Tag Archives: perception

NUMBS the Word

Beyond the opinionated rhetoric and political manipulation catering to personal agendas to the point of complete detachment, I am finding it hard pressed for the current controlling party and leader to claim our career landscape to be petals and roses. More than that, I find it personally revolting to believe the America’s masses are satisfied with the solvent green approach to career number manipulation.

Getting back to social normalcy (but only for a moment) let’s take a forged path and review recent fodder from the “Career Thought Leaders” findings of the 2011 Global Career Brainstorming Day. Adding credibility to this column, the following represents a sampling of the employability challenges we are facing.

* The ongoing recession impacts employment, producing these trends:

1. More competition at lower-level jobs. Job seekers are applying for lower-paying/lower-status jobs in an effort to find work after long periods of unemployment.

2. Increasing competition from foreign workers, most notably for jobs requiring specific skills or offering very low pay.

3. Lack of relevant experience. There is a growing trend for recent grads to take unpaid internships to gain experience.

4. Underemployment. Educated workers have taken jobs outside their area of expertise, therefore making less money and usually experiencing less job satisfaction.

5. Ageism. Older workers may not be hired unless they can prove they are capable of keeping up and are up to date with current practices and technologies.

* Reinvention and transition are not new, but are growing. Career professionals have always seen people who needed to reinvent themselves in the wake of the death of a dream. But the growing number of reinvention cases may correlate with broader shifts in the external environment.

* Challenges with long-term unemployed may exceed the expertise of career professionals. Job seekers facing issues such as depression and shame that accompany long-term unemployment may require assistance from qualified mental health professionals.

* Volunteer and part-time work can build valuable experience and open opportunities. Although not a solution to unemployment, such experience can be extremely helpful in keeping the job seeker’s “worker mindset,” can add valuable content to the resume, and may lead to a full-time opportunity.

With the above “NOW” trends actually happening, what does it mean for the lower- and middle-wage earner who happens to be underemployed or unemployed?

Here’s a hint: Nothing is going to change in the immediate future but that does mean the television and radio paid advertisements won’t assure us to the contrary. Hate to be the bearer of bad news but listening without hearing the power elite’s schema conveniently hiding just below the paid words serving to deceive the Jerry Springer watchers simply will not satisfy any more.

For those fortunate to have a full-time position and are not under the influence of “who’s my baby’s daddy,” keep up the good work and if you ever think about complaining, think again. For those seeking employment, maybe it is time to roll up your sleeves, forget about the DNA test, and do whatever it takes to survive. That would include seeking volunteer or community efforts, undergoing professional development workshops into a field less elastic to economic sways, and a redefinition of sorts.

While on the subject: Does anybody really believe the crap portrayed so brilliantly on Jerry?

Being an election year, many will be hearing about an economic upswing and how holding on for four more years will push us “forward.” Not sure where this “forward’ will take us but the term has been used on other political platforms… anybody remember what happened to those? I don’t claim to know what will happen tomorrow but I do know what is happening now… and I’m not impressed.

The career challenges we are facing today will not go away until we recognize the political agendas fueling cultural numbness. Go ahead, pinch yourself… have we become cultural zombies lacking the capacity to feel or has that vanished too.

Perhaps NOW is the time to wake up, recognize the mess we are in, and actually do something about it. Being unemployed is ugly… no matter which leader tells us otherwise.

Hoping you listen to what has yet to be said,

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

Phone Interviews on the Rise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Career Breakout: To Bump or NOT to Bump

Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking part in a mock interview workshop. Students from a local college had the opportunity to engage in a real-life setting as they prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation in June. Not to worry, what I have to say will hit home, student or not.

Though there are many issues needing attention, for the sake of time, I am going to address two common interview pet-peeves: shoes and the fist bump.

The topic of shoes was not openly discussed or appeared to be on anyone’s mind. Actually this was rather obvious as most of the students seemed to misplace the importance of what goes on the foot. To be blunt, shoes do play an important role in your appearance and can be a factor in NOT getting a second interview invite.

For the ladies, shoes should be professional and conservative in nature. There are hiring executives who will not look favorably on five-inch heels sporting poorly painted nails. As one who has interviewed many over the years, one of the first things I notice happens to be what covers the feet.

Make sure the shoes match the outfit and if you are wearing open-ended shoes, complete the package with a nice pedicure. You definitely don’t want dirty toes to leave a dusty impression.

Career tip: If you don’t want the job, wear slides or tennis shoes.

