Tag Archives: Career Development

Career Progression: Attitude and Character

During speaking engagements across the country, I’m often asked about tactics to secure career progression. Though responses differ from audience to audience, there remains a shared set to follow.

FAQ #1: Just began an entry-level position, how can I keep the job and let my employer know she made the right choice?

Answer #1: If you were hired, chances are good your employer believes you have the skills to complete the job and WANTS you to succeed. Unfortunately, being able to get the job done doesn’t mean career progression or job security.

  • The most qualifying quality new hires can possess is attitude. For those faking attitude, don’t fool yourself, employers are smarter than a first grader. Look at it this way, if you were an employer, would you keep (and promote) employees with a positive attitude, a willingness to follow your guidelines without whining, and an eagerness to learn or would you keep employee who go against the grain and your proven processes?

FAQ #2: I was released from county jail last year and can’t get a job.

Answer #2: There is an indirect relationship between recidivism and employment: higher the employment rate, the lower the recidivism rate. This common reality is often ignored by politicians and businesses (we can get into that issue in upcoming sessions).

Though each justice-involved individual, circumstances, and consequences vary, there remain issues demanding immediate attention:

  • Keep it real. You are re-entering an un-friendly environment so best hold dreams on the ground level for now.
  • One way to get that job is to increase employer incentives by way of federal government programs and offering your services below cost. Yes, you heard it, consider working at a decreased wage (or even at no wage) for a designated time; getting in the door is more important than watching Jerry Springer!
  • Character is key… employers willing to give you an opportunity believe you will do the right thing. Now is the time to represent in a professional, courteous, and respectful manner.

In future articles, we will detail FAQs with real-life examples and open the floor for conversation. For now, we’ll rely on character and attitude to keep us on the right path.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for those who have stumbled within our justice system as they regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman
321-972-8919

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#1 Interview Ooop

Picture by Yu-Chuan Hsu
Picture by Yu-Chuan Hsu

You’ve sent a tailored cover letter and resume to a job posting you’ve been hoping to find over the past six months. To your good fortune, you receive a call to schedule an initial interview for two days from now. Excited and eager, you plan the next 40 hours in preparation for a potentially life-changing event.

Here’s what you’ve done to prepare for the interview:

  • Gathered additional company research, examining their website, mission statement, and products (research should be on your “must do” list as questions about the company will come us. For example, the interview may ask: “What do you like about our company,” if you don’t have the mission statement down, when asked, you will stumble (no ooops allowed when it comes to company knowledge).
  • Revisit your references. Make sure references are aware of possible contact, what position and company you are applying for, and ALWAYS offer a thank you for their help. For those not reaching out to references, a huge ooops may answer the phone.
  • Know where you are going. Immediately Map Quest the route, estimate the driving time and always add 20 minutes to the route (just in case). If time allows, take a practice drive to the location and spot the building and/or office you will be expected to be at. Nothing like being late or having a panic attack because of traffic delays.
  • Appropriate attire needs to be rehearsed the day/night before. Make sure your clothes and shoes are clean, sharp, AND appropriate.

Though the above is not a complete list, it’s a good start. Going back to the scheduled interview mentioned in the beginning, you’ve made all the necessary steps and feel confident tomorrow is not going to be just another day.

As the night before the interview nears an end, you barely sleep. The anticipation and self-talk about possible questions and possible answers swirl like a tail-free tornado. Finally, at midnight the sound of sleep departs your lips…

Morning comes without a hitch or interruption. Immediately you look at your watch and notice the 8:00 am interview appointment time and the numbers on your watch don’t make sense. How could your watch display 8:45 am?

#1 Interview Ooop: Not setting the alarm the night before your early morning interview.

After all the preparation, you oversleep… in a single snore, you lose.

As an employer, with great confidence I claim that climbing out of the “no-show” ooop is rarely accomplished.

