Changing Careers? Some practical advice and how to find resources to help pave the way!

The following is a question asked following the webinar I did for the alumni of Georgetown University entitled “Resumes, Interviewing and the World of Work” along with my response:

Dear Mr. Mulberger,

I enjoyed listening to your webinar this afternoon and thought that your presentation was very informative and interesting.

transition-3rd-blogI would like to receive your suggestions on how to go about changing careers from teaching math to working as an actuary. There are certain skills that overlap, however, there are other desired skills that do not show up on the resume. How could the cover letter and resume be enhanced to highlight qualifications? Would you recommend going back to school for an additional degree?

Thank you very much and I look forward to your response.


“Webinar Attendee”

Dear “Webinar Attendee”

Glad it was of value for you!!

Before you sign up for another degree suggest you find a way to talk to a few practicing actuaries and and/or those who run such a department or internal program.

A quick google search for “actuary associations” brought up: with this contact information – 1850 M St NW #300, Washington, DC – (202) 974-6007

The search also brought up other entities…all fertile ground for research.

Suggest you make some phone calls…you will note that the association President slot changes annually.. so they are volunteer leaders…practicing actuaries…. the Executive Director runs the association (is a salaried employee).. Track down one or more of them and ask them the questions that will give you the answers as to what your challenges will be to make that change.

“I am very interested in making the change from teaching match to being an actuary. Can you spare a few minutes to give me some  guidance and answer a question or two?” Most will say yes!

BTW – creative google searching is a great way to find and then gain access to people… I cover it extensively in a full chapter in my book….

Let me know if I can be of further assistance!

Good luck!


As a matter of note – use google searches to find trade association professionals you can talk to such as I advised this person. I have a very detailed chapter in the book – “Basic and Advanced Internet Search Techniques” –detailing the Boolean Operators and how to get the most results with the least effort.

Do a google search – just copy and paste this string into a google search window; substitute your area of  interest for “actuary” and “actuarial”. Note the this search string follows google algorithms –  google search “rules” – type it EXACTLY as it appears here if you can’t copy and paste it.

(actuary OR actuarial)  (association OR society OR “professional society”)

From there – make contact as I suggested to my “webinar attendee”!

Good luck!!

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The Art of Persuasion

Persuasion is the process of convincing others of the merits of your position, idea or issue thru presenting facts, the use of logic…and avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and persuasionthen accepting your argument. Persuasion therefore is a two-fold process.

1. Presenting your case:

a. Broadly state the outcome and success story that you believe will result if your course of action or plan is adopted and put into place. Be as specific as you can, but don’t make any “heads in the cloud” statements or promises. Be sure everyone understands your objective and the features and benefits of achieving it.

b. Outline briefly what the challenges and barriers to success are and what resources will be needed to implement or to proceed.

c. Proceed to present in suitable detail what it is that you propose…your idea, solution or course of action. In advance you need to have thought through how much detail is appropriate for your audience. Some audiences – bosses and others – want a great deal of detail… graphs – charts, etc. They are “numbers people” and need numbers to understand. Other audiences are “concept people” and just want to understand your concept and how things will generally work. Part of this depends on how much faith your audience has in you, your past history of being on target with ideas, decisions and actions.

d. You need to build your case step-by-step. Take the temperature regularly to ensure that you haven’t lost anyone along the way, saying something like “Everyone with me? Any questions? OK… let’s proceed.” Pay attention to your audience… and look for any signs of confusion and if questions reveal that an earlier point was missed…go back and cover that ground again. When you have fully made your presentation…do a quick review…ask if there are any more questions…and then ask the decision-maker(s) when you might expect a decision.

e. You also need to think through ahead of time what your presentation format will be; will you use visual aids such as a PowerPoint presentation, or some other graphics? And hand in hand with that is what kind of “leave behind” or handouts you will utilize. If you use a PowerPoint presentation, you can print all of the PowerPoint slides – six to a page – in color or in black and white. You also need to decide whether to distribute your handouts in advance… so that your audience can make notes on them.

2. Remember we said there are two aspects to persuasion? The second one is avoiding any inter-personal issues that could become distractions and thereby blocking your audience from seeing and then accepting your argument. An overview of these issues include:

a. Know who your audience is and what is at stake for each of them. For example, a plan to expand the use of technology and automaton may be great… but if it results in cutting staff, be aware that may be indeed a blow to someone’s turf…their power and influence in the organization. When a “stakeholder” has something to lose as a result of your plan, you may well benefit from talking with them in advance…saying something like “..when I make my pitch to the team tomorrow, it might have an adverse impact on part of your operation… but hear it out and we can then discuss its impact on your department.” Do an inventory of who is going to be involved with your presentation and the resulting decision to be made. What do they have at stake? What might their fears be? Be sure to address them in your presentation.

b. Be aware of whose handiwork you are going to modify or eliminate if that will be the impact of your proposal. Here too you may want to meet with them before the presentation and say something like “…I know that the data center was your baby and that you set it up…and wanted you to know that my proposal to the team tomorrow will have an impact on that…and I ask that you hear me out tomorrow.”

c. Finally… be sure to mentally be alert for any mannerism that annoy or frustrate people. Jingling the change in your pocket for the men… pulling at strands of hair for the ladies. Examine your speaking style for repetitive and annoying words and phrases such as saying “OK” after every sentence, and slang and lingo that might annoy others. Never, never use profanity or discriminatory words or phrases. Be 110% “politically correct”!!

Successfully persuading others involves influencing them. The late (and great) Cavett Robert, a world-renowned motivational speaker said “Influence is the ability to cause others to think, feel and act as we desire”. Use your powers of persuasion to influence your audience to adopt your proposal … or at the very least …as a springboard to modifying it for the benefit of the organization. Good Luck!!

