Education Career Services

February 27, 2009

Is high unemployment the new normal?

For the past two weeks I have not read the newspaper, hoping that if I did not read the news, bad news would not occur.  Go figure, I was wrong.

hot-cocoa

This morning, over bagels and hot cocoa, I happened to spot the front page: “Unemployment rate spikes to 5 million.”  Not too worry, I only read the title and quickly turned away…unfortunately this does not make things any better so I continued to glance at other highlights.  “Space shuttle to end operations by the end of next year,” this was too much to handle.

 

Thinking, as I left the building: “are we, as a nation prepared?”  I’m not talking about the economy…as a career coach and professional writer; I drill down to the career professionals who support the economy.  Is there was something we can do to push the funk out of the equation and get back to normal…then another thought entered, perhaps we are entering a new stage of normalcy?

 

Is high unemployment the new normal?  That is a question worthy of discussion.  Here’s another one:  If it is (or if it is for an extended time) what does that mean to the executives and professionals in the midst of their career?  Forget about despair, that doesn’t wash in America.  We are a nation of over-comers and this is no different.  So what specifically are we being called to do?  Start the discussion!

 

As for me, think I’ll stop drinking hot cocoa for a while and skim directly to the sports section.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi

February 26, 2009

Career Trends

Several times each year, career survey results are reported.  With current unemployment rates and uncertainty looming in the air, securing a stable job must coincide with current trends.  Around this time, many feel a need to share survey results with their own twist.   As a blogger, I do the same but try to keep it as objective as possible (throwing in a pinch of personality now and then).  As a blogger dedicated to career management, certain survey results tickle my interest more than others.

 

When the Career Management Alliance posted the ten best and ten worst jobs (data collected from career.cast.com), I felt committed to share the news. 

 

To the hungry and ready to graduate student to the seasoned professional, knowing what’s available is a large chunk of the equation.  So, tell me if you agree with the list, by the way, this list was compiled and ranked based upon Stress, Work Environment, Physical Demands, Income, and Outlook.  The total number of different positions considered was 200.

 top-ten-jobs1

Ten Best Jobs:

1.      Mathematician

2.      Actuary

3.      Statistician

4.      Biologist

5.      Software Engineer

6.      Computer Systems Analyst

7.      Historian

8.      Sociologist

9.      Industrial Designer

10.  Accountant

 

Ten Worst Jobs:

1.      Lumberjack

2.      Diary Farmer

3.      Taxi Driver

4.      Seaman

5.      Emergency Medical Technician

6.      Roofer

7.      Garbage Collector

8.      Welder

9.      Roustabout

10.  Ironworker

 

Take a minute and reflect at the two lists, do you see any common thread binding best versus worst together?  I am a bit surprised how mathematics and mathematic related jobs rule.

 

Then again, your career choice must be based upon YOUR desires, wants, and needs.  Under no situation should you discount the importance of any position or believe one position is inherently more beneficial; taking a gestalt approach, the whole is much greater than the sum of any part.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

February 25, 2009

Post-Racial Résumés?

Amy Lorenzo, Sr. Writer and keenly insightful career development professional is guest-writing today.  She brings up an excellent topic.  Enjoy and comment!

 

Since the election of Barrack Obama, the U.S. has been debating the role of race.  Does it matter anymore, or have we become a post-racial society?  Nearing the end of Black History Month—a celebration whose very purpose is being debated this year—tough questions arose for me when working on a career campaign for a highly talented African-American woman in science. 

 

The dilemma was this: Should I include a professional affiliation that would cue the reader to the candidate’s race? 

 scales

Consider my role as a résumé writer for a moment.  Much like a defense attorney, I operate in the best interests of my clients.  Using every tool in my writerly toolbox, I underscore their accomplishments more forcefully, format their documents to draw the eye away from flaws, such as employment gaps, and so on.  I routinely omit information that might betray age, political affiliation, or religious leanings, aiming to avoid the trappings of stereotype and get my clients a fair shake in a sometimes unfair market. 

 

Race, however, gave me pause, especially when related to the sciences.  In its 2008 report on science and engineering, the National Science Foundation [http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind08/c3/c3h.htm] summarized the current situation:

 

“The proportions of women, blacks, and Hispanics in science and engineering occupations have continued to grow over time, but are still less than their proportions of the population.” 

 

The statistics show women holding 26% of non-academic science and engineering positions (not 50%), and African-Americans holding 5% (not 13.5%). 

