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Monday, March 16, 2009

Advice for Workers of Every Age, at Every Stage

I saw this article yesterday and thought it would be a great article for Employment Monday.

Advice for Workers of Every Age, at Every Stage. I like the way the article is laid out. With an emphasis on stages.

... you're at your first "grown-up" job:
Learn from others. You're a sophisticated, likable person with great ideas; you're also the newbie. Don't be afraid to speak up and contribute to the team, but remember that you have a lot to learn from colleagues and your boss. They can teach you what to do and what not to do at that particular company and in the professional world.

Look for a good foundation. For the average worker, an entry-level job does not mark the beginning of a lifelong relationship with that particular employer. You're likely to have several jobs throughout your career, so don't look at a first job as if you're going to be there forever. Look for a job that interests you, offers networking opportunities and, most importantly, lets you develop skills that will help you down the road.

Don't burn your bridges. When you move on to a new job, do not e-mail your boss with a diatribe about what an incompetent fool she is. Don't tell your colleague how sorry you feel for him because he's still stuck in that prison of a company. Peaceful partings can ensure you have good references and a good reputation. (This advice is good for everyone, regardless of age.)

... you're in the middle of your career:
Assess your life goals. For a second, forget about your career and think about what you want your life to be, both now and in the future. Are you on track to achieve what you want? This isn't just about a work/life balance, but also an opportunity to see if your job situation helps you achieve the personal goals and lifestyle you want.

Take stock of your professional worth. Midcareer is a vague period because it comes at different points for many people and not everyone's professional life progresses at the same pace. So, this period isn't about your specific age as it is about the status of your career.

At this stage, you've had at least one job, if not several, and are accruing experience and expertise in a field. Ask yourself what your résumé would look like if you were to job hunt right now. What are your strongest skills? Where do you need improvement? What career opportunities would be available to you? Now is the time for you to decide if you need to change directions or if you're happy with your situation.

... you can retire:
Decide what you want your golden years to look like. The template of what retirement should look like is long gone. Today, mature workers are taking different paths when it comes to their careers, and you can decide what works best for you.

Because people are living longer, many older workers have no desire to leave the work force and spend another 10 or 20 years at home. Instead, some are scaling back to part-time jobs with their current employers. They still get a paycheck and the company retains their expertise. Others are switching professions entirely and venturing into their dream jobs now that they have the time and money to do so.

This is another article that may give you some insight. 6 Strong Jobs Despite the Downturn

Following is a guide to where work can be found in 2009 and advice for those interested in pursuing these positions:

1. Senior accountantsThese professionals are being hired to handle projects ranging from maintaining general ledger systems to analyzing and preparing financial statements.

Career cues: Candidates for senior accountant positions should possess solid communication, technology, organizational and analytical skills. Companies hiring senior accountants generally look for a bachelor's degree in accounting or finance as well as accreditations such as certified public account (CPA) or certified management accountant (CMA).

2. Senior auditors Changes in legislation related to taxes, financial reporting standards, business investments, mergers and other financial events continues to fuel demand for senior auditors.

Career cues: Public accounting firms seek auditors who can manage the audit process and troubleshoot problems. Strong interpersonal, communication and project management skills also are a must for this position. Employers look for candidates who can think strategically and proactively identify, research and resolve tax issues, as well as work with other corporate functions in the implementation of business plans and projects.

3. Web developers The rise of social media and the expansion of companies' online presence, Web 2.0 initiatives and interactive Web functionality have fueled further growth in Internet technologies, creating a need for Web developers.

Career cues: Web developers should have an in-depth knowledge of Internet protocols and applications in addition to a solid understanding of business strategy. They need strong communication skills and the ability to work both individually and as part of a team. Employers typically seek individuals with a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field, plus at least several years of Web-related experience. Candidates should be well versed in Web technologies and tools such as Java, XML, ASP, ColdFusion, HTML/DHTML and others.

4. Programmer analysts IT professionals with knowledge of .NET, SharePoint, Java or PHP are at a premium across companies in all industries, including health care, finance and manufacturing. These workers are needed to write code, test and debug software applications, and analyze business application requirements for functional areas across the organization.

Career cues: Most employers look for a bachelor's degree in computer science, information science or management information systems, in addition to relevant job experience.

Programmer analysts must understand and conceptualize applications from both a technical perspective and a business point of view. They also need strong interpersonal and communication skills. Excellent programming abilities in common languages such as C++, Java and Unix are necessary for the coding aspects of the position.

5. Administrative health care positionsEven in a grim job market, the health care industry continues to grow and offer great career opportunities. Many medical facilities are seeking administrative professionals with health care experience. Positions in high demand include medical file clerks, medical secretaries, patient admissions clerks and credentialing specialists.

Career cues: Employers typically require previous office or business experience, a high school diploma or equivalent, and basic computer and general office skills. Because these positions usually require collaborating with other office staff, candidates should be cooperative and able to work as part of a team. In addition, applicants should have good communication skills and be detail-oriented and adaptable.

6. Project managersAdvertising agencies and marketing departments need project managers who can ensure that projects come in on time and within budget. Those with experience managing digital projects are especially valued.

Career cues: Because these professionals often serve as a liaison between creative staff and clients, and ensure customer satisfaction, quality control and timely delivery of final products, excellent communication and multitasking abilities are a must. Diplomacy also is helpful when assisting internal and external clients with production-related questions and concerns.

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