#1 Interview Ooop

Picture by Yu-Chuan Hsu

Picture by Yu-Chuan Hsu

You’ve sent a tailored cover letter and resume to a job posting you’ve been hoping to find over the past six months. To your good fortune, you receive a call to schedule an initial interview for two days from now. Excited and eager, you plan the next 40 hours in preparation for a potentially life-changing event.

Here’s what you’ve done to prepare for the interview:

  • Gathered additional company research, examining their website, mission statement, and products (research should be on your “must do” list as questions about the company will come us. For example, the interview may ask: “What do you like about our company,” if you don’t have the mission statement down, when asked, you will stumble (no ooops allowed when it comes to company knowledge).
  • Revisit your references. Make sure references are aware of possible contact, what position and company you are applying for, and ALWAYS offer a thank you for their help. For those not reaching out to references, a huge ooops may answer the phone.
  • Know where you are going. Immediately Map Quest the route, estimate the driving time and always add 20 minutes to the route (just in case). If time allows, take a practice drive to the location and spot the building and/or office you will be expected to be at. Nothing like being late or having a panic attack because of traffic delays.
  • Appropriate attire needs to be rehearsed the day/night before. Make sure your clothes and shoes are clean, sharp, AND appropriate.

Though the above is not a complete list, it’s a good start. Going back to the scheduled interview mentioned in the beginning, you’ve made all the necessary steps and feel confident tomorrow is not going to be just another day.

As the night before the interview nears an end, you barely sleep. The anticipation and self-talk about possible questions and possible answers swirl like a tail-free tornado. Finally, at midnight the sound of sleep departs your lips…

Morning comes without a hitch or interruption. Immediately you look at your watch and notice the 8:00 am interview appointment time and the numbers on your watch don’t make sense. How could your watch display 8:45 am?

#1 Interview Ooop: Not setting the alarm the night before your early morning interview.

After all the preparation, you oversleep… in a single snore, you lose.

As an employer, with great confidence I claim that climbing out of the “no-show” ooop is rarely accomplished.

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

(MO)tivator or (N0)tivator: You Represent?

baby wolf by Jose Inesta

baby wolf by Jose Inesta

Too often we game ourselves into believing work performance and attitude tell the story of MOtivation… unfortunately, many are fooling themselves by representing NOtivation to all but themselves.

Several key words/terms in the above sentence need to be unpacked before the looking glass:

  • Tell the story: This refers to the message of your behavior as defined by your supervisor, co-workers, and customers being served. Truth is, don’t matter what you believe to be truth, others define every step you take, every move you make, and every breath you take (yes, they will be watching you).
  • Motivation: Do the actions and messages you perform represent enthusiasm? Wondering how enthusiasm is displayed? Here’s a quick tutorial: desiring to learn (and do) more than minimum job responsibilities and expressing a good attitude. Supervisors and co-workers notice those who are willing and wanting to grow with the company; willing and wanting to take on new challenges; willing and wanting to represent.
  • NOtivation: Does the mere thought of getting to work cause cramps or undue anxiety? Truth is, the vast majority of employees are not satisfied with their employment situation. Tall-tell signs of being a NOtivator include being late, performing the bare minimum (just enough to get by), rarely assisting others though you are caught up and able to do so, navigating the Internet or your personal phone during business hours, declining cross-training opportunities, holding a “not my job” attitude, and watching the clock with quivering anticipation. Naturally these are just a few of the obvious signs for the NOtivator as there are many more.

After reading the above, if your reaction was “who cares,” congratulations, you are swimming with the majority of folks out there and boxed yourself in as a NOtivator. How long do you tread?

Ever wonder why you keep getting ignored when it comes to job promotions or pay increases?

For the record: Promotions and pay increases are not a right, they are a privilege; a privilege rarely earned (or given) to the NOtivators in the world.

Take an objective look in the mirror. Reflect on what the person looking back sees… not just the surface, but the actions and attitudes behind and beyond the blind.

If you dare, imagine what the customers experience when you assist their needs. Imagine what your co-workers define and if respect has been earned. Imagine if you were your supervisor or owner of the company… would you give the person looking back a promotion or pay increase? If so, why? If not, why not?

