• Spring semester has started.January 11th, 2016
    Register for classes anytime during the Spring semester.

    The Career Technical Education program offers the following State Approved Certificates:

    * General Office Clerk
    * Executive Secretary/Administrative Assistant
    * Customer Service Representative
    * Maintenance and Repair Workers

    Click on the green tab at the top of this page title "State Certificates" to read more information and to check how many courses you need to take to complete the certificates. You might discover that you need just a few courses to complete a State Approved Certificate.

    Ask any Career Technical Education Instructor or Instructional Assistant for more details about these special State Approved certificates.

  • The Mission of Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education

    The Santa Ana College School of Continuing Education is a responsive community leader dedicated to adult student success through innovative educational programs and services. The School of Continuing Education prepares students to transition to college, improve language and workforce skills, increase civic involvement, and promote lifelong learning. http://sac.edu/ContinuingEducation
  • Santa Ana College Vision Themes:

    I. Student Achievement II. Use of Technology III. Innovation IV. Community V. Workforce Development VI. Emerging American Community
  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Student Testamonials

    "...I just picked up my certificate for completing all 3 classes of Computer Networking, and Repair, A+ Preparation. I really enjoyed all my classmates, teachers and school. Thank you very much to all of you. Stay in school and be there as much as you can. I personally will come back next semester to college. Good luck." Alejandro Morales, Student in the Career Technical Education Program

  • Recent Comments

    Computer and Busines… on Computer and Business Skills C…
    Chi on The Brother of our student Lin…
    iteachjobskills on We saved 84 lives in 6 hours!…
    iteachjobskills on Pooja Bajpai obtains a positio…
    ceclab on Quote of the Week – The…
  • Watch Our Centennial Education Center Video


How to change careers by the end of 2016


If you’re one of the many workers who resolved to start a new career this year, you’re officially on the clock. That fact has likely already sunk in, and if you’re beginning to worry that you may have bitten off more than you can chew, don’t worry. By following these essential steps, you’ll greatly increase your chances of starting a new career by the end of 2016.

Assess yourself

The one factor that will have the largest impact on whether you are successful in your 2016 job search is you. Making a career change is a big decision, and throughout the process, you’ll be faced with plenty more decisions to make. Knowing why you’re doing this and what you’re looking for ahead of time will make tackling those choices much easier down the line.

“Take some time to develop a longer term career strategy that is based on a rigorous assessment of your talents, interests, experiences, likes and dislikes, as well as successes and failures,” says Roy Cohen, career coach and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” “Be honest with yourself. There is no benefit to anyone, most of all you, to pursue a goal that has no tie to reality. You will fail or, perhaps even more damaging, you will lose precious time that could have been devoted to advancing your career.”

Assess the market

Once you have a good idea of where you hope to be headed, it’s time to determine the plausibility of reaching those goals. Think of your self-assessment as a way to determine criteria for your next career move, and this market assessment as a way to identify opportunities that fit those criteria.

“The more information you have about a career, the more empowered you are to make the right decision for the long term,” says Aaron Michel, CEO of PathSource, a career exploration and education tool created to help young adults better navigate the job market. “Whenever someone is considering a big career change, it’s important to research the new career path. Job seekers not only need to know what types of positions are available to them, but also what the future of those jobs may be like.”

Develop your skills

Once you’ve begun to look at some opportunities in your desired field, it may become apparent that you lack certain required or desired skills. While this may seem disheartening at first, there is a silver lining. By identifying such skills, you’ve discovered the best next step for your job search.

“Explore resources and options that are available for training and re-training through online platforms, free community college courses and certificate programs,” suggests Cohen. “The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to compete for higher profile jobs. You are also more likely to make an informed decision.”

Assess opportunities

When you do get an offer, you may find yourself torn as to whether to take it or to continue searching. Mentally weighing the pros and cons can be difficult, which is why Michele Mavi, director of content development, internal recruiting and training at Atrium Staffing suggests putting it on paper.

“Make a list of everything you want out of a job, from the actual hard skills necessary to be successful in the role, to the values related to your lifestyle and sense of self,” Mavi says. “Then, in two columns titled ‘aligned’ and ‘not aligned,’ check off how many things on your list of ‘must-haves’ fall into each category for this particular offer. After this exercise, it should become glaringly obvious whether this new role will truly make you happy.”

Be patient

“Don’t take a job out of frustration with the job search process or because you just really need a change,” Mavi says. “Trust that it’s better to wait for what you want.”

With thoughtful planning and a positive attitude, starting a new career in 2016 is absolutely within your grasp.

© 2016 CareerBuilder, LLC. Original publish date: 01.08.2016

Continue reading

Body language do’s and don’ts in the interview.

Author: CareerBuilder

Your heart feels ready to leap out of your chest. Beads of sweat build on your forehead. Your mind is racing. It’s not a full-blown interrogation — although it may feel like it — it’s just a job interview. While it’s no secret that job interviews can be nerve-racking, a lot of job candidates spend a significant amount of time worrying about what they will say during their interview, only to blow it all with their body language. The old adage, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it,” still holds meaning, even if you’re not talking. You need to effectively communicate your professionalism both verbally and nonverbally. Because watching your nonverbal cues, delivering concise answers and expressing your enthusiasm at once can be difficult when you’re nervous, here’s a guide to walk you through it:

Have them at “hello”
Before you walk into the interview, it’s assumed that you will have done the following: prepared yourself by reading up on the company and recent company news; practiced what you’ll say to some of the more common interview questions; and followed the “what to wear on your interview” advice. So you’re ready, right? Some hiring managers claim they can spot a possible candidate for a job within 30 seconds or less, and while a lot of that has to do with the way you look, it’s also in your body language. Don’t walk in pulling up your pantyhose or readjusting your tie; pull yourself together before you stand up to greet the hiring manager or enter their office. Avoid a “dead fish” handshake and confidently — but not too firmly — grasp your interviewer’s hand and make eye contact while saying hello.

Shake your hand, watch yourself
If you are rocking back in your chair, shaking your foot, drumming your fingers or scratching your… anything, you’re going to look like the type of future employee who wouldn’t be able to stay focused, if even for a few minutes. It’s a not a game of charades, it’s a job interview. Here’s what to do (and not do):


  • Rub the back of your head or neck. Even if you really do just have a cramp in your neck, these gestures make you look disinterested.
  • Rub or touch your nose. This suggests that you’re not being completely honest, and it’s gross.
  • Sit with your armed folded across your chest. You’ll appear unfriendly and disengaged.
  • Cross your legs and idly shake one over the other. It’s distracting and shows how uncomfortable you are.
  • Lean your body towards the door. You’ll appear ready to make a mad dash for the door.
  • Slouch back in your seat. This will make you appear disinterested and unprepared.
  • Stare back blankly. This is a look people naturally adapt when they are trying to distance themselves.


  • Sit up straight, and lean slightly forward in your chair. In addition to projecting interest and engagement in the interaction, aligning your body’s position to that of the interviewer’s shows admiration and agreement.
  • Show your enthusiasm by keeping an interested expression. Nod and make positive gestures in moderation to avoid looking like a bobblehead.
  • Establish a comfortable amount of personal space between you and the interviewer. Invading personal space (anything more than 20 inches) could make the interviewer feel uncomfortable and take the focus away from your conversation.
  • Limit your application of colognes and perfumes. Invading aromas can arouse allergies. Being the candidate that gave the interviewer a headache isn’t going to do anything in your favor.
  • If you have more than one person interviewing you at once, make sure you briefly address both people with your gaze (without looking like a tennis spectator) and return your attention to the person who has asked you a question.
  • Interruptions can happen. If they do, refrain from staring at your interviewer while they address their immediate business and motion your willingness to leave if they need privacy.
  • Stand up and smile even if you are on a phone interview. Standing increases your level of alertness and allows you to become more engaged in the conversation.

Say Goodbye Gracefully
After a few well-thought-out questions and answers with your interviewer, it’s almost over, but don’t lose your cool just yet. Make sure your goodbye handshake is just as confident now as it was going in. Keep that going while you walk through the office building, into the elevator and onto the street. Once safely in your car, a cab or some other measurable safe distance from the scene of your interview, it’s safe to let go. You may have aced it, but the last thing you want is some elaborate end-zone dance type of routine killing all your hard work at the last moment.

