Education Career Services

July 29, 2010

Your Career Search in a High-Tech World

Submitted by Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW

Senior IT executives will tell you that having the right technology and a strong IT strategy is pivotal in today’s ever-changing high-tech marketplace.  And rather your career search is global or local, your on-line efforts are just as important. 

However, while IT is an important aspect of any company, there are plenty of other business functions – like Human Resources and Sales & Marketing – which would vie for top priority in making an organization a success.  The truth is they are all instrumental parts of the whole, working together to optimize revenue and profitability.  Likewise, your career search must incorporate many elements to be truly successful and maximize returns.

Your IT Strategy:

Besides posting a résumé on job sites, maintain a professional networking page on a website like LinkedIn.  While your LinkedIn page contains much of the same information as your résumé, it should be different in tone and verbiage.  After all, if you submit your résumé to a company, you don’t want them feeling like they’ve seen all this information before when they review your LinkedIn page or vice versa.  Having the content of your profile page professional prepared by a trained résumé writer might be one way to maximize your on-line presence. If you are unable to secure the help of a professional writer, throw a few ideas our way and we will offer insight and guidance.

Your Human Resources Tactics:

Personal contact is key to networking success as well as getting your foot in the door for interviews.  Do NOT be afraid to pick up the phone and introduce yourself to a prospective hiring authority or professional contact.  Asking for informational interviews is one way to expand your contacts and place yourself on an employer’s radar.  Also after sending a decision maker your résumé, connecting with them by phone is very important.  On a side note, always use business etiquette because this will help you cement a positive impression.

Your Sales & Marketing Campaign:

A solid résumé and cover letter is your method of promoting yourself to hiring authorities.  Making sure your documents are error free and convey your value with powerful, active-voice language will position you ahead of your competition.  Having a professional résumé writer or your career services department review and/or prepare your documents is like having a professional advertising company prepare a marketing campaign.  You want to hit your audience with the best material possible to make them pick up that phone and call you. 

Effective career marketing is more effective under a collaborative approach.  For the student, don’t hesitate to contact your career services professionals.  For those who have been in the workforce (as well as those entering the workforce), consider securing an expert in the field.  If you have any questions or would like me to quickly review your material, give me a shout-out.

Thank you Kimberly, your wisdom is always appreciated.

dhuffman
EducationCS.com
407-206-5883

July 26, 2010

Social Media Intoxication: enough all ready!

I finally have a few minutes to reflect about the day and how to maneuver along this crazy highway called electronic social networking. Problem, the only thing I can think of is: I need to check my LinkedIn, Twitter, Face Book, and five other accounts just in case…

There are benefits of networking but where is the point of diminishing return? Or is there such a concept in this arena?

How much time and energy do you spend texting, twitting, linking, and face booking? If we accumulated the amount of time spent (or should I have said wasted) peering into monitors and punching keys over a full week period, do you think the minutes (hours?) would be staggering and perhaps eye-popping? Being a rookie with such technology, I thought I would take a few minutes and tally the average amount of time I actually do surf.  Perhaps the following is close to your time spent? Let me know if this is consistent for a week span:

* LinkedIn, logged in on the hour and spent an average of eight minutes on the site each time
* Responded to three peer questions on LinkedIn (total time spent for each ten minutes)
* Twitted and read those twitting articles several times a day (I am not a huge Twitterer so my time was limited to personal knowledge—no doubt many out there spend hours Twitting each day)
* Face Book was checked and browsed four to five times daily
* Blogging took a great deal of time over the week; with three active blogs to keep up, I seem to be running in a circle

Add daily interruptions and now I must ask, how does any real work get done? Running several publishing, writing, and human capital firms is a full-time (70 hour week) job—heck, no wonder my hair is sprouting more salt and less pepper! Maybe it’s time to kick back and rethink what we do during the day?

All of this leads up to the concern: Is the social/media craze worth the sacrifice? At what point is enough too much and at what point are we walking around with our eyes glued to a networking device—never looking up to see if the sky is falling or if there even was a sky?