Looking glass moment: through the eyes of the customer and company, what do your ACTIONS represent?

One of the most difficult (and bravest yet rewarding) things in life is self-examination. Truth is, until you see who that person looking back really is, you’ll reside behind a sheath of disillusion preventing progression and personal/professional happiness.

I won’t ask the question again… for now.

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com 321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

“F” is for Focus

NY Subway by Nicolai Bernsten

NY Subway by Nicolai Bernsten

As a certified resume writer, I’m asked often by job seekers to construct effective resumes and cover letters. Being in the business for 15 years, there’s little I haven’t seen or produced. Over the span of these years, much has changed in format, style, content, and presentation… but one element has remained steady throughout the storm.

The significance of “FOCUS” has yet to fade, remaining an elemental factor determining results. Unfortunately, the concept seems to have been misplaced by many seeking career progressions.

Reason for bringing focus back to the forefront: This past week I was contacted by a potential client to develop a professional resume and cover letter as he had not found interview offers for months. After our initial consultation, I sent the usual post-consultation questionnaire in order to ensure we were on the same page and path.

To be fair, if answered properly and with insight, the questions I ask can be time consuming as they force introspection and objective clarification.

During our discussions and paper trails, client responses are not necessarily meant solely for document incorporation, they are springboard opportunities guiding the interview process and career coaching sessions.

Before I lose concentration on the topic at hand, focus relates to letting whoever receives your resume and cover letter immediately recognize the position of interest and what you bring to the table. As a writer, I insist all potential clients deliver a career objective, one or two ideal job postings, and a statement as to why he or she matches the dream job (from an employer’s perspective) BEFORE drafts are prepared.

Fair or not, I choose to work with very few individuals, only the serious ones committed to success. Discounting my support and expectations tells me the individual seeking help is not serious about professional progression… as a result, why would I waste my time and services?

Dealing with the potential client from last week, my questions to him: “Please locate and send a targeted job posting/description and where you see yourself professionally? My desire is to correlate objectives to your background, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

In this capacity, please send:

  •   The ideal job description/posting / Two paragraphs summarizing why a hiring manager would consider you as a viable candidate”

His response: “How much does a general resume cost?  I don’t have a target job, I wanted a edited copy of my current resume.”

 

Looking at the questions I ask during initial consultations, how would you respond? Would you make the effort to respond 100% or would you look for an excuse not to work on your career?

Put in another way: Are you FOCUSED?

Hate to break bad news, a “general” resume will not secure career progression. Perhaps an entry-level job will appreciate a general resume, but for anyone looking to go beyond entry-level, FOCUS on the job at hand, tailoring to the posting (or career objective), and do the homework (like investigating the questions asked above).

Focus fosters:

  • Writer confidence
  • Writer ability to sell him/herself directly
  • Writer to interview transitions
  • Hiring Manager’s ability to connect job to candidate
  • Hiring Manager’s confidence in the applicant

 

To be clear, resumes without a target will always miss the mark. For those uncertain about job titles, tasks, duties, and hiring manager expectations, I encourage you to take advantage of ONETOnline.org. This free resource is a must – and should be one of your Internet favorites.

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Bridge Burning: A Matter of Trust

No doubt you’ve heard the cliché “don’t burn bridges,” but what does it mean in relation to professional development and does it really matter?

Blog 03-31-15 long pierGiven the vast digital networking system, what one does (or doesn’t do) often will find its way to the curious observer and/or potential hiring manager. In other words, YES, it does matter.

Burning bridges can be as simple as not giving a courteous two-week notice, to acting in a nonprofessional manner, and to searching for a job while on a current one (literally). To clarify reasons for the crumble, we’ll review each of the three paths mentioned.

