Education Career Services

July 29, 2010

Your Career Search in a High-Tech World

Submitted by Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW

Senior IT executives will tell you that having the right technology and a strong IT strategy is pivotal in today’s ever-changing high-tech marketplace.  And rather your career search is global or local, your on-line efforts are just as important. 

However, while IT is an important aspect of any company, there are plenty of other business functions – like Human Resources and Sales & Marketing – which would vie for top priority in making an organization a success.  The truth is they are all instrumental parts of the whole, working together to optimize revenue and profitability.  Likewise, your career search must incorporate many elements to be truly successful and maximize returns.

Your IT Strategy:

Besides posting a résumé on job sites, maintain a professional networking page on a website like LinkedIn.  While your LinkedIn page contains much of the same information as your résumé, it should be different in tone and verbiage.  After all, if you submit your résumé to a company, you don’t want them feeling like they’ve seen all this information before when they review your LinkedIn page or vice versa.  Having the content of your profile page professional prepared by a trained résumé writer might be one way to maximize your on-line presence. If you are unable to secure the help of a professional writer, throw a few ideas our way and we will offer insight and guidance.

Your Human Resources Tactics:

Personal contact is key to networking success as well as getting your foot in the door for interviews.  Do NOT be afraid to pick up the phone and introduce yourself to a prospective hiring authority or professional contact.  Asking for informational interviews is one way to expand your contacts and place yourself on an employer’s radar.  Also after sending a decision maker your résumé, connecting with them by phone is very important.  On a side note, always use business etiquette because this will help you cement a positive impression.

Your Sales & Marketing Campaign:

A solid résumé and cover letter is your method of promoting yourself to hiring authorities.  Making sure your documents are error free and convey your value with powerful, active-voice language will position you ahead of your competition.  Having a professional résumé writer or your career services department review and/or prepare your documents is like having a professional advertising company prepare a marketing campaign.  You want to hit your audience with the best material possible to make them pick up that phone and call you. 

Effective career marketing is more effective under a collaborative approach.  For the student, don’t hesitate to contact your career services professionals.  For those who have been in the workforce (as well as those entering the workforce), consider securing an expert in the field.  If you have any questions or would like me to quickly review your material, give me a shout-out.

Thank you Kimberly, your wisdom is always appreciated.

dhuffman
EducationCS.com
407-206-5883

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July 15, 2010

Lean Résumé Writing

By Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW

Have you ever heard the saying “Less is more”?  Well, I don’t always like to hear this particular catch phrase levied in my direction, but when it comes to résumé writing, the statement is spot on.

A four-page résumé does not convey a greater breadth to your career or demonstrate you have immeasurable value with its length.  Instead it bogs a reader down in text, hiding your best accomplishments amidst duties and responsibilities that are often duplicated from one position to the next.  More likely than not, it is wordy and lacks the dynamic sentences needed to engage a reader and make you stand out from the crowd.

As a professional résumés writer I have the opportunity to write for a wide array of professionals.  Often, my client’s original documents are four- or five-page résumés full of information regarding their vast experience.  The problem with that sort of diffuse presentation is that a potential employer gets lost on the first page because the material is not broken up in a reader-friendly fashion.  When there is too much information in a document, the real value – what makes you unique – fails to come across.

Therefore, my recommendation is quite clear (and concise) when crafting your résumé, limit yourself to one or two pages and break up the information with paragraphs and bullets not exceeding three lines.  In general, students or recent graduates should almost always limit themselves to a one-page resume.  Regarding seasoned professionals with extensive experience, don’t be shocked but chances are a one-pager may work best for you as well.

Short, succinct statements containing quantifiable results are the best way to communicate to a potential employer what you can do for them.

So in conclusion, remember “less is more” might not be fun advice to receive but it does apply aptly to things like blue eye shadow, sugar-rich foods for children, refried beans, and most importantly – résumés.

