How Employment Links to Career Choices

Change Career – millions are considering it and there are millions of things to consider. Where to begin?

What is changing is the world around you. At your core you are changing very little. Scientists know that by the time you reach adulthood your brain is wired by your experiences.You are who you are. The first challenge is to match who you are with the new opportunities and make the best choice that fits you. There are lots of career choices, many with very attractive salaries and growth opportunities.The US Department of Labor lists almost a thousand in America alone.

Buzz TodaySource: Bureau of Labor Statistics. Total non-farm payroll employment increased by 195,000 in June (2013) and the unemployment rate was unchanged at 7.6%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Source: What Color is Your Parachute? In March 2012 4,356,000 people found work and there were 3,737,000 job vacancies waiting to be filled. That is a total of 8,093,000 employment opportunities.

So, contrary to what some are saying, the problem is not a lack of employment opportunities. What is confusing is that every month the popular press focuses on the unemployment rate and the net new jobs created in the last month. Recently the new jobs number has been around 180,000 per month. But what is more important to the career change decision, is the fact that every month American companies recruit and hire millions of new employees, not merely a few hundred thousand reported as new jobs.This adds up. Over a year’s time this means that there are actually tens of millions of opportunities to find a job in a new career.

The real challenge for the career changer is to decide the key question: Which of these tens of millions of opportunities do I go after? And even more important – how do I decide? Here are some suggestions to help guide you onto the right path.

Think of a career as what you DO with your life.The key to making the right choice is to make sure that what you do matches who you are as a person. Many go through life trying to figure out what they want to do “when they grow up”. They are looking for purpose and from that personal happiness. Sadly millions never find their answer. The career changer has a unique opportunity to link their doing with their being and from that develop purpose and happiness.

Who you are is fixed. You can learn new skills but in the end none of us get to fundamentally change who we are as an adult. So the first thing the career changer has to do is find out who they are. There are very good scientific instruments to help them do just that. Many are listed in my book “Your Future is Calling.” It is a place to begin.

Once the career changer has an objective read on who they are, they need to look at good information on the doing part of the career choices. Here again, there is good objective information available on the specific career choices available. The very comprehensive web site O*NET provides excellent information on a host of critical career factors including what someone in that career actually does every day. This is the source of information on the doing part of the career choices.

The last pieces of the puzzle are to decide on what to learn and where to learn it for the new career.There are thousands of education programs at community colleges and four year institutions to develop the skills required to qualify for new career opportunities. Once the career that matches who you are is selected, course catalogs, course descriptions and costs are available at college web sites. In addition, the Department of Education maintains a comprehensive site of information about college programs and costs on a site called College Navigator. At this point the main challenge for the career changer is to select the major and the college that is the best buy for the career chosen.

At the beginning, a career change decision feels overwhelming mainly, because it is.There are millions of things to consider. The good news is that the range of choices narrows quickly when the match between who you are and what you do is made at the beginning. There is still a lot of data to look at and evaluate but all of that is relatively straight forward with a good road map. See “Your Future is Calling” for details on how to do this part of the career change decision.

How to Make Sure College Fits Who You Are

Should Everyone Go to College?  The answer is, of course NO.   But the no answer may be for a different reason than you think.  It is about matching what you do with who you are, not how much money you will make.  If you can earn a degree that earns a healthy income and matches what you want to do with your life then do it.  If that’s not possible, pick what fits you.  Actually it is nearly as easily done as said.

There is a huge debate raging about the advice to go to college.  Like so many things in our society today, this conversation has become politicized around national political agendas and public policy.  The politics is about other people.  What we are talking about here is you and your future.

Buzz Today Source:  Inside Higher Ed. Free for All Over “College for All” “Should Everyone Go to College?” is the title of the research brief co-written by Sawhill and Stephanie Owen, a senior research assistant at Brookings. The paper — essentially a review of existing literature on the topic — is facing sharp criticism, both philosophically and methodologically, from ideological friends and foes alike.  Averages mask enormous variation that means that many individuals do not fare so well, and the authors spend the rest of the paper documenting the ways in which students’ return from their higher education may fall short based on the colleges, majors and careers they choose.

Some in the media and many on the Internet are passionate about the political implications of the policy debates.  But I want to return to what it all means to the individual prospective student like yourself.  In the end, what law makers and policy wonks think about your personal decision is not critical to your future.  What is most critical to your future is starting with “who you are”.

I want to take a few lines to talk about “who you are”.  In Your Future is Calling, I point the reader to several instruments that will help you answer this important question.  The answers are the starting point for you to lay the road-map out to your future.  These are scientific instruments that have been proven with hundreds of thousands of users.  What these instruments do is take your answers to a number of questions and provide information back to you about what it all means.

What these instruments tell you is “who you are” based on the science of the instruments and your personal inputs. They paint a picture for you that lays a foundation for the rest of the decisions you need to make. In Your Future is Calling, I help you take that information and map it to careers, majors and colleges. This approach focuses on you and not the politicians and policy makers in Washington. In the end we are talking about your future, not theirs.

Selecting a College or University – Part IV


In an earlier post we looked at higher education quality in terms of price and selectivity.  That blog focused on price in particular.  Here we are taking a critical look at the second quality parameter – selectivity.  We return to the crème de crème of American higher education, Harvard University.  Buzz TodaySource:  The Harvard Crimson – An all time low 5.9 percent of applicants received offers to join Harvard’s class of 2016.  This marks the seventh consecutive year that Harvard’s admission rate has fallen (become more selective). 

We can see in the BUZZ Today that Harvard is proud of being highly selective. The university broadcasts its selectivity relative to its highly selective competitors like Yale and Princeton.  But the question is: “what does this high selectivity mean for the returning adult learner?”  Unfortunately, those of us who are mere mortals will never have the opportunity to go to Harvard.  What is the average adult learner to do?

Let me first provide some comfort when it comes to selectivity of admissions.  The fact is, that the selectivity is much more about the students attending the university than it is about the university itself.  To this you might say: “but hold on, these are some of the very smartest kids in the land!” To this I reply – True.  But to help you make your selection decision we need to know what this means for the highly selective university and more importantly, what this means for you.

First the University:  By having the option to make sure that those entering Harvard are the best of the best, Harvard University vastly increases the likelihood of those getting a degree from Harvard are the most successful graduates.  Salaries and public acclaim verify that success.

But that is not the entire story.  There is little research that definitively shows that the relative success of Harvard University graduates are the result of what they learned at school (relative to what is learned at other universities).  It is much more likely that the success is the result of the quality of the students entering Harvard.  As a result, we should not be surprised that these students remained among the best and brightest once they graduated from Harvard.

For the more average Joe or Jane, Harvard selectivity helps little in the decision about quality and what university to attend.  For more details see:   Your Future is Calling.