 

To combat this systemic underrepresentation, some organizations have adopted proactive stance toward inclusion.  To these companies, my client’s minority status might be considered an asset, a chance to boost diversity while gaining the talent of an outstanding individual.  If race made her stand out in this tight job market, when each opening is greeted with hundreds of great candidates, so be it.  On the other hand, if race sparked a negative reaction—even an unconscious one—then a passing mention would be a disservice. 

 

I had to ask myself, where do we stand as a country?  Certainly, we’ve moved beyond the clumsy application of quotas, but isn’t diversity still a “value-add” in an increasingly cross-cultural, global economy?  We are for equal opportunity all the way to the Presidency, but to what extent is this ideal reflected in our day-to-day hiring practices?  From the evidence, we’re getting better, but we’re not there yet.

 

Having no success with my internal debate, I dealt with this issue as I do most: I confronted it on paper.  In putting together a one-page “marketing” résumé, I weighed each piece of information carefully.  After detailing the impressive accomplishments my client had amassed, I found there simply wasn’t room for anything else.  As usual, I passed over lists of memberships and community activities that weren’t central to the client’s “professional branding statement” in favor of hard-hitting, quantifiable achievements that were.

 

In the end, I wrote a post-racial résumé…without believing we live in a post-racial world. 

 

So what do you think?  How do you deal with race or other identity issues within your career development process?  Or is this discussion even relevant anymore?

 

Amy Lorenzo

Sr. Writer

Education Career Services www.educationcs.com

Career Services International www.careersi.com

February 24, 2009

GPA: Do I or Don’t I?

graduation3

Recently I received a question from a student ready to graduate.  The following was presented in our career newsletter but will reprint for our blog.

 

Andrew Bott from ITT Technical Institute asks:

 

“I keep hearing different opinions and would like to know what is really right.  Do I or do I not put my GPA on my resume?

 

Dear Andrew,

 

Thank you for your inquiry.  When we start our career searches, we want to portray tactful information that will provide us with an advantage.  Unfortunately, a lot of people are never sure what is essential to communicate on paper when trying to make a good first impression.

 

According to the Professional Association of Résumé Writers and Career Coaches, it is only advisable to include a GPA on résumés if the applicant is a recent graduate that has received a degree within the last six months.  Please remember, however, that a lower GPA can be detrimental to your search instead of advancing it.  Some postings for entry-level positions request a minimum GPA, in which case it is acceptable to include it.  Ultimately, including a GPA for a degree from 20 years ago will bring no actual value as experience supersedes it.

 

Students, faculty, staff, and professionals of all levels are encouraged to ask our experts your career management questions.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

February 23, 2009

Salary Negotiations

Over the weekend I had an opportunity to coach a client preparing to negotiate a job offer.  Several questions came up and before long a top-ten list was born.

 

Before you negotiate, make sure you can answer each of these questions in your favor:

 

  1. Are you confident you are negotiating with the person who is empowered to make the decision you want made?
  2. Do you know your ‘bottom line’?  Do you know which issues are most important to you, and which are ‘on the table’ from the other person’s perspective?
  3. Can you justify your position for each issue you want addressed?
  4. Have you thought about what the company wants out of this negotiation?
  5. What will you do if you do NOT get what you want out of this negotiation?
  6. Do you know what would be a ‘fair offer’?
  7. Do you know who else (in addition to the person you’re negotiating with) needs to sign off on any agreement made in this negotiation?
  8. Are there any issues between you and the person you’re negotiating with that might affect the outcome (positively OR negatively)?
  9. Do you have a written plan (agenda) for the meeting?
  10. Can you demonstrate your value to this organization?

Be prepared.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

February 20, 2009

Resume Darwinism

Survival of the fittest;” these four words highlight our current economic and employment condition.  According to NPR, global layoffs for 2009 alone will alter 50 million families negatively.  To remain on top, the best defense is a strong offense: one must actively engage in a proactive approach in their career management strategy or suffer the consequences.

 

The “resume” has changed over the last ten years, dramatically over the past two years.  The days of “resume as biography” are extinct and with it passive verbiage, extended length, and over-sized generalities and have been replaced by “resume as marketing tool” with a leaner, stronger, and metric-based approach.  Take a moment to objectively review your resume, taking specific note on its:

 

  • Focus: clear, concise
  • Tone: aggressive, confident
  • Verbiage: lean, metric-based, non-repetitive
  • Appearance: audience focused, ideal length
  • Strength: survivor or soon to be extinct

We have all seen significant changes within the social, cultural, political, and economical arena.  Adaptation is no secret and key to survival.  Resume expectations have also progressed.  The Career Management Alliance states it clearly: to survive, executives must update their resume once a year or will fall prey to those displaying progression.

