In-Demand College Majors

“Unless you go to a top-20 brand name school, what matters most to employers is your major,” says Katie Bardaro, lead economist at compensation research firm PayScale. Forbes magazine lists the most valuable majors:

  •  Biomedical Engineeringmajors
  • Biochemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Software Engineering
  • Environmental engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Geology
  • Management Information Systems
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Mathematics
  • Construction Management
  • Finance
  • Physics
  • Statistics
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What Recruiters Look At During The 6 Seconds They Spend On Your Resume

Although we may never know why we didn’t get chosen for a job interview, a recent study 6secis shedding some light on recruiter’s decision-making process. According to The Ladders research, recruiters spend an average of six seconds before they make the initial decision on candidates. The study used a scientific technique called “eye tracking” on 30 professional recruiters and examined their eye movements during a 10-week period to “record and analyze where and how long someone focuses when digesting a piece of information or completing a task.”

In the short time that they spend with your resume, the study showed recruiters will look at your 

  • name
  • current title and company
  • current position start and end dates
  • previous title and company
  • previous position start and end dates
  • education.

The two resumes below include a heat map of recruiters’ eye movements. The one on the right was looked at more thoroughly than the one of the left because of its clear and concise format.resumeview With such critical time constraints, you should make it easier for recruiters to find pertinent information by creating a resume with a clear visual hierarchy. Don’t include distracting visuals since “such visual elements reduced recruiters’ analytical capability and hampered decision-making” and kept them from “locating the most relevant information, like skills and experience.”

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Why Are You Leaving Your Current Job?

Here’s what hiring managers REALLY want to know!

Why are you leaving your current job? This may seem like an easy interview question. You probably have 100 reasons for wanting to pursue a new role — and can easily defend each one.  But career expert Lynn Taylor says your response to this query can be an absolute deal breaker. “This question, or any variation of it, is extremely challenging catintbecause it naturally puts you on the defensive,” says Taylor.  “It’s one of the most difficult and critical queries you can possibly be asked during the interview process because it reveals so much about you.”

It’s also a tricky question because a terse or canned response will likely leave the interviewer waiting for some elaboration. “If you refuse to explain further, that in itself will be a red flag,” Taylor explains. She says this query may open up a can of worms. “It can easily take you down a slippery path of describing a difficult work environment or boss, demanding workload, dull assignments, or other, similar frustrations.” And while any of those reasons may be a factor for you, they won’t help your cause. “You’ll need to take a diplomatic, professional, and forward looking approach,” she says.

Here’s what hiring managers want to hear when they ask this question:

If you get along well with others

Employers want to be sure that you’re not leaving because you have difficulty working as part of a team, or can’t take directions, Taylor says. “They will glean this from your answer if you say anything negative about the personality of your boss or coworkers, even if true.”

It’s understood that common etiquette is not to burn bridges or disparage your employer. “Your new boss wants to be assured that you’ll be easy to get along with, upbeat, and motivational around coworkers.”

Whether you’re aware of which atmospheres you thrive in

“You would be better served to describe the atmosphere in which you would thrive most, and explain that you think your current employer doesn’t necessarily provide that type of environment,” Taylor says. For example, you can say: “I am looking for a challenging environment where my skills could be put to the best use, and where there’s a strong team approach. I feel I have a lot to contribute that could be better tapped.”

If you’re high or low maintenance

Most managers are looking to minimize any corporate drama, so if you can explain how you’ve been a self-starter and seek an innovative environment where you can deliver significant results, you’ll likely enhance your chances, she says. “If you’re leaving your job because of ‘a lack of visibility by your boss,’ for example, many will assume that you require a lot of recognition or management time.”  Like most tricky interview questions, it’s how professional you are in your response that carries the most weight. “It may be true that you feel unnoticed in your current position, but a more positive alternative is to explain that you’re looking for an opportunity where you can make a difference, working alongside a dedicated team with common goals.”

Whether you speak poorly of your employer

Remember you’re talking to one employer about another employer. While they may beint2 sympathetic to your needs, they’re always aware of the probable management perspective. “If you blame your current employer for your dissatisfaction, it’ll send up a red flag, as the hiring manager will assume you wouldn’t be discreet about them, either,” Taylor says.

How excited you are to work for them

No manager wants you to drone on about why you’re leaving your job. Have a thoughtful, concise answer, but don’t ramble. “The interviewer is hoping that you’re looking to the future…and to a future with them,” she says. “They are hoping that you can outline and help them envision a mutually beneficial partnership; so focus on tomorrow, not yesterday.”

Whether you want to advance your career

Most employers admire those who want to get ahead, particularly if their resumes show a consistent pattern of growth. “Interviewers are most sympathetic to job seekers who want to make more of a contribution; help build departments or companies; and take on more responsibility,” Taylor explains. It can be a double-edged sword to suggest that you’re looking for a “new” challenge, unless you explain that you want “more” of a challenge. Otherwise, it could be taken that you easily get bored.

