Education Career Services

August 28, 2009

Repaving and Resurfacing the Resume Road

The following was submitted by Kimberly Sarmiento.  Kimberly recently published a career management book covering the in’s and out’s of cover letter development.  She is also a writer for Education Career Services.  Given the length of her submission, I will present the first half today and will then follow-up with the conclusion on Monday, August 31st.  I’m confident you will find her submission to be helpful…

August 28Some clients have a direct progression in their employment history.  Their career path is like a long stretch of freshly paved interstate, no speed bumps, no pot-holes, and no off-ramps.

But there are others out there, including myself, who have more interesting employment histories.  Our career path is like a county road with large divots and plenty of side streets – we might even switch to dirt road and back to blacktop again. 

These types of resumes may need to address frequent job changes, seemingly unrelated positions, and time off for personal reasons.  That’s ok!  You don’t have to drive along an employment interstate to have plenty to offer a potential employer.  You just have to know how to make the scenic drive look as appealing as possible. 

Fill in Pot-Holes:

The consensus of the three major resume writing associations is that years are enough for your employment history.  So right from the start, you can eliminate “holes” in your resume if you went unemployed for a few months by just using your starting and ending year.

Example:
Don’t Do:         Most Recent Position: Employer: March 2009-Present.
                        Previous Position: Employer: Jan. 2004- April 2008

Do:                   Most Recent Position: Employer: 2009-Present
                        Previous Position: Employer: 2004-2008

Connect the Dots:

Seemingly unrelated positions, particularly those that appear unrelated to the position you are applying for may give a hiring manager a reason to overlook your resume.  That is why it is best to lead with accomplishments – not your job history.

When you begin your resume by highlighting your skills and accomplishments, you show right from the start that you are qualified for the position you seek.  It doesn’t matter if you achieved market growth while working as an underwater basket weaver and you are now applying for a business development position.  If you have the figures and data to back up your claims, that it what will sell you to your potential employer.

Keep the Road Going:

Having spent several years as a stay-at-home mom, I am familiar with the gap that can leave in your resume.  Hopefully, you will have spent some time working in a volunteer capacity or in part-time or freelance positions that will keep your resume current. 

NOTE: If you are in the middle of taking time off for personal reasons – pursue opportunities now – education, volunteer, or part-time – that will reflect well in your resume when you return to work full-time.

If you have, then use these positions to create a continuous, if unconventional, career path.  If you have not, then you will need to address these gaps in your resume during your interview so be prepared to discuss why your skills are still sharp and what you have learned during your time off that will add to your value.

Once again, leading with your accomplishments will be an invaluable strategy if you are in this position.  You do not need to identify a time frame for you key bullet points.  You simple need to show the action you took and the results.  If you saved a company $2M and increased revenue $10M, it really doesn’t matter if it happened five years ago – those are still results you should own and spotlight.

On the 31st Kimberly will take us to the next level: Proving you are a safe driver.  Until then, let me hear from you and if you have specific questions or topics you would like covered, give me a shout.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

August 24, 2009

Résumé, Accomplishments Vs. Duty Statements

Question and AnswerA few weeks ago a question of interest was posted and the following is my opinion.  No doubt several individuals will differ from my opinion but it may be a good forum to throw ideas back and forth.  Let’s take a look at the question, details, and my response:

Question: “More duty statements and less accomplishments or more accomplishments and less duty statements on a résumé?”

Details: What are recruiters, HR, and hiring managers looking for? Is there a difference between roles? I’m seeing a lot of résumé that look more like grocery lists with little if no accomplishments. Is it important to list every duty a person has performed?

Response:
It’s all about value and developing a sense of trust in the candidates ability to get the job done. Being a professional writer and career coach, I encourage students as well as seasoned executives to focus on accomplishments in a STAR method. STAR= Situation, Task, Action, and Result.

In other words, your marketing material (portfolio, including your resume and cover letter) must depict a story in which the reader can identify with. This story varies from position to position, from industry to industry, and from person to person. Overall, not an easy task to accomplish but you don’t have to take the road alone.  If you are a current student, take portfolio and professional development classes and always work with your career services department. For the executive, there are great services out there to help you or to do all the work.

