Tag: back to school


How to Know If You Should Go Back to School

One question I often get from my mid-career clients wanting to make a career change is,

“Should I go back to school?”

You might expect someone who previously worked in higher education and who’s a huge fan of lifelong learning to enthusiastically respond with, “Yes!” However, this is not my typical response.

Instead, I respond with,

“Is it necessary for your career goal?”

If you don’t know your career goal yet, then you can’t answer this question. Therefore, my first order of business is to help you figure out what’s next for you.

Once you know what you want to do, then we need to determine if taking the plunge into a new degree program is necessary for your goal.

Are the educational qualifications required, or just preferred?

Does the job you’re now targeting require a degree or coursework you don’t have? Make sure you read the job description carefully. Don’t confuse the word “required” with “preferred.”

For example, if the majority of the job ads for the type of job you’re targeting typically requires a 4-year degree but prefers a master’s, you probably don’t need to rush back to school for the master’s and get yourself in more debt.

If you already have the required 4-year degree along with a substantial amount of experience (at least 5-10 years), you’re likely a qualified candidate. Especially if the master’s is about the only thing you’re lacking from the listed qualifications.

Employers typically put more stock into your experience and skills than they do your education. Think about it. If you’re mid-career, when was the last time someone asked you in an interview what your college GPA was? But they probably asked you about your skills and experience instead, right?

And if there are still a couple skills you’re lacking from the job ad, determine if those are skills you could learn quickly and easily through some online courses or tutorials.

However, if the job ad says an advanced degree is required, then you will need to go back to school.

Educational alternatives

Certification programs and boot camps

Let’s assume you’re making a career change and you’re going to have to learn some new skills. Before committing to a lengthy and expensive degree program, find out if the educational requirement can be satisfied with a short-term intensive certification program.

Perhaps you can satisfy the educational requirement with a 12 to 24-week certification program or a 10-month boot camp. These alternatives are sometimes offered online and part-time so you can continue working your current full-time job while attending. There are numerous options like this which serve as an alternative to going back to school full-time.

Beware though when you begin searching for certification programs. There are a lot of certification programs out there that are just money-makers. The only value they add is giving you another line on your resume or more letters behind your name, but aren’t really necessary for compliance in your chosen field. You’ll want to make sure the certification is necessary for the type of job you want. Otherwise, you probably don’t want to spend your money on it.

Also, look for certification programs with a good reputation (like those offered by accredited universities). And look to see if they offer some type of career placement assistance. Before registering, talk to others who’ve completed the program. Get their thoughts of it and see if it has significantly boosted their careers. They will be able to tell you if it’s worth the time and money.

A few of my clients have made a successful career change to the field of coding by investing time and money in a reputable coding boot camp. One such client had no previous experience at all in coding. She landed a job a week before her graduation from the boot camp with a well-known company she’d always wanted to work for.

MOOCs

Another great alternative to a traditional degree program is MOOCs which stands for massive open online courses. They’re taught by professors from highly reputable universities such as Stanford, Princeton, and Duke. Others are taught by professionals from companies like Google and IBM.

These courses are delivered online and vary in costs. Some are free if you’re just wanting to learn something new for personal interest. Others have affordable rates allowing you to learn a new skill, prepare for a career change, or even earn a certificate or degree.

One of the best MOOCs sites is www.coursera.org. They offer over 4,000 courses in subjects such as business, computer science, arts & humanities, engineering, social sciences, and even personal development. I’ve taken a few interest courses myself on this site and really enjoyed the flexibility of it. Once I completed each course a badge was added to my LinkedIn profile.

Reading and Listening

Finally, you can still learn the old fashioned way through books. It’s been said that reading at least five books on one subject can bring you up to near-expert level on the subject.

If you don’t like to read, there’s no excuse! Many books are now available to listen to on Audible or other audio platforms. There are also numerous podcasts available for you to listen to and learn about new subjects.

Improve your job search skills

Sometimes going back to school isn’t the answer. Sometimes the answer is to get help in improving your job search skills.

I recently had a new client come to me thinking he needed to go back to school to get another degree in something else. He assumed this because he wasn’t having any luck with his job search in his current field.

I asked him if he was having trouble finding jobs to apply for. He said he’d applied for several but wasn’t getting many interviews. And when he did get interviews, he wasn’t getting any offers.

Since there were jobs available to apply for, the problem wasn’t a lack of demand. It was his approach to the job search, specifically his resume and interview skills.

Spending A LOT of money on another degree instead of a little money on some career coaching didn’t make sense. So he hired me to help him improve his job search skills.

I spent time giving him new and fresh approaches to networking, helping him tweak his resume, revealing his blind spots in his interview skills, and coaching him on how to improve in future interviews. It’s now up to him to apply what he’s learned from the coaching.

If he’d just gone back to school full-time for another degree program requiring two additional years of studies like he’d originally planned, he would not only be out the money he spent on tuition but also out the money he could’ve earned in those two years. Plus he’d be two years behind in salary increases.

Is going back to school worth it?

So is going back to school really worth it? Definitely not in the example described above. But you have to determine based on your own career goals if it’s worth it or not.

Make sure you take into consideration the following factors:

  • Is it required or necessary to achieve your career goal?
  • How much will it set you back in both time and money?

Also, consider how higher education has changed since you last attended college. Tuition has gone up while the quality of the programs have been watered down.