Enroll in an Employability Skills class. Click here to learn more.

10 signs your interview went well.

Author: CareerBuilder


You did it.

You landed an interview, dressed to impress and had great conversation, and you think you might actually have a shot at getting a job offer.

But is there any way to actually know if the interview was in your favor?

Many times, job seekers are so focused on what they did wrong in an interview that they don’t think about the many things they did right. While no signs are 100 percent foolproof, there are definitely some indicators that you have won over your interviewer.

Justin Honaman, director of customer intelligence at Coca-Cola Customer Business Solutions, says that although you may think you’ve executed well in the interview, don’t stop the process there. Even if all signs point to a job offer, you should follow up effectively to complete your career transition.

Here are 10 signs that indicate you rocked your interview:

1. Round two
The easiest way to gauge short-term success is if the interviewer asks you to return for another round of interviews. If he weren’t interested, he would be evasive about whether you could expect to hear back from someone. “The hiring manager does not want to waste any more time interviewing you if you are not a fit,” Honaman says. “Invitation to the next round is a win!”

2. References please
Why would you be asked for references unless someone cared to learn more about you? “A firm will not spend the time to do background checks and talk with references if you are out of the candidate pool,” Honaman says. “Provide specific, knowledgeable references and bring those to the interview.”

3. Meet the team
It’s a good sign when the hiring manager chooses to introduce you to the team on the spot, or mentions that there are some people she would like you to meet. If she wasn’t interested, she wouldn’t take the time in making acquaintances.

“Leaders are protective of their team and will not risk introducing a candidate if they are not a potential fit to join the organization,” Honaman says. Remember that the hiring manager may request feedback from the team on their first impressions of you, so be nice to anyone you meet.

4. What are the transition steps?
When a company is interested in you, you’ll be asked things like the amount of time needed for a transition or what noncompete agreements might be in place, Honaman says. “If the hiring manager is interested in moving forward with an offer, they will typically ask what steps need to be taken for your departure from your current organization so that you can assume the new role,” he says.

5. Dollars and sense
Depending on what stage of the interview process you’re in, it could be a good thing if you’re asked about salary expectations. It demonstrates that the company might be willing to invest in you. Honaman suggests answering this question with caution:

“You can have the absolute best interview ever and be dead in the water if you answer this question incorrectly,” he says. “The question comes in two forms: ‘What are your salary expectations?’ or ‘What is your current compensation?’ Arrive at any interview with current compensation details written down for your own reference — if asked — and have an idea of how you will answer this question.”

6. HR smiles
The human resources representative or recruiter is generally a good indication of how things went in the interview process. Take note of his comments after the interview; he is your No. 1 contact during the process and is often a guide to the projected outcome, Honaman says.

7. Your turn
When the interviewer spends a lot of time answering your questions, it’s a signal that he wants to sell you on the business, the team and position rather than you continuing to pursue the role, Honaman says. “In most interviews, the hiring manager will ask if you have any questions as standard procedure, but spend less time with questions and answers if the interview has not gone well in their mind.”

8. Let’s keep rolling
If hiring managers are uninterested, they typically look for ways to wrap up the interview. “At times, interviews will go well beyond the allotted time as the hiring manager or interview team wants to know more about you, or share with you more about the organization and role,” Honaman says. If they are not interested in your candidacy, they won’t drag out the interview.

9. Nonverbals speak
Nonverbal signals are often a good predictor of interview performance. Pay close attention to the interviewer(s) and observe such nonverbal cues as taking notes, smiling, nodding or asking probing questions, Honaman says. “At the same time, if an interviewer is taking few notes, looking at their watch repeatedly [or] not asking detailed questions, the interview may not be going well.”

10. Cultural fit

The more a hiring manager talks about how you’ll fit into the mold at a company, the better. “Most leaders are looking for candidates that can easily fit into a team environment or operate well as an individual contributor,” Honaman says. “If the hiring manager is interested in your taking the position, they will share additional details about the culture and shift into ‘sales’ mode on the organization.”

