Tag Archives: career tip

Landscape Melting and “Good-Enough-Disorder?” Think Again

Image by Morgan Sessions
Image by Morgan Sessions

“I did my job; what more do they want?”
Sharon

There are many excuses for doing just enough to get by, personally as well as professionally. Being a business owner and career coach, I’ve heard more than my share of excuses justifying complacent behavior over the years.

I don’t get paid what I’m worth, so why give more than I get paid?”
Sharon

Tell the truth, how many out there have not worked their promised potential simply because you believed you deserved more?

NOT good enough defined?

Personally:

  • Accepting defeat without putting up an honest attempt to overcome barriers
  • Giving up after one attempt or let down… stopping never will get you beyond
  • Allowing others to convince an attitude of complacency (guilty by association)
  • Believing negative self-talk, living each day as just another day
  • Convincing yourself you do not deserve better
  • Being satisfied with who you are… here’s a hint, no matter who or what you are, there is ALWAYS room to advance

Professionally:

  • Accepting an invisible status
  • Performing at the lowest denominator (just doing enough)
  • Lacking positive self-talk, affirmations, and/or visualizations
  • Taking extra time at the coffee pot, texting, or strolling the Internet
  • Not stepping up to the plate, taking charge, or being the go-to person
  • Always having to be asked to perform a function or making careless mistakes
  • Believing your worth far exceeds your production (self-delusion can be job threatening)

For those identified with the “good-enough-disorder,” don’t fret as there are ways to get unstuck. No doubt the first question one with this disorder would ask… “why isn’t good enough, good enough?”

Personally:

  • The core of humanity and civilization is progression, creating a better life for you, your family, and the community; without personal and cultural evolution, humanity would have never advanced beyond the Stone Age, meaning life without Facebook would be a reality.

Professionally:

  • Companies AND employees accepting complacency do not survive… period.
  • Employers seek candidates to hire and promote who are not satisfied with status quo, desiring those with the aptitude to go boldly beyond grey.
  • Complacent employees rarely earn promotions, pay increases, and are often downsizing victims.

What you can do NOW:

  • Take a clear look at yourself, your goals, and your life. Determine if the person looking back in the mirror is the person you were meant to be AND you are happy with who you are and where you are. If the answer is yes, you may be carrying the highly contagious good-enough-disorder bug. If the answer is no, the first step has been crossed… off to a good start.
  • Upon reading this article, take out a piece of paper and make a “reachable” commitment with action plan. In other words, on a personal and professional note, tell yourself a goal and then WRITE the goal (and action plan) on a piece of paper (the act of writing is an important step toward goal achievement). Clipping or drawing a picture also adds to eventual realization—be sure and post the picture wear you will see it EVERY morning as you begin the day.
  • Establish a time-line and stick to it.
  • VISUALIZATION: Imagine the new you or the desired product as if it has become a reality. Once your mind accepts this reality, achieving becomes more attainable.
  • AFFIRMATION: Each evening and each morning make a pledge that required steps will happen. Upon the evening, if steps were not satisfied, evaluate how you will overcome challenges on the following day. That morning, engage in self-talk, determining the goal will become a reality.
  • Association: Gather around peers, friends, family, etc. who challenge you to stand up to the goal and will not allow excuses to get in the way.

The good-enough-disorder has the capacity to stumble not only your achievements, but those around you as well (including family members). Ultimately, how you want to live your life is entirely up to you and if you decide complacency defines you, don’t blame the lack of promotions, employment, and satisfaction on anyone but yourself.

The final element purging the good-enough-disorder out of your system resides within the following:

Focus and
Single-Mindedness

With focus and single-mindedness, there is nothing which cannot be overcome. Remember there may be one peak atop the mountaintop, but there are MANY paths one can take to get there.

There are no excuses but the ones you convince yourself you believe! For the highly sensitive person, the above tips are exceedingly important. I know how easy it is to melt into the landscape (and wanting to melt into the landscape).

For the HSP, take small steps… NEVER stop stepping! 

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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Resume Dust Off

For most of us, the thought of a resume dust off is far from our mind. After all, these next few weeks are a time of cheer and holiday spirit… not a time for career considerations… or is it?

junk carIn an effort to keep Scrooge alive and kicking, I’m going to be a tad outlandish and propose we take a break from the cheer and update our resume while reflecting upon the myriad of professional accomplishments tucked away during the past 12 months.

Before etching scribbles on your resume, let’s take a quick skills / development / accomplishment inventory. Take out a piece of paper, a writing utensil, and a creative mind as you begin at the beginning…

If employed, during the previous 12 months did you:

  • Receive a formal employee evaluation? If so, take out your copy as we rediscover the contributions that make you valuable. Highlight the positive aspects of your evaluation, taking note on key phrases or words used to describe performance. Were goals defined and met? If so, list each, your direct involvement, and what affect your actions had on the company’s bottom line.
  • Complete professional development courses? If so, what were they and how did the knowledge transfer to work performance or customer satisfaction? By the way, hands-on or online courses are a great way to show how you want to progress within the company and industry.
  • Earn special recognitions? When it comes to claiming “I’m the right candidate for the promotion or new job,” nothing is more persuasive than a third party referral or award.
  • Save the company money? Companies are always looking for ways to save on expenses or expand revenue. This said, did you make any positive operational changes or suggest a better (more efficient) way to get things done? For example, perhaps you developed a spreadsheet to eliminate scheduling conflicts or introduced a morale-boosting program.

If NOT employed, during the previous 12 months did you:

  • Complete professional development courses? There are many free online classes to get you back into the industry world. Let potential employers know you are NOT one to be “sittin’ on a simmer.” You want to stay in the loop, keeping fresh on new ideas and industry standards.
  • Partake in networking events? Now’s the time to refresh on what professionals in the field have shared with you. Take a few moments to reflect key ideas and suggestions from peers, Incorporating key words into your documents. Truth is, you don’t want to be talking 2012 in 2015…that would be just smack.
  • Perform in volunteer work? Companies want employees who care about and give to their community. This is a winning combination and should never be taken for granted.
  • Continue formal education? Definitely a no-brainer here. Consider including relevant classes on your resume and/or cover letter.

Naturally the above bullets are merely a quick snapshot of potential progressions one can gain over the months, you may have more to add or less. Either way, keep a strong attitude and know you are the right person for the job.

Now that you have thought about the knowledge, skills, and accomplishments earned this year, it’s time to prioritize the top two or three areas most relevant to the industry/position of interest.

An effective way to filter the list is to think as a hiring manager. In other words, if you were a hiring manager, would you find the information valuable? If not, don’t use it. If you feel the information is something the hiring manager should know in order to make a well-informed decision, include it in your cover letter and/or resume.

Entering the New Year, keep a professional journal handy so you can list and detail the great things you do. Information from this journal can then be used during your next dust off as well as interview preparations.

I’ve decided to conclude this moment by repeating the final words from our last reading… yes, it was that important…

Do yourself a favor, stop sittin’ on a simmer and commit to making 2015 a year of fulfillment. I’m simply asking you to devote TWO hours a day, adding up to ten hours of career stretching weekly. If this sounds like I’m asking too much from you… you are stuck on a simmer and can’t get up!

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one.

For those interested in a professional career document review/coaching session, securing cutting-edge career focused material, or other professional employment empowerment services, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com 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

Terminated Illegally (2): Come on in…

Being called into the office to be fired is rarely positive; yet many of us have had the (dis)pleasure of the experience. How does one react with the scheduled event and devastating news?

During these most uncomfortable meetings, your supervisor typically will not be alone. The reason: fear of a “he-said / she-said” situation. Given the amount of stress, no doubt you understand. Think of it this way, if an individual is getting terminated by the opposite sex, unfounded accusations are often claimed. Thus, don’t be surprised at a tag-team mentally… it is for their protection, not yours; accept it.

