Tag Archives: Danny Huffman

Journey to a Non-Profit

Grew up eye-shot of La Tuna, Federal Correctional Institution, in Vinton, Texas. Living close enough to be part of the environment, I wondered what it was like to be on the inside.

Pushing several years into the future, I became a 16-year old outfielder with a family organized softball team. Scheduled to play against several prison (trustee) teams, we were given the privilege to go inside.

Frightened as our van approached for the first time, this 16-year old imagined hardened muggers, killers, rapists, and all around monsters. No doubt television and culture told me what to expect… I drank the juice.

Too often, reality and truth simply does not mean the same thing. I spoke to several of the monsters on the inside and before long, socially twisted perceptions was replaced with “how could I have gotten it so wrong?”

Backed by a lineage of family, direct and indirect, seeing both sides of freedom, I knew the men and women who have stumbled needed more than social/cultural/employment stigma. Over the years I’ve worked with many on the inside and found their self-perception generally accepted their lives and futures to be fated by loss and failure… where mirror’s reflection is empty of Hope.

Close to 20 years ago I got involved with a company which produced professional development courseware and programs. Though designed for the executive, I knew this was a stepping stone to bridge my path alongside those who have been misplaced along their way.

In 2003 I began the groundwork for 2nd Chance University but timing (and money) prevented progress. Leaping to 2012, Christian HELP and the Central Florida Jobs Initiative provided a medium to perfect my program and provide an evidence-based system.

Numbers were more than impressive but something was lacking. Upon pushing, was informed these two organizations disqualified those with a justice-involved background from the program I developed.

Months later, we parted ways. At that time, necessity dictated an

E to the 3rd

onward throttle to customize a program for those needing support, guidance, and tools to gain Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

Will continue on what happened next shortly. Until then, be kind, be the key,

Danny

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Trauma Informed Care, Yesterday to Today

Being a non-profit working with young and old adults involved within the criminal justice system, we hear the term Trauma Informed Care more often than not. As a matter of fact, the term, especially when dealing with alternatives to incarceration, our criminal justice system, and effective reintegration, is in the limelight right now. According to those in the know:

Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

I remember growing up and how the word trauma was tagged (exclusively) to a military setting. No doubt, heading off to war can (and often will) directly affect the individual; of that there is little dispute. Way back when, it was rare that anyone not directly involved with the military was recognized as shouldering post-traumatic stress.

Unfortunately, family members left behind were often forgotten about or brushed to the side when it came to trauma… out of sight… their voice was rarely heard.

Jumping from childhood to well into adulthood, the consequence of trauma has been expanded to those outside of the military to include individuals indirectly involved in the incident or event. With such an expansion recognized, recovery is being addressed in a more effective manner… no more out of sight… their voice will be heard.

By today’s standards, traumatic experiences requiring care ranges from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. When it comes to our vulnerable youth and the effects of trauma, the world, neighborhood, and home can create an ever-lasting impression on the heart, mind, and soul; without proper care, these youth are at risk.

Beneath the trauma inducing umbrella are events such as:

Natural disaster
Death of a loved one
Being in a car accident
Child witnessing home abuse
Family member going to prison
Loud noises, gun shots being heard
Shootings and/or neighborhood fighting
Child being the victim of abuse, physical and/or emotional

The above is not all-inclusive but should give you an idea as to what we are dealing with.

On a personal level, the following happened years ago, which, if handled incorrectly, could have changed the path of two very young boys:

When my two boys were just three and four years of age, I purchased two living ducklings as an Easter present (before you panic, we lived on a farm so this was normal activity). My boys were in total awe at the new addition and insisted the ducks stayed in the house. I allowed.

On the second night, the new addition remained inside and in a cardboard box like the night before. After much quacking and smelling of duck poop, around 4:00 am, I placed the cardboard box outside, just within reach of the door. Unfortunately the night was a bit too cold and the ducks did not make it.

