Education Career Services

March 15, 2010

Prepare for Success

Getting ready to graduate, thinking about transitioning into a new career, or simply searching for a job due to circumstances beyond your control?  No matter the cause, during a career search, it’s critical to maintain a positive mental attitude.  During a recession and high unemployment, keeping the right mind-set is not an easy task. 

As a certified career coach, I ask my client to remain confident, optimistic, and possess the attitude that no matte what, you can and WILL overcome obstacles.  Again, not an easy task but much depends upon the foundation… in other words, preparation.

Robert Ringer, author of the best selling novel Winning Through Intimidation, states a positive mental attitude is developed “by being good at what you do, by being prepared, by understanding the realities of what it takes to succeed, and by having self-discipline to base your action on those realties.”  Therefore, a positive mental attitude achieved through preparation will yield confidence which will increase success.

Reality: The purpose of a career search is to receive offers for employment, which directly correlates on how you perform during interviews (okay, the resume and cover letter must first get the call for an interview).  With this in mind, confidence comes from being well prepared.  Even if you do not get the position, the optimistic foundation that comes from preparation helps you learn from mistakes in a positive way when preparing for the next interview. 

Begging the question: How does one prepare?  Follow the following…

            1. Take the time necessary to conduct in-depth research about the company, position, and your interviewer.
            2. Know about industry trends and how you can capitalize on them (and how your knowledge, skills, abilities, and education will add value to industry trends)
            3. Anticipate what the company wants to know about you.  Obviously they want you to elaborate on your experience, but don’t just tell them, actually show them how you can repeat that success for them.  Investigate what they might need and determine, prior to the interview, how you can fulfill those needs.
            4. Consider using a third party (no, not the animal house kind of party) such as a career services department professional or a Certified Professional Career Coach to help identify your weaknesses, develop your strengths, and guide you along the path to success.

Ultimately, the first step to securing success comes from YOUR attitude.  In this effort, you must maintain a positive mental attitude throughout your career search by being prepared!

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman

February 27, 2010

Handicap Disclosure, Should I or Shouldn’t I?

As a career coach, I am often asked if disabilities should be announced before the initial interview, during the initial interview, or after the initial interview.  Though there are no steadfast rules of etiquette in this capacity, if you possess a medical disability or chronic illness you have more decisions to make during an interview.  

If you were an employer, would you value the information up front?  Then again, we are tight-roping a little thing called illegal questions and issues.  If you were the employer and information was not disclosed, would you feel as if you were being played upon?  For the person being interviewed, the question “should you disclose such information” is a tricky and uncomfortable one.  If so, how can you do this without taking the focus off of your qualifications?

Generally speaking, if the disability is obvious, don’t feel compelled to discuss it during the interview.  The person(s) interviewing you have already seen it.  Bottom line is: if it won’t interfere with your ability to do the job, it shouldn’t matter to the employer.

However, if your illness is not obvious, approach the first interview as a time to assess the company and interviewer’s attitude.  A great deal about company culture, tolerance, and acceptance can be found with just a few questions and by looking around.  In this capacity, take a moment to look at employee desks and photos (as you walk by—don’t stop and stare). See if there are any current employees with disabilities as well. A great deal can be learned by examining what is not under the roof.

Your safety and health (physical, mental, and psychological) are paramount in any job or undertaking.  Think about it, if you are you a diabetic requiring a snack regularly, will you need to keep food at your desk? If so, you may be better off mentioning this during the interview process, although you might wait until you are actually negotiating for the position.

What if you have a heart condition and are applying for a stressful position? In this situation, go with your gut. I would suggest that you wait until the final interview and job offer to disclose this information.

Like all job hunters, be prepared for rejection and don’t’ blame rejections on your disability.  I know it’s easy to do so, but maybe you were not the right person. I hear the rumble as some (okay, many) companies still discriminate, regardless of the rules regarding such behavior.

One more point: don’t ever think your disability is a handicap. Think positively and keep searching for the right company that fits your needs.

