Education Career Services

February 27, 2010

Handicap Disclosure, Should I or Shouldn’t I?

As a career coach, I am often asked if disabilities should be announced before the initial interview, during the initial interview, or after the initial interview.  Though there are no steadfast rules of etiquette in this capacity, if you possess a medical disability or chronic illness you have more decisions to make during an interview.  

If you were an employer, would you value the information up front?  Then again, we are tight-roping a little thing called illegal questions and issues.  If you were the employer and information was not disclosed, would you feel as if you were being played upon?  For the person being interviewed, the question “should you disclose such information” is a tricky and uncomfortable one.  If so, how can you do this without taking the focus off of your qualifications?

Generally speaking, if the disability is obvious, don’t feel compelled to discuss it during the interview.  The person(s) interviewing you have already seen it.  Bottom line is: if it won’t interfere with your ability to do the job, it shouldn’t matter to the employer.

However, if your illness is not obvious, approach the first interview as a time to assess the company and interviewer’s attitude.  A great deal about company culture, tolerance, and acceptance can be found with just a few questions and by looking around.  In this capacity, take a moment to look at employee desks and photos (as you walk by—don’t stop and stare). See if there are any current employees with disabilities as well. A great deal can be learned by examining what is not under the roof.

Your safety and health (physical, mental, and psychological) are paramount in any job or undertaking.  Think about it, if you are you a diabetic requiring a snack regularly, will you need to keep food at your desk? If so, you may be better off mentioning this during the interview process, although you might wait until you are actually negotiating for the position.

What if you have a heart condition and are applying for a stressful position? In this situation, go with your gut. I would suggest that you wait until the final interview and job offer to disclose this information.

Like all job hunters, be prepared for rejection and don’t’ blame rejections on your disability.  I know it’s easy to do so, but maybe you were not the right person. I hear the rumble as some (okay, many) companies still discriminate, regardless of the rules regarding such behavior.

One more point: don’t ever think your disability is a handicap. Think positively and keep searching for the right company that fits your needs.

In conclusion, no matter the situation, evaluate the company you may be working for and make sure you feel comfortable with the attitude, philosophy, and culture. After all, if you go into a situation (or position) with an uneasy gut feeling, chances are you will not be happy.

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


February 24, 2010

Labor Equilibrium NOT So Balanced for 2010

Synopsis: Nothing new is in the employment mix as many U.S. major organizations plan to hire while just as many intend to practice workforce reductions.  What else is new?

Don’t you love surveys telling you how wonderful the world is going to be if only we can hold back a few more months?  Just as exciting and revolting is how statisticians and politicians (yes, even our President) manipulates numbers knowing all too well the truth behind reality.  Holding onto Hope’s final thread, it seems like our hunger to believe is much greater than what is being served. 

With tomorrow’s menu searching for takers and for those not always in the loop of the latest, let’s take a look at what a new survey by Towers Watson ( is predicting.

Good News / Not-so Good News (Notice how they always comes in two’s):

          Good News: 92% of those responding plan to hire in 2010
          Not-so Good News: 36% of those responding are planning targeted workforce reductions

Continuing with the main course:

          * 41% felt it’s easier to retain talent now than it was before the financial crisis
          * 51% think retention will be more difficult a year from now (on a side note, those responding noted a rise in productivity over the past year)

The survey confirmed the toll the past year has taken on employees in terms of pay and benefit cuts, and how employees have responded:

          * 52% said the percentage of their employees working past their desired retirement age is higher than it was before the financial crisis
          * 31% expect employees working past their desired retirement age will be even higher a year from now
          * 32% said their employees’ cost of health-care coverage is higher now than it was before the financial crisis
          * 38% think healthcare costs will be even higher a year from now

Other Interesting findings:

            * 30% of companies report employees have on average reduced their contributions to 401(k) plans from pre-financial crisis levels, and 51% have seen an increase in employees’ hardship withdrawals from pre-financial crisis levels.
          * 48% said employees had shifted 401(k) plan allocations out of equities; however, 37% expect employees to shift back toward equities a year from now
          * Respondents expect to fund their short-term incentive plans at 100% this year, compared with 80% in 2008 and 60% last year

The survey is based on responses from 118 mostly large employers in the United States and 459 employers globally, and was conducted in early January 2010.

