Tag Archives: education career services

Career Breakout: Tattooed, what’s the big deal?

Questions keep coming in from our audience; your voices do not fall upon deaf ears. Providing you an advantage, career professionals across the United States will be offering recommendations throughout our continuing Career Breakout series, where YOU control the question.

I have tattoos and each time I go to an interview, people stare at them and I can’t get a job offer. What’s the big deal with a few tattoos?

No doubt about it, the use of tattoo art is increasing. WARNING: Tattoos may be dangerous to your career. According to the top career management associations, tattoos are not always a welcome site on prospective employees. I know you are simply expressing yourself in an innocent fashion but not everyone knows that.

Through the employer’s eye, let’s uncover some of the stereotypes associated with ink on skin.

True or not:

  • Those with tattoos are rebels, not team players
  • Hiring executives link ink with gang membership
  • Non-tattooed employees are uncomfortable around those with tattoos
  • Customers become intimidated when approached by inked representatives
  • Hiring executives often associate tattoos with individuals who have been in prison
  • Companies dealing with face-to-face clients prefer conservative looking employees

The above perceptions many companies (especially conservative organizations) hold as truths and will be a factor during the hiring process.

Regarding our original question, though tattoos may not be a big deal to me, to many they are. As mentioned in a previous submission, perception and attitude are directly related. Thus, if the hiring manager sitting across the table holds any prejudices (and we all do), you may be doing yourself a disservice by showcasing ink.

Another consideration may be more difficult to swallow. Perhaps your qualifications are not as strong as other candidates or your interviewing skills are lacking. Either factor could be the reason there have been no job offers. Ultimately, to blame tattoos may be your way of rationalizing?

There are multiple factors why individuals do not make it beyond the initial interview process. Perhaps it’s not the ink but something else. On a side note, it is not uncommon for hiring managers to eliminate candidates due to bad teeth, body odor, un-polished shoes, a gut feeling, or a fishy handshake. The list goes on and on. My advice to you is to receive an objective career evaluation from a career coach. Asking a friend or family member is nice, but knowing the truth is nicer.

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

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

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

New Year / New Attitude

With the coming of a new year we can finally say that things are going to get a little better. But then again, economists and job trend analysts are about as fickle as the weather. Fortunately, each one of us has the power to develop professionally no matter what storms may come. As a career coach, an author of over a dozen career books and single-target workbooks, and a seasoned hiring manager/CEO, I can honestly state that most career progressions and/or new employee hiring is directly related to the candidate’s attitude being projected.

What does this mean for YOU? Glad you asked…

In today’s tight employment market, companies are seeking candidates who can carry more than the typical eight-hour load. You heard it, today is all about “what can you do for the company, now!” Herein resides the foundation of this article: selling YOUR knowledge, skills, and abilities in a confident and progressive manner. Easier said than done? Not really.

Quite bluntly, attitude and perception (the way others see and define you) are directly related and is a powerful tool to construct or destroy relationships, personal and professional. Taking it to back to the New Year and a new (or improved) career, the manner in which the package (YOU) is presented weighs heavily on the result.

One thing we should make initially clear to candidates lacking a great deal of career-related experience, rarely do the interview, job, and/or promotion go to the most qualified… more often than not; offers go to the individual with the right attitude.

How to enhance perception positively depends on how you package and distribute attitude. Let’s take a quick look at three mediums career seekers use and how attitude influences perception.

Informational Interviews: Defined as an informal discussion with the intent of gaining job information from an individual in your field of interest.

  • Proper attitude is upbeat, confident, respectful of the advice and time given, well      researched—asking relevant questions, and always professional.
  • Improper attitude can be defined by being pushy (asking for a job), irrelevant, sloppy, not  timely (being late or overextending), entitled, and non-appreciative.Under this example (and I’ve had plenty of both), attitude guides reaction and ultimate consequence… but you know this.

Career Documents (resume and cover letter): Defined as the primary medium used to formally exchange information related to a specific position.

  • Proper attitude is displayed by keeping information relevant, error-free, confident      (quantifying accomplishments), proper spacing (plenty of white space but not too much), and written professionally.
  • Improper attitude  is defined by taking a lazy road (using templates or self-propagating formats), using illegible fonts (or too small), filled with errors (could be an automatic deal-breaker), and is passive by nature.Under this example, a hiring manager gets a “gut” feeling as to the type      of person the author is. In other words, displaying improper techniques rings bells of keep away, even if you happen to be the most qualified candidate.