In conclusion, no matter the situation, evaluate the company you may be working for and make sure you feel comfortable with the attitude, philosophy, and culture. After all, if you go into a situation (or position) with an uneasy gut feeling, chances are you will not be happy.

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

February 8, 2010

A Receptionist by Any Other Name

Occupying a hiring position for many years, I rely on nonconventional ways to filter through candidates quickly (on paper and in person).  Place yourself in my shoes for a minute and imagine the wasted time it takes to review a hand-load of under-qualified non-motivated people looking for a paycheck for doing as little as possible. 

With this said, how many readers fall into the pushing-the-envelope category?  I did see a few hands begin to rise.  Proving yourself as a viable and respectful candidate begins before you leave the house or submit an application.  The amount of preparation and diligence can’t be fooled; it’s obvious for the trained executive.  With this said, if you are not serious, don’t waste anyone’s time, even your own.

Back to the basics for a second; there I was, a Vice President of Operations with a sudden burden to interview and hire quality employees.  Not only is the chore to secure innovative employees time consuming, I have to perform my regular ten hour responsibilities.  Given this, shortcuts are not only common, they are demanded.  A primary shortcut many executives and hiring managers take advantage of is right in front as you open the door.

For this segment, we will summarize the “pre-interview” impression and rapid filtering system known globally as “receptionist respect” (Okay, so I just came up with that term).  In other words, even before you meet me, you meet me through the eyes and ears of my receptionist.

Receptionists are informed to provide feedback to specific preset questions only she (or he) knows.  These questions assist in the decision making process and are scored before the candidate and hiring executive shake hands.  Let’s take a sample peek at a few questions YOU are being graded upon BEFORE the interview begins.  This is not an all-inclusive list and varies per company (but that’s a little secret you did not hear from me):

          * Was the candidate respectful to you?  This includes a proper greeting and smile
          * Did the candidate arrive at the proper time and appear prepared
          * Did the candidate possess a positive attitude
          * Is the candidate dressed appropriately
          * On a scale of 1-10, what is your overall impression

The above are a few items used by many hiring executives to get a “first” impression—before the official first impression.

So, what do you do and how can you transform this information into your advantage?  The easiest and most effective way to form a pre-first impression is to be respectful to everyone you encounter—remember behavior and attitude can be developed from the parking lot to the elevator and to any chance intersection.

Breaking it down: keep a solid attitude and display professional courtesy at ALL times.  You may be surprised at how influential those you meet in typical settings are in the hiring process loop.  You may also be surprised at the number of well-qualified candidates who lost the edge due to not preparing for the pre-first impression. 

You DO have the power to shape your career destiny.

Always available to help,

Danny

December 1, 2009

Toot Your Own Horn: The Key to Success

Submitted by Victoria Andrew,
Professional Writer at Education Career Services

It often takes many years for job seekers to come into realization of how self-promotion catalyzes career success.  We are not referring to flamboyant self-promotion that could potentially hinder a career, but of the meticulously planned self-advocacy that optimizes achievements and promotions.  Even if we were of the top 1% who are serendipitous enough to have someone high enough on the corporate food chain to act as a champion on our behalf, they could never accurately articulate our accomplishments.  Ultimately, we are forced to face the reality that self-promotion is something we must do for ourselves.

People often spend several years of their career with their noses down, never once being truly noticed and validated despite pursuing their job with superior performance.  We hear over and over again that networking is essential to any successful job search, and you must aggressively pursue your own leads.  Yet, there is a critical component to networking, securing promotions, and/or negotiating a raise that is often overlooked: mastering the art of self-promotion. If you’re not confident in claiming your achievements and promoting yourself, it will be impossible to advance in your career.  Thus, we suggest that you toot your own horn, and honk it proudly!

The average job seeker tends to articulate only responsibilities rather than proactive, exciting achievements.  They monotonously rehash previous job descriptions instead of boasting about accomplishments in resumes, cover letters, networking events, and interviews.  We think we may be following standard procedures and will be liked for appearing obsequious and self-effacing.  

Wrong! You will discover humility is counterproductive and not helping you land the position, raise, or promotion we deserve.