If you have the requisite skills

Hiring managers want be assured that you have the skills to perform well on the job. “They want to feel that you’re moving forward, versus having been in over your head and now trying to recoup your losses,” says Taylor. One of their deepest fears is that you’re about to be terminated.  They can’t easily check on your performance since you’re still employed, so their best strategy is to ascertain how you view the work itself, she says. “If the job you’re applying for is similar to your current or previous jobs, and you intimate that the challenges or volume of work were unanticipated, it may be assumed that you lacked determination or a strong work ethic.”

Think of your looming departure as something that developed into a mismatch. “It was likely a great job for a period of time, until certain events occurred or didn’t occur,” she says. The more you take the high road, the more professional you will appear to your prospective new boss. In addition, if all you have to say is negative comments, it raises questions about your own judgment: why have you stayed at the company for as long as you did?

Hiring managers are often looking for a reason not to hire you, since they’re typically bombarded with resumes. You don’t want to help make the process of elimination easy — so think about being on the other side of the desk. “Would you hire you, based on your response to this question?” Taylor asks. “Make sure you help guide your interviewer into thinking about your next big contribution, which should be to them,” she concludes.

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An Excellent Resume for Someone Without Experence

Writing your very first resume can be a daunting process. And it doesn’t help to know that recruiters spend an average of six seconds reviewing a resume before they make the initial decision on candidates. “Many students don’t know what should and should not be included in their first resume,” says Amanda Augustine, a career expert. “While there are no hard and fast rules when writing a resume, it really depends on what content you have to work with, there are some preliminary guidelines all students or new professionals should noexpfollow.”

She says the most important things to think about when you’re creating your first resume are your job goals and your audience. “Ask yourself: If I handed the resume to someone who knew nothing about my college major or career direction, could they easily identify the type of role I’m targeting and why within the first 30 seconds?” 

To get a clearer picture of what makes a resume great, we asked Augustine to create a sample of an excellent one for someone with little to no experience. While your resume may look different, depending on the industry you’re in, the one shown on this site should serve as a useful guide for entry-level professionals with very little work experience!

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Getting Your First Teaching Job

Some tips from the NEA:

You’re so close to beginning your teaching career, you can already feel the chalk dust on your fingers.  On track to graduate? Check. Got your student teaching and Praxis exams under your belt? Check. Figured out how you’ll find a job? Not exactly…

First, the bad news: You’re about to start job hunting during one of the worst economic climates in recent history.

Now for the good news: The job market may be tough to crack, but it’s not impossible. Follow these six steps, and you’ll be on your way to landing your first teaching gig.

Step 1: Organize your portfolio

Without much teaching experience to discuss at interviews, you’ll need to dazzle interviewers with your attitude and your portfolio. Gather transcripts, certifications, Praxis results, recommendations, student work from your student teaching, statement of teaching philosophy, unique lesson plans, and anything else that will help establish your qualifications. (This article on electronic portfolios will give you more ideas.)

Tip: Your portfolio reflects your professionalism as a teacher, and your attention to detail, so make sure it’s perfect.

Step 2: Don’t wait for the phone to ring

Starting each day with a job hunt schedule is the best way to “get focused and stay productive,” says Hallie Crawford, a career coach based in Atlanta. Make a list of things you want to accomplish each day, whether it involves networking, adding to your portfolio, or submitting applications. Network aggressively with friends and acquaintances—a kind word from a colleague to a school administrator may open doors.

Spread the word about your job search to your Facebook friends, and look for job feeds on Twitter. The Kansas Educational Employment Board, for example, uses Twitter to send job announcements. CareerBuilder also has several regional Twitter feeds.

Step 3: Consider substitute teaching

Substitute teaching lets you network with administrators and fellow teachers, and offers a preview of your teaching skills. Unless you’re hired as a long-term or permanent substitute, you will likely be paid on a per diem basis, and will often be assigned jobs on just a few hours’ notice. Be flexible. Tip: Find 10 tops to being a good substitute educator here.

Step 4: Take a critical look at your skills

Michael Moffre, a middle school math teacher in North Colonie, NY, always expected to teach social studies, but he’s glad he pursued dual certification in math. That math certification helped Moffre land employment in a top-rated school district. “The whole point is to make yourself more marketable,” he says.

There might not be a lot of demand for your current area of certification, which is why a second area can be critical. Math and science are the well-publicized shortage areas, but not the only ones. “There’s a lot of demand for math, but … everyone is looking for special ed,” advises Robert Piche, a veteran high school math teacher in Howard County, Maryland.

