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Survival Guide Friday: Your Job

by Frank Mungeam

Bio | Email | Follow: @KGWNews

Posted on October 3, 2008 at 5:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:35 PM

As part of KGW's Survival Guide week, Peter Paskill of Career Makers will be answering your job and employment questions live from 5-7 pm and from 10-11:30 pm here in the KGW Your Money Blog. To submit a question, just fill out the "comments" form at the bottom of this page!

Gary said:

I have been a technical writer for thirteen years mostly on a contract basis. Now I am looking to go to chiropractic school and am beginning my science core this year in preparation to get into a chiropractic school.

How much should I reveal about the 9 credits I am taking this quarter and possibly more next year to the hiring manager. I tend to be honest and up front so there are no surprises. Any advice in this area?

Hi Gary,

Why don't you inquire through the school about jobs. They may well know of jobs in your new area of interest which could be an added benefit to you and you could be totally honest.


Sean said:
Thanks for the response, but I'm not sure what to do with this advice. It would be great if I could interview with people I know, but that's not a practical option.

"Your search results may reflect how you are searching. The more distant you are from the hiring person, the greater the chance you will be deselected for any number of reasons. None of us is perfectly qualified for a position, whether have too much of too little. The more we are known by potential hiring person, the higher the probability they will default to the good in us."

Hello Sean,

The process of reaching out begins by researching, gathering information so you can make informed decisions. People are generally much easier to talk to if you are seen as an explorer. People like to help others. Obviously, I can't comment on your statement that this is not a practical option. I would sincerely hope this situation could be altered, as it would be to your advantage.


. said:
I am an older worker, have been out of work for over a year. Ihave been looking on the net during the day, send resumes via email and in snail mail.

I have not had any response or even a phone call. Friends have told me it is because of my age and that I have been out of the work force for so long.

Any suggestions to find something, I was a professional white collar but will take most anything.

Hi J,

If you are 55 or older, you should check out the Older Worker Program at the Dept. Of Employment. Could be just what you need. Surfing the net is generally overwhelming and not very productive for any of us. As I've been saying all evening, getting out of your house and networking with others will produce better results and you'll feel better too. Be sure to let your family and friends know what you are looking for. Everyone you know, don't overlooking anyone you know.

Good luck,


Sean said:
I've been applying for jobs, and even when I get an interview, at least half the time the interviewer expresses concerns that I'm overqualified and would be bored. I'm seriously considering making a version of my resumé that omits much of my education: I have a master's in library and information science and am halfway through a second master's. (I don't even get interviews for library jobs.) Is it a mistake to downplay my education in order to secure some income?

Hello Sean,

Your search results may reflect how you are searching. The more distant you are from the hiring person, the greater the chance you will be deselected for any number of reasons. None of us is perfectly qualified for a position, whether have too much of too little. The more we are known by potential hiring person, the higher the probability they will default to the good in us. People hire people they and like. How the process works.

Downplaying any part of who you are is a decision only you can make. You need to feel good about what you are bringing to the job.

Best wishes,


Bryce said:
I recently received a certificate as a nuclear medicine technologist. I have been job searching since July 1st to no avail. Are there healthcare recruiters in the Northwest or California? If so can you recommend a few or can you direct me to a list?
I also was wondering if an interview coach might help me feel more confident

Hi Bryce,

I'm sure there are, but I can't come with any names at the moment. You can probably do an internet search to come up with a number of them. I would then interview them to make sure which best fits your needs.An interview coach would probably be a wise investment (for all of us). I would make sure they can record, playback and give you feedback. You'll probably be surprised at how you look and sound, but a good investment.


Lee said:
You mentioned on the news this evening about tailoring your resume toward your skills set if you wish to conceal or downplay a certain job you've had. Can you elaborate a little bit on this and explain what exactly a "skills focused" resume looks like? I just can't see how if you've done a certain job for several years but don't want to reveal it how you can hide a large time gap in your employment history?

Hi Lee,

It's not so much about hiding something as directing the readers focus. You first need to determine just what your transferable skills are. Be specific here. Speaking, listening, problem solving, delegating, motivating are all examples of specific skills. These are skills you really like using and are good at, so they can be supported by results, successes or achievements in their use. These skills along with supportive what, how and results are at beginning of your skills driven resume and are what you are selling first. The details of your employment history follow afterward. So you see, you are just changing focus, not facts.

