Tag Archives: first impressions

#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

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(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

Didn’t get the job? Look at your hair lately?

Does your hair define who you are…in an interview?

DSC_0022As you sit twisting away at your dreads, you wonder why you didn’t get the job you always wanted, knowing you were qualified and you made a great first impression. Not being able to put your finger on a specific reason for not being called back leads to immense frustration.

Did you ever think that it may just have been because of those beautiful locks flowing from your head? Believe it or not, what you have on top of your head can have a major impact when it comes to career marketing.

Truth is, as seasons and styles change, so do hair styles. In order to better prepare yourself for that elusive interview, you must consider hair do’s and don’ts.

On a personal note, I have come across many jobs where hair was the reason for not getting the job. Thus, the next question surfaces: What is so important about the way your hair looks that makes an employer decide whether or not they will hire you?

First and foremost you must recognize that “Corporate America” has dress codes, even for hair. Most hair issues revolve around old-fashioned blue collar Monday – Friday 9-5 jobs. Given the conservative nature, many companies are concerned about image in order not to be frowned upon by mainstream America.

Natural Hair vs Straight

Natural curly hair, aka Afro, is a way for African Americans, as well as other nationalities with the same hair type, to embrace their roots. Unfortunately, there remain many negative stereotypes revolving around hairstyles. For example, many employers believe that big natural curly afro’s women wear today says too much about the person. First impressions, wrong as they may be, suggest, natural curly afros indicate the person will act like a “wild individual.” While straight hair indicates “empowerment and confidence” to the person who is interviewing you according to an ORMC HR rep.

More now than ever, women are growing their natural curly hair into big beautiful afros. But are afros too much for the interview? It appears so as “Corporate America” seems to yell a resounding “yes,” the bigger the afro, the less likely you will get the job.

Truth is: According to Afro-State of Mind author Laurie Daniel Favors, many jobs and panels frown upon the idea of women wearing natural hair in the work place.

Colored Hair

Should your hair make a statement? Often you see people topping bright hair colors such as pink and red, even darker colors like blue. But what is your hair telling the people who are interviewing you? Not to cut this short, but It may be best to minimize the shock factor by making sure your hair color won’t make the company feel as if they would be ashamed to introduce you to a potential client.

Career tip #1: Allow your hair color to should suit you, but not stand out.

My hair color was a main issue for me when working for an enormous company over three years. When I decided to dye my hair a color lighter or a color darker, I was told it had to compliment my skin tone in order to fit in with the company’s guidelines. It was made clear that if it did not, I would be forced to wear a wig while at work. Even during the interview process I was told if I got the job I would have to change my hair color upon starting.

Career tip #2: Read the fine print as hair color policies are often written in fine print within their employee booklets.

Dreads

More jobs have become hair lenient when it comes to dreads as long as they are kept clean. When it comes to initial interviews, play it safe as others still oppose or carry negative perceptions.

There remain misconceptions when it comes to dreadlocks and many employers do not like the look of matted hair, seeing them as not befitting to part of their business appearance.  “Young black men with dreads are often perceived as thugs,” said Dr. Gilo Kwesi when interviewed by Mary Mitchell on the topic.

Many of my friends have gone on interviews at a job that I used to have. During the interview they were asked if they received a job offer, would they be ok cutting off the dreads or removing the braids. Unfortunately, most of them did not agree to those terms and were denied the job because it did not fit in with that company’s “look” guideline.

Interested in a certain job that you know has a tendency to turn away people with natural, colored, or dreaded hair? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to get that job offer? If so, I suggest you stick a hot comb to the hair and color it a solid color. If you want to remain with natural curls, pull them back into a neat bun. If you are not willing to change your hair style to fit the company’s appearance guidelines, you simply need to find a job that best suits you and your hair.

When unsure of the hair policy, remember first impressions are critical, recognize you not being offered a job could be due to what’s on top of your head. One more hint, always research the company and the guidelines prior to applying to the job.

Your CC Connection
Belinda Lys

Career Vision Quest: In the door perspective

The wait is over. Your brain prepared plans and reactions for being accepted and rejected.
Sept 2012 yard 022
They called you back, you got the job. However much time passed, it seemed like forever. You fought to keep them equal, trying not to expect too much or fear the worst. No matter how your exterior appeared, you were stressed.

