Education Career Services

April 30, 2010

Personal Mission Statement, Part two of two

Victoria Andrew, YOUR professional writer and Team Career member concludes:

Creating a personal mission statement will be, without question, one of the most powerful and significant things you will ever do to take leadership in your life.”
 ~ Steven Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

A personal mission statement infuses you with the power to manifest personal vision in your life.  It is a method of synergizing your unique abilities, authentic truth, and the person you are in the process of becoming

Remember to be patient with yourself.  Conjuring a personal mission statement shall merely provide the steps and inspiration you need to create a life and a career that revolves around your own truth.  The process of crafting your statement may spark the motivation needed to fulfill your highest potential.

Most importantly, a mission statement generates a powerful branding statement within your resume.  Although it is typically more verbose than a branding statement, it will launch your creativity and assist you in developing an impactful opening to your achievements within a resume.

It will also bestow upon you the clarity needed to apply for the companies which truly resonate with your calling and purpose in this world.  Your career search will be more proactive and driven by the enthusiasm of bringing your unique talents to the corporation, which shall inevitably enhance client satisfaction and value to shareholders.

So, how do you concoct a powerful, personal mission statement?  Consider the following steps:

* Exercise your imagination.

1)  Imagine you have unlimited wealth, influence, and ability to manifest anything you dream.  Yet even with these luxuries and power, you are still obligated to pursue a profession in this lifetime.  If money was not an issue and you have no limitations whatsoever, what would you do with your life?
2)  Fantasize about your version of a perfect work day.  Where would you be working?  What projects would you pursue?  What type of people would you interact with?  What would give you a deep sense of fulfillment by the end of the day?  Write down your story of a day in the life of your dream job. 
3)  Author your own obituary.  Compose the succinct version of your contributions to this world during your time on earth.  What has been important to you?  What difference did you make to your clients, company, community, and society as a result of your profession?  Consider what you would like your descendents to remember you by for generations to come.
4)  Identify three or four of the greatest accomplishments in your career.  Consider your most significant achievements which truly transformed a company where you have worked in a positive light.  Utilize as many quantifiable details as you possibly can and construct your answers with a results-oriented perspective.
5)  Clarify your core values.  Some people operate according to a spiritual compass and others fulfill a set of principles to live by according to their philosophies.  Contemplate what you stand for and what you believe to be your truth.  Write about the actions you are taking to fulfill these principles on a daily basis.
6)  What inspires you? Consider the qualities they possess, and which you strive to emulate.  They may be people you know on a personal level, or famous individuals who are known for their achievements.  Compose a list of their admirable qualities.
7)  Write about ways you can make a difference to the ideal company or organization of your dreams.  Describe how you could add value to not just the corporation but to society as a whole when actualizing your specific talents and skills.
8)  Make a list of your top goals, both professionally and personally.  Write them with absolute confidence that one say they will be fulfilled.

Now, you are ready to write your personal mission statement.  Study the answers you have composed to these questions and hunt for recurring themes that arise.  Also, circle words you have repeated in order to discern subconscious patterns revealing what is important to you.  Keep in mind that it would be useful to construct a mission statement that is short enough to memorize.  As you evolve as an individual, your mission statement should be revised as well.  You are a work- in-progress.  Each day can become a masterpiece by practicing this invaluable self-assessment tool.

Thanks Victoria, your work is most appreciated,


April 28, 2010

Personal Mission Statement, Part one of two

Submitted by Victoria Andrew, professional writer and your Team Career member

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” ~ Marianne Williamson

As a resume writer, one of the first questions we ask a new client is, “What is your ideal job?”  Even though we interview high-level executives with decades of experience in their chosen field, it is surprising how many spontaneously reveal their unfulfilled dreams.  Sometimes their unrealized passions contradict societal paradigms of success and/or diverge from the career evolution their original resumes convey. Yet promptly, such an impulsive confession is erased with a chuckle and air of sarcasm as they change the tone and launch into a discussion of their “pragmatic” career goals. 

Even if they have captured millions of dollars in annual revenue and their achievements surpass competition, some clients still struggle to articulate their true purpose and unique value they bring to a corporation.  A hiring manager may contemplate in response, “Is this person in the wrong field? Do they have a clear direction in life?” 

Also, many job seekers are apprehensive of acknowledging their greatness and the marketable value of their contributions.  They underplay their achievements and potential.  As their resume writer, I wonder, “Are they afraid of their true power and lacking in self-worth?”  Due to their modesty, they often fear taking ownership of their accomplishments. Thus, their resume is diminished and hiring managers will not realize the full potential they could bring to an enterprise.