As a professor, I often explained to students that simply “claiming” to be the very best by way of duty statements is nice but, without support, this claim will not mean a thing for the reader. In other words, one must provide a balance (leaning toward metric-based proof) between a claim to be the right candidate and the proof (or support) of the claim.

To bring this to a conclusion, a list of duties is useless without proof.  Unfortunately, HR, recruiters, and hiring managers often look for different elements. HR and recruiters are more prone to like a list of duties in a chronological format whereas hiring managers are more interested in the immediate value you will bring to a particular position. For the hiring manager, metric based is the way to go and the format recommended by the top three career management associations in the US is semi-functional; NOT chronological (but format is a whole new subject and not for now).

Ask any professional writer, writing a resume is much like writing poetry (perhaps this is the reason why an excellent resume writer charges up to $2,000 a pop–and well worth it). When developing your marketing material, as in poetry, each word is included for a specific and relevant reason.  Each claim and each accomplishment must also be scrutinized for it’s purpose, value, and semantic meaning.

In the end remember a resume is not the tool which will land you the job…a resume lands you an interview. For students, partner with your career services department for additional support and their lending hand. For a seasoned executive, don’t go about writing alone and partner with a company you can trust.  Together, prioritize your value to match the position, company, and requirements and you will find success. On this note, if you would like a quick review or assistance in any way, let me know…it is what I do.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

July 20, 2009

Career Optimist or Just Another Survey?

optimist62% percent of companies who practiced hiring freezes and 69% of those who practiced salary freezes plan to eliminate them within the next 12 months.

The past few years have been difficult due to our economic crisis, no denying that fact.  I continue to worry about tomorrow and hold off making purchases until my confidence level improves.  I don’t believe this tactic is far off the views of most.  So when I hear news of brighter things coming down the road, I want to share the information.

As a result, when I noticed a title “Companies planning to reinstate some programs cut during the economic crisis” pop up recently, I felt compelled to share with you.

Watson Wyatt conducts bimonthly surveys with a goal to placing a finger on the pulse of our economic state.  Their recent survey includes responses from 179 employers.  In a nutshell they found a majority of U.S. employers plan to reverse some, but not all, of the changes they’ve been making to their pay, benefits and other HR programs.

This information is viewed as a sign of economic improvements.  Knowing that many companies plan to reinstate some programs cut during the economic crisis adds confidence to what resides ahead.  To top the survey off, here are some of the findings you may find interesting (and include the finding at the top of this submission):

  •  48% that have reduced their employer 401(k) / 403(b) matches plan to reinstate them in the same timeframe.
  • 60% of employers plan to reverse salary reductions (55% within the next year and 5% within 18 months), while 20% of employers will keep them in place, and another 20% are unsure.

Despite the expectation of many improvements, more than 40% believe there will be long-term difficulties in:

  • attracting (41%) and retaining (45%) critical-skill employees,
  • 79% of companies expect to see an increase in employees working past their desired retirement age, and
  • 73% expect an increase in the percentage of health care costs paid by the employee.

Heck, now I’m feeling a bit better about tomorrow.  Maybe I should go ahead and make a few purchases?  After second thought, change often takes more than the 30-day credit bill cycle so I best hold off a month or two…just in case.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

Source: http://www.watsonwyatt.com/news/globalnews2.asp?ID=21645&nm=United%20States

July 17, 2009

I’m NO Elephant!

July 17No matter what your profession, at some point in time, everyone will function as a salesperson.  Many will sell products, but still more will sell ideas.  Most of all, you will sell yourself. 

As you progress on your career path, you will sell the value you bring to a company many times.  Though social networking is often the initial contact, for many the first sales vehicle employed is a resume and cover letter.  Make no mistake; these electronic bits of information act as sales documents or contract proposals if you will.  Because of this, your materials must offer your strongest selling points while conveying uniqueness to the buyer – your potential employer.

