Q and A / HELP WANTED

Q and A

April 13, 2005

Ability to contribute key to getting good job

Q. How does someone re-enter the work force full time after being employed part time and raising children and not get stuck in low-level administrative jobs? M.T., Towson

A: Confidence in what one is able to do, assertiveness to articulate that confidence, a thorough knowledge of the company (and possibly an open position), and ability to communicate your potential to contribute to the company's mission and values are some of the important principles to keep in mind as you prepare to re-enter.

From a practical standpoint, you may be aware that employers evaluate applicants based on their experience, education and training. While you can't make up for time you devoted to your family, you can do a lot to show that you are prepared to start back where you left off.

If you have not taken continuing education courses or completed training relevant to your job, now is the time to start. By doing this, you can convince an employer that you are still on the cutting edge of the innovative and technological advancements in your field. This will make more of an impression than had you simply acquired more experience.

THOMAS BAILEY

assistant professor applied behavioral sciences and

TOM MITCHELL director of graduate programs in applied psychology

Q: What's the best way to translate universal skills such as writing, management or training on a resume, so that a career change can be made to a different industry? M.T., Towson

A: Tie those universal skills into the language used within the advertisement for the job you want. If you do not know the industry language, read business articles in various publications to learn more about the field where you would like to transfer those skills.

THOMAS BAILEY

Q: I'm working with a mass communications company but they are so bad at communication. How do I improve communication between different department heads? K.M., Annapolis

A: Just because "communications" is the industry you are in does not mean your company is the master of communications. Internal communication is different than communicating to the masses; successful interpersonal relationships require a desire to understand one another.

Many companies offer workshops for organizations to work on interpersonal communications. There is no easy solution. But here are some suggestions: Listen to the person as if what they are saying is the most important thing you will hear today; talk to someone as if they are the most important person you will talk to today; and accept that people will have different opinions.

It may surprise you to realize that communication difficulties occur because different departments don't see a need to do better. In this case, when cross-departmental communication is essential for getting things done, work assignments must be restructured to ensure that it is part of the job. If it's poor communication because of conflict between departments, then training is in order.

THOMAS BAILEY and TOM MITCHELL

University of Baltimore professors answer questions from readers about workplace issues. To submit a question, send it to working@baltsun.com or Working, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md., 21278-0001, or fax it to 410-783-2517

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