The Job Search

Television Shapes Our Career Paths

TV and CareersWhen I was young I knew what my parents did for a living. My father was a petroleum geologist and my mother was a teacher. I never grew up thinking that I would follow in their career footsteps. It’s not that I wasn’t proud of what they did. I think a big part of not wanting to follow in their footsteps is that television shaped my future career aspirations. There weren’t any shows about people who found oil and gas reserves and “Welcome Back, Kotter” was my only teacher-influenced television program.

The world of TV got my wheels turning as I thought about my future career path. Through television, I was introduced to more than characters and storylines. I learned about different jobs and that, for the most part, my TV role models had jobs they loved and were passionate about. Here are the top eight TV shows that had a strong effect on my career path:

  • Bewitched – The world of advertising never looked better to me.
  • Happy Days – Mr. Cunningham ran a hardware store and Fonzie had an auto repair shop. I could relate to those jobs since my father took me to the hardware store in his car that was constantly in the shop in the early 1980s.
  • The Brady Bunch – Mike’s study (man cave) was huge, and he made architecture look exciting.
  • Adam-12 and Barney Miller – Law enforcement careers were presented in two very different formats. Regardless, I wanted nothing to do with potentially getting shot.
  • WKRP in Cincinnati – I learned all about the radio: sales, programming, on-air talent, weather and promotions.
  • Emergency! – I got a good look at what goes on in the daily lives of the fire department and hospital work, and everyday life-and-happenings.
  • The Love Boat – I discovered that I could be a captain, doctor, cruise director or bartender and never get sea sick.

That was 30 years ago. Today, children have a much more diverse group of television role models.

  • Bob the Builder introduces kids to the field of construction and teaches them important lessons along the way.
  • SpongeBob Squarepants is the world’s best food-service worker. His boss, Mr. Crabs is an entrepreneurial restaurateur.
  • Hannah Montana is a rock star, and her father is a songwriter and her manager.
    The father on Cory in the House is the personal chef to the president of the United States.
  • Kim Possible’s mom is a brain surgeon and her dad is a rocket scientist.
    Each episode of Higglytown Heroes educates kids on a different career.
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody is a comedy about identical twins living at the Tipton Hotel with their single mother who is a lounge singer at the hotel.

Bewitched had the biggest influence on my future career – Darrin Stevens was in advertising. I’m a professional communicator, but my wife is definitely not a witch like Samantha.

Based on what my older daughter watches, she’ll never leave high school since she’s hooked on High School Musical.

I’m more concerned about my four-year old daughter. She has high expectations, and I hope reality sets in soon. When she grows up, she wants to be the yellow Power Ranger, and serve on the Justice League.

Did the TV you watched as a child impact your future career choice? Does it have an impact on your kids?

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

What do You Want to be When You Grow up?This past weekend, my oldest daughter operated a lemonade stand and started a dog-walking business. She also asked me to take her to the local children’s hospital so she could collect the broken toys, repair them and return them anonymously. That’s pretty ambitious for a nine-year-old.

She wasn’t interested in getting paid – she just wanted a job.

Sunday evening, I asked her what she wanted to be when she grows up. As she’s gotten older, her answers to that question have changed. This time, when I asked her, I wasn’t really surprised with her response. She wants to be a large-animal veterinarian who specializes in horses – during the week. On the weekend, she wants to be a paleontologist. And as a hobby she wants to be an artist (in her free time).

I know that the careers she chose are also linked to her interests. We have three dogs, a cat and two guinea pigs, so we go to the vet frequently. She loves riding horses, so becoming a large-animal vet made sense. My oldest daughter is also in to rock and fossil collecting. She has quite a collection that she keeps in her room next to her dinosaur books. Her love for art comes naturally to her. She’s not the best artist in her third-grade class, but she certainly is the most passionate.

Career awareness begins as early as elementary school. The attributes you develop as a child are carried with you into adulthood. So, if you’re searching for your dream job, exploring what interests you now and what’s interested you in the past can help you find the right career path.

Are you a social butterfly? You might be well-suited for a career as a lawyer, teacher, sales rep, receptionist, concierge or restaurant manager.

Do you love the outdoors? You might have a future in landscape architecture, commercial fishing, archeology or forestry.

Are you a protector? What about a career as a police officer, firefighter, security guard or building inspector?

Do you like art? You could be a clothing designer, graphic artist, architect, cartoonist or floral decorator.

Are you good with your hands? You might excel as a machinist, automotive technician, welder, farmer, chef or pianist.

Do you like to help? Consider a career as a personal trainer, nurse, childcare worker, counselor or social worker.

Are numbers your thing? A love of math could open the door to a career as an accountant, engineer, software designer or astronaut.

Did you know early on what you wanted to be when you grew up? Are you still searching for your dream job? What do your kids aspire to be? I’m interested in hearing.

Making the Connection in a Job Interview

Interviews are more than a series of questions and answers. To make the most out of your interview, make a connection with the interviewer by initiating small talk. This will allow the interviewer to see a little bit more of your personality, establish rapport and leave them feeling as if they know more about you than just what’s on your résumé.

Effective small talk can help you set yourself apart from the competition. To help you get started, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind when engaging in small talk.


Do stick to safe topics. Asking the interviewer if they had a nice weekend or commenting on the weather, is a great opener when beginning the interview. This gets the conversation going and helps the interviewer see that you’re comfortable interacting with others under stressful situations.

Don’t overuse flattery. Most interviewers don’t appreciate false praise. While being positive and friendly are great traits, telling the interviewer that you love their suit or wish you had a haircut just like theirs is a little much. So, try not to over do it on the compliments during an interview.

Don’t be negative. If the interviewer asks how your drive in was this morning, avoid negative remarks such as: “The traffic was horrendous, the lights took too long, and there wasn’t a parking spot close to the building.” Instead, focus on positive thoughts – your excitement for the interview, pleasant songs you heard on the radio or how peaceful the drive in was this morning. Overwhelming negativity can end your interview before it even starts. Interviewers want positive people working in their company, not negative individuals who will constantly complain.

Do open up when appropriate. If the interviewer mentions that he enjoys the same hobbies as you or attended the same college, take a moment to comment on the topic. This demonstrates your interest and connects you with the interviewer.

By making a connection with the interviewer, you can increase your odds of getting the job because now you’re more than just a piece of paper – you’re a real person with a story to tell.

Do you have any tips on how to initiate small talk in an interview?

Six Reasons to Tell the Truth on Your Résumé

Your résumé reflects who you are and is an important tool to help you get an interview. How you present your skills and abilities says a lot about you as a person and as a potential employee.

When looking for a job it is important to present yourself in the most accurate light, so it’s imperative that you stick to the truth instead of stretching it – especially when it comes to your résumé.

Obviously lying on your résumé is a bad idea, however many people have no objection to setting their personal and business ethics aside to try and land a job. Providing false and misleading information has become relatively common, with job seekers believing – or perhaps hoping – that employers will not bother checking the details of applicants.

Today’s lies can haunt you the rest of your career, so factual is the way to go. If you elect to exaggerate or misrepresent the facts you are bound to be caught in the act:

Education. Not every job requires a degree – high school, GED or college – but if you state you have a particular degree you better have earned it. With electronic alumni databases it’s too easy for employers to verify whether you graduated or not.

Experience. Work accomplishments and job responsibilities are the most common areas where job seekers stretch the truth. Employers can sniff out résumé padding, and your embellishments will lead to your downfall in an interview when you can’t support what you’ve presented on paper.

Title. It might seem harmless to give yourself a title boost from specialist to manager or from coordinator to director. But, if your responsibilities don’t match up with your title you will have a lot of explaining to do.

Dates. If you had a lapse in employment, it’s better to have a gap on your résumé than to state you worked at an employer when you did not. Common missteps here include listing inaccurate start or stop dates or listing that you worked somewhere for multiple years (from 2005-2006) when you only worked there in December and January.

Compensation. You are better served to list your real income on a job application than to give yourself a pay boost. It is better to leave those spots blank or write n/a (not applicable) then to falsify your compensation history.

Skills. Are you really proficient in Word and Excel or do you only know how to open the file? Ordering office supplies does not equate to managing the department budget. And working in a cubicle with three co-workers does not grant you supervisory or managerial responsibilities. Only list the skills you possess.

All these blunders are easily discovered from a simple reference call to a prior employer. One call and a hiring manager can determine your job title, pay rate, dates of employment, job responsibilities and if you are eligible for rehire.

No matter how bad you want the job, it’s simply not worth it to stretch the truth. Let your talents and experience speak for themselves – without embellishment.

Job Offer: When Can You Start?

Start a New JobYou’ve applied, interviewed and are waiting for the job offer that you hope is coming. Then, the offer is made and you accept it, but even though the interview is over, one more question for you awaits.

“When can you start?”

How you answer that question depends on your current situation.

No ladder. If you aren’t currently working, tell your new employer you could start tomorrow. If that isn’t possible because of child care or prior plans, ask the manager when they’d like you to start. They might want you to start the next day, or they might prefer to wait until the start of a work week or pay period. Of course, if you want a paycheck as soon as possible, starting tomorrow is your best bet.

Middle rungs. Giving two weeks’ notice is pretty standard if you are already employed. This provides you with ample time to complete or reassign any current projects. When some people turn in their notice, they are told to immediately clear out their workstations and are shown the door. If you think that might happen, tell your future boss. Explain that you are going to turn in your two week’s notice but mention the possibility that you might be available sooner.

