet. It is a reminder for everyone that workplace stress magnifies stress to enormous proportions. A military base would be at the height of such stress during a war with multiple deployments. In a sour economy that has increased stress no one is immune to stress even on a good day. Be aware and keep watch for behavioral changes in co-workers and colleagues that can't be overlooked or denied. My strong advice to you is to seek resources available to you should you notice it in co-workers or in yourself. Warning signs are a first line of protection that can't be ignored.