Education Career Services

July 1, 2010

Worth your Weight in Gold

By Jenna Rew

Saying you achieved something wonderful and have an incredible ability to do something profound is entirely worthless unless you can back it up.  Lots of people lie on their resumes, which is why hiring managers are looking, now more than ever, to see that you can prove the claims you make.

If all you can do is give a percent or a situation, but you can’t say a percent of what or what happened later, then nothing and no one can help you. Your resume might boast those percents or situations and catch a hiring manager’s attention. Be assured, they WILL ask about them. Don’t be left speechless. You will appear to be making things up, even if you are telling the complete truth.

According to the Professional Resume Writers Association, the level of credibility and believability between “telling” versus “showing” is 7% to 93% respectively. Think about those figures for a second and KNOW the power of numbers and showing.

This is why I cannot stress enough, KEEP YOUR RECORDS. Document the accomplishments you make, include the initial problem or situation, what you did and what the result was. Look for numbers to quantify your claims. If you don’t know, ask. Worst case scenario: your employer will tell you he can’t give you that number and you attempt to look it up yourself or give your best estimate. Even one quantifiable thing can be better than an entire resume filled with fluffy daily duties.

Hiring managers know the general responsibilities of the positions they are looking to fill. The last thing they want to see is position after position listing the same things over and over again. Value comes from adding something to the company. You want to be worth your weight in gold, not part of the dime-a-dozen crowd.

I recently reviewed several resumes where individuals offered years of experience but didn’t list anything worth chatting about. It was all run-of-the-mill daily responsibilities nobody cares about. Upon digging deeper, I found some had significant achievements to brag about but were selling themselves short.

The time to be modest is NOT when you are trying to find a job. Your employer is not going to spend a significant amount of time trying to pry the information out of you. Either you give it up or you get passed over.

Don’t let yourself be one of those people who may look good on paper, but when it comes down to it, is no greater than the other half-dozen people sitting in the corporate waiting room. Record your accomplishments and wear them proudly on your sleeve.

Great submission Jenna,

dhuffman

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June 23, 2010

Skyrocket Your Success with Social Networking, Part II

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

The following concludes our previous post. Let us know what you think as well and how the activities worked for you…

2) Zumeo.com

Zumeo.com is a job search site specifically for recent graduates.  The job listing feature is very user-friendly and has a diversity of filters allowing you to search for jobs based on location, your personality type, your education, and other aspects of yourself not typically offered on other career search sites

Once you click on a job posting, more info is provided and you can click to view the company’s profile, view it on a map, or go to the actual job posting where you can apply for the job.  Users can also browse by company.

Users can multiple upload files to develop a professional portfolio, showcasing your past projects.  Zumeo also creates an online resume automatically with a brief description, your objective, experience, skills and education.  Although this functional approach is not recommended, it may give you the basic information and inspiration to create a dynamic and compelling resume.

If you’re looking to network, Zumeo allows you to connect with other users, join company communities, and submit endorsements of other users.

Activity:

Sign up for Zumeo.com with your email or through Facebook Connect.  Proceed to fill out a survey and on-line assessment to determine your strengths, talents, interests, and jobs matching your personality, goals, and skills.

3) Create a Blog

Blog about whatever interests you – music, books, politics, sports, food, whatever it may be.  In the perspective of social media networking for your career search, the content is not as important as revealing that you are opinionated and confident enough in your writing to share it with a community of online readers.  You definitely garner bonus points too if you’re able to create a blog that has a substantial following, as this demonstrates an entrepreneurial side that most employers love.

Activity:

Write a list of ideas, topics, and issues you feel passionate about.  Our of your lists of interests, passions, and even obsessions, choose one you can confidentially write about on a weekly (or even daily) basis.  Then, set up a blog in just a few key strokes by utilizing services such as Blogger or WordPress.  You shall definitely get bonus points if you’re able to create a blog that has a substantial following, since this shows an entrepreneurial side most employers appreciate.

4) Create a LinkedIn Profile

For those of you that don’t know, LinkedIn is essentially a Facebook for professionals. You’re able to provide a skeleton version of your resume and you can also connect to any professional or work-related relationships you have developed throughout the years. Employers are able to see this version of your resume, interests you have, and also the people that you’re connected with.  By creating this profile, employers are able to see how you interact and communicate with other professionals like yourself.

Activity:

Launch your own LinkedIn profile! Even if you feel you have miniscule professional/corporate experience as a recent graduate, take inventory of your achievements in internships, volunteer work, and classroom projects producing quantifiable results.  Having a profile will demonstrate a level of professionalism, ambition, and sophistication over and above typical college graduates.

