Career Breakout: Artist Agora

Throughout our Career Breakout series, career professionals from across the country offered to take the reins now and then, sharing their career expertise and diverse background for your benefit.

As today’s question comes from a fellow artist, I asked the founder and CEO of Artist’s Square (www.artists-square.com), Racquel Cruz, to frame a response onto this canvas for everyone’s benefit.

“Being an artist, I am finding it difficult to secure employment. Is there a virtual gathering site for artists to share and explore in the Greater Central Florida area?”

Yes, there is a virtual gathering site for artists to share and explore artwork in the Greater Central Florida area.  In fact, Central Florida is the native location of an online social networking site for artists, called Artist’s Square.

The site was based on the idea of online technology, mixed with the concept of creating an ancient Greek agora, known as a “meeting place” or “marketplace.” Just as the ancient Greek agora, it is a gathering place for artists and people who love art.

Not only does the site provide local tools and resources for artists, but, Like WONO, its heart and purpose is connection, affording artists career opportunities as well as career guidance designed specifically for this unique group. Thinking Artist’s Square is just for the locals? Think again. The site extends its services for artists and art lovers internationally and globally.

Career tip 1: Artists looking for opportunities can take advantage of a social/career network.

As an artist you will have the opportunity to create a free profile, submit ARTicles, add your own blog, and this is just the beginning. Even physical art galleries can add their locations (tied with Google maps) and update images for exposure.

The site certainly cannot make an individual dedicate themselves to their dreams, but with its available resources and technology, it can create better opportunity for an individual. It can also change negative statistics for employment, hobby, and artwork all around the world.

Take a look at the site and let us know your thoughts. I know how difficult and struggling finding work is, especially for an artist. Artist’s Square is dedicated to encouraging, assisting, and partnering with you as your journey blazes new trails. Together, with West Orlando News, we will give fellow artists the tools they need to succeed.

Career tip 2: Passion and dedication will take your dreams as far you want to go.

Thanks Racquel, the road to artistic freedom and expression is becoming more accessible. Being a fellow artist, I am also an artist’s square member.

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

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Interviewing: Time to SHINE

Finally… it took months to get one and nothing is going to stop me from making the right impression and landing a job offer (or at least making it to the next interview round). Securing an interview appointment is only half the battle – actually, getting the interview is only the beginning.

Over the past few days, I had the luxury of interviewing five candidates. The following summarizes the high points and a couple low points:

Thumbs Up:

  • All five entered the reception area in a timely and professional manner
  • All five dress professionally and fit the part, clothes tight and holding an eager and smiling face
  • All five engaged in a “conversational” style during the interview (as opposed to being stiff or rigid – for the record, I prefer a relaxed discussion – one not predetermined and overly practiced)
  • All five offered a firm hand shake upon initial greeting and departure
  • All five could do the job

 From the surface, it is a neck to neck rating.

Thumbs Shaking:

  • None of the five have sent a thank you follow up (I prefer snail mail [yet did not even receive an email or a phone call] showcasing a bit of personality, innovation, attention to our conversation, and sincere interest)
  • None of the five appeared to perform due diligence regarding pre-interview company research (I am only guessing here but as no one shared an in-depth knowledge of what we do and how we do it, I can only conclude based upon the premises provided)
  • With no clear-cut candidate advantage, what do you recommend I do? Having all return for a second interview would probably result in the same result. As a hiring agent, I want someone to step up to the plate and force me to recognize him/her as the one. Guess I will just keep interviewing, checking the mail, and hoping someone will rise above the complacency…

What does this mean for you? From the student to the entry-level first-time employee to the seasoned professional, interviews (if you are lucky enough to get one) are YOUR time to shine.

The concept is simple:

Interview Shining Requires:

  • Making sure you hit all points on the thumbs up category.
  • Perform due diligence prior to the interview; this means researching the company, what they do, how they do it, and what you bring which will add/contribute to the success of the company.
  • Send a thank you/follow up letter if you remain interested in the position immediately after the interview.

Take it from me, a typical employer, sometimes the little things can make a huge difference!

Getting that initial interview is only the beginning.

Prove your value AND reinforce your contributions and interest. I have five good candidates treading, all I want now is a reason to believe one of them wants the job as much as I want to hire him/her… what else can I do?

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or you can even check visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

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

How Do I Get Work Experience?

We recently received several questions, all focusing around one issue: gaining experience. Though we’ve detailed the concept of transferable skills, I thought it best to ask one of our writers, Brandon, handle this one directly. On this note, keep sending in your questions and we’ll keep forging new ground.

How do I get work experience?”

