Category Archives: Job Preparation

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

Cross Country Career: Cover Letter Construction

Image by Matthew Wiebe
Image by
Matthew Wiebe

Our last discussion concluded with: “The cover letter hooks the reader by giving him/her a reason to continue and consider you as a potential candidate;” now it’s time to delve into cover letter construction and considerations for those interested in treading external grounds.

Hiring Manager Hesitation: I need help immediately, not four weeks from now.

How does one counter hiring manager hesitation?

  • Recognize companies typically need help now, not next month is the first step. Your job in the cover letter (and subsequent interviews), reinforce why you are worth the added few weeks.
    • What makes you worth the wait and temporary inconvenience? If your cover letter does not address the concern, you will (most likely) not earn an interview. Perhaps you are exceptionally adept or offer unique knowledge, skills, and/or abilities. If you do, your cover letter is the place to impress.
  • Recognize there is risk involved, for both parties.
    • Hiring and training new employees is an expensive endeavor. Though there always will be risk with any new hire, out of town applicants are at an added disadvantage. What makes you a solid hire not only resides in what you offer, but for how long. For out of town folks with limited work experience or a weak track record, supporting an ability to stay in place (and with one company) is paramount.
    • Hiring managers intuitively question motives. If you are seeking to relocate, motives will be questioned… if there’s a problem, get over it.
    • For the recent graduate, the potential disadvantage can be reversed to become your advantage by highlighting how the new city fits perfectly for your new career and life-long journey. Now would be an ideal time to reflect on what it is about the region that makes the area so attractive… perhaps the mountains, culture, way of life, family, etc.

Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, the accepted average length is 3/4ths of a page. Consider taking a four paragraph approach:

  • First paragraph: Introduce yourself on a professional level. Briefly highlight the purpose of the letter (refer to job posting) and a primary reason why you are the right candidate. It is fine to mention a solid reason why the new city is of vast interest. Do not exceed four sentences for this or any other paragraphs.
  • Second paragraph: Make a direct connection between your background (experience and/or education) to the position. This is the perfect time for you to introduce your brand or unique value (something most other applicants are unable to offer).
  • Third paragraph: Highlight the company and city, drawing on how the combination is what interests your LONG-TERM goals. This part is critical as the purpose is to get the hiring manager to think: “hey, this applicant is not just looking for a job or a way out of a bad situation, he/she is sincere for the long haul—I gotta give him/her a call.”
  • Final paragraph: Don’t waste your final opportunity to hook the reader. Remind the hiring manager of a primary reason why consideration should be given. Warning: don’t repeat what was written previously. At the conclusion, establish a call to action and ALWAYS thank the individual when applicable.

Relocating is more common than in any other time in our history. By taking the necessary steps to recognize a few hesitations (and desensitizing them), you will increase the chances for a call back.

Even for those not considering relocation, the above bullet points and insight should be incorporated in your cover letter (and resume).

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one, I am always 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? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com

Cross Country Career: To go or stay?

DSC_0341Continuing from our previous cross country top three considerations, it’s time to evaluate emotional specifics and locate/resolve potential psychological/financial dissonance. I know you were expecting cover letter and resume tips this time but going there may be a bit premature.

Truth is: Before investing a great deal of energy in your career relocation decision, establish the groundwork.

We best begin with a balanced mindset by answering the following two questions:

  1. What are the top three reasons you do NOT want to remain in your current area? (Recognizing driving forces pushing you away must be dealt with… you know you want to leave, but why?)
  2. What are the top three elements you will miss after relocating and how will you resolve the emotional / psychological dilemmas? Though you may not want to accept it, there are fragments of your current condition you will miss. This could be anywhere from environmental to family to a favorite place to hang out… and throw in a friend or two. Purpose of this step is to ensure the right decision is made by recognizing and acknowledging what is really going on.

Once the above questions and answers are reflected upon honestly, decision time has come. If you have family or an attached one, I suggest discussing with those in your circle your determination to relocate. Being prepared by acknowledging both sides of the fence and discussing with a loved one or peer helps place considerations into perspective.