For the fellas, you have no choice. Business shoesnothing else will do. Don’t even think about loafers, tennis shoes, or boots. Your business shoes must match the suit (yes, you will be wearing a suit). Wearing brown shoes with a dark blue suit will not do. Speaking from experience, those who bear dusty or non-polished shoes may be axed before three steps in the door.

At the end of several mock interviews, the topic of a hand shake or fist bump was brought up. I have one word for those considering a fist bump: Really?

At the conclusion of any formal meeting, the appropriate gesture remains a formal hand shake. The hand shake should be firm (not overly aggressive unless you are interviewing to be a wrestler and not too loose unless you are interviewing to work in a carnival as the person handing out creepy feelings).

Make sure the firm hand shake is not laced with sweat and lasts about two seconds. You definitely don’t want to make the other person uncomfortable with a sloppy five second shake that seems to last an hour.

Career tip: If you bump, you lose.

The mock interview session confirmed that many people simply do not know how to interview effectively. Unfortunately for those qualified, simple mistakes can ruin the chance of a job offer. Ultimately if you have questions and must make a choice, choose on the side of conservatism. Always be professional in what you do, what you say, and what you wear. Nothing could be simpler, yet few follow.

If you have questions and would like career-related insight, including how to ace the interview, ECS offers cutting-edge books and workbooks designed to give you a competitive edge. Throughout the pages, prepare yourself with hard hitting questions, truths, activities, samples, and proven strategies to improve your career station. For additional information, go to our storefront page on our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS).

For additional 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

Career Breakout: Standing Out From the Crowd

In response to a common concern, Dianne Irene, college instructor, business owner, professional writer, and career expert, offers the following:

“More and more people are graduating with degrees. How can I stand out from the crowd when I have the same education as many others?”

Education is important, but remember that there are other factors to consider when marketing yourself for a position to a company. Considerations include experience, soft skills, attitude, overall presence, and how well you are prepared. Let’s break down the elements forming your total package.

Career Tip: Think of yourself a complete package of information and performance.

Experience

Experience represents a facet of your assets offering great benefits to a company. True enough, there are still some specializations that value experience over education, but don’t get discouraged if you lack years of industry-specific training. Rather than giving up, highlight your education and experience as a sign of your success with a certain skill or practice. The employer will then know you can indeed perform this skill again.

If you lack experience in a certain area, creating opportunities for your portfolio can be easier than some realize. For instance, internships allow you to practice skills and they can be completed in a short amount of time. Some internship opportunities are measured in hours or a matter of weeks. Also, volunteer work is a great way to practice skills AND put into practice soft skills that are essential to being a part of a team.

Soft Skills

Remember the last time you dealt with a business where the representative lacked soft skills. This probably left you with a negative feeling and may have also left a poor impression on that particular company. To ensure a positive impression, always conduct yourself in a professional manner.

Career Tip: Pay attention to the small details about others that you are interacting with. Watch their facial expressions, their body language, and the tone of their voice.

Attitude

A great attitude does have an effect on those who are exposed to it. Projecting a positive attitude is an essential part of presenting yourself to a company. Maintaining a positive attitude will also allow you to make yourself available to more opportunities.

Presence

Make sure that the obvious parts of how you present yourself are in order. Your hair and clothing should be professional and not distracting. However, you will want to remember the less obvious parts of your presence. Be sure to make eye contact, stand in good posture, and do not forget to smile at the appropriate times.

Preparation

Being prepared for your introduction to a company can be the difference between standing out from other candidates and blending in. When a company is required to interview many candidates, you will want to be memorable.

Do your research on the company. Know who the key people are and what the company has accomplished in the last 5 years. Be sure to research some of the areas of growth potential for the market that your company of interest is in.

Career Tip: If you are up to date on technology, market trends, and company culture then you will have the edge needed to make a memorable impression.

Conclusion

Remember that you are a complete package with many dimensions. Just having a strong education background will not be enough to compete in today’s highly competitive market. You will need to hone in on all of the aspects of what makes a great employee. Highlight your strengths and consider sharpening the things you lack before trying to make that first impression that may last an entire career.

Dianne, thank you for your career insight. The high level of knowledge is appreciated and will be taken advantage of by many of our readers. We look forward to more.

For 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 us directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com. Cutting edge single topic career workbooks and complete career lifecycle books are available at our website (www.edu-cs.com) or visit us at Amazon.com (search Danny at ECS).

Contributed by Dianne Irene

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