The fate of the next phase of your life was in the hands of a stranger – stress is only natural. But now, you have a job. Maybe even the job, maybe your lifelong career. Now you begin a journey down a new path, and you can most likely expect a mixture of feelings and reactions as the proverbial rubber hits the not-as-proverbial road. Your task will be to keep the following in perspective:

Relief

Breathing easy is quite welcome at the finish line of a job/career search. You have either successfully reached the goal you have been actively pursuing for the bulk of your life, or you are at a means to an end. Either way, you have taken a positive and productive step, and it is important to celebrate this victory. Building inner confidence, security, and peace can guide you through the stages of reality that follow.

Overwhelmed

Maybe the first day was easy but tedious, with little more than paperwork and introductions. Sometime in the first week, though, your work load most likely begins to flow a little heavier. As your peers and superiors begin to trust you more, your responsibility will grow, and you may find yourself struggling. You may even start to wonder why you wanted this job in the first place. If you find yourself thinking this way, it is important to remember the victory you celebrated when you were hired. Recognize that there will be challenges, and learn to see each challenge as an opportunity to grow and not as a setback to your success.

Culture Shock

You may find that your new job is next to nothing you expected it to be. Even if you studied the subject for years, preparing for a career in the field, learning the practical realities of a career in action can be startling. Maybe the expectations are higher than you think, or maybe they’re lower. There are a hundred ways life can look different behind the curtains when you hold something in high esteem for a time. What is important is to gauge your preconceptions about this job carefully. Try to combine them with all you’re learning now, and find a middle ground that helps you function as you grow into your position.

Perspective is everything, don’t forget that. Your perspective will get you places your expectations cannot. When your expectations fail, your perspective can turn everything around. By learning from the past, seeing things from other points of view, and staying optimistic about your future, you become adaptable to any situation.

Start small, and never stop. Congratulate yourself daily on a job well done. Repeat your new title to yourself, assigning it value and pride. Remind yourself where you came from and where you’re going, and above all, revel in every success.

And one more thing: Congratulations!

Interested in developing proven career success techniques or in securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support. You may also contact us directly: dhuffman@edu-cs.com to see how we can help you.

Rikki Payne, Career Consultant, Editor, and Writer
Education Career Services, www.edu-cs.com
Follow us on Twitter #dannyatecs
Bloge: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Career Etiquette: DOA?

Fact: Job postings are presented because hiring managers want YOU to be the right candidate for an open position.

DSC_0001Are you (or your student base) delivering or destroying on arrival? Before responding, take a look at what’s going on now… really… now.

Currently seeking a writer/office associate for our Longwood, Florida headquarters; for those interested in working with a team of professional writers and partnering with academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and individuals seeking career transitions, send cover letter and resume to dhuffman@edu-cs.com.

The above posting remains active, unfortunately.

Our management team is in the initial phasing-out stage and what is going on is rather disturbing: When it comes to candidates seeking employment, professionalism and career etiquette are an ignored strategy.

Let’s begin with a showing of several email responses in their uncut, uncensored form to the job posting mentioned a few moments ago:

1. “im interested.Evaluation: Grammar aside, responding to a job posting with two words is a slap in the face. By the way, no cover letter, resume, or sample was attached. Result: Not a chance to be part of our organization.

2. (No text at all) Evaluation: The prospective applicant submitted a dat. file which could not be viewed. No words were stated in the subject line; no words in the email at all. Our team replied with a Word of pdf format copy but a second dat. file was generously returned an hour later.  Result: Do I really need to say?

3. (No introduction or attachments—simply copied and pasted a resume to the open field) Evaluation: Without a cover letter or introduction, the resume lacked a reason to read… not to mention the disfigured display. Result: Another easy no even though this applicant did appear to offer a few positive attributes which may benefit ECS. Unfortunately the lack of professionalism forced a quick and negative reaction.

4. Four candidates did not submit a copy of their resume… is this really happening?

Our team could continue highlighting what not to do but I believe you know where this is going without further confirmation.

Over all, over 35 candidates responded to the writing position thus far. A slight majority (63%) did not supply a cover letter or formal introduction;
meaning most simply pasted their resume without forethought or intent to be called for an interview.