 

Yesterday’s biographical essay has now been replaced by a marketing resume.  Has yours?  There is no better time than now.  As a professional resume writer, I have seen a ton of outdated material.  If you are a student or a seasoned executive, you owe it to yourself (and future) to review your documents often and objectively. 

 

If you need any quick reviews or have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact me via blog or email address.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

February 19, 2009

Professional Portfolio and Career Persona

For the past two evenings, 12 American Idol contestants sang to the world and, on a dime, the world turned ugly for 9. 

 

Several submissions ago we juxtaposed the show with career marketing; the similarities keep on coming.  Simon mentioned to one hopeful that he just did not look like an Idol; true enough (after further review) the contestant had the voice but there was no connection…hmmm, how many times have you heard that in an interview setting?

 

Resume development, career summaries/objectives, cover letters, and the way you present yourself beyond paper defines who you are and makes your career persona come to life.  Like it or not, you are who the person sitting across the table believes you to be.  The tricky part is getting Simon, Paula, or a hiring executive to see you as the “right” candidate.

 

I did not want to rush into any decision so I waited a lofty ten seconds before making up my mind as to who I liked (and this was before a single tone departed singing lips).  What does this mean to you, the student looking for a job or the executive seeking advancement or a career transition?  Pure and simple, it means you MUST impress instantly—even before any handshaking.  Be aware that the ways to lose the first round is to present sloppy material, dress inappropriately, or display a shaky character (never forget the words of a song and NEVER forget YOUR VALUE).

 

Value is what the hiring executive is looking for.  Value is what you bring to the company.  For the seasoned executive, value is hitting the pavement running, reducing costs, increasing production, developing processes, penetrating new markets, etc.  For the student, value is the foundation of knowledge and skills acquired in college or a university as well as the strength to complete projects.

 feb-19-professional_life

Value believability is weighed by quantifiable accomplishments; in other words, the past predicts the future.  According to the Professional Resume Writers Association, 7% of people believe what they are told while 93% of people believes what they are shown.  When applicable, show the reader what you completed with facts, figures, and metrics.  As your career progresses, keep a journal of metric accomplishments and bring the total package to the stage for the judges to perceive. 

 

Much like American Idol, a successful career portfolio is not just what you bring to the table; it’s also the image presented and the ability to convince others you are the right choice.  One more thing, make sure you sing the right song by supporting the right objective on your resume.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

February 18, 2009

They Come Bearing Gifts

windows-vista-icon1I had one candidate bring me flowers at the interview; another brought donuts and coffee (had they been Krispy Kreme, he might well be CEO by now); one fellow tried to give me Orlando Magic tickets, bless their hearts.

 

Payola?  Desperation?

 

Maybe, but I choose to believe they understood interviewing is seldom enjoyable for the hiring manager.  Tangible gifts, of course, aren’t the right way to go; being prepared and upbeat is.

 

Except in rare circumstances, a hiring manager has a full-time job apart from interviewing.  It is a necessary evil fraught with things to make that manager feel truly crummy.  The fact is, you can only hire one person per position and you have to go through a lot of people to find that individual.  That means the manager will be dealing out a lot of rejections.  Few managers are so sadistic that such a thing is enjoyable.  Nonetheless, the interviewer is on your side; we want you to be the one so we can stop looking.  Let’s run down the candidate possibilities from my personal experience.

 

The Bad Interview:  The candidate sits like a lump and answers questions in one or two word replies.  Or shrugs.  Conversely, there’s the candidate that runs off at the mouth and never answers the questions.  I ache for these people.  They probably have value but can’t express it, so there’s nothing I can do for them.  If I have to pull teeth to learn anything meaningful, you’re blacklisted.

 

The Bad Candidate Who Isn’t Qualified:  She thought she was perfect for the job and I disagreed. Normally not a problem but she wouldn’t let go.  Even when I told her I need these certain skills she didn’t have (and wasn’t teachable), she argued with me.  Never a winner.  In another similar instance, he begged.  Personally, I’d rather argue; at least there’s some vindication in say no.