Again, none of these are sure-fire signals that you’ve gotten the job. Plus, even though you did everything right, there is always the chance that someone else did, too. But if you continually see a couple of the above signals you’ll know you’ve at least got a shot.

Enroll in an Employability Skills class. Click here to learn more.

The one-step method to ace your interview.

© 2015 Career Contessa. Original publish date: 11.16.2015

Author: Griffin Hill


Close your eyes right now and visualize your last interview. Remember how you felt and tap into those sweaty palms and nervous, thumping heartbeat. What was your strategy? How did you prepare? Did you open up or shut down when asked a difficult question?

The one-step method to ace your interview is simply this: cast a vision.

Casting a vision is a phrase that typically floats around the leadership community. Great managers and team leaders are all familiar with the idea of casting a vision: explaining where you are, where you are headed, and how you will get there. You have to rally the troops, articulate the path from point A to point B, and be passionate and clear. You can apply the same technique to interviews.

If you’re a student or between jobs, you’ve probably been given a lot of advice on the best interview practices. You’ve been told to be honest, be yourself and research the position beforehand. You’ve been instructed to ask questions and describe projects in which you’ve been successful. All of this advice is inherently good, but it is also incomplete. Casting a vision encompasses all of these tips and more.

Explain who and where you are
To give potential employers a clear picture, you must be honest and able to discuss past experiences and opportunities where you have been successful. This will better pique the interest of the interviewer and give them an idea of your abilities.

Articulate why you want the job
Do some background research of the position itself beforehand and why the role interests you. By doing this, and by asking questions and relating your own past experience, you will be able to explain why the job is a good fit for you and the existing team.

Draw connections between yourself, the position and the future
If you’ve done your job up to this point, you’ve successfully described yourself and displayed passion for and knowledge of the position. Now it’s time to seal the deal. Where will you take the team in the short and long term? Why are you the perfect fit? How will you reach new heights with this role?

If you can connect the dots, you can cast the vision. Any good interview is full of passion and authenticity, but a great interview casts a vision for the future, a vision that only the candidate can fill. Be that person in your next interview and you will wow them every time.

A version of this article was originally published on Career Contessa, an online platform facilitating honest conversations by real women about work and life—to help you achieve fulfillment and balance in both.

Enroll in an Employability Skills class. Click here to learn more.

Common (and not-so-common) interview mistakes to avoid.

AUTHOR: Matthew Tarpey
© 2016 CareerBuilder, LLC. Original publish date: 01.14.2016

Sometimes it can be difficult to know what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in a job interview. Other times it should be glaringly obvious that a certain behavior or action is off limits. Yet that hasn’t stopped some job seekers from making these out-there mistakes anyway.

According to a recent CareerBuilder survey, some of the most ridiculous things employers report seeing job seekers do during the interview process include:

  • Candidate took a family photo off of interviewer’s desk and put it into her purse.
  • Candidate started screaming that the interview was taking too long.
  • Candidate said her main job was being a psychic/medium and tried to read interviewer’s palm, despite interviewer’s attempts to decline the offer.
  • When asked what her ideal job was, candidate said “painter of birdhouses.” (Company was hiring for a data entry clerk.)
  • Candidate sang her responses to questions.
  • Candidate put lotion on her feet during the interview.
  • When asked why he wanted the position, candidate replied, “My wife wants me to get a job.”
  • Candidate started feeling interviewer’s chest to find a heartbeat so they could “connect heart to heart.”
  • Candidate had a pet bird in his shirt.
  • Candidate took phone interview in the bathroom – and flushed.

Watch your body language

It’s relatively easy to avoid making the types of mistakes that land you in an article like this. But that doesn’t mean you’re not missing out on a great job opportunity because of your behavior in the interview.