Thanks Kimberly for our insight but I disagree with you on one note: less is more with refried beans? Are you insane?

dhuffman

July 12, 2010

Manifesting Your Ideal Career with the Law of Attraction

Writing contribution by Victoria Andrew, CPRW

Unless you live under a large rock, you probably heard of the Law of Attraction or may have even read Esther and Jerry Hicks’ The Law of Attraction: The Basic Teachings of Abraham.  You can apply the principles to any area of your life, including your job. In general, the theory involves harnessing the limitless power of the universe to manifest your own reality.

First, you come to the realization of what you truly desire and then ask the universe (or yourself) to manifest it.  Secondly, you work on yourself from the inside out so that you can be a positive person and surrender all negative energy.  Then, you act with confidence that you deserve it and as though you already have what your heart desires.

How Does This Apply to My Job?
Perhaps you are at a dead end job and want to move in a new direction, or perhaps you’ve been working hard for several years and would like a promotion.  By implementing the principals of the Law of Attraction, you can do what you love for a career and be thrilled when your alarm goes off in the morning instead of wishing to throw it against the wall.

Focus on Positive Things
Start focusing on what you DO want, not what you DON’T want professionally.  Instead of saying, “I don’t want to do this job anymore” say, “I am grateful to have a job and welcome new opportunities into my life that will bring me closer to achieving my dreams.”  You can utilize the law of attraction as a catalyst to discovering your way in the workplace, capture a promotion, and connect with your co-workers.

Define Your Goals and Dreams
Take some time to make a specific list of what makes you happy in your career.  What do you enjoy doing?  What makes you feel alive and invigorated?  Write all of these things down. This list will help clarify what your true calling is and help you obtain your personal career objectives.  Take control of your career path and act like you have already attained your objectives.  You will have support, a stronger will, and even freedom from fear and the negative energy previously preventing you from conjuring a more fulfilling career.

Tools to Help You Stay Focused
Once you have your goals laid out, it’s important to stay focused.  You can use a number of visual reminders to help you do this.

1. Vision Board
A vision board is simply a collage of your dreams.  Go through magazines or on the Internet and find pictures of what your dreams look like.  Cut them out and paste them on your vision board.  You can also write captions or details about the picture next to it on the board.  Start visualizing your life as it is in the pictures you have chosen.

2. Positive Affirmations
Create a list of goal specific affirmations.  Write them in the present tense as if they are already happening.  Repeat your affirmations, preferably out loud at least three times a day.  When you follow this practice for at least thirty days, your brain actually begins to reprogram your thought patterns and works on finding a way to make the affirmation happen.

3. Be Grateful

Keep a gratitude journal or notebook and write daily in it all of the things you are appreciative of.  Acknowledging the things you are already thankful for automatically attracts more good things into your life.

By defining what you want, staying positive, and taking small steps toward your goals, you will be on your way to living the life of your dreams.  You will become a strong presence which will make a difference in the way that your boss perceives you.  The giving theory will expand your career opportunities and also improve your life on all levels.

Thank you Victoria for your insight and sharing into your light.

dhuffman,
career services international
education career services

June 28, 2010

Resume Mirror: Reflecting VALUE

Submitted by Steve Klubock,
Career Services International

How do you increase the odds the market will see your value and make a bid (in the form of an interview and eventual job offer)? In some ways, your job in getting a job is to force the company to see its own self in a product advertisement (that being you). Is my twisted logic making sense? Put in another way, once the company makes a connection, you will find yourself in the right position for the next step.

Let’s break it down a bit by comparing common commodities to this concept and how the average consumer/company defines a need to possess. If we were to find living room furniture and feel certain it would fit our current décor, and, most importantly fit through the door, we probably would purchase the piece. If not, we would walk on by. Likewise with a suit of clothes; if we can see ourselves in the suit and if it matches the style we are looking for, chances are, we would buy it.

