By Tova Jaffee, Career Coach
Every workplace and industry has their own culture and language. Target doesn’t have customers they have “guests”. Many community rehab programs have “consumers” instead of clients. Years ago my job title was Career Counselor, but now I am a Career Coach. It was a redefinition of a role in that now we would provide guidance toward employment goals rather than counsel individuals about those same goals. This is a fine yet important distinction that spoke to what we do and the service we provide.
The Human Services field is big on utilization of acronyms. You will give yourself away as to your level of expertise and how long you have been working in your field if you are not up to date with language. For example, we no longer say handicapped person, we say a person with a disability. And a person is not wheelchair bound they are a wheel chair user.
Why is this important? Language and the specific industry terms we use have much to do with conveying the mission and self -image of the workplace or business. Indeed, it is the perception and image the company wishes to convey that defines who they are and to whom they are marketing their efforts.
Having an understanding of the language in the workplace tells the potential employer a number of things about you as a candidate for the job you are applying. Are you up to date with the current terminology in your field and more importantly are you up to date with the latest technology in your field? For example, if you don’t know that MS Office includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access, it will speak volumes about how current you are and negate anything you might say about having “up to date computer skills.” This is particularly relevant if you are returning to work after a long absence.
Here are some tips to keep you current:
- Subscribe to periodicals, and newsletters within your industry.
- Take an online college class or continuing education to upgrade your knowledge base.
- Visit ONET for career exploration and job analysis at www.onetonline.org.
- Join networking groups like JCS meetup.com to expand your knowledge and skills, plus share ideas with other like- minded professionals.
The JCS Career Center offers a variety of tools for helping people with their job search. Career Center clients can review the Occupational Outlook Handbook in our Resource Room. It provides information on occupations, future career outlook, and associations contact information for each industry. They can also take advantage of the MS Office and typing tutorials we have in both JCS Resource rooms.
The measure of your dedication to your career might well be the first impression an employer has simply from the language you use in a cover letter, phone screening or at a face to face interview. Remember that terms and acronyms within your career field can vary from agency to agency, and certainly from state to state. Ultimately, your comfort or discomfort with the language common to your industry can befriend or betray you. As they say, you have to “walk the talk.”
By Tova Jaffee, DORS Team Leader Career Coach, JCS Career Center
JCS offers a full range of career services. For more information about the JCS Career Center click here or call 410-466-9200.