Tag Archives: Career Development

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

Terminated Illegally? The Process Begins

Over the weekend, I received a call from David who informed me of his termination after working with an academic institution for over 1-1/2 years. Needless to say, we chatted the afternoon. Feeling lost and abused, his story reflects a growing trend and is worth repeating to a mounting base of individuals who have been terminated without due process.

The methodology or our epic story will be presented in a question/answer series (as well as taking advantage of proven techniques) while promising to take the reader beyond the superficial. A piece of non-fiction, names of individuals and educational institutions involved in this “incident” have been changed to protect their identity.

Reader value: If you’ve ever been terminated unjustly or know of someone who has, this step-by-step publication will Educate, Empower, and Encourage you to stand up, proudly. On this note, I strongly recommend you invite others to take part by following this adventure as it unfolds.

Key Players:

* Chity College (CC): Academic institution
* David: Victim of the illegal termination
* Bertha: Leader, voice of Chity College
* Jay: Recent arrival, second in command
* Dr. Road: Original player not to be confused with the Beatles” album, Abbey Road

Initial Conversation:

David: “I was told a few days ago that I was fired and now want to know what options are available? I remember your presentation at a national conference, which is why I am reaching out to you. What are my options?”

Danny: ”

David: “I want the world to know and that is why I am asking for your assistance. Can you help me understand how a huge corporation can do anything they want without recourse?”

Danny: “First of all, I am not an attorney (though worked with attorneys as a legal clerk) and the suggestions made are backed by many years in the career management field. I have worked with thousands of individuals, many disenfranchised, with their career strategies. As a certified career coach, certified professional resume writer, and certified professional interview professional, I am confident you and our viewership will learn a great deal, not only about the process, but also about our key players.”

David: “I know you’ve spoken nationally and regionally multiple times, mostly about protecting the rights of those with a challenged past, but I am hoping your guidance and advice will prove advantageous to my specific situation. By the way, within this termination I will be uncovering a number of issues I believe to be sensitive. I’ll talk about racism at the top level, manipulation of grades and attendance in the name of profit, and even a few sexual favors along the way, just to mention a few less appealing topics.”

Danny: “Wow, sounds like a twisted novel plot. Maybe we can work together on a major project?”

David: “I’ve kept tedious notes and plenty hard copies to back it up. And yes, a tell-all novel will be forthcoming.”

Looks like there’s more to the termination and CC than at first glance. Follow the complete story and let others know to follow as the adventure countdowns launch.

Our next session reviews the day of David’s termination… don’t miss it.

David mentioned my national presentations covering employee rights, specifically those with a blemished background. For those interested in getting a head start, you can purchase “Overcoming Employment Barriers: A Career Guide to Assisting Challenged Job Seekers (Former Felons, Substance Abusers, and Others) at our website mentioned below.

Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact me directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how I can help you.

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

Name Discrimination… Really?

DSC_0104Good resume but no interview? Could it be your name?

Name discrimination is a discouraging fact, but hardly a surprise.  It’s just one of the many biases that can affect the hiring process.  If you were a job seeker facing possible name discrimination, would you switch to a more commonly known middle name or a nickname that sounds mainstream Anglo?  Maybe use only your initials, or otherwise change the name on your resume?  Or, would you stick with your real name, regardless?

Like it or not, your name can impact your career.  Your name can make a difference in how seriously you are taken at work and whether you even get your foot in the door for the interview.  Indeed, it’s what people don’t know or understand that is sometimes at the heart of prejudice; catering to such ignorance is no excuse for work place discrimination.

Like it or not: Hiring managers sometimes read a name that is obviously ethnic and perceive that person as unable to get the job done, as having low education, or as coming from a lower socioeconomic class.

Bruce Lansky, author of “100,000 Plus Baby Names” is convinced a name could potentially make or break a child’s future career.  One study conducted by researchers at MIT and the University of Chicago found job applicants with names inferring an African-American heritage received limited positive feedback when it came to the hiring process.

Here’s how far the name-game has come: Larry Whitten, owner of the Whitten Hotel in Taos, N.M., ordered a group of Hispanic employees to change their names to sound more Anglo Saxon.  For example, a name like Marco was to be changed to Mark.

Studies surmised managers tended to seek out applicants they felt perceived as “familiar” or “mainstream.”

Going back to the original title and name discrimination, how does one mitigate?  No doubt tolerance begins by teaching people in charge of hiring about the subconscious biases they may have. Until acceptance, there will be no way to change these patterns.

CC Connection: Sometimes name discrimination isn’t about race or ethnicity or xenophobia at all.  It’s just laziness or fear of embarrassment.  If the name on your resume looks hard to pronounce and/or isn’t gender-specific, it’s quite plausible that a hiring manager might (consciously or not) reject it for that reason alone.

If you want to mitigate potential name discrimination, try the strategies that follow to get your resume noticed:

  • If you feel comfortable going by a western nickname on your resume, make the switch. The idea isn’t to permanently change it but to increase the chances that a prospective employer will read your resume.
  • Consider using your first and middle initial in place of your first name.
  • Conduct an experiment of sorts. Send two resumes out to the same companies, one with your name as is and the other with your name westernized.

If an employer intentionally discriminates, you’ll be rejected during the interview.  On the other hand, some employer’s only subconsciously eliminate an applicant based on an “ethnic” name.  Once you appear in person, the employer might be more moved by your knowledge, skills, and abilities than by ethnicity.

Presented by:
Elsa De Jesus
Your CC Connection

What is your greatest weakness?

DSC_0143Whether you are new to the job seeking field or are a seasoned professional, one interview question will always throw you a curve ball.  The dreaded “what is your greatest weakness?”  This sounds like an easy question, yet most interviewees freeze up as soon as it is asked.  As a general rule, the question is typically asked toward the end of an interview, after you think you’ve nailed it.  Employers do this to see how quick you think on your feet when posed with a question you do not have a ready answer for.

When asked, what is the most effective response?  Below are helpful tips to help you prepare before the interview.

First, research at the company and evaluate their needs.  Using websites such as ONET.Org or TagCrowd.com to gather and prioritize information places you above the competition.  Another great spot to research is the company.  Check the BBB website as well, detailing any complaints.  If there are a few, take a look at the outcomes and how you could cut back on complaints or eliminate them completely.

Additionally, go to your favorite search engine, such as Google, and enter the company name. No doubt you will discover a trove of information about the company.  You can even call the company itself and do an employee survey.  Be careful what you ask, you want facts, not gossip.

Equipped with company research, compile a list of company issues and how you can resolve them.  IF possible, incorporate an issue or two into the greatest weakness question.  True enough, the questions you have may not help you answer the question: “What is your greatest weakness?” but it will give you an advantage when the interviewer asks you if you have any questions.

Then sit and write down what you consider a weakness in the workplace.  Do not look at weakness in your personal life.  Future employers do not want to hear about personal weaknesses.  Keep your personal life separate as much as possible from you professional life.  This will show the employer that you are focused on work, not problems at home.

Think about jobs you have had in the past, what you struggled with and how you coped.  Once you’ve done this, pick the one you think would most benefit the employer (this is where previous company research comes in handy).  Then state it in such a way that your weakness is seen as strength for the company.

For example, one of my biggest weaknesses is that I get too involved in the companies I work for.  I get caught up in the day to day activities and find myself putting in more hours than intended and skipping lunch to keep working.  I take it personal if the company takes a hit for whatever reason, and I look back through my work and those around me and blame myself for missing something.  I have no problem being accountable for work that I’ve done incorrectly, or someone else who may have done something incorrectly as I feel I should have caught any errors before they turned into problems.

Notice in the above example how what I considered a weakness can be turned around to become an employer’s benefit.  The interviewer will be thinking that I am very involved with work, care about the company, and be willing to do what needs to be done, even making sacrifices in my personal life to be there for the team.  This would not be an erroneous assumption, it would be true and that is the key to comfortably answering the question.

CC Connection Tip of the Day: Stick to the truth, you won’t trip yourself up trying to lie; lying is not the way to get yourself employed.

Once you have determined how best to answer this question, you need to practice.  Practice with a friend, relative, or in front of a mirror and edit to best reflect the value you offer.  Watch facial expressions while practicing in the mirror; do you look scared or confident?  Do you have no expression at all?  How is your posture; slumped or straight and tall?  It is not just the words that have an impact on your answers; your body language speaks much louder than words.

Reword the answer so that if you do have a sudden attack of the “uuummms,” you can fall back on an abbreviated answer.  Ask for honest feedback if you practice with someone, and record yourself while practicing.  Play back the first recording to yourself and do an objective self-evaluation by asking yourself three questions:

  • Did your voice shake or vibrate when answering?
  • Did you have good tone and inflection?
  • Does it sound as if you’ve been rehearsing?

