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 26, 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, 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 (hours?) would be staggering and perhaps eye-popping? Being a rookie with such technology, I thought I would take a few minutes and tally the average amount of time I actually do surf.  Perhaps the following is close to your time spent? Let me know if this is consistent for a week span:

* 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?

All of this leads up to the concern: 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

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

July 7, 2010

The (huge) line between arrogance and confidence…

Submitted by Sigmarie Soto, CPRW
Head Writer – Career Services International

One thing I hear from clients over and over again is: “I don’t mean to toot my own horn.”  Well—on paper—you really should.  If you’re not using the resume to sell yourself to a potential employer, no one else is going to sell your value either.  There’s a difference between positioning yourself as the total package (which is what employers are looking for) and exaggerating your contributions. 

Accountability and ownership go both ways in the workplace.  Just as you would take responsibility for mistakes and learn from them, recognize your achievements.  While it’s difficult for some people to write about their accomplishments, it’s a little too easy for others. 

Simply put, tell it how it is.  If you created a process that saved hours in time and therefore thousands per week in costs, tell your readers how and how much.  If you came up with a plan to reach customers in a new area that delivered more in revenue than anticipated, tell your readers how, how much, and the initial goal. 

Taking the passive route will make potential employers wonder why they should even call you. 

Providing a full history of your career won’t necessarily get the phone ringing either, but highlighting contributions that could benefit any organization, such as cost savings, operational improvements, revenue growth, and client base expansion, will put your reader in the mindset that if you did it once you can do it again.  Just as we tell recent grads that having a degree is no longer enough, simply doing your job from day to day is no longer enough either.

How do you go above and beyond?  If you were to leave tomorrow, what gap would there be and would it be difficult to fill?

Every discipline brings a different contribution to an organization.  Whereas sales people bring in the money, the operations people are vital in making the process run smoother.  Instead of looking at resumes as tools for bragging, consider them as tools for personal marketing and progression.  If you don’t communicate your value, no one will know of your potential

Thanks Sigmarie, your contributions are appreciated and most valued. We look forward to more.

dhuffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
Education Career Services
Career Services International

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 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,

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

May 13, 2010

Bigger, Faster, Stronger on the Job Market

By: Leslee Remsburg, CPRW

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 10, 2010

Interview Blunder: Out the Window

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blunder: OUT THE WINDOW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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