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Work Not Just on the Job, but on Your Career Too


Are you managing your career successfully? Here's a quiz to help you find out.

These questions were prepared with the help of two experts: Kathryn Van Ness, associate dean and director of the Anderson School at UCLA's MBA Career Management Center, and Michele M. DeRosa, a consultant with Drake Beam Morin, an outplacement firm that also works with companies and individuals on career management issues.

Q: "What Color Is Your Parachute?" is the latest how-to book on paragliding: True or false?

A: False, of course. Fortune magazine calls "Parachute," updated annually by author Richard Nelson Bolles, "the gold standard of career guides." Other books that include self-assessment activities as well as work-search strategies are "Coming Alive From Nine to Five," by Betty Neville Michelozzi; "The Lifetime Career Manager," by James C. Cabrera and Charles F. Albrecht Jr.; and "Wishcraft," by Barbara Sher.

Q: Which comes first: writing your resume, practicing your interview technique or identifying your skills?

A: Identifying your skills. To do that, seek the services of a private company or a college career counselor, or participate in a community-based vocational assessment class. Or pick up one of the many books on the subject, such as "How to Find the Work You Love," by Laurence G. Boldt, or "Do What You Are," by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger.

Q: Do you know what you want?

A: If not, your job search will take much longer. You will scatter your energy and time hoping for a positive change, applying for many positions that do not match who you really are and where you best fit.

Q: Do you take the time to reassess your professional goals every six months?

A: If you are doing that, you feel empowered to move forward whenever you wish to seek the next career option. Change is always easier when you're prepared. If no, you might lose your way. Many individuals discover over time that their work has lost meaning and challenge. It is much more difficult to reassess goals and get motivated when you are feeling discouraged or depressed in your current situation.

Q: Do you have a current resume available for immediate use?

A: If yes, you will be able to respond immediately to new opportunities when they emerge. Imagine your frustration upon learning of an ideal-sounding job with an immediate deadline, and you with a resume years out of date. Readiness is key to taking advantage of just-in-time opportunities.

Q: Monster Board and Mosaic are examples of what?

A: They are names of Internet sites that are work-search resources. Many dedicated sites exist for submitting resumes, posting jobs and conducting research. Some leading sites include Career Path (, The Riley Guide (, Monster Board (, California Career and Employment Center (, and Career Mosaic (

Q: If you lost your job today, would you have a ready network of friends, colleagues and contacts to tap for advice and job leads?

A: If not, get cracking!

Q: If invited for an interview at 2 this afternoon, would you be prepared?

A: If yes, you are in touch with your skills and abilities, your strengths and weaknesses, your accomplishments and goals. You have an updated resume in your briefcase or in your computer. If not, you feel unprepared and uncertain. Self-confidence emerges when you know you have an updated resume and a great story to tell about your past, present and future goals.

Q: Name a few alternatives to a traditional office job.

A: Temporary work, flextime, contracting or consulting, telecommuting, maintaining a portfolio career (full-time work split among several jobs, such as teaching, consulting and writing).

Q: Do you seek assignments that stretch you, that require you to learn new technical skills and increase your business acumen?

A: If not, start. If this is not a possibility in your current job, consider volunteering for a special project or taking on a leadership role in a professional or community organization.

Q: Do you know your value?

A: Keep up with trends in your industry and in the economy. Understand the compensation levels and the skills desired. Be prepared to negotiate the best possible pay and benefits package.

Q: Jack Welch, chief executive of General Electric Co., describes the new employment contract as "Eager to stay and ready to go." What does that mean?

A: Approach your work with enthusiasm. Continually find ways to support the business' goals and add value to the organization. But make sure you are marketable and employable. Update your skills in teamwork, leadership and computers. Connect with other professionals on a regular basis.

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