Truth is: Packing and rushing out the door rarely ends with success.

Once a final decision has been made and you are determined to pack your bags, take stock at the inventory of assets at hand and projected expenses. In other words, with an unclouded head, take a realistic look at:

  • Budget:
    • Are you financially prepared to live without steady income for several months?
    • Do you have a savings account or money in reserves?
    • How much money will it take to live to your satisfaction on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
    • Are you emotionally prepared to sacrifice leisure items until your feet (and employment) are securely on the ground?
  • Housing:
    • Where will you be staying?
    • Where will your clothing be stored?
    • Have you priced apartments as well as cost of living?
  • Transportation:
    • Do you have a reliable vehicle?
    • What will you need to alter your driver’s license to fit the new state?

The top three considerations cannot go ignored (as they often are); to better prepare in the review/evaluation stage, perform due diligence by taking advantage of Internet research. A great beginning can be found at ONETOnline.org. At this free Internet source, information regarding job duties, responsibilities, and expectations are a click away. Additionally, on this site job postings and salary averages can be detailed.

If you know the city/state of particular interest, check out their city websites and get the “feel” of where you will be living. One area many of my clients neglect to consider is the weather. For example, several unhappy clients from Florida decided to relocate to Minnesota. They moved during the summer months, happy as a lark. Then winter arrived… suddenly the lark decided snow, wind, and plowing white stuff was never consideration. Three weeks into the season, they returned to a snow-less sunny state. For many, Chicago (or Minnesota) could be a deal breaker simply due to the weather.

Okay, you’ve spoken to several peers, family members, and/or friends about the move. You’ve also performed diligence and fully understand the basics of the relocation. Now what?

Remaining patient but progressive is the key to career (and professional) success. Next time we’ll look at one of the most important vehicles available at your fingertips, the cover letter.

The cover letter hooks the reader by giving him/her a reason to continue and consider you as a potential candidate. Even for those not considering a move, you will find value in what’s coming up in our next episode. In other words, don’t miss out.

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? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com

Don’t be afraid to change your career

DSC_0003Satisfied with your career?  Do you find it hard to get up in the morning with a positive attitude?  Are you considering a career change?  You’ve spent half your life, countless hours and tons of money mastering skills to further enhance the career you always wanted, but are you happy?

CC Connection Knowledge Bite:  According to Gallup’s 2013 ongoing study of the American workplace, out of approximately 100 million people in America who hold full time jobs, 50% of workers are NOT content.  (www.gallup.com)  Are you one of the lucky few?

If you are not one of the happy ones, do you start all over?  Beginning anew may require a lot more time, money, and energy.  Who’s to say you will even be successful at what you attempt to do or satisfied with the new career?  Perhaps you are thinking twice as you have an established job where you are prosperous.  If this is the case, what do you do?  If you re-boot, no doubt some will feel you lost your mind while others may commend you for your valiant endeavor.

If something is getting in the way to your career satisfaction, recognize there are many opportunities in today’s society to make just about anything possible. Why not go for it?  Truth is the main reason we don’t initiate change is fear.

Fear can be defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.

As the survey clearly infers, many individuals go through life repeating the same task day in and day out wishing they had the opportunity to do something else.  Whether the reason is because of debt, children, health, failure, vanity, etc., they find an excuse instead.  People are afraid to make sacrifices and break out of their comfort zones.  Several people I know sit around discussing what they would enjoy doing while making more money, but never act on it.

Good news: There are ways you can control your fears when it comes to drastic changes.

  • One way is to change your daily routine in small increments. For instance, try waking up thirty-minutes earlier than you normally would.
  • Influence your mind by reading an inspirational quote or listening to a motivational speaker, enhancing relaxion.
  • Venture to new places alone each week; go to a movie, have a meal, or take a brisk walk in a park.

These three simple ways can help you resolve fears by building self-esteem while keeping a positive attitude to whatever may come.