Formal Interview: Recognized to be the place where qualifications are confirmed. Most importantly, this is the setting defining how you “fit in” with the company.

Taken from experience, face-to-face attitude and perception never meant so much as during a formal interview. Naturally if the first two elements discussed above are out of sync, a formal interview will never be offered.

  • Proper attitude:  timely, respectful, firm handshake, asking the right questions  (well-researched), listening and responding directly to each question, behaving in a courteous manner, responding professionally, recognizing all parties involved (including the receptionist), and sending a handwritten follow up to be sent via snail mail.
  • Improper attitude is reflected by being late, loud, disrespectful, diverting questions,      sounding rehearsed, lacking eye contact, offering a limp handshake, not researching the company, being distracted, reeking of smoke, not offering any solid examples as to how you will create an immediate value, and oozing of arrogance.If you are currently employed, the importance of perception cannot go understated. To encourage promotions and/or job stability, take advantage and express the right attitude hour in and hour out. With downsizing and shrinking budgets, peers, managers, corporate executives all are eager to fill positions with individuals recognized as problem solvers. Candidate attitudes and the perception of others play a huge factor in shaping career success, an often ignored fact held by many.

    The New Year promises to be one of continued adjustment, personally and professionally. Irrelevant of your circumstance, the manner in which you expresses attitude directly correlates to the picture viewed by others. Now is a perfect time to reflect on this year’s goals, develop a plan to achieve each objective, and reinforce the value of a positive attitude. If you have not bought into the fact that attitude and perception is the foundation of success, try it for three months and prove me wrong. Consider yourself as being double dared. Interested in purchasing Education Career Services career resources, books, and workbooks, visit our website or Amazon.com (search Danny Huffman at education career services).

    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

Career Dissatisfaction: Cause and Consequence, Part One

Growing up, I had a sound grasp as to what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now, a few years later, I question if the eyes of my youth were simply naïve or if my adult vision has become tarnished by a cold reality. No matter the cause of this disconnect, I found it alarming that on average, only 35% of employees are happy with their current career or line of work (a recent survey conducted by the Career Thought Leaders Group).

To further explain why, several reasons of unhappiness were given, including bad (though not really sure what constitutes “bad”), bosses, time-delayed commutes where congestion ruled two-hours both ways, and lack of challenges. Naturally these are not the only issues as many of you can attest to.

As I delved into the topic deeply by conducting outside research on my own, one key point threading so much unhappiness was that people were not in the line of work they imagined they would be growing up. Sounds like a perfect lead into the topic defining part one…

Do you remember dreaming about what you wanted to be when you were older? For some it was a firefighter, an astronaut, a veterinarian, a teacher, or a bill collector (okay, maybe only a few dreamt of this job). Many of us remember these ideals as kids because we glorified them into something they really were not. So, here’s the next question: Why the gap between what we wanted and what we have become? True enough, we didn’t have all of the information back then and our priorities have also changed… having children have a way of shifting priorities… in a good way.

Still, two kids, three ex-wives, and a receding hairline later, many feel trapped within the snarls of career dissatisfaction. Perhaps now, as adults who know better, we should take the time to examine future career paths founded by truth and reality, where perceptions and expectations no longer play on different fields. And who knows, after examining objectively, the dissatisfaction ratio can be reversed.

An objective career reflection may uncover that fighting fires or flying around in space really is not that appealing… oh the dreams of a child… so innocent, so misplaced. Here’s some optimistic rhetoric for you: No matter your adult age, searching for and attaining that dream career can be yours. Yeah, I’ve heard the same story from people over and over: it’s too late to change, I’m trapped, I can’t… blah, blah, blah.

The truth is: Change and professional success can happen… but you have to be realistic, have a positive attitude, and do the work required. The first step (yes, there’s always a first step) is to research, reflect, and reboot; in other words, focus on the prize without relying upon how others define you. Being an adult infers great responsibility with the ability to filter out misinformation and external influencers.

