Answering the Future-Oriented Interview Question

Eddie writes:
I’m currently working temporary jobs and am seeking a permanent position. I’ve been to several interviews, and two potential employers asked me “Where do you see yourself in the next several years.” Basically, I responded by saying “As long as I have a steady income that I am satisfied with and allows me to be financially independent….” I’m unsure if that was a satisfactory response. I’m somewhat “green” as to how to respond to such a question. Maybe you can give me some advice?

The Career Doctor responds:
The_Future_-_CanvaI think you have two different problems with your interviewing situation. First, the employers are probably asking this question partly to see if you truly are seeking a permanent position or whether you really prefer temping. Second, this question is one of the most popular for employers to ask because it’s a way (they think) of understanding a potential employee’s drive and ambition.

Unfortunately, your answer to the question probably makes the prospective employers uneasy – because you really raise more questions than answers and because your answer does not show much ambition or planning.

You don’t want to answer that question too ambitiously – “I plan to be running this company,” or “I plan to be your boss,” but you need to show some direction and ambition.

A good answer would be something like: “I would hope I am still with this organization in a position of increased responsibility, making a vital contribution to its success.” You could also add a statement about professional career growth to your answer: “I hope to be in a position of increased responsibility that allows me to continually sharpen and grow my career skills, while making a significant contribution to the success of this organization.”

What Does a CEO Do?

Amy writes:
In your opinion what is the role of a CEO? What responsibilities and role should this person play in the company?

CEO_-_CanvaThe Career Doctor responds:
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – sometimes also with the title of president or the chairman of the board – is the top dog in an organization. The CEO is the leader of an organization – and often the visionary. He/she is the most visible and important strategic decision-maker. The personal goals and values of the CEO strongly influence an organization’s mission, strategy, and long-term objectives – as well as impact the organization’s degree of success (or failure). Superior planning and organizational skills are also very important.

The bottom line? Ultimate responsibility for leading an organization falls upon the CEO, no matter how many lieutenants and other senior managers may be in the organization. And the CEO has a direct impact on the success or failure of the firm.

For CEO and other top-executive job sites, check out Quintessential Careers: Executive Jobs.

Changing One’s Mind about College Major

Angie writes:
I am a sophomore in college and I had been majoring in mechanical engineering. I realized that I don’t like this major at all, and I don’t want to be doing it for the next 40 years of my life. I have no idea what I want to do. Can you suggest something that will help me in my search for a new major?

The Career Doctor responds:
Hi Angie. . . relax, you’ve taken the first – and perhaps most important – step, which is realizing that you have made a mistake and you need to look at other possible careers to find something that better suits your unique skills and attributes.

My best suggestions is for you to take advantage of the advice and resources discussed in my article, Choosing a College Major: How to Chart Your Ideal Path. My article takes you through a six-step journey that should lead you to greater clarity and direction about your future career. I also include lots of resources – from self-assessment tests to career guides – in the article.

And the most important piece of advice? Don’t panic. Yes, you are a sophomore, but if you do change your major, a lot of your courses should count as prerequisites for your new major, though you may need to take an overload or some summer courses to stay on course for graduating – but it is certainly not too late to be making these decisions.
Good luck.

Recruiters Push Relocation on Him

finger_pointing_at_map_-_Google_SearchDavid writes:
My home and family are here in Oklahoma City…

Why is it that nearly every recruiter or job-search agent’s first words after “hello” are either “relocate” or the name of some other city?

This happens even though I have indicated in my resume objective I am looking for work in Oklahoma City…

Am I just a piece of meat who gets the recruiter a better commission for forcing me to relocate, regardless of job openings in the city where I already live?

The Career Doctor responds:

David, recruiters are paid by employers for placement, not by the job-seeker. So, while you may be looking for employment in Oklahoma City, the recruiters you’ve talked with may have clients elsewhere with needs that match your qualifications. Since I don’t know the type of job you’re looking for, your background, or current employment conditions in Oklahoma City for you’re a person of your talents and skills, it’s hard for me to offer any better answer.

But here are a few broad suggestions. First, how many recruiters have you spoken with? Are you talking to generalists or specialists to your industry/profession? I’ve worked with some great recruiters and then others who seemed more suited for selling cars, so you may be on a stretch of bad luck … or there are simply better opportunities for someone such as yourself outside your area.