If you are truly unhappy with what you are doing in your career and want a change, don’t let fear stop you.  The only one you really hurt is yourself.  If you continue to procrastinate because you are fearful, it will take you that much longer to achieve what you really want.  Don’t go through life regretting what may have been because it will pass by a lot faster than you can imagine.

Penned by
Caroline Kika-Smithwich
Your CC Connection

Body Language: Why what you’re NOT saying may cost or land you that job

Did you know that 55% of communication is nonverbal?  That means that without saying a word we are having conversations that we may not even be aware of.  Statistically the moment we see someone we decide if we like that person or if we want to do business with them.

Body language and first impressions go hand in hand… which might be to your advantage.

You may have said when you met someone you really liked or really didn’t like, that it was just something about them.  Maybe that “vibe” you were sensing was just the non-verbal conversation you were not aware that you were having.

Harris pieBased on the enclosed pie chart, only 7% of what you say is actually communicated.  This brings me to another old saying: “Actions speak louder then words?”  In other words: your body language is speaking for you all of the time, whether you know it or not.

Body language expert Janine Driver claims that body communication is different for everyone, but there are similarities when it comes to perception.  When it comes to communication, consider the following three steps:

  • You feel it,
  • you show it (body language),
  • and then you say it.

CC Tip of the Day: How you sit, dress, and walk tells more about who you are than you know.

With your career success in mind, consider the following helpful hints to help you say “HIRE ME!”

First of all, be well groomed and prepared.  Choice of clothing color, style of dress and hairstyle is the very first form of communication.  You must communicate a professional and competent appearance.

Secondly, your body has to speak the language that interviewer wants to see and this begins with, you guessed it, your Smile.  Something as simple as a universal, honest-to-goodness friendly smile can break the ice and generate feelings of wellbeing and confidence.  Make sure that your smile is genuine.

Next is the hand-shake.  The technical term is called Haptic or communicating by touch.  The hand-shake can make or break you.  This form of communication must also be a form of emulation or imitating what the interviewer is doing.  Hold your palm straight and use the same hand pressure and firmness. Let the interviewer decide when it should end.

The eyes have it: How do you feel when someone avoids looking directly at you or doesn’t look you in the eye?  One message may be one of mistrust.  We wonder what is it that they don’t want us to see.  Look your interviewer squarely and calmly in the eye, but not with a stalker or psychotic manner.  The look in your eyes should not show panic or worry, but rather interest and curiosity.

harrisFinally, be aware of your body posture.  Your mother and Grandmother may have told you to sit up straight for many years and maybe you thought they were trying to prevent you from getting scoliosis or having a hunched back.  I’m persuaded that they were preparing you for the moment you go to sit among the great ones.  The ones whose seat YOU may sit in one day. Sitting or standing with your face, head, and shoulders aligned display integrity.  Having your back straight with a slight lean forward denotes interest and that you are listening.

Your paralinguistics or verbal communication is also critical.  Modulate your tone with a steady cadence and a pleasant voice.  Speak clearly and intelligently.  Don’t talk too fast or too loudly, here again you want to match the interviewers pace.

Can you say “semantics?”  Remember: What you say and how you say it definitely matters so use your voice to your advantage.  Is your voice high and squeaky or does it infer confidence?  This is the time to talk about what you can bring to this company and why you are the BEST candidate.

How will I remember to do all of this?  This may seem like a lot to be aware of but trust me, a lot of these actions come naturally, just convey the right message at all times. Remember, more than half of what we communicate is the look on our face and the gestures we make.

So are you still wondering how this can help you get that job? Picture this:

You wake up early and jump out of the bed, today is the day you think. You eat a good breakfast, and take care with your hygiene. You smile at yourself in the mirror. All of your hard work is finally going to pay off!

You’ve got your shoes shined and your favorite shirt and tie. Your suit is fresh from the drycleaners. Today is the day of the interview for your dream job.  Keys?  Check. Wallet?  Check. Briefcase?  Checkmate!  You make sure to leave home an hour and a half early so that you can give yourself time to get a cup of coffee and breathe mints.  You went to school so that you could ride the golden ticket of your degree to the chocolate factory of employment success.

