Researching Computer-Science Field

KeyboardBrian writes:
I am looking for any information on computer-science-related careers. I need to find out a job description, training required, duties or responsibilities, salary, and job outlook. Could you help me with any of this information?

The Career Doctor responds:
Computer and high-tech careers remain high up on all the lists I’ve seen for the fastest growing jobs in the U.S. Some of the top job classifications include:

  • Computer Scientists, Computer Engineers, and Systems Analysts
  • Computer Support Specialists
  • Database Administrators

You might want to take a spin at some of the computer-related job sites and see the specific requirements and salaries of their current openings. You can find a list of the best of them at Quintessential Careers: Technical, IT, and Computer Jobs.

Advice on Creating a Winning Resume When You’re Convinced Your Jobs Were Ho-Hum

HoHumMichelle writes:
I have found my dream job, but I am having a hard time writing the “winning” resume. I had average grades in school, wasn’t in any sports, and I’m not a member of anything other than a women’s club (basically I’m on a list and get a newsletter, no involvement).

I have a fairly steady work history, but all my jobs are ho-hum when it comes to accomplishments. Resume advice always says to quantify your successes. Well, I have been a pharmacy technician for 8 years … filling prescriptions and typing data into a computer – not too much to say about that. I was a data-entry person for about 1.5 years, and I don’t have a very good review from my boss in that area. I am currently an eligibility analyst (I look in a computer to see if a client’s files are loaded into our database) … Not too challenging.

The Career Doctor responds:

There are all sorts of ways to “quantify” your successes and skills, but first you need to step back and do a better job of identifying what they are. You remind me of a young woman who came to us for advice after several years as of doing clerical and secretarial work. She thought her experience and skills would not help her get the job of her dreams, but she was wrong.

What you need to do is change the way you look at your experiences. I suggest you read the section on transferable skills at Quintessential Careers, starting with Strategic Portrayal of Transferable Skills is a Vital Job-search Technique, by Katharine Hansen. I am quite confident that once you’ve read this section, you’ll be able to go back and write a strong resume based on your new understanding of your skills and accomplishments.

Reverting Publications to Maiden Name

Anonymous writes:
I have a question that is plaguing me. I published several research works under my married name and now I am divorced. I need to list my publications on my new resume (or CV) and the names do not agree. Moreover, I am loathe to disclose my former marriage. Can I use my maiden name in my publications? It is, after all, me. Or must I use a one-liner disclosing my prior name? If so, where do i do this?

The Career Doctor responds:
Please, whatever you do, do not change your name in your publications to your maiden name because if a potential employer were to look up the article and find a different name, the immediate assumption may be that you are lying on your resume or vitae, and that’s the end of your chance with that organization.

I suggest one of two simple remedies. First, and perhaps the easiest, is to simply include your maiden name in parenthesis, so, for example, if you were Mary Smith when you published those research works and you now go by Mary Jones, simply add the Jones on your vita, such as Mary (Jones) Smith.

Second, you could do the same thing on your resume as you would if an organization you worked for changed its name. Under your name at the top of your vitae, you could place, in smaller type, your former name … thus Mary Jones in large type, (formerly Mary Smith) in smaller type directly underneath.

Employers have no reason to ask you about the name change, so I think you are worried for nothing. Just make one of the simple changes mentioned above and be done with it.

No Clue about What to Do

CluelessAnonymous writes:
I am lost. I have no clue what type of jobs are out there for me. All I know is these few things about myself: I am a natural-born leader, I love working with people, and I love watching something work for me.

I am currently halfway through college, but still haven’t decided what is right for me. I went after business administration and then thought that it wasn’t for me.

I would like to know what jobs are “hot” by the time I graduate.

I am afraid of getting into a career that I feel I will regret.
Please help.

The Career Doctor responds:
First things first. Relax! Here are some things to keep in the back of your mind as you contemplate your future. The degree is the most important thing, so while it would be helpful to get it exactly in your future career field, your major is not as important as the degree itself. And no matter what career you enter upon graduating from college, you can change it any time you like – and if you are like most people, you will end up changing your career field many times over the course of your life.
Many new college grads sort of stumble out of college into a job/career that they find is not what they wanted or expected – and they simply move on.