In order for self-confidence to strengthened, engage in a fearless self-assessment to explore achievements, passions, strengths, and talents.  Consider pursuing psychometric testing to uncover your ideal career and personality type.  Sharpening self-knowledge empowers you to speak with authority about what you have to contribute.

Your resume is also a marketing tool and powerful opportunity to transform job responsibilities into engaging accomplishments to help you more effectively compete in today’s marketplace.  By making every bullet a reflection of successes that can be quantified or qualified, you will convey the many assets you have to bring to a company more powerfully. 

Job searching is all about sales: the product you are marketing is you!

Furthermore, the art of self-promotion is catalyzed by crafting a value proposition that succinctly and powerfully crystallizes what you have to offer a company.  It is a powerful marketing strategy. Once you know exactly what you are selling – and why you are such an extraordinary product – practice saying it over and over.  When you’re in networking and interview situations, you’ll want to be able to astutely and clearly convey you’re greatest strengths.

The most important issue is to realize you’ve earned the right to celebrate accomplishments.  Many times when something fantastic happens to us, we question ourselves as to whether or not we deserve it.  Let us not be possessed by such a trivial concern as whether or not we are being considered obnoxious or egotistical.  Don’t worry if someone responds to your confidence with, “Man, does she have balls!”  Such a concern is a waste of time.

The most successful career professionals are the ones who have transcended fears.  They’re not afraid to tell everyone who will listen how great they are.  Quite frankly, we should applaud them.  If you don’t toot your horn, nobody else will do it for you.  

Be proud of yourself and your accomplishments. You’ve earned it. Toot! Toot!

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

November 26, 2009

Informational Interviews: Bring it Home…

Back to conclude yesterday’s submission dealing with informational interviews…enjoy it and never stop progressing:

For example, informational interviews will:

* Help you learn about careers within the industry
* Can be used to gauge company culture and if you fit in
* Help develop life-long networks
* Give insight into the non-advertised job market
* Give insight for scheduled interviews
* Develop rapport and referrals

Overall, informational interviews give you a leg up against other candidates AND can be used as an indicator when evaluating career matches.  For the record, informational requests are not to be used as a mechanism to ask for a job or a formal interview. This is not the time or the place to be an aggressive job seeker. If you think about it, that takes pressure off you and the person you interview, so now you can do some serious learning.  You know about the benefits, let’s look at your next step.

Your experience and educational background in research comes into play as well as your social and professional networks.  Once you identify a particular company or industry, talk to everyone you know about the company.  The cliché that “we live in a small world” will quickly become a little more real.  It may surprise you how close your network connections may be to decision makers. Through friends, classmates, family members, professors, neighbors, and career services counselors, chances are you will gain valuable insight without a great deal of effort, at least in the initial phase of simply asking.  From people in your network, jot down ideas and remember potential contacts within the company or industry; these may come in handy during informational interviews.

Once you have an outline of information you want to focus on, it is homework time. Research the organization and industry as you will be asking questions related to your findings.  Make a quick list of questions and identify what data your contact may be able to provide.  You will want to make a list of approximately 10-15 questions based upon the title and position of your contact.  The more you are prepared, the more likely the person on the phone will be happy to answer. As noted, people like to talk about themselves and especially their work.

Once you contact a professional in the field, explain that you are gaining information about his or her job responsibilities, requirements, company/industry needs, new processes, and so on.  Always make sure the individual has time for a discussion; if not, schedule a phone meeting at their convenience.

During informational interviews, have your résumé available in case you need a quick reference.  Stick to the time allotted (typically 30 minutes in length), do not take too much of the person’s time and, if the meeting goes well, ask to schedule another meeting, hopefully face-to-face.  Even if you receive a personal meeting, remember the purpose is to gather information—do not turn this into a job interview. You are “researching opportunities” in that particular field or industry.

Once your informational interview is over, write the responses and review them as your career decisions may hinge on the impressions taken from this and other informational interviews.  Send the person a thank you note as professional etiquette dictates that you treat the informational interview with the same standards as a job interview.  Once thank you notes have been sent, contact another professional within the company or industry.  Do not stop with a single perspective—the more input from various sources, the more accurate the representation will be.