Check out Oya’s Recruiter Directory for some new leads on recruiters. Second, I would suggest going the networking route – either through a professional organization or civic organization – or your existing network of friends and associates; surely, these networks are a great place to get some help in finding a better job.

Finally, check out some of the general job sites, such as the one on Quintessential Careers, or any of the many others – both general and industry-specific – listed for you at Quint Careers.

Helping Her Sister Out of Career Limbo

Karen writes:
limboMy sister has a bachelor’s degree in sociology (or is it social science?) with a specialization in archeology. (She wanted to become an archeologist, but the college she went to didn’t offer it as its own major, but instead as part of another major.) After she graduated, she worked a few years of archeology “construction detail,” and then gave it up.

She’s not interested in that career field or type of work anymore and has been in career limbo for about two years. She’s currently working at a store in a local mall and is very unhappy. She told me that she since she earned a college degree she’d like to be using it. However, she has no idea what kind of jobs she might be able to get! What sort of jobs are available for someone with her qualifications?

The Career Doctor responds:
I think it’s great when family members help each other out, so kudos to you, Karen. At this point in your sister’s life, the degree is of more importance than her major to employers… thus, her career options are almost limitless. She’s also not alone – I’ve met too many store clerks with a bachelor’s degree who dislike their jobs and wonder about the value of their education.

I suggest that your sister first take some time to think about the things she likes to do – what activities, skills, etc., does she enjoy? If she needs help with this exercise, she may want to try out some of the resources available at Quintessential Careers: Career Exploration Tools. Then she needs to find the types of jobs that use those skills. She may need additional training or education, but it totally depends on what she discovers.

Finally, she is going to need to work on her resume – perhaps changing the format to a chrono-functional rather than chronological – to stress the value of her transferable skills.

Seeking Accounting Job with Minimal Experience

Lisa writes:
entrylevelI will graduate in a year with my BA in accounting. Although I have very light experience in the field, and I ensure employers that I am willing to work in an entry-level position to prove my eagerness to gain hands-on experience I have not gotten a response.

I have tried to search for any type of position in accounting, but once I tell them that I am a college student attending evening classes, they dismiss me as though they have no longer have a need for filling the position. I am becoming very frustrated and need to know how to go about find a job that can really give me some accounting experience.

Please help!

The Career Doctor responds:
Lisa, I congratulate you on trying to gain some useful experience before you graduate – that’s the No. 1 thing employers are looking for these days – someone who can make an immediate impact to their business.

But as odd as it may sound, I truly believe your eagerness may be your problem – employers can often read eagerness for desperation, and most employers have no interest in hiring people who appear desperate for a job. I am also concerned that your focus is too much on what these employers can do for you – give you hands-on experience – rather than the benefits you can offer potential employers. (By the way, this is one of the most common job-seeker errors, so don’t feel too badly.)

Doesn’t you college or business school have a placement center? I would suggest you go to this office first and solicit help with finding potential employers and with working on your basic skills – cover letter, resume, and interviewing. Next – what about your
accounting professors? Most professors have contacts with local firms, and thus using your professors to build your network is a logical step. Finally, you can go back out on your own looking for a job, but only do so after you’ve completed these first two steps.

Should She Take a Survival Job?

Kristy writes:
What is your advice/opinion on taking a “survival” job? – one that will help pay bills, but doesn’t further your career or personal goals.

The Career Doctor responds:
consider_staying_active_in_your_-_CanvaObviously, if you are on the brink of losing your car, house, or apartment, or not being able to pay your bills, then the decision is really already made for you – take the survival job while still searching for one in your career field. Just remember to carve out enough time in your day to continue your job search in earnest. How will employers view your survival job? In one of two ways, with the majority seeing it as a positive.

Employers don’t like to see employment gaps on resumes. By taking a survival job, you maintain employment. And don’t immediately assume that a survival job can’t add to your base of skills needed for your career. For example, if you are a marketer by trade but you are forced to take a cashier shift at the 7-11 to pay the bills, there are many invaluable customer relations, vendor management, and sales skills you can cultivate.

Other employers, however, will question your choice. Taking a survival job raises the questions of whether you are suffering from career burnout and other issues to why you were not able to find employment in your field. To alleviate some of these concerns, consider staying active in your professional organization while employed in your survival job and consider doing some volunteer work (in your area of expertise) for a local non-profit organization. You might also consider accepting some freelancing opportunities and investigating some career-enhancement courses at a local college (or via distance learning).