If you answer yes or no as appropriate to these questions, keep practicing.  Also have someone else listen to your response.  Be sure it is someone who is going to be honest and not afraid to hurt your feelings.  Have them evaluate you based on the same three questions.  It is best to have a second opinion, one that won’t be biased.  Truth is, we are always more critical of ourselves then others.  “Practice makes perfect,” as the expression goes. In this case, it is all too true.

Here’s a warning: You do not want your answer to sound practiced, so practice until you are comfortable with the answer, confident and contemplative.

When asked, don’t panic. Instead, take 2-3 seconds before answering. A slight pause gives the employer the impression you are seriously thinking about how to answer.

The best advice is to do your research.  I sound repetitive but I cannot stress enough how proper research helps you prepare for an interview even if questions are asked that you didn’t prepare for.

When it comes to the interview process, knowledge is everything. The more you know about the company, the better armed you are for the interview.

If you have any questions or comments, let us know.

Sharon Parker
Your CC Connection

Career Advantage Spotlight: LinkedIn

DSC_0010There are many ways to display your life to the world. You can showcase your talents on YouTube, every random thoughts on Twitter, and those entertaining social engagements and life progressions on Facebook. But there is one digital space where you can make professional connections that can positively impact your career, and that’s LinkedIn.

A few things make LinkedIn different than the others. The most obvious is, of course, the professional platform it offers. While on Facebook you can put people into categories and say that you know them from school or church or that park up the street, LinkedIn’s main priority is your professional relationship with your contacts.

Not interested in what you ate for dinner or who you partied with over the weekend, LinkedIn concentrates attention to your professional side by incorporating interactive tools which can be used for your advantage. Through the use of recommendations, your electronic tattoo is bolstered by those who have worked with you. Along those lines, you are able to endorse each other in professional accomplishments and skills.

This revolutionary site has been around for a while, and if you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, you are missing out. Current hiring trends are clear: most potential employers research your digital presence before scheduling interviews. For those with a strong electronic presence, this is a perfect way to back up your resume and get ahead of the competition.

Don’t lose your edge – use it. Update your profile often, and build your network wisely. Make sure to endorse other people for their skills; they’ll be more likely to endorse you for yours. If you think you don’t know where to start, think again.

Here’s an easy tip to get started: Pick any job you’ve ever had. Think of someone you worked with that you respected, and search for them. Once found, send a formal request to connect. When selecting digital professional networks, don’t sell yourself short.

As for your online profile, broadcast anything that would be valuable for an employer. You never know what can happen. Remember to keep it professional… always. While on this note, never get involved with controversial topics, including religion, politics, etc.

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? Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: dhuffman@edu-cs.com to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services, www.edu-cs.com
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs Blog: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com

What’s Your Brand?

DSC_0015Over the past three years the Career Thought Leaders Consortium gathered to discuss employment trends for the now, the new, and the next. For those seeking professional guidance, visiting www.careerthoughleaders.com may be your smartest move as the contributors are recognized leaders within career management.

For now, let’s do a quick review, followed by a worthy analysis and recommendation.

When it comes to branding, here’s the latest scoop according to findings published March 1, 2014, by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium:

The NOW:

     * Branding is a particular problem for those just entering the workforce. Because they have little experience, they don’t know how to assess their value. Even if they have a sense of their value, they don’t know how to translate it well.

The NEW:

     * Branding and social media searches are having an increased impact on the job search. Job seekers should use video and evolving social media tools to create on-brand online images.

The NEXT:

     * Branding will continue to grow in importance as contract and portfolio careers increase. In a rapidly shifting job market, applicants without a clear and compelling brand will be at a serious disadvantage. Whether you are a seasoned executive or a newbie in the job market, developing a strong professional brand is not an option… it is a requirement. Stop the squirming as we delve into the basic “how to create an effective professional brand” session.

By way of priority, professional brands should be that: professional.

