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Saturday, December 3, 2011



by Beverly Baskin, ED.S, LPC, MCC, NCCC, CPRW

If you are undecided or confused about career choices, then you might want to consider using the services of a career counselor. The benefits of receiving career counseling are many. First and most obviously, a career counselor can help you gain knowledge about specific careers, the workplace, and future marketing trends. Second, a career counselor can help you understand who you are and what you want out of your life and your career through helping you take a look at such things as your interests, skills, abilities, values, and goals. Perhaps even more importantly, a career counselor can offer you the support you need as you make decisions about your life and your career and help you actually make the transition to a more satisfying lifestyle.

In an era of downsizing and uncertainty in American business, finding a job and planning for your future is very different than it was in the past. It encompasses creativity and flexibility. Unlike in past generations, you literally have to take responsibility for your own career. If you don't, no one else will. A career counselor can help you learn exactly how to do that, she can teach you the skills you can use today and for the rest of your life.

As career counseling professionals we are often asked these questions:

What exactly is career counseling?

To begin with, career counseling is counseling. It is as personal as any other kind of counseling you may seek out. If you don't know what you want to do, if you feel stuck in your career, if you are unhappy at work, and unsure about which direction to follow, then career counseling might be advantageous; it can help you find the answers already within you, answers you may not be aware are there, just waiting to break through so you can live an authentic, satisfying life. The only difference between career and personal, or mental health, counseling is that in career counseling concerns about work and career are the primary focus from the beginning.

The term "career" can be defined as the totality of work one does in one’s lifetime. This can broadly include the sum of all like experiences including education, work, leisure activities, social and civic memberships and family responsibilities. All of life development can be viewed as an aspect of career. Contrast this to the definition of work developed by Donald Super, a well-known vocational theorist: “The systematic pursuit of an objective valued by oneself (even if only for survival) and desired by others...,” or his definition of employment: “Time spent in paid work or in indirectly paid work....” Clearly, career encompasses a broad range of activities. In fact, career is no less than how we structure our time across our life span. Given this definition, then, we see everyone as unique; the issues you bring to a career counselor are your own and will not be exactly like what someone else might bring. For example, Shake Gawain, in her book, Creative Visualization, explains that people often attempt to live their lives backwards. They try to have more things or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want. A career counselor can help you find out who you are and teach you how to go about getting what you need and what you ultimately want.

What kinds of people seek out career counselors?

Typically clients will fall into one of the four categories listed below. Remember, these are broad categories, and people may be at different stages, even if their approximate age does not coincide with the given category. Regardless of age or stage, people who tune into their natural skills and abilities, will feel they truly own their career decisions. They will feel free to explore, not one, but several career paths that they will utilize in the future and throughout their lives.

Four Types of Clients

The Exploratory Client (ages 17-27). These are people at entry level or not far removed from it. Concerns usually involve initial learning about oneself and one's place in the world of work and how to negotiate early career decisions.

The 30’s Transition Client (ages 28-39). People at this stage have already been part of the world of work, may have been involved in trial and error career starts and changes; they may have been floundering; or they may have stabilized into mastery of early to mid-level career tasks. In any case, they typically are meeting and living expectations of society and family.

The Mid-life Client (Ages 39-52). People at this stage usually have experienced a fair amount of advancement in their careers. They have consolidated their knowledge about the world of work in general and their career paths, specifically. They may be experiencing frustration or they may see themselves either in a holding pattern or stagnating in their career paths. Regardless, they no longer want to meet the expectations of society and are ready to make changes to careers more in line with their internal sense of self.

The Pre-Retirement and Retirement Client (Ages 52-75). These people are beginning to see an end to their working years. They are ready to begin thinking about disengagement from the world of work. A myriad of possibilities may seem just around the corner, or they may feel a sense of despair and dread.

Regardless of which stage you are in, the services of a career counselor can be helpful in aiding you in learning about yourself, the world of work, and your place in it.

What can I expect when I see a career counselor?

