Tag Archives: Danny Huffman

Career Breakout: Kickin’ It Old Skool

Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University highlights the benefits of organizing the old fashioned way, Index Card Cache:

In the 2007 comedy, Kickin’ It Old Skool, former 1980‘s break dancer Justin “Rocketshoe” Schumacher, emerges from a twenty-year coma to encounter a shockingly different world from the one he’d enjoyed as a boy- a boy bound for dance success. Fast-forward 30 years, you may find Justin and you may have a few things in common.

Your dismay at facing the job market–after a long hiatus as a stay-at-home parent or after a long-term job has disappeared in the latest economic upheaval–may not be quite as surreal as Justin’s, but no doubt you’re finding you’ve got a lot of adjusting to do and need some new skilz.

While there are many tools available to you to aid your search for a new job or a better job, many of which have been addressed throughout this column, there are still some Old Skool tools that should be in your tool box.

Career tip #1: An old-fashioned work ethic, a neat appearance, and a willingness to learn are all Old Skool moves that never go out of style.

An Old Skool tool that I want to bring back into vogue with this article is the lowly index card. Yes! That tiny 3×5, lined on one side, press of tree pulp you put to serious use back in the day–making cheat notes for tests, flash cards for spelling b’s, and categorizing quotes for a research paper too impossibly long to write well.

What can an index card do for your job search, you ask? A lot! Besides being a great place to jot down key contacts whose names you want to pronounce correctly in your upcoming interview, or serving as flash card reminders of the savvy questions you intend to ask if you make it past the headhunter and HR, and into a real interview with a real supervisor, index cards can help you on a daily basis keep track of all that you offer a prospective employer.

Creating your ICC (Index Card Cache)

What is an index card cache? It’s a collection of cards upon which you regularly record accomplishments in your work and private life. Any time you do ANYTHING, even if it seems unimportant at the time, goes on a card.

Got employee of the month? Goes on a card.
Offered a suggestion to a restaurant manager that, when implemented, improved your favorite buffet? Goes on a card.
Was dragged to a French language course by your girlfriend in preparation for a vacation or just because she thought it would be romantic? Goes on a card!

Hopefully, you can see where I’m going with this.

Career tip #2: Every event, every accomplishment, every award, everything that happens to you or that you happen to do worth noting goes on a card.

You never know what might be important in the future. Even when you’re not on the job market, keep your cards. Even when you’re in a job you love, keep your cards. What you’ll find over time is that any time you need to sit down to create or update a resume, write a letter outlining your accomplishments, or even make an argument for a raise or a promotion, you’ll have at your fingertips every detail you need to make a document (or an argument), that rocks! Why? It’s all in your ICC!

Thanks Kathryn, bringing back the basics is often the most effective method guiding success.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Employment after Arrest

The issue of career placement for those with barriers is not going to go away. Consider that these past four decades have created an American working age population that includes up to 14 million people with felony records—about one in every fifteen between the age of 18 and 64.

Not too long ago I attended a “Showcase for Ex-Felons” in St. Petersburg. During the day’s event, I had the opportunity to discuss and coach quite of few capable professionals who happen to have made a mistake and are paying for that mistake eternally. After five hours of face-to-face, a common theme threaded each candidate:

“No one is willing  to give me a chance. What can I do?

Much like in all elements in life, gaining employment comes down to risk versus benefit.

For an individual with a career barrier, finding, securing, and retaining employment could mean the difference between recidivism and freedom. Fair or not, understanding and taking a proactive approach means recognizing many companies discriminate against those who have made mistakes. An obvious example can be found on most job applications in the form of the “check the box if you have been arrested.”

In today’s tight employment market, employers often refuse second looks once the “box” has been checked. Though “ban the box” campaigns are pushing forward, only a few states (not Florida) have adopted the policy. If you are asked to complete an application with this question, honesty is always the best policy… being dishonest on a job application is cause for immediate termination. Though a catch 22 exists, the path taken should be the honest one.

Career tip #1: Overcoming a barrier can be a true test of your career skills, but success can be found if the tools of the trade are not compromised.

Much like all job seekers, conducting extensive company research, preparing to respond to the most difficult interview questions (oftentimes revolving around your arrest), and building the most effective skills-based resume and cover letter available. And yes, there are tools and methods used which will highlight your strengths. For instance, prior to launching your career search, create a well-written letter of explanation… details and samples are provided in our Overcoming Career Barriers: Mission Possible” guidebook highlighted shortly.

