Education Career Services

May 28, 2010

What did you say?

I was sitting in the lunch room, minding my own business when one of my employees decided to make an entrance. The first thing out of his lips was how anxious he was for the weekend. Granted, this weekend is a three-day event for many (though not for me or my writing staff) so I can appreciate his zealous expression. Unfortunately, I don’t think it career sound to talk to the person signing the paycheck that his mind, heart, and soul are two days from now (and work).

As a result, I began to wonder what other inappropriate things are stated to bosses (or fellow employees within earshot of their boss) without realizing the consequences.  With this, I began a quick list and welcome your input beefing it up (think of the children).

Here you go, my “what did you say” list follows:

* I can’t believe the wild night last night, I got so wasted I can hardly function with this splitting head ache (how many times have you made such statements on a Monday? I’ve heard this several times and in several ways)

* I checked salary.com and I think we need to have a chat later this afternoon (as an employer, I hate it when this happens as each company is different—as are employees)

* Just got my period and have the worst PMS

* does anyone have any visine?

* Hope I don’t have to do a drug test today

* (when speaking to a peer at the next cubicle) Hey, check out this job on Monster.com

* Let’s shut down as it’s 15 minutes before quitting time and it takes 15 minutes to get ready to leave

* I was not late… I was sitting in the parking lot for the last ten minutes so I was technically here

No doubt you can think of many more and perhaps “accidently” said too much at times at the workplace. My words of advice: put yourself in your employers shoes… think about what you say BEFORE you say it.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International, www.careersi.com
Education Career Services, www.educationcs.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com

May 25, 2010

Using Internships to Beef-Up Student Résumés

Filed under: Uncategorized — EducationCS @ 9:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

By Jenna Rew

Internships are vital for any college career, providing the meat to a sparse résumé in order to help propel you into the ever-changing job market. Don’t skip out on them; in this economy, they may be the deciding factor between you and an equally well-educated individual. Take part in as many as you can and if possible go for those that span more than a single semester.

Why risk having fewer internships for a longer running one? When transferring your list of experience to a résumé as applicable job experience, you want to show commitment and minimize the appearance of “job hopping”. Further, longer internships give you more opportunities to soak up information and show valuable initiative in an environment that might otherwise be too fast paced for any real contribution from you.

Typically, internships spanning only one semester last just long enough for you to learn how the position works and what you are responsible for but it doesn’t always lend itself to showing your real value, which could result in some very lack luster references. Look for those that are notorious for giving students real work and not just dumping clerical work on a desk, and try to build lasting relationships that could serve you later. If you can’t find a long spanning internship, then look for ways to squeeze out as much potential as possible from a shorter one. Work at home, do your research, talk to colleagues, and listen to conversations.

Always remember as you work, you are trying to build a résumé strong enough to land you a job. Consider what tools are most valuable in the industry you want to work in and look for internships that cater to those. Ask questions of your supervisors and don’t be afraid to volunteer for things that will give you more opportunities to show-off your skills.

When transferring these skills and experiences to a résumé you want to think in terms of numbers. What was the size of the project you helped with? How much money was at stake? How big was the company? For students, sometimes the prestige of the place you intern at can add value to your portfolio. How did you contribute?

Companies don’t care about your job duties; they know what the position they are hiring for does. They want to know what you bring to the table. If you know how to use some particular technical program, include that. If you worked on something difficult or unique, include that. Try to set yourself apart from your fellow entry-level job seekers, because they all need the job equally as bad.

After each internship, don’t be shy to ask if it is okay to list your supervisor as a reference on a job application, or better yet, to ask them to contribute a quote about your abilities for your résumé. Quotes are vital tools, especially for students. They help provide backing to claims that are non-quantifiable. As students, you probably aren’t going to be able to say you boosted sales 400% or reclaimed $30M in lost revenue. You just don’t have the experience, but you can show that prior employers value you and your ability to adapt to given situations.

Remember, this is your career. Do something you are passionate about and use your internships to make sure you are qualified to land your dream job. Don’t put off until tomorrow something you could do today. You don’t want to be that graduate who has to work an internship for free before getting a job because you just didn’t take the time to do it beforehand.

Thanks Jenna, we all appreciate your input and career management tips,

DHuffman,
education career services
career services international

May 20, 2010

Infiltrating the System: The First Week on the Job

By Jenna Rew

Landing a job is the first and most common hurdle in any professional career, and in today’s economy it is paramount that you nail the interview process, win them over with your incredible charm, and amaze them with your excellent skill set. Whether you’re fresh out of college or looking to revamp your job choice, once you make it in the door it’s all about surviving that first week and keeping your newly-found cash flow from running dry.

According to the employment situation summary released on May 7 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.3 million people were still unemployed with the number of reentrants into the labor force crouching down at around 195,000 in April, meaning there are literally thousands of people to compete with in any given field who both want and need a job, so once you land one, it’s important to keep it.