  • Not giving a professional two-week notice. If employed and accepting another offer, professionalism dictates you give the current employer adequate notice to find a replacement or proactively train an existing peer. By not giving proper notice, the company could suffer financial loss, peer hardship, and/or customer disapproval.
  • Acting in a nonprofessional manner. If you’ve been in the workforce for any time at all, you’ve seen fellow (ex) employees do some rather unusual things during separation. Yelling, cursing, throwing things or bouts of anger will automatically drive an immovable chasm.
  • Searching for a job while on a current one. I’ve seen this more times than I wish to admit but for any employee not satisfied with their employment situation, this is fast-pass ticket out. Taking advantage of company equipment (computer, phone, and time) to search for and inquire about another job is downright unethical. Do yourself a favor and don’t rationalize by claiming the search has been done during breaks, that’s not going to fly.

If you are not happy with your current situation, do the professional thing, give proper notice and promote the transition for both parties (you and company). Most employers know if their workers are glad to be part of the organization so you’re not fooling anyone via covert actions. What you have done is break the bonds of trust.

Should you care if trust is broken? Yes.

Planning on mentioning the job you just violated on the resume or for reference purposes? Plan again… and if you don’t think the job will come up in searches, you may want to think again on that one too.

On a side note, if you happen to be in an industry-specific sector, many hiring managers and executives network at the most inopportune times. It is not uncommon for these individuals to discuss employee occurrences such as terminations, promotions, and bridges. Thus, after burning one or two bridges, there may be no more bridges to cross and finding a new job may be more difficult than expected.

Fair or not, people talk, people search, and people gossip. The manner in which you depart a company is fodder during networking events.

Truth about bridges, a strong foundation leads to many wonderful adventures while a crumbled foundation leads nowhere.

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com 321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Landscape Melting and “Good-Enough-Disorder?” Think Again

Image by Morgan Sessions

Image by Morgan Sessions

“I did my job; what more do they want?”
Sharon

There are many excuses for doing just enough to get by, personally as well as professionally. Being a business owner and career coach, I’ve heard more than my share of excuses justifying complacent behavior over the years.

I don’t get paid what I’m worth, so why give more than I get paid?”
Sharon

Tell the truth, how many out there have not worked their promised potential simply because you believed you deserved more?

NOT good enough defined?

Personally:

  • Accepting defeat without putting up an honest attempt to overcome barriers
  • Giving up after one attempt or let down… stopping never will get you beyond
  • Allowing others to convince an attitude of complacency (guilty by association)
  • Believing negative self-talk, living each day as just another day
  • Convincing yourself you do not deserve better
  • Being satisfied with who you are… here’s a hint, no matter who or what you are, there is ALWAYS room to advance

Professionally:

  • Accepting an invisible status
  • Performing at the lowest denominator (just doing enough)
  • Lacking positive self-talk, affirmations, and/or visualizations
  • Taking extra time at the coffee pot, texting, or strolling the Internet
  • Not stepping up to the plate, taking charge, or being the go-to person
  • Always having to be asked to perform a function or making careless mistakes
  • Believing your worth far exceeds your production (self-delusion can be job threatening)

For those identified with the “good-enough-disorder,” don’t fret as there are ways to get unstuck. No doubt the first question one with this disorder would ask… “why isn’t good enough, good enough?”

Personally:

  • The core of humanity and civilization is progression, creating a better life for you, your family, and the community; without personal and cultural evolution, humanity would have never advanced beyond the Stone Age, meaning life without Facebook would be a reality.

Professionally:

  • Companies AND employees accepting complacency do not survive… period.
  • Employers seek candidates to hire and promote who are not satisfied with status quo, desiring those with the aptitude to go boldly beyond grey.
  • Complacent employees rarely earn promotions, pay increases, and are often downsizing victims.

What you can do NOW:

  • Take a clear look at yourself, your goals, and your life. Determine if the person looking back in the mirror is the person you were meant to be AND you are happy with who you are and where you are. If the answer is yes, you may be carrying the highly contagious good-enough-disorder bug. If the answer is no, the first step has been crossed… off to a good start.
  • Upon reading this article, take out a piece of paper and make a “reachable” commitment with action plan. In other words, on a personal and professional note, tell yourself a goal and then WRITE the goal (and action plan) on a piece of paper (the act of writing is an important step toward goal achievement). Clipping or drawing a picture also adds to eventual realization—be sure and post the picture wear you will see it EVERY morning as you begin the day.
  • Establish a time-line and stick to it.
  • VISUALIZATION: Imagine the new you or the desired product as if it has become a reality. Once your mind accepts this reality, achieving becomes more attainable.
  • AFFIRMATION: Each evening and each morning make a pledge that required steps will happen. Upon the evening, if steps were not satisfied, evaluate how you will overcome challenges on the following day. That morning, engage in self-talk, determining the goal will become a reality.
  • Association: Gather around peers, friends, family, etc. who challenge you to stand up to the goal and will not allow excuses to get in the way.

