Tag Archives: Company research

Sittin’ on a Simmer

Woman ShouldersHeard it over and over again… “No one is hiring during the final weeks of the year so might as well wait until mid-January to get things rolling again.” Though there may be a sliver of reality to the quote, this is not the season to be “sittin’ on a simmer.”

No doubt you’re asking what does “sittin’ on a simmer” mean. Here’s a quick reality check and what you need to do NOW to get off the back-burner and back into action.

You are “sittin’ on a simmer” if you:

  • Begin your morning looking for excuses NOT to begin your morning (attitude leads the charge, positive or negative)
  • Remain in your pajamas, slumbering around the house waiting for something to happen
  • Have yet to perform industry research and uncovering trends which may be helpful to your career advancement (and during interviews)
  • Have not conducted any professional development (online) courseware
  • Allow your cover letter, resume, and references to collect dust (not updating value-added accomplishments)
  • Refuse to engage in networking events designed to highlight and share your KSA’s to potential contacts
  • Make a conscious decision to put your career on simmer until season’s end (what the heck… what’s another week of feeling sorry for myself?)

Enough of the sittin’, time to take a stand in your professional career by:

  • Making a commitment to yourself (an affirmation by any other name) that today IS THE DAY for action (I will NO LONGER play the victim… I am valuable and nothing or no one will distract me from achieving my goal)
  • Researching companies of interest (go to the library if you are without Internet access), examine their mission statement, products, competitors, key players, and New Year goals (this is also where LinkedIn can become your ace in the hole)
  • Reviewing accomplishments over the past 12 months and developing stories behind each accomplishment (placing you at the advantage during the interview process as this adds confirmation and credibility—not to mention confidence). This is where the STAR format comes in handy:
    • Situation: What was going that required attention; was money or labor being wasted?
    • Task: What needed to be done and what would have happened if nothing had been done?
    • Action: What was your involvement; did you come up with a time-saving process or a way to improve customer satisfaction?
    • Result: What happened as a result of your direct (or indirect) involvement? How much money did your suggestion save? Did ratings go up?
  • Committing to attend a minimum of two networking events (and make sure you bring a confident/winning attitude as well as a value-laden elevator speech)
  • Reviewing and updating all career documents (online profiles included). This means taking advantage of any company research, industry trends, and your STAR stories.
    • When it comes to reviewing and updating documents, it may be in your best interest to have a professional resume writer review your material and offer suggestions for improvement. The fee is industry-reasonable while the rewards are potentially high. On this note, our writers conduct this service remotely to clients all across the globe. If you go this route (with us or another experienced career management company), make sure you feel comfortable with the secured professional offering this service. Rates for a formal written review and coach consultation ranges between $250 and $500, depending upon which company you select.

Securing a dream position during the month of December can be challenging, but this is the season of dreams coming true. To be blunt, the final weeks of the year are an ideal time to give your career documents a holiday workout.

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
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs

Career Breakout: Holiday Networking

The end of the year does not mean the end of career networking. Quite the opposite, NOW is the ideal time to spread the news of your value and contributions. To detail, let’s respond to a brief summary and question submitted last week by a recent college graduate, Chris Alcott:

I graduated with a business degree earlier this year and was hoping that would be enough to get a decent job offer. I’ve been unemployed for the past 18 months due to a downsizing. Looks like no one is  bringing on new employees and the only thing going on are holiday parties, gatherings, and a hiring freeze. Last November and December I resigned to wait until January to re-launch my job search and concentrate on my final semester of classes. What’s your thoughts… are the last two or three months of the year a waste of time for the unemployed? If not, what are your suggestions?”

To set the record straight once and for all, the final three months of the year are not a waste of time for the unemployed and can be quite successful.

Career fact: Seasonal help, even part time, is at a full-time high during the final quarter.

If you’re thinking a low-wage job for a month or two is below your status, crawl out from that rock you are renting and wake up. Though many seasonal positions are for a short stint, not all are. Believe it or not, a solid percentage of those hired during this time progress into full-time positions with promotions and salary increases.