What do you think of the latest survey?  Will 2010 be the turning point or, as many surveys predict (mostly from economists), will our employment scene not feel any significant improvement for another two to three years?  Or would you prefer to tell me what’s really on your mind and tell all those statisticians, politicians, and predictors to take their numbers where the sun don’t shine?  After all, what really matters is job creation and placing real food on our table. 

What else is new? Absolutely nothing.

Let me know your thoughts and perhaps we will post our own survey…

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

February 22, 2010

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Digital Networking & Search Engines

The following was submitted by one of our very own professionally certified writers, Sigmarie Soto:

Just as you take advantage of Internet resources to research companies and find job opportunities, potential employers use them to get more background information on candidates.  With tools, such as LinkedIn and maybe even Facebook, you have the opportunity to showcase your professional side.  What happened the last time you “Googled” your name?  Hopefully, public links to embarrassing pictures of you on MySpace or Facebook weren’t first to come up. 

Believe it or not, potential employers will look for these types of links to get an idea of the type of person, socially, they are considering hiring.  What’s important is to keep it professional. 

So, is the use of photos on LinkedIn professional or not?  Although LinkedIn is a large and global professional networking site, it didn’t allow users to post photos until 2007 in an effort to separate themselves from other sites.  Based on popular demand, they allow users to post one small photo.  In the professional world, it is not advisable to include your picture on a résumé.  However, your online profile is a different story because it is your virtual identity and connection to a vast amount of contacts that aren’t necessarily available face-to-face. 

Chances are that if a potential employer picks up your résumé and is interested in what they read, they won’t automatically be worried about what you look like.  If they happen to do a search on your name, they are looking for things that are connected to you.  It is not to say that hiring decision-makers should decide whether a candidate is “qualified” based on their looks, but simply sometimes putting a face to the name can help prior to an interview.  This is true, also, for instances when you go to job fairs or professional networking events.  Ultimately, sometimes people can remember a face more than they can remember a name.

Time for a cliché—a picture is worth a thousand words.

If you are inclined to use pictures, be careful what types of pictures they are.  Pictures, as a first impression or refresher, can ultimately play against you if showing too much age or not enough age.  I’m not talking glamour shots, but a plain, professional solo face shot would suffice.  Show some personality, but not in an overwhelming way.  Avoid posting pictures of you and one or more people, and avoid using pictures that are small, especially on LinkedIn. 

Public profiles can also prove detrimental if the information you share is unprofessional or vulgar.  Keep your social networking profiles private and be careful who is in your network.  Just as you probably wouldn’t want Auntie Aida to see certain aspects of your social life, the same should hold true for potential employers.  Potential employers aside, current employers and even customers can gain access to this information and these images. 

Just because you are in the door, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upkeep and improve your professional image and profile.

Thank you Ziggy for discussing such an important (and often neglected) career management issue.

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

February 19, 2010

Career Death by Attrition

Filed under: Career Cafe — EducationCS @ 4:37 am

How damaging is a misspelled word on a résumé?   Really?  Will it cost you an interview?  Will two misspelled words?  Three?

We hear those questions often.  Obviously poor attention-to-detail can be costly.  All things being equal, a misspelled word won’t sink your chances.  But all things are not equal in a résumé.  Is alignment off just a hair?  Are there small spacing issues?  Is it a little unbalanced on the page?  Do the headings and the body text clash?  Is grammar and language usage consistent?  Does that word really mean what you think it does?

Each of these tiny flaws may not spell doom individually, but a twinkle off in a few areas—areas you don’t even know to think about—and the interview may go to the other guy.

Consider the arsenal of career tools leading up to a successful hire: networking, career documents, the application, telephone and e-mail technique, interview skills, follow up… there’s a lot involved.  Your career documents have one major difference from all the other tools; you have time to perfect them.