The good-enough-disorder has the capacity to stumble not only your achievements, but those around you as well (including family members). Ultimately, how you want to live your life is entirely up to you and if you decide complacency defines you, don’t blame the lack of promotions, employment, and satisfaction on anyone but yourself.

The final element purging the good-enough-disorder out of your system resides within the following:

Focus and
Single-Mindedness

With focus and single-mindedness, there is nothing which cannot be overcome. Remember there may be one peak atop the mountaintop, but there are MANY paths one can take to get there.

There are no excuses but the ones you convince yourself you believe! For the highly sensitive person, the above tips are exceedingly important. I know how easy it is to melt into the landscape (and wanting to melt into the landscape).

For the HSP, take small steps… NEVER stop stepping! 

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

“Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose”

“Circle the yard until every grain touches your soul.
Duck   

Duck died last month, on parole. After serving 13 years in prison, he entered a world dramatically changed since beginning incarceration. Duck’s story, challenges, employment barriers, and societal roadblocks are not his alone.

After all, according to the latest Bureau of Justice Statistics:

      • One in four United States adults have a criminal record
      • The United States has 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated people
      • 14,000,000 people move through the prison system every year (no typo here)

Time ain’t nothing but empty space. What we decide to put in the empty space determines who we are. Nothing else matters… nothing else.”
Stick

Stick served time twice and is currently supervised by the board of pardons and paroles. While doing time, Stick took advantage of every educational opportunity and continued his education upon release. He too, is not alone according to the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (December 2014):

  • An estimated 6,899,000 persons were under the supervision of adult correctional systems at yearend 2013
  • About 1 in 35 adults (2.8%) in the United States was under some form of correctional supervision at yearend 2013

Recognizing the stories behind Stick and Duck are relatable to approximately one in four adults (not to mention affected family members), Education Career Services, Career Breakout, and 2nd Chance University are dedicated to providing successful offender transitional programs and books into an often non-forgiving public.

For over ten years, Duck and Stick consulted with the research, writing, and coaching teams, offering a perspective and reality into “Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose” as well as our six-book intensive series offered through 2nd Chance University.

What have we learned over the years? Glad you asked. Positive offender reintegration as well as personal and professional success can become a reality. Will it be easy? Not a chance. Are there help and resources to get you on your path? There is, Career Breakout has taken the lead. 

Research highlights many employers ARE willing to give second chances if the individual possesses these basic characteristics (just to name a few):

  • The right mindset: too often offenders are not mentally prepared to the challenges they will be facing upon release and for years to come. Taking wishes out of the equation and keeping it real must be the first step… and that comes from within as detailed by Duck and Stick.
  • Honesty: Offenders are watched like an eagle, accept it, live with it. This means no lying on job applications, during interviews, or while networking. This does NOT mean one should shout to the world background blemishes… don’t get me wrong.
  • Confidence: When asked about an arrest, conviction, or probation, own it. Once accepted, turn poor past judgments into a learning and growing experience. There are several effective methods to do this, unfortunately there is not enough space to cover at this time (do get our website address concluding this article for available insight and resources).
  • Preparation: If you’ve never heard of a letter of explanation, time to get the groove on and develop one. Our material covers these, and above bullets, for your advantage.

As Duck, Stick, and thousands of others have found out, transitioning from prison to the “real world” begins with the self.

No one ever promised life after prison would be easy. Truth is, easy is not part of the equation, but there are common mistakes many felons make upon release. It’s not really their fault, they just didn’t know the right things to do after getting their 50 dollar voucher and bus ticket. With Career Breakout, the right things to do are in black and white.

