What to do for a successful career planning

What to do for a successful career planning

Career planning is not an activity that should be done once — in high school or college — and then left behind as we move forward in our jobs and careers. Rather, career planning is an activity that is best done on a regular basis — especially given the data that the average worker will change careers (not jobs) multiple times over his or her lifetime. And it’s never too soon or too late to start your career planning.

Career planning is not a hard activity, not something to be dreaded or put off, but rather an activity that should be liberating and fulfilling, providing goals to achieve in your current career or plans for beginning a transition to a new career. Career planning should be a rewarding and positive experience. Here, then, are 10 tips to help you achieve successful career planning.

1. Make Career Planning an Annual Event

Many of us have physicals, visit the eye doctor and dentist, and do a myriad of other things on an annual basis, so why not career planning? Find a day or weekend once a year — more often if you feel the need or if you’re planning a major career change — and schedule a retreat for yourself. Try to block out all distractions so that you have the time to truly focus on your career — what you really want out of your career, out of your life.

By making career planning an annual event, you will feel more secure in your career choice and direction — and you’ll be better prepared for the many uncertainties and difficulties that lie ahead in all of our jobs and career.

2. Map Your Path Since Last Career Planning

One of your first activities whenever you take on career planning is spending time mapping out your job and career path since the last time you did any sort of career planning. While you should not dwell on your past, taking the time to review and reflect on the path — whether straight and narrow or one filled with any curves and dead-ends — will help you plan for the future.

Once you’ve mapped your past, take the time to reflect on your course — and note why it looks the way it does. Are you happy with your path? Could you have done things better? What might you have done differently? What can you do differently in the future?

3. Reflect on Your Likes and Dislikes, Needs and Wants

Change is a factor of life; everybody changes, as do our likes and dislikes. Something we loved doing two years ago may now give us displeasure. So always take time to reflect on the things in your life — not just in your job — that you feel most strongly about.

Make a two-column list of your major likes and dislikes. Then use this list to examine your current job and career path. If your job and career still fall mostly in the like column, then you know you are still on the right path; however, if your job activities fall mostly in the dislike column, now is the time to begin examining new jobs and new careers.

Finally, take the time to really think about what it is you want or need from your work, from your career. Are you looking to make a difference in the world? To be famous? To become financially independent? To effect change? Take the time to understand the motives that drive your sense of success and happiness.

4. Examine Your Pastimes and Hobbies

Career planning provides a great time to also examine the activities you like doing when you’re not working. It may sound a bit odd, to examine non-work activities when doing career planning, but it’s not. Many times your hobbies and leisurely pursuits can give you great insight into future career paths.

Think you can’t make a hobby into a career? People do it all the time. The great painter Paul Gauguin was a successful business person who painted on the side. It actually wasn’t until he was encouraged by an artist he admired to continue painting that he finally took a serious look at his hobby and decided he should change careers. He was good at business, but his love was painting.

5. Make Note of Your Past Accomplishments

Most people don’t keep a very good record of work accomplishments and then struggle with creating a powerful resume when it’s time to search for a new job. Making note of your past accomplishments — keeping a record of them — is not only useful for building your resume, it’s also useful for career planning.

Sometimes reviewing your past accomplishments will reveal forgotten successes, one or more which may trigger researching and planning a career shift so that you can be in a job that allows you to accomplish the types of things that make you most happy and proud.

Developing a strategic vision for your career plan

Developing a strategic vision for your career plan

How many times will you change careers in your lifetime? If you’re like most people, you’ll change careers at least several times over the course of your life. How successful you’ll be in making transitions among careers can at least be partially attributed to the amount of career planning and preparation you’ve done.

Every job-seeker needs to take the time to step way from the day-to-day grind of work and spend quality time reflecting on your career and developing some plans for your future. Whether you love your current job and employer or feel frustrated and confined by your job, career planning can help. Think of career planning as building bridges from your current job/career to your next job/career; without the bridge, you may easily stumble or lose your way, but with the bridge there is safety and direction.

This article provides you with some basic guidelines for both short-term and long-term career planning.