Every work environment has its own personality.

During that first week on the job, you are bound to find out what it is. My advice: adapt to it. Try to avoid confrontations at all costs and take all criticism with a grain of salt and a smile. Every one has something to learn when they enter a new work environment, even if it’s in a career they have enjoyed for decades.

Every company is different and it’s important to listen to what your co-workers and superiors have to say and try to implement those things into the work you’re doing. It makes you a better employee and puts you on the right track to completing the dreadful probationary period.

To be honest there isn’t much to do on the first week of the job. It’s okay, you’ll notice as the week goes on that you have more to do, but in the mean time, look for things to further your knowledge. Ask questions of your co-workers and read through any manuals you can find. It can be a lot of reading but it will help you later on. You can ask for practice or for one-on-one feedback, but do your best to show that you are excited about the job and ready to begin contributing to the well-being of your new employer. Try to be receptive and perform to the best of your ability. Cement for them the reasons they hired you and you’ll be on your way to a happy and healthy new work environment.

Thank you Jenna, you are a valuable addition to our team,

dhuffman

May 18, 2010

Interview over? What now?

Do thank you notes yield job offers? No, but they help by giving you another chance to sell yourself and show proper social skills at the same time.

Any form of communication with a possible employer can be your marketing tool. With this in mind, use your best sales skills, but don’t be too pushy. Stress that since learning more about the company and the position, you realize what a good fit you are and, having thought about this, you want to add some past achievements (or educational accomplishments) relevant to the job. Reemphasize your skills, mention any information you forgot during the original interview that will be impressive to the employer.

Keep in mind this is a thank you letter; that is the excuse for writing. It can be typed in a business letter format or handwritten using a pre-printed thank you note or professional looking stationary.  The letter should express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview and learn more about the position.

Some things you might want to include are:

* The day of your interview and the job for which you applied.
* Your continued interest in the position and the company.
* Your skills and qualifications and how you will contribute to the organization.

Be creative, the letter must be unique, not generic. It has to be flawless.

Write this letter as soon as possible after the interview. The employer should receive it within 48 hours, maximum. Obviously, the fastest way is to send it to him or her by email if you have their address. Don’t stop there; send a hard copy via regular mail as a follow up. That way you can be certain they receive some form of courtesy and, it will show you pay extra attention to details.

To further assist you, take a look at five tips helping you write your thank-you note:

1. Have a friend proofread your letters for misspellings and grammar errors.
2. Keep it short. All you need is a few sentences
3. Thank everyone who interviewed you. If you met with more than one person at a company, send a letter to each and vary the content.
4. Reiterate your interest in, and qualifications for the job.
5. Include the best way to reach you, even if you think the interviewer knows it. Sign off by asking about the next step.

Placing yourself above the competition takes diligence and action. Employers want you to be the perfect fit… do you think its fun to interview people? Take it from me (I’ve interviewed hundreds), I dislike the whole process and truly hope the next person walking through the front door is the person for the job… and that person could be you!

dhuffman

May 13, 2010

Bigger, Faster, Stronger on the Job Market

By: Leslee Remsburg, CPRW

Many job seekers today believe they are struggling to get noticed by potential employers due to gaps in work history or lack of advanced education degrees.   Just last week, I had two interesting conversations with job seekers needing major résumé overhauls to mask these red flags. 

These days, there is no shortcoming of applicants with lapses in employment – which puts many job seekers in the same boat.  And demonstrating real world experience and success can certainly make up for not having a college or graduate-level degree. 

Having the best résumé means having the most strategic résumé, and to do that means showing potential employers how well you adapt and effect positive change in your work environments.  Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” theory is not just about the physical assets of being bigger, faster, and stronger.  It is, more importantly, about being able to succeed in your environment, whatever that may be, and it takes more than strong arms to do so.

One of the conversations I had last week was with a man we’ll call Bill.  Bill has a four-year degree and 10+ years experience overseeing IT operations for large multinational companies.  Bill’s biggest concern was that he had been out of work since 2008 when he left his job to take care of sick family members and sort out their affairs.  He explained to me that he had documented carefully in his cover letter (yes, he was sending this out to potential employers) the unfortunate circumstances that surrounded his recent abandonment from the working world.

Personal experiences such as this do not need to be explained in an introductory letter; rather, a brief statement on the resume no more than eight words would suffice.  Leaving these details on a cover letter would likely halt the reader from moving on to an accompanying résumé to save probable time wasted on unhelpful details.  What do I mean? Focusing on what valuable contributions you have made and are ready to make are always more important.  Employers want to see you can save them time and money- that’s it!