I don’t know how far this networking evolution will take civilization but I am beginning to worry about the negative effects of social media intoxication. Thus far, I’ve had the pleasure to see the following:

* Employees forgetting to work but not forgetting to network
* Students texting instead of taking notes (while an instructor I disallowed laptops, phones, and any other electronic medium in the classroom)
* Less original work being performed and being submitted (or was I imagining)
* Family members not connecting face to face, even at restaurants while sitting at the same table (go figure)
* Drivers texting while operating their vehicle
* An over all decrease of interviewing and real social skills

Don’t know about you but I believe social media networking does have a darker side associated with it. For starters, think I’ll limit the time spent on electronic toys and insist those sitting at the dinner table with me pay more attention to the people sitting at the table. Perhaps each day enjoy simplicity, noise-free simplicity…

So what if I miss a Tweet or am not the first to see a photo on Face Book… does it really matter?

dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services/Career Services International
dhuffman@careersi.com

July 20, 2010

Managing Upward

Submitted by Rob Swanson, CPRW

An executive is, by definition, a knowledge-worker possessing the power to deliver results.  In this regard, communication, motivation, and various “soft” skills are required.  In other words, knowledge, in and of itself, makes NOT an executive. 

Communication is critical; we know that, many of us read books on becoming more effective communicators, and yet we focus those hard won skills downward and perhaps sideways – to those who enact our plans – but do we focus them upward?  Not just for buy-in, but for management of our upstream directors?

Managing upward…” It sounds almost subversive, doesn’t it?  We manage our direct reports not our boss.  But if you think about it, you will realize your best direct reports are those who manage you!  There is very little guesswork involved with your top employees.  They will let you know of their success (or of their failure, rest assured). 

Since most executives are responsible for “functional” duties as well as planning, attention is visited there with validation or correction.  Unfortunately, it’s easy to become consumed by the functional and forsake the intellectual side of the job; fine if you want to be a functionary, but to be a strategic partner in growing the company you must generate ideas, document them and communicate them upward.

Keep your director informed of what you’re working on.

Unlike functional work, which has standardized procedures, knowledge work is freeform.  You may – and should – have an effective way of generating ideas (charting, mapping, brainstorming, etc.) but it will be your way.

Managing upward has several components:

Being clear about what your directors expect of you.  This is your responsibility not theirs.

Being clear about what you expect from your director.  What do you expect?  If you want weekly evaluations, prefer a certain form of communication, want a director’s presence (or lack thereof) make sure it is agreed upon and understood by the boss.

Coordinate priorities.  Have a discussion about what’s important and what’s not.  Be clear, specific, and get buy in.

Establish clear forms of evaluation. Don’t wait for quarterly reviews; seek feedback in a manner that is acceptable and consistent.

Negotiate methods for directors to be effective in helping you.  Your job is to make your company great; directors don’t want to hinder that effort and, indeed, want to strengthen it.  Ideally, every action is supposed to increase productivity; management likely has a purpose for their action and if it isn’t working, help them fix it.

*   Be a solutions provider, not a problem reporter.  You were hired to make things work better.  Always bring a solution when presenting a problem.  If you don’t have a perfect solution, at least provide a) a logical analysis of the problem, b) a goal to be achieved, and c) at least a partial solution.  Take ownership of problems and work to alleviate them; don’t drop them into management’s lap like a poison snake.

Managing upward is simple communication to facilitate effectiveness.  The best employee is one who helps upper management manage him or her optimally.

Thanks Robert, your timely submissions have been missed.

DHuffman

July 15, 2010

Lean Résumé Writing

By Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW

Have you ever heard the saying “Less is more”?  Well, I don’t always like to hear this particular catch phrase levied in my direction, but when it comes to résumé writing, the statement is spot on.

A four-page résumé does not convey a greater breadth to your career or demonstrate you have immeasurable value with its length.  Instead it bogs a reader down in text, hiding your best accomplishments amidst duties and responsibilities that are often duplicated from one position to the next.  More likely than not, it is wordy and lacks the dynamic sentences needed to engage a reader and make you stand out from the crowd.