It’s great that you have already identified your skills and passions – it’s the first step toward identifying potential careers. And certainly from your description, a career in business makes sense.

It’s also important to look at forecasts of jobs/careers that are going to be in demand, but keep in mind that it’s more important to find a fit with a job and career path that matches your skills and interests.
So, I recommend talking with some recent alums about their jobs, talking with your professors, and visiting the career services office at your school.

All three of these sources should give you some good ideas about careers. And if you really do want to read about hot and growing career fields, you can look online to the U.S. Department of Labor’s
Bureau of Labor Statistics – in the section titled “Tomorrow’s Jobs.”

Some Quintessential Careers resources that will be useful for you:

Job Omitted from Resume Will Likely Show Up in Background Check


My quandary is that I left a food-packaging company under less than ideal terms (but I was not fired) due to personality issues.

I made the mistake of listing these problems in a letter to the HR department there hoping I could collect unemployment insurance (which I was unsuccessful in doing).

My question is, do you think I should leave the food-packaging company off my resume as it may create issues when getting to the background check part of the process?

The Career Doctor responds:
Whether or not you leave the questionable job off your resume, it will come up in a background check. You are better off leaving it on because when it does come up in the background check, it will look like you were hiding something if you leave if off. For more on background checks, read
Employment Background Checks: Minimize Skeletons that Employers Might Find.

5 Things to Learn About a Company Before Your Job Interview

FiveA Guest Post by Kate Willson
An essential part of job interview preparation is doing your homework on the company itself. Having this pertinent information fresh on your mind before shaking hands with your interviewer will help you feel more prepared and will equip you with quality talking points as the interview progresses. Employers take note of candidates that are educated not only on the responsibilities of the job opening in question, but also on the company itself. This demonstrates to employers that you are competent and that you made the decision to apply for the job after considering the facts, rather than just out of desperation for a job.
Here are the five most significant things to learn about your company:

1. Company Mission Statement and Basic Facts
If you are in a time crunch and don’t have the luxury of studying up on a company thoroughly, make sure you at least jot down some mental notes from the company’s website. Go immediately to the “About Us” and “Mission Statement” portions of the site.

Learn what it is that the company does and familiarize yourself with the products and/or services provided by that company.

Great basic facts to learn about a company include: the location of your company’s headquarters, if the company is international, how many people the company employs and if the company has gone public.

Some mission statements are more informative and useful than others, but many give you a glimpse of how the company wants to represent itself to the public and what the company values. For example, some mission statements will emphasize that the company is committed to environmental responsibility; others will emphasize superior customer service. In an interview, you can use this knowledge to explain how your values and objectives line up with the company’s.

2. What Sets the Company Apart From its Competitors?
Today’s top companies compete with numerous others in their industry and strive to set themselves apart by offering unique products and services or providing a different customer experience. Being educated in how a company is doing things differently is a great point of emphasis in your interview, particularly if the interviewer asks you what attracted you to the company. Studying up on this little detail will help prepare you with an educated answer. Here’s an example of such an answer: “I noticed that other financial services firms focus on high-income individuals, but your company specializes in building wealth for lower income brackets. This strategy is something I thought I could really get on board with.”

3. What is Being Said About the Company in the News and Through Social Networks?
The actions of large corporations are often reported by local and national news media, particularly if the corporation employs a significant number of people. If the company to which you are applying is not large enough to be of interest to news outlets, it may still have a marketing team that issues press releases that it publishes on a company blog, online newsletter or a social networking site.

If the company is on Facebook or Twitter, visit the company’s page and read up on what the company is saying there to fans and followers.

You may even be able to network with others who work for the company through these outlets and learn what to expect from the company from its current employees.

4. How the Company is Structured
Do what you can to learn the chain of command at the company you are applying to. For instance, some companies are set up as follows:

Entry-level associate, department supervisor, assistant manager, manager, regional manager, district manager, etc. Is there a board of directors? A corporate headquarters? How does the corporate face differ from the regional face or from the retail face?