I also spoke with a woman last week we’ll call Sally.  Sally would like a management position since she has been in “senior” roles, tasked to identify problem areas within her department and given opportunities to implement improvements.  Her selling point, she told me, was that she was earning not one, but three advanced degrees online in her spare time.  Of course, Sally thought this would improve her chances of obtaining an interview based on her résumé qualifications but she didn’t quite think through this one.

Sally is on her way to obtaining graduate degrees in business administration, geography, and law.  What an interesting mix… it’s like taking all the leftovers in the fridge to make an unappetizing casserole.  It’s not valuable to have multiple, disparate online degrees.  Pulling out the good stuff from Sally (real contributions she has made that have positively impacted her employers) was like pulling teeth- but it will mean more on paper and in an interview.

If you want to get noticed by your current or a potential employer, show them how well and how quickly you can adapt and become a productive part of their team.

May 10, 2010

Interview Blunder: Out the Window

Over the past month, I have been searching for a writer to join our company. I had our department manager, Ziggy, place a few job postings in various sources. As of late we have been using Craig’s List to find potential candidates (not the best medium to find quality talent but it’s cheap—I tell you this so you do not miss out on any potential employment postings during your search).  After a few weeks, the field of call-backs was reduced from 25 to 4.

We called several to come in to interview, and I won’t bore you with too many details… let it suffice you to know that Ziggy felt all four could do the job well; thus, it was down to “intangibles” to differentiate.  As the four appeared equal on paper, how was the decision to be made? To reinforce what you should do in an interview setting, here’s a quick sample of the things the candidates did which were positive:

* All four candidates showed up ten minutes early (perfect timing)
* All four candidates dressed professionally
* All four candidates engaged in proper pre-interview/company research
* All four candidates asked the right questions

Enough of the positive things for now; let’s get into the gray area:

* Two candidates did NOT send thank you e-mail notes
* Three candidates did NOT send a hard copy thank you letter (a nice touch ignored)

Well, now we have a few items to consider. Here’s the kicker and perhaps I should not be telling you this but I believe the following incident swayed my decision NOT to ask for one of the candidates to return for a second interview.

Blunder: OUT THE WINDOW!

Given the opportunity and time, I make quick trips to the neighborhood bank. On this day we had a deposit to make and I took the trip. An interview was scheduled for 20 minutes into the future so had to hurry on my return. Upon my return, I happened to get behind a well-kept vehicle going the same direction as my office. I followed the mile and both turned right (I used my turning light—the car in front did not). As we neared the front the office, a young lady, driving solo, rolled her window down and flicked a slightly smoked cigarette onto pavement.

Too many, this act of littering would go unnoticed, but I happen to believe trash in my front yard is a blunder which should go noticed. The candidate opened her car door, intentionally missed stepping on the smoking stick, walked 25 feet, and entered our glass door. Moments later I was informed of her presence.

Over the next 30 minutes we talked about how her knowledge, skills, and abilities would contribute to our goals. It was a fine interview, her answers were perfect and, as a recent graduate from UCF, I felt she would fit the dynamics well. Unfortunately all I could see was a total disregard to my front yard; she littered and I could not get past the fact (plus the scent of too much perfume in an attempt to cover the smell of smoke). Needless to say, the field of candidates dropped from four to three.

Lesson of the day: For those preparing and going into an interview, the interview begins BEFORE the actual scheduled time. If you smoke or snack, don’t litter; as a matter of fact, I strongly suggest that if you smoke, do not smoke an hour (or longer) before you dress for the interview. For non-smokers, the smell is obvious and can be a turn off. Just saying…

The employment market is too tight to lose on a flickering butt. Keep your window up and your smile on.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International, www.careersi.com
Education Career Services, www.educationcs.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com

May 6, 2010

The Hidden Job Market for the New Energy Economy

What is a green job?

According to the UN Environment Program, a green job is “…work in agricultural, manufacturing, R&D, administrative, and service activities that contribute to restoring environmental quality.  Specifically, this includes jobs that protect ecosystems and biodiversity, reduce energy and water consumption, decarbonize the economy, and minimize pollution.”

A month ago, we discussed the explosive growth and income-generating potential green jobs have to offer despite a volatile economy.  We also explored the process of transitioning from a traditional corporate role to a position driven by social responsibility and environmental activism.  Now, the question remains, how does one find a green job?

The traditional method is to explore popular, online job boards.  There are the mainstream job boards such as CareerBuilder, Monster, and Simply Hired.  However, you are not going to find a plethora of green collar positions upon such general job boards.  It would benefit you to consider cleantech job boards for opportunities related to environmental responsibility.  TreeHugger’s Job Board and greenjobsearch.org are more fruitful options for a targeted search.  In addition, there are job boards focused on specific areas within the green industry, such as Jobs in the Wind from the American Wind Energy Association.