Taking a moment for David’s situation, here’s how he was notified via email from the boss, Bertha: “Hi David, Could you come meet and talk before class on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m.”

David replied: “Not a problem about Friday prior to class. Would you like me to bring anything?”

Bertha’s final reply: “You don’t have to bring anything except yourself silly. See you then.”

Notice the tone of the email invitation from Bertha was not indicative of an illegal termination. If you are called into the office, don’t always assume negatives are forthcoming. Hopefully your next office visit will be for the promotion you recently inquired. Needless to say, recognize what’s going on and be prepared for the most unexpected. During our discussions with David, I did ask how he psychologically felt about the email.

David: “At first I thought nothing of it. Then, after reading it for a second time, I felt marginalized by the use of the term ‘silly.’ I would refer to the main boss as silly. Feeling degraded, I began to get an uneasy feeling about the meeting. The night before, Thursday, I had a horrible feeling and could not sleep. How dare her call me silly.”

According to David, setting up the termination meeting processed as follows: Friday morning came along and her office door was open. After a “come on in,” I entered to notice an individual dressed in a power suit, sitting smugly, and eager to pounce. Bertha remained seated, silent, and bearing a squid-like facial impression.  Once he introduced himself, we’ll call this gentleman Mr. Farris, an attorney, the level of anxiety became overwhelming. Within seconds, I knew…

For those who have ever been in this situation, you know it can be quite challenging. For those who have never been in this situation, congratulations. Prepare yourself for the inevitable… throughout one’s career life cycle, you most likely will be sitting on one side of the table before retirement.

Summary and upcoming: How should one react at the moment of being fired? Do you become angry? Is this the time to lash out or sit quietly? Do you beg for your job back? Do you play the blame game? No doubt for each his/her own, but there are established rules of conduct, even during an illegal termination.

Next time everyone will “come on in” as David takes you by the hand during the illegal termination presented by Bertha and Mr. Farris.

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: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Body Language: Why what you’re NOT saying may cost or land you that job

Did you know that 55% of communication is nonverbal?  That means that without saying a word we are having conversations that we may not even be aware of.  Statistically the moment we see someone we decide if we like that person or if we want to do business with them.

Body language and first impressions go hand in hand… which might be to your advantage.

You may have said when you met someone you really liked or really didn’t like, that it was just something about them.  Maybe that “vibe” you were sensing was just the non-verbal conversation you were not aware that you were having.

Harris pieBased on the enclosed pie chart, only 7% of what you say is actually communicated.  This brings me to another old saying: “Actions speak louder then words?”  In other words: your body language is speaking for you all of the time, whether you know it or not.

Body language expert Janine Driver claims that body communication is different for everyone, but there are similarities when it comes to perception.  When it comes to communication, consider the following three steps:

  • You feel it,
  • you show it (body language),
  • and then you say it.

CC Tip of the Day: How you sit, dress, and walk tells more about who you are than you know.

With your career success in mind, consider the following helpful hints to help you say “HIRE ME!”

First of all, be well groomed and prepared.  Choice of clothing color, style of dress and hairstyle is the very first form of communication.  You must communicate a professional and competent appearance.

Secondly, your body has to speak the language that interviewer wants to see and this begins with, you guessed it, your Smile.  Something as simple as a universal, honest-to-goodness friendly smile can break the ice and generate feelings of wellbeing and confidence.  Make sure that your smile is genuine.

Next is the hand-shake.  The technical term is called Haptic or communicating by touch.  The hand-shake can make or break you.  This form of communication must also be a form of emulation or imitating what the interviewer is doing.  Hold your palm straight and use the same hand pressure and firmness. Let the interviewer decide when it should end.

