Tag Archives: resume and cover letter

(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

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“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

Resume Dust Off

For most of us, the thought of a resume dust off is far from our mind. After all, these next few weeks are a time of cheer and holiday spirit… not a time for career considerations… or is it?

junk carIn an effort to keep Scrooge alive and kicking, I’m going to be a tad outlandish and propose we take a break from the cheer and update our resume while reflecting upon the myriad of professional accomplishments tucked away during the past 12 months.

Before etching scribbles on your resume, let’s take a quick skills / development / accomplishment inventory. Take out a piece of paper, a writing utensil, and a creative mind as you begin at the beginning…

If employed, during the previous 12 months did you:

  • Receive a formal employee evaluation? If so, take out your copy as we rediscover the contributions that make you valuable. Highlight the positive aspects of your evaluation, taking note on key phrases or words used to describe performance. Were goals defined and met? If so, list each, your direct involvement, and what affect your actions had on the company’s bottom line.
  • Complete professional development courses? If so, what were they and how did the knowledge transfer to work performance or customer satisfaction? By the way, hands-on or online courses are a great way to show how you want to progress within the company and industry.
  • Earn special recognitions? When it comes to claiming “I’m the right candidate for the promotion or new job,” nothing is more persuasive than a third party referral or award.
  • Save the company money? Companies are always looking for ways to save on expenses or expand revenue. This said, did you make any positive operational changes or suggest a better (more efficient) way to get things done? For example, perhaps you developed a spreadsheet to eliminate scheduling conflicts or introduced a morale-boosting program.

If NOT employed, during the previous 12 months did you:

  • Complete professional development courses? There are many free online classes to get you back into the industry world. Let potential employers know you are NOT one to be “sittin’ on a simmer.” You want to stay in the loop, keeping fresh on new ideas and industry standards.
  • Partake in networking events? Now’s the time to refresh on what professionals in the field have shared with you. Take a few moments to reflect key ideas and suggestions from peers, Incorporating key words into your documents. Truth is, you don’t want to be talking 2012 in 2015…that would be just smack.
  • Perform in volunteer work? Companies want employees who care about and give to their community. This is a winning combination and should never be taken for granted.
  • Continue formal education? Definitely a no-brainer here. Consider including relevant classes on your resume and/or cover letter.

Naturally the above bullets are merely a quick snapshot of potential progressions one can gain over the months, you may have more to add or less. Either way, keep a strong attitude and know you are the right person for the job.

Now that you have thought about the knowledge, skills, and accomplishments earned this year, it’s time to prioritize the top two or three areas most relevant to the industry/position of interest.

An effective way to filter the list is to think as a hiring manager. In other words, if you were a hiring manager, would you find the information valuable? If not, don’t use it. If you feel the information is something the hiring manager should know in order to make a well-informed decision, include it in your cover letter and/or resume.

Entering the New Year, keep a professional journal handy so you can list and detail the great things you do. Information from this journal can then be used during your next dust off as well as interview preparations.

I’ve decided to conclude this moment by repeating the final words from our last reading… yes, it was that important…

Do yourself a favor, stop sittin’ on a simmer and commit to making 2015 a year of fulfillment. I’m simply asking you to devote TWO hours a day, adding up to ten hours of career stretching weekly. If this sounds like I’m asking too much from you… you are stuck on a simmer and can’t get up!

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one.

For those interested in a professional career document review/coaching session, securing cutting-edge career focused material, or other professional employment empowerment services, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com or contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com

Sittin’ on a Simmer

Woman ShouldersHeard it over and over again… “No one is hiring during the final weeks of the year so might as well wait until mid-January to get things rolling again.” Though there may be a sliver of reality to the quote, this is not the season to be “sittin’ on a simmer.”

No doubt you’re asking what does “sittin’ on a simmer” mean. Here’s a quick reality check and what you need to do NOW to get off the back-burner and back into action.

You are “sittin’ on a simmer” if you:

  • Begin your morning looking for excuses NOT to begin your morning (attitude leads the charge, positive or negative)
  • Remain in your pajamas, slumbering around the house waiting for something to happen
  • Have yet to perform industry research and uncovering trends which may be helpful to your career advancement (and during interviews)
  • Have not conducted any professional development (online) courseware
  • Allow your cover letter, resume, and references to collect dust (not updating value-added accomplishments)
  • Refuse to engage in networking events designed to highlight and share your KSA’s to potential contacts
  • Make a conscious decision to put your career on simmer until season’s end (what the heck… what’s another week of feeling sorry for myself?)

Enough of the sittin’, time to take a stand in your professional career by:

  • Making a commitment to yourself (an affirmation by any other name) that today IS THE DAY for action (I will NO LONGER play the victim… I am valuable and nothing or no one will distract me from achieving my goal)
  • Researching companies of interest (go to the library if you are without Internet access), examine their mission statement, products, competitors, key players, and New Year goals (this is also where LinkedIn can become your ace in the hole)
  • Reviewing accomplishments over the past 12 months and developing stories behind each accomplishment (placing you at the advantage during the interview process as this adds confirmation and credibility—not to mention confidence). This is where the STAR format comes in handy:
    • Situation: What was going that required attention; was money or labor being wasted?
    • Task: What needed to be done and what would have happened if nothing had been done?
    • Action: What was your involvement; did you come up with a time-saving process or a way to improve customer satisfaction?
    • Result: What happened as a result of your direct (or indirect) involvement? How much money did your suggestion save? Did ratings go up?
  • Committing to attend a minimum of two networking events (and make sure you bring a confident/winning attitude as well as a value-laden elevator speech)
  • Reviewing and updating all career documents (online profiles included). This means taking advantage of any company research, industry trends, and your STAR stories.
    • When it comes to reviewing and updating documents, it may be in your best interest to have a professional resume writer review your material and offer suggestions for improvement. The fee is industry-reasonable while the rewards are potentially high. On this note, our writers conduct this service remotely to clients all across the globe. If you go this route (with us or another experienced career management company), make sure you feel comfortable with the secured professional offering this service. Rates for a formal written review and coach consultation ranges between $250 and $500, depending upon which company you select.

Securing a dream position during the month of December can be challenging, but this is the season of dreams coming true. To be blunt, the final weeks of the year are an ideal time to give your career documents a holiday workout.

Do yourself a favor, stop sittin’ on a simmer and commit to making 2015 a year of fulfillment. I’m simply asking you to devote TWO hours a day, adding up to ten hours of career stretching weekly. If this sounds like I’m asking too much from you… you are stuck on a simmer and can’t get up!

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one.

For those interested in a professional career document review/coaching session, securing cutting-edge career focused material, or other professional employment empowerment services, visit www.edu-cs.com or www.CareerBreakOut.com or contact me directly at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com
Career Break Out: www.CareerBreakOut.com
Follow Me on Twitter #dannyatecs

Cross Country Career: Cover Letter Construction

Image by Matthew Wiebe
Image by
Matthew Wiebe

Our last discussion concluded with: “The cover letter hooks the reader by giving him/her a reason to continue and consider you as a potential candidate;” now it’s time to delve into cover letter construction and considerations for those interested in treading external grounds.

Hiring Manager Hesitation: I need help immediately, not four weeks from now.

How does one counter hiring manager hesitation?

  • Recognize companies typically need help now, not next month is the first step. Your job in the cover letter (and subsequent interviews), reinforce why you are worth the added few weeks.
    • What makes you worth the wait and temporary inconvenience? If your cover letter does not address the concern, you will (most likely) not earn an interview. Perhaps you are exceptionally adept or offer unique knowledge, skills, and/or abilities. If you do, your cover letter is the place to impress.
  • Recognize there is risk involved, for both parties.
    • Hiring and training new employees is an expensive endeavor. Though there always will be risk with any new hire, out of town applicants are at an added disadvantage. What makes you a solid hire not only resides in what you offer, but for how long. For out of town folks with limited work experience or a weak track record, supporting an ability to stay in place (and with one company) is paramount.
    • Hiring managers intuitively question motives. If you are seeking to relocate, motives will be questioned… if there’s a problem, get over it.
    • For the recent graduate, the potential disadvantage can be reversed to become your advantage by highlighting how the new city fits perfectly for your new career and life-long journey. Now would be an ideal time to reflect on what it is about the region that makes the area so attractive… perhaps the mountains, culture, way of life, family, etc.

Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, the accepted average length is 3/4ths of a page. Consider taking a four paragraph approach:

  • First paragraph: Introduce yourself on a professional level. Briefly highlight the purpose of the letter (refer to job posting) and a primary reason why you are the right candidate. It is fine to mention a solid reason why the new city is of vast interest. Do not exceed four sentences for this or any other paragraphs.
  • Second paragraph: Make a direct connection between your background (experience and/or education) to the position. This is the perfect time for you to introduce your brand or unique value (something most other applicants are unable to offer).
  • Third paragraph: Highlight the company and city, drawing on how the combination is what interests your LONG-TERM goals. This part is critical as the purpose is to get the hiring manager to think: “hey, this applicant is not just looking for a job or a way out of a bad situation, he/she is sincere for the long haul—I gotta give him/her a call.”
  • Final paragraph: Don’t waste your final opportunity to hook the reader. Remind the hiring manager of a primary reason why consideration should be given. Warning: don’t repeat what was written previously. At the conclusion, establish a call to action and ALWAYS thank the individual when applicable.

Relocating is more common than in any other time in our history. By taking the necessary steps to recognize a few hesitations (and desensitizing them), you will increase the chances for a call back.

Even for those not considering relocation, the above bullet points and insight should be incorporated in your cover letter (and resume).

Hoping your career journey is an exciting and rewarding one, I am always here to help in the process.

For those interested in developing proven career success techniques or securing cutting-edge career focused material, including interview best practice techniques or how to write effective resume/cover letters? For those at a career disadvantage, take control by taking advantage of one of our most popular guides and learn ways to overcome barriers to employment (arrests and/or convictions). Visit www.edu-cs.com for a complete listing of available support or contact me at dhuffman@educationcareerservices.com.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services: www.edu-cs.com

Career Advantage: Highly Sensitive Precision

DSC_0057Ever find yourself getting hung up on details? Maybe your job is the fast-paced, big-picture kind, and maybe you find it frustrating. For highly sensitive people, details matter, and they matter hard. In the wrong place and to the wrong person, this can look less than desirable.

For the HSP, if the results of meticulous work are not instant and obvious, there is a tendency to be standing on the short end of criticism. For those not understanding what it means to be an HSP, there seems to be unfair finger-pointing, even to the point of being accused of procrastination, lack of dedication, or worse…

Reality Check: Being an HSP does not necessarily mean that you are easily distracted, lazy, or uncommitted. Being an HSP might just mean that you have a skillset that is not being utilized where you are.

That skillset is your attention to detail. It is precision. And that is something that many companies desperately need from you are unable to recognize only because they are unaware of the multitude of advantages you offer to a company’s bottom line.

Reality Check: How one is perceived and defined too often depends upon social conditioning and, unfortunately, social ignorance.

The Highly Sensitive Person’s brain does take longer to process information, but it does so more thoroughly than the average person. This means that the Big-Picture people can run around all day, overlooking things in trying to keep up. Truth is, companies need someone like you. Company’s need those who will keep them afloat with details that could be overlooked in pursuit of the big picture.

Showcasing the HSPs much needed contributions, suppose you were to notice an area in your workplace that could be improved with some fine-tuning only someone like you are able to recognize and resolve. You then take a moment to brainstorm ways that you could be of assistance in that improvement. Upon developing a strategic plan of action (as an HSP would do), you address the situation to your superior, highlighting an action plan and a most-likely result(s). Not only will your ambition be admired, but your ideas may be implemented. Who knows where you might go from there?

If you are looking for new employment, and you would like to utilize your precision, consider the marketable art of programming. There are a ton of training courses online, many of them free and fun for beginners. As you move up, you can find yourself subscribing to a site that could lead you directly into a career upon certification.

For more information on these training programs, check out this blog at http://jobsearch.about.com/od/careereducation/a/online-programming-training-courses.htm.

The Highly Sensitive Person is a uniquely added value requiring an innovative career management portfolio and plan. Over the next few weeks we’ll evaluate effective and industry-tested cover letter and resume strategies for your advantage.

Stay informed, confident, and know today is not just another day.

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
Blog: 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