So how do the above examples apply to selling yourself to complete strangers during the worst job market in 60 years? How do you get the market to see itself in you?

Warning: Attitude realignment may be required.

If you are selling, (and you most assuredly are) your presentation must be about the buyer (company) and his/her needs. With this as a mindset, your skills, education, contributions, and potential must be presented in terms of company need. Thus leading to the next question: how do you figure that one out?

Your résumé needs to present the value package as a solution to the present (and potential) problems challenging the market today and more specifically the company you are targeting. Rather bluntly, your value proposition is the foundation to open doors of communication and resolution.

Time for an exercise: Call ten industry leaders and ask them, point blank, what are the top three priorities or challenges affecting their labor force and what is it they value most in an employee. After about five calls you will see a common thread.

Next, look at YOUR career history and see where you have addressed these areas and how you are marketing those sought after qualities. Take note of what you hear (great knowledge during interview sessions) and know the buyer will ONLY be interested in the product (you) if what you bring can be internalized within the overall goal of the company.

Surely you are not a piece of furniture or made of fabric, but the lessons learned can be used to your advantage. Make sure your resume takes advantage of the top third of the page by highlighting VALUE.  These first few lines of information (Problem, Action, and Result) are the basis hiring executives use when evaluating candidates.

Keep a pulse on the industry you are pursuing and mirror company needs to what you bring to the table.  In today’s labor saturated market, packaging is almost as important as the product itself.

Wishing you success.

Thanks Steve, your 20+ years experience in career management is much appreciated.

dhuffman

June 21, 2010

Skyrocket Your Success with Social Networking

Submitted by Victoria Andrew, Professional Writer, Editor, and Blogger

At its foundation, social media is a set of technologies and channels targeted at forming and enabling a potentially massive community of participants to productively collaborate.  IT tools supporting collaboration have existed for decades. Yet, social-media technologies, such as social networking, wikis and blogs, enable collaboration on a much grander scale and support tapping the power of the collective in ways previously unachievable.

Six core principles underlie the value of social-media solutions and serve as defining characteristics setting social media apart from other forms of communication and collaboration.  Principles include:

  1. Participation
  2. Collective
  3. Transparency
  4. Independence
  5. Persistence
  6. Emergence

Social media can include text, audio, video, images, podcasts, and other multimedia communications.  Ultimately, it can be an effective tool to help with your job search. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn enhance and expedite your hunt for a new job.

For Generation X/Y, social media networking serves as the most potent catalyst to forming the vital partnerships, visibility, and opportunities needed to penetrate the job market for the first time.

Consider the following sample sites and exercises for working your networking muscles:

1) InternshipRatings.com

Thinking about applying for an internship? Wondering what kind of experience you’re going to get out of that internship? Internships are the most important thing students can do to prepare for their career, especially if you choose the ones which will grant you the important transferable skills needed for your future career.   InternshipRatings offers you reviews from students that have already been through internships and know how valuable they are.

Activity:

Log on and create a free account with www.internshipratings.com.  Complete a quick and easy survey to rate different aspects of your current and previous internships, including the level of “real life” experience, compensation, and networking opportunities you have garnered so far in your education and early career.  Then, add a comment to describe a specific experience from your internship in more detail.

Ultimately, this site is a quintessential way to weed out the internships that will be a waste of your time and shall catapult you into the ones that will actually benefit you personally and professionally.

Next post we will go over four more sites and activities for each. So, if I were you, I’d make sure and check out this location in the next few days as we skyrocket the social networking scene all the while propelling your success.

Thanks Victoria, I can’t wait to continue…

dhuffman,

June 15, 2010

Social Media Intoxication: enough all ready!

I finally have a few minutes to reflect about the day and how to maneuver along this crazy highway called electronic social networking. Problem is, the only thing I can think of is: I need to check my LinkedIn, Twitter, Face Book, and five other accounts just in case…

There are benefits of networking but where is the point of diminishing return? Or is there such a concept in this arena?