Though I know little about Mr. Alcott, gaining a seasonal position will add strength to your resume by way of added customer service experience. Not only will one achieve a paycheck, the psychological benefits of getting out there and contributing to the household will create a positive impact. Being a recent graduate, many employers look at the soft skills offered and use that when measuring up candidates.

Looking to turn that seasonal position into a full-time position? Here’s a tip, employers are always searching for top-notch employees to join their team, in any industry.

Consider an employer’s perspective… what are they looking for with their seasonal bunch? Here’s another clue (or two) about the evaluation process, gaining full-time status, and what you need to highlight on and off the clock:

* An eagerness to learn and a drive to represent the company mission
* Confidence and an initiative to do what needs to be done without complaint
* To ‘think’ and ‘act’ professionally, without compromising patience, quality, or production
* Dedication, aptitude, and loyalty to perform tasks outside limited job duties
* ‘Show’ you are a keeper… and yes, your boss is watching and his or her observations will be relayed to the company elite

Career fact: Networking is at an all-time high during the holiday season.

While on the topic of networking during the holiday season, I would like to introduce a wonderful resource I have been taking advantage for years,  http://www.cultureandmanners.com.

Thanks to the polite folks at the Culture and Manners Institute, let’s review the following insight…

Networking does not mean you become a walking/talking resume. Think of networking as research. As said in previous Etiquette Tips, the best way to start and continue a conversation is to ask questions:

What do you do for a living?
How long have you been with that company?
How did you first become interested in that company?
What do you like best about your company (or job)?
How did you get started in that field?

Holiday networking is not just job research, its company research; because you learn which company has happy and satisfied employees and which ones don’t. (One person badmouthing their company might just be a malcontent. Three is a pattern.)

Here is the best part. When you ask questions of another person, you show you are taking interest in that person and that makes people feel good about them. This is what etiquette is all about.

Some people who are out of work avoid holiday parties. Never fear to admit you are out of work.  Everyone has been there. Networking skills honed in holiday season are valuable assets when you do find employment. Now get out there and party.

For those interested in receiving an Etiquette Tip of the Week, check out their site mentioned above.

The final few months of the year can prove to be career successful. In other words, Chris, don’t get discouraged and do get yourself out there!

For those interested in cutting-edge career books to guide you along your journey, visit www.edu-cs.com or go to Amazon and search Danny at ECS for a listing of available
material.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.EducationCareerServices.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist
Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs

Company Connection

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to meet career professionals from across the United States as well as beyond our boundaries during the APSCU and NACE conferences held in Las Vegas. One common theme among participating career professionals had to do with the methods one can one to “speak the right language” when responding to a job posting. In other words, what can one do to enhance a company connection and get called in for an interview?

Like I tell all of my clients, the resume and cover letter MUST detail, in a valuable and error-free fashion, what the employer is seeking, not what you want from the company. I know it sounds easy but the truth of the matter is YOU must take an active role if you want to succeed. Enough said as this is common sense; after all, who in their right mind would send a resume highlighting electrical skills for a bartender job posting? Certainly not you! With this said, time for company connection…

Rule #1: Make sure your cover letter and resume is targeting the right job posting. Yes, you guessed it, this means redoing your cover letter and resume for each job posting.

For those wanting to take the easy way out and decide to send a one-size-fitting all resume, think about the employer for a moment. Nothing like impressing a human resources professional like reading a template… NOT.

On a first-hand basis, when I receive a resume that I know was not tailored to the position, the candidate is automatically disqualified. In case you’re wondering, it’s easy to tell which are tailored and which are not… so don’t fool yourself.

Rule #2: Research the company (if possible) and incorporate relevant information (check out the mission statement) in your cover letter. For example, if you are interested in a position with a company who engages in community involvement, don’t forget to mention the volunteer work performed over the summer at the local animal shelter.

Rule #3: Take advantage of keywords and phrases from the job posting. One method of making sure you don’t forget to highlight what the company needs is to take advantage of a free online tool from tagcrowd.com. For those unfamiliar with this resource, this is your lucky day.

* Copy and paste the job posting into tagcrowd.com, change word redundancy to 3 (or more), and submit. The result will amaze you by displaying the most common words used within the posting. Once you have these high priority words at your disposal, incorporate those applicable to your skills and interest.

By following the above three rules, you will increase the odds of a company connection by speaking the right language. Not only will these rules assist you in being recognized as the right candidate, your interviewing skills will also improve (as you will now respond to questions based upon what the company wants… NOT what you want).

For those interested in guidelines, samples, and applications on how to improve your resume and cover letter, consider investing in the Career Intelligence Series job search library of cutting edge workbooks. Visit www.edu-cs.com or Google (search Danny at ECS) for more information and a complete listing.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC

Education Career Services
Follow me on Twitter: DannyatECS

Phone Interviews on the Rise

According to the most recent Career Thought Leaders Group, phone interviews are increasing in frequency and scrutiny. Accordingly, in addition to the initial phone screening, telephone interviews are being used more often to cut costs and save time during the hiring process.

Given its usage increase during the interview cycle, the consequence of improper phone etiquette can be damaging to your career. With this in mind, improving your phone interview odds can be gained by following these common-sense tips.

●  Dressing up for your phone interview. I know it sounds a bit odd but it is a well-known fact that individuals “looking the part” perform more effectively than those in their pajamas.
●  Researching the company, industry, and specific position. Besides doing a bit of company research on the Internet, a valuable job skills and responsibilities resource can be found at ONETOnline.org. Recognizing what’s out there in terms of products, competitors, and job opportunities will give the interviewer the perception that you know what you are talking about and that you are interested in the company and position.
●  Engaging in the phone interview in a quiet area with limited (how about none) distractions. Remember the interviewer can’t see you or your physical reactions. As a result, the interviewer is seeking clues to help them determine if you are the right fit. For example, are dogs barking near your feet? Is a mother-in-law asking what you want for lunch? Are kids yelling in the background? Is street-rap blaring in the background? Noises and distractions in the background do create an impression, rarely a positive one.
●  Being prepared for the “Tell me about yourself” question. When asked this question (or something like the “Why should I hire you” question) appreciate the question is designed for your benefit and is the ideal opportunity to sell yourself and the many contributions you bring. This is where company and job position research comes in handy as you develop a response based upon what the company needs, not a long-winded story about summer camp.
●  Keeping a professional and calm tone. This is not the time to speak rapidly, too softly, or too loudly. Make sure your responses are heard at a comfortable level and not overtaking. Remember the interviewer is listening for clues of confidence, not cockiness.
●  Asking a career coach, mentor, or family member to practice with you. When it comes to phone interview strategies, practice does make perfect. Don’t fight me on this, but when conducting a mock interview, dress and act the part.

No doubt companies are becoming more and more cost conscious and will expand the use of non-face-to-face interview methods. For the unprepared, this could be disastrous on many levels. But for those who have performed their due diligence, becoming one of the pack leaders can be obtained.

If you have questions or examples regarding phone interviews or any other career related issue, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com.

For those interested in obtaining cutting-edge career books and single topic guidebooks, visit our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS) and review the available library of available career resources.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
www.educationcareerservices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @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 Dissatisfaction: Informational Interviews, Part 3

We last covered O*NET’s website and how its in-depth database of career information can be an effective tool for preventing career dissatisfaction. While I discussed its many uses, I neglected to mention (trust me, this was on purpose) a major shortcoming of the online database: it’s very impersonal and not always a good indicator of whether or not you will enjoy your work environment.

Sure, O*NET is highly accurate and updated regularly but will it truly give you a feel for the career of your choice? Chances are that it won’t; it should, ideally, be used to weed out careers in which you have no actual interest or compatibility. In order to truly understand a career you must invest a deal of time and personal interest into it.