Without knowing your specific background and your situation, general rules of engagement should be followed:

The first step is to reboot your perception as other’s see you. As a company owner, I know there are benefits of hiring an individual with a humbling experience; enhanced appreciation for the opportunity as well as a more dedicated, loyal, and productive attitude over those without a blemished background—relaying these elements to a potential employer quickly lessens risk.

Career tip #2: If you offer limited experience and education, the task is not going to be easy; resolve will be found by tapping into the many transferrable skills you have gained over the years.

Second step guiding success: There is no time to become discouraged though closed door after closed door can be difficult to face daily.

There are many steps in the process and we will touch upon each as time allows. For now, let’s work on developing a letter of explanation and rebooting other’s perception and that begins by dressing and behaving professionally… anything less is not acceptable.

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, incarcerating its residents at a rate 4 to 7 times higher than other industrialized nations… we could go on and on but talk means nothing without action.

Education Career Services, pens and publishes career development textbooks and single target booklets. Our “Overcoming Career Barriers: Mission Possible” single topic guidebook offers 80 pages of hard hitting truths, activities, samples, and proven strategies to improve your career station. If interested in this or any career collateral, go to our products page on our website (www.edu-cs.com), or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS).

If you would like additional information or assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com).

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

Resume Language: Grammar, Consistency, and Point of View

Although the rules of grammar, such as parallel sentence structure, consistency, and punctuation, do apply, the statements we create for resumes are somewhat fragments in bullet or paragraph form simply because we eliminate the pronouns (he/she, you, we). However, this doesn’t mean correct grammar in any other sense of the word should be absent.

Career Tip #1: Above all things (along with accuracy), grammar adds to the professionalism of any document.

What would you be more inclined to read—a document filled with glaring errors or a document that reads smoothly? Keep in mind that people who read resumes on a daily basis, such as human resources professionals, hiring managers, and executives, probably see a whirlwind of poorly-written documents one right after the other. And although applicants may not be writers by profession, they are expected to know and apply basic rules. Otherwise, that resume is at risk of automatically going into the “no” pile.

When creating a resume, always keep your target readers in mind. Are these people going to be able to read this without tripping over ideas or punctuation? Are they going to understand what I meant to say there? Because resume writing differs from most other types of writing, make sure your writing is clear and concise (without being overwhelmingly choppy). For instance:

Option 1
Responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; managed relationships with vendors.

Option 2
Oversaw automation department, controlling $100M budget, leading 45-person team in system testing and verification, and managing vendor relationships.

Both options say the exact same thing, but Option 2 lets the reader flow with the sentence as opposed to stopping at every semicolon and also connects ideas/responsibilities in one sentence. The use of the comma after “department” and before “controlling” connects the second part of the sentence to the main idea, which is overseeing the automation department.

Career tip #2: According to the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), the use of either third-person or first-person is fine as long as it is consistent throughout the document.

Why eliminate these words? Again, it enables the reader to flow with the document as opposed to feeling like they are reading a biography or letter. Since they are more concerned about the value they can get from the applicant, they need something they can skim through. Being consistent is important because the omission of pronouns can confuse the reader if it suddenly switches from first- to third-person.

Using Option 1 from above: “[I was/he was] responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; [I/he] led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; [I/he] managed vendor relationships.” Although they both work in this instance, it does not always. As an example:

First-person: [I am a]Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership. [I] Create strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability through product development improvements.

Third-person: [He is a] Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership. [He] Creates strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability though product development improvements.

Generally, the third-person approach is more commonly used and has its advantages in terms of easier readability for your target audience. Consistency in all areas of your resume is vital, including spelling, capitalization, punctuation, spacing, and font, because you don’t want to confuse readers. The only questions you want them to ask are: Could you provide me with more information? or When are you available for an interview?

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

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Art and Local Involvement

Catering to our talented concentration of artistic and creative professionals, Artists Square’s CEO, Racquel Cruz, asked member Dyanne Parker, owner/founder at “Canvas and Cheers, Inc., (where u paint and pARTy) the following question:

Does volunteering and local involvement greatly enhance your art sales for your career goals?

Building relationships is the most important component in building any business. Art is adopted and not just purchased because a client falls in love with the color, subject, style, and mood of the piece. When someone acquires a piece of your art, they buy a piece of you and become extended family. It doesn’t get any more personal than that.

Career tip #1: The art business is personal and involves more emotion than selling a service or a retail product.