Short-Term Career Planning

A short-term career plan focuses on a timeframe ranging from the coming year to the next few years, depending on the job-seeker. The key characteristic of short-term career planning is developing realistic goals and objectives that you can accomplish in the near future.

As you begin your career planning, take the time to free yourself from all career barriers. What are career barriers? There are personal barriers (such as lack of motivation, apathy, laziness, or procrastination), family pressure (such as expectations to work in the family business, follow a certain career path, or avoidance of careers that are below your status/stature), and peer pressure. And while career planning and career decision-making is an important aspect of your life, do not put so much pressure on yourself that it paralyzes you from making any real choices, decisions, or plans. Finally, career planning is an ever-changing and evolving process — or journey — so take it slowly and easily.

Long-Term Career Planning

Long-term career planning usually involves a planning window of five years or longer and involves a broader set of guidelines and preparation. Businesses, careers, and the workplace are rapidly changing, and the skills that you have or plan for today may not be in demand years from now. Long-range career planning should be more about identifying and developing core skills that employers will always value while developing your personal and career goals in broad strokes.

Top careers for better work – life balance

Top careers for better work - life balance

These fields let you scrap the 9-to-5 routine and work a flexible schedule.

Are you tired of the same old, same old 9-to-5 office routine? Want to change to a career with a more flexible working schedule? You’re not alone. More than three out of five working adults agreed that flexibility is one of the most important factors to consider when looking for a new job, according to a recent Business News Daily article.

The good news is that with the right education, you could be prepared to pursue a career with flexibility built in…

Career 1 – Registered Nurse

Want a career that offers a flexible work schedule? Look to nursing. These physical and emotional health care providers generally help perform a variety of tasks – from recording medical histories and symptoms to doing diagnostic tests and helping with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.

Flex Factor: Instead of being confined by normal business hours, registered nurses (RNs) usually have the flexibility to work night and weekend shifts. At Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Dana Dye, chief nursing officer, RN, says the hospital allows nurses to choose between eight-hour or 12-hour shifts. And during the weekends, nurses could have the option to work 24 hours.

Education: Look into either an associate’s degree in nursing or a nursing diploma from an approved nursing program.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for RNs was $67,720 in May 2010.

Career 2 – Dental Assistant

Dental assistants usually play an important role in preparing patients for treatment, sterilizing dental equipment, organizing instruments, and updating dental records. During procedures, assistants usually work alongside the dentist to provide patient care. They also could perform laboratory duties.

Flex Factor: Many dental assistants don’t subscribe to a 9-to-5 schedule or a 40-hour workweek. Some put in hours on nights and weekends, while others work for more than one dental office to form a more balanced work-life routine. In 2008, nearly half of all dental assistants had a 35- to 40-hour workweek, says the Department of Labor.

Education: While there’s no formal requirements for dental assisting gigs, the U.S. Department of Labor notes that dental assisting diploma and certificate programs – which could take as little as one year to complete – are growing in popularity.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for dental assistants was $34,140 in May 2010.

Career 3 – Accountant

If you excel at organization and attention to detail, you may want to consider an accounting career. Accountants usually help to ensure that firms are run efficiently, public records are kept accurately, and taxes are paid properly and on time.

Flex Factor: Off-site work and travel for audits are two fun flex factors that can be found in accounting. At Ernst & Young, workplace flexibility has been built into the culture, says a recent New York Times article. Ernst & Young’s Chairman James S. Turley said, “We listen to our people and they tell us very consistently that flexibility is incredibly important to them and to their family.” Nearly 10 percent of Ernst & Young’s 23,500 U.S. employees are on flexible arrangements.

Education: If you want to prepare to pursue this career, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related area like finance or business.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for accountants was $68,960 in May 2010.

Career 4 – Graphic Designer

Using tools like color, type, illustration, and various layout techniques, graphic designers generally convey visual messages in a variety of mediums. From designing magazines and promotional displays to marketing brochures and packaging, this career is usually about having an eye for design.

Flex Factor: If working normal business hours at a big design or advertising firm doesn’t excite you, there could be work-life balance alternatives for a graphic designer. Many creative types are self-employed and usually work from home on a contract basis, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Just note that since this has the potential to be a self-employed position that revolves around production schedules, night and weekend hours could be necessary.