Time is now to accept reality: the individual transitioning from razor wire fences are seen as a risk. Not knowing effective methods to turn risk into benefit or believing you won’t succeed places you on the fast track back to prison.

What’s the use of trying? After 12 years in prison, I can’t change the stripes on my back.
Felix

Do you have what it takes to make it upon release or will the rebound find you with a violation? Believe it not, you have the power AND now you have the resources.

If you or someone you know desires to overcome barriers due to an arrest or conviction, invite them to review the latest publication from Career Breakout, Duck, and Stick. Warning, the contents offered demands an active role on your part and will only be effective if you are committed to freedom… at any cost.

There are no excuses but the ones you convince yourself you believe!

“I’m not a number.”
Duck

Seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison and choose freedom, visit www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Chili Cook Off and Networking

Senator Alan Hays and Baby Mo

Senator Alan Hays and Baby Mo

Research is clear, when it comes to professional progression, networking is the key. Over the past weekend, I happened to be in the middle of a well-kept networking secret: can you say Chili Cook Off?

Participants and cookers mingled for hours at one of the most relaxed environments thought possible. Though our team were part of the cookers, Tropical Air of Central Florida and Baby Mo’s Chili, connections made were priceless. For those lacking networking expertise, a Chili Cook Off offers an ideal stage to rehearse and expand those in your circle while becoming comfortable and confident around others.

With chili in hand, striking up a conversation never has been easier. I hear you, the topic of employment rarely comes up while dipping chili, but establishing networks can be as natural as fiber and peanut butter.

For tasters, simply venture table to table, complimenting along the way while learning about the companies behind the chili. To what seem as a surprise for many (not to me), I noticed over 20 local and regional businesses behind the chili. Some would call this an opportunity as one taster approaches:

Taster: “Baby Mo’s Chili? Where’s the chef?”
Server: “The young one with the gloves. She’s the master behind the chili.”
Taster: “Awesome chili. She got it right and I’ll be voting for you!”
Server: “Thanks, do appreciate it. Not only do we make great chili, we take care of air conditioning and heating needs throughout Central Florida.”
Taster: “I like the logo and no doubt keeping people cool in Florida is always a challenge. Are you a technician?”
Server: “Actually I own the company.”
Taster: “I like how Tropical Air of Central Florida is taking part in the community and would love to be part of a company like this.”
Server: “We enjoy keeping people cool and serving chili. What are you looking to do?”
Taster: “I’ve worked as an office administrator over the past two years. Now going to Seminole State. I really want to work with a small company, learning all I can and growing with the company.”
Server: “We’re always looking for positive people, grab my card and give me a call in a few days. We may be hiring part time office help next month.”
Taster: “Definitely will give you a call. And I really mean it, this chili rocks.”
Server: “Don’t forget to vote, last year we were two votes shy of placing.”

Networking can happen anywhere… the only limitations to networking are the limits YOU place on it. 

One never knows who will be walking around as well. During chili cook offs, special judges are often called in to assist, another networking advantage. During the “Apopka Old Florida Outdoor Festival Chili Cook-Off,” one of the judges happened to be Senator Alan Hays. For those interested in politics, business, and community opportunities, this was your chance to connect.

Not just for the votes, but I encourage you to attend the Orlando Chili Cook-Off March 7th. Baby Mo will be cooking the chili and I’ll be serving… hope to see you taking advantage of this networking opportunity.

Seeking awesome chili, employment, promotion, or career transitioning support, self-help job development books and resources, including material designed for those transitioning out of prison, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com 321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Week one on the job, an employer’s view

Image by Matthew Wiebe

Image by Matthew Wiebe

With job offer in hand and a new adventure on the horizon, cautions need to be taken to ensure your first week on the job (typically the most important) portrays not only that you are the right candidate but also that the hiring manager does not second guess his or her selection.