In fact, some of the most common interview mistakes made by job seekers are ones they may not even be aware of – body language mistakes. When asked to identify the biggest body language mistakes job seekers make, hiring managers named the following:

  • 1.Failing to make eye contact: 67 percent
  • 2.Failing to smile: 39 percent
  • 3.Playing with something on the table: 33 percent
  • 4.Having bad posture: 30 percent
  • 5.Fidgeting too much in their seats: 30 percent
  • 6.Crossing their arms over their chests: 29 percent
  • 7.Playing with their hair or touching their faces: 27 percent
  • 8.Having a weak handshake: 21 percent
  • 9.Using too many hand gestures: 11 percent
  • 10. Having a handshake that was too strong: 7 percent

How to ruin an interview

Interviewers know that job seekers are under pressure and most are willing to overlook one or two minor mistakes made by a well-qualified candidate. However, there are some relatively common errors that employers consider instant deal breakers. These include:

  • 1.Candidate is caught lying about something: 69 percent
  • 2.Candidate answers a cellphone or text during the interview: 68 percent
  • 3.Candidate appears arrogant or entitled: 60 percent
  • 4.Candidate dresses inappropriately: 50 percent
  • 5.Candidate swears: 50 percent

The opposite of mistakes

It’s clear that there are a lot of things you shouldn’t do in an interview, but what about things you should do? Above all else, good preparation is the key to a successful interview.

“Preparing for an interview takes a lot more than Googling answers to common interview questions,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “Candidates have to make a great first impression appearance-wise, have a solid understanding of the target company, know exactly how to convey that they’re the perfect fit for the job and control their body language.”

In order to properly prepare, Haefner recommends the following:

Do your research. Research the company before the interview and learn as much as possible about its services, products, customers and competition. That will give you an edge in understanding and addressing the company’s needs.

Interview yourself for the position.Before the interview, ask yourself: “Why am I a good fit for this job?” Then practice answering typical interview questions with a friend, colleague or coach. According to the CareerBuilder survey, the most common questions include:

  • Tell me about yourself: 55 percent
  • Why do you want this job?: 50 percent
  • Why did you leave your last job?: 50 percent
  • What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?: 49 percent
  • Describe a difficult work situation and how you overcame it: 48 percent

Be positive.Plan to answer all questions positively and with enthusiasm. Never say anything negative about your prior employers or bosses, no matter how bad the situation may have been.

Check out “The one-step method to ace your interview” for more tips for a successful interview.

Enroll in an Employability Skills class. Click here to learn more.

How to explain gaps in your work history.

© 2015 CareerBuilder, LLC.
Original publish date: 12.21.2015
Author: Katherine Nobles

There are a number of reasons you may have a gap in your work history – perhaps you relocated, got laid off or took time to travel or raise a family. Whatever your situation, it’s often tricky to explain that employment gap to prospective employers. Here are three tips to help you prepare a perfect answer to a difficult question.

1. Get comfortable with your pitch
When an employer looks at your cover letter or resume, what story does it tell? Does it align with how you describe yourself in an interview? People often make the mistake of over-focusing on that gap in employment, drawing more attention to it than the employer would have. Instead, focus on the positive by showcasing what you’ve accomplished and what you can bring to the table. Not sure what to say? Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my top three strengths?
  • What skills have I gained from past experiences?
  • How could I help this organization improve and grow?

2. Think about how you made it work for you
What were you doing during your time off that improved your skills or expertise? Did you take on freelance gigs, volunteer, further your education or participate in professional organizations? These endeavors are great items to list on your resume or discuss in an interview. Even if they seem irrelevant, they still demonstrate your drive and commitment to professional growth, and prove you haven’t just been slouching on the couch for months. Practice strategically highlighting them by considering the following:

  • How have I (or could I) productively filled my time away from a full-time job?
  • What transferrable skills have I gained from these experiences that would benefit me in my next role?

3. Stay honest and open (but be diplomatic)
This probably goes without saying, but you should never exaggerate, hide or lie about any information in the job-search process. And you should never speak badly of a former employer or boss, either. Be upfront when asked about your employment gap but answer with eloquence. Employers want to hear you’ve treated your time off as a period of self-reflection. Again, focus on the positive:

  • What did you learn about the industry during your downtime? What about yourself?
  • What did it teach you about your goals and priorities? How do those relate to the position you’re after?

By taking time to consider these questions and reframe your personal pitch, you’ll be well on your way to feeling more comfortable and confident explaining your gap during your job search.