Hope this answers your question,


Sarah said:
How important do looks come into play when handing in resumes? I was always told to dress as if you already had the job even if you were just coming in to pick up an application, is this true or overkill? How does this transfer over to online applications? How often should you call a potential employer after you turn in an application/resume?

Sorry so many questions! Thanks!

Hi Sarah,

I would agree with the person who gave you the information about dressing well. It is also a good test as to how serious you are about the potential job. Dressing thoughtfully should carry over to your resume. It should look well prepared and be error free. Spelling and grammar are of particular concern, so be sure to read and re-read. If you can imagine, your resume should look like you. As far as following up .......I would first end your cover letter with a statement that you will contact the company in a specific number of days to arrange for a personal interview. Thereafter, I would checking in on a weekly basis, each time inquiring on how the process is going and when you might expect to hear something. I'd also ask if would be okay if you called again. They will probably say yes. I'd rather you make more calls than less.

Hope this helps you!


Bev said:
What's the best way for a veteran past and present to go looking for a job? Does a Vet get preference over others like I have heard? Is it worth going to the employment office,is there someone who works for the Vet who needs a job?

Hi Bev,

The Worksource offices (Dept of Emp) have veteran reps, and YES it is very much worth exploring. I've heard good things about these people at the Hillsboro office. Use the services, they are there for you.


Sam said:
please help:
I have worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for 5 months at job search. I looked into your program, but couldnt afford it.

I have a solid work reputation, hav good references etc. but the longer my unemployment goes the lower my self confidence disinegrates.

I am excercizing, eating right etc. I cant network any longer because I have NO confidence left. The months of job rejections has almost literally killed me.

I try for all levels of jobs, but have barely been looked being told I am either "over" or "under" qualified.

Im open to suggestion. I just need some hope.
Thank you for answering this not in public fashion.
PS. I wish I could believe whatyou say about the Tualitan Employment offices is true-- but it is not. They dont want to talk to a person, but instead talk down to a person.
Ive NEVER been this discouraged in my entire life.
They told me I could have funding, and then after I was accepted into a PSU program they denied funding. They say one thing and do another. I am not the only one who has experiencd this hypocrisy by that office. Unfortunetly, that situation discouraged greatly as I am working hard to reenter the job market

Hi Sam,

I'm all too familiar with your situation as I've experienced it myself. I'm very sorry for the treatment you received at the Tualatin office, not right! have you checked in with temp agencies or staffing services? Although it shouldn't be, different Oregon Dept of Unemployment offices have been known to act differently so you might try a different office. Have you checked out the Capital Career Center 185th and Walker Road? Part of the state, good folks and services/networking there.

All my best to you,


Samantha said:
Can you please let people know about the importance of a good resume. I do hiring for my company and while we do have open positions and many, many applications, most people will not get interviews. Obvious spelling and gramar mistakes, resumes that are too long or resumes and cover letters that were written to apply for positions in a completely unrelated field frequently come across my desk. With so many applicants, those are the first to be put in the "no thanks" pile. You may be a great person with incredible skills, but you aren't going to get a second glance with those obvious mistakes.

Hi Samantha,

Thanks so much. I could not have said it better than you did.


mari said:
I have done Real Estate for the past 15 yrs. right after High School.
This past year has defintely changed but I would like to stay in the field. However, when applying for part-time jobs, companies are not willing to speak with me, as I am not qualified.
I have applied for office work, baristas, and reception work in medical fields.
Any suggestions?

Hi Mari,

Are you applying for something that you have real interest in? Something you find fun and have some personal experience with. People like to hire like-minded people. I'm thinking maybe you are talking with the wrong people. Focus on what you want to do rather than what you can do. Show with a smile....



.......................................................Aurelia George said:
I quit my last position due to high stress and intolerable bad working conditions, plus the fact that they were taking away my job functions and farming out my duties. I felt they were getting ready to demote my position and cut my pay.
My question is what should I say when a prospective new employer asks why I left my last position? Thanks.

Hello Aurelia,
I'd be brief and positive. Focus on how the job way no longer a good fit for you and you wanted to make a change. don't speak badly of your form employer ....doesn't help you.

Good luck,


Robin said:
You mentioned a skills Resume for those changing career paths. I am moving away from the Interior Design industry to the Sustainable industry. Where would I find more information on how to write a Skills Resume?

Hi Robin,

I could toot my own horn here, but won't. You might check on the internet, typing in skills resume info. You might also check local bookstores or libraries too. the Oregon Dept. of Employment might also have samples you could look at.

good luck...


Bill said:
I have had over 47 interviews in the construction industry and the companies will not tell me why they will not hire me. I just recently found out my former company is blacklisting me. They are monitoring my personal email and threatening each company that I apply to.
What would suggest I do and who can I contact?
Thank you

Hi Bill,

I'd suggest contacting a good employment lawyer attorney.


Jeff M said:
I have worked in the orthopedic medical device field for over 20 yrs. I have an excellent resume professional produced. i have applied to over 25 healthcare positions in the last 3 months with only two call backs. What am I doing wrong?

Hi Jeff,

In my humble view, there is not such thing as an excellent resume except in the eyes of the beholder. If you don't know the person asking (or viewing) your resume, know specifically what they are looking for, how it should be presented etc. electronic submissions are really nothing more than a crap shoot. Get out of your house, and start meeting people........any time, any place. Networking doesn't mean large numbers, so begin with your family, friends and others you share your life with. Warm calls are always better than cold calls.

Hope this helps Jeff...


Eric said:
I graduated with an MBA in August and have been putting out resumes for jobs across the U.S. I've worked in insurance for ten years. I'm not getting many calls at all. Is it worthwhile to have a professional take a look at my resume to polish it up? What about a headhunter?
Thanks for your help

Hello Eric,

As I've been saying here in this blog, I'm thinking it is the "process" working against you. Sending resume out into the electronic black hole hardly works for any of us. I think it would be more useful and productive to look at how you are approaching the job finding process. Unless you are selling something so unique, marketing yourself stranger-to-stranger doesn't produce very good results. Look at how you can create and use personal help such as your college/university and faculty from the dept. you majored in.
Professional recruiters might be another avenue to check out.

Best wishes,


martha said:
I've a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree and speak 3 languages - Ive been at home for the last 6 years with my kids -wich is the best way to get back to the market and build my resume again.I see that people do not consider my knowledge because Ive done anything after I got my Masters.

2. What do you recommend to a person that has been self employee for 20 years and his business is not doing well and wants to get a regular job. Does he has to start in an entry level after being a Manager,

Hello Martha,

You didn't tell me if you want to use your degrees and languages. What are your current interests? What would you love to do? Yesterday is gone and tomorrow not here yet, so stay focused on today. What puts a smile on your face?? The process really begins with you taking yourself seriously and then getting out and doing your research...asking people you know for their help and asking "how can I?" This is the first step of the resume, not writing a resume which will most probably de-select you.

My answer to your second question is no! But he has to do like I suggested above to find or create the appropriate position and entry level. He shouldn't be looking or considering at the bottom.


Carol said:
I am thinking about changing my career to medical billing. I have been told this is a job that you can do from home. I do not have experience in the medical field. I was a assistant manager of a lawn and garden store for for ten years. I see these schools you can go to be become a medical biller but am worried they might be a scam. Do you recommend a school and do you need to go to school to become a medical biller? I do have a arts and science degree but never continued to get my bachelors degree.

Hi Carol,

You are very wise to be careful. There are a lot of scams around,l many of them found under the heading "work from home." If the title of medical biller really interests you, then go out and talk with local people doing this job ......its doing your research like a good consumer. I'm generally concerned when people have to buy their way into a job.
An alternative would be to look at your gifts and interests first. For example, most of the things we do for fun, others get paid to do. Why not you???

Do your research!!


aren Dyer said:
I'm 49 years old and I'am having a hard time finding a job, my skills are limited to driving. I was a bus driver until 2005 when I got hurt on the job and now no one will look at me because of my age and being hurt. How can I get a job with those two strikes against me? I had my job up until 2007. My husband and I can't afford loans for schooling.
Any advise will be much appreciated.