1. The Initial Interview The purpose of the initial session, or the intake interview, is to gain as much information as is needed to help you make effective and appropriate decisions about your career. At the initial intake interview the career counselor may begin by looking at how you perceive yourself at work, at school and/or at home, and if there are other factors that may be affecting your career at the present time. For example, a career counselor might delve into the education and occupations of the client’s family members. Because of their circumstances, especially those over which they have no control, some clients may feel depressed. There may even be substance abuse problems or issues relating to the client’s home life that affect work performance. A good career counselor is cognizant of these possibilities and others and is prepared to help the client get help with issues that may get in the way of making effective career decisions. When career counselors are trained in mental health counseling, they may deal with personal problems as well. For example, when entry-level job seekers have pressure on them from parents, the full-service career counselor may meet with other family members so that everyone in the family will be supportive in the likes and dislikes of the person seeking help. The career counselor continually monitors the client’s feelings with the main emphasis on support and helps the client understand that it is desirable to be himself or herself, not just what other people want him or her to be. The trick, of course, is to know the difference. This is where the career counselor's expertise is invaluable. She or he can help you sort through all those pieces of yourself so that you can determine who you are and what you want. Positive thinking yields positive results. Your counselor might very well engage in creative exercises throughout the counseling process to encourage support and have fun during the entire career search process. She or he is well versed in helping you help yourself toward a rewarding and fulfilling life. In order to do this, though, you and your counselor must first set some goals.

2. Setting Goals A very important part of the initial counseling session or the first session or two thereafter is that of setting goals. What do you expect from the process of career counseling? What do you want to accomplish first? After a certain amount of sessions, what can you expect? As you and your counselor collaborate on goal setting, you are working together as a team. There are no surprises. You and your counselor may work hard, but through commitment to the counseling process your goals will be met. Typically, people who seek career counseling have only a limited amount of experience in the workplace and limited exposure to different types of careers. This is especially true of the exploratory-age client. Surprisingly, this may also be true of many more experienced 30's Transition and Mid-life Career clients. Even the Pre-retirement and Retirement client may not be knowledgeable of how and when their career decisions were made. For this reason, a career counselor would want to know how you were influenced in any career decisions in the past and by whom. These influences include those of your parents, teachers, supervisors, mentors, and other significant people throughout your early and later life.

3. Testing During subsequent counseling sessions, testing is usually conducted as an additional facilitation tool to help you and your counselor gain knowledge about different aspects of yourself that will help in the decision making process. There are several types of interest, workplace, and personality inventories that can be administered to help you obtain a profile of strong points about yourself Additional assessment instruments such as aptitude tests and college major inventories may be administered, if and when they are necessary. Most assessments are usually self-reporting instruments, and there are no right or wrong answers. Everyone scores 100%....and you'll come out knowing a little more about yourself and your possible hidden talents than you ever thought possible!

Most career counselors usually administer three or more assessment instruments -- or a battery -- because different kinds of information can be gained from different kinds of instruments and some people will take to one type of instrument better than to another. Taking a battery of assessments should be a pleasant experience; they are not like the usual school-type tests you remember. As mentioned, there are no right or wrong answers, rather either/or answers. For instance: Would you like to live in the city or the country? At a party, do you do the introductions or do you wait to be introduced? Some of the more common career-related testing instruments administered to clients as part of a career counseling program include the Strong Interest Inventory, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, The Firo-B Workplace Indicator, and The John Holland Self Directed Search. Results of your assessment battery are interpreted for you by your counselor. The trained professional counselor is well versed in recognizing your feelings and may comment about how you react to each individual instrument. At the very least, your counselor will explore your feelings about the assessment results with you. Remember, the testing process is just one tool your counselor will use, and not even the most important one. You are the only expert in what you want in a career and in a lifestyle. No test in the world was ever designed to take the place of your own wants and desires. At best, the testing will act as a catalyst toward your making your own choices about your own future.

4. Choices The most important thing to remember is that regardless of your life stage, it can be perfectly normal to be undecided about your career choice. It is an extremely important decision. The more undecided you are in the beginning of your career, the more chances you will give yourself to explore the many options that are open to you. If you are later in your career, you may not have known you had choices when you started out. In either case, the fact is that the average job seeker will make at least three career transitions and four to seven job changes throughout his or her life! Nothing is written in stone. All we really have to take with us and to give to another employer, or to give to ourselves if we are entrepreneurs, is our skills and abilities.