Enroll in an Employability Skills class. Click here to learn more.

A version of this article was originally published on Career Contessa, an online platform facilitating honest conversations by real women about work and life—to help you achieve fulfillment and balance in both.

7 reasons your co-workers don’t like you – and how to fix it

Original publish date: 01.15.2016

Author: Mary Lorenz


When it comes to your job, you’re like a competitor on a reality TV show: You didn’t come here to make friends. You came here to win. (And by ‘win,’ you mean do your job, get your paycheck and get home to finish binge-watching “Making a Murderer.”)

And that’s okay. Maybe you don’t care if your co-workers like you; however, when you make yourselfdislikeable, it can actually have a negative impact on your career. After all, the less likable you are, the less likely others are to collaborate with you, volunteer their help when you need it or recommend you for a promotion.

So what makes someone unlikable and – better yet – how do you change that? We asked experts for their thoughts, and here’s what they had to say.

1. You never share the spotlight.
“If people are only concerned with boosting their own names and careers, act superior to others, or steal someone else’s thunder, it’s pretty tough to like them,” says Josh Dziabiak, COO of a Texas-based car insurance company.

How to fix it: Give credit where credit is due. “Great team members deflect attention and give credit to their teammates when things go right,” Dziabiak says. “When there is success, they recognize it’s not theirs alone.”

2. You don’t own up to your mistakes.
“Someone who makes a mistake and rather than fessing up, tries to cover it up or even blame someone else, is going to be disliked,” says Sarah Schewitz, a licensed clinical psychologist.

How to fix it: Let yourself be more vulnerable in the workplace by owning up to your mistakes, apologizing for them and asking for help with the solution, Schewitz advises. “Not only will this increase your likeability, but also your authenticity and integrity in the workplace.”

3. You’re constantly complaining.
“We all feel unhappy with our circumstances at times, but a consistent pattern of negativity typically ruins the environment for others and pushes others away,” says Donna Lubrano, adjunct faculty at Northeastern University College of Professional Studies.

How to fix it: If you’re consistently unhappy at your job, it may be time to look for a new one. In the meantime, focus on what you can do to change your situation now. In other words, look for solutions instead of simply identifying problems. (Or try one of these quick fixes for an instantly happier workday.)

4. You’re anti-social.
“You don’t have to be joined at the hip with your co-workers, but those who don’t at least make an attempt to participate in some workplace social activities can be seen as isolationist, stuck-up, stuffy or even rude,” says Lubrano.

How to fix it: Make the effort to get to know your colleagues as people. Say ‘yes’ to the occasional after-work social event or suggest lunch with a colleague. Not only will you be more likable, but research shows bonding with fellow employees can actually make you more engaged and happier at your job.

5. You have bad body language.
“It may surprise you to learn that bad body language can make people unlikeable,” says Carrie Glenn, founder of Etiquette at Hand, a professional etiquette consultancy. Yet, given that the majority of communication is non-verbal, it makes sense that certain behaviors (such as refusing to make eye contact, crossing your hands in front of your chests, slouching, etc.) can make you appear cold and unfriends, turning others off.

How to fix it: Glenn suggests taking a yoga or ballet class to improve posture or joining a club like Toastmasters (or taking a speech class) to improve the way you present yourself.

6. You don’t respect others’ space and time.
“Bursting into someone’s office, invading someone’s space, and being loud in an office (especially in an open-floor plan) can all make someone ‘unlikeable,'” says Chad Daniels, co-founder ofbuildthefire.com. These behaviors indicate a lack of consideration and respect for others who are trying work.

How to fix it: Don’t assume your colleagues can drop everything at your convenience. Give them a heads up by giving them a call or email and asking if they have a moment to talk, Daniels suggests. Also, be mindful of the volume of your voice and try to meet with others behind closed doors so as not to disturb others.

7. You gossip.
Gossiping is one of those toxic workplace behaviors that often falls into the category of bullying – and nobody likes a bully. Not only that, but a 2015 CareerBuilder survey found gossiping to be among the top behaviors that hurt an employee’s chances for promotion.