Even the best public presenter will have a gaffe or two in their interview; a networking contact can be put off by an innocent comment; poor handwriting on the application can obscure a word or two on the application… the fact is that you have to expect small flaws in face-to-face, no-do-over circumstances.  Maybe you anticipated speaking to a live human when you called and were surprised by a message machine and so bobbled the voice message…  It’s imperative to nail the resume and any other written materials because with those you have complete control.

A high school teacher rang true when she said, “Master writing.  Every business needs strong writers, solid communicators, and quick-in-a-pinch professionals.  Jobs go to the communicators; promotions go to effective writers.  It is the one professional skill too often overlooked.  How you present yourself in print is just as important as how well you speak.”

Not confident in your writing?  Don’t know what the terms in the second paragraph above mean?  Victim of document attrition?  First, commit to improving; second, hire professionals to create your career documents for you.  You wouldn’t cut your own hair the day of an interview, right?

For more information, post a comment.  We’d be glad to help you.

Rob Swanson
Managing Writer – Career Services International

February 16, 2010

To Really Excel, DON’T Do a “Good Job”

Filed under: Uncategorized — EducationCS @ 11:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We get it into our head that if we do a good job we’ll advance in our careers.  I hear it all the time from clients who have been laid off, “I don’t understand!  I did a good job!”  Or from employees receiving cost of living adjustments but no real raises: “But I do a great job!”

What an amorphous term, “good job.”   What does it mean, exactly?  You fulfill your responsibilities and duties?  While nothing to be sneered at, that’s a reason for your employer to keep you in place when things are booming not to promote, and the first to cut when it begins to bust.

To do a good job is the baseline of performance, not the pinnacle.  If that becomes our standard, we quickly become expendable.  If your work performance self-analysis is to ask yourself if you’re doing a good job, it’s time to throw out that term and replace it with something more telling.  “A good job” requires no measurement; it’s almost an emotion, not substance. 

Try instead: “Am I adding value to the company?” 

Now that’s a question whose answer can take you to the top.  It demands quantification!  Simple maintenance of company profitability is a functionary’s job; adding to profitability through increased revenue or cost savings from improved processes, problem-solving, and work optimization is a winner’s job.   Further, it results in more questions requiring answers.  How have you added value?  How much value, exactly?  What were the results?

Best of all, positive answers will spur greater growth and self-confidence.  If you provide solutions once, you realize you can do it again.  Such value-added performance is noticed; and if it isn’t, it can easily be quantified and proven in a performance review.  The bigger a company becomes, the more areas an employee can impact.  Management needs people to step up without being asked!  Take ownership of your slice of the company and be rid of the “good job” mentality.  You’re career will thank you.

Rob Swanson
Managing Writer
Career Services International

February 12, 2010

I’m in the Mood for LOVEEEEEE!

Filed under: Uncategorized — EducationCS @ 9:46 pm

Valentines Day.  Sure, it’s over commercialized (some would say it’s ONLY commercialized).  No doubt you will find dozens of blogs decrying the formality of the holiday and others rhapsodizing about the possibilities.

It comes down to whiners and winners.  Which are you?

You can abdicate from Valentines Day; your significant other may understand (suuuure they will).  Or you can take the opportunity to flex your creativity and burst through the constraints of the day.

With Valentines Day you can just do what’s expected—a Hallmark card, maybe some flowers and/or candy… doing your duty might prevent you from sleeping on the couch, but will it be memorable?  Will your S.O. really feel you’re the one, or might fantasies of a better lover play in his/her dreams?

If you allow creativity to rein and really put on a show, fulfilling your S.O.’s specific desires and fantasies instead of just commercial expectations, well… don’t expect much sleep that night…

And so it is with your job search.  You can decry the restraints of the modern career search and cobble together a résumé from a template, submit it online, or maybe hand it to a friend.  If by some miracle you get an interview, you can wing it when you get there while grumbling how unfair hiring practices are.

Or you can decide to court your favored prospects.  Develop a professional portfolio, craft a value driven résumé, do your homework, send networking letters, set up informational meetings, network within the companies, and portray yourself as the solution the company desperately needs.  Become the candidate others grumble about because you’re so well prepared and scored the job.