5. Who’s in Charge?
From the top down, do some research on who calls the shots at the company. Know the name of the CEO and key top management of the company.

If the company you are applying to is not large, know the name of the manager or top supervisor you will be answering to.

Final Thoughts
The more you know about a company, the better prepared you will be to answer questions and the more competent you will come across to employers and HR personnel. Doing due diligence on a company is also a great way to come up with potential questions for your interviewer.

There is no such thing as being too prepared for a job interview or too knowledgeable about a prospective employer.

Kate Willson writes on the topic of best online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email: katewillson2(at)

When a Promotion Doesn’t Seem Like a Promotion

Anonymous writes:
NoPromotionI was recently promoted; however, I found the company does not want to give me the money or the title.

I also found out that co-workers below my position are getting paid more than myself.

I attempted to bring this discrepancy to my manager’s attention, only to find out my pay will not compensate my work.

What is your advice? I feel I should go elsewhere.

The Career Doctor responds:
I think every person – at least once in his or her career – experiences what happened to you.

I don’t understand why so many employers have not realized that promoting someone without giving them a new title or a raise is really a demotivating factor.

It’s like the employer is saying, “we really like you. In fact, we like you so much we want you to work harder and longer, but for no more pay and no more prestige.”

Unless you can build a case with your manager, the unfortunate truth is that it may be time to polish that resume and start looking for a new job with a different company. Don’t give up on your current company, but start talking with the people in your network, and start planning a job-hunting strategy. If the situation does not get resolved at your current employer, then begin job-hunting at full speed.

How Teens Can Find a Job

HELP_WANTEDTeens_Hired_Here_-_CanvaErin writes:
I know I am still young, only 14, but I am looking for a job.

I am not very picky; I just want a job so I can see if I want to develop a further interest in it.

I also don’t mind too much if the pay is not that high.

The Career Doctor responds:
Well, Erin, you have a good attitude about finding a job. And I think it is a great idea to start thinking about a job — as long as your family thinks it is okay and it doesn’t interfere with your school work. Most states even have laws limiting the amount of hours teens can work in a given week.

While you didn’t specifically ask about a summer job, I have written an article for teens looking for summer jobs. The same strategies I suggest in that article can apply to you now. So, I encourage you to go read A Guide for Teens: How to Find a Summer Job.

Best of luck.

Do Employers Disdain the Number of Colleges You Attended?

How much of an effect does the number of schools a student attends have on prospective employers. I transferred from my first college after my freshman year because it didn’t offer the major I was interested in. I am currently majoring in electrical engineering at Bradley in Peoria, IL.

Because of financial problems, I might have to change schools again, but I’m really worried that won’t be very attractive to prospective employers.

Another reason I am thinking of transferring is that the usual class schedule was changed while I was away on an internship, so I missed some important prerequisites and would have to stay in school an extra year at least.

Do I have reason to worry about transferring again?

The Career Doctor responds:
I would not worry at all about the number of colleges you end up attending. The key is the degree, and as long as you are satisfied that the final college you may be attending is a solid and legitimate college, then transfer if you need to do so.

And the only way a potential employer might know you attended several colleges is if you volunteered that information for some reason or they requested a copy of your transcripts. There is no reason to put all the colleges you attended on your resume – the only one that matters is the one that grants you a degree.

Handling Resume Education Section When Degree Is Incomplete

Julia writes:
UnfinishedDegreeI have a problem as what to put on my educational section of my resume. How do I characterize my education if I am a withdrawn college student and am not attending the same college? Do I list my high school info or my previous college that I have withdrawn from?

The Career Doctor responds:
Do not list high school. The best approach is to list both of the colleges you’ve attended and list the number of credit-hours completed in each. If you have significant credit-hours in a particular subject or major, you can specify that.

If you are on a path to graduation and somewhat close to it, you can actually list your expected degree and then say, “expected [date].” For example:

Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, expected spring 2016