Category Archives: Job Preparation

#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

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“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

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: What Hiring Managers Expect

Congratulations. After two months searching for an ideal career match, you receive a call and interview invitation… now what?

Blog Jan 2015 dont just stand thereLast week I had the pleasure to conduct interviews for an office administrator at Tropical Air of Central Florida. I reached out to Goodwill Industries and the Sanford Job Connection… a great move on my part. To be clear, the experience was fantastic as the group at Goodwill Industries were helpful, the offices excellent, and the candidates impressive.

After interviewing nine individuals, I recommended four to be extended a second interview. Calls will be going out later this week.

The following summarizes the experience (valuable information for anyone currently or planning on interviewing):

Gaining that second interview:

  • Looking the part: Though most were dressed appropriately, in a competitive market, what one wears does impact perception. The final four were dressed professionally, delivered well-written copies of their resumes, and presented themselves respectfully. Unfortunately, several candidates were not prepared with proper dress or resume.
  • Focus and matchmaking: The four finalists knew what the job entailed and delivered details as to how their experience and career goals met what I was seeking. Encouraged by researching our company and industry, most of the interviews were fluid and conversational. Unfortunately, several knew nothing of the company and little of the position. Though some most likely could perform the job well, limited focus and research rarely impresses any hiring manager and can lead to a disconnect.
  • Communication: The finalist spoke with confidence, aptitude, and honesty. To be clear, these are characteristics all companies seek in potential employees.
  • Non-verbal elements: Interviews begin with a smile, then a handshake. If either element misses, candidates find themselves behind the eight-ball. On the “not-so” impressive side, I did have two candidates interview while chewing gum. I am one who perceives gum chewing during interviews low on the respect totem pole.

Overall, I am impressed with Goodwill Industries and the Sanford Job Connection Center, recommending their services and candidates without hesitation. To be specific, Alba Vazquez offered a great deal of help and support by coordinating and aligning qualified candidates in a hurry.

  • Now what? I am confident the four finalists will be notified within the next two days regarding a second interview; problem is, not one (or any applicants) has taken the first interview to the next level… not one has sent a follow-up/thank you note. I find this disturbing and surprising. If one was keeping score, and I do, thank you notes have the potential to add points to any close decision and have meant the difference between a second invitation and no consideration.
  • Thank you letter: Without going the final step in the interview process, the tape is rarely crossed. What does a thank you letter mean? Interest in the position and with the company.

Regarding the final four interviewed last week (where all four were extremely close), who will take the lead by taking professional respect to the level it needs to be? Who will follow-up? Not to worry, I will clue you into what happens next.

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
Tropical Air of Central Florida, http://www.Tropical-Air.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: 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

Seasonal to Permanent Employ

Danny, Elaine, and Beverly at the Longwood Chili Cook Off
Danny, Elaine, and Beverly at the Longwood Chili Cook Off

Over the past few weeks I’ve received multiple follow-up inquiries about the best way(s) to gain permanent employment after accepting a seasonal position.

First of all, glad many are serious about their career progression and are working during the holiday season. Seasonal work offers a ton of opportunities besides earning a few extra bucks.

Second of all, seasonal employment does not always have to be temporary. For a moment, let’s wear a manager’s hat and consider two advantages of hiring and promoting within an existing seasonal pool:

  • Hands on employee evaluation. Think about it, during stressful holiday shopping, employee character and values are constantly tested. Pass this test during the holiday season and you can handle the world. With this said, do you think supervisors and owners do not recognize those employees who work well with customers, who remain calm, and who hold themselves to company standards and expectations, even under the most stressful circumstances? Let me make it clear, they do.
  • Precedence equates to prediction. No doubt you’ve heard this before, but nothing is more indicative of future performance than past performance. For those showing professionalism, a solid work ethic, and a winning attitude during seasonal employment, your actions make loud and clear indications as to what kind of permanent employee you will become.

How do the top two bullets help in your quest to gain permanent employ? Glad you asked…

  • From the first day of employ, believe From the first day of employ, in your mind (and actions) your current position IS a permanent position. In other words, visualize and actualize.
    Here’s a fact
    : The simple act of visualizing goals and performance enhances the probability the event/outcome will become a reality.
    Psychological studies confirm those who believe, achieve.
  • Referring to precedence equates to prediction, make sure each minute at your seasonal position is spent productively. In other words, unless on a scheduled break and out of customer site, do not become involved with Twitter, Facebook, or any other social/digital site. Customers will not take kindly to being ignored and seeing you hunched over your IPhone instead of taking care of their needs. Truth is, customers may not know you are on break and will express their displeasure with managers.
  • Professionalism ALWAYS: At the end of the season, managers/supervisors go behind closed doors to discuss long-term options current and potential employee options. For the record, those currently holding full time positions, nothing is written in stone so you too need to display professionalism at all times.
  • Not being watched and evaluated at all times, think again: Need I say more? Nothing says “I am right for the company” than action. Ultimately, what you do on (and to a degree, off) the clock will be used to support your supervisors’ decision to keep you on full time or let you wonder off like an over-licked candy cane.
  • Customer feedback: If you are in a retail or consumer-based environment, customer feedback can be the determining factor when it comes job security… just saying.

Transitioning from being a seasonal employee to a permanent one is doable and can be quite rewarding. How far and long you go with it depends (mostly) on you.

With this note and holiday music in the background (Loretta Lynn jamming “Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town”), time for me to sip on my second cup of hot chocolate.

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one, I am here to help in the process.

For those interested in developing proven career success techniques or securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com for a complete listing of available services and support or contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs