Tag Archives: career books

(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

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“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

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

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

Avoid Bad Goodbye’s

Thought this job would be different.”
What did I get myself into and how do I get out?”
The company culture’s not what I thought it would be.”

DSC_0143Truth is: Great career matches don’t always happen.

The interview went well. The company appeared to be consistent with career goals. The culture felt comfortable…

. and then the honeymoon stage suddenly crashes to a screeching end as testified by new tossing, turning, and teeth grinding that not-so subtly replaced peaceful slumber.

Maybe this job and company isn’t the match I thought it would be.”

Coming to the realization that your job is not what you thought it would be, there are options when it’s time to part ways. As a career coach, I’ve heard and seen them all (well, almost all).

Let’s examine a few farewell options and potential consequence(s):

  • Remain silent: Don’t bother showing up the next day; becoming invisible by hiding your phone and not responding to any form of communication. Simply stated, this is not a positive way to say (or not say) goodbye.

    I know it can appear to be the path of least resistance but there are potential consequences you should be aware of. For example, as you move from company to company, so do others and, as a result, paths may cross once again. Imagine going to a final interview and the decision-maker happens to be the same lady you walked out on. Need I say more?

  • Saunter the alleyway of dishonesty: Placing the burden of departure on a third party or out of control circumstance may seem appealing but can also be lined with rusty edges. With social networking and transparency, deceit has a way of catching up with the most noblest of causes. In many industries, clubs, associations, and networking events more often than not bring out the truth.

    Take for example what happened to me not too long ago… after two months of working remotely, one of my employees kept delaying projects, blaming a destroyed hard drive, a broken engagement, a medical condition, and Internet issues as the reason(s) for not delivering material. Needless to say, I later found out this employee accepted a job from another publishing company and has been on the clock for both companies during a four-month period. Knowing the manager at the other publishing company, we engaged in a chat… the young lady who had two jobs at once suddenly had no job at all.

  • Broken promises: Trying to mitigate the situation by promising to continue  on a project or return equipment without actually delivering is not in your best interest. Employers recognize matches don’t always happen and are well-prepared to such break ups. With this said, a deceitful separation can be the most damaging of all.

    Over the past few months I had to let go one of my employees. During the exit interview, he stated he would complete a committed project and would return borrowed equipment. Great, I thought, only the weeks passed and nothing thus far.

  • Honesty: The best policy is to respectfully discuss the parting; calmly and professionally explain to your immediate supervisor the cause(s) of dissatisfaction. For the vast majority this may be the most difficult as emotions have a tendency to get in the way of rational thought; after all, you just want to get out and never look back… right?

    Truth be told, employers admire employees expressing confidence and the guts to come forward. Though difficult for some, benefits far outweigh a few anxious moments leading up to the discussion. Even if you’ve been working for a short period, character and doing the right thing is a lifting trait. Over the past ten years I’ve had numerous employees (some under the probationary period while many with over five years of experience working for me) openly and respectfully discuss their parting intent and the reasons behind their desire.

    The benefit of up-front honesty allowed me the opportunity to fix the issue(s) and retain a possibly great employee… making it right for all. Another reason (and perhaps the most compelling for the departing employee) is the potential reference and networking opportunity. Within the past few years I’ve sent several past employees job leads and made numerous professional introductions…

    . when it comes to character, nothing could be more valuable for most positions.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with you, to learn more about your company, and gain valuable insight. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the challenges and opportunities are something I can take advantage of right now…”

Saying goodbye can be a tricky proposition, filled with emotion, stress, anxiety, fear, and ultimate relief. Recognizing you are not the only party in the relationship, being open, respectful, and honest may be the best career move of your life. Hard to believe… but it’s true.

Career tip: Don’t have a bad goodbye. Do the right thing for all by controlling fear before fear controls your career.

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? For those at a disadvantage, take control of your career 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. You may also contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how we can help you.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com