As a professional résumés writer I have the opportunity to write for a wide array of professionals.  Often, my client’s original documents are four- or five-page résumés full of information regarding their vast experience.  The problem with that sort of diffuse presentation is that a potential employer gets lost on the first page because the material is not broken up in a reader-friendly fashion.  When there is too much information in a document, the real value – what makes you unique – fails to come across.

Therefore, my recommendation is quite clear (and concise) when crafting your résumé, limit yourself to one or two pages and break up the information with paragraphs and bullets not exceeding three lines.  In general, students or recent graduates should almost always limit themselves to a one-page resume.  Regarding seasoned professionals with extensive experience, don’t be shocked but chances are a one-pager may work best for you as well.

Short, succinct statements containing quantifiable results are the best way to communicate to a potential employer what you can do for them.

So in conclusion, remember “less is more” might not be fun advice to receive but it does apply aptly to things like blue eye shadow, sugar-rich foods for children, refried beans, and most importantly – résumés.

Thanks Kimberly for our insight but I disagree with you on one note: less is more with refried beans? Are you insane?

dhuffman

July 12, 2010

Manifesting Your Ideal Career with the Law of Attraction

Writing contribution by Victoria Andrew, CPRW

Unless you live under a large rock, you probably heard of the Law of Attraction or may have even read Esther and Jerry Hicks’ The Law of Attraction: The Basic Teachings of Abraham.  You can apply the principles to any area of your life, including your job. In general, the theory involves harnessing the limitless power of the universe to manifest your own reality.

First, you come to the realization of what you truly desire and then ask the universe (or yourself) to manifest it.  Secondly, you work on yourself from the inside out so that you can be a positive person and surrender all negative energy.  Then, you act with confidence that you deserve it and as though you already have what your heart desires.

How Does This Apply to My Job?
Perhaps you are at a dead end job and want to move in a new direction, or perhaps you’ve been working hard for several years and would like a promotion.  By implementing the principals of the Law of Attraction, you can do what you love for a career and be thrilled when your alarm goes off in the morning instead of wishing to throw it against the wall.

Focus on Positive Things
Start focusing on what you DO want, not what you DON’T want professionally.  Instead of saying, “I don’t want to do this job anymore” say, “I am grateful to have a job and welcome new opportunities into my life that will bring me closer to achieving my dreams.”  You can utilize the law of attraction as a catalyst to discovering your way in the workplace, capture a promotion, and connect with your co-workers.

Define Your Goals and Dreams
Take some time to make a specific list of what makes you happy in your career.  What do you enjoy doing?  What makes you feel alive and invigorated?  Write all of these things down. This list will help clarify what your true calling is and help you obtain your personal career objectives.  Take control of your career path and act like you have already attained your objectives.  You will have support, a stronger will, and even freedom from fear and the negative energy previously preventing you from conjuring a more fulfilling career.

Tools to Help You Stay Focused
Once you have your goals laid out, it’s important to stay focused.  You can use a number of visual reminders to help you do this.

1. Vision Board
A vision board is simply a collage of your dreams.  Go through magazines or on the Internet and find pictures of what your dreams look like.  Cut them out and paste them on your vision board.  You can also write captions or details about the picture next to it on the board.  Start visualizing your life as it is in the pictures you have chosen.

2. Positive Affirmations
Create a list of goal specific affirmations.  Write them in the present tense as if they are already happening.  Repeat your affirmations, preferably out loud at least three times a day.  When you follow this practice for at least thirty days, your brain actually begins to reprogram your thought patterns and works on finding a way to make the affirmation happen.

3. Be Grateful

Keep a gratitude journal or notebook and write daily in it all of the things you are appreciative of.  Acknowledging the things you are already thankful for automatically attracts more good things into your life.

By defining what you want, staying positive, and taking small steps toward your goals, you will be on your way to living the life of your dreams.  You will become a strong presence which will make a difference in the way that your boss perceives you.  The giving theory will expand your career opportunities and also improve your life on all levels.