In the past, when a person started a job after high school or college, he or she was “married” to the company. Now they are only living together.! The company does not promise an employee a job from “cradle to crave.” With constant restructuring, takeovers, downsizing, and mergers, people do not find security from their companies any more. We find our security, safety, and self-esteem from knowing and marketing our own set of competencies. A career counselor can help you sort out what those competencies are by helping you to consider and investigate these questions:

What is that comes naturally to you? What did you fantasize about becoming as you were growing up? What subjects were you good at while attending school? What do you feel passionate about? What are your hobbies and avocations? What have people encouraged you about or complimented you on? You may very well know what you don’t like, and may even go to any lengths to avoid working in those areas. It is what you do like that is sometimes buried deep because of early conditioning such as parental and societal pressures. Actually, you can conceptualize your “perfect” job as a point in the middle of three intersecting circles. The three circles are 1) your abilities and skills 2) your interests 3) the local and global marketplace. Your career counselor will assist you in understanding fully how these three circles intersect with your unique self.

5. Career Information Job seekers and career transitioners want to be educated about the various careers that are available to them. They would like more information about job descriptions, employment outlooks, and professional qualifications. Some people explore promotional opportunities, wage and salary guidelines, and assessment of their talents as it is related to the world of work. A career counselor can suggest various resource publications and reference books that may be of specific interest to you. These are some of the most popular reference books: The Dictionary of Occupational Titles, The Occupational Outlook Handbook, The Guide for Occupational Exploration, The Dictionary of Wages and Salaries, and various US and State government publication. These are all readily available in any library. Often recommended are vocational, and motivational books such as the popular What Color Is Your Parachute, and The Overnight Job Search Strategy and many, many others. These line the shelves of any bookstore. This process of reading books and disseminating career information takes clients out of the fantasy stage of career development and transfers their job search into a realistic mode.

6. Career Pathing After working with your counselor regarding your needs, interests, personality, and abilities, interpretation of test scores, and related reading, you are now ready for career planning or “career pathing.” You can explore at least two or three career paths simultaneously. For instance, if you excel in mathematics, research, and statistics might consider a career in insurance as an actuary, or a career as a statistician, or a business analyst, or a career as a stockbroker. Additionally, you could look into becoming an economist, a college professor, or an engineer. All of these positions will utilize your skills and abilities, and provide you with future aspirations. As you perform research into various careers, you will begin to narrow down your preference list based on educated decisions and your own intuition. Remember -- you are still the only expert! Then you will learn how to interview or “shadow” people in different professions to gain more insight into the actual jobs. Through a process of elimination you will reach a decision about the best career possibilities for you. Now you are ready for the job search stage.

7. Preparation of Resumes and Cover Letters Once several career paths are being considered, you and your counselor will again collaborate on writing and producing a resume emphasizing your unique and special skills and abilities. The next step is preparing cover letters that will highlight each of the job preferences and serve as an advertisement for the client. When the resume and cover letters are approved and finalized, the actual job search becomes the client’s and counselor’s main focus.

8. Career Marketing Now you are ready for a very important and crucial part of the career counseling process; that is, effective personal marketing to achieve results! The emphasis is on networking. The goal here is to find as many contacts and referred leads as possible, to ask for advice and suggestions of key decision makers in your chosen field or fields, and to get as many names as possible. Notice, the goal is not necessarily to find a job. That would be too big of a step at the start of a job search. You will learn to set small goals for yourself as a job seeker. In this way, you will obtain more “wins” and ultimately achieve your future goal of landing that coveted job.

Career counseling clients employ career marketing techniques including finding the hidden job market, developing contacts and conducting information interviews. Some of the more common methods include replying to newspaper ads, contacting agencies, and working with search firms. It is extremely important to network with friends, relatives, and referred leads. The client also researches target companies, solicits resumes to those firms, and “pounds the pavement” in order to gain more exposure to certain industries.

Preparation for the job interview, salary negotiations, and videotaped mock interviews are reviewed and rehearsed with the counselor. The client is well prepared and can easily discuss his or her strong points, and the strong points in the resume. Thank you letters and follow up letters are utilized at appropriate stages of the job search. You and your career counselor will utilize some or even all of these processes and techniques.

Finally, you are primed for success with a high degree of self-confidence and the ability to communicate your skills and abilities to the prospective employer. More importantly, you will have achieved the competitive edge among other job applicants!

