Education Career Services

October 26, 2009

Job Success for Recent College Graduates

Submitted by Victoria Andrew

You may have graduated magna cum laude, aced the interview, and successfully landed your first job with a Fortune 500 company despite the stiff competition in a difficult economy. You have a great deal to celebrate. However, you will soon discover that you also have a plethora of things to still learn to achieve success in the workplace.

No matter how competitive your education may have been, there are still many things to learn and master out in the real world. Just like the President of the United States, a new employee’s first 100 days in office is a crucial time where all eyes are on the recent graduate to see if you have the ability to meet and even exceed expectations. Transitioning from the academic world to real world employment – while also striving to make a favorable impression on one’s new employer – is a challenge. In doing so, recent grads will discover it takes finesse to handle pressure with grace.

New employees, regardless of age or experience, should be mindful of the personal and professional dynamics in every office. To achieve upward mobility and job security with employers, there are simple yet effective steps one may follow:

1)      Find a mentor. Carefully chose someone who is an expert in your field, who genuinely wishes to teach and counsel you, and who can freely provide objective advice and guidance in your chosen profession.  He or she will be invaluable to you, and will appreciate your sincere interest in learning their knowledge and expertise.

2)      Refrain from engaging in company gossip. Although it is important to form alliances and network, draw strong boundaries between your personal and professional life. Make a rule to keep any complaints or issues in your personal life confidential from your co-workers.

3)      Take it seriously. The days of lazy summer jobs and entertaining internships are over. Develop a perspective of your position in a long-term mindset. Establish ambitious yet tangible goals to demonstrate your professional demeanor.

4)      Dress appropriately. Become knowledgeable of your company’s dress code, and emulate professional expectations.

5)      Tread lightly. Despite having a strong drive to prove yourself, humbly and graciously understand your role as a new employee. Although it is important to demonstrate confidence, also be cautious not to step on anyone’s toes. Within your first 100 days, being humble with your authority figures will place you in their good graces.

6)      Do your homework. For the first time you are working without the structure of a syllabus and concrete expectations of a professor. However, just because your workday might be over at 5pm, does not mean your work is necessarily accomplished for the day. Especially within your first 100 days, pursue research on your company, your position, and on any required company programs needed to succeed. Take your training just as seriously as you would a final exam.

Don’t be surprised if your first career diverges from the solid vision of what you aspire to pursue in a career after graduation. In today’s economy, it is realistic to not always be able to begin with a career that is an ideal match with your desired “plan.” Normally, it takes many years in the workforce to truly discover who you are and what you wish to achieve in your life. Yet, practicing astute professionalism and our suggestions for making the most of your first career will help lay the foundation for upward mobility, success, and an auspicious future.

Thank you Victoria, and I look forward to many more submissions.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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October 22, 2009

Nonverbal communications – escape the pitfalls

October 22 2009It begins even before you say your first word in an interview. When the interviewer greets you, an opinion is already being formed. There you sit, waiting to spew out your answers to questions you have prepared for while you are already being judged by your appearance, posture, smile, or nervous look.

A study done at UCLA revealed that the impact of a performance was based on 7%of the words used, 38% on voice quality and 55% on nonverbal communication.

Look back at speakers or teachers you’ve heard lecture. Which ones stand out as memorable? Is it the ones who were more animated and entertaining, or the narrator who just gave out information? This is not to say you have to entertain the interviewer (no jokes, please), but it does mean the conversation should be more interactive. If you say you are excited about the prospect of working for this company but don’t show any enthusiasm, your message will probably fall flat. So smile, gesture once in a while, show some energy and make the experience more pleasurable for both sides.

Beware of these common pitfalls:

The handshake: Your handshake should be firm, not bone-crushing, and your hand should be dry and warm. Try running cold water on your hands when you first arrive at the interview site. Run warm water if your hands tend to be cold. The insides of your wrists are especially sensitive to temperature control.

Your posture: Stand and sit erect. We’re not talking ramrod posture, but show some energy and enthusiasm. A slouching posture looks tired and uncaring. Check yourself out in a mirror or on videotape.

