Career Breakout: The Character Clause

Over the past few months many readers expressed concerns regarding initial interviews. From what I have been hearing, many get an initial interview but that’s as far as it goes. No second interview. No job offers. In effect: Nothing but darkness.

For the record: Becoming post-initial interview invisible may be a result of the character clause.

Based upon piles of research, interviews, and conference workshops, a key element to succeed during an interview comes down to one word: Character.

According to Merriam Webster, Character is defined as “attributes or features that make up and distinguish the individual,” and “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person.”

For the record: The intent of the initial interview is to determine company, cultural, and position fit.

Okay, so you’re asking, where does character come into play and isn’t it good enough that I can do the job? We’ll tackle the easy part of the question first: No, it’s not good enough that you can do the job. Doing the job is only one of many factors… so get over it.

Going directly to character, initial interviews evaluate your personality, thus the increase use of behavioral questions. Several topics beneath the character umbrella you should be aware of include:

* Trust: Can the company hold confidence in your ability to do the right thing?
* Dependability: Do you show up on time, everyday?
* Professionalism: How well will you represent the company, during and after hours?
* Courtesy: Are you friendly and respectful to all individuals you encounter, including the receptionist?
* Appearance: Hate to say it but the way you look affects outcomes. Do you look the part?

Violating the above, though often intangible, will cause harm to your initial interview. If you are being asked to come in for an initial interview but nothing more, the hurdle may be in the manner in which you represent character. With that in mind, let’s evaluate each of the above topics and resolve potential disconnections:

* Trust: The hiring agent wants you to detail a time where trust was tested. For example, did you ever work as a cashier? If so, how much money were you responsible for? If so, talk about that during the interview.
* Dependability: Do you have perfect attendance certificates or awards for being at work and on time? Employers want to know you will work every scheduled day. Perhaps a reference letter from a previous employer could address that issue… just saying.
* Professionalism: Work is no longer isolated to brick and mortar. With Facebook, Twitter, and a slew of other sites, companies don’t want insensitive or compromising images of their employees. While on this note, employers do filter social sites during the interview process. In other words, your Spring Break party photos may be damaging to your career.
* Courtesy: Nothing is more damaging than being rude to the receptionist or to a stranger in the elevator as you near the office. After all, the person riding the elevator with you just may be the owner. And yes, that does happen.
* Appearance: Most companies prefer the conservative look. If you have rings in the nose, mouth, tongue, or cheek, take them out immediately. The adage about how you are expressing individuality is so over-done, stop your whining and get over it.

There are many examples one can detail to showcase character. One of the most effective interview techniques is for you to develop short stories that highlight character. An easy way to arrange stories and prepare for the interview is to take advantage of the Performance, Action Result (PAR) method. The PAR method asks you to expand by following an easy format:

Problem (Briefly explain what was going on and how you were involved):

Action (Briefly explain what you did to resolve the problem):

Result (Briefly explain what happened and if possible use measurements):

For the record: Creating several PAR short stories will prove to be beneficial during interview sessions.

Hiring managers want you to be the right candidate. Giving them short stories, creating a discussion-like atmosphere, and believing in yourself may be the missing link between initial interview and the job offer.

If you would like additional information or insight about the interview and how to better prepare for your interview, send us your questions.

For those interested in obtaining cutting-edge career books and single topic guidebooks, visit our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS) and review our career resources library.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.educationcareerservices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

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Resume Format: Your FIRST Step

We received this question from Mary Brooks, who, like many others, don’t know where or how to begin the challenge of developing an effective resume. Here’s what concerns Mary (bet she’s not the only one):

“When I Google resume formats, I see thousands to choose from. Do I simply follow a template or should I make a resume from scratch? Where do I begin and what do I look for?”

Here’s what I envision happened to Mary and thousands out there: You open Microsoft Word and stare blankly at the screen trying to figure out how to start. You start to type a few words and realize you have no idea what you’re doing. In a panic, you open your Internet browser and make the same mistake Mary and others make: you look at a template.

Think you should know: To professional resume writers, the term “template” is as obscene as any four-letter word!

We’ll begin tackling this question by getting to the root of the problem. Resume templates are bad because they tell you what a resume should look like, not how to make an eye-opening, attention-getting resume that will encourage the reader to want to learn more about the author.

Cold hard fact: Hiring manager and employers often have to sift through hundreds of resumes in a single day. What makes you think they’ll notice your resume if it looks like everybody else’s… unless, of course, you are just like everyone else and you do not offer anything unique that a company would find beneficial.

