Planning Your Career Part 3

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Planning Your Career Part 3

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Let's briefly review what has been discussed in parts 1 and 2 of this career management series. In Part 1, we emphasized the importance of your career to God and to you and your family. Failing to plan in this area is equivalent to planning to fail. It's crucial that you assess your interests, gifts and talents and plan your career accordingly. In Part 2, we examined six basic types of jobs and the characteristics of the individuals that would most likely fit into that area. This is important in clarifying and giving focus to your educational plan and your job search.

photoWe are now ready to take a look at the job market and how you can effectively search out and find the position that's right for you. Recent research (Bernard Haldane Associates Internet Job Report 2002), reveals that jobs were found in the following ways:

Approximately 16 percent of jobs are found through newspaper ads and an additional 4 percent on newspaper Web sites. Most of these are entry-level. It's a good place to start looking. Unfortunately, a vast majority of those searching also start here. Typically, job applicants are screened out on industry experience first (which can be very frustrating) and then education and training. Of course, if you are just starting your career or are trying to get into the job market for the first time, you may have to accept an entry-level job that requires no experience. But, at least you can get your foot in the door, so to speak.

When answering ads, make sure in your cover letter that you can match the requirements with your qualifications or you'll just be wasting your time. Explore and from there you can tie into the local newspaper and research job postings by keywords. Keywords are the words that define what you are looking for, such as operations, training, customer service, mechanics, science, engineering, IT, etc. You can also set up a search agent, a profile in which you describe what you are looking for, and have relevant job postings automatically E-mailed to you for your review.

Internet job sites provided 4 percent of jobs. Hard to believe, isn't it? You have to have a perfect match to get a call after answering an Internet posting. Some information technology (IT) and technical jobs can be gotten a little easier off the Internet if you have a great technical fit. But it's common for companies to get hundreds if not thousands of responses from a single ad!

Only 2 percent of jobs were found through contacting employment agencies and recruiters in the Bernard Haldane Job survey. Agencies and recruiters work for the companies and get paid a commission based on filling positions. They don't work for you and they typically seek a perfect fit. Agencies generally place in the $15,000 to $35,000 salary range and in entry-level work. Recruiters place in management level jobs and technical positions in salary ranges from $35,000 and up, depending on their specialty.

photoA good place to find employment agencies is through the telephone directory yellow pages. However, once you contact them and give your information, then there is not much else to do except wait for a call. This can be very frustrating. If you are just starting, you may get lucky through an agency and get something that is interim or temporary that might work into a full-time position.

Another 9 percent of hired employees got their jobs by directly applying to appropriate companies. You should choose companies that reflect your interests, values and that provide a product or service that you find important. Ultimately, finding purpose in what you do in your career is essential to your happiness and success.

Company information can be found easily in publications from the Chamber of Commerce, local job bank books in local bookstores, the library reference section and the local yellow pages. You can also go to job fairs, trade shows, seminars and workshops where you can make direct contact with companies you may be interested in. This can be quite profitable as it affords you a chance to actually talk face to face with a person representing that company, instead of just sending out resumes. Additionally, about 3 percent reported miscellaneous other methods, and 1 percent mentioned school as a source of jobs.

The best way to find a job

The most effective way to find a rewarding career, as shown by the study, was networking. Networking, that is, word of mouth, produced 61 percent of the jobs! Networking is a much heard word today that simply means being friendly, talking to people, getting advice about your career, building relationships and also helping others in the process. People tend to hire those whom they know or via recommendations from people they know. While still in high school, use your time to explore various fields of endeavor. Start networking by talking to friends, their parents, your own family and relatives, teachers, etc. This is a great way to find summer work and find out firsthand what you enjoy and what you don't.

photoWhen networking, ask people questions about their work, what they do, what kind of future opportunities they see in their world. Then discuss where you might fit in with your skills and interests. Conclude by asking who else they could refer you to for more advice and information. This approach helps you to find positions that are not published, get information for your job search and build your network. Networking needs to be a way of life throughout your career for you to maximize your opportunities and compete in this challenging market.

Anytime you're making friends, you are networking. At school, get involved in appropriate activities and clubs to help you meet people and learn how to be sociable—a vital skill in employment.

Another way to network is to shadow a person at work for a day. Find someone in a field you are interested in (for example, human resources) and simply ask if you could accompany them at work one day to see if you would like it. Check with Church members, your pastor and your family for individuals you could talk to.

Find a mentor—someone you can turn to for advice and guidance. Choose a mentor you respect and trust—a teacher, for example. It helps a great deal to be able to talk to someone with experience to get feedback and a "reality check" from time to time. Following these suggestions can save you from learning the long and hard way by mistakes.

Advice from God

photoGod counsels us in Proverbs 3:5-10: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones. Honor the LORD with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine." Seek God's guidance in your career matters, put Him first and He will bless your efforts.

Also, it is wise, not stupid, to see advice and counsel, as no one knows it all. Proverbs 15:22 states, "Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established." The bottom line is you will have to make your own decisions and be responsible for them, even when you are young.

Bill Gates' rules

According to a Web site of quotations, Bill Gates (cofounder of Microsoft and reportedly the richest man on earth) gave the following rules in a presentation to some high school students a few years ago ( They still seem very applicable today. Let me paraphrase them (and if he didn't say them, he should have!).

Rule 1: Life is not fair—get used to it.

Rule 2: The world does not care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will not make $40,000 right out of high school, or be VP with a car phone—not until you can earn it through hard work.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault. So don't whine, just learn from your mistakes.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills and taking care of you.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but real life has not.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Few employers are interested in helping you find yourself, you have to do that on your own time.

Rule 10: TV is not real life. People actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to work.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Let me conclude this series on career management by offering some comments within the text of Ecclesiastes 11:1-2, 6 to apply these verses to the career realm. "Cast [that is, make a commitment] your bread [your livelihood—career] upon the waters [main ways of commerce, livelihood of the day], for you will find it after many days [be persevering and know that results will come]. Give [be outgoing and caring] a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth [build your support network by sharing and giving because you never know when you will need their help]… In the morning sow your seed [be industrious, hardworking and pursue all reasonable options], and in the evening do not withhold your hand [hand represents your ability to give and help]; for you do not know which will prosper [you must be proactive and generous as you never know when or from where good will come]."

Please take to heart the importance of planning your career with God's guidance, through the help of family/friends and by applying the principles emphasized in this series of articles. If you do, you will glorify your Creator, live a more purposeful and abundant life and be able to provide for those you care for. Much success and joy to you in your ongoing career adventure! YU