In the end, as with much of job-hunting, it really comes down to how well you can sell the job in your cover letter, on your resume, and in the job interview. If you master positioning this experience as one that enhances (or at least does not take away from) your career, you should be able to find another job in your field. See my article, The Pros and Cons of Taking a Survival Job. What Should You Do?

Why Isn’t Career Counseling Working for Me?

A Guest Post by Nisa ChitakasemNita

You’ve been working with a career counselor for a while, but you aren’t seeing any results. With each passing session you feel like you’re wasting a lot of time and money. You’re not moving forward in your career and you’re wondering why this relationship isn’t everything you thought it would be.

Too often we turn up to see a life/career coach and we expect everything to be automatically wonderful. Did we even stop to think about what we wanted out of the sessions or why we were going in the first place? You must be clear on what you want for counseling to work.

To be clear you must know yourself. Before your next appointment with your counselor, reflect on your life and experiences and write down your strengths, skills, and passions. Looking at these lists, where can they take you next in your career? Where is it you want to go?
A career coach can only guide you if you have a vague idea of which direction you want to be guided in. A good career professional will guide you in the right direction, not make your decisions for you, which is why we can’t go to a counseling or guidance session and expect to be completely passive throughout the process. Get involved and take control of your own career.

Your relationship with a career counselor can consist of conversations going all over the place- bouncing between the past and future and different aspects of your life and career. This is why you must have clarity on what you want. The conversation should always come back to you and want you want, right here, and right now.

Editor’s note: For more about career coaches and counselors, see Quintessential Careers Directory of Life and Career Coaches, which includes links to articles about career coaches and counselors. Nisa Chitakasem is the founder of Position Ignition – a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. Nisa is passionate about helping individuals find the right career path for them whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career directions. For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career Blog or find her on Twitter: @PosIgnition or Facebook.

Career Change from Factory Worker to Real Estate

Johannah writes:
CareerChangeI am 46 and thinking of changing my job from factory worker to real estate. I am currently taking a class for real estate. and have been offered jobs by two people. I am presently working where I have insurance and medical benefits. Do you think I should take benefits into consideration for the amount of money I should ask for?

I won’t be able to get commission until I get my licenses. Do they usually offer benefits to people who plan to be a licensed salesperson in real estate? I am not sure just what to expect and what I should beware of. I had asked for part-time, and they said they need full-time.

The other one said fine for part-time and did not say much about how I would get paid. What do you think I should do?

The Career Doctor responds:
Making a career change is a big step, and it sounds as though you have taken some good first steps in terms of taking classes and networking your way to two potential job offers. I’m a little concerned because I don’t see many details about the two offers other than one has to be full-time and the other could be either full- or part-time.

Here’s what you need to decide: How much income do you need over the next year or so? How much do you have in savings or other liquid accounts for emergencies? Do you need the insurance and medical benefits – or can you afford to pay those on your own?

Without knowing all the details, I would suggest staying on in your current job, continue taking classes and working toward your license, and work for the company that offered the part-time position so you can get your feet wet and decide if this is really the career change you want to make. By following this plan, you keep your current salary and benefits while trying out the new career and moving forward in the direction to make a transition.

In terms of salary and other types of job comparisons, you might check out

Portraying Military Job as Applicable in Civilian World

TransitionZachery writes:
I have just retired as a jet-engine mechanic from the US Air Force.

I am experienced in all phases of repair troubleshooting, trimming, buildup, and management of aircraft and jet-engine repair.

My question is: how does this experience translate into a career in the civilian sector?

The Career Doctor responds:
The first thing I want you to do is consider all your transferable skills – not just your mechanical skills, but also all those other skills related to being in the military.

The second step is to go and visit some of the sites listed at Quintessential Careers: Job Resources for Veterans and Former Military. One of our favorite sites on the list is Transition Assistance Online, which provides free services to separating military service members to assist you in finding their next job or career with employers seeking to hire individuals with the unique training, education, skills and leadership that only the military provides.

See also our section inspired by our 2013 Job Action Day, with numerous articles and resources generated by that event, and our Career, Job, and Entrepreneurial Tools for Transitioning Veterans & Former Military.

Finally, once you done a full self-analysis and determined all your skills and accomplishments, I would suggest looking for jobs in all the traditional methods: networking, other offline job searching, job-hunting on the Net, etc. We outline all these steps in our tutorial, Quintessential
Careers: Job Search 101