How to fix it: Aside from not engaging in office gossip yourself, remove yourself from temptation by changing the subject or finding a way to excuse yourself.

You may never be liked by everyone – and that’s okay – but you can make it so you’re not reviled by them, either. You may be surprised by how little effort it takes to make a big impact on your colleagues’ opinions of you – and your satisfaction at work as a result.

Enroll in an Employability Skills class. Click here to learn more.

Continue reading

Want Career Happiness? Identify Your Top 5 Desires

Amanda Green
August 2, 2013

What makes a good career? Is it a high salary? Is it an opportunity to follow a passion? Or is it something even more basic than that?

All of us know people who landed fantastic jobs – jobs with high salaries and prestige, or dream jobs in creative fields – who, within a few years, burned out and became unhappy. Although these are the kinds of careers that people say they want, they aren’t necessarily the kinds of jobs that lead to career happiness.

career-happiness-identify-top-desires.jpgIf you want to be happy in your career, you have to identify your real desires, not just the ordinary yearning for a job that comes with a big paycheck or a high-status title. How do you do that? You do some soul-searching and find out what is really important to you. Then, you build a career around your true desires, instead of trying to force your dreams into a career.


Take some time to write out two scenarios: the first is your ideal day right now, and the second is your ideal day five years from now.

In these scenarios, don’t write about a specific job. Instead, write about the actions you take during the day. If you don’t like attending meetings, write about a job where you arrive early and spend your morning in your office researching a new product. If you love being around people, write about interacting with people and helping them plan things.

Make sure you include how you spend your mornings and evenings. Do you walk to work? Exercise after work? Spend the night watching television, playing basketball with friends, or going to concerts?

Notice how your five year ideal day differs from your current ideal day. Five years out, do you have a partner? Kids? A house?A dog? How does that change your ideal day? Are you spending more time at home, or are you spending even more hours at work as you create a fantastic new project?


After writing your ideal day scenarios, use them to identify your top five desires. Maybe you want a short commute, or you want a job that doesn’t require you to wake up early in the morning. Maybe you want a job where you can be available to pick up kids from school, or a job that is only a few blocks from your home. Maybe you want a job where you spend all day talking to people, or a job where you spend very little time talking to people!

Make a list, then cut the list down to your top 5 desires: the most important things you want in a career and in life.


Like it or not, your finances often determine the types of jobs you need to get. Student loan debts and credit card debt all require you to get a job with a certain salary in order to make the necessary payments. Cities with high costs of living require you to take jobs you may not want in order to pay for rent, car insurance, and other basic needs.

If you haven’t already made a monthly budget, take an afternoon to calculate all of your monthly expenses. Include the big items like rent, car payments, car insurance, and credit card payments, as well as smaller expenses like movie tickets and restaurants. If you aren’t sure where your money goes every month, your bank keeps a record of past purchases for you to review.

Use your monthly budget to determine the amount of money you need to make after taxes. Multiply that number by 12 and add 20% to estimate the yearly salary you need to earn to make that budget work. Then, use the Bureau of Labor Statistics tables to find jobs paying those salaries. Look for jobs that fulfill your top 5 desires while giving you enough money every month to fulfill your obligations.

Also: if your finances are always a little tight, consider offloading your debt onto low interest credit cards. A simple move like this helps you reduce your monthly salary requirement, enabling you to take jobs you might not be able to take otherwise.


Approach your job search as if you were interviewing the companies. Yes, you want to tell them why you’re the best person for the job, but you also want to make sure their job is going to fulfill your top five desires. If the job and your desires don’t match, you’re going to be unhappy in your career.

Throughout the process, remember: A career, by itself, is not success. Instead, happiness is success.

Interested in advancing your career and improving your success in getting and keeping a jobEmployability Skills? Do you want to improve your job search skills, write a professional resume and cover letter, and learn how to answer those difficult interview questions?

Enroll in an Employability Skills class at Centennial Education Center. The class is taught by an experienced instructor with over 35 years of business experience. The class meets on Mondays and Tuesdays from 11 AM – 2 PM in room E-109. Register in class with the instructor.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,156 other followers