One last point: From our experiences with many clients just like you, we have found that our clients operate most effectively with balance in their lives. The ideal work scenario encompasses what they consider to be the best and most creative aspects of their personalities. Whether it is building something, writing, utilizing teaching or training skills, working with numbers, working in the performing arts, working with one’s hands, or using verbal/ persuasive skills, clients decide what type of creative skills they would like to use at different stages in their lives. Often skills overlap. By the way, we all add to our repertoire as we mature and gain more life experience. Each new job is a rung on our personal career ladder.

Career counseling is really a life-long process....a combination of task work, team work, personal marketing, and promotion. Former clients tell us that what they have learned in the career counseling process will stay with them always. They feel a sense of achievement as they meet larger and larger goals, develop their own instincts and become empowered to make important decisions affecting their lives now and in the future.

So will you. Good luck!!


Beverly Baskin, ED.S, LPC, MCC, NCCC, CPRW, is a Nationally Certified Counselor specializing in career development. She is in private practice where she works with individuals, non-profit agencies and performs organizational consulting and workshops for corporations. Her practice, BBCS Counseling Services, serves a nation-wide client base and can be reached at the toll free telephone number: 800-300-4079.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Helping Clients Cope with Job Loss

by Beverly Baskin, Ed.S, LPC, MCC, NCCC, CPRW


Here are some things that might help clients who have recently lost a job or who are in the midst of regrouping after they receive notice that there job will be terminated in the next few months:

Top Three Stressors

Being out of work is not a fun experience for most of us and can be emotionally harmful and even dangerous for some people. According to the social adjustment scale by Holmes, job loss is one of the top three stressors in a person’s life.

Psychology of Job Loss

If we understand the psychology of job loss, we usually have an easier time adjusting to it and moving on with our lives. People often have feelings similar to those of grieving or mourning the loss of a loved one, or the loss of any meaningful relationship in their lives. As author Michael Farr points out in his book, The Quick Job Search, when we loose a job, grief doesn’t usually overwhelm us all at once; it usually is experienced in stages. The stages of loss or grief may include:

Shock – you may not be fully aware of what has just happened.

Denial – usually comes next; you cannot believe that the loss is true.

Anger/shame – often follows; you blame (often without cause) those you think might be responsible, including yourself.

Depression – may set in some time later, when you realize the reality of the loss.

Acceptance – is the final stage of the process. You come to terms with the loss and get the energy and desire to move beyond it.

Michael Farr feels that the acceptance stage is the best place to be when starting a job search, but we might not have the luxury of waiting until this point to begin your search. Knowing that a normal person will experience some predictable “grieving” reactions can help us deal with our loss in a constructive way.

It is important to realize that every person has his or her own timetable as to when they reach the stage of acceptance. People go through a roller coaster ride of emotions in no particular order, and at different times of the job search process. The important thing to remember is that all of these feelings are normal and part of the grieving process associated with any type of loss. If you are wondering what is “normal” in terms of your emotions, or you are having emotions that are taking a toll on you or your family, you may want to discuss your feelings with a professional counselor.

Choices Regarding Reemployment

Think about your ideal job and remember that abilities + enjoyment = Strengths. You really have four choices regarding you new job. They are:

· same job, same industry

· same job, different industry

· different job, different Industry

· owning your own business

Explore how your present interests and abilities intersect with the current marketplace. With the concept of lifelong learning taking place in the workplace and the introduction of long distance learning on the Internet, people in all age groups have a chance to retrain. Many of the new skills do not require years and years of extensive schooling. There are several three to 18 month courses that constitute excellent retraining opportunities in data processing, computer repair, network engineering, allied health professions and other fields.

How to Find a Job in Less Time

· When speaking to potential networking contacts, instead of asking for a job, try to ask for help and suggestions. In this way, even if there aren’t any jobs available in the company, the person can help you by giving you the names of two or three people that he or she knows.

· Think of at least 50 contacts and ask for their help and advice regarding your job search. A contact is someone who knows a lot of people, not necessarily someone who is in your industry. A contact is a friend, neighbor, doctor, dentist, travel agent, etc.

· Research has shown the people joining employment support groups find jobs one-third faster than those candidates doing it alone. Job search can be very isolating. Seeking out the support of warm, caring individuals, and those who are in the same “place” as you can be very comforting, and you can share networking contacts with others. Support groups draw on everyone’s knowledge and life experience to help all the members of the group. It is really the perfect example of giving and receiving. You can find a list of local employment support groups by State by using Google to search the Internet.