Eye contact: Look the interviewer in the eye. You don’t want to stare, as this shows aggression. Occasionally, and nonchalantly, glance at the interviewer’s hand as he is speaking. By constantly looking around the room while you are talking, you convey a lack of confidence or discomfort with what is being discussed.

Your hands: Gesturing or talking with your hands is very natural. Getting carried away with hand gestures can be distracting. Also, avoid touching your mouth while talking. Watch yourself in a mirror while talking on the phone. Chances are you are probably using some of the same gestures in an interview.

Fidgeting: There is nothing worse than someone playing with his or her hair, clicking a pen top, tapping a foot, or unconsciously touching parts of their body.

Preparing what you have to say is important, but practicing how you will say it is imperative. Sometimes nonverbal messages speak louder than verbal messages.

If you need further help or would like my guidance in any other capacity, do not hesitate to ask.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 20, 2009

GPA on Resume? Think Twice…

Question and AnswerOffering support to as many people as possible via multiple mediums, I am an advocate of social networking.  As such, I am on LinkedIn and often respond to questions posted on that site.  I’m easy to find and welcome you to take the first step and invite me to join your network.  After all, we all need a helping hand now and then!

Below is one question (and my response) recently submitted on LinkedIn.  I bring this to you as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

EMPLOYERS: Do you know the difference between cumulative GPA and overall GPA? Does it matter to you which is on the resume?

FYI–Cumulative GPA is the GPA received from the institution the student is currently attending. Overall GPA includes transfer grades in the GPA.

As an employer in the human capital field, co-founder of Education Career Services, author of career textbooks, and as one who has spoken at many employer-based committee functions, I feel confident the vast majority of employers know the difference between cumulative GPA and overall GPA.  Regarding placing the GPA on the resume, much depends upon the circumstance and time the degree was earned.  According to the Professional Resume Writers Association, the National Resume Writers Association, and the Career Management Alliance, the GPA may be placed on the resume under two conditions:

First: The degree earned should be within a two year period.  In other words, If an alumni wants to place his or her GPA on a resume, make sure the degree was completed within the past two years.  The reasoning, based upon the three associations mentioned above, is the degree has become the catalyst for the first job and within two years, the first job should be the catalyst leading into the second progressive position.  Again, it is important to prioritize the candidate’s value and practical experience (in the field) is slightly more advantageous than theoretical knowledge.

Second: The GPA should be greater than a 3.0 (based upon a 4.0 scale) for consideration of inclusion.  Remember, many employers understand the diligence of obtaining a degree and look at the mere completion as an accomplishment.  In many ways, that is the primary attraction of a degree, to “show” the potential employer a candidate’s character and ability to begin and complete a project. 

In the short run, GPA is important but for students not making honors, it is not a show-stopper.  Employers are looking for employees willing to get the job done with a proven track record; ultimately, there is no better starting block than a degree!

If you need further help or would like my guidance in any other capacity, do not hesitate to ask.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 16, 2009

White Space is Over Rated!

October 16 2009Cull through your resume books and articles; find any that say “white space is important!” and throw them out.

The claim is that white space makes things more readable.  By creating “islands” of text people’s eyes are directed there and they have room to read.  There’s truth to that.  For technical writers and layout designers of magazines/brochures…a lot of truth.

For resumes though?  No.  Not anymore.  Back in the old days when hiring managers had copious time to read the half-dozen resumes that crossed their desks, white space was handy.  In today’s world, where hiring managers have hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes to review with an Egg McMuffin in one hand and phone in the other, the game has changed.

First impressions are vastly important.  A lot of white space suggests a light career and lack of experience.  Several pages with tons of white space inconveniences the reader… because they aren’t readers anymore, they’re skimmers (and their hands are full!).  Ten to twelve seconds of eyes roaming the page looking for “eye glue” is all you have to grab attention.

What is eye glue?  First, a hiring manager has an employment problem needing to be solved so they skim the resume for what they need: relevant key words and key accomplishments.  A sales manager moving expensive technology wants to see large sales figures, complex consultative sales experience, and the word “technology,” among others.  When they find such a word, they’ll “read around” it to get the context and start roving again.

Our eyes look for “mental real estate”—highly recognizable things or words.  Industry key words are an example, high-profile clients or products, alma maters… whether they’re related to what they’re looking for or not, a skimmer will “read around” them for context and “chain” to another key word, eventually covering much of your resume (i.e.: “hmmm, Lucasfilm, what’s that about?” reads and finds the relevant key word archival, and chains around that).

As a design technique, concise bullets, bold text, italic text, centering, and small caps are far better than white space.  Attractively laid out, a “packed” resume allows chaining much better than isolating text in white space.

Of course, if you don’t have the accomplishments to fill a full page without padding, either look for more accomplishments (you have them), or space things out doing your best not to isolate text (thereby preventing chaining).  Students are NOT at a disadvantage here because school projects and VOLUNTEER efforts work very well on a resume.  Don’t wait until senior year to consider your resume; start capturing resume “bytes” immediately!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 14, 2009

Working for Free…a Georgian Experiment

Unemployed and looking for a job?  Good news, jobs are out there!  Only one catch, there is no pay.

According to an Intelligence Report from Parade.com (October 11, 2009 page 6), the unemployed throughout the state of Georgia are “working without a salary in auditions for paying gigs.”  Naturally, I was hooked on the read and continued as, at first, if felt this was a rather brilliant idea.  An hour or so later, and after my morning cup of tea, I am not so optimistic the consequences of such a program will all be beneficial.

But first, a quick review (for those who have not read the article).  Under the Georgia Works program, jobless citizens work part-time for up to six weeks at businesses with job openings.  Let’s begin by highlighting the one very important element: you guessed it, a majority of individuals who took part in this program and worked part-time for a business also under this program received an offer to work permanently (58% of participants).  Pretty impressive!

So far so good?  Enough of the sugar-coating for a moment.  If an individual is working for free while unemployed, how will they be able to effectively search for a career of their choice?  Additionally, what are the rules the business owner must follow?  Does this program equate to a college internship?  On note, will this program become mandatory for all unemployed individuals?  In other words, if I suddenly became unemployed, would I be forced to work for free in order to receive benefits?  On the surface, this seems a tad unfair….or is it?

According to the article, 17 states (besides Georgia) have asked about starting similar programs.  The article concludes with the following quote from Andrew Stettner of the National Employment Law Project: “the purpose of unemployment ought to be to enable people to search for suitable work, not to give employers free labor.” 

An interesting article and insight into the world of politics….just keeping you in the loop.

Have a different opinion?  We’d love to hear it!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 12, 2009

To Label or Not to Label; That is the Cell Phone…

Submitted by Robert Swanson, CPRW
Career Services International

October 12, 2009Contact information.  Perhaps the most important information on your resume since without it no one can reach you.  Keep it brief, no more than two lines.  There is no need to label e-mail addresses because the “@” and the “.com” make it obvious what it is.  So how about the telephone number(s)?

Surprisingly, there’s some controversy when it comes to labeling telephone numbers.  It’s clear that if you punch these numbers into the phone, your phone will connect to their phone.  Does the hiring agent need to know it’s a cell, home, or work phone?  And what if, heaven forbid, the number is both a home phone AND a cell phone?  Which label do you use? Home/Cell? Cell/Home?  Okay, that’s a bit facetious and indicates where I land on the labeling “controversy.”  No label (with one exception).

The Labelers believe it necessary so the caller knows when to call – do they need to be circumspect when calling a work number?  Wait until after work and call the cell?  Use their own cell to call your cell in case they share a network?

No, no, no.  The only decision you want the hiring manager to make is “offer an interview or not?”   Only include phone numbers that can be called at any time.  Can’t take a call at work?  Don’t include your work number, include your cell number.  Can’t take a cell call at work?  Record a professional voice mail and keep your phone off, checking for messages regularly.

Use one phone number only unless the cell phone has spotty reception.  Better for the caller not to have to guess which number to use.

The exception?  If you use international numbers, label mobile and landline since the calling conventions may be different.

Have a different opinion?  We’d love to hear it!

Thank you Robert. As always, your insight is valuable to all levels in the career management field.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 10, 2009

Projected Federal Jobs on the RISE

No doubt this is an extremely difficult time to find employment for thousands upon thousands of graduates and experienced professionals looking to either obtain a job or transition into a better career.  Economic forecasts indicate the private sector may not bounce back to acceptable levels until late next year and warns of further ebb and flow.  Amidst the dust there is a towering presence in the public sector…an option which may be perfect for you.

