Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Deciding Whether You Need a Career Coach

If you are looking for some help with your job search, you might want to consider engaging the services of a career coach. A career coach can help you identify your professional skills and competencies, quantify your strengths, pinpoint your transferable skills, define how best to reposition yourself in the job market, and work with you to establish career goals and a plan. What a career coach can’t do is guarantee you a job.

Finding a Career Coach

It is important to keep in mind that there is not an official licensing organization for the career coaching profession; however, there are professional associations that offer career coaching certification and that could serve as excellent resources in searching for a career coach. These associations include the International Coaches Federation (ICF), Worldwide Association of Business Coaches (WABC), and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches (PARW/CC).

Selecting a Career Coach

Selecting a career coach is a very personal decision. Your decision may be based upon whether you perceive the individual as being capable of helping you achieve your immediate career goal (whether to find a job, change careers, or advance in your career), but should also factor in your overall comfort level with a prospective career coach.

Below are a few items to consider and questions to ask before selecting a career coach:

Identify the reason why you are hiring the coach and keep this in mind as you interview various coaches.

Use the internet to research prospective career coaches in order to identify their involvement in their field and level of subject matter expertise. For example, identifying whether they are members of career coaching associations; are being quoted in the media as a career coach expert; served as a guest speaker at career coaching conferences, etc.

Ask questions about how they keep themselves current on labor market, industry and career trends. Do they actively seek out new information and education that can help them better serve their clients?

Ask about their approach to career counseling. Will they create a coaching plan that will serve as the basis for direction and activities? Will your coaching sessions be conducted over the phone, in-person, through email or a combination of all?

Expect, but confirm, that the initial consultation should be free (whether in-person or on the phone).

Ask about their fees and how long you might expect to be working together. Fees vary but generally range from $50 to $300 per hour. Coaching services can span anywhere from 3 months to 6 months, and some sources state up to a year.

It will take due diligence to determine whether a career coach is a wise investment for you. If you do decide to hire a career coach, establish specific and realistic career coaching goals and then set your mind to achieving these goals.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Employment Background Checks

Job applicants need to be aware that today more and more employers are conducting pre-employment background checks. With negligent hiring lawsuits on the rise, heightened attention to security and identity verification, increased incidents of resume fraud, plus the declining cost and increased access to personal data records, it is no surprise that companies are putting more focus on pre-employment background checks.

A Few Things to Consider Regarding Background Checks

The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) sets the national standards for background checks; however, it is important to note that these standards only apply in cases where a prospective employer hires a consumer reporting agency to do the background check. This Act isn’t applicable if a company does the background check in house.

Here are a few things to consider about your rights under the FCRA:
Before a prospective employer can proceed in having a consumer report or credit check run for employment purposes, they must notify you in writing and obtain your written authorization.
If a prospective employer decides not to hire you based on the credit report information they must:

1.) Provide you with a pre-adverse action disclosure which includes a copy of the credit report and a copy of your consumer rights under the FCRA and
2.) Notify you with an adverse action notice after an adverse action has been taken.

You have a right to know what’s in your file.
You have a right to dispute incomplete or inaccurate information.
Consumer reporting companies must correct or delete incomplete, inaccurate and unverifiable information.

Examples of Information that May be in a Background Check

A background check through a consumer reporting agency may include everything from verifying your identify and employment history to looking at your credit history and driving record. Some of the public records that may be included in a background check are driving records, credit records, criminal records, past employers, property ownership, court records, and worker’s compensation.

Be Prepared

Knowing that many companies will conduct a background check on potential new hires is one more reason to make sure your resume accurately details your work and educational history. And despite whether you’re preparing for a prospective employer’s background check on you, in general, you should be aware of what information is in your credit report. In fact, as of September 2005 the FCRA grants you free access to your credit report once every 12 months, from each of the three nationwide reporting companies—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

For specific details about the Fair Credit Reporting Act, go to the Federal Trade Commission website. To verify your rights (or confirm you have accurately interpreted your legal rights under the FCRA) it is best to direct questions to State and Federal government resources and/or to seek legal counsel.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Truth in Resumes

When creating a resume it can be a real art to sell and differentiate yourself while not exaggerating the facts. Your resume not only is a means of relating your work experience, education and accomplishments, it’s also a reflection of your character and integrity. A resume should always be accurate and factual. Even a slight exaggeration, when uncovered, can damage your credibility, jeopardize trust, and spoil any chance of your getting an interview. Your resume should contain facts and dates, and you should be able to support any claims that you make. By applying to jobs you are qualified for and that are a good fit, you can be confident and take pride in presenting your resume. Then when you land the interview you can really bring your resume to life by sharing additional details and examples that speak to why you’re the best candidate, as well as demonstrating a sincere interest and enthusiasm for the job.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Follow-Up Even When You Don't Land the Job

Follow-up after a job interview is important even in cases where you’ve been notified you did not get the job. Your following up can demonstrate your resiliency, confidence, and re-emphasize your interest in working for the company. It also provides an opportunity to request their critique regarding your interview(s) as well as feedback as to why you weren’t the right candidate for the job. This can help you hone your interview skills, and may also lead to identifying gaps in your experience or education that you may choose to address through additional education or training.

Your following up immediately and then touching base a few months later may actually result in your being considered for a different job opening, or even a referral or information about other job openings in the industry. Your professional follow-up coupled with good timing may even lead to your being reconsidered for the position, if by chance the candidate offered the job actually declined or didn’t work out after several months.

No matter what the outcome of your job interview, following up is a mark of professionalism and well worth your time.