This often asked inquiry is usually penned by eager-eyed graduates throwing their brand new diplomas at places of employment, hoping it will stick. Generally, the question sounds something like this, “How can I ever get work experience if they won’t give me a chance to work?!”

This problem is almost always blown out of proportion due to a flawed belief that many hold, that one can only gain work experience from working a job. For those possessing such a negative attitude (and yes, attitude plays a huge role in gaining employment—at any level) think about this: we would never have an eligible President of the United States seeing that no candidates have any prior experience running a country.

The solution to not having any (or enough) experience is something we in the business call transferable value. You see, the skills that are required in the work place (let’s call them transferable skills) can be learned in a multitude of venues and locations. For instance, a recent graduate may cite his courses as experience, especially if they were hands-on courses requiring students to complete said task. Perhaps it’s been a while since you’ve graduated and are looking for a change in career; the same applies to you as well.

Career tip 1: Transferable skills are learned throughout your education and career that may count as relative work experience.

You’re now probably wondering, “How do I know what counts as experience and what doesn’t?” That’s up for you to decide. Only you can judge what is relevant and what isn’t. Just remember to think outside of the box when you start to get introspective. For example, a waitress at Denny’s has far more transferable value than one may think.

Any waitress or server will tell you in a heartbeat they have the ability to multi-task, are proficient in customer service, and have experience handling money. Do you see where this is going?

Career tip 2: While evaluating your transferable skills, don’t stop at the basic job posting requirements.

There’s a little thing called “added value” which plays directly into the above career tip. Added value is that something extra you bring that most other candidates do not. For instance, let’s say you are bilingual yet the job does not require you to be. The benefit of being bilingual could be to your advantage. Think about it, if the company wants to expand to a new audience, you may fit perfectly into their future plans. Another example of an added value may be a proficiency in software or hardware.

Still think you don’t have any experience? Think again!

Delve deeply into your creative side and begin considering the many transferable skills you offer. There are skills you’ve learned that count as work experience. There are also additional unique added-value skills you’ve learned that set you apart from the competition. Don’t overlook the significance of your past as you build your future.

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or you can even visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
www.educationcareerservices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Interview Preparation (Part Two of Two)

A few days ago we rested in the middle of number one. For a quick recap, here’s the list once more:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Know where you fit and why
  3. Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them

If you happened to miss our last discussion, refer back to the previous submission and get caught up in a hurry. As it is, let’s examine how company personality can be used for your advantage as you head into an interview.

We left off after highlighting company research resources available at your fingertips. Use these same resources to learn about key people in the organization, particularly the area you’re interviewing for. If you’ve been provided a contact in case you have questions, you might politely inquire as to the name or name(s) of the individuals you’ll be meeting in your interview and their titles within the firm.

Receptionists, administrative assistants, and HR personnel are very busy individuals often answering to and supporting a number of individuals in a company at once, so don’t make multiple calls to them or abuse the opportunity to communicate with them. Only call when you have gathered as much information as possible on your own. Make your inquiry short and polite, and thank them for their time and help, even if they can’t provide you the answers you’d hoped.

Career Tip #1: As a potential employee, learning as much as you can about the company is the only way you can successfully accomplish number two on our list.

Let’s take a look at number two on our list of how to prepare for an interview, “Know where you fit and why.”

Now that you’ve studied up on your future employer, have an idea how big the firm is (a team of five family members or an international conglomerate of 50,000), what’s important to them, and gained a sense of what they value and what kind of culture exists within the firm, you’ve got the information you need to figure out where you fit and why.

Career Tip #2: Being prepared shows confidence, initiative, and career readiness.

Know how to respond to expected questions such as “What led you to apply to this firm,” “What strengths do you bring to this position,” and even “Where do you see yourself in five year?”

While you can answer these questions without knowing anything about the company, consider how much better you’ll look as a knowledgeable and prepared candidate. Packed with information, imagine how much more clearly you can make your case for your being THE RIGHT INDIVIDUAL for the job if you can answer common (and no-so common) questions with specificity, using the information you gleaned in Step one!

You can probably see how Step one has also set you up to “Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them” (taking us to number three on the list).

Everyone arrives at an interview expecting to answer questions about themselves and their qualifications. And everyone interviewing for a specific position likely has very similar answers to one another (after all, you’re all up for the same job!). Visualize what that’s like for the interview, though. It’d be like watching the same scene from a movie over and over and over again.

How can you make the interview experience different for the interviewer? How can you stand out from the others interviewing with the same credentials, and same background as you have?

In addition to being able to give specific answers to your interviewer’s questions–answers that demonstrate you’ve done your homework, know about the company and know where you might fit in the company–you can also ask great questions when given the opportunity.