Spending almost twenty years in building a community and businesses as CEO of the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, building relationships, serving on Board of Directors, committees and organizing hundreds of volunteer networks guaranteed not only the success of the Chamber but built a network for business to succeed. As a new business or new business leader, a business plan should spell out a plan for acquiring and building a database of key potential clients and how that network of leads would be reached.

Local involvement can greatly enhance your art business.

Involvement is a commitment and has to be built into your schedule whether weekly or monthly. Track your time spent and always track the leads, sales and contacts you make.  Don’t commit to an organization and not follow through as it can cause more negative perception than positive.

Volunteer and donate to great causes. Some of the greatest exposure is not only volunteering your time but also your creative work. Grab attention while contributing to events where your work is exhibited and displayed. Giving back always come back to you.

Auctions are a great venue to showcase your art as many will see it, several will place bids to attain your work, and someone will become the new owner. Donate brings ripples of positive return!

The more people you touch, the more potential you have. Remember that it’s more than just a numbers game; it’s truly building a network of people that you know.

Career tip #2: The key is identifying organizations to build relationships with potential clients that will also create referrals.

Get out there, contribute time and art. It will come back in great relationships, success in business and friendships.

Thank you Racquel for your question and special thanks goes out to Dyanne for her helpful insight. For those wishing to reach out directly to Dyanne, she is an active Artists-Square member, http://artists-square.com/DyanneParkerArt. For those not part of Artist’s Square, join and let me know your thoughts.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Improving your Employment Situation via Mentoring

Dr. Kathryn Broyles, Ph.D., Program Director of General Studies at American Public University/American Military University, details how mentoring will benefit your career:

Maybe you’re on the job market for the first time. You’ve just finished high school or college and you’re ready to make your mark – ready to build a life for yourself and stand on your own two feet. Or maybe you’ve recently lost a job you loved and did well for many years and you’re working to retool your resume. Or perhaps you’ve determined you want more out of life and given the current economic situation you’ve decided to head your career in an entirely new direction.

No matter where you are in your career and no matter what your employment status, there’s a good chance that you could benefit from mentoring. Finding a good mentor is not always easy, but when you find one, their friendship and advice can be invaluable.

Catherine Apitz in a short article for the on-line journal Circles of Seven, lists a number of famous mentors and mentees from all walks of life. An example of note from the world of popular music is Jerry Wexler, music journalist, record producer, chairman of Atlantic Records, who mentored a number of musicians including Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Linda Ronstadt, Ray Charles and Willie Nelson. From the world of classical music, Israeli violinist and conductor, Isaac Stern, mentored the effervescent talents of cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Oprah Winfrey speaks often of the lessons she’s learned from Poet Maya Angelou.

What do mentors do? Mentors can introduce you to new acquaintances and new business contacts you might otherwise never have met. Mentors can help you avoid career mistakes by sharing with you their own stories and the processes and pitfalls they’ve learned from a long the way.

Mentors can challenge you to push yourself to new heights physically or intellectually – point you to the education you’ll need to succeed. Often, mentors are interested in supervising or helping you evaluate a particular project you’re working on or in answering questions and offering suggestions along the way as you work independently on that project.

Career Tip: In all areas of life, mentors can be of benefit to us, but they are an especially wonderful tool and support when we’re looking to improve our employment situation.

Who should serve as a mentor? Your big brother or your former football coach may be wonderful individuals, and great life coaches, but a mentor with experience in a field you’re seeking success within can offer insights and direction you often cannot anticipate needing. If you’re on a job hunt, or seeking to retool for a new career, look for a successful professional from whom you can learn. It’s important that you not only find someone that you enjoy working with but also someone who believes in your potential and has a vested interest in your success. It’s also helpful if your mentor is someone with concrete experience in the field you’re pursuing, though it’s not a necessity.

Career Tip: The traits of leadership and the habits that lead to success in one field will often lead to accomplishment in others.

How do I work with a mentor? When establishing a relationship with a mentor, it’s important to clarify whether he or she truly has time to help you and has the expertise to do so. Being clear about your needs and expectations and being respectful of their time is crucial if your work together is to be successful. You must also be willing to hear criticism, and to communicate clearly even in the midst of challenges in order to maintain a good relationship with another professional who has agreed to mentor you. Whether you meet with your mentor weekly, or Skype monthly, the encouragement and advice such a relationship can provide may be just what you need to get into–or move ahead in–a new career.

Where do I find a mentor? Good mentors are valuable. Be willing to work hard to establish a connection with a potential mentor. Think outside the box as well as look close to home for a professional you respect, from whom you can learn, and by whom you want to be guided or shaped. Ask friends, family, and colleagues if they can put you in touch with someone who might help you in your career.