You know; be a winner, not a whiner.

Rob Swanson
Managing Writer
Career Services International

February 11, 2010

Peyton’s misfire attributed to an acute case of Malus-Nonverbalis-Communicatis!

Peyton's Case of Malus-Nonverbalis-CommunicatisManning’s intercepted pass with 3:12 left in the game gave New Orleans a 14-point cushion and sealed Indianapolis’s second place finish.  The Saints went on to win Super Bowl XLIV 31-17

Arguably the best game-manager to ever quarterback a football game, Peyton Manning was in control of the tempo from the opening drive to half-time. 

In an abrupt about-face, the second-half had sports-fans stunned.  The Saint’s began accumulating momentum and Manning grasped at regaining control.  What happened to Peyton?  Was it fate or was there something behind the Colts’ demise?  Reports coming out of the Indianapolis locker-room during half-time allege Peyton was saying a lot without saying much.  This may not seem like much of an indicator, but to this career management professional the symptoms all pointed to the dreaded: Malus-Nonverbalis-Communicatis

It is no secret that a major part of communication is body language.  Unconsciously, we make decisions that disclose the quality of communication.  Of course, not all body language is the same for everyone.  In the case of Peyton Manning, the New Orleans’ defensive back, Tracy Porter, had been studying the Colts’ body language for the past two weeks.  “Through numerous amounts of film study we’ve done all week, when the route came, it felt like I was watching it on film”, Porter told reporters after the game. 

Becoming aware of our own, and other’s body language, will help guide a successful interview.  After all, body language is the link that fuses with spoken words, revealing a person’s behavior pattern. 

So, how can one optimize our use of body language?  The recommended answer is video-recording a mock interview and reviewing the practice session with a peer.  There are two things to overcome: camera shyness and reluctance toward study.  If there is one truth it is this: life is all about homework.  Think about it.  What car insurance to choose?  What cell phone plan to go with?  Which cologne/perfume to buy?  All of those things require you to smell the different fragrances, and then make the choice that best suits you.  Guess what, that’s homework!  So, it’s time to get over it and start succeeding. 

Number two, shyness has no place in an interview.  You will experience an exponential improvement if you diffuse in advance the discomfort often experienced during an interview by overcoming on the ‘silliness’ of watching yourself on tape.  Why record yourself simulating an interview?  Because facial expressions have a huge impact.  You may think you are saying one thing, but your face is telling another story.  The body doesn’t lie… natural spontaneity often spills the beans when left to its own devices. 

Luckily, this is a reciprocating truth.  In other words, by understanding the INTERVIEWER’S non-verbal behavior, you can gauge your progress and adjust accordingly, if you need to.  The following are some examples of what to look out for: 

  • If the interviewer touches her nose, she may be disapproving of something you are saying.  If she looks at her watch or shuffles papers, you’re not on the right track.  Or, alternatively, her nose just might very well be itching.  Use your instinct to distinguish between the two; it’ll often be right.
  • If she leans toward you, she is engaged and is listening, really taking you seriously.
  • If she is leaning back into the chair, she is evaluating you with a critical eye.
  • If your interviewer suddenly switches gears – from relaxing in her chair to sitting upright, for example – you may have said something she needs to evaluate from a different perspective.
  • You can often tell a difficult question is coming if the interviewer places her fingertips together in an upright, steeple-like fashion.  These actions signal a disconnect with the interviewer thinking of what she will say next; perhaps considering how to say something unpleasant/uncomfortable, or ask a difficult, emotionally-charged question.

Without grasping the significance of body language and what it is communicating, the person on the receiving end will generate a feeling or impression that is difficult to explain.  This phenomenon is also described as intuition.  The Saints’ Tracey Porter had an intuition and he trusted it.  The rest is Super Bowl history. 