Seeking employment insight and career collateral, visit www.edu-cs.com or if you are seeking material designed for those transitioning out of prison, check out www.CareerBreakOut.com and consider the most powerful book that will change your life: Walls, Bars, and Razor Wire… You Choose.”

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
dhuffman@edu-cs.com
321-972-8919
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: http://www.CareerBreakOut.com

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

Cross Country Career

DSC_0135In a world where career opportunities are no longer limited to a tight neighborhood stretch, we are, by definition, without boundary.

Good news: The Internet allows job candidates to search and consider regions never before imagined.
Bad news: The Internet has taken your job search from a few competitors to literally thousands of candidates who are also claiming they are the right match.

Job Posting Insight: It is not uncommon for one job opening to receive over 500 responses from candidates far and near.

Recognizing all coins have two sides, how does one take advantage of a global market while, at the same time, not get lost in the crowd? Truth be known, there are no one-way or sure-fire ways to take complete advantage of worldwide opportunities, meaning each individual is left to create his or her unique advantage. Actually, this could be your gain… we’ll get to that later.

When considering a career-search, determining the geographic area must be top on the priority list. In other words, don’t take a gunshot tactic and send applications without regard to location; not only is this a waste of your time, it is a waste of time for the hiring manager. Thus, keep professional courtesy high on your list.

First step: When determining country or county, top three things influencing your decision to consider are:

    • Professional background and educational experience:
      • If you have minimal professional experience and education, hiring managers typically will not consider an out of state candidate. Here’s why: there may be plenty of healthy candidates in the area to choose from and with a large pool, hiring managers often select an applicant with the least amount of risk. For entry level or low-level managers, it is more common (though a few out of town folks can prove me wrong) to select from a nearby pool of applicants.
      • If you have a significant amount of experience or education, your value increases instantly and so does your reach. Additionally, the risk factor decreases, meaning the chances of you working out begin to sway in your favor. To the high-skilled advantage, the pool of applicants shrinks as fewer are able to support the many contributions offered, effectually magnifying a second look from the hiring manager.
    • Family: For the individual with a spouse and two kids (just an average family size), moving across the state or country is not only physically demanding, it can also be costly, financially and psychologically (imagine the nagging spouse and kids yelling “are we there yet” every two miles).
      • Advantage: If you are lugging a family around, chances are you are more committed to succeed in the new position (inherently more at risk to lose—who wants to hear the nagging spouse and kids on the rebound? Not me) than others in the area. Bringing this point up during a phone interview could give you an advantage, no, not the stuff about the nagging. Hiring managers recognize applicants willing to sacrifice and relocate for a position are serious about their intentions and more likely to stick around through choppy times.
      • Disadvantage: For the young stand-alone candidate, it is not uncommon for the hiring manager to discount applicant seriousness as the current open position may simply be a medium to relocate and, once in the new city, will look for a more interesting job. To mitigate this perception, if the applicant is able to show a proven job history, kudos to you. If you are a recent college graduate, you can use that for your advantage by creating a sincere interest to take your talents to conquer novel challenges. In many ways, it is easier to support cross-country traveling as a recent graduate than any other candidate.
    • Career interest: Follow your dream… period. If your dream career hot-spot is concentrated in a specific region, go for it… no matter what.
      • Advantage: Contrary to what many people think, phone interviews say much more than words. Hiring managers pick up on tone, pace, context, and patterns, giving clues about the person on the other end of the line. For the person truly interested in the job (and worth further consideration even if miles away), passion can be your trump card. When asked about a responsibility, if the voice speeds up, increases in depth, and “feels,” hiring managers take notice.

    • Disadvantage: If passion for the job is not displayed over the phone, no hiring manager would ever give second consideration to bringing in an applicant from afar. Here’s a few clues indicating noninterest:
      • Long pauses between sentences
      • Lack of questions from the interviewee
      • Monotone responses backed by “yes” or “no” answers
      • Lack of research and knowledge about the company and area

        Career tip
        : Confidence is contagious!

