Network your way to a New Job

By John Focht

Even with all the technological tools and websites available, networking remains the one of the most effective ways to find a new job.  The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is still prevalent in today’s work place.

Most hiring manager’s want to bring in “their people” when they move to a new company.  Staying in contact with former managers is important, especially if you were one of their go-to employees.

Linked-In is a great tool to build your network of contacts.  Linked-In provides the opportunity to connect with current co-workers, as well as co-workers from previous employments.  Building a network of contacts allows you to see who works where now.

If you see jobs posted on a company website where you know one or a few people in your network now work, reach out to those contacts there to see if they can submit your name to the hiring manager or recruiter.

Many companies today have referral programs within their organization.  Referral programs allow employees to refer outside candidates to job opening’s inside the company.  If that new person is hired and remains in the job for a certain period of time, the person who made the referral receives a compensation.

Despite the abundance of job postings on career builder websites and job posting websites, a number of jobs are sometimes not posted.  Reaching out to your contacts in your network and letting them know that you are in the market may also get you the inside-scoop on unadvertised jobs within their company.

Of course, networks only get you in the door.  Be sure your resume and Linked-In profile are created and updated with your most recent job activities.  You don’t want to make your contact look bad by not having your stuff together; that person will never refer you again if you leave them looking bad.

Also, prepare yourself for the interview.  Have five printed copies of your resume available with you. Be aware of what is on your resume and be prepared to speak to those items.  Nothing looks worse on a candidate than not knowing what is on their own resume.

Finally, do some homework prior to the interview and research the company.  Not being prepared to speak about what you know about the company, or have intelligent questions about the company, is a sure way to have your interview ended a few minutes early.

Reach out to your contacts.  If you are not on Linked-In, sign-up today. Build your network database before you hit the proverbial job pavement.  While you might be tops in what you do, it’s always good to have someone pulling for you from the inside.


Working Adults Going Back to School

By John Focht

Adults going back to school is not a recent phenomenon.  Working adults have returned to school for decades in the hopes of either finishing a degree they started decades earlier, or to further their education in the hopes of advancing their careers or starting new careers.

Today, nearly 4 million adults over the age of 35 are enrolled in a degree-granting institution, according to CNBC citing the National Center for Education Statistics.  

The large number of adults back in school after a substantial time away may have to do with the fact that nearly 89% of adults feel there is still room to grow in their current careers, according to Market Watch citing a 2012 poll conducted by the University of Phoenix.

In recent years, beginning with the University of Phoenix online availability, online courses have made it relatively less complicated for working adults to go back to school.  Data provided by Market Watch supports online courses are more advantageous for adults as 74% of adults between the ages of 25-34 are either currently enrolled in online courses, or plan to enroll in online courses, according to Market Watch.

Colleges and universities have made online courses readily available to students for all types of degrees, certifications, and general courses.  A student today can earn a master’s degree without ever stepping foot into the classroom.

Many online courses are designed in a manner that allow students to complete assignments on their own time.  Classroom participation is also required in some online classes through technology like Blackboard.  Blackboard is a software technology that enables professors and students to interact online.  In some ways Blackboard can be compared to a classroom chat room.

Whether taking courses online or in the traditional classroom setting, going back to school for many adults is a fact of life they face in order to keep up in their current job, or simply to hold their jobs.

Adults who have been in their career for 15-20 years have seen their salary rise through promotions or year-end salary adjustments.  In some cases, younger employees are able to come in and potentially do the same job for a much lower pay.  The older workforce, who are 15-20 years into their career, are faced with the potential of losing their job for younger and less-expensive workers.

Furthering an education is a way for adults to continue on their career path and not get stagnant in a specific role with a larger salary.  And of course furthering education is a way to make yourself more marketable in the job market overall, not just with your current employer.

The challenges some adults face in going back to school though is time and commitment.  After all, unlike the days of being 18, 19, 20 years-old, there is quite a bit more responsibility on your shoulder.  Juggling classes while working full-time and supporting your family can be quite challenging.

The fear factor of going back to school as an adult is a real factor too.  Whether going back to school in the traditional classroom setting or taking courses online, there can be an anxiety in going to class with students half your age.  From an online class perspective, the fear can be learning and understanding new technology on top of taking the actual class.  And of course, traditional classroom settings of sitting with and interacting with students who may not have even been alive the last time you were in a classroom.