· Set small, reachable goals for yourself. Try using this metaphor: Don’t think about getting from A to Z. It is too overwhelming. Think about getting from A to B, B to C, etc. Each time you reach a small goal that you set for yourself (like networking with five people each day) you are moving closer to the end goal of Z when you land your job!

· Send a thank you note after an interview. Besides being courteous, a thank you note will give you a chance to recap the highlights of the conversation. It becomes an excellent selling tool.

· If you want to talk with a hiring authority on the telephone, (other than human resources) you might have a better chance of speaking with him or her if you call before 9 am or after 5 PM. Key decision-makers are usually in their offices by 7:30 am, and at that time of the morning, they pick up their own phones. There is a good chance that they will be more receptive to informational calls before the workday begins.

· Think positive and affirm your strengths and assets. Examine your track record of achievements in former jobs and in other areas of your life. Write them down.

· Remember to be good to yourself. Exercise, eat right; try to put “balance” into your personal life.

You will survive this transition, and perhaps you might obtain a higher paying position. Looking back at it, many people say that losing a job was the best thing that ever happened to them. It gave them the opportunity to start fresh and obtain a position in an industry that really sparked their interests and enthusiasm. One of my clients recently told me: “after I lost my job, I reassessed some of my values. I realized that my job was only one part of my life, it wasn’t my whole life.”


Beverly Baskin, MA, NCC, is a Nationally Certified Counselor and Executive Director of Baskin Business and Career Services. The agency provides a broad range of services to individuals and organizations including career counseling, spouse relocation, corporate counseling addressing work and family issues, workshops, and corporate outplacement.. The toll free telephone number is 1-800-300-4079. The company’s web Site is . You can email Ms. Baskin at Ms. Baskin is a contributing author to over 30 books on the subject of careers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

After Graduation... Then What?

Colleges give you many of the skills and education you’ll need once you have a job -- but they don’t tell you what career path to pursue, which professions you are most suited for, or information about job titles and career tracks.

How to Get Going in the Right Direction
Making wrong decisions now can waste a lot of time, create frustration, and cause you to have to re-invent yourself later. Getting it right in the first place can make a world of difference. For example, if you've chosen a career direction and an advanced degree supports your getting there - that's great. But if you're thinking, "I'll get the degree first, and decide later," then that degree could end up as a very expensive postponing technique. Before you pay thousands of dollars and time going to school, you better be sure you are focused on an appropriate, well thought out goal.

There is a Systematic Process for Creating a Successful Career
There is a way for one's interests, talents, education, skills and personality to intermesh to create a career that is fulfilling, successful and intentional. This system combines self-understanding, skills analysis, personality assessment, along with occupational information.
You need to understand your relevant skills, individual talents, and particular personality style. You need the self-knowledge to find the right fit between who you are, what you have to offer and what careers will be appropriate and rewarding for you. You need information, insight and perspective regarding the realities of the job market. As a career counselor and career coach for over 25 years, and having worked and taught in schools and colleges, I have developed effective methods and techniques for career development which put special emphasis on bridging that gap from academic study to focused, appropriate, rewarding career choices. I can guide you through the critical transition from your education to the world of work.

Feel free to call me, I will be happy to further describe how I can assist you.

Eileen Sharaga
Phone: 212-826-0685
Web Site:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Welcome to all our CCC colleagues at the annual CCC luncheon! It's a pleasure to see all of you in together again, and get a chance to catch up on the past year's events and successes.

This luncheon is an especially important gathering, too, because we're here, among other things, to discuss what the future holds for us and our profession, and what we need to do to stay current with the rapidly changing times.

One of the things that has become increasingly vital over the past few years, is the tremendous growth of social media to the job search and to career development. Who would have thought, in 2006, that within 5 years LinkedIn would become an indispensable part of the career tool kit for 120,000,000 professionals around the world?

I'd like to invite you all to comment on this blog -- whether your opinions are pro or con, positive or negative -- about your views of social media, how you teach or use them in your own practices, and whether your clients find them helpful. Your insights will be tremendously helpful to all of your colleagues in the CCC, and enable us to think, debate, and grow professionally...which is marvelous for our clients, and for us, as well!

Paula Cohen, Communications Director, Career Counselors Consortium

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Retired Military Personnel Get Hired for their Skills Sets

“Retired Military Personnel Get Hired For Their Skill Sets”

If you are a retired (or retiring) military person, be sure to take time to create an inventory of your specific skills. You should be able to quantify and qualify what you are best at that is transferable from the military environment to the private sector.

