Job search is getting extremely challenging during tough economic times, so even mature graduates are turning to the universities they left behind a long time ago. Alma Mater means “greatest mother,” but returning to your college or university won’t feel like asking your mother ffor help. These days universities are expanding their services. Some even offer webinars to faraway alums. Here’s just one story.
Before using the services of your alumni office, ask a few questions. Try to find someone who is similar to you in your age and profession. Ask him or her, “How did this alumni office help you?” Some universities are still quite frankly geared to helping recent graduates. Others will have only local contacts.
Ask about fees and obligations before you begin. Some alumni career centers charge as much as private career coaches. If that’s the case, don’t assume they’ve screened your coaches and guaranteed you the best available. Career centers often pay low salaries to career coaches so you’re not getting access to coaches with experience. Before working with anyone, ask about his or her training and experience. Ideally your coach will combine business experience with some study of careers. A degree in “career counseling” may mean your consultant has studied psychology and test-taking but lacks knowledge of how the real world works.
Be skeptical of anyone who asks you to take tests. If you’ve been out of school for many years, your tests will reveal that you are amazingly well suited to the career you ave now. Personality tests, such as the Myers-Briggs (or MBTI), are very popular, even among academics. Yet many are unscientific and most will be unhelpful. Test results may be a good way to start a career discussion but they won’t answer the question, “What should I do with my life?” And they definitely won’t help you answer the tougher question, “Where are the jobs?”