One effective means of doing this is conducting an informational interview. No, you’re not looking to be hired; you’re looking for information from the most reliable source: a professional in your current field of interest. This information gathered, like O*NET’s, is intended to help you make an informed career decision before you dive into a job or occupation headfirst. Yes, I said gathered. The main difference between a job interview and an informational interview is, in an informational interview, you will be asking all of the questions.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s go over some of the advantages of conducting an informational interview (think of this as added motivation). For one, it’s a great way to network with professionals, increasing the amount of people in the industry you know, which certainly never hurt anyone. Furthermore, since you will be asking the questions, you’re in control of what you learn. Take that opportunity to ask about typical day-to-day activities and relate them to your wants and interests, making sure to note whether or not you can see yourself happily performing these tasks. These interviews also involve much less stress, allowing you to ask questions that are typically taboo during a job interview (for example, benefits, salary, vacation time, etc.).

So how does one go about obtaining an informational interview? Perhaps by social networking; by taking out an ad in the classified section of the paper; by sending an e-mail or personal letter to businesses; or maybe even a simple phone call? Well… yes, actually. All of those are common methods for securing an informational interview with an individual.

Keep in mind, these interviews are informal, so the questions you ask can be very straightforward and honest. Nonetheless, even though informational interviews are informal, there are still some basic ground rules to follow: dress appropriately, be polite and punctual, and, most importantly, prepare the questions you will be asking ahead of time.

There’s nothing worse (and unprofessional) than wasting a participants time by being unprepared. Not only will this lessen the information gathered due to ineffective questioning, but it could also cost you a needed contact, referral, or recommendation. Take the time to think—truly think—about what you need to be asking. You only get one shot with an individual; make it count… trust me.

So—I’m sure this is the part you were waiting for—what questions should I ask during an informational interview? That depends upon you (time to get introspective). You’ve already used O*NET to find careers you’re interested in; now, it’s time to put that career to the test to see if the reality will be right for you, both now and in the future.

Here are some good questions to ask that may prevent future career dissatisfaction:

  • Describe a typical day for yourself to me. Do you have a set routine?
  • On average, what salary level can I expect in this career?
  • What benefits does someone in this profession normally receive?
  • What advancement opportunities, if any, exist and how would I take advantage of them?
  • What settings or environments can I expect to commonly work in?
  • Where is this job heading in the future? What changes can I expect?
  • Does a chain of command exist? If so, who will I be working under or over?
  • What other career professionals can I expect to work with?

 These are just a few of the many examples of questions you should consider asking your interviewee. Be personal by asking questions as simple as possible. If you’re worried you will grow bored of the job, express that to him or her. You have an opportunity to ask questions that are normally off-limits. Don’t waste this chance by asking questions that are easily discovered online on websites such as O*NET.

As a rule of thumb, if you can easily Google the answer, it’s not worth asking.

Remember the person you’re interviewing is participating in this interview mostly for charity. After the interview is over, always send a thank you note. While the choice is up to you, a handwritten note is more personal than an e-mail and shows your appreciation for their time and help. Also, they will be more likely to remember you this way. E-mails get stored inside computers; letters and notes end up on desks and generally stay there for a while.

All of this may seem like a tall order, especially when it’s easier to choose a career and deal with the consequences later. Consider this, you wouldn’t buy a house without walking through it; you wouldn’t buy a car without test driving it; and you certainly wouldn’t marry somebody without getting to know them. Why would you make an important life decision such as a career choice without discovering all the facts?

As I pointed out in part one of our series, a majority of Americans are unsatisfied with their current career. These “dead-end jobs”, as they are lovingly referred to, can be prevented by an investment of your time and effort. Do you want to be another statistic? I didn’t think so.