A total of one candidate appeared to perform research on our organization and the position (company name and contact was clearly stated within the posting). I say one because only one mentioned our company mission and/or products/services we offer.

Career etiquette means a brief introduction as to the value, contribution, and support as to why the candidate makes a good fit.

Career etiquette means designing a resume specific to the job posting, organization, and industry.

Career etiquette means letting the hiring manager know you really want the position… by way of following up.

5. Speaking of following up, NOT one of the 35 candidates submitted a follow up note, call, letter, telegraph, smoke signal, or message by pigeon.

Evaluation: Hiring managers know nothing about the candidate other than the job posting response. By not displaying professional courtesy (providing a tailored cover letter, resume, and follow up), you place yourself at a distinct disadvantage instantly.

With so much on the line, it would be a pity a few moments of diligence got in the way between an ideal/dream job and reality.

As a rule:
*
Compile a cover letter based upon the job posting and company research
* Send the resume as an attachment, Word or pdf
* Create the belief that you want the position by sending a follow up note, phone call, or both
* Professional courtesy will lift you above the many too busy on Twitter to show career etiquette

In regards to the open writing position, if you know of a writer in the Orlando area, send him or her my way. Before you do, make sure he or she follows proper career etiquette… or is that too much to ask?

Fact: Hiring managers desire the right information delivered in the right package and in the right way.

We’ll continue offering professional insight and review career marketing strategies so continue checking for the next submission. With this in mind, if you have career questions and would like a team of professionally certified writers and coaches input, don’t hesitate to ask.

For those interested in securing cutting-edge career focused books, including how to write effective resume/cover letters. Visit “Danny at ECS” on Amazon or go to www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available products and support. You may also contact our staff directly: dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com to see how we can help you.

Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Follow me on Twitter #dannyatecs
Blogsite: https://careerbreakout.wordpress.com
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
West Orlando News Online, Event and Career Columnist: http://westorlandonews.com

Career Breakout: E-Resume Basics

“I’m new to the whole online job search thing. I’ve been told I need to make an ‘e resume’, separate from my own, to be used on the Internet. I have no idea what an e resume is, I only have my normal paper copy… help!”
-Krista Lovette

This week we’re answering a question that people ask very often. What is an e resume?

An e resume, short for electronic resume, is an online representation of your already existing paper resume. Unlike your paper resume, however, e resumes contain none of the eye-catching ‘fluff’.

E-Resume tip: Since many electronic platforms do not transfer many of the graphics properly, it is wise to play it safe and stick to the basics.

When going electronic, keep your document reader-friendly. In other words, keep away from fancy layouts, wingdings, and graphics.

I know you’re thinking: “Why go through all the trouble of eliminating everything that makes your eye-catching resume stand out? After all, the point of a resume is to display your unique value… right?”

Yes, all of that is true, but when you send a resume to an employer online, you want to make sure they receive it properly, that it looks and reads professional, and you highlight the many skills and contributions you offer in a way that will entice the reader to give you a call.

Different computers–heck, different programs–read information differently. Have you ever tried to copy and paste a document on your computer only to find your information becomes scrambled and out of place? If so, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

By utilizing just a few simple rules and keeping it simple, electronic resumes are your solution to avoiding any reader-friendly problems when an employer receives your resume. Keeping it simple also makes your documents compatible with practically every word processor in existence.

Electronic tip: Make sure and include key words and key phrases in your documents as your material will most likely go through an electronic tracking system… companies often eliminate resumes before looking at them if the electronic tracking system does not pick up industry-specific words.

Okay, so your documents may look plain and boring, but remember the point of an electronic resume isn’t to make yourself stand out, it’s to ensure an employer is able to read your resume when it’s absolutely necessary. That’s why we recommend you have at least two resumes: your standard paper resume and a stripped down electronic resume to go along with it.

As Krista mentioned, e resumes are great for online job search sites such as Monster, Careerbuilder, and Indeed, allowing you to upload and share your resume online with employers.

If you would like our career experts to address specific questions or issues related to your career development and success, reach out by using the comment box.

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

Written by Brandon Hayhurst
www.EducationCareerServices.com
Got Twitter? Shadow us @dannyatecs