For those considering a move across the country (not the county), these three topics need time for conversation and reflection. But this is just the beginning of the career adventure.

First: the decision
Second: the design

In our next submission, we will take a few minutes to examine effective design methods one can use in cover letters and beyond.

Are your bags packed? If so, hold’em up as we need to chart out a map. Thing is, how can you hit the road without knowing the destination.

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

Promise Without Practice

Over the past month we’ve been accompanying David and his journey after being terminated from Chity College. Today, we are taking a turn onto a subject itching to get the rub.

DSC_0004Throughout my years as a career coach, college instructor, business owner, and employee, I’ve had the pleasure to hear excuses justifying poor behavior. Truth is, when it comes to one’s personal and professional life, promises are meaningless unless partnered by practice.

Before scratching your head, let me share what most have heard and many have used: “I get paid XX amount of money per hour and that is all I will give them, no more.”

If you’ve stated the above, reflect to your initial interview when you accepted “XX amount of money” to perform a job. Is your acceptance of a job at a specific rate of pay a promise with or without compromise?

To say it is with compromise is to say I will work at a pace “I believe” is equal to the amount of pay being returned for my labor. In other words, I will work half-ass because I am getting paid half-ass.

To say it is without compromise is to say “I agree” with my promise and will work 100% at all times. After all, I agreed to the rate and the employer agreed to my labor.

Focusing on your career, what are the consequences of promising without practice and what (if any) the advantages of practicing what you promise?

If You Promise But Do NOT Practice: Don’t second guess yourself, your supervisor knows…

  • Job dissatisfaction increases (latest statistics suggest over 70% of employees are not satisfied with their work—are you?)
  • First out the door (not talking about end of shift out the door, I’m talking about the first to fall prey to downsizing… if you wonder why, you need two doses of reality)
  • Limited promotions and positive recognitions (wonder why the other guy (or gal) is getting the promotion and increased compensation. Really?)

If You Practice What You Promise:

  • Recognition and rewards finding their way to you are enhanced
  • Job satisfaction increases as the constant inner complaining voice no longer haunts or drags the day
  • Your value as an employee magnifies through cross-training, team building, and attitude

When I moved to Orlando, many years ago, I responded to a job posting with a starting hourly rate of $8.65. Given my education and professional background, I was surprised to earn an interview. During the interview I was once again informed of the entry-level pay. I accepted the position, promising to practice without compromise or complaint.

Six months after hire, I was managing the department, two years later I earned the title “Vice President of Operations.” Not bragging, just supporting the concept that those who do not compromise their work ethics or performance are subject to positive reinforcements.

When it comes to character, what defines you personally and professionally? For a few moments, jot three promises you make consistently but fail to fulfill. Once completed, take a look at the proverbial mirror and scribe the many ways you justify not practicing what you promise. Don’t fool yourself, we all fail fulfillment, that’s being human.

If you are entering the employment scene for the first time or are a seasoned professional and desire promotional considerations, I suggest practicing what you promise. If you are not committing yourself completely even though you agreed upon the rate of pay, rethink that strategy.

Next time you find yourself making excuses to milk the clock, do a half-ass job, or pretend to perform, recognize the mirror reflects two ways.

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
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com

Terminated Illegally (3)? Once a loser…

An individual’s character is not determined by the stumble.
An individual’s character is determined by the ability to stand back up.

We often accept self-characterizations bestowed by others without even realizing it, allowing negatives a room of their own within our very psyche, allowing the shove to prevent the stand.

During times of struggle, conflict, and termination, the tendency to grasp at old habits fuel an immediate journey to attain emotional safety… where comfort is found below the line of social visibility. Think about the time(s) you’ve been emotionally dismantled… how did you cope? Did you hide? Did you run? Did you stay down? Being fired from your job affects layers upon layers of that which defines us. I’m not saying terminations are not a necessary evil; I’m saying the process can lead to abuse.