Feeling empowered and excited, you get to the interview early and give your name to the receptionist.  She directs you to the seating area to wait for the interviewer.  You stand so that you can meet the interviewer from a power position.  The interviewer sees you and says your name, you smile and walk forward confidently.

She extends her hand toward you and you grasp her hand in a warm, firm shake.  “Follow me” she says.  You get to her office and there are two chairs in front of her desk she directs you to take one, you move your chair directly in front of her so that she knows she has your full attention.  What you don’t know is your interviewer is impressed because she has to study body-language and psychology in order to hire the best candidate.  The interview goes smoothly.

All of your preparation and hard work is going to pay off. As you prepare to leave you stand to your feet calmly and thank her for the interview.  You shake her hand and reposition your chair back where you found it.  You reach the door you turn the knob and pull the door open.  As you go out the door your turn and look her in the eyes and you smile again and close the door behind you. Why wouldn’t you get the Job? You have practiced and worked hard.

Everything about you has communicated verbally confidence, skill and integrity and non-verbally your actions have backed it up. So go home and get that thank you note sent, then envision yourself doing what you were born to do….YOUR JOB!

Written and shared by:
Salima Harris
Your CC Connection

Semantics: What you say and how you say it matters

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m sure you’re wondering why you need to know anything about semantics and how this can help you get the job you want. Semantics is the study of the meaning of language. It also deals with varieties and changes in the meaning of words, phrases, sentences, and text. Just in case you’re still not sure what it means, semantics is what you say and how you say it.

Let’s look at an example of how meaning can change by reviewing the word “create.” Create can mean build, make, construct, erect, compose, or imagine. Another example is how the simple word “on” can have many meanings: on call, on the roof, on cloud nine, on edge, on fire, on purpose, on demand, on top, or on the phone. Semantics helps you choose the most effective words for your cover letter and your resume. You can choose from a list of words to communicate how you are the most qualified candidate for the job. This is why it is imperative that we learn to communicate effectively with those we want to do business with and those who may want to do business with us.

Semantics is communication. It uses different words to imply a desired meaning. Business semantics are what you use to answer the question “What is your greatest weakness?” We wonder why they are asking us this. Did I say something wrong? How do I respond? Your use of semantics can make you seem even more polished and professional when you are able to answer the tough questions that everyone dreads.

Here are some potential responses you might give “My greatest weakness is completing tasks in a timely matter because I’m a perfectionist.” Or you can say “I’m just not that good at finishing stuff.” Dear future employee, please choose door number one! You may also say “I have had issues with project completion.” Do you say that to an interviewer? No! You just may be able to get away with saying “I’ve had some pretty close calls with project completion quite some time ago. Since then I have designed a flow chart that had a timeline for my project completions, and I am able to finish my projects with time to spare.” To add support to your claim, give an example of said project or show them the flow chart.

How can I use semantics to my advantage and why do semantics work? Semantics is the combination of verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and self-confidence. Let’s say you don’t have enough experience for the job you want but are confident that with your previous job history, you can do the job. The verbiage on your resume should highlight your strengths that apply to the position you are applying for.

Let’s take the word “strength” as an example. Instead you can use fortitude, tenacity, stableness, energy, steadiness, or courage. A thesaurus is an excellent resource to help you find other words to add you your vocabulary. In the book Semantics in Business Systems, David McComb states “New words aren’t usually invented; rather new meanings are imposed on the words and phrases already being used.Your use of Semantics is your power and how well you wield it can change that interview into your dream career.

Semantics is always in action, even if you don’t realize it. You may use semantics as a play on words or as an intentional pun. Puns use multiple meanings of words and homophones (where the pronunciation is the same but the spelling and meaning are different). You can say almost anything you want!  If you want to go far in business or anywhere in your life, you must be able to communicate effectively. Semantics is an important portion of the communication process. With your expert use of it you will be a dream to any interviewer and practically any job you apply for will be at your fingertips.

Stay focused, take your time and choose your words carefully. Your future is in your hands.

Hello??? That was semantics!