If you’re just graduating, consider taking an internship (even an unpaid one) in order to gain experience in a field you want to pursue and from that experience you’ll likely gain not only a resume reference but a mentor in the form of a boss or colleague. Former professors can sometimes be great mentors as well. Social media sites like Linked-In can be another way to connect with a potential mentor. Don’t overlook mentoring networks maintained by professional organizations or alumni affairs offices as a source of valuable advice either.

Where can I learn more?

  1. A great interview with Lynn Chambers-Ketchens, published on-line by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health. discusses clearly some very helpful ways to understand a mentoring relationship:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBwSZpjh1yU
  2. Link to two articles on mentoring published by Law PracticeTODAY here: http://apps.americanbar.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mgt08041.html
  3. A lengthy but very readable article by Katherine Hansen, Ph.D. on finding a mentor can itself be found here: http://www.quintcareers.com/mentor_value.html

Thanks Kathryn, your advice is greatly appreciated. For those interested in learning more about American Public University/American Military University, where they are expanding access to higher education with more than 100 affordable degrees and certificates to prepare students for service and leadership in a diverse and global society, visit their website at www.apus.edu.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow me @DannyatECS

Career Breakout: Invisible, There is a Cure

“I’ve been working in the same position for close to four years and it seems as if I cannot advance in my career. What do you recommend I do to get recognized as an employee in it for the long haul and one wanting to grow?”

No doubt being recognized as a key player nowadays takes more than simply doing your job well. In such a competitive employee market, you must go beyond the call of duty or get lost in the shuffle or worse, become a victim of “right-sizing.”

Now that you’ve been with the same company for several years, NOW is the time to let your voice be heard in a professional and progressive manner. One of the most effective techniques of career recognition lies with you developing and submitting a one to three year plan. I realize this takes a bit of work on your part but the payoffs could be most rewarding.

Career Tip #1: A formal one to three year proposal can lift you well above your peers.

Last year one of my employers surprised me by providing an in-depth plan detailing steps she would be taking to become a more effective and valuable employee. Part of her plan was to complete her career coaching certification and also to introduce a web-based customer response team. Needless to say, her five-page proposal lifted her head and shoulders over other members in the department instantly.

Following up on her story, within three months she gained her coaching certificate and began coaching clients directly, increasing revenue while decreasing client services wait time. The following year she was promoted to department lead.

Developing and producing a formal strategic plan is not for every position and person but creating mini-career/company projections is something all employees can do. These shorter projections can be as simple as becoming more diverse within the company, for example, learning how to perform duties outside of your realm of expertise or department. Such learning show determination and increases the value you offer.

Career Tip #2: Diversifying your work duties beyond job descriptions gains value and career recognition.

Going back to the original question, I recommend you take a long look at the value you currently offer and what you can do to enhance your position. After writing several ideas down, think of the ways you can add value to the company and merge those thoughts into a formal proposal. Once you have your work proofed for errors (nothing like poor grammar to ruin a picnic), arrange for a meeting with your supervisor where you will submit your plan of action.

By submitting action and results, you are making a strong statement that you are a dedicated employee who is in for the long haul. As an employer, I actively search and promote dedicated and innovative employees, especially those going beyond normal operating standards. Unfortunately with large companies, taking a passive approach rarely gains recognition.

Career Tip #3: Actions you propose to take must be met or the career recognition you seek will not be favorable.

If you would like additional information or assistance in any 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 visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

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

Career Breakout: Interview Complete, What Now?

What do I do After a Job Interview?

If I could count the amount of times I’ve heard this question, I’d, well, need to do a lot of counting. It seems job applicants are so focused on every aspect of the interview that they don’t have a follow-up plan for once the meeting ends.

If you’re reading this and wondering, “I need to do things after an interview?” pour a morning cup of coffee and settle in. This is going to be a very informative read.

Let’s role-play for a quick second. If someone took time out of their busy schedule to do you a favor, what would you naturally do? I’ll presume you were reared with manners and answered, “I would thank them.” The same applies for job interviews. By taking time out of their busy schedule to conduct an interview, hiring managers and employers are doing you a favor–never the other way around. You need them, they don’t necessarily need you.

Back to role-playing… how would you thank them? Probably with a phone call or email, correct? Yes, right again. But in this case we’re trying to get a job by putting our name out there. Friends or family members may remember your phone call or email but employers are busy people that communicate with hundreds if not thousands on a daily basis. So how do you stay on their minds knowing that piece of information? The answers is quite archaic but, trust me, it works.