How much time and energy do you spend texting, twitting, linking, and face booking? If we accumulated the amount of time spent (or should I have said wasted) peering into monitors and punching keys over a full week period, do you think the minutes (okay, I should have said hours) would be staggering and perhaps eye-popping? Being a rookie with such technology, I averaged the following throughout a full week:

* LinkedIn, logged in on the hour and spent an average of eight minutes on the site each time
* Responded to three peer questions on LinkedIn (total time spent for each ten minutes)
* Twitted and read those twitting articles several times a day (I am not a huge Twitterer so my time was limited to personal knowledge—no doubt many out there spend hours Twitting each day)
* Face Book was checked and browsed four to five times daily
* Blogging took a great deal of time over the week; with three active blogs to keep up, I seem to be running in a circle

Add daily interruptions and now I must ask, how does any real work get done? Running several publishing, writing, and human capital firms is a full-time (70 hour week) job—heck, no wonder my hair is sprouting more salt and less pepper! Maybe it’s time to kick back and rethink what we do during the day?

Is the social/media craze worth the sacrifice? At what point is enough too much and at what point are we walking around with our eyes glued to a networking device—never looking up to see if the sky is falling or if there even was a sky?

I don’t know how far this networking evolution will take civilization but I am beginning to worry about the negative effects of social media intoxication. Thus far, I’ve had the pleasure to see the following:

* Employees forgetting to work but not forgetting to network
* Students texting instead of taking notes / while an instructor I disallowed laptops, phones, and any other electronic medium in the classroom
* Less original work being performed and being submitted (or was I imagining)
* Family members not connecting face to face, even at restaurants while sitting at the same table (go figure)
* Drivers texting while operating their vehicle
* An over all decrease of interviewing and real social skills

Don’t know about you but I believe social media networking does have a darker side associated with it. For starters, think I’ll limit the time spent on electronic toys and insist those sitting at the dinner table with me pay more attention to the people sitting at the table. Perhaps each day enjoy simplicity, noise-free simplicity…

So what if I miss a Tweet or am not the first to see a photo on Face Book… does it really matter?

dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services/Career Services International
dhuffman@careersi.com

June 4, 2010

Mix at your own risk!

By Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW
Career Services International

Today’s job seekers are advised that social media sites and on-line networking are valuable tools for professional advancement.  But much like a poorly written cover letter or résumé can do more harm than good, a badly managed on-line presence can hurt you professionally.  How do you optimize your chances at success in the new virtual business world?

First of all, blend the social you and the professional you with great caution.  LinkedIn now features sections where you can link your Facebook and Twitter account to your profile.  While many seem to think this is a great way to show your personality to a potential employer, I would advice against connecting your LinkedIn profile to a site you use to express yourself freely

Even if you don’t have drunken debauchery filled weekends where pictures of you could arise, there are plenty of thoughts, comments, and interests your boss does not need to know about you.  If you want to keep these spaces free for your personal expression, do not connect them to a professional site. 

You should also be aware that even if you do not connect your Facebook or MySpace account to your LinkedIn profile, your employer could still search for you.  Therefore, you should check your privacy settings.  While your LinkedIn settings should be set for the most open access, your personal websites should not.  Make sure whatever an employer can access when they search for your name will depict you in a professional, positive light.  

One suggestion to mitigate these concerns might be to create a second Facebook or MySpace account for professional, semi-casual contacts.  If that is the case, manage your friends list well and make sure no one on it would tag you in a Spring Break photo from 1988 that you swore you burned the negatives of years ago.