Education: If you want to start a graphic design career, a bachelor’s degree in graphic design is generally needed to land an entry-level position, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for graphic designers was $48,140 in May 2010.

Career 5 – Police Officer

Uniformed police officers usually protect lives and property by carrying out law enforcement duties. From responding to a traffic accident to confronting criminals, these everyday heroes work to keep our communities safe.

Flex Factor: The prospect of flexible or part-time schedules seems to be attractive to police job candidates – it appears on many career hiring sites, including the NYPD Cadet Corps’ web site. Although police officers usually work 40-hour weeks, hours can be flexible, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Since police officers provide around-the-clock protection, shift work could be necessary.

Education: Educational requirements vary for each agency – from a high school diploma to a few years of college coursework.

Earning Potential: The mean annual salary for police officers was $55,620 in May 2010.

Online degrees that are career-focused

Online degrees that are career-focused

One of these five bachelor’s programs could help prepare you for the workforce.

Want to earn an online degree? Staying career-minded could be the way to go. The most popular online programs prep students “for careers in high-demand areas like business, computer science, health care and criminal justice,” according to a 2011 New York Times article “Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree.”

Eduventures, a Boston-based research firm, found a similar career-minded trend when it tracked enrollment data for 2.14 million online students in 2009. That year’s most popular online degrees included criminal justice, computer and information technology, health care, and business, in that order. Whether you want to change careers or hone skills that will help you get ahead at work, we’ve put the spotlight on five online degrees to consider.

Bachelor’s in Business Administration

Welcome to the 21st century, where an online presence is a must for any successful business, and students can get a bachelor’s in business administration online. All you need is a computer and internet connection to get started.

One of the benefits of the online format is that students can make sure that they are really absorbing the material, according to Jennifer Humber, an academic advisor at the University of Alabama.

“They can look at the assignments over and over again,” Humber told the school newspaper in September 2011. “They can do it on their own time.”

An online business administration degree could help you prepare for careers in multiple industries, all on your own time. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor recommends studying business administration for a wide range of tracks, including human resources specialist (average salary: $57,830), marketing specialist ($66,850), and financial analyst ($86,040).*

Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice

Earning a criminal justice degree online is a popular trend. According to Eduventures, enrollment in online criminal justice programs jumped 41 percent in 2009.

At North Georgia College & State University, it’s not unusual for online classes to fill up within seconds during registration, according to Ross Alexander, the school’s criminal justice department head.

“With online, a student can log in anytime and work on classes,” Alexander told the Gainesville Times.

Maybe you’ve got your eye on a career in the private sector – as a security guard ($26,870) or private investigator ($47,830) – or perhaps you’re more interested in pursuing work as a police officer ($55,620).* Studying criminal justice online could help you get ready for these careers – and more – without giving up your current one to do so.

Bachelor’s in Nursing

While it may surprise some to see an online bachelor’s degree in nursing on our list, the simple fact is nursing is an in-demand profession. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 581,500 new registered nursing jobs are expected to be added between 2008 and 2018, and earning your bachelor’s in nursing online can help already working or busy aspiring nurses to prepare for a role as a registered nurse.

Though individual online nursing programs vary, some help working nurses earn a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) online. With more employers requiring a BSN, online programs everywhere are seeing a bump in enrollment, according to Elizabeth Regan-Butts, director of marketing and recruitment at Rowan University in New Jersey, which offers a bachelor’s degree in nursing that you can earn online.

“Nurses in the past only had to have an [associate’s] degree,” Regan-Butts told SouthJerseyBiz.net, a New Jersey-based website and magazine. “Now, most hospitals want a bachelor’s of science.”

If you want to pursue registered nurse opportunities, you’ll most likely need to get a BSN, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Registered nurses have an average annual salary of $67,720.*

Bachelor’s in Information Technology (IT) & Information Systems

Some people call it the 21st century; others call it the information technology age. Whatever name you prefer, it’s hard to imagine a more current degree you can earn online than IT and information systems. Among other things, you’ll learn how digital technology is changing businesses and the way we live.