For many, this is an incredibly daunting task.  Perhaps it’s because the value of humility has been drilled into them when they were young or because of an underestimation of worth.  You are not alone; a great portion of the population finds it difficult to answer all-too-common questions like: “What distinguishes you from other applicants?” or “Why should I hire you?”  Unfortunately for the shy or recent career entrant, these are questions which must be addressed in your documents BEFORE an interview is scheduled.

Knowing these questions will be asked, your task is to answer them in a confident and value-based manner.  How do you do that?  As with any endeavor, start with researching the topic and expectation.  In other words, think in terms of what the reader may be seeking and NEVER be that proverbial elephant in the room.  There are two things you need to know when selling any product:

•   What does the buyer need?
•   What can my product do?

Investigate the company and position you are applying to and identify how your skills meet their requirements.  Matching your skills and what you can do to what is being sought determines the next step.  If you are unable to match the requirements (or even come close), be realistic.  For clarification as to what you are capable of doing, don’t be afraid to ask coworkers, peers, instructors, and even family members how they would describe your work.  Talk to the people on your reference list and ask what they feel are your key strengths.  Asking for a helping hand can prove beneficial on many fronts! 

When completing your materials, remember that building confidence may require you to look at yourself through other people’s eyes.  Show your resume and cover letter around.  Practice your interview skills with friends or associates and WOW your next potential employer!

Kimberly Sarmiento
Resume Writer – Career Services International
http://www.careersi.com

July 6, 2009

Resume Purpose and Objective

Hoping everyone had a safe and groovy Fourth of July. As for me, kept around the house and made sure the four cats were not too frightened. Let’s get to career marketing and specifically resume development and need for change for a minute…the following represents typical questions I have dealt with over the years:

Questions

What’s hot in resume writing, what are some musts that should be included on a resume? What are some new tricks of the trade and methods that can help set you apart? In addition to work experience, what else should be included to make it stand out? Professional certifications or education credentials? New computer/software skills? Training? How important are all of those to making a resume stand out?

What’s hot in resume writing, what are some musts that should be included on a resume?

Resume development is much like home construction: tools of the trade are required.  Without tools, a frame can not be built.  Your frame defines the value you offer and this MUST be including on your resume in the first round of action.  Tom Cruise stated “show me the money” in a movie several years ago.  And so, the same stands true.  Most Employers hire not for charitable reasons, but for selfish reasons.  Your job at hand is to stand out from the pile upon pile of applicants by “showing your value.”  To do this, a frame of reference needs to be established quickly.  Frames of reference include (though not all inclusive):

  • Added Value/Unique Characteristics or Skill
  • Career History
  • Educational Background/Training
  • Relevant Certifications
  • Technical Expertise

Frames of reference are the support beams validating your target and confirming your ability to not only gets the job done, but to get the job done in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Are you the right person for the job? Are you representing yourself in an industry-specific manner? Are you creating the right first impression?  One has 12 seconds to 15 seconds to “show value,” are you?

How important are all of those to making a resume stand out?

Like a house without a proper foundation, marketing material without appropriate frames will fall from lack of support.  Standing out from the piles of peers is not an easy task but can be accomplished.

I will be glad to expand as requested

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

June 30, 2009

Resumes – it’s time to update but why?

Are there any trends going on without my knowledge?

As companies innovate and evolve, representing oneself via marketing materials (resume, cover letter, etc) must fuse company “needs” with candidate “skills.”  In a nutshell, employers want those capable and willing to grow AND not afraid of resolving challenges with “blue-sky” resolutions.

Estimates are clear; one has 12 seconds to 15 seconds to grab the reader’s interest, no more.  After this initial (and ever so brief) encounter of the first kind, decisions are made to discard or retain for closer inspection.  No doubt about it, the concept of instant gratification has seeped into the hiring process and now refuses to depart without a fight.  Corporate evolution via labor acquisition is now in time warp and the candidate must, as a natural reaction to this paradigm, hit quick and hard with the facts and only the facts.

In the end, individuals maximizing the marketing “hot zone” lands the interview.  For today’s resume/marketing trend tip, show your value/contributions as quickly as possible…that is, in the beginning.  So where is the beginning and how do I maximize it?  The “hot zone” resides in the top third of the resume.  In this pivotal region, employers are seeking value and take the approach: “What can you do for my company—now?”  So it seems that without a meaty worm on the hook, the big fish never bites (or calls to arrange an interview)! 