Very often, at the end of an interview, you’ll be asked “Are there any questions we can answer for you?” Be ready! Ask questions that help you learn even more about the company and about the position for which you’re applying. Working relationships go both ways so think of asking the right questions as an opportunity to interview the company. After all, you need to decide whether working for them is right for your future.

In effect, you’re both interviewing one another. So, when given the opportunity, have two or three great questions ready to ask that demonstrate that you’ve studied the company, care about the job, and are seriously interested in whether you’re the right fit for the position. These questions give you one last opportunity to SHOW your future employer who you are.

I know you can’t imagine NOT wanting a job! But sometimes it’s important to know that you can work for a firm and be happy.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful as you prepare for your interview!  Good luck!

Presented by Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D.,
Program Director of General Studies
American Public University/American Military University

Thank you once again Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

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

Career Breakout: Interview Preparation

Throughout our Career Breakout series, career professionals from across the country offered to take the reins now and then, sharing their career expertise and diverse background for your benefit.

In response to today’s question, Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, will be taking control.

“I’ll be graduating in May and looking for a job. I have an interview scheduled but have no ideas on what to do besides show up with resume in hand. What do you recommend I do to prepare for an interview?”

Interviews are crucial to snagging the job you want. If your professional documents have made it past the initial HR screening and on to the desk of a hiring manager, feel confident that you’re being seriously considered for the job. Congratulations on having an interview scheduled!

However, recognize that it’s rare for a company to interview only one person for a position. Therefore, it’s essential that you put your best foot forward and make a good impression on the interviewer as well as on anyone you come in contact with as you make your way to and from the interview. You never know who’s a friend of whom or what tactics an employer might be using to evaluate all aspects of a future employee’s “fit” in a new company.

Career Tip #1: The individual you think is “just the receptionist” in fact might be a very important voice in the office whose opinion is respected, so being rude or disrespectful, or underestimating the value of such individuals can mark you as unprofessional and can even lead to your eventually not getting the position.

A few companies actually resort to creative ways to evaluate the tendencies of future employees and whether or not they’re a good “fit” for the company. It’s been reported that some companies even monitor what magazines you pick up off a coffee table as you wait in the lobby for an interview. Do you go for light reading? Are you attracted to business journals or company brochures? Are you pleasant to those around you? Do you make eye contact and seem poised and confident?

In today’s job market there more qualified people for every position than ever before and competition is stiff, but at least you can be confident that you’ve put your best foot forward and done nothing to hamper your chances. You may even find that you end up in the future with an opportunity you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Career Tip #2: A great strategy is to see every moment you’re in the vicinity of a potential employer as an opportunity to learn, to make contacts, and to make a good impression. If you adopt this as you’re attitude, you can’t go wrong. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the position, of course.

Okay, we’ve ventured slightly off the path to disclose hints about “how to be” when you show up for the interview, yet you asked specifically about “how to prepare” for the interview and what to take with you. Time to get back on track…

First, here are several steps which, taken together, can help you prepare for the interview:

  1. Do your homework
  2. Know where you fit and why
  3. Be ready to ask questions as well as answer them

Let’s take a look at number one, “Do your homework.”

Given an interview has been scheduled, it is safe to claim that you know the name of the company you’re interviewing with and you may even know the specific position for which you’re interviewing. Now what you need to do is to learn as much as you can about the company itself as possible.

Companies, like people, have “values” and “culture.” If you’re a fan of Thirty Rock or The Office, you already know this. These shows, of course, are exaggerations of a kind of company culture taken to the extreme to get a laugh from the audience, but they still point to an important fact: companies and the people who work in them, together create a kind of culture shaped by what the company values and its work environment.

Career Tip #3: Companies have, in effect, “personalities.”

As you head into an interview, ask yourself:

  • What kind of company is this?
  • What sort of personality does this company have?
  • What does it make?
  • What does it value?
  • What kind of culture does it support and create for its employees?

Trying to find the answers to questions like these by researching the company website, studying any materials its published about itself in ads, in brochures, and on the web, as well as reading about the company at the Better Business Bureau, or if its big enough, in past articles (on the web or at your local library) of The Wall Street Journal, Business Weekly, or Fortune is an essential part of preparing for an interview.

This looks like the perfect lead for a break. Join me in a couple days as we complete number one and journey to numbers two and three.

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

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

Career Breakout: Performing Due Diligence

A few days ago I noticed a question on LinkedIn which I believe is a fairly common concern for most people seeking a job or those undergoing a career jump. Though the individual asking will be graduating soon, the issue is relatable for all levels. Here’s what Priya had on her mind:

Just graduated, what is the first step in finding a job?”