 

The Bad Candidate Who Is Qualified:  He nailed the requirements, but his demeanor was so uptight and arrogant that there was no way I’d hire him.  Other such candidates include the gossip who could do the work but would be so busy chatting the work wouldn’t get done.  Another is the profanity captain who couldn’t keep a civil tongue in just a half-hour interview.

 

The Great Candidate Who Isn’t Qualified:  He came in wearing dreadlocks and a three-piece suit… and made it work.  Within moments I knew this articulate, talented fellow had every skill that I didn’t need and none that I did; he was such a great interview I wanted to hire him but I couldn’t.  I was completely impressed and told him so; I just didn’t have anything for him.  I remember this young man’s name (a feat for me) and have his resume handy all the time.  Even if I don’t have a position for him, I keep my ears open for other opportunities I can recommend him for.

 

The Great Candidate Who Is Qualified: You know you have magic right away.  Professional, up beat disposition; meets all the requirements and seems a good fit for the team.  This is what the interviewer prays for.  Little bumps are easily overlooked (one said, “I know I talk too fast, can’t do anything about it, sorry” with a great big smile.  She also brought in a well organized portfolio that was outstanding.  At that point I was afraid I couldn’t afford her.  Fortunately we came to an understanding and she’s the best employee I’ve ever hired.)

 

Do you see how important it is to be a great candidate?  Well-prepared, great presentation?  In both cases, when I hired and when I didn’t, I want nothing but the best for the candidate.  That means looking out for ways to benefit the great candidate I couldn’t hire.  I’ve received two jobs by referral from interviewers who didn’t hire me.  And to be fair…

 

Sometimes Hiring Managers are Wrong: I recall a conversation with one of my best employees, telling him how glad I was I hired him.  He pointed out I’d rejected him the first time he applied.  I was surprised.  “Yeah, I wore short sleeves so my tattoos showed, I had a nose rings, six earrings, and a lip ring, and I let my hair free, fanned out to my waist.”  I did recall that interview.  I’d made it short and didn’t try to break through the dark façade.  He hadn’t made it easy and I didn’t do the work.  Fortunately for me, he reapplied a few months later without the hardware, in a long-sleeve shirt, and his hair tied back in a ponytail.

 

Make it simple for the hiring manager; if you’re the one for the job, deliver enough information to make it clear; if you’re not, ask for a referral and move on.  The great candidate will find a good job, so be that great candidate.

 

Rob Swanson, CPRW, DTALM

swansonr@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: www.careersi.com

They Come Bearing Gifts

Filed under: Uncategorized — EducationCS @ 9:18 pm

windows-vista-iconI had one candidate bring me flowers at the interview; another brought donuts and coffee (had they been Krispy Kreme, he might well be CEO by now); one fellow tried to give me Orlando Magic tickets, bless their hearts.

 

Payola?  Desperation?

 

Maybe, but I choose to believe they understood interviewing is seldom enjoyable for the hiring manager.  Tangible gifts, of course, aren’t the right way to go; being prepared and upbeat is.

 

Except in rare circumstances, a hiring manager has a full-time job apart from interviewing.  It is a necessary evil fraught with things to make that manager feel truly crummy.  The fact is, you can only hire one person per position and you have to go through a lot of people to find that individual.  That means the manager will be dealing out a lot of rejections.  Few managers are so sadistic that such a thing is enjoyable.  Nonetheless, the interviewer is on your side; we want you to be the one so we can stop looking.  Let’s run down the candidate possibilities from my personal experience.

 

The Bad Interview:  The candidate sits like a lump and answers questions in one or two word replies.  Or shrugs.  Conversely, there’s the candidate that runs off at the mouth and never answers the questions.  I ache for these people.  They probably have value but can’t express it, so there’s nothing I can do for them.  If I have to pull teeth to learn anything meaningful, you’re blacklisted.

 

The Bad Candidate Who Isn’t Qualified:  She thought she was perfect for the job and I disagreed. Normally not a problem but she wouldn’t let go.  Even when I told her I need these certain skills she didn’t have (and wasn’t teachable), she argued with me.  Never a winner.  In another similar instance, he begged.  Personally, I’d rather argue; at least there’s some vindication in say no.

 

The Bad Candidate Who Is Qualified:  He nailed the requirements, but his demeanor was so uptight and arrogant that there was no way I’d hire him.  Other such candidates include the gossip who could do the work but would be so busy chatting the work wouldn’t get done.  Another is the profanity captain who couldn’t keep a civil tongue in just a half-hour interview.

