GED: Is It Enough?

Dear, Anita,

Due to an illness in my family when I was younger, I wasn’t able to finish high school. But I recently got my GED! I’m excited, but I’m afraid I still may not get as many job opportunities as I would if I had graduated with a high school diploma. Is my GED enough?

Dear, Good Enough,

Congratulations on receiving your GED certificate! As you know, it takes effort to complete the General Educational Development testing, but there may still be some stigma associated with a GED over a traditional high school Sidebardiploma. Comedian Chris Rock jokes that GED stand for “good enough diploma.” But is a GED good enough to get you a job?

The answer is: it depends. You will obviously not be qualified for a job as a rocket scientist or brain surgeon, but for some entry-level positions, having your GED will show that you did, eventually, finish what you started. For yours truly, a candidate who completes his or her GED represents character traits like ambition, resilience, and just plain turning lemons into lemonade.

Most employers – approximately 96 percent, according to the GED Testing Service – accept GED certification as a valid educational credential for employment.  Frankly though, when faced with two equal candidates, one with a GED and the other with a high school diploma, some hiring managers may not want to take a risk on the GED applicant. Make sure you shine in your interview, and if the subject comes up, explain the circumstances that prevented you from graduating with a traditional high school diploma.

Depending on your employment and career goals, you may want to use your GED as a launching pad for further education, either online, at a traditional community college, or through a vocational school. Once you attain a college degree or certification, a GED versus the traditional high school diploma becomes a moot point.

In my many years, I’ve seen many a job candidate with nice, shiny college degrees who turn out to be lazy, unprofessional, or difficult to work with. I would choose a candidate with a GED and a great attitude any day. You’ll find an employer who feels the same.

Anita

Job Seekers: Have you ever felt you lost out on a job because of your GED? Hiring Managers: Is the GED equivalent to a high school diploma in your eyes?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Changing Jobs

Dear, Anita,

I just accepted a new position with my company and am very excited about the opportunity… yet at the same time, I’m feeling really nervous about the change. What are some ways I can overcome my fears?

Dear, “New and Nervous,”

ButterflyCongratulations on this new chapter in your career! Changing jobs is a part of life, and the fear that goes along with each change is only natural. Our human instinct is to stay within a certain comfort zone, develop habits, and stick with routines that are familiar to us. The idea of rocking the boat with change tends to heighten our anxieties and can create unwanted stress.

The key is to simply reset your frame of mind.

  1. Don’t look at change as a bad thing. This is a very exciting time for you! You need to embrace the opportunities that come with it. I often remind myself that life is not a dress rehearsal. We only get one chance to live our life (“YOLO” in Generation Y terms) – to grow, learn new things, and expand our horizons. If you find yourself stuck in a rut for any reason, it’s up to you to make a change for the better.
  2. Get through the fear of the unknown. Take a good look at what’s worrying you. Is it the money? The commute? The new routine? Make a list of all the things you’re concerned about and break down each item. More often than not, you’ll find that some of the things you’re concerned about are trivial – or anxieties you’ve built up in your head that can be easily addressed and resolved. I also think you’ll find that the things you fear most won’t actually happen to you.
  3. Live in the present. Dwelling on your past role or worrying about what your new position is going to be like will only drive you nuts. Don’t miss out on what’s happening TODAY; enjoy those feelings of anticipation and excitement. When you get into the groove of your new position, give it 100%.
  4. Be resourceful. The fact that you’re starting a new position with the same company gives you the upper hand. Most people go through the same jitters – and they’re starting fresh out the gate with little or no experience with the company or environment. Take advantage of the people and resources available to you. Most of your doubts and concerns will quickly fade away as you engage in your new position. Ask questions along the way, and learn everything there is to know about the role and what is expected of you. Once you have a clear picture in your head, you will quickly get into a new rhythm and find yourself in a new routine that works for you (just like the one you’re accustomed to now!)

All in all, change is good, and the time you spend at work should be stimulating, invigorating, and exciting. A friend once told me that if you don’t feel those little butterflies in your stomach anymore in your current role, then it’s time to make a change. So get out that butterfly net and go for it!

Best Wishes,

Anita

Readers: How have you handled the uncertainty that comes with either a promotion or a new job?

