Update for 2020: This “Ask a Career Coach” column is currently accepting questions.
What to know:
- I select questions to answer based on the topic’s likelihood of interest to a wide variety of readers.
- To submit a question, please contact me.
- If you want to be notified when my response to your question is published, please include your valid email address.
- I cannot respond personally to questions. If you need individualized career assistance, I offer private, confidential career coaching and counseling services.
- You can browse previous questions and my responses below or to find a specific topic, you can search using the box on the right sidebar.
Previous Questions and Answers
“How to Find Software Industry Jobs in Seattle“ Question: I am a software development manager in New York City. My career is going well but I don’t think NYC is the place for me, long-term. I recently visited Seattle, WA, and I fell in love with it.
“How to Know When to Change Careers” Question: I work in higher education. I taught chemistry for 8 years at a community college. From there, I moved to a 4-year university to become a professional academic advisor.
“How to Become a Freelance Writer” Question: I am a former newspaper journalist who was finally affected by all the layoffs in my industry. I don’t have a lot of savings…
“How to Recover From a Failed Internship” Question: For the past eight months, I have been interning at what I initially thought was a dream startup company while taking classes. At first, I was working in an area that matched my skill set. When the grant the project I was part of was not renewed, I was asked if I wanted to do QA testing.
“I Was Fired” Question: I was fired from my last job. Do prospective employers have the right to ask about this? How do I handle this in my job search? What do I say about it if I am asked if I have ever been fired?
“How to Become a Career Counselor or Career Coach” Question: I think I might want to do the same type of work you do, but I don’t know how to become a career counselor or career coach. Can you please tell me how to get started?
“How to Overcome Age Discrimination” Question: I’m 58, soon to be 59. I have spent the last 15 years as an entrepreneur and I have published six books. I want to get back into the workforce but I’m either overqualified or my qualifications aren’t current enough. I can’t even get a job at the local grocery store because I’m overqualified.
“What to Do If You Hate Your Job” Question: I am a middle-aged accounting professional who was just laid off from my Fortune 100 job. I don’t miss my job because I hated it, but now I have to decide what to do.
“Nonprofit Job Search Tips” Question: I am interested in landing a job at a nonprofit and I am wondering if you can share any nonprofit job search tips with me. How do people find employment at a nonprofit organization?
“Should I Do an Internship?” Question: I just saw the legal ruling where a federal judge said that many unpaid internships are illegal if offered by a for-profit company. My college career advisor said that to maximize my marketability, I should do an internship whether it is paid or not.
“Should I Buy a Franchise?” Question: I would like to own my own business but I am overwhelmed when I think about starting one completely from zero. I have some money from an inheritance and I am thinking about investing it in franchise ownership, but I don’t know how to decide if this is a good idea or not.
“Help Me Find a Job Fast” Question: Can you help me find a job fast? I hate my job so much, I am depressed when I wake up on Monday morning and I stay that way until Friday evening. I’ve used up all my sick days and vacation time and it is early in the year.
How to Recover From an Online Mistake During a Job Search Question: I am writing to ask you for career advice about what to do because I made a big online mistake that could hurt my job search. I work in banking and in a burst of anger one night, I posted a rant to a popular banking industry website.
Stay-At-Home Dad Resume Advice Question: I am seeking some stay-at-home dad resume advice. I have been a stay-at-home dad for the last four years. I want to return to paid employment and I’m not sure how I should address my work stoppage. Do I address/ explain this in my cover letter or do I come up with something clever on my resume or both?
How to Recover From Loss of a Dream Job Question: I’ve been in the same business my entire adult life (mid 40′s now) doing the only job I’ve dreamed about doing since I was 5 years old (sales and marketing/promotion in the music industry for both record companies and music retail). Music is and always has been both my job and my hobby and I woke up just about every day happy and excited to go to work. The business has imploded and my job in it has gone as well. What do you do when your one job, your one passion, and your one dream has gone up in smoke?
IT Career Advice for a Careful Coder Question: I’m a good worker with 29 years of IT in both the US Navy (now retired) and the commercial sector. I have solid experience and certifications in Computer Security, Red Hat Linux and VMware virtualization, though I only have an AA degree attained back in 1987.
Seattle Resume Writers Question: Since your company doesn’t write resumes, can you please recommend a good Seattle resume writer?
Teacher Changing Careers in Houston Question: Hi! I have been an AP English dual credit teacher for the last 6 years, and I’ve been in teaching for 15 years total. However, due to some health issues I had to quit because I started losing my voice.
How to Re-Enter the Workforce After a Long Absence Question: I am a 37-year-old housewife with a BSBA in Management. I haven’t worked in the past 10 years, and my work experience before that is in a different country, as a cashier.