Elements attracting interview invitations are qualifiers defining what you will do for the bottom-line.  Unfortunately, too many resumes use the “tell me” approach as opposed to the “show me” approach.  The “tell me” approach uses fluffy soft words without a true declaration of action…this passive rhetorical road leads to burger flipping (I am speaking as one who flipped many burgers way back when.  As a result, I do respect the trade).  “Show me,” takes the reader to the context, the challenge, the action initiated or coordinated, and allows the reader to experience the results of your knowledge.

In the next submission, resume format will be examined. When you may ask?  Soon…very soon.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CEIP, CPCC
Career Services International
Education Career Services

June 26, 2009

Common Denominator: Career Management

Over the past two weeks I had the opportunity to speak to many career professionals throughout the North Eastern side of the United States.  Not only was the trip a scenic paradise, the information gained was invaluable and will be incorporated throughout blog entrees as well as our career manuals and collateral.

June 26My first stop was to oversee a train-the-trainer seminar at YTI Career Institute where I had the honor of sharing and receiving suggestions and stories from close to 50 professionals.  Not only are their campuses beautiful, their dedication to student success (from before the first day of class to beyond graduation and job acceptance) sets a high standard for any college or university to follow.  It is an honor to be part of YTI Career Institute, and I look forward to a long partnership.

The EACE conference, held in Buffalo, was also valuable.  Approximately 250 career professionals attended and many came by our booth to chat, check out our material, and offer suggestions for input. 

Though I spoke to hundreds of individuals over the past two weeks, one element was clearly expressed: professional development and career management is a major concern for everyone. 

The trip proved to be essential; sharing information in a setting conducive to growth always brings great rewards.  For the next few weeks I will be dedicating a great deal of time and energy transferring the past few weeks into our career management collateral.  

For those unable to play a direct part, the result is available.  From the student entering college to the executive seeking career challenges, one thing remains clear: we are all seeking ways to progress within this global economic cruise ship.  

If you have any questions do send them to me.  On a side note, I will be traveling to the Greater Chicago area for an upcoming MWACE conference and always up for a meet, greet, and lunch event…think about it.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

June 10, 2009

Career Magic in Orlando?

june 10Yippee, I’ve lived in Orlando for over 8 years and the basketball team is in the NBA finals.  Sorry for not getting overly excited but life will go on no matter the outcome of the games.  And truth be told, no matter who wins the series, career management for the non-basketball players will not suddenly become brighter as reality hits surprisingly hard.

As a matter of fact, the unemployment rate and foreclosures continue to rise while the average American remains struggling in an economy that (on the surface) appears to be inconsistent with the disbursement of services.  So, what do we do?  For some, temporary relief will be found in front of their television set or at the arena screaming at the refs for unfair calls.  For others, this sport called basketball simply reinforces the idea of an unfair marketplace.  Let me break it down for a second, how can our world justify paying huge sums of money to sports athletes while close to 9% of our workforce is unemployed? 

Hey, I am an Orlando Magic fan and did a bit of screaming last night as well.  My intent with today’s submission is not to become philosophical and ask for radical change.  I am simply bringing a point of reference to the surface and asking the question “what is fair?”

True enough, there is value (an emotional/psychological catharsis if you will) in sports and no doubt we all need to find ways to release tension—I’m asking is there may be a better way to invest the millions of dollars than handing the money over to young adults, wealthy owners, and greedy vendors.  Think about an alternative for a second, what type of redevelopment programs would be supported if we reined in on the craziness of sports?  Take a look around your community; do you have any ideas where you would invest millions of dollars?  Perhaps there are ways this money would make your area more economically stable (and not just for one or two groups—for the community as a whole).

