Education Career Services

March 31, 2009

Career management: Don’t be afraid!

One of our readers submitted this question, and I decided to respond for all:

 

Is it okay to just email a resume?  How should I go about following up with an employer?

 

Golden Rule: In order for people to be successful in the marketplace, they need to operate from a position of strength, not fear.

 

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics announced there are nearly four times the numbers of job seekers for every opening.  Where does that leave you?

 

Too often, job seekers search almost frantically for job openings online, which are few and far between. When no response comes to an online submission of a resume, they feel they have hit a dead end. This can leave them frustrated and discouraged, thinking they’ve exhausted all their options. To increase their options, they must increase their opportunities…and means doing more than simply blasting out a thousand email resumes…time for aggressive action has never been greater.

 

Simply sending an email is never enough; always follow up with a call (the following day or two days after at most) and always send a hard copy resume and cover letter.  This means you will be doing some research—finding out addresses, phone numbers, contact information, etc.  The hard work pays off; how many candidates take this extra step? I can tell you very few.  I recently had an online job posting for a writer, received over 125 resumes online (most were automatic from key words – completely impersonal and ineffective).  Out of the 125, I received one (1) hard copy resume and cover letter tailored to the job posting and to our company.  I was so impressed, she was my first call for an interview.  Little things setting you apart from the pack goes a great length.  Again, always think about the reader—what will impress and what will simply place you in the non-memorable stack? 

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 30, 2009

Is now the time to be thinking of relocating?

As promised last Friday, here are a couple more common questions and my response to my radio appearance recently.  Hope this helps in your career pursuit…

 

Is now the time to be thinking of relocating?

 business man with career choices

Such a question should be addressed on an individual basis but let me offer a few ideas, I don’t want anyone packing based upon these comments as relocating is not something which should be done on the fly.  After all, December figures on unemployment recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that unemployment is up over last month in each of the 50 states.

 

If you are considering relocating, take into consideration the following:

 

  • California’s job loss from December 2007 to December 2008 was the greatest of all states
  • Arizona has lost 116,500 jobs since the recession began in December (2007)
  • Six states had unemployment rates of 9.0 percent or above, including California (9.3 percent), Nevada (9.1 percent) and Oregon (9.0 percent). The highest unemployment rate was Michigan’s 10.6 percent.

On the brighter side,

  • The lowest unemployment rate among all states was in Wyoming, at 3.4 percent. Only three other states (Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota) had unemployment rates of 4.0 percent or below.
  • Texas added more jobs than any other state, while the nation as a whole was losing more than two million jobs.

 

Think about where you want to go; do you have a place to stay, are you prepared, and do you have a minimum of three (3) months of savings to handle living expenses?

 

What time frame should I give myself for my career search?  Is it realistic to think I can find something quickly?

 

Unless out of pure necessity, I do not encourage any of my clients to quit a job until a new one has been secured.  The reason, especially given today’s job market, predicting the length of time between jobs can be an impossible task.  On the national average, the average time between jobs is nine (9) months.  That’s along time; some are lucky to get a job within weeks while for many others it may take over a year. 

 

Good news is, there are job openings, some of the industries on the rise include:

  • Education, health care, and the federal government (which added 9,000 new jobs in February 09)
  • Some mortgage lending companies, notably those never involved in subprime or other exotic loans, are actually growing and hiring as larger competitors have folded.
  • Mortgage servicing companies – those that collect payments for the lenders that originated them – are also hiring as lower mortgage rates fuel mortgage refinance applications.
  • There is a 6% shortage of hospital pharmacists, and many drug stores are also looking to hire new pharmacists and pharmacist technicians.
  • Engineers of all kinds are in demand and face very low jobless rate of about 3%.
  • Nurses: Hospitals also need more nurses to care for the aging population and to replace those nearing retirement. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs of all kinds last month (February).
  • Veterinarians are particularly needed to serve livestock growers in rural areas. The US Government needs veterinarians needed to inspect slaughterhouses and undertake other food safety measures. The Labor Department projects that the number of veterinary jobs will grow by 35 percent by 2016.

 

As the length of this submission is beginning to go beyond readability, I am going to save the final common question asked while on the radio for tomorrow.  Promise it’s a question I hear just about every day and one you need to know the answer to…see you tomorrow!