One client hired me after having started a master’s degree in a new field because she was extremely frustrated and disappointed with the lack of challenge from her classes. The rigor did not equal the amount she was paying in tuition. Therefore, she felt she wasn’t getting her money’s worth and wanted to find out what other options she had.

School vs. lifelong learning

The main reason to go back to school is if it’s absolutely necessary for your career goals. And you don’t want to go back to school simply because you don’t know what to do next.

However, this doesn’t mean you should ever stop learning! You always want to invest in yourself and stay relevant with lifelong learning. Start with some of the more affordable alternatives listed above. Doing so can help you better determine what you want to do next in your career, which will help you know if going back to school for another degree is really the answer.

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school

Will You Please Just Tell Me What’s Going to Be on the Exam?

Back to School!

It’s back to school this week here in Nashville! I remember when I was in school, especially in college, I didn’t have the appreciation I have now for education. I remember only caring about what I needed to know for my exams, and not much about anything extra.

But, there was always that one older (non-traditional aged) student in my college classes who would ask questions about stuff we didn’t need to know for the exam. You probably had a classmate like her too.

I remember rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, “Quit asking so many questions so we can get out of class early!” But now, I would so be that student if I was back in college again. I totally would.

Lifelong Learning

The older I get, the more I love to learn. I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way. So many people grow in their appreciation for knowledge and learning as they get older. I guess this is why George Bernard Shaw said,

“Education is lost on the youth.”

Lifelong learning and continuing education is very important. And not just for satisfying a thirst for knowledge or broadening your knowledge base. With changes occurring rapidly in the way we work, it’s necessary to learn new approaches to the job search in order to keep up in today’s job market.

In doing so, sometimes we first need to focus on the basics and learn (or re-learn) the nuts and bolts (i.e. the stuff we know will be on the “exam”).  This includes the nuts and bolts of writing a resume.

The Nuts and Bolts of Resume Writing

I get so many clients who haven’t had to write a resume in about 10-20 years. Things have changed since then, despite all the outdated resume advice still floating around out there on the Internet. There are new resume writing basics today’s job seekers need to learn if they want to successfully land more interviews. This includes how to get their resume through the resume-filtering software to a pair of human eyes.

Not too long ago, I taught a continuing education class on resume writing. Many of the students in my class were surprised at how many new “nuts and bolts” things they needed to know for their resume (the “exam”).

Now I’ve taken the same info from the class I taught, and packaged it into an online course called Resumes That Get You the Interview: Surprising Secrets to Getting Your Resume Noticed. It’s perfect for anyone who only wants to learn the nuts and bolts of how to write a marketable resume for today’s job market.

And for those of you who want to learn more than just what’s going to be “on the exam,” there is a copy of my e-book Get Your Resume Read! included for free with your purchase of the on-demand program.

Welcome Back to School: Resume Writing Course Preview

Want a course preview? There are five lessons/episodes in this on-demand program:

back to school

In addition, there are several downloadable handouts to help you create the best resume possible for your unique career situation:

  • The paNASH Resume Makeover Guide
  • Chronological Resume Sample
  • Skills Resume Sample
  • Targeted/Hybrid Resume Samples (for career change and for executive level)
  • E-book: Get Your Resume Read!

So if you just want to learn what’s going to be “on the exam” or you want to know more, I invite you “back to school” by registering for Resumes That Get You the Interview for $87. You can work at your own pace and skip around so you can get to the parts you care about the most.

A recent user had this to say:

“While going through the videos and handouts, I kept blurting out ‘Ah, that’s good advice!’ every two to three minutes. That’s how much information I learned – something new every two minutes of watching! Thank you Lori for this program. I can say it is worth the money!” Chris D.

What’s NOT Going to Be on the Exam

In addition to the on-demand program, here’s a recent video I posted on LinkedIn describing one of several things you should NOT include on your resume:

Want to learn more about what not to include on your resume? Click here to purchase the on-demand program now.

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back to school

Back to School

I made the mistake of going into Staples the day before school starts. Since I don’t have kids, I just wasn’t thinking. The place was packed! Watching the children brought back memories of when I was a kid. I wasn’t always happy about going back to school, but I relished in stocking up on school supplies! It felt so good to have fresh, colorful notebooks with clean, unmarked pages, and I loved the smell of the crayons and glue!

Back to School (for adults)

Even as adults, the beginning of the school year stirs something in all of us, making us want to begin a new chapter and learn something new. As I stated in my webinar “5 Ways To Pursue Your Passions in Life and Work,” you can discover untapped passions by taking a class on an unfamiliar subject.

Luckily for Nashville residents, the Nashville Community Education Commission gives the public the opportunity to do just that. They offer so many classes on various topics at convenient times for busy schedules, and at super-affordable tuition rates. You can take a foreign language class for $50, a cooking class for $20, or even a copyright law class for free!

I will be teaching two classes:

  • How Do I Use LinkedIn? (Beyond just creating a profile!) = $35
  • Resumes that Get You the Interview = $35
  • Register for both classes for only $60 (an immediate savings of $10!)

Early registration begins this Saturday, August 6th at the NCE Open House from 10am-1pm. Here, you can meet the instructors and learn more about all the class offerings (click here for more details). Online registration begins Monday, August 8th.

I hope to see you back in school!

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