Career tip #1: A well-written letter after an interview can make a positive impact, placing you at an advantage.

Why a hand-written letter? Let’s think about this logically:

  • Phone calls are stored in call logs (or maybe recorded depending upon the situation). How often do employers access these records? Really? You need to ask?
  • Emails are stored in an Inbox. How cluttered is the Inbox of a business executive? The answer: very. Furthermore, upon reading an email, many people elect to delete or archive them depending upon their importance. In an effort to not hurt any feelings, I won’t mention where your email will stand.
  • Fact: Hand-written letters take time and effort. You have to buy a stamp and envelope; you have to plainly and neatly write the letter; you have to send it to the correct address. The simple fact you took the time to do this (and, to your advantage, no one does this anymore) will impress employers. Here’s the kicker… where are documents such as letters stored? On desks.

That means your letter, with your named on it, will be sitting on the desk of the hiring manger or employer. Talk about free advertising.

Generally, thank-you letters are comprised of three paragraphs. The first paragraph is the actual ‘thanks’, where you thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule to conduct an interview with you. The second paragraph is the reiteration of skills. During this time, restate why you feel you are best for the job and what qualifies you for the position. On note, don’t forget to mention a few key areas of discussion from the interview. Finally, the third paragraph contains contact information. Reaffirm how you can best be reached and add that you look forward to hearing from them again.

Career tip #2: There is more to writing a thank-you letter than simply saying ‘thanks’. Thank-you letters actually have guidelines that should be followed to maximize effectiveness.

Is any of this, including the letter itself, necessary? No, they’re not required at all, but that’s the beauty of them. You took time to do something that wasn’t required, heck, not even stated in the job listing. This shows you can think outside of the box, are willing to take initiative, and you truly are interested and hungry for this position. All of this wrapped in a neatly written letter with your name prominently on the front, sitting on the desk of the hiring manager is a huge PLUS for you, am I right? I knew you’d agree.

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. If preferred, email us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
www.educationcareerservices.com
Got Twitter? Track the latest: @dannyatecs

Going Global? Clicking can be dangerous

Today’s job seekers are advised that social media sites and on-line networking are valuable tools for professional advancement. But much like a poorly written cover letter or résumé can do more harm than good, a badly managed on-line presence can hurt you professionally. The question remains: How do you optimize your chances of success in the virtual business world?

First of all, blend the social you and the professional you with great caution. LinkedIn now features sections where you can link your Facebook and Twitter account to your profile. While many seem to think this is a great way to show your personality to a potential employer, it is NOT recommended to connect your LinkedIn profile to a site you use to express yourself freely.

Even if you don’t have drunken debauchery filled weekends where pictures of you could arise, there are plenty of thoughts, comments, and interests your boss does not need to know about you. If you want to keep these spaces free for your personal expression, eliminate the possibility of errors by not connecting them to a professional site, just saying.

Be aware that even if you do not connect your Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace account to your LinkedIn profile, your employer still can search for you. Therefore, check your privacy settings. To spell it out: While your LinkedIn settings should be set for the most open access, your personal websites should not. Make sure whatever an employer can access when they search for your name will depict you in a professional, positive light.

One suggestion to mitigate these concerns might be to create a second Facebook account for professional, semi-casual contacts. If that is the case, manage your friends list well and make sure no one on it would tag you in a Spring Break video from 2011 that you swore no one saved.

When it comes to connecting a Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, make sure your tweets are professional and non-confrontational. If it isn’t proper to discuss a topic at your office, it isn’t a good idea to tweet about it.

You probably already realize it’s a bad idea to tweet about the hot waitress serving you lunch or the stud-muffin you hooked up with at two in the morning. But also know you might want to avoid tweeting about strong dislike of people who belong to certain religious or political affiliations or your opinion about controversial subjects. Yes, this is the land of free speech but that doesn’t mean speech is consequence free.

While the digital age is fantastic, one thing old fashion forms of communication afforded you was the chance to think twice. You might write the letter – but you had the chance to throw it away before you mailed it! Remember that what you put on-line in an instant can be accessed by the wrong person before you have the opportunity to remove it.

By constantly considering what you put on the Internet from the point of view of a hiring authority, you can make your on-line presence a boost to your career rather than a stumbling block.

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. If preferred, email us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com or visit us at Amazon.com (search Huffman at ecs).

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Follow me @DannyatECS

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