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 27, 2009

Career and Resume Development, a radio broadcast

This morning I was asked to be a guest speaker on a local radio station and respond to career-centered questions in an expert capacity.  All went well but I must tell you, getting prepared and ready to perform at 6:30 am is a chore in itself. 

 march-27-2009

During the conversations, several concerns arose and I will address them here for those who were not aware of my radio presence.  If you did get a chance to check out the show, let me know what you think…

 

What should we consider first before beginning a career search?

 

First and foremost, think about passion, what is important in your life.  Are you money driven or family driven?  I believe an objective self analysis is paramount to success and happiness.  It is estimated that approximately 80% of all employees are dissatisfied with their job.  That’s a lot of people!  If you like working with people, or in the arts, or with computers, or even on a radio station; follow your dreams.

 

True enough one needs to be realistic and can’t play just because its fun.  Take a serious look into yourself, examine your limitations, and begin the steps necessary to accomplish your goal.  I suggest creating short-term goals leading up to your career goal.  For example, if what you want to do requires a certain level of education or experience, now is the time to take the steps to secure each requirement.  One can not be a doctor without going to school—unfortunately, due diligence is required.

 

If I’m writing my resume on my own, what are some things that are most important to include?

 

What to include is just as important as what NOT to include.  Understand your resume defines you as a product or tool.  Simply put, you must show immediate return for the hiring company.  How does one show this?  You have to be confident in your approach, direct, and on target.  Include in your resume specific contributions you WILL make immediately by showing how you have added to the bottom line in previous positions.  For example, if you developed a more efficient way to schedule employees or make widgets in the past, that gives the hiring company a clue as to what you will do for them.  Make no mistake, in any position, you are being considered for the effect you will have on their bottom line.

 

With the huge amount of resumes coming in to every job posting daily, the most important area of the resume is the top third, often called the hot zone or the sales zone.  If you are lucky enough to have a real person look at your resume, you have 8 seconds to 15 seconds to convince him or her you don’t belong in the pile of rejects. 

 

Do not include information which may automatically disqualify; for example, do not mention religious affiliations, age, or race.  And try to limit soft meaningless words to a minimum.  For example do not claim to be a team leader, a detailed-oriented professional, energetic, etc.—as they are meaningless words and completely overdone. 

 

In a nutshell, the top third of your resume is where you prove validity.  Your objective should not be a general one—it must be focused to the position and the rest must express value and contribution.

 

Think about the person opening your resume; he or she has opened hundreds over the last few days.  What would it take to grab your attention?  I know what it would take to lose my attention,

 

  • Template
  • Errors
  • No objective or a gunshot approach
  • Meaningless words
  • Sloppy display

 Ultimately, that single piece of paper represents you; it IS you….wear it well.

 

I will go over a few other questions Monday.  Until then, have a safe and groovy weekend and give me a shout now and then,

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 26, 2009

Is FEAR controlling your career?

march-26-2009

 

 Being an executive career coach, writer, and textbook author, I discuss career issues daily with individuals across all industries, levels, geographic regions, and experience.  For those allowing fear to control your career, you are not alone.

 

How does one know if fear controls your career?  An incomplete listing vicariously experienced within the past month includes:

 

  • Angry at a world for not giving you the chance to prove yourself
  • Depressed and wondering if waking up is worth the effort
  • Staying home, rarely networking with friends, social groups, or professional associations
  • Ready to give up before trying
  • Feeling under-qualified for positions you are clearly qualified to handle

 

In today’s tight economy and angry-mob attitude, what can we do to control our career?  I believe the first step is to recognize our own value.  Believe it or not, uniqueness is a benefit in many arenas.  But before anyone is able to recognize value, confidence must be addressed.  From the classroom to seasoned professionals, displaying confidence is an asset many are falling short on.  No doubt some have been rejected so many times that confidence can be a limited resource.  Still, we need to strap the boots on every day and accept progress, not regress.

 

I hear the outcry and am reminded daily that rejection is a part of life.  On a personal note, I wrote a wonderful piece of fiction several years ago (450+ pages of adventure and thrills), believed it to be an instant classic, and sent it out for publishing consideration…

 

Result: over 50 rejections in 6 months (any publishers looking for a great piece of literature?).  Perhaps this is not the example I should use?  Then again, I am a published author now (just not from my creative work—yet!) and colleges, universities, libraries, and career-minded individuals are receiving benefit from my pages.

 

For too long I allowed fear to control my life, my career.  For those ready to take control, the first steps are hard…accept that there will always be struggles, no matter the number of steps; and remind yourself that “easy” is also a four-letter word.