Many people justify lazy behavior by stating they only use templates as a guideline, and that they don’t intend to copy it word-for-word. Unfortunately for most, reality kicks in and we both know it’s much easier to keep the template and pretend to tweak a few lines… this approach is NOT effective and NOT in your best interest.

Take note, even if your intentions are good, following a template (or copying it) will get your resume ignored. In fact, hiring managers have seen all the popular templates out there. Yours simply may be ignored for that reason alone as it shows you don’t really care enough about the job to make it your own.

Throw in the fact: In less than 15 seconds, hiring managers review cover letters and resumes and determine if there is a fit… mostly based upon how quickly you present value.

What should people in Mary’s situation do? Here’s more than a clue: Create a resume from scratch.

The advantages of a hand-crafted resume far outweigh the amount of time it takes to make one. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a few reasons why creating your resume from scratch will give you an advantage over the vast majority of job seekers:

  • Hand-crafted resumes are  one-of-a-kind.  If you take the time to make your own resume, the chances your document will look like anyone else’s is slim-to-none. This helps it stand out in a large stack of papers. In fact, it may even make a hiring manager read it longer than they usually do.
  • Hand-crafted resumes show creativity. Instead of staring blankly at the computer screen, you took initiative and figured out how make one on your own. Employers love to see this in any potential candidate because it shows that person has a drive to succeed and can think on their own without the need of a dot-by-dot map.
  • Hand-crafted resumes show effort. Even for the most seasoned career document writers, a unique, eye-catching resume takes a lot of time and effort. From the employer’s perspective, this shows a candidate is really interested in the job and not just applying to anything that sounds good.

There are, of course, more advantages than this, but it’s time to answer the other part of Mary’s question… where should you start? What should you look for?

There are many places to start, but keep in mind this is a learning process. You won’t pick up this skill in just one afternoon. Don’t get discouraged or consider giving up the fight as many of our professional writers take up to six months before they are allowed to tackle complicated clients. Additionally, for those with specific questions, you have a tool at your disposal… our partnership.

Warning: There’s a great deal of misguided information out there. As a result, I suggest consulting with a certified professional writer. Two career management associations sponsoring able writers are the Professional Resume Writers Association (PRWA) and the National Resume Writers Association (NRWA). Both associations have a listing of certified writers willing to help.

I also recommend researching and reading quality material which may guide you along the career success path. Again, be cautious at what and who you work with and make sure they are a recognized professional in the field.

If neither are an option, you can always order a professional career management book or focused career guide. Education Career Services does offer several resume and cover letter guide books as well as material covering varying aspects of career management. You can find them at http://www.edu-cs.com or at Google (search Danny at ECS).

For more career management tips and articles such as these, visit Education Career Services at http://www.edu-cs.com or follow us on twitter @Dannyatecs.

Written by Brandon Hayhurst, professional career management writer/editor

Digital Painting: Career or Play?

Artist’s Square member Candy Buckley, “Saja” recently responded to one our reader’s inquiry dealing with graphic design. Her insight is not only informative, it is inspiring. For those interested in viewing more of Saja’s work, visit http://artists-square.com/m/photos/browse/album/Photography/owner/Saja.

What is digital painting?

Saja: Digital painting is an emerging art form and is becoming more and more popular among new and seasoned artists alike. The paintings are created through a computer using tools such as a digitizing tablet, mouse or stylus, and software.

Like traditional painting, there are various painting tools: canvases, paint type options, textures, mixing palettes, a very large variety of color options, along with different types of brushes, knives and other frequently used painting instruments. Most programs also have a feature which allows the artist to create their own brush style, which is accomplished by using a combination of textures and brush shapes. This enables you to add a personal touch and flare that is found in real life painting.

To me, one of the most appealing things about digital painting programs/software is the way that it mimics a real life painting environment while allowing the artist to create in a mess-free and more cost efficient setting.

Do you consider this true art? If so, why?

Saja: I consider digital painting a “true” art form, and I personally use this medium quite often and with very good results, they are also quite fun to work with. The reason that I do consider this true art is because, in my opinion, anything that one creates with the intension of self-expression can be considered art.

Digital painting programs are simply another “tool.” Not only are these programs being used by individual artists who work and sell their art independently, but this medium thrives in production art, and is widely used in conceptual design for films, television, and in video game production.

Thanks Saja for defining this new form of art expression. From all accounts, digital painting is an up and coming career move that allows for an eclectic creative license.

Thank you Racquel for providing one of the most organic and passionate forums for creative minds to meet: Artists-Square.com; for those interested in learning more or would like to submit questions for one of our expert panels to respond to, we are ready. For those not part of Artist’s Square, join and share your thoughts on a global stage.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS