Education Career Services

January 28, 2010

How Hiring Managers Read Résumés

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; Hiring Managers DON’T read résumés… at least not initially.  If they’re actively looking for a candidate, they have a ton of résumés to go through.  If they are not, they have other work to do.  Either way, they won’t give a lot of time to reading, so they skim to make a first determination.

First, an effort will be made. A hiring manager will read the top line beneath the contact information. YOU MUST IMPRESS HERE.  “Seeking employment with a progressive company” isn’t the way to go (that’s understood).  Opt for a branding statement illuminating your value to the company.  They’ll read just until they get the gist of the statement (so keep them short).

Then their eye drifts down the page. GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO SEE!  Snag the eye with VALUE.  Use Bold (sparingly), Small Caps (even more sparingly) highlighting QUANTIFIED accomplishments (the WOW factor), and the Hiring Manager will stop to read.  If it’s relevant to their needs, they’ll look for other relevant accomplishments.

The top half of your résumé should be so strong (lots of WOW) that they make their decision to call you before dropping to the career history.  This decision may not be fully conscious yet, it may just be a favorable impression, an eyebrow-raised “hmmmm!”

In the career history they will either look at the company name or the position title, whichever is more prominent.  LEAD WITH THE POSITION TITLE; that says more about you than the company name.  They will look at ALL of the titles first, then go back and cherry pick through the descriptions, looking for relevant key words (numbers will snag attention, too).  Chances are they won’t read all the way through, but they will mine the document for relevancy.

This being true, organize the top of the document carefully, drawing the eye to what needs to be seen.  Don’t over-structure the career history descriptions.  Simple bullets work well.

Submission by Robert Swanson
Career Services International


July 31, 2009

Are Cover Letters Useful?

Tomorrow I will be heading to Chicago for the MWACE conference and hope to meet lots of peers while there.  Being an exhibitor, it’s always nice to see a friendly face and yours would be more than welcome.  With this in mind, I encourage as many to offer suggestions on the material I created, your input benefits students from across the United States and Canada.  That’s right, my textbooks, instructor resource guides, workbooks, and guidebooks are used in over 150 campuses. 

July 31Being my first trip to Chicago, any ideas as to where to go for a great hot dog and/or pizza is appreciated.  I will also be visiting a few campuses along the way (between Iowa and Orlando); if you are interested in a campus visit and a personal review of my work, let me know as quickly as possible so schedules can be manipulated.

Enough of Chicago for now, let’s get into a question asked by a reader who was wondering if cover letters really are important…here’s what I have to say:

As a business owner, I always look forward to the cover letter and weigh it’s content and structure heavily.  According to the latest trends and the top career management associations in the US, cover letters are extremely important while a large amount of employers (approximately 1/3rd) disqualify the candidate if a cover letter is not included with the resume.

As a certified career coach and certified resume writer, I insist resumes will be accompanied by a cover letter.  As a former instructor, program chair, career director, and dean of academic affairs, cover letter inclusion was mandatory…at the bear minimum displays professional respect.

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce qualities and characteristics a resume can not deliver.  The cover letter is slightly more subjective and is held to high standards of grammar.  This is the time to allow a glimpse of personality to be known…understand no employee is an island.  As a result, employers are interested not only in what you can do, but also the manner in which you can do it.

I’ve written several books on the topic and would be glad to share specific examples and issues at your convenience.  I can be reached at

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW (blog) (website)

April 9, 2009

Education House Bill: Career Commitment?

In typical fashion, this morning I enjoyed a cup of tea for breakfast while relaxing in the back porch and reading the Orlando Sentinel.While skimming, I noticed the headline: “Tougher teacher tenure bills move forward.” As my neighbor is a teacher, I decided my attention would be necessary…after all; a teaching career is a highly respectable (though often under-appreciated) trade. (Quotes in this blog were taken directly taken out of the paper—just to add a measure of context.)apple-coreu-s-178660-3

“Teachers also could be fired at any time if their students underachieve.”

For several years I was an instructor at a local college and to now learn a teacher’s career can be decided by students seems be a tad unfair, unpredictable, and un-defendable. After all, there’s so much more to being an effective teacher than standing in front of the class and lecturing. For teachers out there putting in 60+ hour weeks setting curriculum, reading papers, and tutoring, my respect is freely given to you.

On note with the quote, no doubt there is a relationship between outstanding teachers and student achievement but how many students just don’t care about achievement or intentionally disrupt the learning process for all lucky enough to be in the same class as the trouble-maker? Is it fair to now bring the concept of child success or failure onto the sole burden of the teacher? Where are the parents in this equation? Is it right to allow students to play such a powerful role when deciding promotions and terminations? Additionally, once students become aware of their power, how long before it is leveraged to their advantage? How absurd is this new policy to you (or is it just me)?

“…a tenured teacher would be limited to a five-year contract.”

Maybe not so bad, at least at first glance. But then again, many of the best teachers I have had the pleasure of learning from held over ten years of classroom experience. When does the sense of commitment by the school come into play? We trust and ask our teachers to guide our children but then throw a huge question mark which can be used as an administrative scare tactic. I am highly concerned about the blatant message as well as the latent meaning with the subjective agenda of this house bill.

Schools are all about lessons…in this, what does this lesson teach those looking for a career and for those looking to hire? If you’re looking for a career, be prepared to live life as a puppet-where no matter how hard you work and how well you do your job, you have no control over the strings binding you with your company. In effect, the precedent is clear: the House and Senate say it’s okay to terminate on the basis of a customer complaint, no matter the factors or agenda behind it. Are you feeling warm and fuzzy?

The bill “passed both the House and Senate committee votes today.”

How many people throughout the state of Florida knew of the upcoming vote? How many people in the state of Florida are willing to accept the consequences of this bill? For those outside of Florida, look out, this bill will act like a virus – so be prepared.

We are experiencing some of the most difficult times of recent memory and to have our educational leaders (House and Senate) allow fear to dominate the lives of teachers is, in my opinion, a travesty. And what does this tell the community and the children going to public schools? Ultimately, how can we expect our teachers to remain committed to the students and community when there is no return of commitment?

I’m not sure who the winners in this career move are…but I am certain who the losers are.

What’s your school district up to? How many out there know, I mean really know?

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

April 6, 2009

Dinner and the outsourced

Had an interesting weekend until the topic of outsourcing and illegal aliens came up; let me backtrack for a moment.  My wife and I were invited to have dinner at a friend’s home and naturally we accepted.  In typical fashion, upon the completion of dinner we discussed current and concerning issues.  Not sure how it began or who initiated the conversation but the concept of outsourcing was thrown out there… seems like there are three topics one should avoid while entertaining: religion, politics, and now outsourcing.

april-06-2009Our hosts own their own company and are strong believers in outsourcing.  My wife is diametrically opposed to outsourcing while I am a middle-in-the-road person with this topic (as a Libra, it’s just the way of the stars).  One more factor which should be considered, neither of our hosts was from the US – both come from a socialistic country. 

Our hosts questioned the inborn sense of “entitlement” many of the people in the US carry and “our” overall laziness.  Additionally, in their country, and in most they have visited and lived in, poverty is much greater in the US as is crime (they threw that in as icing).  The words slung back and forth – no one was going to convince the other their view was right.  Thirty minutes of argument (no longer a discussion) later, I decided to go to the family room and watch the NCAA semi-finals… at least there would be a winner in that competitive setting.

Here it is Monday morning and I can’t shake the feeling and discussion from two nights ago.  Do US workers own a sense of entitlement?  I take this to be translated into:

“the company (or country) owes me just because I happen to be born in a specific geographic boundary.”

Could this be true?  How many people out there have experienced this type of expectation either from peers or fellow employees?  As for me, I have a good group of employees who, in my opinion, work hard and (generally) do not have a sense of entitlement.  As a matter of fact, my group is a solid band of employees.  I quite possibly may have the very best group available… this being the product not of outsourcing but of training, developing, and respecting the great staff I have. 

My concern has not waned over the past two days—as a matter of fact, the idea that we own a sense of entitlement is rather upsetting…regarding my wife, she remains fit to be tied over the concept as she owns passionate views – especially when it comes to home…and the United States is our home.

What do you think?  Are American workers spoiled?  If you owned a company and needed to hire a group of 20 employees, would you intentionally look for individuals outside the United States?  If so, which country would you focus attention to?  And finally, am I reading too much in the after-dinner conversation?  How would have you reacted?

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

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March 23, 2009

In politics, “reality” is a four-letter word


When does reality hit the road?  Better yet, when it finally does hit the road, what’s it going to look like?  Yesterday, I made the mistake of checking out the employment classified once again and after two blinks and a half yawn, the reading concluded with a “is this it?” thud.  Fortunately breakfast was not spoiled as I remembered President Obama would be on television to offer the world hope.  Quickly, I became not so under-joyed.


Not sure how many watched the show “60 Minutes” last night.  If you did, did you believe all that was heard?  Through that show, did we become more educated or more separated from reality as to what tomorrow holds in store for the regional and global economy?  Throw in the proverbial pointing of fingers, political rhetoric, and rapidly forgotten speech promises, and what is left for us to hold on to?


This morning, while driving my eight-year-old four-cylinder truck to work, I listened to a representative of the President state how the economy “may” turn around early next year but we need to continue feeding (or funding) private industry to secure such an outcome.  I don’t want to turn this career-minded blog into a political arena and apologize for the inference but at the same time, there is a direct connection between the economy, politics, and employment which needs to be addressed; or at least allowed a voice.


I think we all need to question the reality and consequences of measures which effecting not only the current population, but generations to come.  Are the programs being aggressively fought for and lobbied for the right ones?  Is action of this magnitude more beneficial than inaction?  Though inaction is action in and of itself – thus allowing the “invisible hand” to create a new equilibrium (one without the over-indulgence and entitlement many have internalized as a god-given right).  Are the tons of money our children going to pay back creating long-lasting jobs or are we simply throwing money at huge corporations without thought of consequence? 


I don’t have the answers, but I definitely have questions—and questions are the catalyst of change.  To accept with eyes closed and pockets empty, progress and positive change will never come about.


No doubt time will tell but for the 50 million families struggling, time (like jobs and money) can not be stretched beyond this evening’s kitchen cabinet.  I encourage your thoughts but more importantly, I promote the gift of questioning policies and individuals responsible for positive change.


Question “reality:” I may not be a mathematician, but I can count more than four letters in the word.  


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

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March 19, 2009

Career Transitioning, YOUR Turn

I am scheduled to give a brief speech this evening at a graduation ceremony.  No doubt that when I near the podium, the words coming out of my mouth will vary from what is written but the following is a start.  Let me know what you think and I’ll let you know how it went.


Last month the US reported 12.5 million people filed for unemployment; soon we will have reached an 8% unemployment rate and it’s estimated to hit 11% by the end of the year.  And here you are, transitioning from college to career in an era of unprecedented difficulties with (for many) limited practical work experience.  Instinctually, one has a gut reaction to perform a Rip Van Winkle episode until the world ceases to spin too fast and apparently without compassion.  Today, instinct is not the answer.


As a business owner, career coach, professional writer, and publisher, I have the opportunity to speak with executives, entry-level employees, and students from all industries, locations, and aspirations.  Not surprisingly, feelings of uncertainty are global and do not discriminate on the basis of education, experience, or skill level.  At this point, most are asking: with so many people more skilled, more experienced, and with so many possessing higher college degrees, how can I rise above the crowd?


I’ve found common threads which will elevate even the modest candidate over the ones who, on paper, blow the competition away.  Most have heard it all before, in one form or another; but I believe this is the perfect forum to revisit career management tools and the effect they have on hiring executives.


Presentation is paramount to success.  Throw in the concept of effective branding and doors will open.  Think of chip power and most will think of Doritos brand chips…not because they are the best on the market but because we have bought into the “fact’ they are the best on the market.  There’s something about the color, the commercial, and the merchandizing which elevates this chip from others.  What is your brand?  How do you differentiate yourself?


Foundation builds the frame.  Ever ask yourself why an employer requires candidates to possess a college degree?  When I was a VP of the largest career management corporation in America, I insisted all applicants be filtered out if they did not have a minimum of a two-year degree.  I was not interested in the major field of study; that was irrelevant.  What was relevant was the ability for the candidate to make a commitment and follow it through to completion.


Reach beyond problems to grasp solutions.  That proverbial “monkey wrench” is everywhere and at all times present.  The value of your education can not be understated.  Education trains each student to objectively evaluate situations, develop tasks, sets actions in place, and it creates effective results.  Apply those skills to evaluate your career prospects.  Let me tell you a secret about career development: its common sense.  It only seems difficult because we either fail to analyze it — we assume it’s too complex, or because we don’t know what questions to ask… with a little effort, however, and the quality education you’ve gained here, this nutshell will open to your understanding the same way your studies here were opened to you.  Job hunting has changed, some of the process may go against your “likes” and “comforts,” but the reward is worth it.