The eyes have it: How do you feel when someone avoids looking directly at you or doesn’t look you in the eye?  One message may be one of mistrust.  We wonder what is it that they don’t want us to see.  Look your interviewer squarely and calmly in the eye, but not with a stalker or psychotic manner.  The look in your eyes should not show panic or worry, but rather interest and curiosity.

harrisFinally, be aware of your body posture.  Your mother and Grandmother may have told you to sit up straight for many years and maybe you thought they were trying to prevent you from getting scoliosis or having a hunched back.  I’m persuaded that they were preparing you for the moment you go to sit among the great ones.  The ones whose seat YOU may sit in one day. Sitting or standing with your face, head, and shoulders aligned display integrity.  Having your back straight with a slight lean forward denotes interest and that you are listening.

Your paralinguistics or verbal communication is also critical.  Modulate your tone with a steady cadence and a pleasant voice.  Speak clearly and intelligently.  Don’t talk too fast or too loudly, here again you want to match the interviewers pace.

Can you say “semantics?”  Remember: What you say and how you say it definitely matters so use your voice to your advantage.  Is your voice high and squeaky or does it infer confidence?  This is the time to talk about what you can bring to this company and why you are the BEST candidate.

How will I remember to do all of this?  This may seem like a lot to be aware of but trust me, a lot of these actions come naturally, just convey the right message at all times. Remember, more than half of what we communicate is the look on our face and the gestures we make.

So are you still wondering how this can help you get that job? Picture this:

You wake up early and jump out of the bed, today is the day you think. You eat a good breakfast, and take care with your hygiene. You smile at yourself in the mirror. All of your hard work is finally going to pay off!

You’ve got your shoes shined and your favorite shirt and tie. Your suit is fresh from the drycleaners. Today is the day of the interview for your dream job.  Keys?  Check. Wallet?  Check. Briefcase?  Checkmate!  You make sure to leave home an hour and a half early so that you can give yourself time to get a cup of coffee and breathe mints.  You went to school so that you could ride the golden ticket of your degree to the chocolate factory of employment success.

Feeling empowered and excited, you get to the interview early and give your name to the receptionist.  She directs you to the seating area to wait for the interviewer.  You stand so that you can meet the interviewer from a power position.  The interviewer sees you and says your name, you smile and walk forward confidently.

She extends her hand toward you and you grasp her hand in a warm, firm shake.  “Follow me” she says.  You get to her office and there are two chairs in front of her desk she directs you to take one, you move your chair directly in front of her so that she knows she has your full attention.  What you don’t know is your interviewer is impressed because she has to study body-language and psychology in order to hire the best candidate.  The interview goes smoothly.

All of your preparation and hard work is going to pay off. As you prepare to leave you stand to your feet calmly and thank her for the interview.  You shake her hand and reposition your chair back where you found it.  You reach the door you turn the knob and pull the door open.  As you go out the door your turn and look her in the eyes and you smile again and close the door behind you. Why wouldn’t you get the Job? You have practiced and worked hard.

Everything about you has communicated verbally confidence, skill and integrity and non-verbally your actions have backed it up. So go home and get that thank you note sent, then envision yourself doing what you were born to do….YOUR JOB!

Written and shared by:
Salima Harris
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

Tell Me About Yourself…What now?

DSC_0011Finally, the recruiter calls you in for an interview with the hiring manager. This is not the time to be shy… now is the time to illustrate relevant skills and work experience to get to the next stage.

First things thing, make sure professionally written copies of your cover letter and resume are readily available in your portfolio… a simple common sense mistake many partake in.

After days of mentally and physically preparing, you walk into the conference room anxiously waiting for the interview to begin. Hiring manager, Tom, introduces himself and starts the session. After a typical introduction, Tom looks up and asks: “tell me about yourself.”

Suddenly your hands begin to sweat profusely because you didn’t anticipate on being asked this question. Crazy and doubt-adding “self-talk” bounces around, only to make matters more stressful.

Before “telling more about you,” and potentially embarrassing yourself, let’s take a moment for a quick course on how to respond effectively. After all, there is a specific way to answer the question “tell me about yourself.” There’s also a few not so-good ways.

When it comes to the not-so good ways, you need to know what’s really going on. First of all, do not give personal information such as age or number of children. Don’t mention any hobbies that are NOT related to the job or company. “Tom” does not care if you enjoy cocktails by the poolside or perform karaoke on Friday nights at Applebee’s.

