Category Archives: Employment

1 + 1 equals… well, that depends

Statistics and numbers have their uses, mostly depending upon the agenda spinners manipulating them. While numbers reveal much about a particular situation, the fact remains, they can also obscure things, creating more of a head-scratching event than a cerebral epitome.

Question, if numbers are black and white, how can they also turn into grey on a subjective whim? To illustrate, let’s concentrate on what we know best… the criminal element, namely recidivism.

It’s easy to get caught up in discussing recidivism rates, budget allotments, and what really works as the amount of money involved is racking up beyond infinity. Given the nature of subjective realism, debating crime stats, studying methodologies, and examining sample sizes is akin to trying to close a cracked Pandora Box.

Unfortunately, without context and content, numbers on a spreadsheet are simply just that: numbers on a spreadsheet.

To be real, numbers mean nothing, what matters is living a good life, where fear no longer exists and where dreams can (and do) become reality through hard work, commitment, hope, and empowerment.

Truth is, 2CU is not here to crunch numbers (though we have a few to crunch), we’re here to change lives and bring light to an otherwise darkened world. Offering hope, especially for the justice-involved, and raising the torch for all to follow.

For a moment, let’s look beyond retention rates and placement numbers and uncover the human element so many simply don’t understand or chose not to see. Let’s look through the eyes of Steven, a graduate of our program and one who happens to wear a number on his back.

Steven was reared to see the world where struggle was a way of life and giving up on the system (and self) was just the way it was. He saw a dark, dangerous place with no security, no safety net, no support, and definitely no future. Lacking a father figure at home, he sought acceptance and guidance in the street.

Didn’t take long for a gang to offer Steven what he felt was lacking. A series of arrests would give him a record and a narrower path to follow for the remainder of his years.

After release, Steven resisted change, claiming there was no way anyone would give him a chance. His stint in prison left a heavy mark on him. Holding a CHE Quotient of less than 1.5, his main obstacle was himself and the barriers HE created for himself.

Two months after release and slipping back into his old routine, he came to realize (due another near-by) destiny would be behind bars. He got picked up but was gifted a second chance.

Avoiding a return to prison depended upon his finding himself and gainful employment, but the difficulty he faced in finding work with his past was daunting. Steven was despondent, feeling that the stigma of his past would never go away.

Looking at the numbers, he had no chance… but you can’t always bet on the numbers

(Going to slow this down for now, will conclude tomorrow when we will uncover Steven’s CHE Quotient after the program and what path he is venturing)

Richard Milaschewski,
2ndChanceUniversity.org

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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

(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

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

www.CareerBreakout.com
http://www.CareerBreakout.com

“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