Top of the ladder. If you are a manager or have an upper-level position, giving three weeks’ notice is a safe bet. Given your position in the company, two weeks might not be long enough to make a clean break. It’s important to never burn bridges with former employers, and this is especially tricky for those in high-level positions.

Pack up the ladder. If you are relocating to a new city or state, starting in four weeks or a month is reasonable. If your new employer balks at your timeframe, try and work out a financial arrangement where you can start earlier while not being burdened with bills from two residences for an extended period of time. You’ll have the stress of leaving a job, packing up your worldly possessions, finding somewhere to live and moving. Not to mention dealing with packing and unpacking, change of address notification and all the other headaches associated with a move.

What did you do the last time you changed jobs? Did you give your notice in person, electronically or in writing?

Video Résumés – Fad or Future?

the video resumeMy résumé is boring. Twenty years of accomplishments condensed on two sheets of ivory parchment. I have all the bases covered: relevant experience, transferable job skills, recent accomplishments and education.

Although the information is accurate, it is not a complete picture of who I am, which is why I’m considering creating a video résumé. It would serve as an excellent complement to my traditional résumé, allowing me to highlight certain skills, such as strategic planning, leadership and problem-solving abilities.

Many of the video résumés on YouTube focus too much on entertainment rather than providing answers to commonly-asked interviews questions. Sites like Jobster combine aspects of social networking with job search functions to connect users with people, information and opportunities to further their careers.

Just imagine – you can turn your MySpace or Facebook profile into a living, breathing résumé. You could turn your personal blog into a virtual job interview, complete with links to your portfolio of work. You can provide detail on how you took a concept from inception to completion, how you overcame a difficult situation or what traits you are looking for in a boss. If you live in Denver and are looking for a job in Nashville, you have an opportunity to make a first impression that is more provoking than 20-pound résumé paper.

But, there are some considerations to take into account when creating a video résumé.

Can it be viewed? If an employer does not have broadband or a high-speed Internet connection you could create a frustrating obstacle for the manager. You shouldn’t rely on a video résumé alone. Make sure you provide a traditional résumé as well.

Will it be viewed? Hiring managers might only spend 10, 20 or 30 seconds scanning (reviewing) paper résumés when filling an open position. It is feasible to go through 120 résumés in an hour. But with video résumés lasting one to five minutes, a manager might only get through a dozen in an hour. Fortunately, not many job seekers have adopted résumés, so utilizing a video résumé may be a key differentiator for you.

Is it appropriate for you? Video résumés are not for everyone. But, if you work in a field where you are constantly competing with a large number of applicants, a video résumé might help grab the attention of the potential employer. Or, if you are trying to break into an industry where you have limited experience, a video résumé could be your solution.

How do you feel about video résumés? Have you used them? Have they helped or hurt your job quest?

12 Résumé Tips to Get You Hired

resume to hiredYour résumé is your introduction to a prospective employee. What it says, or doesn’t say, will be a major factor in whether you land an interview – the first step to getting the job.

To craft a résumé that highlights your strengths and sells your skills, check out the tips below.

1. Tailor your résumé to fit the job description. By rephrasing a few key words and phrases, your résumé will showcase why you’re the right candidate for the job.

2. Find out the hiring manager’s name and send your résumé directly to him or her, instead of just sending it to a generic company e-mail or mailing address.

3. Include specifics such as how big a budget you managed or what percent you increased sales.

4. Use descriptive verbs like “streamlined,” “accelerated” and “oversaw.”

5. Don’t list the reasons you left past jobs. This can be discussed in an interview, if necessary.

6. Be consistent. If you list contact information for one of your past employers, do so for all of them. If you capitalize some job titles, capitalize them all.

7. Don’t use the words “I,” “me” or “myself.” Instead, just start each sentence with a verb. For example, “Oversaw the work of 15 CNAs in a long-term care facility.”

8. Keep your formatting simple. Excess bold, italics or underlining is distracting.

9. If you provide an e-mail address, make sure it sounds professional and isn’t something like hotstuff4ever@email.com.

10. Don’t oversell yourself. Only list skills and training you actually possess.

11. Proofread. Typos and grammatical errors make your résumé look sloppy and may land your résumé in the trash. Mistyping your contact information can also prevent an employer from being able to get a hold of you.

12. Include a cover letter with your résumé. Making the extra effort to create a brief cover letter can do a lot to help your résumé stand out.

A well thought out résumé always makes a better impression than one that is thrown together at the last minute. So, if you really want to grab an employer’s attention, take the time to create a solid résumé.

How do you try to make your résumé stand out? What are some of your struggles in creating a résumé?

Additional Resources:

Resume and Cover Letter Articles