Employee empowerment is not part of the equation during a termination. Strategic nonverbal communication, subjective semantics, and blatant crushing are an often used tactic patterned by management. As David shared more morning events, time for you to take a step back and remember the last time you were fired (or had done the firing).

David: “Bertha closed the door immediately after I entered. She followed me a few steps, marching all the way like a stiff combatant readying the ambush. A chair was leaned my direction; choices were stolen instantaneously while Mr. Farris sat in a predatory power pose two feet away.”

Danny: “Once the process began, were you given the opportunity to defend yourself or was fate tied by the two in control?”

David: “Like soul-malnourished sharks, the two attacked, suffocating any breath of resolve. I was a loser, they made sure I knew it, they made sure I believed it, they made sure I lived it.”

Danny: “The strategies of showcasing total control are common when it comes to employee terminations. Too often those taking charge push the intimidation role too far. Can you share the types of nonverbal messages being sent?”

David: “Bertha said little, she mostly stared blankly at the attorney. Her ability to look at me was limited either by of her lack of belief in the process or lack of belief in the cause, or so is my opinion. When she did speak, her tone was uncomfortable, matching eyes void of compassion or commitment. She sat without curve, simply robotic. Mr. Farris, on the other hand, performed as if he strived on the scent of blood, eager to seize. With a leaning forebode, he overshadowed any counter resolve. His mind, body, and soul strived on the powerless… the losers of the world. His tone, aggressive and cocky, drove one way, his way… resistance was futile.”

Danny: “Sounds like you being invited was meant to break your will, nothing more. I’m trying to understand, as you mentioned last time and the inviting email from Bertha where you being referred to as ‘silly’ comes into play. Perhaps it was the element of surprise on their part so you would be ill-prepared to counter any form of defense? Another typical offense by the home team. Anyway, what was going through your mind?”

David: “Oddly enough, being terminated was not what was going through my mind. What was going through my mind was the process. Why the drama? Why the rooster-stance? Why the complete destruction of another person’s character? My mind, without intent, ventured back to childhood and how my grandfather told me how I was a loser. My grandfather hounded that once a loser, always a loser. That’s what I thought about… his words ‘once a loser, always a loser’ elevated into the morning’s memory.”

Danny: “How could something like a simple termination loosen those memories?”

David: “Not sure why, they just did. Seems like my life details the life of a loser… when a good thing came my way, those in power always found a way to snub out hope. I’ve lost a great deal in my life, much more than most. For years our apathetic society defined me as a loser, of an individual not worthy of success or belief. Times like this morning confirm what my grandfather believed many years ago: ‘once a loser, always a loser.’”

Danny: “I’m sorry you had to endure this, no doubt the intent was not to terminate, but to intimidate you into total submission. My advice to you is that your willingness to stand up, open yourself to vulnerabilities, and not accept what your grandfather claimed, is what defines you… not the other way around. How did the discussion conclude?”

David: “I was given a direct command that if I ever stepped foot on this campus, the police would be notified and I would be arrested. I was told never to make contact with any staff (was told this several times) or students. Bertha then stated that my final compensation was enclosed in an envelope (she then handed me the envelope). I asked if this included compensation from month’s prior that was never paid out. She said no but would get with Jay.”

Danny: “They gave you a final check missing compensation? And you left simply hoping the money they owed would be paid at a later date? After the termination?”

David: “Yes. Then I was told an escort would show me the way out and to my vehicle. Nice, not only dehumanized within the office, I was showcased as a trophy, pumping the shark’s ego even more. I left, never looking back, was disallowed too.”

David’s grandfather may have believed “once a loser, always a loser,” but I do not subscribe to the motto.

If you are ever terminated, recognize it is NOT what defines who you are. You are the master of your universe, no one else. We’ll travel more with David next time when we ask the question “Should one beg or go (during a termination process)?”

If you have any questions or would like to add to the journey, contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you. Be sure and have your peers join in on the conversation and adventure… they may thank you one very difficult day.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: http://www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com