Middle-Aged Career Change

Q. I am a middle aged woman with a M.S. in Education, interested in a career change.  What advice can you provide?

A. Changing careers is difficult and the farther you attempt to get away from your current profession, the more difficult it becomes.  Making the switch from a teacher to a registered nurse or accountant, for example, would require a return to school and starting at the bottom rung of that profession’s career ladder.  This type of dramatic career change is more realistic for someone in the first five years of his or her career.  For someone with 10-20 years, such a change is far less tenable.

For the mid- to late-career professionals, the key is to take the fundamental skills and experience you have gained and transfer them to another industry or another area within your chosen career.  In the case of our teacher, her masters in education opens up a lot of opportunities beyond the traditional classroom setting.  Regardless of the teacher’s subject area, through her education, training and experience, she has the fundamental tools necessary to teach.  Those skills can be used to develop and/or deliver training material and programs to other teachers or to employees in a corporation, for example.  They can be used in for-profit education firms that provide tutoring and other tailored education programs to young people who are either trying to catch up or get ahead.  Continue reading


Challenger's 25th Annual Job-Seeker Call-In

Thank you to everyone who helped make our 25th annual Job Seeker Call-In Days a success. We would have loved to answer everyone’s call, but were overwhelmed with the response. For the next few weeks we will be accepting questions at advice@challengergray.com. We will not be able to answer each individual email, but we will attempt to address some of the questions in this blog.

Thanks again!
Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Free job search advice Dec. 27 & 28

The employment situation is slowly beginning to show signs of recovery.  However, even as hiring accelerates in the coming year, the job market will remain competitive and difficult to navigate.  To help the nation’s job seekers overcome the obstacles and improve their chances of success, global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas will suspend normal business operations on December 27 and 28 to provide free job search advice to callers from anywhere in the U.S.

The firm’s 25th annual two-day national job search call-in will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CST both days.  The telephone number is 312-422-5010.  Job seekers can get more information about the call-in at http://challengeratworkblog.blogspot.com/. Continue reading

Reevaluation necessary for moms re-entering workforce

Stay-at-home mothers who have never worked or who have not worked for a long time will find that the climate of the working world has changed significantly over the past 10 years.  Women have made great strides from middle management on through to corporate boardrooms.  It is important for all women to be cognizant of these changes, to better use them advantageously, before embarking on reentry into today’s workforce.

Employers are more open-minded than ever before toward hiring women in general.  Labor shortages in some industries have contributed to this attitudinal change.  Also, employers cannot ignore that more women than men obtained college degrees last year.  The Women’s Research & Education Institute in Washington, D.C., reports that a majority of associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees are earned by women.

In general, women are joining the workforce in record numbers.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the labor-participation rate of women over the age of 25 has doubled within the past 25 years.  As more and more companies adopt more childcare options, flexible work schedules, and telecommuting programs, that percentage will increase. Continue reading

Job Search Myth: "There are no jobs out there"

Based on the bleak job-market picture painted by most news reports, it is easy to see how some job seekers might conclude that there are no jobs available.  In fact, we hear as much from our job-search clients all the time: “No one is hiring in my field.”  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Make no mistake, it is difficult to find positions in this market.  Not only are there fewer opportunities, but there are more people competing for those opportunities.  It definitely takes more effort, more time and more patience to find a job these days, but don’t fall prey to the myth that there are NO jobs available.  This attitude can have detrimental effects on your job search.  If you believe that there are no jobs, you are inclined to stop looking.  As a job-search authority, one thing I can tell you is that very few people have found a position by not looking.

So, why is it worth your time to persist in your job-search activities? Because companies are hiring all over the place.  Don’t believe me.  Take a look at the most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  The chart below shows hiring activity measured by the Bureau’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey.  Each month, the Bureau asks employers around the country about how many new workers they hired, how many were let go or left voluntarily and how many openings they had at the end of the month.

Upward trend in hiring.

In this chart, we can see that employers hired nearly 4.5 million new workers (4,355,000, to be exact) in September.  Additionally, employers had another 2.9 million job openings at the end of the month.  Since the beginning of the year, employers have hired a total of 39.7 million new workers.

Obviously, there is still a ways to go before hiring returns to pre-recession levels of 5.5 million – 6.0 million new hires per month.  But, there is no denying that hiring is occurring in this economy.  The key is to be in the right place at the right time.  Now is not the time to stop or cut back on your job-search activities, based on the erroneous assumption that no one is hiring.  Now is the time to be even more aggressive in your efforts.  You cannot be in the right place at the right time, if you are sitting on the sidelines.

Steps in successful job search

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that guarantees job-search success.  Anyone claiming that all you have to do is “Follow These 10 Steps To Find A Job” is selling a promise that cannot be delivered.  The fact is that the job search greatly differs from person to person.  We all know someone who appears to be using all of the recommended job-search strategies but remains jobless after six months or more.  Each of us also probably knows someone who sent out five or six resumes in response to online ads and had a job a week later.

The job market is fickle. Yes, it is necessary to have the right skills and experience.  Yes, it is necessary to perform well in the interview.  But, let’s face it, job-search success often comes down to being in the right place at the right time.

Say you send in your resume in response to an online ad.  In a good economy, that ad might get 150 responses.  In this economy, with so many people out of work, that ad will probably get 300 to 500 responses.  That company is probably going to filter those 500 resumes through a computer program to identify 50 to go through by hand.  At that point, the goal is to find 5 to bring in for interviews.  If you were lucky enough to get into the stack of 50, the chances of being asked in for an interview are just 1 in 10 — not very good odds.  And chances are the hiring manager is not going to go through all 50 of the resumes.  He or she will only look until 5 candidates have been chosen.  Maybe that takes 15 or 20 resumes.  If your resume was number 21 in the stack, you are out of the running…and it had nothing to do with your skills or experience.  It simply came down to luck of the draw. Continue reading

Goal-oriented employers seek goal-oriented employees

Have you wondered how to distinguish yourself from competitors in your search for a new job?

An effective approach is to prove you are a goal-oriented employee.  In this respect, your most important forum is the face-to-face interview.

It always is a good idea to sell yourself as a goal-oriented employee because employers are goal-oriented themselves.  One of their goals is to find the best qualified people who can make an immediate contribution to the company’s bottom line.  They also have specific objectives for company growth, and are looking for people who will fit easily into the organization and perform capably with a minimal amount of downtime acclimating to the new work routine.

The interview is the make-or-break point in your job hunt.  If you do not make an outstanding impression, you will not be offered the job.  If you demonstrate your ability to set and meet goals, no matter what the time constraints, you will help distinguish yourself from the six or more other job seekers who are being seriously considered for the same position. Continue reading