Further education still remains one of the best options for adults who have been in the work force for 15-20 years. Whether it is to continue advancement in your career, or simply keeping yourself aware of recent technologies and ways of doing business.  It is also the best option if you are in a situation where you are considering changing careers.


Epperson, Sharron. Adult education: Is it worth going back to school? CNBC. Web. 25 September 2013.

More than Half of Working Adults Plan to go Back to School and the Majority will Take an Online Course, reveals University of Phoenix Survey. Market Watch. Web. 19 December 2012.


Making a Career Change? Five Tips to Work you through the Process

By John Focht

Making a career change can be a tough and challenging process to work through.  If you are making a career change ten, fifteen, twenty years into your existing career, you may be faced with starting from the ground up again.  Your annual salary will probably take a significant hit from what you are currently accustomed to.  Your lifestyle may take a hit too with a lowered salary.  Are these things you are prepared for?

When do you even know it’s time to take your career in a different direction?  Does it hit you over night?  Is it weeks, or months, or years of painstaking uncertainty of trying to figure out how, when, and why you make that career change?  Do you just look for a new job in a new industry, or do you need schooling or special training?

Unfortunately there is no cookie-cutter answer to any of these questions.  For some, it is a methodical process that takes a bit of time before a career jump can be made.  For others it happens overnight because you may have been laid-off in your current job and decided this was the time to make the jump you always wanted to make.

Whatever the decision making process, it is a major life-changing event.  With any major life-changing event, it’s good practice to try to get a plan and a set of goals in place to ensure you can achieve what it is you are after.

When changing careers, it’s best to create a list of goals and targeted completion dates to achieve your goals.  This will help you in determine when you are most prepared to make the jump.

A few big items to keep in mind when deciding if a career change is best for you:

Research Schooling and Training:

If you are making a major career change, odds are you are probably going to need some sort of schooling or training.  Research and understand what type of further education is required.  Is it finishing your Bachelor’s degree or going back for your Masters?  Do you need specific certification or training to make your career jump?

Whatever the educational requirement is, research the commitment, time, and cost associated with it.  Begin mapping out goals to complete the education by a certain date.  Now, at least, you have a starting point as to when your career change may actually take place.  Whether it is six months, a year, or three years, you can assess whether this is something that you can even accomplish, or figure out what you need to do to accomplish your goal.

Employer Reimbursement:

Now that you have costs figured out, find out if your current employer will absorb the cost, or a percentage of the cost.  Most employers will at least absorb a percentage of your education or training if there is long-term benefit to how you will use that training or schooling within that company.

Be aware though, if your employer flips the tab, you will be required to stay with that employer for a certain amount of time post-graduation or upon completion of the training/certification.  Understand what that commitment is and make sure there is no penalty if you leave the employer prior to the end of that commitment. Be sure this is an employer you expect to have a long-term career with before allowing them to flip your tuition bill.

Evaluate the Salary:

Evaluate the salary of the new career you are thinking of moving into.  How does it compare to your current salary?  Odds are you will be taking a decent size salary hit against your current salary for at least a few years.  Can you afford to take that type of hit?

Be sure to also review what the salary growth is in this new field.  How and when do you start seeing increases to your salary?  One year?  Three years?  Five years?  If you are taking a 30%, 40%, 50% salary cut to move into a new career, will that type of salary hit over a 1-5 year time period make you miserable?  If so, is a career change really what you need?

Job Market:

What does the job market look like in this new field?  This may be the most important task you do.  It would be a shame to spend the next three years in school, taking out a huge loan, and changing your lifestyle, only to find out it’s a real tough job market in this new field.

Research what the market is and what the growth potential is.  Will you remain at the bottom floor, or can you make your way up?  If so, when and how?

Plan…and Plan Some More:

If you lose your job and get a new job that requires you to switch careers, that’s one thing.  But if you are legitimately looking at a new career, be sure to research, evaluate, and plan.  Don’t make a jump overnight to a new career.

Research and understanding the schooling requirements, the time it will take to get through school, new salary structure, lifestyle changes, and the long-term job market and career growth.  Be methodical and deliberate in your approach.  If your new career can help your existing employer, share your plan with them; they may assist you in getting to where you want to go more quickly.

It’s never too late to start anew with your career.  Just be sure you have researched your options.  If you don’t do it now, you may one day look back and regret that you didn’t.