Have a question you would like to ask? Visit http://anitaclew.com/ask-anita/.

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Become a Better Listener

Hello again!

betterlistenerIn my two-part series on improving your listening skills, we are now at the point where I want to see you put these teachings into practice. For a job seeker, employee, or manager to remain aware and make difficult decisions with confidence, they must carefully listen to what is going on around them. Without strong listening skills, it becomes extremely difficult to gather information. Odds are that you will find yourself spending more time running circles around an issue than it is actually worth.

Below are the key points that I challenge all of you to remember and put into practice!

  • When you are interacting with others, use a ratio of 80% listening to 20% speaking. Encourage discussion and extract information by asking targeted questions. Questioning will help clarify underdeveloped ideas or shed light onto ones that have not been explored.
  • Enter into dialogue with your conversation partner with all assumptions and pre-conceived notions out in the open. This mutual understanding will encourage the exchange of ideas, as a level of respect will have been reached. It opens the door to more challenging questions and promotes the development of critically thought-out solutions.
  • Focus your conversations on what information you need to know, not what you think might be useful. The excess time used during your interactions may be taking away from an already-shortened timeline. Train yourself to minimize external distractions and refrain from digressing away from the task at hand.
  • Understand that ambiguity and uncertainty is an important tool. Not knowing what may occur in the future will help prepare you for unexpected curve balls thrown your way.
  • Process and put important information into mental file folders. Organized information can be more easily accessed and utilized in decision-making.
  • Identify relevant information from a conversation and work hard to
    remember it.
  • Listen and lead by example. Good listeners are considerate and knowledgeable of the decisions they are making. Be open to questioning and encourage others to challenge ideas.

To become a highly effective listener, you must test yourself and begin putting these processes to work for you. Through daily practices and focusing on one section of improving your listening skills, you will begin to view active listening as second nature.

Listen to the author that inspired this series, Bernard Ferrari:

Readers: Which above the above will you try out first? What point do you think will be the hardest for you to make part of your routine?

Learning to Listen Up!

Hi, Anita:

I am beginning to get extremely frustrated with my co-worker and need some advice. No matter how hard I try, she seems to be incapable of listening to any of my thoughts or suggestions. It is like the minute I start talking she puts in her figurative earplugs and tunes me out. Is it just me or something more?

Hi, Help with the Selectively Deaf:

listenerThanks for the question. Hearing what someone has to say is one thing, but actually listening to them is an entirely different matter. It is an accepted belief that actively listening to another person takes a certain degree of skill and upkeep. More often than not, people fail to maintain their listening skills and quickly fall into damaging and unproductive communication habits. I have been doing some research and recently picked up a great book on the subject called “Power Listening: The Most Powerful Business Skill of All” by Bernard Ferrari. In his book, he describes 6 different types of bad listeners:

  • The Opinionator: A person who listens to others’ ideas but only to see whether or not they conform to his or her own already-held beliefs and ideas.
  • The Grouch: A person who is absolutely certain that his or her colleagues do not have any valuable or valid ideas. All other input, except theirs, is wrong. They will express displeasure and disapproval for all opinions with a “You are full of it” response.
  • The Preambler: An individual who has carefully calculated scripts and lengthy lead-ins to box in his conversation partners to his pre-conceived ideas.
  • The Perseverator: A conversation partner that remains steady on their ideas and uses techniques to not advance discussion in hopes of keeping their opinions on top.
  • The Answer Man: A person who has immature listening skills and provides solutions to problems without listening to all of the facts.
  • The Pretender: An individual who is not interested in what his conversation partner has to say. These people enter into dialogues with their opinions and choose to not engage in the conversation. These people politely listen and pretend to be fully involved in a conversation when in reality they are simply off on another planet or putting on a show just for you.

These are the most common listener types, but you can bet that bad listeners come in every size, shape, form, and combination of the above. Remember: it is almost impossible to rid yourself of an ailment if you do not have a proper diagnosis. Try to identify what type of listener you are (or which one you’re talking to) and begin to break down the barriers of communication.

Readers: What types of listeners do you encounter in your day-to-day lives? Which one do you think is the most difficult to deal with?

 

Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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