"Don’t tell me—show me,"
say some employers. Employers want evidence of jobseekers’
abilities. And for many jobseekers, the proof is in the
A career portfolio highlights a person’s
major achievements and can include awards, letters of
recommendation, and examples of work. Jobseekers present
such materials to prospective employers, usually during a job interview.
Teachers, writers, and photographers are
some of the workers who have long promoted themselves with
concrete examples of their products. But according to
employment counselors, career portfolios can be useful to almost any jobseeker.
Part of a typical career portfolio
includes standard jobseeker documents—such as a resume,
transcripts, and letters of recommendation. What makes a
portfolio different are work samples, such as reports,
plans, photographs, and in-depth descriptions of the
jobseeker’s skills and experience.
Making a portfolio is simply a matter of
organizing everything and presenting it in an interesting
way; for example, using graphs or headings to focus
attention on particular items.
For more information, visit your local library or
career counselor. State employment offices may also have
information; see, for example, the career portfolio
information for Florida students online at
Hot off the press: You can win money for college
by working for your high school newspaper.
Each year, the Quill and Scroll Society, an
international honorary society for high school journalists,
recognizes exemplary journalistic efforts with its International
Writing and Photo contest. Any high school student can enter,
and winners receive a Gold Key award. Winning seniors are also
eligible to apply for $500 and $1,500 Edward J. Nell Memorial
Scholarships in Journalism.
To qualify, entries must have been recently
published in a school or professional newspaper. The contest
consists of 12 divisions, including news stories, in-depth
reports, sports coverage, and editorial cartoons. Each school is
limited to four entries per division. The fee is $2 per entry,
and applications are due in early February.
For more information, write to the Quill and Scroll Society,
University of Iowa, School of Journalism and Mass Communication,
100 Adler Journalism Building, Room E346, Iowa City, Iowa 52242;
call (319) 335-3457; or visit online at www.uiowa.edu/~quill-sc/Contests/2001InterWritPhoto.html.
How many times does the average worker change
careers? Statistically speaking, no one knows.
One idea that is commonly—but incorrectly—attributed to the U.S. Department of Labor is that people change
careers about seven times in a lifetime. But the Labor
Department does not gather that kind of data.
The major problem in collecting such data is the
difficulty in defining what a "career change" is. Is
it a switch in occupations or career fields? Maybe it’s a
promotion. What about workers who change employers but stay in
the same occupation? Because there is no clear definition,
accurate counting of career changers is difficult, if not
However, the Labor Department’s U.S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics (BLS) does collect data on job change:
the switch from one employer to another or a switch from one
occupation to another while working for the same employer. What’s
the number of job changes? The average is about 10 jobs for
workers between ages 18 and 38, according to current data from
the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979.
Whatever the average number of jobs or careers,
one fact is certain: Most people make many changes during their
working lives. To help, the Department of Labor provides
job-market information and job-search advice. For more
information, write to the U.S. Department of Labor, Frances
Perkins Building, 200 Constitution Avenue NW., Washington, D.C.
20210; call toll-free, 1 (866) 4-USA-DOL (487-2365), TTY
toll-free, 1 (877) 889-5627; or visit online,
--Contributed by David Terkanian, BLS economist
Location matters when it comes to occupational
earnings. Consider sales workers, for example: Compared with the
national average, a sales worker makes about 30 percent more in
the Phoenix area and about 18 percent less in the Indianapolis
area, according to the most recent data available from the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
This type of data used to be available only
sporadically. But now, earnings comparisons like these are
available each year for many metropolitan statistical areas.
Earnings comparisons by area, called pay relatives, are
developed from the BLS National Compensation Survey. These pay
relatives account for wages, salaries, commissions, and
But you might want to think twice before heading
for that sales job in Arizona. Higher pay in large metropolitan
areas is often linked to a higher overall cost of living, so
workers may have to spend more in those areas to get the things
that they need.
More information on pay relatives is available by writing to
the BLS National Compensation Survey, Office of Compensation and
Working Conditions, 2 Massachusetts Avenue NE., Suite 4175,
Washington, D.C. 20212-0001; by calling (202) 691-6199; or by
reviewing the news release online at
When discussing higher education, families and
researchers often talk about access to schooling. But the real
issue is completion of academic credentials, according to a
February 2006 report released by the U.S. Department of
Education’s National Center for Education Statistics.
The report, "The Toolbox Revisited: Paths
to Degree Completion from High School Through College,"
follows students to examine postsecondary attendance patterns.
Among the findings:
The longer students wait to enter
postsecondary education, the less likely they are to finish a
Taking high school mathematics classes beyond
Algebra II significantly increases the chances of earning a
degree, as does taking college-level math before the third year
Having fewer than 20 credits by the end of
the first calendar year of enrollment is a serious threat to
Formal transfer to a 4-year college or
university, either from another 4-year school or a community
college, is positively associated with degree completion;
wandering from one school to another (a behavior called
"swirling") is not.
Changing majors does not affect degree
To order copies of the report, write to ED Pubs, Education
Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box
1398, Jessup, Maryland, 20794-1398; call toll-free, 1 (877)
4-ED-PUBS (433-7827), 1 (800) USA-LEARN (872-5327), or TDD
toll-free, 1 (877) 576-7734; or visit online, www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html.
The report is also available on the Education Department’s Web
site at www.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/toolboxrevisit/index.html.