Before going into the excuses of not having a federal resume or knowing what a KSA is (much less how to write a well developed and thought out one), kick back and check out the opportunity.  After investigating, if you decide you want to test the federal side of employment you have many helping hands eager to assist you.  On this note, I would be glad to guide you upon the path and would also recommend several booklets defining techniques which will enhance your chances of a great catch…just gotta let me know.

Enough talk for now.  According to tinyurl.com, the Federal government is looking to fill 273,000 mission critical positions in the next three years. Yes, you read right!  My advice, don’t wait as NOW is the time to get started (it is not uncommon for the process to take up to nine months before an offer is made).  Thus, for those looking to earn over $70,000 annually, GovCentral completed the research to help you make an informed career path.  Check out the list below to see the largest growth and current openings that all earn over $70,000.

The list of 10 Government Industry’s Projected to see the largest growth in the next three years:

1.  Medical and Public Health – 54,114 Projected
2.  Security and Protection – 52,007 Projected
3.  Compliance and Enforcement – 31,276 Projected
4.  Legal – 23,596 Projected
5.  Administration/Program Management – 17,287 Projected
6.  Accounting and Budget – 16,664 Projected
7.  Information Technology – 11,549 Projected
8.  Business and Industry – 10,765 Projected
9.  Engineering – 10,642 Projected
10. Transportation – 10,560 Projected

To learn more details about the ten industries, go to the web page, http://tinyurl.com/ycjuqog (Original URL: http://govcentral.monster.com/careers/articles/17529-10-government-careers-that-earn-70k?utm_source=nlet&utm_content=gc_r1_20090924_70k 

I will be glad to help you out in this endeavor; just let me know (or go to www.educationcs.com and decide if two of my booklets would be the right next move),

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 7, 2009

Does experience count or not? How many years of success in a particular skill set does it take?

LinkedIn: Career and Education Q & A

Offering support to as many people as possible via multiple mediums, I am an advocate of social networking.  As such, I am on LinkedIn and often respond to questions posted on that site.  I’m easy to find and welcome you to take the first step and invite me to join your network.  After all, we all need a helping hand now and then!

Below is one question (and my response) recently submitted on LinkedIn.  I bring this to you as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

Does experience count or not? How many years of success in a particular skill set does it take?

“John” has an MBA and 2 years of experience – he’s a general manager at a well-known retail establishment. He hires, trains and coaches sales associates. He runs the shop.

“Sandy” has a BS and 20 years of experience – she’s a writer who reports to “Beth” who reports to “Jim” who reports to “Sally” who reports to “Frank” and she’s not “allowed” to do anything without it being delegated to her.

“Jeff” has an MS and 20 years of experience – he’s out of work and cannot get a job because he is “overqualified”

What the heck is going on?

Laura,

Your example is rather unfair and is riddled with much rhetoric and unknowns. Unfortunately, answering your question directly is not as easy as one may suspect.

As a business owner, I strive to seek individuals who own a good five years of accomplished results. For many hiring managers, individuals offering too much experience come with too high a price tag. Is this fair? I think not but these are lean times and if there is not a significant ROI, the more experienced will not be more attractive.

Then we have the problem with the word itself, “experience.” Simply being in a job for ten years does not qualify as being experienced. For many companies, progression within a field is paramount to years in the field. Your example of Sandy’s situation is a case in point.

So, what makes a candidate attractive to a hiring manager?

* Education: displays commitment to progress and an ability to assign and complete a task.
* Experience: displays an understanding of the workplace.
* Progression: displays a proven ability to do more than what a job role may be as well as the ROI factor.
* Personality: displays a team ethic and common goal.

Naturally there are more elements which constitute an ideal candidate but notice the emphasis is NOT on the amount of years on the job. What’s important is what impact an individual had while on the job. As a college instructor and dean of academic affairs, I encouraged students to continue their educational pursuits to secure their dreams.