Possible informational interview questions include:

* What does failure mean to you?
* What qualities do you feel a successful employee should have?
* How do you demonstrate your ability to be innovative?
* What are some of the most effective ways to demonstrate teamwork?
* What three things are most important to you in your job?
* Tell me about a conflict you had with someone and how you handled it.
* Tell me about a major problem you encountered and how you handled it.
* What qualities do you admire in others?
* Tell me about a time a supervisor or peer criticized your work, how did you handle it?

Once it’s time for a formal interview, know that in recent years the use of behavior-modeled interview questions have dominated the interview process.  No matter the industry or job position, you must prepare for this type of setting.”

Okay, enough of the books for now.  To summarize, when networking, do everything you can to make the other person talk about him/herself, the company, and the needs within the company or department.  Do not turn this informational (informal) moment into a formal meeting.  Next time you go to a social (industry) function, keep your ears open, your words to be used as a catalyst for the other person (everyone likes a good listener and at this time, the information can be most invaluable), and the atmosphere to be comfortable.  During the first encounter, do not push for an interview but a follow-up on a specific topic of discussion. 

Find contacts through associations, foot traffic, networking events, and professional peers.  It’s not the easiest thing to do but developing a rapport is the foundation you are trying to accomplish. 

Hopefully I was not too exhaustive in my response.  If you need further help or would like my guidance in any other capacity, do not hesitate to ask. 

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

November 16, 2009

Mirror’s Reflection

Submitted by Victoria Andrew
November 17
In adventurous activities, having a buddy system tends to garner more auspicious results.  For example, the quest of losing weight generally becomes much more exciting and inspiring when one has a friend offering words of encouragement.

In more enterprising pursuits of daredevils, the main benefit of the buddy system is enhanced security.  One may be able to rescue the other in a crisis.  In scuba diving, it is essential to have a dive partner to assess your equipment’s safety.  In the U.S. Air Force, “wingmen” protect one another in battle.

In the mining industry, a “butty partner,” is one you work with“butt to butt” in order to maximize productivity.  Firefighters will only enter a burning building adhering to the “two in, two out” principle.  Similarly, in order to better withstand the arduous odyssey of your career search, it is advised that you find yourself a “helping hand” who is your trusted ally along the way.

Here are a few suggestions to optimize the buddy system for a job search:

1. Choose carefully. In our difficult economy, you may have a plethora of friends in a situation such as your own, desiring a more prosperous and promising position.  It would most likely be more harmonious if you chose someone who is not in your same exact field, so as not to spark fireworks of competition for the same position.  However, do chose someone who whom you share a mutual passion for landing a new career.

2. Sign up for the marathon together.  When running partners prepare for a race together, they find it beneficial to develop a mutual training plan. They decide on the specific dates and times they will run together, and hold one another accountable.  You and your job search companion could conjure such a game plan, complete with specific times you shall convene to discuss your goals, target markets, networking, and interviews scheduled.

3. Cultivate a strategy of attack.  Together, bounce ideas off of each other as to how you will both engage in your job searches.  Consider reading out loud together the Personal Career Marketing Manual by Danny Huffman, published by Education Career Services.  Share and critique each other’s resumes. Write branding statements for one another.  Rehearse diverse interview scenarios together.  Go shopping for powerhouse interview suits.  Brainstorm contacts in each other’s individual networks, in case you might offer each another a fresh approach.

Due to the length of this blog, let’s take a quick breather until tomorrow as we conclude the topic with the final three suggestions,

Thank you Victoria for this submission. 

If you have any comments, submit and don’t be surprised to hear back from Danny,

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

November 5, 2009

Where can I find EMPLOYMENT?

I am heading north and will be speaking at the Private Career School Association of New Jersey 2009 Annual convention but wanted to share a recent question and response from LinkedIn.  Before we go to the question, my topic of discussion for Friday’s workshop is: “Job Placement approaches in a Difficult Economy.”  If you would like the PowerPoint presentation, let me know.