 

Today is the day to take control of your career by:

 

  • Not being angry at the world; individually one can change the world one step at a time
  • Throwing off the cloak of depression; confidence is a natural reaction to value—and we all have value
  • Packaging yourself and letting the world know who you are; the total package secures offers
  • Never allowing obstacles outside of our control to dictate action
  • Knowing the contributions you will make and displaying those contributions in a way that draws hiring managers to you; recent graduates, transitioning professionals, and entry-level candidates all possess skills – do not sell yourself short

 Fear and anger are nasty words and in my house, they are words without a room to call their own.  With this submission, I will conclude by visiting a statement from a rather old/but relevant movie; many will recognize its origin:

 

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 25, 2009

Is Comfort Keeping You From Landing a Job?

Filed under: Career Development — EducationCS @ 9:04 pm
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einstein_41Einstein was apparently more than just a scientist; he was a career counselor as well.   At present, it’s hard to consider any more apt meaning than career advice from his words, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

 

Make no mistake, despite the unemployment rate, jobs are out there.  But like gold in the mountainside, the prospector comfortable with panning in the river needs to use different tools to dig for the hidden treasure buried in rock.  Strike a vein, though, and you’ll walk down the mountain with far more gold than the river will give you.

 

I’ve heard it countless times in the past several months.  Job seekers saying they aren’t comfortable with networking or cold calls (or even warm calls), so they’ll look for work the way they always have, checking the classifieds, looking on Monster… both viable methods, but the river isn’t producing gold the way it was this time last year.  It’s time to go to the mountain and defer comfort for when you can afford it.

 

In this case, our mountain is the unadvertised job market.  You tap into that through networking meetings and luncheons, sending out networking letters requesting informational meetings, and following those letters with “warm” calls to ask for the meeting. (A cold call is telephoning someone who’s never heard of you; warm calls are when there is a previous introduction from a friend, employee, or personal letter).

 

Networking can be uncomfortable.  It’s far easier when the employer comes to you.  In today’s climate, however, the go-getters get the job and the wait-by-the-phone crowd stays by the phone.

 

Think about it from the employer’s side; right now they need solutions more than ever.  Who is more impressive?  Someone taking initiative and showing follow-through, or that guy on CareerBuilder who e-mailed a resume and was never heard from again?

 

I’m sure the Neanderthals blamed it on the economy, too.  Sometimes survival of the fittest doesn’t go to the strong but to the most adaptable.  Things have changed.  Have you?

 

“There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.” – JFK

 

Rob Swanson

Managing Writer

Career Services International – www.careersi.com

Education Careers Services – www.educationcs.com

March 24, 2009

Big Brother really is watching

Thanks for letting me rant a bit yesterday.  Impossible to resist, I will carry it a bit further with a rehash of an article presented from the Orlando Sentinel.  Hope you enjoy…

 

More then half of U.S. employers have fired employees for misuse of e-mail and the Internet, according to a recent survey of more than 300 companies.

 

Breaking that down: 

  • 28 percent of companies have fired workers for e-mail abuses, ranging from inappropriate or offensive language to breach of confidentiality rules.
  • 30 percent of companies have fired workers for Internet abuses, ranging from either downloading or uploading inappropriate or offensive content to excessive personal use.
  • 66 percent of employers monitor Internet connections, while 43 percent monitor employees’ e-mail, according to the survey by the American Management Association and The ePolicy Institute.

 

Only two states, Connecticut and Delaware, require that employees be notified of such monitoring.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, March 12, 2008

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 23, 2009

In politics, “reality” is a four-letter word

march-23-2009

When does reality hit the road?  Better yet, when it finally does hit the road, what’s it going to look like?  Yesterday, I made the mistake of checking out the employment classified once again and after two blinks and a half yawn, the reading concluded with a “is this it?” thud.  Fortunately breakfast was not spoiled as I remembered President Obama would be on television to offer the world hope.  Quickly, I became not so under-joyed.

 

Not sure how many watched the show “60 Minutes” last night.  If you did, did you believe all that was heard?  Through that show, did we become more educated or more separated from reality as to what tomorrow holds in store for the regional and global economy?  Throw in the proverbial pointing of fingers, political rhetoric, and rapidly forgotten speech promises, and what is left for us to hold on to?

 

This morning, while driving my eight-year-old four-cylinder truck to work, I listened to a representative of the President state how the economy “may” turn around early next year but we need to continue feeding (or funding) private industry to secure such an outcome.  I don’t want to turn this career-minded blog into a political arena and apologize for the inference but at the same time, there is a direct connection between the economy, politics, and employment which needs to be addressed; or at least allowed a voice.

 

I think we all need to question the reality and consequences of measures which effecting not only the current population, but generations to come.  Are the programs being aggressively fought for and lobbied for the right ones?  Is action of this magnitude more beneficial than inaction?  Though inaction is action in and of itself – thus allowing the “invisible hand” to create a new equilibrium (one without the over-indulgence and entitlement many have internalized as a god-given right).  Are the tons of money our children going to pay back creating long-lasting jobs or are we simply throwing money at huge corporations without thought of consequence? 

 

I don’t have the answers, but I definitely have questions—and questions are the catalyst of change.  To accept with eyes closed and pockets empty, progress and positive change will never come about.

 

No doubt time will tell but for the 50 million families struggling, time (like jobs and money) can not be stretched beyond this evening’s kitchen cabinet.  I encourage your thoughts but more importantly, I promote the gift of questioning policies and individuals responsible for positive change.

 

Question “reality:” I may not be a mathematician, but I can count more than four letters in the word.  

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

Career Services International: www.careersi.com

March 21, 2009

Last Night’s Graduation Ceremony, oh what a night!

Last night was a great one.  I was the keynote speaker at a college graduation ceremony and, I believe, the process went smoothly.  All in all, there were a total of 45 graduates walking across the stage.

 

For those wanting to know the gist of my speech, check out yesterday’s blog submission.  I played it fairly close but I have a tendency to ramble onto roads less traveled…especially when it comes to career management.

 

For those entering or transitioning, there are few beams of sunshine to grasp as the world appears to be wobbling out of control.  But like I stated last night, so much value is placed upon the packaging.  Career management is no different….you need a crisp, elegant, and powerful package when delivering yourself to any potential company.  That package and the way it is delivered is what this blog site is all about and your input is always appreciated.

 

On a side note, I did run across a new website which some may find helpful.  The specifics are as follows:

 

Telecom careers – The official job board of USTA, PCIA, and Telephony Magazine, TelecomCareers is the TMT niche industry career site, with over 200,000 members and more than 250 employers. By featuring TMT’s top companies, teaming up with prominent associations, and partnering with innovative career development organizations, TelecomCareers is able to attract the industry’s top talent by posting lucrative job openings, presenting unique opportunities to network and collaborate, and offering ways for members to further develop their careers and showcase their strengths. Resources include Professional Development articles, Job database, Company Search, online Resume posting, Browse jobs by industry sector, keyword job search, online profile, Featured Video, Telecom Careers Whitepaper, Salary Survey, Resources page, and more. http://www.telecomcareers.net/

 

I apologize for the shortness of this submission but truth be known, I am swamped and feel myself getting a tad dizzy with the amount of work needing my attention. 

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 19, 2009

Career Transitioning, YOUR Turn

I am scheduled to give a brief speech this evening at a graduation ceremony.  No doubt that when I near the podium, the words coming out of my mouth will vary from what is written but the following is a start.  Let me know what you think and I’ll let you know how it went.

 

Last month the US reported 12.5 million people filed for unemployment; soon we will have reached an 8% unemployment rate and it’s estimated to hit 11% by the end of the year.  And here you are, transitioning from college to career in an era of unprecedented difficulties with (for many) limited practical work experience.  Instinctually, one has a gut reaction to perform a Rip Van Winkle episode until the world ceases to spin too fast and apparently without compassion.  Today, instinct is not the answer.

 march-19-2009

As a business owner, career coach, professional writer, and publisher, I have the opportunity to speak with executives, entry-level employees, and students from all industries, locations, and aspirations.  Not surprisingly, feelings of uncertainty are global and do not discriminate on the basis of education, experience, or skill level.  At this point, most are asking: with so many people more skilled, more experienced, and with so many possessing higher college degrees, how can I rise above the crowd?

 

I’ve found common threads which will elevate even the modest candidate over the ones who, on paper, blow the competition away.  Most have heard it all before, in one form or another; but I believe this is the perfect forum to revisit career management tools and the effect they have on hiring executives.

 

Presentation is paramount to success.  Throw in the concept of effective branding and doors will open.  Think of chip power and most will think of Doritos brand chips…not because they are the best on the market but because we have bought into the “fact’ they are the best on the market.  There’s something about the color, the commercial, and the merchandizing which elevates this chip from others.  What is your brand?  How do you differentiate yourself?