To validate this point, let’s consider the results that my clients got when they went through this transition:

  • Client #1 – A retired military officer with skills in operations became a Plant Manager for a stationery manufacturing company in Chicago.
  • Client #2 – A former military officer with logistics, technology and supply chain skills became a Management Consultant for a strategy consulting firm in Washington, DC.
  • Client # 3 – A retiring military officer with responsibilities in purchasing lines up a position as an Inbound Supply Director for a financial institution in New York City.

What do these individuals have in common? Their ability to adapt to change in a new environment. In the military, the chain of command may be well established, but in private industry the organizational structure may not run like a well-oiled machine. In fact, it is often informal networks and hidden political agendas that are the norm.

Each of these individuals sought the help of a career coach to get feedback on their resumes, interviewing skills and career planning activities. Partnering with a coach enabled them to define and focus their skill set for the next stage of their career: a suitable position in the private sector.

Beverly R. Daniel, MS, MBA is a Career Counselor and Coach, and is the Treasurer of the Career Counselors Consortium, as well as the President of the Career Growth Group. She can be reached at, or at 212.980.2526.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Introvert's Resistance to Networking

An introverted client -- let us call him Frank -- refused to network even though he had just been laid off due to severe cost-cutting in a difficult economy. An Accounting Manager with an insurance company, Frank consulted me for help with his job search, but refused to network. When I asked about his community activities I learned he held an important position as the Treasurer of his church and his beach club. I suggested that Frank ask church and club members for introductions to companies who might need his experience. Instead I got a flat refusal. “Absolutely not!” he said. “I don’t want any favors. I don’t want to be beholden to people I know socially.” I acknowledged Frank’s feeling, but asked him, “Frank, are you really competent and effective as an Accounting Manager?” I received an unequivocal “YES, DEFINITELY!” “In that case,” I said, “if your church and club acquaintances introduce you to their employer contacts, they're not doing you a favor. They're doing their companies a favor by referring such a qualified candidate.” Frank’s expression clearly said, “I never thought of it that way.” The bottom line of this counseling intervention? Frank’s resistance melted. He approached his social network for referrals, and landed his new job one month after our counseling ended.
RUTH SHAPIRO is the past Vice-President of the Career Counselors Consortium. She can be reached at and at 212.633.0270.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Many people have asked us how you can make a contribution and help Japan...Here are the good links that were recommended by our Japanese friends.

Thank you for your warm thoughts.

Japan Earthquake Relief Fund:

Peace Winds Japan:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

LinkedIn Panel at Barnard Business & Professional Women's meeting

The Barnard Business and Professional Women's group is hosting a panel discussion on Monday, March 7th, from 6:30 PM to 8:30, titled "LinkedIn or Left Out?" Location: Graduate Center/CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room C 198. Pre-registration is required. CCC member Paula Cohen will be one of the panelists. For information, contact Beth Roddy at Visit the Career Counselors Consortium

Resume Strategies for Career Transitions

Karen Palevsky is leading a class on Resume Strategies for Career Transitions at the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies (NYU SCPS) on Wednesday, March 3rd, from 6:30-8:30pm.

Contact Ms. Palevsky at the Career Counselors Consortium -- -- for additional information.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What If?...

What if you think losing your job is the worst thing that can happen to you?

But what if a career counselor shows you that a layoff due to a corporate takeover can lead to a better job? Here is my example of what career counseling can do to make a job search successful.

Feeling panic over losing his job and anxious about the pressure of finding a new one quickly, George contacted me on the Career Counselors Consortium website. His stated need was help in writing a new resume.

Learning as much as possible about my client, I identified George’s USP, an advertising term for “unique selling proposition,” which set him apart from his competition. I recognized possibilities that add value but that George took for granted. These included his unique skills, accomplishments, personality, passions and work style. But as Vice-President of Administration for 15 years George said, “I’ve just been doing my job.”

In counseling George to highlight accomplishments in his new resume, I was enormously impressed by his outstanding contributions. First, he had introduced a new cost-saving computer system. Second, he had hired high-performing Purchasing and Quality Control Managers. Third, he had organized and managed the weekend move of 200 employees to new offices in another building with everyone ready for business by Monday morning.