Prepared and submitted by Charles Montoya, Senior Writer 

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 

February 8, 2010

A Receptionist by Any Other Name

Occupying a hiring position for many years, I rely on nonconventional ways to filter through candidates quickly (on paper and in person).  Place yourself in my shoes for a minute and imagine the wasted time it takes to review a hand-load of under-qualified non-motivated people looking for a paycheck for doing as little as possible. 

With this said, how many readers fall into the pushing-the-envelope category?  I did see a few hands begin to rise.  Proving yourself as a viable and respectful candidate begins before you leave the house or submit an application.  The amount of preparation and diligence can’t be fooled; it’s obvious for the trained executive.  With this said, if you are not serious, don’t waste anyone’s time, even your own.

Back to the basics for a second; there I was, a Vice President of Operations with a sudden burden to interview and hire quality employees.  Not only is the chore to secure innovative employees time consuming, I have to perform my regular ten hour responsibilities.  Given this, shortcuts are not only common, they are demanded.  A primary shortcut many executives and hiring managers take advantage of is right in front as you open the door.

For this segment, we will summarize the “pre-interview” impression and rapid filtering system known globally as “receptionist respect” (Okay, so I just came up with that term).  In other words, even before you meet me, you meet me through the eyes and ears of my receptionist.

Receptionists are informed to provide feedback to specific preset questions only she (or he) knows.  These questions assist in the decision making process and are scored before the candidate and hiring executive shake hands.  Let’s take a sample peek at a few questions YOU are being graded upon BEFORE the interview begins.  This is not an all-inclusive list and varies per company (but that’s a little secret you did not hear from me):

          * Was the candidate respectful to you?  This includes a proper greeting and smile
          * Did the candidate arrive at the proper time and appear prepared
          * Did the candidate possess a positive attitude
          * Is the candidate dressed appropriately
          * On a scale of 1-10, what is your overall impression

The above are a few items used by many hiring executives to get a “first” impression—before the official first impression.

So, what do you do and how can you transform this information into your advantage?  The easiest and most effective way to form a pre-first impression is to be respectful to everyone you encounter—remember behavior and attitude can be developed from the parking lot to the elevator and to any chance intersection.

Breaking it down: keep a solid attitude and display professional courtesy at ALL times.  You may be surprised at how influential those you meet in typical settings are in the hiring process loop.  You may also be surprised at the number of well-qualified candidates who lost the edge due to not preparing for the pre-first impression. 

You DO have the power to shape your career destiny.

Always available to help,


February 5, 2010

Super Bowl at what career cost?

Career management is not always about finding jobs, it’s also about examining potential factors causing unemployment and/or economic difficulties.  With this said, what gives with the topic?  Surely the game is about getting the gang together, having fun, and doing what our great ancestors (going all the way back to the land time forgot) did as they beat their chests after tackling a wild hog and NOT about spending a ridiculous amount of money without thought of who is really paying the bill.

Good news, the days of beating chests are back (at least for one long and expensive weekend).  With me so far?  Good.

This weekend, as you watch the Super Bowl and check out those commercials that may be the time to ask “who is really paying for the $2.5 million to $3 million 30-second price tag.  That’s not even including production, pre-marketing, graphics, and research costs, etc.  What affect does a super-buck blow-out have on my career and who is going to pay the bloated price for a bag of chips simply because a hottie pushes the delight?  Let’s take a pure economic approach to this for a minute and find out who loses and who wins:

1. General laborers feel the most pain in the form of lower wages and, in many cases, layoffs; companies are in business to make money and low-bearing fruit is ALWAYS the first to go.  For general laborers out there, no disrespect intended.
2. The average consumer is not able to purchase more than the bare minimum; meaning the price is above their personal equilibrium and most are barely balancing.  With fewer consumers working or working at low wages, the cost of the product must then increase to cover the exploding wages of the company power elite.

To summarize: the average person is paying the tab while our career prospects are being ignored for the sake of juicing the pocket of the few. 

Think about the money being spent for our brief entertainment.  Then think how Monday morning will find many still unemployed, underemployed, or unsatisfied with their job. 

