The Career Doctor™

by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez

Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers? Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of your own, use the anonymous form here, and she might answer you in her column. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

My son graduated from college last May and is living at home. He has gone on several interviews, but he hasnít gotten any offers. He says he is looking for a job, but I donít see him doing very much except sleeping late, playing on the internet and hanging out with friends. This is driving my wife and me crazy, but we donít know what to do or how to help him.

Desperate Dad

Dear D.D.:

This is a really common problem that I often see in my office. Because there are so many reasons why young college grads donít get jobs, Iím going to answer this question in two different columns. Next week, Iíll talk about some of the psychological factors that undermine a job hunt. This week, Iíll list some practical reasons why job searches fail:

1. Inappropriate email addresses: Itís hard to believe, but many employers report that young grads contact them using email addresses that immediately knock them off the list of potential applicants. Check to see if your son is using an email address that may have seemed funny in college, like BeerBoy or SillyMonkey. Employers will not be amused.

2. My Space or Facebook Indiscretions: Similarly, many young people donít realize that employers often check 'My Space' and 'Facebook' to see if personal material contains references to drinking, drugs, violence or anything else suggesting the candidate might be an unreliable employee.

3. Interview traps: Itís important to arrive early, smile, dress conservatively (usually) and write follow-up thank-you notes that are carefully checked for spelling, punctuation and grammar. Also, itís important to practice standard interview questions like ďTell me about yourself,Ē ďWhat is the biggest mistake youíve ever made?Ē or ďWhatís your biggest problem?Ē Interviewers donít expect long-winded confessions or revelations. They want to hear concise answers that ďsellĒ the candidate.

4. Weak effort: Itís very common for young grads to under-estimate how many contacts are required to get a job offer. Hereís the rule of thumb: if youíre not making at least ten contacts a day, youíre not really looking for a job. To get that many, one must use every possible source: newspaper and online ads, friends, family and college contacts. Your sonís college alumni office, for example, could be a rich source of contacts. They will probably be willing to provide lists of alumni in the field he wants.

5. Poor resume: It almost goes without saying that your sonís resume must be as strong an ďadĒ for him as possible. There are lots of books on this subject, but a career counselor might be able to help with this and motivate him. You can find him a private counselor or encourage him to go back to his college and use the counseling center for resume help.

The Career Doctor



The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.

Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.