Truth is: Too much or irrelevant information rarely results in positive outcomes.

On this note, Tom definitely wouldn’t want you to answer his request by asking one of your own: “What do you want to know about me?” Answering in such a way portrays unprofessionalism and a lack of confidence. This is a for sure way of getting a “we’ll call you” at the end of the interview and probably getting your resume thrown in the trash seconds after leaving. We don’t want that now do we?

Keep in mind—the company wants to know how you can benefit them. In other words, when it comes to responding to the “tell me about yourself” question, highlight your most important achievements that are relevant to the position.

With that said, follow these five tips to keep the interviewer engaged in the conversation:

Tip #1-Introduce yourself (Who are you as a professional)

Tip #2-Explain your current status (last job position, degrees (if any))

Tip #3-Describe your current experience and transferable skills related to the position

Tip #4-Describe accomplishments directly related to the position and/or company mission

Tip #5-Explain why you want to work for the company

One more thing… all the above information must be relayed under a minute or two. In other words, don’t become a chatter… less oftentimes can mean more. By way of example, Here’s my response to this challenging interview question:

I am a recent graduate from City College with an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration. I have over 5 years’ experience in coaching individuals, problem solving and time management in the health insurance field which has allowed me to excel in previous leadership roles. In my last position monthly quality scores increased 20% because of my persistent coaching techniques which improved product knowledge and confidence in representatives. My skills provide excellent customer service and truly define who I am and what I will bring to this company.

This is a lot to remember…but…if you practice, practice, and practice, answering the “Tell me about yourself” question will roll off your tongue naturally. Just follow my advice and you’ll be on the way to a well-deserved career. I’m rooting for you…fingers crossed.

One more thing, keep me posted on the outcome!

Tammisha Willis

Your CC Connection

Annual Performance Review Improvement Tips

DSC_0058It’s that time of the year again! Supervisors are scheduling annual review sessions for each colleague in the office and everyone’s on their P’s and Q’s. Word is spread throughout the office that the maximum percentage increase is tapped at 4%. Being the diligent co-worker, you portray confidence and that you will receive the maximum percentage allowed.

Unfortunately, nothing has changed about your work habits since you’ve been with the company. Still, many associates respect and admire your hard work; after all you always lend a helping hand to peers in need and you’re even on the Employee Birthday Committee. Every year during annual review time you always receive the highest raise the company offers. Why should this year be any different?

Now it’s time to sit down with your supervisor and go over the performance review. During the session you’re told that your “performance (on a scale of 1-10) is rated as a 7 due to several attendance concerns and time management inconsistencies. For these reasons, you’re getting a 2% raise this year.” The supervisor asks if you have any questions or concerns and patiently waits for you to sign the form.

Surprised, angry, confused, or ready to walk out? Before getting carried away, take a second to contemplate what just happened and the best way to react. Poised to react in an aggressive manner, you think twice…

Now is not the moment to start whining or throw a hissy fit. Instead of adding risk to your employment status, it is recommended that you remain professional and follow the tips below to improve on your next performance:

  1. Ask the supervisor questions about how they came to their conclusion.
  2. Request specific documents from the supervisor regarding the occurrences given to you for poor performance. Make sure you are/were provided with documentation about these issues. You should ask for this information to refer back to it (if needed).
  3. Always document under the employee comments section of the review form any specific questions you may have about the evaluation.
  4. Go over the “Performance Improvement Plan” with the supervisor for areas that require improvement.
  5. Work on improving your performance over the specified timeframe documented on the review form.
  6. Reference back to the supervisor for the status of your improvement on a regular set schedule.

Following these tips enhance the chances during your next review to have the best annual performance grade and get that raise you deserve. One more thing, until the next review, work on your goals, document accomplishments (adding support for next review), keep a solid attitude, and bring more than the minimal expectation.

Good luck and let me know how next year’s evaluation goes!

Tammisha W.