Education Career Services

December 31, 2009

Opportunity and its first chapter

“We will open the book. It’s pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
– Edith Lovejoy Pierce

To all of our clients and colleagues, we want to wish you a phenomenal New Year!  As we close the chapter of the previous year, we wish to thank you for your support and involvement in Education Career Services.  Within a challenging economy, we hope we have made a positive difference in your life and career throughout the past year.  We are honored to have been granted the opportunity to assist and look forward to continuing to build strong partnerships with you in the future.

We plan to progress and grow tremendously throughout 2010.  Such achievements could not be possible without you.  Thank you for playing an integral role in our company throughout this past year.  Tomorrow is filled with infinite possibility, and we hope to celebrate your many successes with you.  It is our wish for you to seize the day and to discover prosperity, peace, and career fulfillment in 2010. 

Victoria Andrew, Editor/Writer
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-3337 x140
866-794-3337 x140


December 22, 2009

2010 Employment Outlook

Today’s morning ritual of sipping hot tea and reading the newspaper transpired without alarm until turning to the business pages. According to an article written by McClatchy/Tribune news, next year promises to be a rough one.

Breaking down the US employment figures for November (compared to the same month/2008), there will be little gain in jobs.  Breaking down per job sector, the percent change over the past year is as follows:

Construction: down more than 20%
Manufacturing: down more than 15%
Professional and Business Services: down more than 7%
Retail Trade: down more than 5%
Education and Health Services: down more than 4%
Leisure and Hospitality: down more than 3%
On the brighter side, forecast for positions in the government are a pinch above even

Needless to say, breakfast was quick.  Being in the human capital/management industry, I speak to individuals from all levels and demographics daily, vicariously experiencing each story and hardship. The upcoming year is another time to buckle down and find support in novel ways.  According to today’s article “the slow recovery won’t bring much relief for job seekers.” Given things will not improve overall, that means we must also market our skills in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

With this in mind and the numbers as a backdrop, how does one keep their job or secure a new one if unemployed?  Obviously networking is king but a close second must be in the package itself.

For those employed, continue pushing job effectiveness and develop quantifiable goals for the upcoming years. In this regard, write a business proposal outlining a particular situation which needs improving, the task required to deliver, the action you propose and will implement, and the results projected. Developing a STAR analysis is useful during evaluations and keeps you on focus.  Employers wish to retain (and promote) employees showing initiative and willing to give a helping hand to the overall bottom line.  The old saying “it’s not in my job responsibilities” no longer applies.

For those seeking employment, continue networking, practicing your branding statement/elevator speech, and develop effective marketing material.  Knowing how to package yourself is just as important as the message itself.  Keep your perspective on the employer, what will that person be looking for? Additionally, your message must be prioritized as the reader typically spends less than 15 seconds to review your material.  How does one market effectively?  As a certified resume writer, certified career coach, and co-founder of several human capital companies, I would recommend asking for a professional in the field for assistance as we often look into the mirror with myopic vision.

The upcoming year promises to be one of challenges but also can be one of vast opportunities.  By developing and demonstrating your hard skills with solid and transferrable soft skills, the value you bring to a company can propel you above the crowd. 

Wishing you and those in your life nothing but the best this holiday (and the many years to come),

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

December 16, 2009

All I Want for Christmas is a New Career…

You couldn’t ask for a better season than Christmas when you’re on a career hunt.  All year long professionals are looking for networking events… luncheons, meetings, formal and informal get-togethers… 

This time of year, however, the events are looking for you!  Christmas parties, New Year parties, Solstice parties, parties just for the sake of parties — if you’re like me, you’re invited to a lot of them.  If you’re looking for new employment, go to every one of them.

I can hear some of you slamming on the brakes right now.  “Parties aren’t a place to bring your own agenda!  They’re for getting away from business!  Hanging out!  Getting to know each other or just plain celebrating!  Eating!”

All very true, but consider what the first thing people ask you at parties:  “How are you?”  “What are you up to these days?” “What do you do?”   Here are some easy answers, “Doing great!  Looking for new opportunities!”  “There’s a lot going on, including, I hope, a career transition.” “I’m a and I’m currently looking for a new company to share my skills with.  Know any?”

The point is, networking isn’t an add-on agenda, it’s a part of who you are; knowing and being known.  Certainly you don’t want to harp on the subject through out the party, but you do want to make contacts.  Career is a part of life and we are all interested in what our friends do and want to do.  Remember that a big part of networking is listening.  Ask people about themselves and be willing to burrow through the polite “this and that” answer.  People want to talk about themselves and once they do, they’re open to hearing more about you.  It’s called friendship. (In fact, I have a friend who refuses to call it networking.  He prefers “relationship building.”

Have a stack of  networking/business cards on hand and if you find someone who may have some information, hand over your card, ask for theirs, and say, “can we get together soon and discuss this further?”  Then be sure to follow up a few days later.  Ask if you can hook up on LinkedIn, see if they know others you might talk to.  Don’t work the career angle exclusively, of course; building the relationship requires more than just business.