Presented by Brandon Hayhurst
www.EducationCareerServices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs

Career Dissatisfaction: Cause and Consequence, Part Two

Last time we talked about the importance of conducting research before selecting a desired career path, lest you end up in that miserable dead-end job so many Americans commute to daily. You were probably left wondering about effective methods and sources for researching career information; after all, it’s no fun researching how to research (right?). Don’t worry, you won’t be left to hang in the wind. As it so happens, a website exists that is a one-stop source for career information for almost every profession and job in existence.

That website is O*NET (http://www.onetonline.org). As the website itself states, “There are a lot of jobs in the world of work. Our job is helping you learn about them all.” O*NET is a career exploration and job analysis database containing up-to-date and  in-depth information and analysis of jobs in the workplace.

I know what you’re thinking: Something so powerful and all-knowing surely must be so advanced that it costs a lot of money, requiring much practice and learning. Wrong. O*NET is a free resource to be used by anyone; all you need is Internet access.

Once inside this great site, enter a job title or keyword into the search field. Then, the site brings up a list of related jobs to choose from. Upon selecting one, you will be greeted by a list of information, including common job tasks, necessary skills, required education and training, and so forth. These are insightful examples of things to reflect upon before selecting an occupation.

Being satisfied with your career BEGINS by knowing the reality behind the position; entering with eyes wide open and clear can place you in among the few who actually enjoy what they do. Just think how your life would be (or could have been) if your career choice was an educated one.

The old saying, ‘information is power’ brings a new meaning in your pursuit of happiness. The fact is, many people end up in dead-end jobs because they didn’t align desired expectations with the realities of their selected career path. As in my case with Marine Biology, I thought I’d be swimming with friendly sea creatures such as Flipper and Nemo, but chances were I’d be cooped up in a laboratory all day; maybe satisfying to you, but NOT for me.

There is more to consider than just your personal expectations when using O*NET when considering a career path. Many stereotype and myths exist for common occupations. These are more than personal beliefs; these are held by a large majority of the population. No doubt you’ve experienced common career myths and prejudices… for examples, males in the nursing field are still not as common as female nurses. Fortunately gender discrimination is not as prevalent as before, nevertheless, all things affecting the position should be considered.

Humor me for a second. Go to O*NET’s website–go on, I’ll wait. Search for a career or occupation you’re interested in and enter the job title into the search box. Once you’ve found the career, read the “Tasks” section. Yeah yeah, I know it’s a chore (stop your crying) but this extra effort could make a huge difference in your life.

Count how many tasks you were unaware of:

SCORING
7 or More Tasks: There’s a lot you didn’t know. Aren’t you happy we did this exercise
3 – 6 Tasks: At least you knew something. But it’s still not enough to make an informed decision.
0 – 2 Tasks: Wow! Impressive, to say the least. You’ve really done your research but I may have to hook you up to a lie-detector test.

Time to get real, don’t think that scoring “0 – 2 Tasks” means you can toss O*NET to the curb just yet. Here’s another unsung fact about career dissatisfaction: Expectations change… always. Of course, you may not like these changes; in fact, they may even be a deal breaker.

Let’s take an example to highlight how technology forces one’s career applications to change. Years ago, sports writers simply tuned-in to the radio to cover games with a pen and a pad. Now, they’re expected to travel to home and away games, cover them wirelessly via laptop, and publish their story shortly after the game. Not only does this entail a change in equipment and training, it’s also a change in work environment and job description.

How about this one: Remember the milkman? Neither do I.

Guess what, CHANGE applies to all careers and occupations and since O*NET is a constantly updating database of career information; you should bookmark the site as a favorite. After all, you never know when your desired career destination will update with new tasks, training, locations, and even pay.

All of this information definitely won’t be on the nightly news after the Kardashian’s newest escapades, so make sure you visit this West Orlando News often as we bring career insight to you regularly. And make sure to join me next time as we cover the ancient art of informational interviews, an extremely useful tool for researching career information directly from the source: the employer.

Presented by Brandon Hayhurst
http://www.EducationCareerServices.com
Twitter: @dannyatecs