When it comes to connecting a Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, make sure your tweets are professional and well, very non-confrontational.  If it isn’t proper to discuss a topic at your office, it probably isn’t a good idea to tweet about it

You probably already realize it’s a bad idea to tweet about the hot waitress serving you lunch.  But also know you might want to avoid tweeting about strong dislike of people who belong to certain religious or political affiliations or your opinion about controversial subjects.  Yes, this is the land of free speech but that doesn’t mean speech is consequence free.  While your employer can’t really fire you for having an opinion he or she disagrees with, there are many grey areas of employment and promotions where revealing your belief that marijuana and prostitution should be legalized might not favor you.

Finally, realize that any tweeting, blogging, or general commenting you do about your company on-line could violate company policies.  Make sure you are not giving your employer legitimate grounds for dismissing you by reviewing your company handbook.  When in doubt, leave out numbers, specifics, or any other information which could be considered confidential.

While the digital age is fantastic, one thing old fashion forms of communication afforded you was the chance to think twice.  You might write the letter – but you had the chance to throw it away before you mailed it!  Remember that what you put on-line in an instant can be accessed by the wrong person before you have the opportunity to remove it

By constantly considering what you put on the Internet from the point of view of a hiring authority, you can make your on-line presence a boost to your career rather than a stumbling block.

Thanks Kimberly

Dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services/Career Services International
dhuffman@careersi.com

June 1, 2010

Resume Language: Grammar, Consistency, and Point of View

Although the rules of grammar, such as parallel sentence structure, consistency, and punctuation, do apply, the statements we create for resumes are somewhat fragments in bullet or paragraph form simply because we eliminate the pronouns (he/she, you, we).  However, this doesn’t mean correct grammar in any other sense of the word should be absent.  Above all things (along with accuracy), grammar adds to the professionalism of any document. 

What would you be more inclined to read—a document filled with glaring errors or a document that reads smoothly?  Keep in mind that people who read resumes on a daily basis, such as human resources professionals, hiring managers, and executives, probably see a whirlwind of poorly-written documents one right after the other.  And although applicants may not be writers by profession, they are expected to know and apply basic rules.  Otherwise, that resume is at risk of automatically going into the “no” pile.

When creating a resume, always keep your target readers in mind.  Are these people going to be able to read this without tripping over ideas or punctuation?  Are they going to understand what I meant to say there?  Because resume writing differs from most other types of writing, we need to make sure it is clear and concise (without being overwhelmingly choppy).  For instance:

Option 1
                * Responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; managed relationships with vendors.

Option 2
                * Oversaw automation department, controlling $100M budget, leading 45-person team in system testing and verification, and managing vendor relationships.

They both say the exact same thing, but Option 2 lets the reader flow with the sentence as opposed to stopping at every semicolon and also connects ideas/responsibilities in one sentence.  The use of the comma after “department” and before “controlling” connects the second part of the sentence to the main idea, which is overseeing the automation department. 

According to the Professional Association of Resume Writers (PARW), the use of either third-person or first-person is fine as long as it is consistent throughout the document.  Why eliminate these words?  Again, it enables the reader to flow with the document as opposed to feeling like they are reading a biography or letter.  Since they are more concerned about the value they can get from the applicant, they need something they can skim through.  Being consistent is important because the omission of pronouns can confuse the reader if it suddenly switches from first- to third-person.   Using Option 1 from above: “[I was/he was] responsible for the automation department and a $100M budget; [I/he] led 45 personnel in system testing and verification; [I/he] managed vendor relationships.”  Although they both work in this instance, it does not always.  As an example:

First-person: [I am a]Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership.  [I] Create strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability through product development improvements. 

Third-person: [He is a] Senior Executive offering world-class experience in sales, business development, partnership building, and operations leadership.  [He] Creates strategies to reach target consumers while expanding profitability though product development improvements.

Generally, the third-person approach is more commonly used and has its advantages in terms of easier readability for your target audience.  Consistency in all areas of your resume is vital, including spelling, capitalization, punctuation, spacing, and font, because you don’t want to confuse readers.  The only questions you want them to ask are, Could you provide me with more information? or When are you available for an interview?

Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International

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 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

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