My boys woke to the sound of silence as they stepped out to an unexpected event. They both were very upset, shed tears, and did not understand what had happened. That morning, I sat the boys down and explained in a calm and empathetic way what had happened. Over the next few days we had gentle and sensitive talks about it and before long, all was fine.

Though insignificant in comparison, if handled without care and empathy, the event could have made a rippling psychological scar of one or both of my boys.

If a traumatic event happens to someone in your life, do know there are general things one can do to minimize lifelong effects. In my situation outlined above, I remained patient and understanding, allowing deep and meaningful discussions (even though the boys were very young, they deserved respect, a voice, warmth, and empathy).

Simply being there is the first step, as for second and third steps, we’ll review what the experts in the field suggest in articles to come.

To help all of us progress, I welcome your stories to be added into our series.

If you chose to share, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman,
Founder and Journeyman
2nd Chance University

#1 Interview Ooop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(MO)tivator or (N0)tivator: You Represent?

baby wolf by Jose Inesta
baby wolf by Jose Inesta

Too often we game ourselves into believing work performance and attitude tell the story of MOtivation… unfortunately, many are fooling themselves by representing NOtivation to all but themselves.

Several key words/terms in the above sentence need to be unpacked before the looking glass:

  • Tell the story: This refers to the message of your behavior as defined by your supervisor, co-workers, and customers being served. Truth is, don’t matter what you believe to be truth, others define every step you take, every move you make, and every breath you take (yes, they will be watching you).
  • Motivation: Do the actions and messages you perform represent enthusiasm? Wondering how enthusiasm is displayed? Here’s a quick tutorial: desiring to learn (and do) more than minimum job responsibilities and expressing a good attitude. Supervisors and co-workers notice those who are willing and wanting to grow with the company; willing and wanting to take on new challenges; willing and wanting to represent.
  • NOtivation: Does the mere thought of getting to work cause cramps or undue anxiety? Truth is, the vast majority of employees are not satisfied with their employment situation. Tall-tell signs of being a NOtivator include being late, performing the bare minimum (just enough to get by), rarely assisting others though you are caught up and able to do so, navigating the Internet or your personal phone during business hours, declining cross-training opportunities, holding a “not my job” attitude, and watching the clock with quivering anticipation. Naturally these are just a few of the obvious signs for the NOtivator as there are many more.

After reading the above, if your reaction was “who cares,” congratulations, you are swimming with the majority of folks out there and boxed yourself in as a NOtivator. How long do you tread?

Ever wonder why you keep getting ignored when it comes to job promotions or pay increases?

For the record: Promotions and pay increases are not a right, they are a privilege; a privilege rarely earned (or given) to the NOtivators in the world.

Take an objective look in the mirror. Reflect on what the person looking back sees… not just the surface, but the actions and attitudes behind and beyond the blind.

If you dare, imagine what the customers experience when you assist their needs. Imagine what your co-workers define and if respect has been earned. Imagine if you were your supervisor or owner of the company… would you give the person looking back a promotion or pay increase? If so, why? If not, why not?

Looking glass moment: through the eyes of the customer and company, what do your ACTIONS represent?

One of the most difficult (and bravest yet rewarding) things in life is self-examination. Truth is, until you see who that person looking back really is, you’ll reside behind a sheath of disillusion preventing progression and personal/professional happiness.

I won’t ask the question again… for now.

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

“F” is for Focus

NY Subway by Nicolai Bernsten
NY Subway by Nicolai Bernsten

As a certified resume writer, I’m asked often by job seekers to construct effective resumes and cover letters. Being in the business for 15 years, there’s little I haven’t seen or produced. Over the span of these years, much has changed in format, style, content, and presentation… but one element has remained steady throughout the storm.

The significance of “FOCUS” has yet to fade, remaining an elemental factor determining results. Unfortunately, the concept seems to have been misplaced by many seeking career progressions.