 

Foundation builds the frame.  Ever ask yourself why an employer requires candidates to possess a college degree?  When I was a VP of the largest career management corporation in America, I insisted all applicants be filtered out if they did not have a minimum of a two-year degree.  I was not interested in the major field of study; that was irrelevant.  What was relevant was the ability for the candidate to make a commitment and follow it through to completion.

 

Reach beyond problems to grasp solutions.  That proverbial “monkey wrench” is everywhere and at all times present.  The value of your education can not be understated.  Education trains each student to objectively evaluate situations, develop tasks, sets actions in place, and it creates effective results.  Apply those skills to evaluate your career prospects.  Let me tell you a secret about career development: its common sense.  It only seems difficult because we either fail to analyze it — we assume it’s too complex, or because we don’t know what questions to ask… with a little effort, however, and the quality education you’ve gained here, this nutshell will open to your understanding the same way your studies here were opened to you.  Job hunting has changed, some of the process may go against your “likes” and “comforts,” but the reward is worth it.

 

Fifty million families will be directly affected by global unemployment by the end of this year.  And now you are eagerly anticipating your turn at bat.  The career management tools learnt over the past few years is more than a piece of paper…it’s what hiring managers ARE looking for.

 

Leading to the question: “what do you offer that hiring managers want?”  Feel confident in knowing you have a distinct advantage over the vast majority of the competition.

 

  • Your Department of Career Services is your active advocate.
  • The curriculum at XXXXXXXXX is designed to make you think, not just do…encouraging problem resolution skills.
  • Most students here have taken XXXXXXX, highlighting your professional presentation and document development; only a small handful of colleges offer such a course.

Obtaining your degree shows the hiring manager you are committed, you possess the drive and ability to complete a project no matter the obstacles, and you have the knowledge to get the job done. 

 

Take what you’ve gained over the past few years.  Hiring managers WANT to hire you, that’s their job.  Show them you’re not scared of presenting yourself as an asset and in a professional manner, you’re not scared of building stronger and more effective systems for yourself and for the company, and you’re not scared of reaching beyond minimal expectations or resolving issues creatively. 

 

Does a degree automatically mean you have a distinct advantage?  I believe it does and many employers feel the same way.  For those offering excuses you don’t have experience to compete, think again, not one hiring manager I have spoken to during the past year filtered candidates based solely on that criteria.  Besides, with the world changing so rapidly, does it really matter where one worked five years ago?

 

The rest is up to you, belong to the Rip Van Winkle’s of the world and wake up in a few years hoping it’s a better place or make the world a better place, today.  You made a wise choice attending XXXXXXX.  I know you’ll make the wise choice now.

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

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

March 18, 2009

Advice for Men at Work: Get in Touch with your Feminine Side

 

It is clear that male employment suffered more [than female employment], both in absolute and in pocket7to0olrelative terms. Nationally, male employment declined by 2.3 million, and female employment by 0.6 million.”  Reuters, March 5, 2009

 

Yeesh.  Statistics like that might leave a guy ready to spring for a manicure and makeover!  Given the disproportionate impact of the economic downturn, what’s a boy to do?

 

Tempting as it is, I can’t suggest you dress for your next interview in a skirt and heels.  There are, however, some things men in the workforce can learn from today’s women about commitment…to higher education, I mean.

 

Since 1982, women have outpaced their male counterparts in completing college degrees.  In 2006 (the most recent statistics readily available), women accounted for 57% of bachelor’s program enrollment to men’s 43%.  And women completed the programs at a rate six percentage points higher.  In fact, some studies predict that by 2020, 156 women will earn their B.A. for each 100 men. 

 

This stagnation in male college achievement couldn’t come at a worse juncture.  While the male-dominated construction industry will rebound, though perhaps not to the same height as during the housing bubble, many of the manufacturing jobs (also male dominated) are gone for good.  Even with the bailout, American car makers are planning to be significantly smaller, and other industries continue their offshoring efforts. 

 

Whatever economy arises from the current crisis, it seems evident it will be knowledge- and service-oriented—areas where women have excelled, and seem determined to continue.  Employees who can drive innovation will be in demand; those whose skill set remains in the last century will struggle. 

 

So guys, here’s your wake-up call from us brainy gals: Prepare now or fall further behind.  If you’re a student, you’ve already taken the first step.  Make a commitment to completing your education.  It WILL make a difference…even more so than the right shade of lipstick. 

 

Amy Lorenzo

Senior Writer

Career Services International – www.careersi.com

Education Career Services – www.educationcs.com

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