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.

Leaving on a Good Note

Ever start a job and know immediately that it wasn’t for you? If you read my post on Picking the Job That’s Right for You, you’ll remember the dilemma that my sister-in-law faced when trying to pick between several job offers. She ended up picking a job by following those tips. However, she didn’t plan on one of companies she interviewed with calling her back and offering her more money, better hours and increased benefits (which was the reason she turned it down in the first place). This was the job she originally wanted, and now it was a perfect match.

My sister-in-law decided to take the new job offer. Now, she had to figure out how she was going to tell her employers she wasn’t going to continue to work for them. She had only been there one day. Breaking the last tip on my post – don’t back out, she had to find a professional way of leaving without burning bridges.

Leaving a company, whether after one day or five years, is always difficult. Try following these tips to ensure that your transition out is a good one.

Let your boss know first. When you decide that it’s time to leave a company, talk to your supervisor before you talk to your co-workers. One thing that will surely upset your boss is to find out that you’re leaving the company from someone other than you. Try to schedule a meeting with your boss as soon as you make the decision. After you have informed your boss, then you can tell your colleagues.


Be honest. When talking to your boss, let them know why you are leaving the company. Whether it is for a professional or personal reason, being upfront and honest will give them the opportunity to remedy the situation if possible. It also allows them a chance to know what they might need to correct to retain future employees.

Be polite during your exit interview. If you are leaving the company due to a clash in the corporate culture or negativity among your co-workers, let them know the situation in hopes that they can correct the problem for future employees, but do it tactfully. Inform them of the situation with professionalism and maturity. Your boss is more likely to take your complaints and resignation positively if your demeanor and dialogue are well thought out and without malice.

Give a two-week notice. This is a typical time frame when leaving a job; however, if you work in a position that requires more time for your employer to find a replacement, then notify accordingly. Also, follow up with a short and simple resignation letter. Include your boss’s name, employment dates, departure date and your signature. If relevant, thank your boss for the opportunity, and try to say some positive things about him/her and the company.

Wrap up loose-ends. Try to finish up all your projects before your departure. If possible, type up detailed instructions for the next employee on how to do your job. Offer assistance in training the next employee if possible. By offering help and making the transition from one employee to the next a little easier for your former employer, you will demonstrate and generate respect rather than ill-will.

To keep yourself from having a bad experience on your way out of an old job and into a new one, keep these tips in mind. You never know, your past might collide with your future. And you wouldn’t want a bad exit to hurt your future career plans.

Have you ever had a bad experience when leaving a job? How did you handle your departure?

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Life in a Sardine Can – How to Survive Cubicle Dwelling

trapped at workForty million Americans work in cubicles, according to an article in Fortune magazine. That’s a lot of people squeezed together in tiny workspaces across the nation. Working in close quarters creates unique stressors. That’s why practicing cubicle etiquette can make life in the box much more bearable.

Wear headphones to drown out noisy co-workers. Listening to music while you work can actually increase your focus by eliminating outside distractions. Headphones are a much better option than just bringing a personal stereo to your desk because even if you play your music quietly, chances are your cube mates will still be able to hear it and may feel annoyed at the added noise pollution.

Clean up your area every now and then. Since most cubicles don’t have doors, there’s nothing to keep co-workers from seeing your space. If you have three mugs of week old coffee, a half-eaten sandwich and piles of crumpled paper cluttering your desk, chances are, your cube mates resent your sloppiness. Not only are these messes distracting, when food’s involved, there’s the germ and odor factor to consider.

Wait to be invited into a conversation before offering your two cents. Because cubicles provide very little privacy, it’s common to overhear co-workers talking in other cubicles. But, just because you can hear them and there isn’t a closed door doesn’t mean they want you to join in their conversation. To be sensitive to your cube mates, don’t chime in just because you’re curious or even happen to have the exact answer they’re looking for. Let them come to you instead. This will help your fellow cube dwellers feel like they have more independence and privacy.

Don’t shout over cube walls. Even if your co-worker is only a few feet away, it’s best not to try to talk over cubicle walls. The reason is that everyone else sitting around you will also be forced to hear your conversation. Sending a quick e-mail, picking up the phone or getting up and walking to the co-worker’s desk will help to keep the noise level down.

Avoid habits that may grate on others’ nerves. Things like loudly clearing your throat and blowing your nose, spraying cologne or perfume in the cube, eating smelly food like onions or fish or talking on speakerphone are cubicle taboos. Any behavior that accosts your neighbors’ senses is best to avoid.

I’d like to hear your cubicle stories. What are your pet peeves? How do you make the most of working in a small space?

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?