Thank you Victoria for your insight and sharing into your light.

dhuffman,
career services international
education career services

July 7, 2010

The (huge) line between arrogance and confidence…

Submitted by Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International

One thing I hear from clients over and over again is: “I don’t mean to toot my own horn.”  Well—on paper—you really should.  If you’re not using the resume to sell yourself to a potential employer, no one else is going to sell your value either.  There’s a difference between positioning yourself as the total package (which is what employers are looking for) and exaggerating your contributions. 

Accountability and ownership go both ways in the workplace.  Just as you would take responsibility for mistakes and learn from them, recognize your achievements.  While it’s difficult for some people to write about their accomplishments, it’s a little too easy for others. 

Simply put, tell it how it is.  If you created a process that saved hours in time and therefore thousands per week in costs, tell your readers how and how much.  If you came up with a plan to reach customers in a new area that delivered more in revenue than anticipated, tell your readers how, how much, and the initial goal. 

Taking the passive route will make potential employers wonder why they should even call you. 

Providing a full history of your career won’t necessarily get the phone ringing either, but highlighting contributions that could benefit any organization, such as cost savings, operational improvements, revenue growth, and client base expansion, will put your reader in the mindset that if you did it once you can do it again.  Just as we tell recent grads that having a degree is no longer enough, simply doing your job from day to day is no longer enough either.

How do you go above and beyond?  If you were to leave tomorrow, what gap would there be and would it be difficult to fill?

Every discipline brings a different contribution to an organization.  Whereas sales people bring in the money, the operations people are vital in making the process run smoother.  Instead of looking at resumes as tools for bragging, consider them as tools for personal marketing and progression.  If you don’t communicate your value, no one will know of your potential

Thanks Sigmarie, your contributions are appreciated and most valued. We look forward to more.

dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services
Career Services International

July 1, 2010

Worth your Weight in Gold

By Jenna Rew

Saying you achieved something wonderful and have an incredible ability to do something profound is entirely worthless unless you can back it up.  Lots of people lie on their resumes, which is why hiring managers are looking, now more than ever, to see that you can prove the claims you make.

If all you can do is give a percent or a situation, but you can’t say a percent of what or what happened later, then nothing and no one can help you. Your resume might boast those percents or situations and catch a hiring manager’s attention. Be assured, they WILL ask about them. Don’t be left speechless. You will appear to be making things up, even if you are telling the complete truth.

According to the Professional Resume Writers Association, the level of credibility and believability between “telling” versus “showing” is 7% to 93% respectively. Think about those figures for a second and KNOW the power of numbers and showing.

This is why I cannot stress enough, KEEP YOUR RECORDS. Document the accomplishments you make, include the initial problem or situation, what you did and what the result was. Look for numbers to quantify your claims. If you don’t know, ask. Worst case scenario: your employer will tell you he can’t give you that number and you attempt to look it up yourself or give your best estimate. Even one quantifiable thing can be better than an entire resume filled with fluffy daily duties.

Hiring managers know the general responsibilities of the positions they are looking to fill. The last thing they want to see is position after position listing the same things over and over again. Value comes from adding something to the company. You want to be worth your weight in gold, not part of the dime-a-dozen crowd.

I recently reviewed several resumes where individuals offered years of experience but didn’t list anything worth chatting about. It was all run-of-the-mill daily responsibilities nobody cares about. Upon digging deeper, I found some had significant achievements to brag about but were selling themselves short.

The time to be modest is NOT when you are trying to find a job. Your employer is not going to spend a significant amount of time trying to pry the information out of you. Either you give it up or you get passed over.

Don’t let yourself be one of those people who may look good on paper, but when it comes down to it, is no greater than the other half-dozen people sitting in the corporate waiting room. Record your accomplishments and wear them proudly on your sleeve.

Great submission Jenna,

dhuffman

June 28, 2010

Resume Mirror: Reflecting VALUE

Submitted by Steve Klubock,
Career Services International

How do you increase the odds the market will see your value and make a bid (in the form of an interview and eventual job offer)? In some ways, your job in getting a job is to force the company to see its own self in a product advertisement (that being you). Is my twisted logic making sense? Put in another way, once the company makes a connection, you will find yourself in the right position for the next step.

