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Don’t Listen to Career Tests

By Dana Mancuso
Bigg Success Contributor

Again with the Funeral Director? 


In high school many of you probably took a careers/skills/interest survey. I did. And what I remember most is that my answers to the questions linked me highly with the occupation of Funeral Director. I am sure it also linked me with several other occupations, but that one stuck in my mind as I read the test results at age 16 or 17. And, of course, I instantly thought in stereotypes and imagined a job in a morose world of sadness and death. Sounded like a great job to a high schooler – and a girl to boot. What females run funeral homes? And it sure was fun for my sister. What a hoot for a 13- or 14-year old to find out her sister ought to be a Funeral Director (actually the test at that time said Mortician.) Imagine the great teasing that happened at our house.

Not once, but twice

So, fast forward a couple of decades. I had completely forgotten about those results until I once again took a skills/interest assessment test online. Just for kicks, to see where my skills might take me in future incarnations of my career (no pun intended there.)

Guess what ranked right up there in the top five on the list? Yep. Funeral Director. So this time, I decided to dive into the results and find out what it is about me and/or my answers that linked me to this profession, not once, but twice—20 years apart. There must be something that keeps bringing me back to that career.

My instincts told me that the following skills and interests would make me likely to thrive in this career:

  • I like helping people
  • I am generally calm
  • I am sensitive to the needs of others
  • I can help people plan
  • I write well

My instincts also told me that:

  • I'd have a tough time spending each day surrounded by grieving people
  • I'd have a tougher time spending each day surrounded by the dearly departed

Back to the research

According to the U.S. Department of Labor in its "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition", funeral directors:

“Perform various tasks to arrange and direct funeral services, such as coordinating transportation of body to mortuary for embalming, interviewing family or other authorized person to arrange details, selecting pallbearers, procuring official for religious rites, and providing transportation for mourners.

The job of a funeral director requires tact, discretion, and compassion when dealing with grieving people.”

Self assessment

Let's see…Tact. Check. Interview skills. Check. Arranging details by phone. Check. Discreet, Compassionate. You bet. So far, sounds like me.

However, that's where the buck stops. I might have some of the skills but not the constitution.

A profile on of Funeral Director Fred Skinner summed up nicely the intangible qualities needed:

“Dealing with the emotional upheaval a major loss brings poses one of the profession's most important challenges. In one case, Skinner helped a teenage boy, beside himself with grief at the loss of his grandfather, to come to terms with the death. The family had chosen that the body not be viewed, and the boy was distraught that he could not see his grandfather for the last time. "I talked to the boy and his mother, and I got the family to give me 24 hours so that I could prepare the remains to give the boy a chance to see his grandfather and say goodbye."

There is more to any job than the skill set needed. What about temperament? Preference for hours worked? My personality, while compassionate, is too emotional for this kind of work. And though I most-likely could make all the logistics happen, I would not pass the test in terms of my comfort level with death. And, I like my evenings and weekends thank you very much.

So, even though I don't intend to choose this particular career as a next move, I discovered, or re-discovered some key information about my skills. Perhaps you would too. Take a career test online. You might unearth (again, no pun intended) some long lost skills or interests that you can polish for use in your current job or the next one you move into. And, by examining your personality, you might find out why you aren't in the jobs on your career test profile.

P.S. Funeral Directors have recently (2008) been highlighted in an Emmy Award-Nominated documentary. The PBS Frontline program The Undertaking received a nomination in the category of "Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming" category. According to a press release from the National Funeral Director's Association, Frontline “presented a moving, insightful view of funeral service and the important work performed by funeral service professionals every day. The documentary featured multi-generation, National Funeral Directors Association-member (NFDA) firm Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, which operates from several locations in suburban Detroit, Michigan.” 

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Happy Scum

By 440 Dana Mancuso]
Bigg Success Contributor

Life Skills

pm411_logo Have you ever had a disagreement about something you've heard? I often disagree with my husband about popular song lyrics. What he hears is close to the real words in most cases, but not always.

Sometimes what you hear is a direct result of what you've already heard. Sort of like expecting to get an apple from an apple tree. You've always gotten apples from the apple tree, so you aren't going to expect an orange to be growing there. You won't hear country music from the lips of rocker Bon Jovi. Or will you?

Back in high school, I was seated in a small group next to someone from my grade school. This boy had teased me in 5th and 6th grade. In fact, he had never spoken to me in any other manner than to tease me in my entire life.

So, when he spoke to me, not only was I surprised, but my brain turned on the teasing filter. Here's what I heard when he tapped my arm:

"Happy, Scum?"


"Happy, Scum?"

Oh my god, he's calling me scum!

The sentence was repeated once more before I heard what he actually said, "can I HAVE a PIECE of GUM?"

My brain had already determined that anything coming from this guy's mouth was going to be negative at best, hurtful at worst–when all he wanted was some Dentyne. (I handed him the skuzziest looking piece of gum in the pack.)

I at least make an effort not to jump to conclusions. But my brain often does it for me before I can stop it. Sometimes I do it when reading an e-mail from a coworker. (She forgot a word in the sentence, accidentally changing its meaning.) Sometimes I do it when I get an odd look from someone (He doesn't have his contacts in so he is squinting a lot.) Everyone has heard the look before you leap cliché, but it applies so well to hearing in haste, as well as to acting in haste.

Next time you're about to turn on that filter, grab a piece of gum and chew it over a bit. 

3 Hear today’s lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. ]

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This Nugget Is Worth a Quarter

By 440 Dana Mancuso]
Bigg Success Contributor

Career Builders


Years ago, I worked part-time as a telemarketer to earn some additional income.
The goal was to set appointments for a sales representative to meet with the person on the other end. We called for a few hours at a time, had a lunch break and called again. In addition to a base salary, I earned bonuses (a quarter) for every confirmed appointment. This could result in up to an additional dollar per hour on a particularly successful day.

I lasted exactly three months. One day, I pulled into the office complex parking lot and a feeling of such aversion and dread came over me that I just could not work one more day at that job. I went in and quit on the spot.

I figure, in only three months, that I must have called a few thousand businesses and homes. As a result, I have a well-earned appreciation for the difficult job it is to call people out of the blue to sell them something they are not looking to buy.

In my opinion, the best way to handle a telemarketer you do not want to speak with is to cut him or her off at the earliest possible time with a, "No thank you," and hang up. This allows the caller to move on to the next prospect without a lot of time wasted.

Think about it, if you let the caller get to the end of a really long speech and say “No”, who benefits?

You? Nope. You wasted a lot of time listening to a spiel.

The telemarketer? Definitely not. You got someone's hopes up and then lost that guy or gal their quarter.

Just last week I answered a sales call at work. I took my own advice and politely ended the conversation quickly. Even in my work today, I have used knowledge from that less-than-perfect job. 

Think about what nuggets of wisdom you learned from former jobs, part-time or otherwise. You may not realize the important lessons you took away with you, even from those short-lived or terrible work experiences.

You'll be surprised at the little (and big) ways they have impacted or influenced things you do today. And that in itself is worth at least a quarter!

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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