Hi Karen,

I would suggest using the Oregon Dept. of Employment, especially the Worksource programs they offer as funded by the federal government. They have many retraining programs and services which could be very useful/helpful to you. I know the offices in Hillsboro and Tualatin are well staffed. You are a person of skills, knowledge and gifts, so please don't sell yourself short. Think about what you would love to do and go for it with some help.

Follow your smile....


Paul said:
What type of jobs would you suggest a person with a criminal background (ie ID theft, forgery)apply for? Having served their sentence and now attempting to seek employment?

Hi Paul,

I'm by no means very knowledgeable in assisting people with criminal backgrounds, but am equally confident that there are others in our community who are. I would strongly suggest using them, their objectivity, knowledge and the unique programs and services they have access to.

My best wishes to you,


Carolyn said:
I've heard that it's best to do one resume and then construct "position-specific" cover letters. Is this a good idea?

Hi Carolyn,
i think both the resume and cover letter need to be "position specific." Mirror back the key words found in the job description. This makes it easier for the reader to see how wonderful you are.

Peter Paskill

Linda said:
After working most of my life, I was recently laid off (construction business) and though I haven't being applying to alot of jobs, I feel that I have been qualified for the jobs I do. But... I can't even get a call-back for an interview. I do not have a college education - had my training as "on the job" but I feel that this is hurting me.
If I went back for further education or training in something, what would be the fastest to get certified in and to get a return?

Hello Linda,
If you are applying via the internet then I'm guessing it is the "process" working against you. Pretty hard to stand out when the folks at the other end don't know you. i would suggest that you focus on what you want to do and where you want to do it and then do your research. Use all your personal contacts, not overlooking the people closest to you, to gather information on the company and attempt to get an inside contact or referral. Generally don't suggest contacting human resources as they are generally paid to keep you (and me) away. None of us is "perfect" so you want to find or create situations that value who you are right now. With a long work history, you on the job experience has real value. You just need to find the right company and opportunity. Don't sell yourself short!! Using your wonderful skills/knowledge will be your shortest route to a new job. Make sure you let others help you as i'v mentioned here before.


T said:
What do you think the Social Work sector is looking like in Portland? I have an MSW and am looking for work in Children and Families.

Hello T...

I think this field remains fairly strong in both the public and private sectors. Yours odds will also be improved doing as much of your investigating person-to-person. Relationships may well count more than just sending in resumes via the internet.

Best wishes,


Melody Guy said:
As a Mortgage Broker for the past seven years how do I "sell myself" in a new career? I have a lot of skills and BS degree and find employers are having a hard time getting past the fact that I am a Mortgage Broker!!!

Hi Melody,

If you no longer want to be in the mortgage business, then don't us a traditional resume to sell yourself. This is especially true if you want work in a new field. I'd suggest that you use a skill based document (resume) which sells your transferable skills first supported by successes and results. Your job history is presented later in the document.

Best wishes,


Jacque Hubl said:
I moved out here for a job and they quickly layed me off. I have a college education and have 25 resumes out there. What do you think the problem is. And where is the best place to find a job?

Hi Jacque,
I don't know what you mean by having "having 25 resumes out there." If you mean that you've posted 25 resumes via the internet, then I'm guessing that is really the "process" working against you. I think it is very important that you create personal relationships (networking) the the specific areas of employment that interest you and then use them to do your research. There is real truth that people hire/create for people they know. Best place to find work is being out of your house, using all the resources the community has available. Dept of employment, temp agencies, staffing companies, recruiters, job search networking groups are all good places to be.

Hope this helps you,

Peter Paskill

Frank said:
Is this a good time to take community college classes to add skills, and what types of classes would be most valuable in the work place?

Hi Frank,

Very good question. First of all, you should have some focus about what type of job you are seeking and then investigate what classes would improve your chances. I think this process is really important to follow. Research the job(s) you are going after, reasearch them to learn what additional skills you might need and then determine if going to a community college is your best alternative.

Hope this help.

Peter Paskill

Larry said:
It seems like a lot of companies have layoffs or hiring freezes. What are the sectors or job areas where there really is demand for hiring workers?

The health field remains strong, especially as it relates to our "graying" population. Government service on all level is also seeing growth. The travel; hospitality and gaming are also relatively strong.

Hope this helps you,

Peter Paskill