If you want to know more of the art of persuasion – see the Wikipedia link:

And a great Forbes article on line:




Ever Wonder Why Washington, DC is part of a square… resting on a point?

What happened to the rest of the square?DC map.jpg

<<<  Washington, DC todayDC map 2

Washington, DC in 1790 >>>>>>>>>>



Legislation was passed in 1790 to establish the new national capital on the Potomac River at a site to be determined by Washington. Land would be taken from both Maryland and Virginia to form the capital city. (To learn why the capital was to be on the Potomac River, see a previous post  Ever Wonder Why The U.S. National Capital is Located Where It Is). The new national capital was to be a square of 10 miles on a side – 100 square miles. Washington understood that commerce was going to be important to the new capital city and he wanted to include the 3 major seaports of the Potomac River:

  •  Alexandria, VA – in 1790 the largest port between Philadelphia and Charleston and then an independent city founded in 1749.
  •  Georgetown – the farthest upriver that ocean-going vessels could travel. Also an independent city founded in 1751.
  •  Bladensburg, MD – located on the Eastern Branch of the Potomac (now the Anacostia River) and was an important seaport for Maryland shipping and commerce.

In order to include all 3 of those ports in a square 10 miles on a side…the square had to be turned to include Alexandria at the lower tip… Georgetown in the left side and just snag Bladensburg on the upper right side. Land was ceded from Maryland and Virginia to the U.S. Government to form the new capital city.

As you contemplate the map and those 3 points, keep in mind that surveying in 1790 was not a totally precise process and there were no detailed accurate maps to layout that 10×10 mile square.

So what happened to the rest of the square?

By the 1840s there had been very little economic growth in the portion taken from Virginia; almost all of the commercial development was north of the Potomac River.

In 1844, the Commonwealth of Virginia petitioned Congress to return that portion taken in 1790.

Congress did so in 1846. Arlington County was formed along the nice straight linesDC map 1 surveyed in 1790 and Alexandria re-established its original boundary lines (not all of Alexandria became part of the capital city).

Here ends the history lesson!!

Now you indeed have some wise comments to make at the next event you attend!

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Ever Wonder Why The U.S. Capital Is Where It Is?

Like a lot of politics…it was the result of a “deal”!!

Flash back to the early days of the republic… the new national government was saddled with immense debt from the revolutionary war as were the states. By the late 1780s, some states – notably the southern states of Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina had paid off their debt while others such as Massachusetts and South Carolina had not. At the same time the debate was going on as to where to locate the national capital…. New York, Boston and Philadelphia were the largest cities in the country – centers of banking, law and commerce – and each wanted to be the national capital.



Enter Alexander Hamilton (of $10 bill fame), Secretary of the Treasury. To establish credit for the new nation, Hamilton proposed to restructure the revolutionary war debt and at the same time for the federal government to assume the revolutionary war debt of the states. Assuming the state’s unpaid debts would assure their creditors that they would be paid. Hamilton’s plan was opposed by Jefferson and Madison; Jefferson on the grounds that it was not fair to those states that had paid off their debt (such as his native Virginia!). To ask Virginia, Maryland, etc. taxpayers to pay off the debt of those states that still had revolutionary war debt was not right! Madison and others opposed it on the basis that the new Constitution didn’t contemplate such actions.Hamilton’s plan was achieved by a “deal”; Hamilton would campaign among his northern political allies for the national capital to be located on the Potomac River (the boundary between Maryland and Virginia). Jefferson and Madison lobbied their southern peers to back Hamilton’s plan, including the federal government assuming the unpaid revolutionary war debt of the states. Virginia and Maryland essentially saying “we will help pay off your debt…but we get the capital”! The deal was cut!

DC map.jpgLegislation was passed on July 16, 1790 to establish the national capital on the Potomac River somewhere between Hagerstown, MD and Alexandria, Virginia – the decision of exactly where to be left to discretion of the new President (and former surveyor) George Washington.

Now you know why the national capital is where it is!!Stay tuned to see why it is shaped the way it is!

Knowledge – always be seeking it!

Follow me on Twitter for notices of these posts.

For jobs and career opportunities in the Washington, DC metro area –  visit the NRI website. Many jobs are listed there …..and NRI Recruiters can find others for you!

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Copyright © Robert Mulberger All Rights Reserved

Enough is Enough!! Stop Talking and Let’s Get on With It !!

stop_talking_tshirtA major annoyance for most of us is a conversation with someone that never stops talking!

You almost have to wait until they take a breath to get a comment or question in!

Learning how and when to “shut up” is both a behavioral habit as well as a leadership trait.

According to  Mike Staver of The Staver Group – – many people don’t know when to talk and when to put a brake on it.

Here are a few questions to determine whether you know how to keep your mouth shut or not:

  •  After you make your point, do you just have to add a few other (unnecessary) comments?
  •  Do you say “in closing” several times before you really close?
  •  Do you have to have the last word in an argument or disagreement?

Here are some communications tips from Staver:

  •  Be clear about what you are attempting to communicate.
  •  Share with the person you are communicating with what you want to accomplish.
  •  Avoid getting distracted by other issues, ideas, points, stories, etc. (I refer to this as “wandering around the verbal landscape”! With folks that do this, you just want to scream “Stick to the point”!!)
  •  Use “talk-ending” techniques such as “So what are the next steps?” or use an example to wrap things up.
  •  Learn to tolerate silence. It is effective…and it won’t kill you, Staver says!

“Leadership – never stop learning”


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