Reason for bringing focus back to the forefront: This past week I was contacted by a potential client to develop a professional resume and cover letter as he had not found interview offers for months. After our initial consultation, I sent the usual post-consultation questionnaire in order to ensure we were on the same page and path.

To be fair, if answered properly and with insight, the questions I ask can be time consuming as they force introspection and objective clarification.

During our discussions and paper trails, client responses are not necessarily meant solely for document incorporation, they are springboard opportunities guiding the interview process and career coaching sessions.

Before I lose concentration on the topic at hand, focus relates to letting whoever receives your resume and cover letter immediately recognize the position of interest and what you bring to the table. As a writer, I insist all potential clients deliver a career objective, one or two ideal job postings, and a statement as to why he or she matches the dream job (from an employer’s perspective) BEFORE drafts are prepared.

Fair or not, I choose to work with very few individuals, only the serious ones committed to success. Discounting my support and expectations tells me the individual seeking help is not serious about professional progression… as a result, why would I waste my time and services?

Dealing with the potential client from last week, my questions to him: “Please locate and send a targeted job posting/description and where you see yourself professionally? My desire is to correlate objectives to your background, knowledge, skills, and abilities.

In this capacity, please send:

  •   The ideal job description/posting / Two paragraphs summarizing why a hiring manager would consider you as a viable candidate”

His response: “How much does a general resume cost?  I don’t have a target job, I wanted a edited copy of my current resume.”

 

Looking at the questions I ask during initial consultations, how would you respond? Would you make the effort to respond 100% or would you look for an excuse not to work on your career?

Put in another way: Are you FOCUSED?

Hate to break bad news, a “general” resume will not secure career progression. Perhaps an entry-level job will appreciate a general resume, but for anyone looking to go beyond entry-level, FOCUS on the job at hand, tailoring to the posting (or career objective), and do the homework (like investigating the questions asked above).

Focus fosters:

  • Writer confidence
  • Writer ability to sell him/herself directly
  • Writer to interview transitions
  • Hiring Manager’s ability to connect job to candidate
  • Hiring Manager’s confidence in the applicant

 

To be clear, resumes without a target will always miss the mark. For those uncertain about job titles, tasks, duties, and hiring manager expectations, I encourage you to take advantage of ONETOnline.org. This free resource is a must – and should be one of your Internet favorites.

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

Week one on the job, an employer’s view

Image by Matthew Wiebe
Image by Matthew Wiebe

With job offer in hand and a new adventure on the horizon, cautions need to be taken to ensure your first week on the job (typically the most important) portrays not only that you are the right candidate but also that the hiring manager does not second guess his or her selection.

To better prepare your initial week on the job, let’s examine a few pointers from an employer’s point of view:

  • Timely: No doubt you made it to the interview on time, now’s the time to make sure the good habit continues. During the first week you will be looked at closely, including when your work duties begin (notice I did not say when you walked through the front door). It is recommended you arrive to the office 10 minutes early, allowing you plenty of time to grab a cup of coffee, get your good morning howdy’s out of the way, and warm up your seat. In other words, don’t walk through the front door at the exact scheduled time only to take care of morning rituals prohibiting you from being productive in a timely manner. Know your supervisor notices when coffee pouring and real work begins.
  • Attitude: Are you the same positive, team-playing, and confident person displayed during the interview or did you suddenly turn Jekyll? Recognizing people put their best face forward during interviews, companies are often displeasingly surprised at the stranger walking through the door… yeah, the new not-so improved you. One way to make a quick departure from your new position is to not be the person so eagerly anticipated by fellow co-workers. Advice: don’t fake who you are during the interview process as the “real” you will always surface, oftentimes with unwanted consequence.
  • Appearance: While running a former organization, I hired a receptionist to handle front-end clients, answer the phone, and be the front face. During the interview process (two formal interviews), the individual’s appearance was business casual and her professional appearance impressed all decision makers. Unfortunately on day two of her first week, she shed any semblance of what we had come to expect. Though individuality is encouraged, recognize there are lines in the sand… the first week is not the time to test the line… the first week is the time to become fully aware of cultural expectations and what is considered appropriate. The receptionist originally hired decided her true identity needed to be expressed… raw and unadulterated Gothic… being a conservative company dealing with conservative clientele, the line was crossed and she did not make it beyond a month.