5) Create a Twitter account

Twitter is an excellent way to get yourself involved in the community, show your thought process, and your opinions on many different subjects.  Yes, you can tweet that you’re going to eat a sandwich or that you’re dressed in a red boa for Gay Pride, but we would recommend tweeting more on your thoughts, opinions, revelations, and discoveries on the job search quest.  Employers will thus see that you’re an intelligent individual and that you’re able to communicate effectively, even if it’s only in the form of 140 characters.

Activity:

Create your own Twitter account and resist the temptation to tweet about trivial, everyday life experiences.  Push yourself to a new level and tweet only about your career interests and job search.  Demonstrating such discipline and restraint will set you apart from the crowd and reveal a higher level of sophistication than others your age.

Fine-tune your list of potential network contacts and set a goal to contact a certain number each week or month.  Arrange to meet with as many contacts as possible, and always ask each one for more referrals.  Send thank you notes, and update your contacts regularly on your progress.

Ultimately, job seekers should aspire to take advantage of any extra edge that they can get.  Capitalizing social media is an excellent way to get your name out there, to brand yourself, and also to potentially network with future employers or references.  By taking the fullest advantage of social media, the world shall be your oyster.

Thanks Victoria, you are greatly appreciated…

dhuffman,
career services international / education career services
dhuffman@careersi.com

June 9, 2010

Interviewing: Be a Tiger, NOT a lamb

Finally… it took months to get one and nothing is going to stop me from making the right impression and landing a job offer (or at least making it to the next interview round). Securing an interview appointment is only half the battle – actually, getting the interview is only the beginning.

Over the past few days, I had the luxury of interviewing five candidates. The following summarizes the high points and a couple low points:

Thumbs Up:

* All five entered the reception area in a timely and professional manner
* All five dress professionally and fit the part, clothes tight and holding an eager and smiling face
* All five engaged in a “conversational” style during the interview (as opposed to being stiff or rigid – for the record, I prefer a relaxed discussion – one not predetermined and overly practiced)
* All five offered a firm hand shake upon initial greeting and departure
* All five could do the job

From the surface, it is a neck to neck rating.

Thumbs Shaking:

* None of the five have sent a thank you follow up (I prefer snail mail [yet did not even receive an email or a phone call] showcasing a bit of personality, innovation, attention to our conversation, and sincere interest)
* None of the five appeared to perform due diligence regarding pre-interview company research (I am only guessing here but as no one shared an in-depth knowledge of what we do and how we do it, I can only conclude based upon the premises provided)

With no clear-cut candidate advantage, what do you recommend I do? Having all return for a second interview would probably result in the same result. As a hiring agent, I want someone to step up to the plate and force me to recognize him/her as the one. Guess I will just keep interviewing, checking the mail, and hoping someone will rise above the complacency…

What does this mean for you? From the student to the entry-level first-time employee to the seasoned professional, interviews (if you are lucky enough to get one) are YOUR time to shine. The concept is simple:

Interview Shining Requires:

* Making sure you hit all points on the thumbs up category
* Perform due diligence prior to the interview; this means researching the company, what they do, how they do it, and what you bring which will add/contribute to the success of the company
* Send a thank you/follow up letter if you remain interested in the position immediately after the interview. Take it from me, a typical employer, sometimes the little things can make a huge difference

Getting that initial interview is only the beginning. Prove your value AND reinforce your contributions and interest. I have five good candidates treading, all I want now is a reason to believe one of them wants the job as much as I want to hire him/her… what else can I do?

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

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 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

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 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, www.careersi.com
Education Career Services, www.educationcs.com
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman

April 2, 2010

Making that first impression: Face-to-face interviews

Submitted by Jenna Rew

In these economic times, being called for a face-to-face interview is a success by itself. Companies want to hire those who can prove beyond doubt that they can fulfill all the employer’s needs. During the initial phase, you have to prove your value to the company is greater than the sum of your pay.

According to the Agency for Workforce Innovation for the state of Florida, over 211,500 jobs have been lost since February of 2009. That being said, nailing your interview is key to ensuring you land a position in a time when thousands are out of work.

So, how do you prepare?

Do the leg work. Research the company where you are applying. Find ways to showcase your skills in a way that is relevant to the employer and prepare questions that can not be answered by going to the company Web site.

Practice makes perfect. Research common interview questions and compose your answers. If possible, practice with someone else to avoid becoming tongue-tied or inconsistent. A few common questions are:

  • Why should I hire you?
  • What is your greatest strength? Weakness?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your career goals?

 Know the area. If necessary, do a trial run. You want to be 10 to 15 minutes early and knowing where you are going is essential.