To remedy this, I advise building a mission statement to engage in the self-assessment needed to empower a career direction and to connect with a unique purpose.  A concise yet compelling mission statement may also allow you to identify companies that have similar values.  It may help to better analyze the costs and benefits of a new career opportunity.  Lastly, such an exercise will crystallize one’s true self and talents with integrity free of societal expectations.

The personal mission statement’s value is best summarized by the talented Pablo Picasso:

Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act.  There is no other route to success.”

In practicing the art of self-assessment and promotion, both your life and your career will be enriched.

Part Two expands upon this concept and offers steps for YOU to use as a guide when developing a personal mission statement.

Thank you Victoria, we all look forward to part two.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC, author, educator, and co-owner of Career Services International and Education Career Services,  He may be reached directly at

April 26, 2010

Job Fair Opportunities, NEVER miss out!

With the unemployment rate as it is, NOW is NOT the time to sit back and wait. As a matter of fact, NOW has never been a better time to become active in your own career success. With this in mind, I encourage all students (and alumni as well as seasoned professionals) to explore the many benefits of a job fair.

For those currently employed, job fairs offer insight as to the latest employment trends and marketing techniques while opening a slew of networking contacts. Think about it, where else do hundreds of individuals and company representatives gather under one roof? This is an optimal medium on multiple career fronts… don’t miss out on these types of opportunities simply because you are employed.

For students, alumni, or any individual seeking employment or career transition, job fairs are an ideal event for career shopping. Unfortunately the probability of actually landing a job offer during a job fair is minimal, offers do happen. More often than not, the information you present during the job fair will be relayed back to company headquarters where it will be reviewed. Oftentimes the representative from the job fair will be included in the review, thus the importance of following proper business etiquette is essential (as well as the bullets below).

At its core, job fairs are a perfect place to practice and sharpen your career management skills. For example, if you lack a solid introduction (15-30 second) statement (elevator or brand as many circles label), now is the time get it right. If you have shy tendencies or simply don’t know answers to basic interview questions (“why should I hire you” and/or “tell me about yourself”), no better time than NOW to get it right. To help you along the way, here is…

Info you need to know:

* Bring plenty resumes and cover letters (make sure your resume and cover letter highlights the value and contributions you WILL bring to a company).
Dress appropriately; no jeans, no baseball caps, no tennis shoes (yes, even shoes are important) and, for the guys, wear a tie with your slacks/long sleeve shirt; for a ladies, professional attire ONLY.
* Look the part; first impressions weigh heavily. If all else fails and you are unsure what is right or wrong, be conservative, if you have facial rings, take them off for this go around and if you are tacked out, try to cover the ink up. I know you’re thinking this is who you are and if the company doesn’t want you the way you are, too bad. News flash, this event is NOT about you… it’s about what you can do for the company and if you fit THEIR image… leading us to the next bullet.
* Brand yourself the right way; this not only means how you look but what you say. Speak in a confident manner, NEVER talk badly about a past employer, and prepare a nice 15 second (give or take a few seconds) introductory statement (aka an elevator speech).
* Introduce yourself with a firm handshake (please no clammy or overtaking—nothing like giving someone the creeps from the get-go) and retain eye to eye contact without getting into a contest (no staring, another creepy potential creepy moment).
Bring yourself; do NOT bring children, parents, or friends.
* Professional courtesy goes a long way… being impatient, interrupting, or plain old rude gets you nowhere quick.

Following basic guidelines when putting yourself “out there” gives you the upper hand. Enough reading for now, you have a job fair to prepare for!

Wishing you nothing but success,

dhuffman, certified resume writer, certified career coach, certified interview professional, and owner of Career Services International, Education Career Services as well as author of over 12 career management publications. Contact him at with have any career questions or issues.

April 23, 2010

Informational Interview: Beyond the Receptionist

The person with the power in many companies is the receptionist (aka gatekeeper). This individual often protects the executive or hiring manager from unwanted interruptions and possesses an expertise at screening calls. They control whether or not you will get through to your desired contact in a company where you are seeking employment.  

You have to get past the gatekeeper to reach the hiring executives.

If the gatekeeper will not connect you with your target, go the passive approach and begin your networking with him or her. Don’t try flattery or kissing-up; these people are professionals and will see through your con artist act.  One of the purposes of making this initial contact is to gain information about the company, opportunities, expectations, etc.

