Category Archives: Education Career Services

Career Progression: Attitude and Character

During speaking engagements across the country, I’m often asked about tactics to secure career progression. Though responses differ from audience to audience, there remains a shared set to follow.

FAQ #1: Just began an entry-level position, how can I keep the job and let my employer know she made the right choice?

Answer #1: If you were hired, chances are good your employer believes you have the skills to complete the job and WANTS you to succeed. Unfortunately, being able to get the job done doesn’t mean career progression or job security.

  • The most qualifying quality new hires can possess is attitude. For those faking attitude, don’t fool yourself, employers are smarter than a first grader. Look at it this way, if you were an employer, would you keep (and promote) employees with a positive attitude, a willingness to follow your guidelines without whining, and an eagerness to learn or would you keep employee who go against the grain and your proven processes?

FAQ #2: I was released from county jail last year and can’t get a job.

Answer #2: There is an indirect relationship between recidivism and employment: higher the employment rate, the lower the recidivism rate. This common reality is often ignored by politicians and businesses (we can get into that issue in upcoming sessions).

Though each justice-involved individual, circumstances, and consequences vary, there remain issues demanding immediate attention:

  • Keep it real. You are re-entering an un-friendly environment so best hold dreams on the ground level for now.
  • One way to get that job is to increase employer incentives by way of federal government programs and offering your services below cost. Yes, you heard it, consider working at a decreased wage (or even at no wage) for a designated time; getting in the door is more important than watching Jerry Springer!
  • Character is key… employers willing to give you an opportunity believe you will do the right thing. Now is the time to represent in a professional, courteous, and respectful manner.

In future articles, we will detail FAQs with real-life examples and open the floor for conversation. For now, we’ll rely on character and attitude to keep us on the right path.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for those who have stumbled within our justice system as they regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman
321-972-8919

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#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

“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

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

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

Job Expectations: What Employers Expect

Once a job offer has been accepted, you agree to the terms, conditions, salary, and expectations placed upon you.

woman and fire blog Jan 2015With acceptance comes expectations… over the next few weeks, we will be clarifying what exactly is expected from you. For today, the employer’s point of view will be simplified; truth is, you were hired not just to do the job, but to champion the company while being professional on and off site.

Doing the job: You were hired to get the job done. You may be the greatest chap in the world and perhaps even smooth-talked your way through the front door, but if you cannot deliver, the back door will soon feel your shadow. Take notes during training, stay late (on your time), research, do, whatever it takes to prove your employer made the right choice.

Scheduled hours: For many (if not most), being at your desk and ready to perform five minutes BEFORE your scheduled time is considered a sin. Latest scoop, employers expect you to be producing from jump. Producing does not mean making or waiting for coffee, running to the bathroom, gossiping, sitting in the parking lot, Facebooking, or any other non-work related function.

Last year I had to council an employee who constantly walked in the front door eight minutes after her scheduled time. In an attempt to justify daily tardiness, she explained how each morning she was in the parking lot, listening to a radio host while thinking about her work day. Unfortunately, until our chat, she felt the parking lot was an extension of the office.

Employers expect you to be functioning on the dot, this includes prior to departure. In other words, do not stretch down the final 15 minutes of your shift. If you must clean up, prep for the night out, look for recipes, or re-discover Facebook’s irrelevance, do it on your time… after your shift concludes.

Champion the company: Employers expect each employee to represent on and off the clock. Given the digital world, instant electronic gossiping, and social networking, what you do, what you say, and what you write will be reviewed not just by friends (and perfect strangers). Fair or not, it’s just the way it is.

We’ve just begun to examine job expectations from the employer’s perspective… oh, there’s so much more to consider. Not too worry, this month is dedicated to getting you in the know while making sure you do not make simple mistakes leading to confusion or termination. In case you’re wondering, the parking lot lady was terminated the following week; for some reason, she just couldn’t grasp this employer’s expectation.

If you have any questions or situations you would like to share, please send it in to me directly or go through the comment box.

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

New Year, New You: Nothing New

Next year I’m going to…”

Kyle Richner
Kyle Richner

In predictable fashion, the end of the year means promises will be made. For most, promises are made with the intent to come true until reality shows us otherwise.

Don’t have to be Nostradamus for this: By February, previous month promises and the intent behind them will fade into a distant memory. By March, justification and amnesia will kick in full throttle, until “Nothing New” rules the remainder of the year.

A bit gloomy prediction on my part, suggesting you will be failing on the self-imposed challenges being made over the next week. Here’s the problem many simply don’t understand or refuse to believe: in order for promises to come true, change MUST become part of the equation.

If nothing changes, nothing changes.”

Good news, defeat does not always happen; maybe there is a chance this year will be YOUR year of change, progress, and happiness.

Though no guarantee, there are specific guidelines to follow in your journey to the new you:

  • Active: Rarely does change become a reality for those sitting on the sidelines. For those wishing for better health, your dust-layered treadmill can no longer be used as a cup holder.
  • Attitude: Without believing change can come about, it will never happen. Psychologists have proven time and time that the power of a positive attitude can (and will) ignite change.
  • Visualize: In order for you to secure a destination, you have to know where you are going. Visualization is one of the most influential elements defining success. After all, without picturing the result, the path will never be defined or ventured.
  • Valley: Before beginning, recognize there will be obstacles (many call these temptations) causing hesitation. Preparing for a stumble allows you to develop preconceived options to overcome.
  • Career: Reflect on 2014 and perform a private inventory how the year went for you. Did you accomplish anything at work? Did you take any professional development courses or attend seminars? Did you cross-train or make yourself more valuable to an employer? If the answer is no, don’t blame others for career complacency (no raise or promotion).
  • Journal: During the first week of January (or final week of December), write three areas you would like to change. The key is to be specific. Don’t write: get a job (or promotion) without a plan on HOW you plan on achieving the goal.

What are YOU going to do this year? Are you going to play the armchair role, waiting around for something great to happen and then blaming others or circumstance once again 12 months from now?

New Year, New You? It’s not going to happen unless YOU make it happen. I’m not a betting man, but if I were, I would place my pot of silver that NOTHING NEW will define 2015 for you… as for me, I’ve got a plan and know 2015 is going to be one of the most progressive and successful years of my life.

Double Dare: Prove to me (mostly to yourself) 2015 is going to be YOUR YEAR.

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
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com