Your online coursework may include everything from network and database administration to cybersecurity, the latter of which is a global problem these days, according to a 2011 report by computer security firm Symantec.

“Cybercrime costs the world significantly more than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined,” Symantec concluded.

Want to break into the technology sector? Studying IT online could help you get started. A bachelor’s degree in information technology is one of the recommended courses of study for aspiring database administrators ($75,730), according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department adds that cyber-security specialists often go by more general job titles like database administrator or network and computer system administrator ($72,200).*

Bachelor’s in Health Care Administration

Looking for a career-focused degree? How about health care administration? According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 10 of the 20 fastest growing jobs in the country are in health care.

No matter where you live, all you need is a computer and an internet connection and you too can start studying up on an industry that exists in just about every single town and city on the map.

Earning a health care administration degree online could help prep you for a career as a health care administrator ($93,670), according to the U.S. Department of Labor. While a master’s degree may be preferred by some employers, a bachelor’s degree could be enough to get you started, the Department says.*

The worst words to put on a resume

The worst words to put on a resume

Including the phrase “salary negotiable” is just a waste of valuable space.

Your resume needs an update — that is, if your resume is like that of most people, it’s not as good as it could be. The problem is language: Most resumes are a thicket of deadwood words and phrases — empty cliches, annoying jargon and recycled buzzwords. Recruiters, HR folks and hiring managers see these terms over and over again, and it makes them sad.

Wouldn’t you rather make them happy? It’s time to start raking out your resume, starting with these (and similar) terms.

1. “Salary negotiable”

Yes, they know. If you’re wasting a precious line of your resume on this term, it looks as though you’re padding — that you’ve run out of things to talk about. If your salary is not negotiable, that would be somewhat unusual. (Still, don’t put that on your resume either.)

2. “References available by request”

See the preceding comment about unnecessary terms.

3. “Responsible for ______”

Reading this term, the recruiter can almost picture the C-average, uninspired employee mechanically fulfilling his job requirements — no more, no less. Having been responsible for something isn’t something you did — it’s something that happened to you. Turn phrases like “responsible for” into “managed,” “led” or other decisive, strong verbs.

4. “Experience working in ______”

Again, experience is something that happens to you — not something you achieve. Describe your background in terms of achievements.

5. “Problem-solving skills”

You know who else has problem-solving skills? Monkeys. Dogs. On your resume, stick to skills that require a human.

6. “Detail-oriented”

So, you pay attention to details. Well, so does everyone else. Don’t you have something unique to tell the hiring manager? Plus, putting this on your resume will make that accidental typo in your cover letter or resume all the more comical.

7. “Hardworking”

Have you ever heard the term “show — don’t tell”? This is where that might apply. Anyone can call himself a hard worker. It’s a lot more convincing if you describe situations in concrete detail in which your hard work benefited an employer.

8. “Team player”

See the preceding comment about showing instead of telling. There are very few jobs that don’t involve working with someone else. If you have relevant success stories about collaboration, put them on your resume. Talk about the kinds of teams you worked on, and how you succeeded.

9. “Proactive”

This is a completely deflated buzzword. Again, show rather than tell.

10. “Objective”

This term isn’t always verboten, but you should use it carefully. If your objective is to get the job you’ve applied for, there’s no need to spell that out on your resume with its own heading. A resume objective is usually better replaced by a career summary describing your background, achievements and what you have to offer an employer. An exception might be if you haven’t applied for a specific job and don’t have a lot of experience that speaks to the position you’d like to achieve.

‘Passive job search’ may pay off

'Passive job search' may pay off

Creating a wish list can be a first step to exploring employment options while you still have a job.

Is your boss taking you for granted? Is business slowing around the office? You may not be ready to jump ship just yet, but you should start to explore other professional options. You need not engage in an all-out active job search. Rather, you can put out feelers in another way. Follow these five steps to start your passive job search:

Post Your Resume Online

The easiest way to begin exploring your professional possibilities is to post your resume. By doing so, you’re letting thousands of recruiters, human resources professionals and employment experts know what your unique qualifications are and that you’re interested in new opportunities.

Remember that your current employer might see your resume online, which may prompt your boss to give you a raise or a promotion if she’s worried you’re going to jump ship. But you can also post your resume confidentially.

Create an Employer Wish List

Even if you’re not ready to leave your current job yet, there are probably other employers in which you’re interested. Create a comprehensive list of these target employers. Research them and see if they show up on Fortune magazine’s popular “Best Companies to Work For” list. Then, find out if these companies employ people with your skill set.

Enlist Your Network

Now that you have a list of dream employers, make inquiries to people in your network. Lauren Milligan, owner of ResuMAYDAY, a career-management services firm, warns against being too casual when reaching out for assistance. “If you’re too casual, your network may not take your requests seriously,” she says.

Ask if they’ve ever worked for any of the companies, or if they know anyone who does. Request contacts (at any level) for each organization.

Harness the Power of Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are a powerful tool for the passive job seeker. Because you’re not formally in the market for a new job, employers may welcome the opportunity to speak with you, as there is less pressure on both parties.

Milligan says informational interviews are a great way for any job seeker to gauge how attractive a candidate he is. “Near the end of the interview, ask, ‘Do you mind looking at my resume?’ Ask your interviewer to tell you what it’s lacking so you can make yourself more marketable in your industry,” she says. Then, find a way to acquire those skills or experiences while you still have your current job, she says.

Follow Up

Whatever the immediate outcome of your search, continue to follow up with everyone in your network.

“Reach out and keep the people who’ve offered advice in the loop,” Milligan says. “If you’ve heeded it, drop them a note saying, ‘I’ve taken your advice and I just want you to know you’ve been a big part of my success.’ Or better yet, pick up the phone. Thanking someone ensures that they’ll be there for you the next time you need help.”

Conversely, if you know you want (and are now qualified for) a job at an informational interviewer’s company, Milligan says you should ask for one: “Contact the person and say, ‘I’ve done X, Y and Z. I would like to pursue a position at your company. Can I send you a resume?'” Don’t be afraid to be direct, she says. “You have to ask for the sale, so to speak,” she says. “People rely on other folks to reach out, but the person on the other end has her own agenda. It can be a real time-saver to just come out and ask for what you want.”

The top myths about job searching

The top myths about job searching

Some don’t bother to look for work around the holidays and many believe no one reads cover letters. Do you think one of the myths about the job search?

1. Myth: You need connections to get a job.

Reality: The connections are useful, but many people find work by identifying an ad, send a CV and interview. Sometimes it may not feel this way because there are so many job seekers competing for a limited number of jobs, which means most people are less interviews (and job offers, even less). But many jobs are still people with no connection to the company.

2. Myth: No one reads cover letters.

Reality: A letter written well with the personality that you can get an interview when your resume alone can have. Of course, there are some hiring managers out there who do not bother with cover letters, but there are many who do, and you have no way of knowing what type you are dealing. With so many stories of cover letters open doors that otherwise would have remained closed, it would be foolish to miss this incredibly effective way to get noticed.

3. Myth: Employers will respond to you right away if they’re interested.

Reality: Some employers take weeks or months to meet the candidates. Sometimes it is because they wait until the end of the period of application prior to contacting all candidates, and sometimes it is because higher priority work gets in the way. (Of course, sometimes it may be because the company is disorganized.) Whatever the reasons, job seekers should not jump to conclusions if they do not hear back right away.

4. Myth: In a crowded field, job seekers must find creative ways to stand out.

Reality: If you want to stand, to write a great cover letter and build a CV that demonstrates a history of success in the region of the employer is hiring for. Drawings of fantasy, to have your resume delivered by mail during the night, the video resumes, and other gadgets do not compensate for the lack of skills.

5. Myth: Do not bother looking for jobs around the holidays.

Reality: Many recruitment is done in December! In fact, some hiring managers are scrambling to fill positions before the new year. And you can even have less competition, as other job seekers may have slowed down their research at this time of year.