Fifty million families will be directly affected by global unemployment by the end of this year.  And now you are eagerly anticipating your turn at bat.  The career management tools learnt over the past few years is more than a piece of paper…it’s what hiring managers ARE looking for.


Leading to the question: “what do you offer that hiring managers want?”  Feel confident in knowing you have a distinct advantage over the vast majority of the competition.


  • Your Department of Career Services is your active advocate.
  • The curriculum at XXXXXXXXX is designed to make you think, not just do…encouraging problem resolution skills.
  • Most students here have taken XXXXXXX, highlighting your professional presentation and document development; only a small handful of colleges offer such a course.

Obtaining your degree shows the hiring manager you are committed, you possess the drive and ability to complete a project no matter the obstacles, and you have the knowledge to get the job done. 


Take what you’ve gained over the past few years.  Hiring managers WANT to hire you, that’s their job.  Show them you’re not scared of presenting yourself as an asset and in a professional manner, you’re not scared of building stronger and more effective systems for yourself and for the company, and you’re not scared of reaching beyond minimal expectations or resolving issues creatively. 


Does a degree automatically mean you have a distinct advantage?  I believe it does and many employers feel the same way.  For those offering excuses you don’t have experience to compete, think again, not one hiring manager I have spoken to during the past year filtered candidates based solely on that criteria.  Besides, with the world changing so rapidly, does it really matter where one worked five years ago?


The rest is up to you, belong to the Rip Van Winkle’s of the world and wake up in a few years hoping it’s a better place or make the world a better place, today.  You made a wise choice attending XXXXXXX.  I know you’ll make the wise choice now.


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

Career Services International:

March 17, 2009

Classified: Who’s Hiring?

No doubt the unemployment rate has been spiraling out of control and many economists predict the rate to reach 8% before too long.  But before you panic and decide to move to Montana and open a dental floss company, good news has shed a bit of light on the world.  In an article published on March 9th, the article examined several industries who are in need (or will be in need soon) of skilled professionals.


For the recent graduate, this is also good news.  You may be on the bubble of a huge boom ready to explode near the end of the year.  For seasoned professionals, this is good news as well.  This may be the perfect time to visit your training, targets, and career objectives (not just for today, but for years to come).


Let’s take a few and summarize where the jobs are according to the recent article from Fox news:

  • Companies that make nuclear power equipment
  • Education, health care, and the federal government (which added 9,000 new jobs in February 09)
  • Some mortgage lending companies, notably those never involved in subprime or other exotic loans, are actually growing and hiring as larger competitors have folded
  • Mortgage servicing companies – those that collect payments for the lenders that originated them – are also hiring as lower mortgage rates fuel mortgage refinance applications
  • Engineers — Corporations such as Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Company and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy are hiring engineers and adding other workers as they expand manufacturing facilities
  • Engineers of all kinds are in demand and face very low jobless rate of about 3%
  • There is a 6% shortage of hospital pharmacists, and many drug stores are also looking to hire new pharmacists and pharmacist technicians
  • Nurses: Hospitals also need more nurses to care for the aging population and to replace those nearing retirement. Hospitals added 7,000 jobs of all kinds last month (February)
  • Veterinarians are particularly needed to serve livestock growers in rural areas. The US Government needs veterinarians to inspect slaughterhouses and undertake other food safety measures. The Labor Department projects that the number of veterinary jobs will grow by 35 percent by 2016.

Source:,2933,507587,00.html (Published March 9, 2009)


With a little direction and encouragement (especially in difficult times), tomorrow definitely can be rewarding.  After all, I’ve always wanted to make nuclear power plant equipment!


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

Career Services International:

March 9, 2009

12.5 Million Unemployed: could this be true?

Mind boggling, don’t you think?  On my way home a few days ago, a reporter for NPR stated we are at an 8.1% unemployment rate, equating to 12.5 million people looking for a job.  Does this number include the millions of people not on unemployment who happen to be unemployed as well?  If not, and I seriously doubt it does; who knows what the true unemployment rate is.  I don’t!


So, where are we as a country?


I’m not an economist; I am an optimist.  Beating the odds and securing a job (and for many, any job) may be a matter of luck—being in the right place at the right time.  If this is the case, how does one become “lucky?”  Truth known, to me, luck is a matter of strategy and preparedness.