Question and AnswerOn this note, if you have any questions, find me at LinkedIn or email me directly, and I’ll be glad to offer over 12 years of experience in human capital management as a strong and diverse academic background.  Nothing wrong with data triangulation as we all could use a helping hand now and then!

I bring the following as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

Apply online or in person? Should you just drop off your resume/application, or ask to speak to someone?

Just like in all situations, being prepared for any type of contingency is paramount to success.  As an owner of a human capital company and writer of career/professional textbooks and collateral, I can tell you timing can be the determinant of which is best and which is not.  Let me explain for a minute or two:

One of the most expensive and taxing elements of being an employer is attracting and retaining qualified candidates.  With this, placing an electronic job posting is money I find not always well spent.  Thus the catch, if I want qualified candidates, how do I attract them without extending an already over- bloated budget?  One way is to receive candidates without advertising.  By the very nature of being non-advertised, the candidate must show an initiative and act on it. 

Responding online: Think about it this way, according to the top three career management associations in the US, approximately 80% of all jobs are NOT advertised.  Thus, for the person responding solely to the advertised market, the pickings are slim yet the pool of applicants is HUGE.  As a result, applying on line, and only on line, is not my recommendation.  Then again, do not neglect the advertised market as many great positions are posted.

Dropping off resume/application: I am a firm believer in not only claiming a strong desire to work for a company, but also proving that desire.  Granted, the vast majority of “walk-ins” will result in simply handing your resume/application to the receptionist, but the character displayed may play heavily in the decision making process.  As a career coach and college instructor, I inform my clients and students to dress the part, keep a positive attitude, develop a game-plan (research the companies targeted), and follow up in the days to come.  For the employer, having a candidate ready to work, without the expense of posting an advertisement, is a benefit and is much appreciated.  This approach also can lead to finding the right contact person within the company for future references and inquiries. 

Ask to speak to someone: No doubt you do not want to be pushy or aggressive but you do want to be assertive.  Be polite and if your first contact is over the phone, request to speak to the manager of the department you are hoping to work in.  If the receptionist (or gatekeeper) is not cooperative, thank her or him for the time and ask for the manager’s name and prepare an introductory letter.  If you are walking in, again be polite and know your presence is probably an inconvenience (due to no schedule).  As a result, ask if a scheduled appointment can be made at a later date.  While I was a vice-president at my last place, nothing bothered me more than an unscheduled meeting.  Then again, when I was seeking candidates for employment, nothing was more pleasing on the budget.  Thus, it’s all about timing.

Ultimately, the best approach would be to focus on the advertised AND the unadvertised market.  By incorporating a triangulation method, your chances of success dramatically increase.  Unfortunately, the unemployment rate is at a level to foster discouragement.  My words are for you to NOT become discouraged and through perseverance, the career most desired will come to fruition.

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

October 5, 2009

Getting a Job in the Industry You Want

By: Leslee Lowe, CPRW

October 05, 2009How can you market yourself effectively to get into the industry you want?  We have our strengths as well as our professional and academic achievements under our belts- how big or small they may seem.  What is important is knowing how to leverage our personal characteristics and real experiences on a resume document to say “I can” meet the requirements of the job.

As a new graduate, I remember feeling overwhelmed and unhopeful while searching the job markets.  I wish I knew then how to highlight my transferable skills on a resume and bring attention to my achievements.  You must be honest on a resume, but you must also impact the reader with the potential and skills you offer.

A recent resume I wrote was for a new graduate seeking a career in public relations and communications.  This individual’s academics were focused in humanities as well as economic and social development.  So, how could she get a job in PR?  Well, the reason she was drawn to this type of work is because in her academic career she had been extremely involved in student government, student activities, and alumni relations.  She realized these positions were tapping her innate abilities to drive the strategy and implementation of diverse projects as well as spearhead events and communications creating lucrative partnerships and organizational value.

Although all of my client’s achievements were for various academic groups, I refrained from continually mentioning words like “academic”, “education”, “college”, “university”, and committed to the facts.  As you create your own document, think about how you too can let the reader know what you’re capable of without pigeonholing yourself into a specific arena.  Employers want someone who can make significant contributions, and if you’ve done it in one industry, you can certainly use those transferable skills to do it again in any other industry.