I checked out Orlando’s Workforce program recently.  Without argument, additional funds are needed (and I am not talking about a ton) for career guidebooks, support material, additional training, more employees, and extra resources which will in turn increase the marketability of those not properly prepared to market themselves.  I got it, this spending is not glamorous.  After all, who wants to go to a building where there are no banners, no lights, no dancers, and no television contracts?  Then again, perhaps our politicians are doing the right thing by supporting sports franchises?  Where else can one go to purchase a $6 hot dog?  At this price, no doubt someone is expanding their career aspirations—but at what cost and who is paying the price!  Leading me to the question, what does your city do for the unemployed, the struggling, the poor community, and the people who need support the most?  Bringing me to the next story…

Several weekends ago, while on the way to the farmers market, I went to an open house as I like to dream and see how the other world lives.  The neighborhood was beautiful.  The house was huge.  The neighbor was Dwight Howard.  The price was $5.5 million.  The pinch hurt!

So here I remain, back to reality and reality tells me I don’t want a $5.5-million dollar house.  I don’t want a famous neighbor.  I want our city, our state, and our nation to begin prioritizing where money is invested.  Schools are closing at a crazy rate.  Teachers losing jobs and our students are losing out.  I suggest that career management and career preparation be an investment made TODAY, creating an environment of shared responsibility and personal pride.

Then again, I could be a blind politician and forget about the whole community career thing and go to game four of the NBA finals…after all, nothing Kobe Bryant can’t break that Dwight can’t fix! 

On this note and my new desire to be amongst the crowd, if you have a couple tickets and can’t make it to the game tomorrow night, let me know.  I need an emotional release and yelling just may be the way!  One more thing, Dwight, you do have one beautiful house!

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

May 21, 2009

Say WHAT?

No matter the situation, the manner in which we “appear” determines the true message.  For the past few submissions, I’ve concentrated on nonverbal cues and will continue to do so for about two more entrees.  I am spending a great deal of time on this subject as many people do not understand the ripple effects our actions take in the mind of the other person. 

Think about it for a second… just about every day we encounter individuals (and groups) who give off conflicting messages.  Heck, the person behind the burger counter to a small gathering at a mall—no matter the size or situation, the onlooker perceives and creates his or her own reality based upon what is SEEN, not heard.

When was the last time you recorded a video of yourself?  Is the person you see the same person you think?  Just recently I was a featured career guest on a local radio show.  Several days after the 30-minute appearance, I listened to the taped recording…. Need I say more?

 May 21_2009Practice makes perfect

Because most forms of nonverbal communication are practiced subconsciously, the best way to get rid of bad habits is to become aware of them.  Get a friend or a family member to practice interview situations with you.  Using a video camera to tape mock sessions can be even more helpful.  Play the video with a critical and detached eye.  Ask yourself, “What would I like or dislike about this person nonverbally?  What’s making me feel comfortable, making me feel like I can build rapport with this person?”  Get your mock interviewer to ask you tough questions that would make you nervous and susceptible to bad body language.  Notice what you do under pressure and become conscious of it.  The awareness is half the battle.

 No doubt I became aware of what I “sounded” like after the radio appearance.  In a few weeks I will be conducting a training session for over 50 college career specialists and instructors—I’m wondering if I should record that on video?  I think not….

 Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com
Career Services International: www.careersi.com

May 19, 2009

Do the Hands and Eyes Have IT?

I have been out of service for the past few weeks and apologize for any inconvenience.  I am preparing for the EACE convention coming up in a June and so much work is involved.

For those who recall (if not, review several of the most recent posts), we were discussing nonverbal communication and we might as well get right into it by reviewing two issues, one dealing with the hands and the other with the eyes. 

Hands down

Nervous hand habits, like nail biting, hair twirling, and hand twitching can distract the interviewer and convey insecurity.  You can sit with your hands clasped together or hold onto a small organizer throughout the interview.  Avoid steepling your fingers in an upright position when answering a question.  This may be perceived as arrogant. 

The eyes have it

We have all heard that eye contact is important, it conveys confidence and respect, but too much can be just as bad as not enough.  You don’t want to make eye contact for more than three to five seconds; it’s too intense to sustain the whole time.  Avoiding eye contact, especially when answering questions, can convey dishonesty.

Glad to be here and look forward to answering questions as well as getting back into the pool!  Give me a shout and let me know what you’ve been up as of late.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

Education Career Services: http://www.educationcs.com

Career Services International: www.careersi.com

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