To better prepare your initial week on the job, let’s examine a few pointers from an employer’s point of view:

  • Timely: No doubt you made it to the interview on time, now’s the time to make sure the good habit continues. During the first week you will be looked at closely, including when your work duties begin (notice I did not say when you walked through the front door). It is recommended you arrive to the office 10 minutes early, allowing you plenty of time to grab a cup of coffee, get your good morning howdy’s out of the way, and warm up your seat. In other words, don’t walk through the front door at the exact scheduled time only to take care of morning rituals prohibiting you from being productive in a timely manner. Know your supervisor notices when coffee pouring and real work begins.
  • Attitude: Are you the same positive, team-playing, and confident person displayed during the interview or did you suddenly turn Jekyll? Recognizing people put their best face forward during interviews, companies are often displeasingly surprised at the stranger walking through the door… yeah, the new not-so improved you. One way to make a quick departure from your new position is to not be the person so eagerly anticipated by fellow co-workers. Advice: don’t fake who you are during the interview process as the “real” you will always surface, oftentimes with unwanted consequence.
  • Appearance: While running a former organization, I hired a receptionist to handle front-end clients, answer the phone, and be the front face. During the interview process (two formal interviews), the individual’s appearance was business casual and her professional appearance impressed all decision makers. Unfortunately on day two of her first week, she shed any semblance of what we had come to expect. Though individuality is encouraged, recognize there are lines in the sand… the first week is not the time to test the line… the first week is the time to become fully aware of cultural expectations and what is considered appropriate. The receptionist originally hired decided her true identity needed to be expressed… raw and unadulterated Gothic… being a conservative company dealing with conservative clientele, the line was crossed and she did not make it beyond a month.

Fair or not, the reality and consciousness of the company culture must be appreciated. Violating any of the above three bullets most likely will not work in your favor. No matter the position, try to place yourself in your employer’s shoes and then ask yourself: “would I want my new hire to…” Be honest with yourself as you evaluate actions, attitude, and appearance.

It’s easy to fool yourself into believing anything you want… it’s not so easy fooling your employer.

Seeking employment, promotion, or career transitioning support, self-help job development books and resources, including material designed for those transitioning out of prison, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Employer Interview Decision Time

Image by Chelsea Francis

Image by Chelsea Francis

Over the past week much has happened. Not only did I receive numerous emails asking which candidate was selected, I was asked how the decision was made.

Quick recap: Recently, Tropical Air of Central Florida, located in the Longwood area, searched for an administrative/office support staff. With the help of Goodwill Industries (Job Connection) and Christian HELP, applicants were interviewed, resulting in four final and well-qualified candidates.

Second interviews were held over a three-day period (last week):

  • All four applicants earned great marks for dress attire.
  • All four applicants arrived in a timely manner, approximately ten minutes early.
  • Nonverbal communication went well; eye contact, voice tone, attitude, and hand shake matched expectations.
  • Three of the four asked well-researched questions at the conclusion of the interview.
  • Two of the four sent follow-up notes within the appropriate time (two neglected the letter).
  • One of the four not only followed-up with a note, but also initiated a phone conversation, inquiring about the position while desensitizing latent employer concerns.
  • All four applicants felt comfortable with the environment and confident job functions would be handled with little hesitation.
  • Two of the four applicants offered beneficial unique contributions.

Decision time: Impressed by the four candidates, a choice had to be made

  • The decision was made based upon who we felt wanted the job more than the other candidates. For the two candidates not submitting a follow-up note or call, the impression was they were not as interested in the position as the other two.
  • The follow-up letters “showed” a desire to be part of our team. With this said, two candidates remained in a slot designed for one.
  • An additional phone call and strategy by one of the candidates in an effort to desensitize our concern leaned the decision her way.
  • Though education level was not officially considered, offering an advanced degree and unique value beyond the other three candidates helped sway the decision.

To summarize: There are many factors employers take into consideration during the interview and hiring process.

  • Appearance: Dress appropriately. Never wear sweats, jerseys, jeans, or fun casual.
  • Nonverbal: Show interest with good posture (no slumping in the chair), eye contact (do not stare as that can be creepy), firm hand shake, and always wear a smile.
  • Arrival: Ten minutes prior to scheduled time is considered proper. Do not arrive more than ten minutes early as this is disrespectful. If you are going to be late, call and explain (most employers know things happen and will understand).
  • KSA: Prove you possess the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities to get the job done.
  • Professionalism: Courtesy goes a long way.
  • Company research: Have several questions ready, proving homework and diligence is on your side.
  • Follow-up: This is often the tie-breaker. A simple hand written note and quick call often differentiates close calls.