I also considered this individual’s experiences and all the smaller parts of the projects she worked on.  She was responsible for or educated in event planning, building/distributing newsletters, building alliances, delivering presentations, international relations, vendor sourcing, project leadership, research/survey tools, and spreadsheets/analysis.  All of these terms were neatly organized into a sleek design in the “hot zone” of her resume.  This will immediately spark the reader’s interest to look further down her resume at her focused achievements.

Too many new and old graduates alike make the mistake of stating what they want in the “hot zone” of their resume paper rather than showcasing what it is they offer.  I know my first resume was a boring chronological obituary of my past.  Such a document, I’m sure, hardly sparked any excitement.  You can and should thoroughly analyze your past and realize how much you can immediately, positively affect a potential employer.

Thank you Leslee for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

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

September 25, 2009

A college degree will only get you part of the way

Submitted by Maya Lazarovitz

September 25Congratulations, you’ve graduated college! And with some stroke of luck and a lot of skill, you’ve managed to convince someone to hire you, no small feat in these most trying of economic times. So now what, you ask? As a wise man (my dad) once said, it’s not enough to get a job: you have to keep it. So how do you hold on to that precious profession?

Simple: by acting like a mature professional with a mature, professional work ethic. If you were a good student, this part should be easy. All you have to do is apply the same skills you used to ace your classes to ace the real world: showing respect and consideration for your professors and peers; working hard to get good grades by studying, doing your homework and making school a top priority; being at school on time, attending all your classes and being understanding of other people’s beliefs and cultures. But what if you weren’t exactly a model student? Well, buckle up my friend, and get ready for a bumpy ride. You’ve got a steep learning curve ahead.

For you see, while your college professors might have cut you some slack when you were late to school or skipped entirely, your new employer isn’t going to be quite so understanding. Your teachers might have bought your half-baked excuses of the dog eating your homework because they had to: they’re educators, which means they’re used to being endlessly patient with immature children. But in the adult world, an employer who is paying good money for your services is going to expect an employee who, well, acts like an adult. That means someone who shows up on time, ready to work, minus a hangover from one too many brewskis. And employers don’t want workers rushing in right at 9 or whatever time they need to be at the office, then heading to the kitchen for a breakfast bagel, or the bathroom for an eyeliner application. The employer wants you at your desk, ready to go. Which means you’ll have to apply a little time management and well, grow up. Save the partying for the weekend and go to bed with time to spare, so you’ll get that 6-8 hours of sleep you need to function, and so you’ll have plenty of time in the AM to do whatever you need to be prepared for the workday ahead. But whatever you do, do it on your own time, not the employer’s.

This brings me to my next point: respect. Showing up on time and prepared to work shows the employer that you respect him or her, because you respect his or her time. What are some other ways to show respect?

  • Work hard. Don’t spend your time at work chatting or surfing the Internet. Do your job.
  • Keep your lunch breaks within the time allotted to you. In other words, don’t take an hour when all you get is 30 minutes.
  • Don’t take too much time off from work, at least not initially: you want to make a good impression, one that says you want to be there. Yes, sometimes things happen: doctors’ appointments, emergencies, family reunions, etc. And if you get vacation days, it’s OK to take them. Just make sure your boss knows ahead of time, and make sure you show the proper courtesy and respect in asking for time away. Also, accept it if your request gets declined. It’ll go a long way to building good repoire in the future, so that you’ll eventually be able to take that vacation when you want it, with the sound knowledge that your boss thinks you’re dependable. 
  • Dress according to what company culture dictates. While some offices may prefer to keep it casual, your office might have a no jeans and T-shirt policy. If you have any doubts about how to dress, just look around you, and your questions will be answered. Or if you really want clarification, ask a trusted co-worker or supervisor about the office dress code policy. But whatever it is, follow it, along with other rules of office conduct. You don’t want to upset the wrong person and ruin what could have otherwise been a great career.