Half-heartedly, he started his job search. But he loved working at his firm, and wished he could remain even under the takeover management. Hearing this, I suggested: what if he could save his job? Would he have the courage to meet with the new CEO to present the benefits of continuing his work?

“What if he turns me down?” George asked. “Getting a ‘no’ is not the worst thing,” I said. “At least you will feel good that you presented your value, and can do that elsewhere.” We practiced a role-play of his presentation. I played the part of the CEO, and after many rehearsals George felt comfortable to schedule the meeting.

George showed the new CEO his resume with its accomplishments, and explained the results in detail. He stressed the contributions he had made to the company, and said, “I don’t want to leave. After 15 years I know where the bodies are buried, so to speak. And I know how to run an efficient operation that reduces costs and gets optimal performance from staff.”

The outcome? The new CEO rehired George with a raise of $6,000. What started as resume writing coaching became a career counseling intervention that saved my client’s job.

RUTH SHAPIRO, M.A., LMC, Former CCC Vice-President of the Career Counselors Consortium, and current Board Member

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Secret of Making an Impression After the Interview

Write three different letters to keep your candidacy alive


The interview is over. You thought it went well, but the employer was noncommittal. You have more appointments set up with other companies. But if you really want the job you just interviewed for it’s time to launch a follow-up campaign of three different letters that will keep you under consideration.

How do you do this successfully? Stop thinking of the difficulty you’ve had in this competitive job market. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of the hiring manager. He/she has three decisions to make:

1. Hire the candidate.

2. Continue interviewing others.

3. Reject the candidate

Whatever the employer’s decision you keep interest high or revive it with three letter approaches tailored to the three decisions. In each case you show you are not just another job seeker but a contributor who solves problems. (See the letter-writing workbook for actual examples of the three approaches).

Here are the three letter approaches: 1. The Thank-You Letter as a Second Chance.

You not only say thank- you for the employer’s time, but it’s a second chance to sell yourself. You can refer to points relevant to the company’s needs which you previously discussed. You can present qualifications you had not revealed. Or summarize specific assets and rephrase accomplishments. You can also cite an article related to the manager’s interest that you came across.

2. The Keeping-in-Touch Letter. You use this approach when you learn that the manager is continuing to interview others. You offer new facts to reinforce your eligibility for the job. Maybe you enrolled in a course to gain knowledge you lacked that was required for the job. In other words you don’t give up. You demonstrate persistence and enthusiasm –appealing qualities in any candidate.

3. The After-a-Rejection Letter. You’re feeling disappointed; you thought you were so right for the job yet were turned down. Is the case closed? Not necessarily, if the rejection was due to realistic business factors or perhaps specific gaps in your experience.

This approach requires strong motivation and persistence in uncovering the reason for rejection. If experience gaps are the issue, and you’ve taken action to gain that experience or knowledge you now have a reason to communicate increased suitability. The worst that can happen? Nothing. They hired someone else and are happy with their choice. But if that person proved inadequate, the position may still be open. You’ll never know this unless you test the waters with the after-a-rejection letter. Even if the job is filled, your letter is a strategic reminder of your strong interest and stick-to-it-iveness. What’s more, when you learn in your follow-up call that the job is filled, you can ask for referrals to other firms. Many executives gladly refer applicants with whom they’ve had good rapport.

As these three letter-writing approaches reveal, you can set yourself apart from the competition by staying in the game. You will make your points quickly and convey your individuality by using what I call “plain talk on paper,” writing in a clear, concise, conversational style as if talking face-to-face. By developing this direct mail campaign of three letters you’ll give tangible evidence of your interest in offering solutions, not merely landing the job.