During your initial contact, do NOT let them know you are not looking for a job. Worthy of a repeat, this is an informational meeting in which you are looking for unadvertised or future opportunities, which are not found within HR (thus, the reason you do not want to be sent to a vacuum of voice messages within the HR department.

Ask the receptionist questions you’d raise with the executive you are trying to contact.  Keep these to inquiries about the company and/or department as opposed to asking about the person you want to pursue.  Your purpose is to learn as much as possible about any available, unadvertised positions within the corporation and learn about the culture of the workplace. Asking for personal information about your target contact is unprofessional and serves no purpose.  It will also get you cut off and put on the do-not-call list.

After networking with the gatekeeper, ask who else they think you should talk with in the company.  Many times, the gatekeeper may be impressed enough to put you through to the contact rather than pass you on to someone else.  Occasionally, they will give you another connection in the company, at which point, you will take advantage of this as a “lateral pass”.  Use the gatekeeper’s name when introducing yourself to the next contact (e.g., “Ms. Brown in Mr. Black’s office told me to contact Mr. Green”).

Always be polite and show respect.  You never know who the gatekeeper really is and how much influence they have with the powers that be.

Ultimately, do not become discouraged as statistics indicate it will take 100 calls to receive 3 positive leads. Through hard work, perseverance, and diligence, success is sure to follow.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International,
Education Career Services,

April 20, 2010

Smile, You’re Being Checked Out

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 Facebook, you have an open 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 look at these links to get an idea of the type of person (yes, even socially) they are considering hiring.  What’s important is to keep it professional.

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 as it is an outdated practice.  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.  The fact that they are searching for information about you is a positive thing.  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. 

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 will suffice.  Show some personality, but not in an overwhelming way.

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.

Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International

April 16, 2010

Career Global: Educational Support Required

Is the United States prepared to go career-global? Are our colleges and universities training student’s international perspectives? What about cultural sensitivities and cultural semantics? Is the United States taking a “don’t ask don’t tell” approach when it comes to leading beyond borders? Being a former instructor and dean at a small college, I refuse to answer the above questions as many will not like the answer (especially any politicians scanning this post).

Promises aside, government and the year-old administration must accept and resolve educational complacency by supporting institutions of higher learning. Only an aggressive approach and infusion of capital will create a long-term resolution to our recession, economic and intellectual.  The world is global and the manner in which we guide leaders of tomorrow must support that philosophy… unless we, as a people and country, accept second-nature status.

Are you ready to be a second-place loser?

Will our government, specifically going out to the big man in Washington, address the issues of career management on a grand scale or will educational budget freezes ruin progressive thinking?  If the past year is the trend of the future, first place may not be an option.

Political accountability can not be placed on hold any longer. On a side note, can you pass the tea?

President Obama, give our children and young adults the opportunity to better themselves and, in return, improve the United States standing in the world. Now is the time to invest in our future. Now is the time to invest in education and career management! Bailing super-sized and corrupt corporations sends a message… and not a very nice one. Students and the working class of America require faith regained.  

Educational and Career management policy and implementation are long-lasting solutions where benefits are built upon a foundation of progression, not complacency. Strapping students and those wishing to promote themselves is not an option we can afford.

The talk, rhetoric, and promises may have been fine for yesterday and throughout last year, but not today. Time for talk, rhetoric, and promises is over, Career global and educational support must be on the forefront of government investment.

Promises built the last presidential campaign; now it is time for delivery.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC, author, educator, and co-owner of Career Services International and Education Career Services,  He may be reached directly at

April 14, 2010

The yellow brick road to an entry-level job

Recent UCF graduate, Fernanda Barros, has this to say about the search…

What do you do when you hit the most vulnerable point in your life and somebody says “You are graduating in a tough economy, where nobody is hiring and the competition is tremendous”? These dreaded words seem to be a common thread amongst college graduations, leaving new graduates wondering about their future.

“How to find a job after college” and “college grad job hunter” are just a couple of the 130-million website options you get when typing college grad plus job into a search engine like Google. Every year thousands of college graduates trade their alma mater jersey for a business suit. They walk the stage, shake the hands of important people they never met, and listen to a motivating speech about life choices.

While the ceremony only lasts a couple of hours, many of them are wondering the same thing; how long until I find a job after college? Can the economy affect my chances of getting hired? How do I make my four years of hard work pay off?

According to Money magazine, it generally takes three to nine months for a college graduate to land their first job.  Experts on the subject say there are many steps to the process of entry-level job seeking; three stand out like a sore thumb and should be taken seriously.