Most important, if parties bring out the “wild” in you, especially during a career hunt, tone it down.  Wild partiers don’t impress potential business contacts.  Instead, smile, stay engaged, and enjoy yourself… respectfully. 🙂

Happy Holidays

Rob Swanson
Managing Writer – Career Services International

December 15, 2009

Call to Action – Cover Letter Closings

In marketing, you always tell the prospect what you want them to do.  In a resume, the call to action is implicit; in the cover letter, therefore, it must be clear and in service to the campaign as a whole, not just the cover letter itself.  Clearly, when sending a cover letter with the resume (and always send a cover letter with the resume!), the CtA is “read the resume.”  Consider that base covered.  Instead, be clear about the campaign goal.

Especially in mailings not associated with a posted position, the reader needs to be clued in to who is initiating the next contact.   “I look forward to your call,” means the reader has the burden of picking up the phone.  Presuming you have the phone number, you can be more aggressive; “I’ll be calling you soon to arrange a meeting.”

Too often we see cover letters that ramble a bit and then peter out rather than being direct and ending decisively.   Your cover letter should give the reader the high points of your value quickly and succinctly.  Allow word choice to convey a hint of personality instead of extended prose to indicate you’re, say,  a hard worker or a fun guy. 

Offer sound reason to call you in for an interview (personality will be obvious in person), get in quick, hit hard, and let them know what to do with their favorable impression.  Short covers are quickly read; long, dense covers are skimmed for anything relevant and set aside.  Save your reader time and deliver relevance in three short paragraphs (or a short opening paragraph followed by two or three bullets and concluded with a short paragraph containing a clear call to action).   The cover letter does not have to over-sell; one or two WOW factors will ensure at least a skim of the resume (your punchy resume sales zone then takes on the chore of selling the interview).  The cover should simply position the reader with clear expectations for the resume detail and who calls whom.

So, pick up your tuba and sound your call to action!

Rob Swanson
Career Services International
Writing Manager

December 9, 2009

The UnAdvertised-Advertised Job Market

We have always advocated the 360-degree job search.  Apply to online postings and print postings, but PLEASE don’t stop there!  Direct mail campaigns are far better and second only to strong networking.

Today’s employers turn to current employees for referrals.  They take recommendations from networking contacts and they’ll turn to their LinkedIn contacts.  But wade through the mountain of résumés received from online postings?  Only if they have to.

So why do they post the job if they aren’t going to fill it that way?  Largely to cover their backsides from the threat of litigation or the appearance of impropriety, not to mention the need for market analysts to see the implications of favorable growth that advertised positions offer.

Job-seekers toiling solely in the field of online postings are dramatically slowing down their search.  It’s worth devoting a small amount of time to advertised positions, but do NOT forsake the fertile fields of the direct mail campaign, the power of informational meetings, and networking functions.  If you need a new job, play every card.

Keep a Networking Card with you at all times for easy business card exchange and follow up any personal contacts with a LinkedIn invitation. You friends and business contacts are your best advocates, so activate your network and aggressively build it whether you seeking a job or not.

Think 360!

Rob Swanson
Career Services International
Writing Manager

December 5, 2009

‘Tis the Season to Find New Jobs, Fa-La-La-La, la-la-la!

Filed under: Career Cafe,Career Development — EducationCS @ 1:27 am
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Let’s dispel the idea that the end-of-the-year holiday season is a bad time to apply for a job… and dole out a little hope while we’re at it.

Sadly, many of our new clients are depressed when they call.  Partially because “end of the year and no job!” rings in their ears like jingle bells.  And partly because they think that isn’t going to change anytime soon because no one hires in December.  Absolutely not true!

They may not be posting jobs right now (and then again, they may), but with the exception of retail, this is a naturally slow season.  Even in big retail, the executives are lying back a bit more – the rush of preparing holiday campaigns is over and the front line is carrying it out.  What better time than to send out introductory cover letters and resumes?  Many employers have time to read them, to interview, and in the next two months to train while things are slow.  Time to For Career Development

Further, they are reflecting on the previous year and what they need to do differently next year, so their problems are fresh in their minds, so your solution is music to their ears!

Meanwhile, retailers are being pleasantly surprised that sales are better than anticipated.  Sounds like a good time for seeking new salespeople, doesn’t it?

A positive aspect of the doom-and-gloom predictions that aren’t nearly so doom or gloom in reality is that hope is flaring ever-so-guardedly in employer’s hearts.  So get out there and offer your skills to fan that flame into a roaring fire of promise!

Rob Swanson
Career Services International
Writing Manager

December 3, 2009

Optimize Your Network!

Published author and writer with Education Career Services

As I caught up with a dear childhood friend this past holiday weekend; we discussed many career-related topics.  Our conversation spanned possible future career choices to going back to school and so on.  It was the topic of networking which inspired this particular blog entry. 

She understands networking very well and in fact utilized it to advance in her career.  My work with her will involve defining her next career goal and assembling a resume which positions her in the best possible light.  But I got to thinking about how so many people overlook the resources they have at their immediate disposal.  I want to get readers thinking outside-of-the box when it comes to networking. 

