When you have no work record to tap for employment references, you have to rely on personal references -- and that should be OK. Ask the office manager for the type of person she would prefer to offer character references for you -- teachers, professors, ministers?
Get a boatload of useful information about references from the professional reference checking firm of Allison & Taylor; Google "Creating a World-Class Employment Reference List."
DEAR JOYCE: I am 27 years old and am debating whether to find a good job or start my own business. I don't know much about the best approach to either. Can you give me a little help? -- T.O.R.
Because I wrote about a similar issue last week, this week I'm going to point you in two directions:
1) Search for "Ten Steps to Find a New Job" by Alison Doyle. I highly recommend this two-page free guide with links for each of the 10 steps. It will be of enormous help to any job seeker who needs structure and up-to-date job search guidance. A real pro, Doyle gets job search in spades.
2) Read this new book, "The Startup Playbook: Secrets of the Fastest-Growing Startups from Their Founding Entrepreneurs" by David S. Kidder (Chronicle Books).
This isn't your dad's small business manual, but rather a smartly presented round-up of the proprietary ideas and actions of some of the most extraordinary and successful entrepreneurs of our time, including Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX), Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Sara Blakely (Spanx), Steve Case (AOL), Chris Anderson (TED) and three dozen others. This book is a must-read if you want to fly high into the entrepreneurial orbit.
DEAR JOYCE: With the rush to free or low-cost online college credentials that employers will accept, how does an educational institution know that students are who they say they are before they receive certificates for their acquired knowledge? For example, why couldn't I get a friend to take a tough test for me? How would the college know? -- H.F.
Good question. I've wondered about that. The best answer I've come across is that eventually colleges and universities will advance from relying on a current policy of honor code pledges made by students that they'll work honestly, to pairing with testing sites around the world to do identity checks and also proctor tests and exams. Eventually online gee-whiz educational validation could include face recognition and various forms of activity recognition.
DEAR JOYCE: I stupidly confided in a co-worker that I am looking for another job. She swore she wouldn't tell anyone, but yesterday my manager called me in and gave me the third degree. I survived but learned my lesson to beware of liars. Pass it on. -- P.O.S.
I'll do better than that. I'm passing on four "tell-tale" signs of a liar. Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. (CKG.com), points to four nonverbal clues of dishonesty. These are: hand touching, face touching, crossed arms and leaning away. According to research conducted at Northeastern University, if you see these "Telltale Four" being displayed together, watch out!
(Email career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at firstname.lastname@example.org; use "Reader Question" for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.)