On a personal note, when was a young pup, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Think about it, in a child’s eye every day I would visit the beach, swim with the dolphins, and save the ocean from evil corporate overlords. Then again and springing up to date, little did I know that this job required labor be spent mostly in a laboratory without the thrill of swimming with dolphins or lounging on sandy beaches. That’s what I dreamed of as a child… I doubt any career I enter now will come close. What about you, are you setting yourself up for career dissatisfaction?

Take a few minutes to reflect on your career path, then and now by completing the following:

As a child, I wanted to be a(n): __________
Three reasons I wanted to follow this career path are:
1)
2)
3)

Now that I am older (and wiser?), reality kicked in. Truth of the matter, three things I know now about the job that I didn’t as a kid include:
1)
2)
3)

By now, you’ve probably noticed that your priorities have changed, as they often do when we age. What mattered in a career as a child suddenly doesn’t matter as much anymore. In my case, swimming with dolphins didn’t stack up to holding a stable job that offered good benefits and pay. In the same vein, aligning dreams and expectations for your career must begin with step one. In other words, put your shoes on and get ready.

Satisfaction comes from making an informed decision using facts and statistics. An educated sojourner asks the question: what are the chances of actually landing the job. If your first step leads to an unattainable goal, dissatisfaction is most likely. Additional questions to consider include what are the working conditions? What’s expected of you? What type of company or services is being sold and will that conflict with my personal ethics? What’s the average annual salary?

Think about the reality of any career objective before that feeling of being trapped surrounds you. Ultimately, only you know what’s best for yourself.

Preparing for the first step is not an easy task and is often stumbled by blocks along the road. But with a clear focus in sight, it’s time to put forth the effort required to ensure dreams and reality will live together in a harmonious manner… join me next time as we examine ONETonline.org and how this career research tool can be your guiding light to a brighter and more fulfilling career.
Otters
Presented by Brandon Hayhurst
http://www.EducationCareerServices.com
Twitter: dannyatecs

Dwight Howard, Baby Mo, and Binky Throwing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dwight Howard is the consequence, not the cause.

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

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

See you at the game,

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

Job Posting 102: The Sequel

Based upon several questions from Job Posting 101, the following essay was born. For those readers feeling lost, check out the original essay and if three minutes flat, you will be driving steady.

How long should a cover letter typically be?

According to the National Resume Writers Association and the Professional Resume Writers Association, a cover letter should be in the four to five paragraph range.

The opening paragraph should be an introduction, including what you are applying for and a brief summary as to why you are a good candidate.

Second and third paragraph must support your claim to be the right candidate—in other words, explain by giving detailed accomplishments which can be directly tied to the posting. Without any doubt, now is the time to personalize the cover letter by paralleling your skills and contributions to the company. This means a little research on your part but well worth the effort.

Finally, the last paragraph is the call to action. Summarize why you are the right candidate and encourage the next move, an interview. In total, your cover letter should not be over a page and will typically take ¾ of the page.

I never include a cover letter as I don’t feel I am a strong writer, and fear that it would hurt me rather than help me.

Cover letters must be included. Though you may not feel as you are a strong writer, nothing shows the reader interest like a cover letter which utilizes key words from the job posting and company research. Definitely have another proof your work; don’t rely on the spell checker. According to career management associations, over 35% of hiring managers will NOT review applications without an accompanying cover letter. The key is to highlight the value you bring as well as a positive attitude (yes, attitude is portrayed in cover letters by choice of words).

Think about the reader for a moment when writing your cover letter and resume. If you were looking for a qualified applicant, what would you look for? Once you have that, all you have to do is fill in the puzzle.

I am currently looking for a job and have been since November. My resume includes jobs that I have had for the past 10 years (about 5 to 6 jobs). I think they are all pertinent and keep them there because I want employers to ask me questions about them so that I can explain strong points and such.

You picked a difficult time to seek employment but nowadays, there are no easy times to be unemployed. Though many find a job within months or even weeks, the average time between jobs is roughly nine months. In other words, do not become discouraged with the delay. I know it is easy to lose confidence but I have a feeling the right position is just around the corner.

According the associations, dates of employment need not go beyond ten years (unless directly related to the position and is not open to age discrimination—in other words, do not go back to the 1960’s). There are formats one can use to highlight your knowledge, skills, and abilities without fear of age discrimination. A popular format, semi-functional, may be worth checking into. If you are not familiar with this format or need guidance, please let me know and will do my best to get you where you need to be.

Going through 5 or 6 jobs in a decade is not as bad as it used to be. In today’s volatile employment market, it is not uncommon. There are ways to incorporate accomplishments without highlighting each position. Let me know and we’ll learn a few techniques. Anyway, do not feel intimidated by having several positions over these years. Without knowing your specific situation, I am unable to offer a clear way to turn this into a positive… and there are ways.  

One of these jobs is a Disney job. I recently was told that I should remove it because it’s not only the oldest listing, but employers have been known not to hire people because they work at Disney. Have you heard this?

Disney is on the blacklist? Geepers, this is the first I heard of this. Then again, if you were the Tigger character who was accused of fondling patrons, you may want to omit such information. Then again, working at Disney can be a great experience too. Think about the customers going through the gates each day. Even without trying your client and problem resolution skills will have improved. All employers want employees who know how to handle client disputes, who know how to engage in corporate branding, and know how to remain positive even under the most extreme situations. In other words, work the Disney deal by highlighting the many core and transferable skills developed. As for Tigger, he total cool so I would hire him (or her?) on the spot… so if you know him personally and if he is looking for a writing gig, let me know.

I hope the response helped. I do encourage you to ask a few specific questions and will be glad to expand on a topic or format.

With this, I will call it a day and wish you the very best in your journey.

Dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Author, publisher
Education Career Services, LLC

Responding to a Job Posting 101

A few weeks ago I placed a job posting for an editor/writer/researcher with the UCF Knight listing. Though UCF carries a solid academic program, the response to my job posting was a tad concerning. As a result, I spoke to several university career directors from across the United States and it appears to be an epidemic. No doubt you are wondering what has gone viral. 

Over the past few weeks I received close to 45 responses to a very specific posting. The next few minutes of reading is simply meant to be a learning experience and not intended to hurt any feelings.

1. Five candidates submitted a cover letter though the posting made it clear that a cover letter was required. For those sending resumes out, ALWAYS provide a cover letter. Those who do so, begin with an advantage. As a matter of record, according to the Professional Resume Writers Association, over 35% of hiring managers will disqualify a candidate if a cover letter is not submitted.

2. Keywords missing in action. I can count with one finger how many applicants actually took the time to incorporate keywords from the job posting into their cover letter and/or resume. Think about this for a moment and envision what a hiring manager would feel if the applicants do NOT use keywords from the posting or company web site. Nothing says lazy like lazy… are you feeling it?

3. Diluted job objective/summary. Most of the applicants did not have a summary letting me know why I should even consider them for the position. In other words, the vast majority of responses used the gun-shot approach. For those looking to impress a reader, showcase the immediate value you bring in the top section of the resume and support it through your cover letter.

4. Grammer. Ooops, I meant grammar. No matter what you do, always proofread before hitting send. Simply running a spell check sponsored by Word does not do the trick (another testament to laziness). Over half of the resumes were filled with grammar issues, misspelled words, constant use of first person (don’t get me started on that topic), and spacing concerns.

Needless to say, I did send positive replies to five potential candidates, requesting a 300 word sample of their writing skills. Naturally I gave them the topic. As of this evening, not one of the five have returned their writing sample. Once again, I am not impressed. Consequently, I am still looking for a writer/editor/researcher.

Though the above does not go beyond a surface conversation, the message is quite clear. For those responding to job listings, always engage in due diligence, research the company, examine the job posting, incorporate keywords from all sources, and produce a polished product designed specifically for the posting. I know it means a bit more work on your side, but it does offer great rewards.

If you have any questions or would like specific insight on a career-related topic, please let us know.

dhuffman
Author/Publisher
Education Career Services

Help or no help

Last week I received a call from an employed lady on the verge of being replaced by a mechanical employee. She is a trained medical code and her duties were being mechanized. Needless to say, she found my name and wanted professional career guidance.

Oddly enough, the first question asked was my charge. Okay, I’m sensitive to the fact that everyone is seeking a bargain, be it in product or service. My typical response: “I am too busy to do the work for you but will be glad to offer suggestions and walk you along as this journey unfolds.” My professional philosophy is straightforward, why pay me a bucket full of bucks if I can guide and develop the process so you can do the work? This kind of reminds me of the teaching a man (or woman) how to fish instead of simply serving a fish on the plate… perhaps you are familiar with the story?

Needless to say, my next step is to have the person on the other end of the phone send me a pdf of their material so we can discuss a strategy. Sounds like a good plan thus far? I thought so… but if this were the case, why do so few take that next step and send their material electronically? Could it be that when it comes to career management and the development of materials, very few people want to take part in their own marketing? Or perhaps could it be that the vast majority of employed (and unemployed) individuals out there are lazy?

I am tending to believe people are lazy. The medical coder referenced above was obviously displeased when I explained how I would be glad to help her along the path but would not do all the work. As a career coach and writer, I want the people I work with (and for) to take ownership and possess pride in the product. By playing an active role in the process, I believe this can be achieved.

By the end of the conversation with my medical coder, I was pushed to give her a price and told her my range varies between $250 to $2,000 (depending upon the complexity of the client and work involved). After her hesitation, I knew I would never hear from her again which disappoints me as I informed her I would not charge her for my time. Guess she wanted more than my time?

When it comes to career management, what are your beliefs? Trust me when I say very few people are gifted writers, in any genre. If you find yourself needing help with your career management materials or if you have interview questions, where do you find research or who do you call? How about a few tips?

DO NOT:

● rely on the Internet for resume samples
● use a template to create your resume or cover letter
● allow anyone else to take full control of the process

DO:

● ask for (and accept) guidance, three of my favorite spots to locate qualified writers and/or career coaches are the Career Management Alliance, the National Resume Writers Association, and the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches
● take an active role
● get help

Career Management is about taking control of your life and destiny. For those lazy ones out there, you can always give me a call and for the right price, no doubt we could work something out.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Education Career Services, LLC
dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com

Jon Stewart, President Obama, and had ENOUGH

Where do you get your news? I will be the first to admit it, my news source comes from only a few places; NPR, Jon Stewart, and a few career management associations. Odd sources one may say but one may say lots of things.

With this said, it would not be a surprise to know I watched President Obama last night on comedy central. Unfortunately, nothing new came out of this news… when is the right time to say ENOUGH of the rhetoric and the twisting of the facts.

During last night’s broadcast, the audience was informed about how the job market has been improving and how the economy has made positive stands over the past year. Come to think of it, the only message I heard last night was how the past 18 months have been good, not great, but good enough… here is the word enough once again.

If the economy and employment situation is improving, why are we in such pain? Maybe it’s time our politicians get out of the election mode and get into the reality mode… just a thought. With this in mind, I did a bit of reading and crossed upon an article entitled the Outplacement Report.

If anyone is wondering about the word “Outplacement,” that’s a nice way to say terminated. According to the AIRS Outplacement Report, Sept. 27, 2010, things may not be as promising as the president you elected claims. Let’s take a stroll down a road called tomorrow’s terminated:

Sara Lee Corporation is scaling back its ancillary business units to focus on its core food and beverage business. The company, which as part of the plan is exiting its household and body care businesses, will eliminate 390 redundant jobs in Europe over the next several years.

University of California, Berkeley will eliminate approximately 200 jobs early next year to reduce expenses. The job cuts will be achieved through a combination of attrition, retirements, voluntary separations, and layoffs. UC Berkeley has already eliminated 600 jobs since last year.

Cessna Aircraft Company will cut another 700 jobs. The company seeks to restructure its processes and reduce costs in order to remain competitive.

Boston Medical Center is facing losses projected to reach $117 million, and will eliminate 119 positions. The layoffs include 44 nurses and 30 management staff.

Abbott Laboratories will cut approximately 3,000 jobs as it completes its acquisition of Solvay SA’s pharmaceutical unit. Most of the job cuts will take place in Europe and affect manufacturing, research and development, staff functions, and commercial operations.

FedEx will combine freight and less than-truckload operations starting in January. In the process, the company will eliminate 1,700 jobs and close approximately 100 facilities. FedEx is responding to quarterly earnings, which fell short of analysts’ estimates.

On this note, gonna call it a day as it’s time for another dose of news and Jon Stewart is about to begin… besides, I’ve had enough of the political ads promising change (does anyone out there really believe the talk?).

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Education Career Services, LLC
dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com
blog: http://www.careerbreakout.wordpress.com