After all, you just never know who might introduce you to your next big opportunity.
Let’s look at five possible networks:

Business Associates: When you think of professional networking, this is probably the first category which comes to mind.  It’s a good place to start.  Former and current associates can be a great source for career opportunities, but this is just a beginning.

Professional/Social Associations: This is a very large group of potential networking contacts.  Many of them might not know the details of your career, but they are likely open to looking over your information and passing it along to someone they might know.  But don’t limit this category’s possibilities.  Professional and social associations could include the following:

                Industry Associations
                Interest Groups
                Alumni Associations
                PTA Groups
                Church Organizations
                Neighborhood Watch Committees
                Hobby Groups

Friends and Family: Some people have no problem asking friends and family for favors.  But if you are like me, this is the last group you want to hit up in a job search.  Yet this group might be the best suited for providing you valuable direction in your career search.  Since your friends and family may know what you do but not be well-versed in your accomplishments, don’t feel shy handing them a resume highlighting your career details.  In fact, you should provide a resume to all networking contacts.  Don’t assume that knowing you equates to knowing what makes you valuable as an employee.

Online Networks:  If you are not a member of a professional online network such as LinkedIn, consider putting a profile up today.  However, don’t underestimate the value of online social networks as well.  Reconnecting with old high school friends means connecting with people who developed careers in the years since you last saw or spoke with them.  As you reminisce about football games and evil teachers, if you discover they are in a career field which interests you – don’t be afraid to let them know you are looking for a new opportunity.

Old Professors:  If you think college instructors were just there to give you a grade, you were wrong.  They are vital sources for career advancement.  Think of the number of people who pass through their classrooms an onto industry success.  Students – cultivate relationships with current and past instructors!  Everyone else, contact old professors and see if they remember you.  Strike up a conversation about your career and your goals.  They likely will be able to put you in contact with someone who can help you, but expect to repay the favor someday.

Hopefully this blog has given you some new ideas about someone you can contact in your career search.  Remember to prepare a dynamic resume highlighting your accomplishments and value so they can pass it along with their recommendation or introduction.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

December 1, 2009

Toot Your Own Horn: The Key to Success

Submitted by Victoria Andrew,
Professional Writer at Education Career Services

It often takes many years for job seekers to come into realization of how self-promotion catalyzes career success.  We are not referring to flamboyant self-promotion that could potentially hinder a career, but of the meticulously planned self-advocacy that optimizes achievements and promotions.  Even if we were of the top 1% who are serendipitous enough to have someone high enough on the corporate food chain to act as a champion on our behalf, they could never accurately articulate our accomplishments.  Ultimately, we are forced to face the reality that self-promotion is something we must do for ourselves.

People often spend several years of their career with their noses down, never once being truly noticed and validated despite pursuing their job with superior performance.  We hear over and over again that networking is essential to any successful job search, and you must aggressively pursue your own leads.  Yet, there is a critical component to networking, securing promotions, and/or negotiating a raise that is often overlooked: mastering the art of self-promotion. If you’re not confident in claiming your achievements and promoting yourself, it will be impossible to advance in your career.  Thus, we suggest that you toot your own horn, and honk it proudly!

The average job seeker tends to articulate only responsibilities rather than proactive, exciting achievements.  They monotonously rehash previous job descriptions instead of boasting about accomplishments in resumes, cover letters, networking events, and interviews.  We think we may be following standard procedures and will be liked for appearing obsequious and self-effacing.  

Wrong! You will discover humility is counterproductive and not helping you land the position, raise, or promotion we deserve.

In order for self-confidence to strengthened, engage in a fearless self-assessment to explore achievements, passions, strengths, and talents.  Consider pursuing psychometric testing to uncover your ideal career and personality type.  Sharpening self-knowledge empowers you to speak with authority about what you have to contribute.

Your resume is also a marketing tool and powerful opportunity to transform job responsibilities into engaging accomplishments to help you more effectively compete in today’s marketplace.  By making every bullet a reflection of successes that can be quantified or qualified, you will convey the many assets you have to bring to a company more powerfully. 

Job searching is all about sales: the product you are marketing is you!

Furthermore, the art of self-promotion is catalyzed by crafting a value proposition that succinctly and powerfully crystallizes what you have to offer a company.  It is a powerful marketing strategy. Once you know exactly what you are selling – and why you are such an extraordinary product – practice saying it over and over.  When you’re in networking and interview situations, you’ll want to be able to astutely and clearly convey you’re greatest strengths.

The most important issue is to realize you’ve earned the right to celebrate accomplishments.  Many times when something fantastic happens to us, we question ourselves as to whether or not we deserve it.  Let us not be possessed by such a trivial concern as whether or not we are being considered obnoxious or egotistical.  Don’t worry if someone responds to your confidence with, “Man, does she have balls!”  Such a concern is a waste of time.

The most successful career professionals are the ones who have transcended fears.  They’re not afraid to tell everyone who will listen how great they are.  Quite frankly, we should applaud them.  If you don’t toot your horn, nobody else will do it for you.  

Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. You’ve earned it. Toot! Toot!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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