Step 5: Look for regions that are hiring

Certain parts of the country are aggressively recruiting qualified teachers. For example, in an attempt to fill dozens of teaching vacancies, Philadelphia has begun offering relocation assistance and has even hired a placement firm to help spread the word.

Mississippi has routinely had more than 2,000 teaching vacancies statewide, and Florida has spent the past several years actively recruiting teachers to move to the state (see Teach in Florida to learn more). Cities across the country, from Baltimore to Las Vegas, aggressively recruit new teachers each year.

The U.S. Department of Education issued a report, Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing ( PDF, 588K, 83pgs.), that allows you to see geographic and/or subject area shortages for every state, and how those needs have changed over the past 20 years.

Step 6: Prepare aggressively for your interview

Crawford, who has prepared countless clients for interviews, says the key to successful interviewing is to relax. When you’re overly nervous in an interview, a principal or hiring committee may wonder how you’ll handle yourself in front of a noisy classroom filled with children just itching to test you.

Make sure you’re well educated about the school where you’re interviewing—information like standardized test scores, special needs programs, and the percentage of students on free or reduced-price lunch is reported by each public school to their home state. It is also helpful to show familiarity with the community where the school resides.

Many school districts standardize their interview questions and certain topics—such as differentiated instruction, lesson planning, technology in the classroom, and classroom management—are covered frequently.

Be informed, be organized, and be confident. Now go forth and get employed!

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Resources for Jobseekers

From the United States Department of Labor:

Jobseeker or WorkerOccupational Outlook Handbook
If you are looking to enter the job market, change jobs, or find information on occupations of interest, the Handbook can help. You can read about the nature of the work, education and training requirements, advancement opportunities, employment, salary, and ten-year job outlook for hundreds of occupations. The Handbook also lists related occupations and sources of additional information.

Career Information For Students
Search over 60 occupations by what interests you or your favorite subject area. Find out what an occupation’s tasks are, how you get ready for it, salary information, and job outlook.

Occupational Outlook Quarterly
The articles in this quarterly magazine cover a wide range of topics relating to occupations and finding jobs—from job outlook by degree to finding an internship.

Occupations by Education Level and Projected Growth
The “Search by Education” option will help you find which occupations typically need a certain level of education for entry. The “Search by Occupation” option allows you to compare over 700 occupations by employment size, projected employment growth, wages, and the typical entry-level education.

Occupational Employment and Wages by Area
Occupational employment and wages by area can help you find out where a certain occupation is prevalent and how much you might expect to get paid for that occupation in different areas. These data are available at the national, State, and metropolitan area levels.

Benefits
Benefits data can help you better compare your total compensation from one job to another. These data are available for broad occupational groups and for the nine regions of the U.S.

Workplace Safety
Information about injuries, illnesses, and fatalities for various occupations and areas can help you choose a career path.

Other Career Exploration Resources
Find even more resources and online tools from the Department of Labor to help you with your career decisions, including skill assessments, career videos, and training locations.

State Job Banks
Search public and private vacancies by viewing individual State job banks. Just click on the map!

USAJobs
As the Federal Government’s premier one-stop for launching a career in public service, local, regional, and national information is listed for all Federal careers. You may search by agency, position title, salary, location, or career field.

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Advice for Job Applicants Over Age 40

Whether you’re trying to land a job, to advance your career, or to hold onto the position you have right now, you need to be sure you’re presenting the best you possible. Ask yourself these questions:

Appearance

Outdated clothes and hair along with poor grooming can make a negative impression on a current or future employer.

  • Is your wardrobe polished, professional, current and projecting confidence?olderw
  • Is your hair giving away your age? When was the last time you had it cut, styled or possibly even colored to keep up with the times?
  • Do you keep your facial hair shaved and/or trimmed?
  • Do you look like you take care of yourself? Could stained teeth or bitten nails be detracting from your total package?

Resume

You’ve been working for awhile, and your experience is a plus to potential employers. But don’t let your resume date you — use it to show off your assets.

  • Have you removed older, irrelevant experience and degrees?
  • Have you played up your most relevant recent experience?
  • Have you emphasized current technical skills, such as familiarity with the latest computer programs?
  • Did you leave off potential discrimination points like age, weight and marital status?
  • Have you played down inflated job titles, if necessary — like vice president — in order to avoid appearing overqualified (AKA too expensive)?

Interview

So they like your resume and called you in for an interview. Ready to show them what you’ve got?

  • Are you comfortable with the fact someone younger may be interviewing you? oldw
  • Have you kept up with current industry terms as well as the potential employer’s place in the industry?
  • Have you prepared examples of past accomplishments that illustrate your flexibility, loyalty, patience and willingness to be a team player — all important assets of older workers?
  • How’s your attitude? Do you project confidence (but not overconfidence), positive energy and unflappability?
  • Are you prepared for surprises, such as a group interview?

 

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