  • Leave out personal information NOT related to employment or information which could be used in a discriminatory manner. Things such as religious affiliations, children/family life, political agendas, things you’ve done over the weekend, and/or medical issues.
  • Information to include in your professional brand: accomplishment stories and details, relevant knowledge, skills, and abilities, unique/value added benefits, and assets you bring to organizations.
    • Consider what you believe to be your greatest strength. If you decide to go with one strength, have an actual employment story supporting it. For example, don’t claim in your brand that you specialize in logistics if you have never examined and improved back-end operations.
  • Much like an elevator speech, your professional brand should not bore the reader or be excessive in length.
    • Keep your brand down to three or four sentences (75 – 100 words)

Think about a potential hiring manager and what she most likely would be interested in knowing about you. The secret is in keeping it short, powerful, and packed with value (from the employer’s perspective). If you have any questions or if you would like one of our certified writers evaluate your brand statement (even throw in a few suggestions along the way), don’t hesitate to share.

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

Terminated… What now?

DSC_0379With employment tenure averaging two – three years, goodbyes are something we all will end up doing more than once. Though professional and personal relationships vary in depth and degree, both do have much in common. For example, in personal relationships, one is likely to run across the “other” now and then, be it in restaurants or social networking. In a professional setting, revisiting previous job positions and experience gained will also be common for years to come.

Given similarities between personal and professional, truth is, there are differences. I need not delve into the obvious and will concentrate on the professional side of reality: moving from one job to the other. When it’s time to continue your journey, two typical scenarios come to mind: voluntarily and not-so voluntarily. As we recently reviewed the voluntary side of leaving, this time we’ll concentrate on the not-so-voluntary side by examining common stages and how to react as destroying bridges is rarely in our best interest.

Being asked to leave a position is never easy, but, for many, an experience to be encountered. For those who have not had the displeasure, the initial shock of being asked to clear out personal items can suffocate reason while, at the same time, unleash irrational behavior and/or words (typically stated for the world to hear). Recognizing the temptation to lash out may be great, it is strongly recommended you keep calm about the situation, remain professional in all areas, and respect the decision (even if you do not understand the reason).

Feeling vulnerable under stressful situations lends itself to denial. “How can this be?” “I’ve given you five years of dedicated service!” “I’m the best worker here.” “This company can’t operate without me.” These words are often expressed by the one asked to leave at the onset… once denial no longer rules and reality barges in, the next common reaction, anger, shows in various forms.

Consistent to the loss process, the initial reaction of denial typically morphs into anger. Again, this is not the time to display anger… come to think of it, NEVER is the time to act out anger. For those giving into anger temptation, the negative effects of a shouting or shoving match is rarely rewarded. Truth is, bridges tumble quickly if anger is not controlled.

For the easy-anger triggered, hold off for a better time and place. Though hard to resist, keep self-talk from burning future references. If you are at the point of boiling over, do whatever possible to take the high ground, leaving the work environment peacefully and safely go to a place where calm can be restored. For many, this would be home, a park, a long drive, a movie, or even just a walk in the mall. Diffusing potential conflict is ALWAYS the first and safest choice.

Measured by a change in attitude, anger often dissolves into a feeling of hopelessness or depression. If you find yourself at this stage, time to recognize you are not alone as most people have worn those very shoes. How you react during this stage can create a powerful new and progressive you or it can diminish personal as well as professional attitudes. Ultimately, this is the time to accept the past as what it is…the past and begin developing a new you. Concepts such as positive daily affirmations and visualizations can help you along the way. On the other side of the coin, holding anger can destroy many tomorrow’s.

Knowing tomorrow is going to be a great day begins with attitude and action. Positive affirmations should be a part of the daily routine (this goes for everyone) as you make a career and life transition. Instead of beginning the day with a “this day is going to suck” attitude, begin the day with a “nothing is going to stop me from succeeding” attitude. Naturally you will devise personal affirmations fitting your situation. The thing is, by telling yourself “today is going to be a great day,” actions will begin to make this into a reality; even if you have to fake it until you make it.

Visualizations refer to “pictures” of how tomorrow will become. Keep your pictures of the future real while developing images of what you want and, at the same time, create a plan to secure each image. Knowing where you want to go is half the journey. The second have involves the plan (we’ll get to the “how” in later blogs).

Partnering with positive affirmations and visualizations, feelings of hopelessness and/or depression will transition into an attitude of acceptance. Here’s another truth, once you accept a job loss, positive growth can come about.

Being on the wrong side of downsizing is never easy while burning bridges can be as simple as saying the wrong thing during an irrational moment.

If approached and asked to pack your bags, think (more than twice) before speaking or lashing out. I know it’s quite tempting to “give’em a piece of your mind” but hold off a few days to consider alternative options and their consequences.

By recognizing the probable psychological stages to be encountered, you can better prepare for the “just in case” situation.

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