Let’s break it down a bit by comparing common commodities to this concept and how the average consumer/company defines a need to possess. If we were to find living room furniture and feel certain it would fit our current décor, and, most importantly fit through the door, we probably would purchase the piece. If not, we would walk on by. Likewise with a suit of clothes; if we can see ourselves in the suit and if it matches the style we are looking for, chances are, we would buy it.

So how do the above examples apply to selling yourself to complete strangers during the worst job market in 60 years? How do you get the market to see itself in you?

Warning: Attitude realignment may be required.

If you are selling, (and you most assuredly are) your presentation must be about the buyer (company) and his/her needs. With this as a mindset, your skills, education, contributions, and potential must be presented in terms of company need. Thus leading to the next question: how do you figure that one out?

Your résumé needs to present the value package as a solution to the present (and potential) problems challenging the market today and more specifically the company you are targeting. Rather bluntly, your value proposition is the foundation to open doors of communication and resolution.

Time for an exercise: Call ten industry leaders and ask them, point blank, what are the top three priorities or challenges affecting their labor force and what is it they value most in an employee. After about five calls you will see a common thread.

Next, look at YOUR career history and see where you have addressed these areas and how you are marketing those sought after qualities. Take note of what you hear (great knowledge during interview sessions) and know the buyer will ONLY be interested in the product (you) if what you bring can be internalized within the overall goal of the company.

Surely you are not a piece of furniture or made of fabric, but the lessons learned can be used to your advantage. Make sure your resume takes advantage of the top third of the page by highlighting VALUE.  These first few lines of information (Problem, Action, and Result) are the basis hiring executives use when evaluating candidates.

Keep a pulse on the industry you are pursuing and mirror company needs to what you bring to the table.  In today’s labor saturated market, packaging is almost as important as the product itself.

Wishing you success.

Thanks Steve, your 20+ years experience in career management is much appreciated.

dhuffman

June 23, 2010

Skyrocket Your Success with Social Networking, Part II

Submitted by Victoria Andrew, Professional Writer, Editor, and Blogger

The following concludes our previous post. Let us know what you think as well and how the activities worked for you…

2) Zumeo.com

Zumeo.com is a job search site specifically for recent graduates.  The job listing feature is very user-friendly and has a diversity of filters allowing you to search for jobs based on location, your personality type, your education, and other aspects of yourself not typically offered on other career search sites

Once you click on a job posting, more info is provided and you can click to view the company’s profile, view it on a map, or go to the actual job posting where you can apply for the job.  Users can also browse by company.

Users can multiple upload files to develop a professional portfolio, showcasing your past projects.  Zumeo also creates an online resume automatically with a brief description, your objective, experience, skills and education.  Although this functional approach is not recommended, it may give you the basic information and inspiration to create a dynamic and compelling resume.

If you’re looking to network, Zumeo allows you to connect with other users, join company communities, and submit endorsements of other users.

Activity:

Sign up for Zumeo.com with your email or through Facebook Connect.  Proceed to fill out a survey and on-line assessment to determine your strengths, talents, interests, and jobs matching your personality, goals, and skills.

3) Create a Blog

Blog about whatever interests you – music, books, politics, sports, food, whatever it may be.  In the perspective of social media networking for your career search, the content is not as important as revealing that you are opinionated and confident enough in your writing to share it with a community of online readers.  You definitely garner bonus points too if you’re able to create a blog that has a substantial following, as this demonstrates an entrepreneurial side that most employers love.

Activity:

Write a list of ideas, topics, and issues you feel passionate about.  Our of your lists of interests, passions, and even obsessions, choose one you can confidentially write about on a weekly (or even daily) basis.  Then, set up a blog in just a few key strokes by utilizing services such as Blogger or WordPress.  You shall definitely get bonus points if you’re able to create a blog that has a substantial following, since this shows an entrepreneurial side most employers appreciate.