Fair or not, the reality and consciousness of the company culture must be appreciated. Violating any of the above three bullets most likely will not work in your favor. No matter the position, try to place yourself in your employer’s shoes and then ask yourself: “would I want my new hire to…” Be honest with yourself as you evaluate actions, attitude, and appearance.

It’s easy to fool yourself into believing anything you want… it’s not so easy fooling your employer.

Seeking employment, promotion, or career transitioning support, self-help job development books and resources, including material designed for those transitioning out of prison, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com.

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

Employer Interview Decision Time

Image by Chelsea Francis
Image by Chelsea Francis

Over the past week much has happened. Not only did I receive numerous emails asking which candidate was selected, I was asked how the decision was made.

Quick recap: Recently, Tropical Air of Central Florida, located in the Longwood area, searched for an administrative/office support staff. With the help of Goodwill Industries (Job Connection) and Christian HELP, applicants were interviewed, resulting in four final and well-qualified candidates.

Second interviews were held over a three-day period (last week):

  • All four applicants earned great marks for dress attire.
  • All four applicants arrived in a timely manner, approximately ten minutes early.
  • Nonverbal communication went well; eye contact, voice tone, attitude, and hand shake matched expectations.
  • Three of the four asked well-researched questions at the conclusion of the interview.
  • Two of the four sent follow-up notes within the appropriate time (two neglected the letter).
  • One of the four not only followed-up with a note, but also initiated a phone conversation, inquiring about the position while desensitizing latent employer concerns.
  • All four applicants felt comfortable with the environment and confident job functions would be handled with little hesitation.
  • Two of the four applicants offered beneficial unique contributions.

Decision time: Impressed by the four candidates, a choice had to be made

  • The decision was made based upon who we felt wanted the job more than the other candidates. For the two candidates not submitting a follow-up note or call, the impression was they were not as interested in the position as the other two.
  • The follow-up letters “showed” a desire to be part of our team. With this said, two candidates remained in a slot designed for one.
  • An additional phone call and strategy by one of the candidates in an effort to desensitize our concern leaned the decision her way.
  • Though education level was not officially considered, offering an advanced degree and unique value beyond the other three candidates helped sway the decision.

To summarize: There are many factors employers take into consideration during the interview and hiring process.

  • Appearance: Dress appropriately. Never wear sweats, jerseys, jeans, or fun casual.
  • Nonverbal: Show interest with good posture (no slumping in the chair), eye contact (do not stare as that can be creepy), firm hand shake, and always wear a smile.
  • Arrival: Ten minutes prior to scheduled time is considered proper. Do not arrive more than ten minutes early as this is disrespectful. If you are going to be late, call and explain (most employers know things happen and will understand).
  • KSA: Prove you possess the fundamental knowledge, skills, and abilities to get the job done.
  • Professionalism: Courtesy goes a long way.
  • Company research: Have several questions ready, proving homework and diligence is on your side.
  • Follow-up: This is often the tie-breaker. A simple hand written note and quick call often differentiates close calls.

If you are invited to interview but not offered the position, always follow-up with a thank you note. Truth is, not all initial hires are the right choice. Changes can (and do) happen, making the next in line the newest employee.

To review and consider career development books and resources, including material designed specifically for those transitioning from military service, resume / cover letter construction, networking, and interview strategies as well as employment guidance for ex-felons visit http://www.edu-cs.com, http://www.CareerBreakOut.com, or http://www.2ndChanceUniversity.com.

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