Dear Kate & Dale: Respect for your newspaper column leads me to e-mail you. I am an internal-medicine physician. I'm discouraged about my chosen profession and need some wisdom about getting my life on track. I have become disenchanted with "medical recruiters." Any advice? - Cary
Dale: Of the dozen physicians I know, half have made career changes, including one who moved to a small town to start over, another who went to work at an insurance company, and another who is now doing clinical trials of new drugs. My point is that you don't need a machete to clear a new path - there are plenty of existing ones to choose from. You need to meet travelers of those paths. You don't need to see job specs from recruiters; you need to see what sort of person you could become. The good news is this: People who have changed careers love to talk about their journeys.
Kate: First, though, you must start with introspection, analyzing what aspects of your work you find most draining versus what's most rewarding. Then you start to develop a list of people to meet. Actually, developing your list is the entire search process. Then you send them letters and begin your follow-up. Once you're getting meetings, explain briefly why you're there so the person will then be in a better position to help you; also, remember that you're trying to form a relationship, not just gathering data. Finally, after expressing your gratitude, offer to stay in touch. Making a lot of new contacts is not as effective as having fewer contacts and re-contacting those people.
Dale: You asked for wisdom, and here's what Kate and I have seen and experienced: Making lists and calling people can be a wearisome chore or a time of effervescent discovery. Which is it? It depends on whether you decide to look for a job or to go in search of your best self.
¢ Dear Kate & Dale: Two years ago I resigned from Company A and went with Company B. On my second day of training, I became sick and missed four days of work. That's when I learned that Company B only allowed five sick days per year. Consequently, I resigned. Within a week, someone at Company A asked me to return to Company A. Now I am looking to leave. Should I show my two-day tenure with Company B on my resume? Should I show two terms of employment with Company A? Should I mention it in an interview? - John
Kate: There's no need to mention Company B. It was a blip. If you were to list a two-day job on your resume in the interest of "honesty," hiring managers would think you a little strange.
Dale: It's an unusual circumstance, and, yes, bringing it up might cause confusion. However, it would not be strange for a new employer to verify employment and discover that Company A lists you as having two lengths of employment - or, worse yet, shows only the most recent tenure.
Kate: John, this much is certain: There's no need to mention it in your resume or in interviews. Once you have the new job, then decide. And if it comes up, don't overexplain. Remember: It's not a problem; it's a blip.