4) Create a LinkedIn Profile

For those of you that don’t know, LinkedIn is essentially a Facebook for professionals. You’re able to provide a skeleton version of your resume and you can also connect to any professional or work-related relationships you have developed throughout the years. Employers are able to see this version of your resume, interests you have, and also the people that you’re connected with.  By creating this profile, employers are able to see how you interact and communicate with other professionals like yourself.

Activity:

Launch your own LinkedIn profile! Even if you feel you have miniscule professional/corporate experience as a recent graduate, take inventory of your achievements in internships, volunteer work, and classroom projects producing quantifiable results.  Having a profile will demonstrate a level of professionalism, ambition, and sophistication over and above typical college graduates.

5) Create a Twitter account

Twitter is an excellent way to get yourself involved in the community, show your thought process, and your opinions on many different subjects.  Yes, you can tweet that you’re going to eat a sandwich or that you’re dressed in a red boa for Gay Pride, but we would recommend tweeting more on your thoughts, opinions, revelations, and discoveries on the job search quest.  Employers will thus see that you’re an intelligent individual and that you’re able to communicate effectively, even if it’s only in the form of 140 characters.

Activity:

Create your own Twitter account and resist the temptation to tweet about trivial, everyday life experiences.  Push yourself to a new level and tweet only about your career interests and job search.  Demonstrating such discipline and restraint will set you apart from the crowd and reveal a higher level of sophistication than others your age.

Fine-tune your list of potential network contacts and set a goal to contact a certain number each week or month.  Arrange to meet with as many contacts as possible, and always ask each one for more referrals.  Send thank you notes, and update your contacts regularly on your progress.

Ultimately, job seekers should aspire to take advantage of any extra edge that they can get.  Capitalizing social media is an excellent way to get your name out there, to brand yourself, and also to potentially network with future employers or references.  By taking the fullest advantage of social media, the world shall be your oyster.

Thanks Victoria, you are greatly appreciated…

dhuffman,
career services international / education career services
dhuffman@careersi.com

June 21, 2010

Skyrocket Your Success with Social Networking

Submitted by Victoria Andrew, Professional Writer, Editor, and Blogger

At its foundation, social media is a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate.  IT tools supporting collaboration have existed for decades. Yet, social-media technologies, such as social networking, wikis and blogs, enable collaboration on a much grander scale and support tapping the power of the collective in ways previously unachievable.

Six core principles underlie the value of social-media solutions and serve as defining characteristics setting social media apart from other forms of communication and collaboration.  Principles include:

  1. Participation
  2. Collective
  3. Transparency
  4. Independence
  5. Persistence
  6. Emergence

Social media can include text, audio, video, images, podcasts, and other multimedia communications.  Ultimately, it can be an effective tool to help with your job search. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn enhance and expedite your hunt for a new job.

For Generation X/Y, social media networking serves as the most potent catalyst to forming the vital partnerships, visibility, and opportunities needed to penetrate the job market for the first time.

Consider the following sample sites and exercises for working your networking muscles:

1) InternshipRatings.com

Thinking about applying for an internship? Wondering what kind of experience you’re going to get out of that internship? Internships are the most important thing students can do to prepare for their career, especially if you choose the ones which will grant you the important transferable skills needed for your future career.   InternshipRatings offers you reviews from students that have already been through internships and know how valuable they are.

Activity:

Log on and create a free account with www.internshipratings.com.  Complete a quick and easy survey to rate different aspects of your current and previous internships, including the level of “real life” experience, compensation, and networking opportunities you have garnered so far in your education and early career.  Then, add a comment to describe a specific experience from your internship in more detail.

Ultimately, this site is a quintessential way to weed out the internships that will be a waste of your time and shall catapult you into the ones that will actually benefit you personally and professionally.

Next post we will go over four more sites and activities for each. So, if I were you, I’d make sure and check out this location in the next few days as we skyrocket the social networking scene all the while propelling your success.

Thanks Victoria, I can’t wait to continue…

dhuffman,

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