  • Strategy:  know where job fairs are happening and attend; attending social and professional functions; becoming aware of employment trends and educating yourself in your field of choice; attending seminars, workshops, and webinars; developing a calendar of events, obligations, and goals (short and long term); and always display professional respect to all you come across—after all, one never knows who that person getting in the elevator with you happens to work for—he or she may be a hiring executive in need of an entry-level recent graduate or a CEO to head a product development phase.
  • Preparedness:  not only look and behave professionally in all arenas, but have well-written material ready at the hip.  Practice your marketing quip (elevator speech), have a professional review (redo if necessary) documents (a well-written document may be the wisest investment of your career), and know your surroundings.


Unfortunately I believe we experiencing an unreliable unemployment rate—I think it is much higher than the government wants the masses to believe.  Naturally they would have an agenda to keep this number low…but that’s jut my opinion.  I did tell you I was optimistic—I forgot to tell you I am also a realist.


Let me know what you think,


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

Career Services International:


February 16, 2009

(UN)Employment and Your Career Portfolio

Employment rates are heading in the wrong direction.  For those new to my writing style, I have a habit of not coloring words while laying the news on the table for all to see and oftentimes taste.  If you are interested in sugar-coated data, know this, I am on a diet—no sugar coating here.


News is not good.  Numbers released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is clear on one trend: unemployment figures for the month of December are up from the previous month in each of our 50 states.  With this news, how does the average person survive?


The first step is to accept the difficult situation we are all in.  Secondly, do not become overly frustrated, depressed, or stressed out…which is all but impossible not avoid.  Thirdly, represent to your advantage and stand out from sea of other job applicants.


On a brighter side, the lowest unemployment rates are found in Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota, all with 4.0 percent or below.  On a dimmer note, states with a 9.0 percent or above rate of unemployment include California, Nevada, Oregon, and leading the pack was Michigan with 10.6 percent.  Combining the 50 states, the national rate for December was 7.2 percent.


Besides trying to keep a positive approach and an upbeat career marketing campaign, now is the time to make sure your job portfolio reflects your skills and accomplishments in a metric style.  Double check your career objective and career summary (refer to an earlier entry for additional insight).  If you are a student or alumni, contact your university career services department for possible information, including job postings.  For the seasoned professional, I recommend professional assistance from an accredited and reputable career management firm.  I review hundreds of resumes from executives and many from students on a monthly basis; take it from me, have someone review and evaluate—it is an investment with great ROI.


In other words, do not go solo, more than your career is at stake!


With the unemployment figures the way they are, it is hard to keep emotionally pumped; this is understandable as budget crunches affect everyone.  For today, we simply need to make sure we display the mot effective personal career marketing material available and that’s where double-checking and having assistance may be what it takes to lift you up.  Hold your head up and when you are called back for a job interview, nail each interview question perfectly.


Perhaps President Obama and the economic stimulus package will benefit the average person soon.  Though hopeful, I am not optimistic this will become reality.  If you have any specific questions or topics you would like covered, let me know…I will definitely tell you the way I see it—no sugar coating, just the facts.


Source: Career Management Alliance and


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

Career Services International:

February 9, 2009

Going Green?

Over the past few months there has been a great deal of interest (as well as inflated rhetoric) regarding green jobs and its impact on the unemployment rate.



The Career Management Alliance dedicated space to the green cause and I felt our readers would appreciate the information.  A sample of the opportunities and organizations seeking to do their part on the unemployment rate is as follows:


  • Campaign to Save the Environment is looking for people in over 60 cities throughout the United States to operate as Field Staff (summer employment), Field Managers, and Campaign Coordinators
  • The Green Corps 2009-2010 Field School for Environmental Organizing is seeking 35 college graduates to learn to be environmental activists
  • Environmental Defense Fund is in a hiring mode


According to, the top green jobs are:


Land Use Planner

Ecotour Operator

LEED-Accredited Builder

Environmental Lawyer

Green Building Managers

Environmental Engineers

Solar Panel Installers

Corn Farmer

Green Venture Capitalist


The National Academy of Sciences recently characterized climate change as “irreversible,” so expect additional opportunities and, with President Obama’s promises, I anticipate growth in the green jobs sector to continue.


Thus, if you are looking to work in green, opportunities are global!


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP


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