Tag Archives: Career Development

Interviewing: Time to SHINE

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

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

Thumbs Up:

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

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

Thumbs Shaking:

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

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

The concept is simple:

Interview Shining Requires:

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

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

Getting that initial interview is only the beginning.

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

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

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

How Do I Get Work Experience?

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

How do I get work experience?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Career Breakout: Performing Due Diligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Career Breakout: Ink or Excuse?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dwight Howard, Baby Mo, and Binky Throwing

When my toddling granddaughter doesn’t get what she wants, her natural reaction (or is it a learnt behavior?) is to throw her binky to the ground and test her lungs in a manner she knows will attract attention to her satisfaction. No doubt Baby Mo will one day learn she is not at the center of the universe and her methods of attaining satisfaction will change… after all, she just turned two. But what if Baby Mo’s parents allowed, expected, and encouraged bad behavior. As an unbiased grandparent, should I fault my granddaughter or should the blame be placed upon those directly responsible for NOT teaching her right from wrong?

Thought this would be an effective transition to the core topic of the sports day: Dwight Howard’s threats and temper tantrum… then again, is this truly fair as Dwight is well beyond the chronological age of two and is a polished product of a culture known for misplacing priorities. Raising the next topic, is Dwight’s binky throwing really his fault? If not, who or what are the influencing factors?

I’ll throw out the first line… the media, fans, owners, and coaches should be receiving the finger-pointing, scrutiny, and fury. On a private note, think about what you have done to propagate bad behavior (not just in sports but in the manner and method we live) before smashing a reflection scarcely reviewed without aid of makeup, pretend, or denial. What have you done lately to promote and progress society and/or cultural advancement? I thought so.

Due to an imperfect social education buffered by fear of sudden departure, Dwight acted out in the only way he knows. Quite bluntly, WE have become his enabler. This is part of the lecture where the class gets into human nature and social conditioning but we will forego that part and go directly to the advanced chapter. Then again, being a grandparent, I know we (as in ALL of us) turn our heads or cover our eyes, defending our simplicity by blaming the consequence, not the cause.

I’ve had the pleasure to write for WONO for the past few years and watched Dwight mature into the man he is today. During this time I have taken a front row seat to witness how his growth, as a player and as a person, has become stunted and tarnished by the very people claiming to be his friends, his fans, his coaches, and his agents (go ahead and throw the media in the lot too).

This brings up the real question: Should Dwight Howard’s and Baby Mo’s binky throwing be the target of blame or are they both simply the result of misguided reinforcements? Think about it for a few minutes before denying that faint voice lurking behind your eyes. For superstars and grandbabies, the word “NO” rarely reaches their ears, mostly because culture seldom takes the chance of saying that two-letter word. It’s so much easier, don’t you think? But are we doing ourselves and the other a disservice?

For growth and an eventual championship, as a society, as parents, as fans, as media agents, and even as business owners, we all need to say no once in a while. With a message of tough love, let the binky’s fly and let progress take place in its natural course. Each time we reinforce negative behavior, a piece of our mirror cracks, ultimately shattering culture all together or, as we are bearing witness, a “Chosen One” packs up and departs to where the sun sets and ultra-cuddling defines the day.

Time has come to say no to Dwight, no to binky-throwing children, no to coaches who allow their players to control the court, and no to anyone or anything going against the principle of right. For the past seven years Orlando has acted as an enabler, cuddling athletes with bloated salaries (I’m not just talking about Dwight) and an open invitation to throw their binky or lay limp on a grocery floor without consequence.

Okay, I get what you’re thinking; laziness via acceptance and social complacency is so much easier. Besides, how can one person or single act change the world? History will tell you, one act cannot, but multiple single acts from multiple single causes can. Or for the vast majority, we can live today as we did yesterday, rationalizing and blaming the consequence until the end of time and doing nothing about the cause. In the end, each one of us can refuse to look into that mirror. I say no to numbness! Each one of us each day should seek deeply into the reflection and realize the person looking back has the power to craft without fearing the creation.

Look into the mirror; examine who you are and how your action (or inaction) enables bad behavior. Then look at Dwight and see the situation as it really is and not how we comfortably want rationalize it to be.

No doubt Dwight could have handled the business aspect of his life a bit differently but if one has never been taught, should that person be blamed and held accountable? His reaction to blaming the Orlando Magic coaches and owners to not listening to him is a symptom of being immature; really that’s about it.

For so many reasons, the way we are processing his trade request and childish knee-jerk manner of resolving conflict is taking precedence over the real issue. You guessed it, WE bottle-fed, snuggled, permitted, and exposed this to be acceptable behavior.

Dwight Howard is the consequence, not the cause.

As for my little angel Baby Mo, I have a feeling this grandfather will allow her to do anything she wants. Don’t’ worry though, to better prepare myself in this hypocritical stance, I plan on covering all mirrors.

Next time you enable anyone (Dwight included) by supporting binky throwing, think twice about the cause and the consequence… I believe you may be surprised.

See you at the game,

Danny Huffman
http://www.Education Career Services.com
twitter: dannyatecs.com