Ruth Shapiro is a charter member of the Career Counselors Consortium, and author of the workbook, HOW TO WRITE JOB SEARCH LETTERS THAT LEAD TO INTERVIEWS. She can be reached at, or at at 212-633-0270.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

3 FREE workshops for disabled individuals at the Center for Independent Living, in NYC.

Three highly experienced Career Counselors, all members of the Career Counselors Consortium of Greater New York, will present a series of 3 FREE workshops at the Center for Independent Living, in NYC. These workshops have been exclusively designed to assist individuals with disabilities, who wish to return to the workforce. On January 11th, Ms. Karen Palevsky will speak on RESUME WRITING STRATEGIES; on January 18th, Mr. John Hotard will speak on JOB SEARCH STRATEGIES; and on February 1st, Ms. Renee Rosenberg will speak on INTERVIEW PREPARATION. All 3 workshops will begin at 11 AM and end at 1 PM. The Center for Independent Living is located at 841 Broadway (Suite 301), between E. 13th and E. 14th Street, at Union Square. Admission is free; the programs are designed to assist those with disabilities.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Networking for Job and Career Success

Hal Flantzer
Most executives and professionals know that, by developing a network of colleagues, they can gain a most valuable asset--one that can make a difference, especially during volatile and difficult times. That difference can be the one between a prolonged search with unimpressive results and one with less time and stress invested--which results in a position that can advance one's career. Often, such positions are filled by companies before they are released as "job orders" to external recruiters, or to published sources both online and in print.
So you can often beat out and eliminate competition for a position that may suit your career plans.
There are at least three reasons to network, and although not separate from each other, it's important for you to be clear about your reasons for setting up any networking meeting before you set it up. After all, the purpose of your meeting will largely determine the type of questions you will want to ask.
The first reason is the need to do research and gain information to move your search forward. It is quite common, immediately after one's position has been eliminated, to call around to friends and colleagues and ask if they know of any positions that might be available--this is what most people think of as "networking!" While there's a chance that this might bear fruit, it usually doesn't get one too far--and it is definitely not the way to uncover the information you need to conduct an effective campaign.
Recently, an Art Director told me that, for her, being downsized was like having a jigsaw puzzle in a box with 1,000 pieces tossed on the floor (she saw herself as one of those pieces!). You have to put those pieces together, one by one, to have enough information to be competitive--and well positioned--for the type of positions that really matter to you. On- and offline research can provide the foundation for learning about current trends in an industry (putting together pieces of that "puzzle")--connecting to the right companies, as well as to contacts that can bridge to those managers who do the hiring. But the most immediate and highest quality information will come from directed give-and-take, in person meetings between you and your contacts.
The second reason to network is the one we all know about: to get referrals that will connect you to someone who can hire you. This means that you need to present yourself, your skills and your experience in the best light possible. The person with whom you're meeting must know that you are knowledgeable about the sector you're both engaged in and his/her company and work--and that you are qualified to perform that function for their organization. In addition, he/she must be left with the feeling that you can bring something unique to them as a result of your previous work--and that you can offer new solutions to situations and problems, which might arise.
Yet, even at the end of an excellent meeting, there will be times when you may leave the meeting without receiving a further referral. One reason might be that your contact might be cautious about passing on such referrals in an initial meeting. Perhaps he/she has been "burnt" before, having given out contacts in a previous informational meeting to someone who was never heard from again. Having felt "used," perhaps your contact wants to see if you will indeed follow up on suggestions they made, as well as to see if you really are interested in staying in contact with them.
This brings us to the third, the least-stated, and yet in the long-term, the most important reason for networking: to develop and nurture mutually beneficial relationships with colleagues and potential business associates. It is always important not only to immediately thank you contact for meeting with you in a letter--and to let them know that you will move on their suggestions, but to offer them your help if ever they should need it. This will speak strongly to your enthusiasm for working in your field, as well as your understanding of the fact that you are not alone in having to deal with volatility in the marketplace--and this will show your desire to move with resiliency to help your colleagues whenever possible.
This is also why involvement with professional associations, especially for career-changers, may offer the single best source of opportunities to develop a lot of new networking contacts from one source. It also gives you a great way to keep yourself current with the latest developments in your field. Professional associations are also well aware--and supportive--of the need for their members and potential members to network. In fact, they will set aside time at the beginning of chapter meetings for just that purpose. Active involvement, i.e., joining committees, writing articles for newsletters, etc., will enable you to get positive exposure--and enhance your positioning, as well as open up greater opportunities to meet new colleagues. More importantly, you will be able to develop the type of collegial relationships, which will move your career along, well beyond the time that you land your next position or consulting engagement.
Hal Flantzer is an Executive Board Member of the Career Counselors Consortium, and is the Owner of Professional Career Resources, a full-service career management company in New York City offering effective, no-nonsense approaches that enable professionals, managers and executives to maximize their career potential. For further information, please call 212-696-6494, or send email to
© Hal Flantzer, 2008