Number one: Networking. Turn that baby shower and going away party into a chance to meet people that can give you that boost needed to find that perfect job. Challenge yourself by making new connections in multiple places even if it makes you uncomfortable (especially if it makes you uncomfortable). New connections mean new possibilities.

Number two: the interview. According to experts, the interview is where new graduates lose their battle with a potential employer.  Since the foul economy has left many with a bitter taste in their mouths, just landing an interview is a huge step, being prepared is imperative. Getting to know the company’s market, products, and goals prior to the interview will give you that extra something that your competition might be lacking.

Number three: have a goal. Well, a reachable goal. That’s one thing all experts agree on. Having a reachable goal makes knowing what you want and going for it easier.  Fight any senses of depression and keep tweaking, do not lose hope if you don’t get a call back… because you’ll be lucky to get three calls for every 100 resumes sent out!

Graduate, set a goal, network, and do not run screaming if you don’t get hired on your first interview. Understand finding a full time job is a journey, not a road trip.  Perhaps one day soon you will come to recognize the difference in the two. Until then, best wishes and remain positive.

Thanks Fernanda Barros for your insight

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International,
Education Career Services,
Creator, The Huffman Report,

April 12, 2010

Graduating? Come on Down

Submitted by Krisa Bortz.

To say its challenging finding the right career in this job market is an understatement, particularly with gaps in employment. The challenge of returning after raising a child or trying to secure a position upon recent graduation, it’s an uphill battle.

At the start of the job bust three years ago, I learned most companies received 500 applications for every open position. Statistics show this average holding true in 2010. Add to the mix fewer jobs are available due to downsizing. Does the average job seeker (recent graduate to seasoned professional) take any job at this point? How does an individual seeking the “right fit” attain their dream career against a stacked deck?

Here’s a hint: Maximize your graduation and continue supporting YOUR VALUE via professional development; this means diversifying and building the many skills you offer. Many current job seekers, including me, have expanded their skill sets with online classes and unconventional experiences.  For those getting ready to graduate, DON’T STOP THERE!!!!

Bringing it to a personal note, how am I transitioning back into a full-time career? In 2006 I fell victim to downsizing and was laid off like so many others. I applied for everything I was remotely qualified for and spent countless hours sending resumes. I did receive a few responses, even though my resume was outdated.  Unfortunately I didn’t look into other skills or learn new computer skills and searched only conventional job listings. I simply thought my four-year journalism degree was enough.

Shame on me for being naïve. But are there any recent graduates out there thinking the degree was enough? I thought so.

After unemployment ran out and jobs became scarcer, I gave up and took a temporary job as a retail photographer. The job was fun but did not satisfy my passion to grow within a career. Hanging it out, I stayed three years while raising a child to a reasonable daycare age.  Sad to say, I never felt I lived up to my potential.

I continued to apply for positions in my degree field, but the economy continued to spiral downward. I started to take online classes in new software to extend my skill set (raising my employment chances). When sought-after positions required specific skills, I sought online training for them. About this time I started to use social networking in my searches.

Now that I’m ready for full-time re-employment in my degree field, those extra skills I picked up are helping my resume stand out from the stacks. Seems like every position I’m applying for requires skills far beyond what I learned in books or classrooms

My journey into a retail industry helped me better understand interactions with clients and meeting their needs.  Understanding client relationships are essential in all careers. For those not finding a position in your degree, don’t undermine your future by not accepting a retail position during your transition.  The value of retail experience will follow you, especially in gaining great communication and conflict resolution skills.

I’ve learned you cannot rest on your laurels and let your paperwork get the position for you any more than merely applying to conventional positions in conventional help-wanted ads. Brush up on your skills, update your resume, leave no doors closed, and NEVER stop growing. You never know where your perfect career is hiding.

Thank you Krisa Bortz for sharing your story and giving our readers an opportunity to gain a great deal of insight.  Without doubt, these are difficult times requiring more than a passive approach.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International,
Education Career Services,
Creator, The Huffman Report,

April 9, 2010

“Down” or “Right” Makes no Difference

Sure, things are a bit bleak in the career market but every hill has an upside and a downside.  The job market is no different.  After reading employment trends and predictions, time to let our psychological guards down may not be today.  Being in the career management field for so many years, I secured a great deal of emotional cuddle after corporations changed the term when firing employees from “down-sizing” mentality to “right-sizing.”  Don’t you feel better too?

Okay, enough of the dancing for a minute. Is there really a difference between the two types of “sizing?” What do you think? Now that we’ve established a foundation to work on (and the consequence to be identical), how does this effect you if you are caught in the hook?