Prepare your briefcase/portfolio. Consider the things you should be taking with you:

  • At least three copies of your resume in case the interviewer does not have one on hand.
  • Your social security card and driver’s license
  • Writing samples or a portfolio of relevant work
  • Letters of reference and reference information.
  • If you are a recent grad, a copy of your last transcript

Dress for success. Women should wear business pants or a knee length skirt with proper hosiery, a blouse, heels or pumps, minimal jewelry and modest make-up. If appropriate, wear a jacket. Men should wear a three piece business suit and a modest tie, no crazy patterns. Clean shaven is best. Make sure your clothes are ironed. If your clothes are a rumpled mess you give the impression that YOU are a rumpled mess.

Follow-up. After the interview, send a letter or friendly e-mail saying thank you for the interviewer’s time and interest. When the employers are reviewing applicants they will remember you.

Preparation is everything. Plan accordingly and walk out of your interview with your head held high. Be confident and showcase yourself. You will succeed.

Thank you Jenna, I am convinced this will not be the last time we hear from you,

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
Creator, The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com

March 11, 2010

The Catch 22 of “Over Qualified”

Between graduating students and retiring-executives-who-aren’t-retiring, not to mention other professionals suddenly finding themselves looking for work, experienced candidates are hearing that dreaded word a lot these days: “over-qualified.”

From an employer’s perspective, seasoned professionals might not be challenged by the open position and therefore leave as soon as they are able.  In some cases, the hiring manager may fear for their own job if they hire a team member who can do their job as well as they can… or even better.

If you hear that concern during the interview, it’s tempting to lay it on the table, “right now I need to pay the bills so I’ll consider any job at the moment!”  That declaration doesn’t allay their fears, however, and may make them worse (you just confirmed you’re looking for something better).

Once again, the answer is to identify their concerns and offer a solution.  “Due to the present economy, companies are getting a lot for their investment; you’re in a position to acquire talent at a great price.  I accept that and intend to provide greater value than a less qualified employee.”

Also make it clear during the interview that you know the key to success is “making my manager great.”  If the hiring manager knows 1) you’re on his or her side, and 2) by bringing you in to the company, he or she will be recognized as bringing in a winner, you effectively negate that concern.

Should the specter of “over qualification” still hovers over the interview, confront the issue, “It seems my qualifications concern you; what do you perceive as the problem?”  Then help them find the solution.  Would signing a year-long commitment help land the job?  Show your value by help them over that hurdle.

In anticipation of that concern, now is actually a good time to transition to a new industry.  “I understand you’re trepidation of hiring someone accustomed to making more money, but in this role I’m looking for more than just a paycheck.  Not only could I be an asset to your company, I’ll receive an education as valuable to me as money.”

Another strategy to dealing with this is to request an interview early in the interview schedule.  Relating your value and bringing up deeper aspects than a less experienced candidate could, you’ll raise interviewer expectations for following candidates.

Like with any objection, you need to find the logic behind the fear to overcome it.  Let’s face it, if you really are over-qualified, you have the experience to conquer the hiring manager’s concerns.  In fact, you may come to welcome that issue once you’re prepared for it.  If you had a choice between a sports car and a bicycle, which would you choose?

Thank you Robert for the great article.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

March 4, 2010

Social Media Overrunning YOUR World?

Yesterday I spoke to a Data Storage Sales Executive seeking transition from Environmental Services back to Open Storage Sales. One of the questions during our conversation regarded the prevalence and rapid growth of the Social Media stage.  Given my knack to know more and deliver the goods to an eager (and hungry) following, I did my own diligence on the matter. The statistics may surprise you.

Needless to say, if you thought social/media networking made an impact over the past few years, hold on while I recap the deal from the Career Management Alliance (specifically from AIRS Sourcing Report, February 2010).  On this note…

* Facebook has been in business six years in February, and has 400,000,000 members (if the zeros got in the way, the number is 400 million—wonder how long it will be until the number of people in Facebook is a greater percentage than the worlds population)
* 50% of Facebook users log on daily
* 65 million Facebook users access the site with mobile devices (I am still trying to figure out how to take a picture on my phone much less text…)
* LinkedIn has 11 million users across Europe
* India is the fastest growing country using LinkedIn, with more than 3 million users
* LinkedIn is offered in 4 different languages, while Facebook is offered in 70 languages
* Twitter has 75 million profiles
* In December 2009, 17% of Twitter users tweeted,

The next time you think about career networking, think about the power of the social/media world.  Then again, one thing I want to make clear, do NOT rely solely on this medium for career support.  As I closed out the conversation this morning, I made it clear an objective approach to material development and an assertive approach to spreading the word of value should be considered. 

In the submissions to come, we will continue reviewing multiple avenues guiding YOUR career success.  In the interim, let me know of any challenges you would like examined.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

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