6. Myth: Your resume should be one page.

Reality: At one point in the past, again were supposed to be limited to one page. But times have changed, and two pages shows the Commons today. People with only a few years of experience should always stick to one page, but two pages are fine for everyone.

7. Myth: Lower your salary will make you a more attractive candidate.

Reality: Employers will hire the best person for the job, within the limits of what they can afford. They are not likely to prefer someone else just because he or she is less expensive.

8. Myth: Your partner knows what he or she is doing.

Reality: Although all investigators should be trained in how to interview effectively, the reality is that many are inexperienced, unskilled or otherwise unable to conduct interviews fort. They can be prepared, ask questions wrong, or just be rude.

9. Myth: If you want to stand, you must call to follow up your request.

Reality: Most employers will tell you that these calls do not help and sometimes painful. These days, with hundreds of applicants for every opening, if all candidates to follow up, employers would spend all day fielding calls. Believe me, they do not want.

10. Myth: Employers will only call the references on the list you gave them.

Reality: Employers can call anyone you worked for or could you know, and a good reference ladies are not limited to the official list of the references you provide. They call former managers, listed or not – and sometimes, especially those that are not listed because they know the omission may be intentional and thus remarkable. After all, the list you hand over is, of course, those likely to present in the light most flattering, and they want to see you in brighter lighting. The only thing generally considered off-limits in the reference check is to call your current employer. Everyone is fair game.

Great career choices for trendsetters

Great career choices for trendsetters

If you’re the type that’s usually ahead of the curve, you might be well-suited for these professions.

Marketing Manager

If you have an eye for new trends, a career as a marketing manager is one option to consider. Whether it’s for developing new items or finding innovative ways to advertise existing products, as a marketing manager you could use your trendsetting skills to monitor new fads for promoting your company’s products or services.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, marketing managers usually work with a team of advertising and promotion managers, product development managers, and market research managers. They might play any number of roles in areas like market research, product development – even pricing and advertising.

Fashion Designer

Do you have a passion for fashion? Consider a career in fashion design where you could spot trends and predict the styles, colors, and fabrics that people might be drawn to next season.

By researching trends in the economy and society, fashion designers can create designs that appeal better to the public, says the U.S. Department of Labor. After sketching their designs, they generally work with textile designers and manufacturers to select fabrics, draw sketches, and create prototypes.

Foreign Correspondent

If you hope to explore the world and learn about different cultures, a career as a foreign correspondent might be right up your alley. In this type of career, you could have the opportunity to bring important world issues and trends into the spotlight by gathering information, creating stories, and delivering international news to viewers or readers back home, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Assigned to a country by a publication or station, foreign correspondents usually work under strict deadlines, says the Department of Labor. You might be asked to report the news from the location of a war zone or at the scene of a natural disaster.

Interior Designer

Do you enjoy decorating your home or office? As an interior designer, you could give decorating advice to clients and illustrate the latest interior design trends.

By listening to a client’s needs and wishes, interior designers can create a design that fulfills those requests, says the U.S. Department of Labor. And even though those designs will need to be created with building/safety codes – and budget – in mind, interior designers can still bring their creativity to the table and deliver something that makes the client say, “Wow!”

Chef

Do you love food and enjoy testing new recipes? As a chef, you could put your culinary creativity and trendsetting nature to use, finding new ways to suit the public’s palate by staying in touch with culinary trends, such as healthier alternatives or sustainable food sources.

In addition to overseeing the daily duties of a kitchen staff, chefs might play a role in preparing cost estimates for food and supplies, making work schedules, developing recipes, and planning menus, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

How to avoid stalling your job search

How to avoid stalling your job search

Career experts say applicants sabotage themselves by making these six mistakes.

It’s true that the job market in many professions is extremely tight. Even so, experts say that unemployed people too often make things difficult for themselves by sabotaging their job search. If you want to find a job now, avoid these six common job-hunting mistakes.

1. Being Passive

Some of the worst things a job seeker can do are staying home, avoiding networking or just not following through, according to Susanne Goldstein, career development consultant and author of Carry a Paintbrush: How to Be the Artistic Director of Your Own Career. “When you have a lead, you need to know how to use it well and follow up professionally,” she says. “Complete tasks, send emails with proper grammar [and] make the follow-up calls.”