As a career textbook and publishing company, we hire a great many soon-to-be and fresh graduates. Nothing is more powerful for the candidate than displaying confidence and taking an initiative.

For the recent graduate, I suggest performing several weeks of due diligence in the form of researching companies of interest. After examining their blogs and website information, develop a single page introductory letter (filled with plenty of professional courtesy) and snail-mail prospective contacts within the selected organization.

Career Tip #1: Keep your letter to four paragraphs packed with personality and company benefit.

Your introductory letter is NOT a plea for a job, rather this letter briefly describes your education, knowledge, interests, and desire to learn more about your field of choice by eliciting a quick 15 minute (roughly) informational interview. Many graduates would be shocked to find out that the vast majority of executives and company personnel are willing (and desire) to share their experiences and methods to graduates beginning their journey(it’s kind of an ego thing too).

Remember that this is NOT a time to ask for a job. At the conclusion of your informational interview, ask if he or she has a few minutes for a face-to-face meeting where you can learn more about the hands-on environment within the company. Your goal is to develop a relationship and having the other person’s buy-in as this informational relationship bridges into a professional one.

Due diligence, research, and building a professional network conceived by an informational interview is one of the most effective techniques for career success, no matter your level of experience or education.

Career Tip #2
: Take advantage of your research by incorporating key concepts within your introductory letter.

Though the question was posed by a recent graduate, the benefits of performing due diligence by way of research and developing relationships can benefit everyone.

If you would like additional information about developing an introductory letter or assistance in any other career-related manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or you can even check visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.educationcareerservices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Ink or Excuse?

In response to our most recent article dealing with tattoos, Christopher responded in the following manner…

I also have tattoos that are mostly where no one can see them but the few on my wrist are obvious. What do you suggest I do? I am a hard worker getting ready to graduate college.”

First of all, being unemployed and owning tattoos are not exclusive to each other. In other words, career success and ink can cohabitate. Not knowing your exact situation or background, I offer these general guidelines and job hunting strategies to enhance your personal career success:

  • Prepare an effective resume AND cover letter highlighting your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Overall, companies look for candidates with a proven track record. The reasoning here being that if you improved operations or increased sales with another company, you will do it again for their company. As a result, time to brag about achievements is NOW (detail accomplishments and responsibilities with numbers when possible)… simply stating you managed a sales team is not enough. To place your resume on the right pile, state the number of people you supervised and the bottom-line result due to your hard work and superior team leading skills.
  • Once you gain an interview, dress the part. Males should wear a suit accompanied by a tie (get over the tears and just do it) while the ladies should dress      professionally in a business suit of their own. Remember first impressions can ruin an opportunity.
  • Speaking of first impressions, let’s focus on your tattoos. As you will be wearing a long sleeve shirt (to go with your suit), unless there are facial markings, our concern      resides on the wrists. Wearing a watch on your right hand may shield a sliver (or most for some) and should be considered. I suggest the right hand as that is typically used during the initial handshake. Regarding your left hand, do not keep it in your pocket as that will raise suspicion.
  • If your tattoo catches a concerning eye, facial twitch, or remark, be honest but do not state any prejudicial quips. For example, don’t make mention that during a college drinking binge in Las Vegas you woke up in a bathtub to notice a      permanent mark or during a three-year stint with the state it was part of a gang initiation. Not sure why but some companies don’t think kindly on such information. Being honest (but not prejudicial) may work in your advantage.
  • Be prepared to counter negative responses or smirks with a positive. After your reply transition and refocus the interview on the many advantages you bring to the company. You may be surprised at the positive responses received once the white elephant in the room is recognized. You may be even more surprised by knowing how many of those same hiring managers have tattoos.
  • To summarize, be confident and always brand yourself as a problem resolver, not a problem maker.

It is true that many “conservative” companies are not tattoo-sensitive and discriminate, but the number of those organizations is shrinking. No matter the situation, see through the eyes of the employer and respond to his or her concerns. To be blunt, hiring manager concerns boil down to two things:

1. Can you increase sales, bring in revenue, or expand the customer base
2. Can you decrease costs, develop new methods of production, or enhance team development

Quite simply, it’s all about the bottom line. Tattoo or no tattoo, you are the right candidate if you can satisfy one of the above conditions. Going into an interview passively or not confident due to a few ink spots is not conducive to your career. Quite honestly, in the midst of the total package, it’s all about the money so get over any excuses and get into your groove.

If you have any questions for our career professionals, we are ready.

Interested in learning more about Education Career Services library of career resources, books, and workbooks, visit our website or go to Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.educationcareerservices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Empowering, educating, and employing the justice-involved