Impending “right-sizing” shows what you (employees) are made of.  Make no mistake, in the pressure cooker of who stays and who goes, managers have been assembling their lists.  They are identifying the under-motivated, the whiners, the rigid… and they’re noting those who are self-motivated, flexible, hard-working, solution-providers.  In this light, know decisions as to who remains and who goes are NOT made in a whim but with a great deal of diligence.

If you think just doing your job is enough, think again.  Are you upbeat?  Easy to work with?  The first one someone goes to for help?  Dependable?  Loyal?  Good in a crunch?  If so, you’re a “keeper.”  Then again, don’t get too comfortable or complacent.  In today’s lean world, you gotta show contributions on a daily basis as the “keeper” list is a fickle one.

Keepers are in for more responsibility and greater roles of strategy.  Cultivate a clear vision steeped in the basics and you’ll be marked for promotion.  Best of all, as tasks come up without a clear personnel resource, there’s your chance to get in on an area of interest you haven’t been able to explore yet.  Certainly you’ll be taking on unwelcome tasks, but look for the opportunity in them.  The keepers who ensure business continuity are the first to benefit when the economy picks back up (and it will!).

What if, despite your best efforts, you still get the pink slip?  Embrace the change!  We often fear change and, left to ourselves, avoid it. Given today’s economic climate and volatile employment structure, the pink skip may be thrust in your path.  If this happens, what’s your next move?

You’ll need to work diligently to secure a new post, but take time to rediscover your family while you’re at it.  Extend the change to them and communicate the adventure, not the fear.  How you accept the changes thrust upon us in this economy will influence your children, friends, and loved ones.  Your positive attitude can change lives!

Final words: whether a circumstance is positive or negative is up to you, not the situation.  And if you are a victim of “right-sizing” the good news is: at least you were not a victim of “down-sizing.” There, doesn’t that feel better?

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International,
Education Career Services,
Creator, The Huffman Report,

April 6, 2010

How to Approach a Green Transition

Submitted by Green Specialist Victoria Andrew…

Both the economy and our environment are in state of crisis.  According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9.8% of the labor force is unemployed.  The Environmental Defense Fund reports the carbon dioxide level is higher today that it has been in measurable history, which is 2.1 million years.  Glaciers are melting, and coastal wetlands will soon vanish will the rising sea level.

Despite the earth and our economy being in danger, good news is on the horizon.  Jobs in the sustainable energy field are poised for explosive growth.  Currently, the demand for renewable energy is opening more than 9 million jobs and $10 billion in revenue in United States.

Although penetrating the green collar industry is highly similar to any career transition, there are a few differences to consider:

* Do not be intimidated.  No one is an expert in green collar jobs.
“Don’t worry about starting at the bottom!  You’re never going to have another opportunity in your career where the bottom is so close to the top.  Someone with three years of biofuel experience is already a foremost expert in the country,” states Dawn Dzurilla, President of Gaia Human Capital Consultants

* Embrace learning with passion!
We are on the verge of an exhilarating renaissance in product development and innovation.  For every new career, such as a wind turbine fabricator or photovoltaic engineer, there are 10 to 12 jobs automatically created to support it.  Instead of allowing anxiety over uncharted territory to sabotage your interests, seize this opportunity to learn as much as possible on new and emerging developments in sustainable energy.  Keep yourself informed with cutting-edge websites, such as

* Pursue grassroots organizations instead of Fortune 500 businesses.
Acceleration in your green career growth is catalyzed by investing in companies that take new energy initiatives seriously, as opposed to just having a little green on the side.  According to Michael Eckhart, President of ACORE, “There’s a high probability that the winners are going to be companies no one has heard of so far, such as Better Place.  They are the ones that will be exploding within the next five to ten years.”

* Take the green temperature of your targeted company.
 Pay close attention to any hiring green company to confirm if their commitment is pursued with 100% integrity.  If the Green Expert is reporting to the CSR instead of the CFO, then that is not the company for you.  Be direct, and ask penetrating questions on the company’s green priorities.  Assess their view of green-washing rules, and discover how they plan to brand themselves as a green washer.  Pursue further research on your company’s green level by checking the State of Green Business Report on

Job seekers from every segment of society are anxious to transfer their skills to the renewable energy industry in order to benefit from the infusion of capital, effort, and opportunity.  An investment in your career and our mother earth holds the promise of a better tomorrow.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International,
Education Career Services,
Creator, The Huffman Report,

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