Jean Baur, senior consultant at recruiting firm Lee Hecht Harrison and author of Eliminated! Now What? Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience, agrees. “Even if you’re employed, you have to keep your resume-up to-date, keep your network strong and continually growing, and keep updating your skills and learning what’s in demand in the marketplace.”

2. Jumping to Conclusions

Misinformation and bruised egos can lead job seekers to make assumptions that are not always correct. “When people say, ‘I’m not getting offers because I’m too old, too young, too experienced, too inexperienced, too whatever,’ those are just excuses and not even based in reality most of the time,” Baur says. “You need a coach, a network or just a few wise friends who can give you a clear view of what you’re doing right and wrong.”

3. Holding Out for the Perfect Job

If you’re getting by on unemployment benefits, you may be tempted to hold out for the exact job you want and deserve. You may think taking a lesser job will hinder your career path, but a long stint of unemployment could do even more damage to your resume and bank account, according to Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resources Solutions and author of Suddenly in Charge. “Who cares what color your parachute is?” she says. “Take the right-now job, excel at it and keep networking until you find the dream job.”

4. Being Inflexible

Today’s workforce needs to be more mobile than ever. But if you have a mortgage or can’t imagine leaving your great school district, you may overlook some great opportunities that require moving. If you can’t relocate, consider whether you can work from home in a telecommuting job. If you’re young, just coming out of college or in a new town, it’s a good idea to rent so you can keep your options open, Matuson says.

5. Making It All About You

Companies hire people out of need, not out of altruism, Goldstein says. She recommends not going about your job search or interview with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. “Be an aspirin,” she says. “Learn about the company, find out what the company’s pain is and show them how your skills can be solution to that pain.”

6. Having a Cynical and Negative Attitude

The more companies that pass you over, the more tempting it is to develop a chip on your shoulder. But this creates a vicious circle, Matuson says. “Cynicism and other negative attitudes come across in job interviews — and even in letters — and those attitudes can sink your chances,” she says. Matuson’s advice: Surround yourself with positive people, and, if possible, as many employed (or unemployed-but-positive) people as you can.

Career women demand quota for top jobs

Career women demand quota for top jobs

More than two hundred female Dutch professionals have signed a manifesto demanding a quota for women in top positions.

It was with mixed feelings, Bercan Günel admits, that she and 214 other female professionals decided to sign a manifesto demanding a quota for women in top positions in both private companies and public institutions. “It is after all a desperate measure,” says the director of the headhunting agency Woman Capital.

For years the women’s lobby has opposed legislation to enforce equal opportunities in the top echelons of the private and public sector. Günel: “We thought voluntary initiatives would be enough to bring about the cultural shift.”

But despite all the promises the percentage of women hired for top jobs remained disappointing. According to Woman Capital it is currently at 6 percent, and it is not expected to rise above 12 percent for 25 years.

So it was time for action. On Wednesday Woman Capital delivered the Quota Manifesto to all members of the Dutch parliament. The Manifesto calls for a legal minimum of 40 percent within five years. It would apply to the supervisory and advisory boards of all publicly-listed companies, all government institutions and all (semi-)public organisations.

The proposal is based on existing legislation in Norway, where it has proved effective. Having more women on the supervisory and advisory boards appears to result in more women being appointed to management and directorial positions too. Günel admits she is unfamiliar with research by the consulting firm Bain & Company, which suggests that imposing a quota doesn’t work.

Woman Capital says a better balance between men and women in top positions is also necessary to find a way out of the economic crisis. Günel: “Men are risk-takers, women are more cautious. A combination of the two results in better management.”

So far only women have signed the Quota Manifesto, although Günel says supportive emails from men have started arriving at Woman Capital’s website. The signatories include top female professionals like Pamela Boumeester (Dutch railways) and Trude Maas (ABN Amro).

At the end of October the Dutch parliament will debate an amendment by the Labour party proposing a 30 percent ‘target’ for female directors and supervisors. A similar previous amendment failed to get approval.