However, employers may not advertise a job opportunity with an online job board for multiple reasons.  The company of your dreams may be a startup and not possess an HR department.  They cannot handle the volume of response acquired from postings on CareerBuilder.com or other broad-based postings.  Therefore, other strategies to hunt for green jobs arise.  Consider the possibilities within the hidden green job market:

1) Networking

Networking is a crucial skill any graduate entering the job market or seasoned professional can possess.  How else will you meet the contacts necessary to acquire a new position in the cleantech industry? Attend green events such as EcoTuesday, GreenDrinks, Green Festivals, or events sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society. 

For green networking tips, visit http://www.planetfriendly.net/networkingtips.html

2) Contact the companies directly

Many sustainable energy companies publish job listings on their website, as opposed to external recruitment for candidates.  To gain access to these opportunities, candidates should identify enterprises they would be interested in working for.  Tactics to review and assess prospective companies include:

* Going to green memberships to review their lists of relevant employers.  Examples incorporate the American Solar Energy Society, American Wind Energy Association, Geothermal Energy Association, Sustainable Buildings Industry Council, and the Electric Auto Association.
* Review the exhibitor/presenter list at industry conferences.  For instance, there were 400+ organizations at a recent Intersolar conference sponsored by the American Solar Energy Society.
* Read as many green publications as possible, such as Global Green USA. Green Career journals/magazines will have multifarious news articles highlighting prospective employers.
* Go to the National Green Pages to discover a sustainable energy business directory.

3) Academic Institutions

Academic institutions should offer an encyclopedic array of job-related resources for colleges and students, including job fairs and listings.  In response to the growing demand for green jobs, Columbia University and Stanford University are holding Energy and Environmental Career Fairs in the fall.  The University of Illinois and University of Minnesota also are holding sustainable energy career fairs.  Most importantly, academic institutions are a quintessential place to engage in networking.

4) Recruiters

In response to the gigantic growth arising in green jobs, recruiters have begun to specialize in careers involving sustainability.  Examples of green recruiters include The Green Recruiter, Lotus Partners, Bright Green Talent, and Commongood Careers.

5) Membership Organizations

Industry associations and other membership-oriented organizations generate job postings along with their member services.  For instance, Net Impact, a national organization focusing on actualizing business for social justice, offers career services and an annual green career expo.

6) Online Social Media

Company representatives (including hiring managers) often utilize social media to perform their own outreach initiatives for prospective candidates.  For instance, the Green Jobs and Career Network group on LinkedIn provides job postings in locations worldwide.

7) E-Mail Lists

E-mail lists for sustainable energy jobs are also an excellent method of penetrating the hidden job market.  Most of these are free for job seekers to join, including EnviJobs, Green Job List, and YNPN.

Despite the recession, the American job market is growing fast for green careers.  According to the American Solar Energy Society’s green jobs report, “…green industries already generate 9 million jobs in the U.S., and with appropriate public policy, could grow to 40 million jobs by 2030.”  In a recent NY Times article noted, “…56,000 newly trained workers and 14,000 project managers are needed to realize our current administration’s one-year goals for energy efficiency alone.”

So, now go out there and save our Mother Earth! Green careers lead to prosperity and job security.  You will also be strengthening and healing both our economy and planet.

Presented by Victoria Andrew, professional writer for Career Services International

May 3, 2010

Five Things NOT to Put on a Résumé

Submitted by Team Career Member and professional writer Leslee Remsburg, CPCC

1. An “Objective”
Do NOT write “…seeking a position that will utilize my sales/marketing abilities…”.  Instead, define your expertise and highlight your strengths with statements like “Sales/Marketing Manager who increases revenue and market foothold on global scale offers proven success driving billion-dollar sales through integrated media.”

2. The word “responsible”
This is an absolute NO-NO on a résumé.  Avoid starting every job description with “responsible for” or including this word anywhere in your document.  Résumés where every sentence begins with a powerful action verb grab more attention than rundowns of basic “responsibilities”.  Words such as “captured”, “catapulted”, and “championed” just to name a few will make your résumé a standout.

3. Work experience older than 15 years
It’s not relevant, which is what a résumé should be.  Especially for those in the IT field, beware of listing outdated technologies on your résumé.  These days, employers want to have cutting-edge, customized solutions to help them grow and transition in our expanding, global economy.

4. G.P.A.
Grade point average demonstrates academic qualities but means nothing in terms of on-the-job performance.  How do you handle a crisis or make your work environment more efficient?  Answers to those questions mean more.  The only exception to the rule is for recent college graduates with little experience who have graduated within the last two years (according to the Professional Resume Writers Association and the National Resume Writers Association).

5. Personal interests
As a favor to yourself AND the hiring manager, don’t waste valuable space on your hobbies and family description.  Focus on the facts and present material that is attention-grabbing and demonstrates workplace value to any potential employer.

Leslee has been a professional resume writer since 2005; her experience and wisdom is always appreciated… thank you Leslee!

dhuffman
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com

Blog at WordPress.com.