 

The Great Candidate Who Isn’t Qualified:  He came in wearing dreadlocks and a three-piece suit… and made it work.  Within moments I knew this articulate, talented fellow had every skill that I didn’t need and none that I did; he was such a great interview I wanted to hire him but I couldn’t.  I was completely impressed and told him so; I just didn’t have anything for him.  I remember this young man’s name (a feat for me) and have his resume handy all the time.  Even if I don’t have a position for him, I keep my ears open for other opportunities I can recommend him for.

 

The Great Candidate Who Is Qualified: You know you have magic right away.  Professional, up beat disposition; meets all the requirements and seems a good fit for the team.  This is what the interviewer prays for.  Little bumps are easily overlooked (one said, “I know I talk too fast, can’t do anything about it, sorry” with a great big smile.  She also brought in a well organized portfolio that was outstanding.  At that point I was afraid I couldn’t afford her.  Fortunately we came to an understanding and she’s the best employee I’ve ever hired.)

 

Do you see how important it is to be a great candidate?  Well-prepared, great presentation?  In both cases, when I hired and when I didn’t, I want nothing but the best for the candidate.  That means looking out for ways to benefit the great candidate I couldn’t hire.  I’ve received two jobs by referral from interviewers who didn’t hire me.  And to be fair…

 

Sometimes Hiring Managers are Wrong: I recall a conversation with one of my best employees, telling him how glad I was I hired him.  He pointed out I’d rejected him the first time he applied.  I was surprised.  “Yeah, I wore short sleeves so my tattoos showed, I had a nose rings, six earrings, and a lip ring, and I let my hair free, fanned out to my waist.”  I did recall that interview.  I’d made it short and didn’t try to break through the dark façade.  He hadn’t made it easy and I didn’t do the work.  Fortunately for me, he reapplied a few months later without the hardware, in a long-sleeve shirt, and his hair tied back in a ponytail.

 

Make it simple for the hiring manager; if you’re the one for the job, deliver enough information to make it clear; if you’re not, ask for a referral and move on.  The great candidate will find a good job, so be that great candidate.

 

Rob Swanson, CPRW, DTALM

swansonr@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: www.careersi.com

February 17, 2009

LinkedIn or Out?

Struggling to match your career objective with reality, your resume and career summary may be hitting the mark but it takes more than paper and pen…you must get the word out: you are the right person for the job.  Not an easy task for anyone!  Being a professional resume writer, I know!

 

Getting THE message out takes time, effort, persistence, and often novel mediums.  Are you taking full advantage of all networking sources?  Most people, I count myself in this group of non-maximizers, do not spend adequate time with their career upkeep.  In particular, electronic networking is not something topping my list of to-do things after a long day at work.  Unfortunately, this lack of action is a disfavor to my career.  I rationalize by suggesting no one with a full-time job has time or energy, but that’s just an excuse to cover complacency.

 networking2

Take, for instance, the effect LinkedIn has had over the past year.  I remember the world without this site.  I blinked twice and the world changed: according to Francois Dufour, LinkedIn’s senior director of Enterprise Marketing, they receive approximately one new member per second.  Can you imagine?

 

I sport a profile on LinkedIn but my professional network is not what I would call impressive.  As a business owner and professional career management and textbook writer, I simply do not have the time to work the room.  Being passive in this arena, if you are looking to increase your network by one, find me at LinkedIn, I’m always looking to expand my network—a simple invite and the rest will be history; that is, when I get around to it.

 

Good news for job seekers and networkers, electronic networking sites are rarely audience limited; most welcome students through senior-level executives.  It’s hard to believe, but LinkedIn has over 35 million members globally and the site has doubled membership over the past six months.  With the unemployment rate approaching 8% (some say it will be officially this level next month), your career survival may require electronic networking.

 

Besides LinkedIn there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of electronic networking spots such as FaceBook and MySpace—many others are in the form of specific associations.  For students looking for guidance, your career services department is always an excellent first stop shop in conjunction with personal industry specific networking.

 

According to NPR, job losses are going to explode this year with no sign of repair.  This means everyone must not only develop an effective career portfolio, everyone must take advantage of all networking opportunities, including electronic networking.

 

I invite you to share hints and stories for our readers as we are all barely chugging along in a boat requiring a new stimulus package, economic and employment.  Networking takes a great deal of time but survival requires we all make the investment.  As for me, I need to check my account; new peers may be sending invites…see you on LinkedIn.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.