If you are invited to interview but not offered the position, always follow-up with a thank you note. Truth is, not all initial hires are the right choice. Changes can (and do) happen, making the next in line the newest employee.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit http://www.edu-cs.com, http://www.CareerBreakOut.com, or http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

Interview Expectations: Following Up

Last time we reviewed interview expectations from the employer’s perspective. This time we are going to go one step further and (re)discover simple techniques you should (not can) use to gain the second interview.

Picture by Paula Borowska

Picture by Paula Borowska

As previously mentioned, I am in the market to secure an office administrator for Tropical Air of Central Florida. In this effort, I reached out to two local organizations, Goodwill Industries/Job Connection and Christian HELP. Both provided top-notched candidates.

A week has progressed and now it’s time to schedule interviews with those who may fit into the position and our culture well.

Deciding factors employers consider for second interviews:

  • Professionalism is ALWAYS number one. Don’t let others tell you otherwise. How professionalism is defined and weighed differs from organization to organization but there are commonalities. Fair or not, appearance is always a concern. To eliminate appearance concerns, dress professional business. This means no shorts, no jerseys, and no funky hats. Unfortunately, three candidates were not professional in their attire. These three could have done the job but have yet to be asked back simply because of their lack of professional attire.
  • On a similar professionalism note, a proper handshake, firm, not limp or sticky, begins and closes each interview. Believe it not, some jobs were lost due to a creepy handshake.
  • Professionalism equals research. ALWAYS know what the company and position is about. Two candidates were lost when asked about what our company does, neither earned a second interview.

Of the 20 resumes and applicants for this one position, the initial interview had the task of finding a manageable number for the second interview stage. With this in mind, the following also influenced the invitation to meet the boss:

  • Follow up note. Of all the candidates, two individuals went that extra step to follow up with a personalized/professional note. One of the individuals took advantage of snail-mail by sending a two sentence post card. The handwritten note was a nice touch, allowing me the opportunity to re-examine the original application. I also received an email follow up, though not my favorite means of messaging, I appreciated the effort. On this note, both of these individuals sending the follow up have been invited to meet the boss. Of the remaining candidates, only one has been invited back.
  • Follow up latent meaning. Ever wonder why follow up notes play a role in the hiring decision? After all, anyone can jot a couple sentences together after the initial interview. No doubt this is true, ANYONE can jot a couple sentences together… my question is, why don’t they? Often times, hiring managers look for those going that extra step and question why so many don’t take an effort to impress.
  • Personality. Hiring managers look for personality and how your personality will fit into the environment. Many factors are considered, such as tone of voice, attitude, sense of humor, will you get along with differing demographics within the area, and the belief you want to be part of the organization for longer than three months.
  • Gut feeling. At the point where push comes to shove, gut feeling will rule the decision. Problem is, of the 20 candidates, I remain confident well over half have the capacity to get the job done well. How does one filter the final ten into a top three? Though not measureable, it comes down to subjective impression… things that cannot be measured by conventional methods. Here’s where soft skills, nonverbal cues, research, follow up, and personality raises the top.
  • Final three. Knowing ten would be ideal candidates for the position, the final three were selected due to candidate persistence (follow up letters and phone inquiries). Their persistence led me to believe they conducted due diligence and WANT to work in our small office family atmosphere.

Over the next few days three individuals (who were ultimately selected over seven equally qualified candidates) will be meeting the boss. On paper, these three offer little more than the others, which makes me feel badly because the remaining seven would have been offered a second interview IF they had only followed up with a note.

Though many employers are not sticky when it comes to follow up letters, many are and will not consider qualified candidates unless initiative is shown. Truth is, it’s easy to say “I want that second interview and I’ll do whatever it takes…” while a postage stamp, quick note, and an envelope shows you really do want that second interview.

As for the remaining three in consideration, I’ll let you know what happens later in the week.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit www.edu-cs.com, www.CareerBreakOut.com, or www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com