1. Dr. Pepper’s recruitment of KISS in full armor and makeup… Gene Simmons has already been pushing the soda with their “Calling Dr. Love” ads.
2. CareerBuilder’s contest to award a $100,000 prize to those creating the most memorable commercial (truth be known, they aren’t bad as far as commercials go).

3. Monster’s promotion to find a “NFL Director of Fandemonium.”  The ultimate winner will receive $100,000 and will be involved in various NFL activities including being on the field for the coin toss ceremony.

I tip my hat to FedEx, General Motors, and Pepsi who opted out of this years event; perhaps they have their eyes on employee development and keeping prices to a reasonable level.

Let’s loop back to the job search and tie it back in to the Super Bowl (after all, I have some ribs needing to be marinated).  A lesson can be expressed as the philosophy used in consumer marketing can also be adopted into your career search.  There’s a reason commercials are brief (other than the expense). 

To be effective, an advertisement, you being the product, has less than 20 seconds to get the decision-maker to contact you based on your commercial (resume).  Maximizing time management, the top third must convey value, detailing how you will make or save money based on your past performances. 

Then again, if I could spend $3 million for a 30-second commercial, I would just pay someone to write my resume for me while I go out chasing a wild hog… and this is coming from a certified resume writer!

Enjoy the game,

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

February 3, 2010

Career Management: A back and forth dialogue

Over the past few weeks I began a new career management series entitled the “Huffman Report” and is presented through West Orlando News.  The site receives over 1 million visits a month, allowing us (and you) valuable insight from across the globe.  If you have a chance, check out the section at  The following sprung from viewer questions and comments from that site.

Career management is not only about telling your own story; it’s about listening to others, their struggles, and their issues.  For a few minutes, lets get into our grab bag of comments which came in over the past few days, perhaps gain a bit of insight as we go…

From James: Interesting story (OOOPS…) as something close to that happened to me while I was interviewing a few years back. What is this site going to be concentrating on? I am interested in looking for another position but not sure what steps to take. Will your report go into depth? If I ask for specific topics, will you be able to respond and, if so, when?

We will be concentrating on the full career management life cycle.  In other words, we are going to be taking all old-time rock and roll records off the shelves.  There will be times we delve deeply and carry a mini-series single-topic approach while other times we’ll concentrate on local events or national trends.  Since you asked, if you request specific topics, I anticipate a turnaround time to be within the week.

Regarding your interest in looking for another position and what steps to take, that’s a large can to fill.  When I coach clients, I recommend starting with a true self analysis, determining what type of career/industry would make you happy (naturally consider the economic impact as well). Secondly review the knowledge, skills, and abilities you offer a potential employer. Honesty is the best policy here; if you are an entry-level candidate, don’t pursue a position asking for a senior executive. When it comes to finding possible job leads, know the advertised market carries only a small percentage of openings. 

Throughout the tenure of this site, we will expand on ways to reach the unadvertised market as well getting into interview strategies. I encourage you to actively participate in this site and continue soaking up the information as the days pass by.  On this account, I am hopeful we’ll be introducing a team of extremely qualified members of “Team Career” who will be adding valuable insight from across the US.

From Jason: I started to read the article because of wanting to know if blockbuster was finally going out of business – but then got interested in your advise.  My company informed us recently that they will be closing their doors in the next couple of months.  Your article gave me a boost.

Sometimes a little bit of encouragement goes a long way.  Unfortunately “right-sizing” is hitting too many people too many times.  President Obama is dragging his feet and our local politicians don’t appear to have a resolution except to increase the tolls.  I suggest you go to work each day with a positive attitude, a solid work ethic, and a personal conviction to succeed.  While this is keeping your mind at a calm state (hopefully), begin reviewing what you want to do.  Refer to the advice given to James as well. If your supervisors would like me to come in and assist a group of employees as they prepare for the upcoming transition, I’d be glad to help.  Keep me abreast as to your status and specific questions; this site is dedicated for this exact situation… guiding everyone in their career management struggles.

Gotta get out of the office for now but will fight the good fight first thing tomorrow.  Let me know what topics you are most interested in and throw a spicy question in now and then. 

Until then, remain groovy.

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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