Penned by Salima Harris
Your CC Connection

Hiring Seasoned Veteran’s: An Employers Advantage

 

Navy Marine Corps FA-18
Navy Marine Corps FA-18

When it comes to seeking employment, those above the age of 50 bring far more than just experience, especially if they are Veterans. They bring traits such as leadership, problem solving skills, and a determination to get the job done right, the first time.

Seasoned Veterans understand the value of things that are vital to any unit, military or civilian, such as dependability, honesty, and integrity. Additionally, being seasoned gives them the added benefit of having the outlook and wisdom that only time and experience can give.

Leadership

On two separate occasions, while serving in the United States Air Force, I was promoted, as a Staff Sergeant, to the position of Non Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Mid Shift Avionics Shop for the F-111 aircraft; once at Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, New Mexico, and the other at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England. In this position, I oversaw the entire shop and all of its functions.

Lifetime civilian and military benefit: I encountered many types of situations requiring me to make major decisions, set schedules, assign duties, and coordinate with other shops in order to accomplish the mission.

During my tour at RAF Lakenheath, I coordinated remote support for our Deployed Avionics Shop at Tiaf, Saudi Arabia, during Operation Desert Storm. Here too, many challenges were faced and met during an actual war-time situation.

Problem Solving Skills

At RAF Lakenheath, our shop was located in an underground facility, with very limited floor space. During Operation Desert Storm, I developed, implemented, and supervised a suitable floor plan and change-over for the new incoming F-15 test equipment and crew while simultaneously removing the F-111 test equipment and crew; no small task, especially during an ongoing war.

Normal daily routines are one thing, but being in the military during war is something else again. Many times I saw the effects of the strain of the enormous pressures that the Airmen were under to fulfill the mission requirements, and how each reacted to it. Sometimes a quick response was required, sometimes filling in for them while they got a much-needed break. Being able to tell when discipline was needed and when it was not, solved many problems and eased the fears of getting into trouble for some minor thing.

Being seasoned presented than a “father figure” many of these young Airmen needed to feel. Resolving mental fatigue, through psychological empowerment, we increased morale. Taking advantage of direct and indirect influence, seasoned veterans helped our unit to achieve and maintain a Fully Mission Capable status and ultimately helped our military win the war.

Commitment 

As a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO), one is not only a Supervisor, but a trainer, manager, scheduler, and counselor. In the Air Force, the normal duty day is 8 hours, but during an exercise, or even in wartime, you train like you fight: whatever it takes. The shifts could be from 8, 16, 24, or even 36 hours, whatever was required to accomplish the mission. Being seasoned, one understands commitment to goal attainment, this is our way.

Many times I slept at the shop because the job required that I be there around the clock. And many times I worked triple shifts so that some of the younger, less experienced troops could get food, catch a quick nap, or write a letter home; all things that greatly contributed to the overall success of the mission. Also, times like these presented the perfect opportunity to give additional training under circumstances and conditions that would otherwise be extremely difficult to reproduce, so the training was doubly valuable.

Employer’s Value

For the seasoned Veterans 50 and above, everything begins with attitude.

Being a Veteran means that a person has been both military and civilian. As such, the Vet has seen and experienced things most other people will never experience. There are however, some things that are just common to life, either military or civilian.

Stress is a big factor in both kinds of life, and the Veteran has seen his or her share and knows first-hand how to handle it. By rule of thumb, first, take a deep breath, analyze the situation, choose the best course of action, and go for it! There is no “I” in the word “TEAM”, and more often than not, it is a team effort that makes the difference.

Another factor is recognition. The Vet knows the importance of recognizing when a job is well done, and just how good it makes the junior person feel to be recognized for their performance. And lastly, morale. This is one factor that can make or break any team or civilian organization, and the Vet is all too aware of this.

Morale is the glue that holds a unit together, and the unit is only as strong as its morale. Find a unit with good morale, and you will find a good leader there as well. Veterans are not better than anyone else, but they do have more experience in more areas than most others, and they have also been tested under fire, so, hire a Vet!

Penned and contributed by:
Robin Cline
Your CC Connection