Dear J.T. & Dale: I have a question regarding applications for employment for my 17-year-old son. Do you think it is detrimental his educational background is from the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, where he earned his GED? It's a program for troubled youth and is an intensive military camp for six months. - Donna

J.T.: Given that your son successfully completed such an intensive military camp in order to earn his GED, I would proudly list his education. It shows a real accomplishment!

Dale: On the other hand, there is a pecking order to education, and just as a bachelor's degree is preferable to an associate's degree, so a high-school degree is preferable to a GED. After all, one thing a high-school degree demonstrates is that you can successfully put up with the bureaucracy of school, which is similar to the bureaucracy of most organizations. Further, listing a local high school often can create that spark of connection.

J.T.: But he has to list what he has, and the mention of National Guard is even more likely to spark a connection.

Dale: Yes, he is going to list what he has. What I hope you'll suggest, Donna, is that he goes beyond listings. If you don't have the ideal background, you're unlikely to be plucked out of a stack of applications. Landing one of the better jobs probably will require an insider connection - an introduction by a friend or family connection.

J.T.: Absolutely. It's always best to proactively seek out jobs that you know you can excel in, then try to connect directly with someone at the company. In this market, that's the only way people are getting jobs.