Think about it, if you were a hiring manager, what elements would you consider to influence your decision? I thought so…

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 5, 2009

Getting a Job in the Industry You Want

By: Leslee Lowe, CPRW

October 05, 2009How can you market yourself effectively to get into the industry you want?  We have our strengths as well as our professional and academic achievements under our belts- how big or small they may seem.  What is important is knowing how to leverage our personal characteristics and real experiences on a resume document to say “I can” meet the requirements of the job.

As a new graduate, I remember feeling overwhelmed and unhopeful while searching the job markets.  I wish I knew then how to highlight my transferable skills on a resume and bring attention to my achievements.  You must be honest on a resume, but you must also impact the reader with the potential and skills you offer.

A recent resume I wrote was for a new graduate seeking a career in public relations and communications.  This individual’s academics were focused in humanities as well as economic and social development.  So, how could she get a job in PR?  Well, the reason she was drawn to this type of work is because in her academic career she had been extremely involved in student government, student activities, and alumni relations.  She realized these positions were tapping her innate abilities to drive the strategy and implementation of diverse projects as well as spearhead events and communications creating lucrative partnerships and organizational value.

Although all of my client’s achievements were for various academic groups, I refrained from continually mentioning words like “academic”, “education”, “college”, “university”, and committed to the facts.  As you create your own document, think about how you too can let the reader know what you’re capable of without pigeonholing yourself into a specific arena.  Employers want someone who can make significant contributions, and if you’ve done it in one industry, you can certainly use those transferable skills to do it again in any other industry.

I also considered this individual’s experiences and all the smaller parts of the projects she worked on.  She was responsible for or educated in event planning, building/distributing newsletters, building alliances, delivering presentations, international relations, vendor sourcing, project leadership, research/survey tools, and spreadsheets/analysis.  All of these terms were neatly organized into a sleek design in the “hot zone” of her resume.  This will immediately spark the reader’s interest to look further down her resume at her focused achievements.

Too many new and old graduates alike make the mistake of stating what they want in the “hot zone” of their resume paper rather than showcasing what it is they offer.  I know my first resume was a boring chronological obituary of my past.  Such a document, I’m sure, hardly sparked any excitement.  You can and should thoroughly analyze your past and realize how much you can immediately, positively affect a potential employer.

Thank you Leslee for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

October 1, 2009

Telephone Interview Etiquette

The following was submitted by Melissa Lee:

October 01, 2009How to have a successful telephone interview is one thing that many people, me included, have wondered about. Interviews are nerve racking enough when you are face to face, shouldn’t it be the same over the phone? If the little voice in your head said “of course” then we are on the same page. There are plenty of people and probably thousands of websites that will offer you advice on the best possible way to have a successful telephone interview, but when the time comes, will you really be thinking about all of that?

Over the years, and after many interviews, I have learned that each interview is the same, whether you are in person or speaking on a phone. You will be nervous. You will get choked up. You will forget to say something important. You will be asked questions that require fantastic responses. But don’t worry; you can prepare yourself before the interview.

To prepare, it is always a good idea to take a look over your own resume and cover letter. Any questions that will be asked about you will come from the information you have included there. Also, think about the position you have applied for and think of questions that may be asked of you regarding your background and experience that pertain to that position. Not too hard, right?

When it is time for your interview, be sure to be somewhere where you can talk. Do not be in the office or out to lunch at a loud restaurant. You need to be able to speak and hear clearly. If you are at your current job, you will not want anyone to overhear you, at least not if you want to keep your current employment status. If you do not have a choice and have to be at work during the phone interview time slot, then go outside or sit in your car. For me, going outside helps me relax. How many interviews do you get to have outside anyway? 

The phone rings. How should you answer? You should answer as if you were greeting the person in their office. Don’t get distracted since you are on the phone. This is not your Mom or your best friend. You still need to be professional and speak in a formal way. There is a professional on the other end of the phone who wants to get an idea of who you are and why they should hire you. Make this person want to hire you. At least make them want to give you a second interview. Give it all you’ve got, but don’t forget it is still an interview.

My last bit of advice is to always send a follow up email or letter. Let the interviewer know you are thankful they contacted you and are interested in speaking with them again soon. This concludes your interview on a good note. Will it get you the job? Maybe, maybe not, but it might just help you get that second interview, that second chance to prove you are the right choice for the job.

Thank you Melissa for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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