How to Land an Entry Level Job Question: My fiancé is trying to find a meaningful career. He has worked for the past 10+ years, mostly in various delis/pizzerias/restaurants, etc. He has no college degree.
How to Quantify the Unquantifiable On Your Resume Question: Career experts always stress the importance of quantifying results (numbers tell a story, right?) on your resume, but I’m in a field where results are often difficult and sometimes impossible to quantify (mental health counseling).
Career Guidance Advice Question: Currently I live in an area that boasts one of the highest levels in the country for education, degrees and high tech specialties. I am 51 with a solid track record of leadership, management and training success in the hospitality, retail and real estate industries.
Need Career Change Advice Question: Our son is a carpenter who would like to do something different which would be a good job for the future. He is thinking of something to do with sports, teaching, or health related jobs like physical therapist assistant or occupational therapy assistant.
Should I Change Colleges? Question: Hello, I am trying to decide whether I should change colleges. Will it look bad to any future employers if I transfer to a different college during my junior year?
From Financial Analyst to Filmmaker Question: I have been in analytical jobs for the past 20 years, but I have always wanted to go into filmmaking. How can I approach getting a job in a field where I have no experience, other than a college degree in Mass Communications?
Question About Houston Executive Jobs Question: My husband is looking for an executive level job in Houston for a multinational company, either in Finance or Consulting. He has been in touch with several headhunters, but also with a Career Placement Services Office (that wanted to charge $10K).
Long Distance Job Search Question: I have a successful career in Boston earning a six figure income in a “jack of all trades” type executive position. I use some technical skills, some budget and financial skills, some strategic visioning skills, and some project management skills where I am the liaison between software developers and end users.
How Do I Get Paid What I’m Worth? Question: I’m 41 and have just completed my Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. For the last 15 years I have held positions such as Marketing Manager and Marketing Director, but always for a pathetically low salary because I didn’t have that piece of paper.
Lost Career Direction Question: Since 1970, I have worked for more than 50 employers and agencies, with lots of gaps between jobs. I’m a single mom doing the best I can and I feel like I’ve lost my focus and direction. I wish I had someone to guide me but it feels like no one cares. Can you help me?
Money Secrets Question: No matter what I do, I never seem to earn as much money as my colleagues who have the same education and the same type of work experience that I do. I would think it was because of sexism except some of my friends are female and they out earn me by a LOT of money per year.
Searching for a New Career That Fits ME Question: How do I find a career that would free me from my desk, let me live anywhere and still do my work–and I would prefer to live in Italy, please?
What Is a Vocational Psychologist? Question: I saw an article online where Janet Civitelli was described as a vocational psychologist. I’ve never heard of that job. I am a first year college student and I plan to declare a major in psychology. Can you please tell me what a vocational psychologist does?
Impact of No College Degree Question: I have over 20 years of professional work experience, but no college degree. How do I get past this requirement and will I have to take a pay cut with my next job?
What Is Consulting Psychology? Question: I am a doctoral student in psychology and I am interested in learning more about the specialty area of consulting psychology. Can you tell me where I can find out more?
Seeking Career Change Advice Question: I’m a mid-career professional badly in need of a career course correction. For the past ten years, I have held a variety of positions in the pharmaceutical industry, not really out of desire as because I fell into it and one position after another pushed my resume further and further in that direction.
Best Retirement Jobs Question: I am wrapping up a 30 year career in a field I want to leave. I have enough money that I can be picky in choosing the best retirement career for myself, but not enough money that I can stop working entirely. I have no idea what I want to do.
How to Do an Informational Interview Question: I am currently an art student planning to pursue a career in the art field, in graphic design, illustration, marketing, etc. I love to draw and my dream job would be concept art, but for now, I am looking for a way to get my foot in the door and work my way up.
Find a Job in Seattle Question: I know you are a Career Coach for a lot of Seattle clients and I am wondering if you know the best resources to find a job in Seattle?
Salary Raise Negotiation Question: I would like to ask my boss for a well-deserved salary raise but I am unsure how to approach such a negotiation.
Legitimate Work At Home Jobs Question: I’m a mom looking for a flexible schedule, maybe working at home. Are all work at home options scams or are there any legitimate work at home jobs?
How to Find A Seattle Recruiter Question: Hello, I am a mid-career professional in Seattle who is burned out on my current job and I want to find a new one. But I have never had to look for a job before and I don’t know where to start. I am thinking that a recruiter might be helpful to me…can you tell me how to find a good one?
Education Needed for a Nonprofit Career Question: I am interested in possibly starting my own organization, could be nonprofit, but I’m not necessarily sure at this point what to classify it as. I’m wondering as far as a degree is concerned what type of schooling you would recommend.