And while we’re on the subject of conduct, make sure yours is exceptional. How? For starters, by being positive; coming in to work with a smile and a can-do attitude. Yes, it’s a bit Pollyanna. But the fact remains that while you might not love every task you have to accomplish, your boss is paying you to do these things, and he or she doesn’t want to hear any complaints. So whatever you’re asked to do, as long as it’s not illegal or immoral, do it, whether you like it or not. Just think of it as a learning experience.

Building good relationships in the working world is important, because you never know who you might meet again, and you don’t want to burn any bridges toward future success by pissing off the wrong person. So cultivate good working relationships with your co-workers and supervisors by being respectfully tolerant of their attitudes, ideas, beliefs and cultures. In the working world, you’ll meet a lot of people, some with a background similar to your own, and others who see the world a different way. Sure, you’re not going to love all of them, but you can at least be civil and work together by respecting other people’s rights to think and feel as they choose, and to express those feelings in a constructive, professional way. The same goes for you: be respectful of other people by keeping negative opinions and gossip to yourself. If you do feel a need to vent, do it to someone outside the office. In the working world, you can never be too careful. Wicked words get around in ways that will make you wish you’d never said them. The old adage you heard as child also holds true in the workplace: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

The bottom line is just because you nailed the interview doesn’t mean you have the job, even after you get an offer and start your first day. There’s a reason the first 90 days of any position are probationary: that time serves as an ongoing interview, a chance for the employer to really see what you’re like on the job. First impressions count a lot, especially in the working world: the first 90 days in a job could set the tone for how the rest of your time with a company, or even the rest of your career, goes. So make sure you start off right.

Thank you Maya  for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
dhuffman@careersi.com
www.linkedin.com/in/dannyhuffman
Education Career Services: www.educationcs.com
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September 18, 2009

Straight Talk About Your Upcoming Interview

by Francine Asuncion

September 18You finally got the call and they want you to come in for an interview.  Before you hang up, you’ll be sure to get all the basic information such as the date, time, and location of the interview.  There are, however, a couple of other questions to ask that might not be so obvious.  Specifically, who will be interviewing you? Will it be an HR representative, the hiring manager, or a cross functional panel of people?  Knowing this might give you a clue about the type of interview to expect and the questions you’ll want to have ready. Something else you’ll want to find out is how much time will be required for the interview.  Some interviews can be squeezed into a lunch break.  Others take days to carry out because they involve being flown halfway across the country.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you have an interview here in town with the hiring manager of a nationally known company.  Here are the steps you should take to prepare.

(1)  Research the company.  Between library resources, internet, magazines, and news reports, most large companies have a plethora of information accessible for a hopeful candidate.  If the company is small, check local resources such as the newspaper, the Better Business Bureau, and regional magazines.

(2)  Research the industry.  This may not seem like an especially good use of your time, but this step can prove to be valuable.  Look for information like the top competitors in the market, the general health of the industry, major changes or innovations that have affected business, etc.  Your probing may spark some intelligent questions that you can ask the interviewer.

(3)  Know how your skills and experience compare to the job requirements.  Think about how your particular strengths could be used in that role.  What are some areas of your professional training or knowledge that you’ve not yet mastered?  How will you deal with those shortcomings in the context of your new job?

(4)  Write a list of questions to ask your interviewer.  Once you’ve completed the first three steps, this part should be easy.

(5)  Study or practice.  You know the job for which you’re applying.  Might you be given a typing test, a help desk ticket, a sight-reading piece, a complex math algorithm?  Be ready to show what you can do by brushing up on your skills, reviewing materials, or practicing at home.

(6)  Have someone drill you with questions.  There’s nothing like one-on-one interaction to take your preparation to the next level.  The person you’re working with might be able to provide constructive criticism.

(7)  Last, here are the kind of old-fashioned, common sense things my grandmother would tell you to do a day or so ahead of time.

*  Confirm the location of your interview by using an internet mapping tool or driving to the site.
*  Select and prepare your outfit.
*  Forget the keg party and get some good rest.

Being properly prepared will boost your confidence and show that you’re serious about the job and your career.

Thank you Francine for your insight and no doubt many of our followers will benefit from your comments
.

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

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