Education Career Services

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 15, 2010

Lean Résumé Writing

By Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW

Have you ever heard the saying “Less is more”?  Well, I don’t always like to hear this particular catch phrase levied in my direction, but when it comes to résumé writing, the statement is spot on.

A four-page résumé does not convey a greater breadth to your career or demonstrate you have immeasurable value with its length.  Instead it bogs a reader down in text, hiding your best accomplishments amidst duties and responsibilities that are often duplicated from one position to the next.  More likely than not, it is wordy and lacks the dynamic sentences needed to engage a reader and make you stand out from the crowd.

As a professional résumés writer I have the opportunity to write for a wide array of professionals.  Often, my client’s original documents are four- or five-page résumés full of information regarding their vast experience.  The problem with that sort of diffuse presentation is that a potential employer gets lost on the first page because the material is not broken up in a reader-friendly fashion.  When there is too much information in a document, the real value – what makes you unique – fails to come across.

Therefore, my recommendation is quite clear (and concise) when crafting your résumé, limit yourself to one or two pages and break up the information with paragraphs and bullets not exceeding three lines.  In general, students or recent graduates should almost always limit themselves to a one-page resume.  Regarding seasoned professionals with extensive experience, don’t be shocked but chances are a one-pager may work best for you as well.

Short, succinct statements containing quantifiable results are the best way to communicate to a potential employer what you can do for them.

So in conclusion, remember “less is more” might not be fun advice to receive but it does apply aptly to things like blue eye shadow, sugar-rich foods for children, refried beans, and most importantly – résumés.

Thanks Kimberly for our insight but I disagree with you on one note: less is more with refried beans? Are you insane?

dhuffman

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 28, 2010

Resume Mirror: Reflecting VALUE

Submitted by Steve Klubock,
Career Services International

How do you increase the odds the market will see your value and make a bid (in the form of an interview and eventual job offer)? In some ways, your job in getting a job is to force the company to see its own self in a product advertisement (that being you). Is my twisted logic making sense? Put in another way, once the company makes a connection, you will find yourself in the right position for the next step.

Let’s break it down a bit by comparing common commodities to this concept and how the average consumer/company defines a need to possess. If we were to find living room furniture and feel certain it would fit our current décor, and, most importantly fit through the door, we probably would purchase the piece. If not, we would walk on by. Likewise with a suit of clothes; if we can see ourselves in the suit and if it matches the style we are looking for, chances are, we would buy it.

So how do the above examples apply to selling yourself to complete strangers during the worst job market in 60 years? How do you get the market to see itself in you?

Warning: Attitude realignment may be required.

If you are selling, (and you most assuredly are) your presentation must be about the buyer (company) and his/her needs. With this as a mindset, your skills, education, contributions, and potential must be presented in terms of company need. Thus leading to the next question: how do you figure that one out?

Your résumé needs to present the value package as a solution to the present (and potential) problems challenging the market today and more specifically the company you are targeting. Rather bluntly, your value proposition is the foundation to open doors of communication and resolution.

Time for an exercise: Call ten industry leaders and ask them, point blank, what are the top three priorities or challenges affecting their labor force and what is it they value most in an employee. After about five calls you will see a common thread.

Next, look at YOUR career history and see where you have addressed these areas and how you are marketing those sought after qualities. Take note of what you hear (great knowledge during interview sessions) and know the buyer will ONLY be interested in the product (you) if what you bring can be internalized within the overall goal of the company.

Surely you are not a piece of furniture or made of fabric, but the lessons learned can be used to your advantage. Make sure your resume takes advantage of the top third of the page by highlighting VALUE.  These first few lines of information (Problem, Action, and Result) are the basis hiring executives use when evaluating candidates.

Keep a pulse on the industry you are pursuing and mirror company needs to what you bring to the table.  In today’s labor saturated market, packaging is almost as important as the product itself.

Wishing you success.

Thanks Steve, your 20+ years experience in career management is much appreciated.

dhuffman

June 15, 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 is, 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 (okay, I should have said hours) would be staggering and perhaps eye-popping? Being a rookie with such technology, I averaged the following throughout a full week:

* 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?

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

June 9, 2010

Interviewing: Be a Tiger, NOT a lamb

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

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

Thumbs Up:

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

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

Thumbs Shaking:

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

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

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

Interview Shining Requires:

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

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

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

June 4, 2010

Mix at your own risk!

By Kimberly Sarmiento, CPRW
Career Services International

Today’s job seekers are advised that social media sites and on-line networking are valuable tools for professional advancement.  But much like a poorly written cover letter or résumé can do more harm than good, a badly managed on-line presence can hurt you professionally.  How do you optimize your chances at success in the new virtual business world?

First of all, blend the social you and the professional you with great caution.  LinkedIn now features sections where you can link your Facebook and Twitter account to your profile.  While many seem to think this is a great way to show your personality to a potential employer, I would advice against connecting your LinkedIn profile to a site you use to express yourself freely

Even if you don’t have drunken debauchery filled weekends where pictures of you could arise, there are plenty of thoughts, comments, and interests your boss does not need to know about you.  If you want to keep these spaces free for your personal expression, do not connect them to a professional site. 

You should also be aware that even if you do not connect your Facebook or MySpace account to your LinkedIn profile, your employer could still search for you.  Therefore, you should check your privacy settings.  While your LinkedIn settings should be set for the most open access, your personal websites should not.  Make sure whatever an employer can access when they search for your name will depict you in a professional, positive light.  

One suggestion to mitigate these concerns might be to create a second Facebook or MySpace account for professional, semi-casual contacts.  If that is the case, manage your friends list well and make sure no one on it would tag you in a Spring Break photo from 1988 that you swore you burned the negatives of years ago.

When it comes to connecting a Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, make sure your tweets are professional and well, very non-confrontational.  If it isn’t proper to discuss a topic at your office, it probably isn’t a good idea to tweet about it

You probably already realize it’s a bad idea to tweet about the hot waitress serving you lunch.  But also know you might want to avoid tweeting about strong dislike of people who belong to certain religious or political affiliations or your opinion about controversial subjects.  Yes, this is the land of free speech but that doesn’t mean speech is consequence free.  While your employer can’t really fire you for having an opinion he or she disagrees with, there are many grey areas of employment and promotions where revealing your belief that marijuana and prostitution should be legalized might not favor you.

Finally, realize that any tweeting, blogging, or general commenting you do about your company on-line could violate company policies.  Make sure you are not giving your employer legitimate grounds for dismissing you by reviewing your company handbook.  When in doubt, leave out numbers, specifics, or any other information which could be considered confidential.

While the digital age is fantastic, one thing old fashion forms of communication afforded you was the chance to think twice.  You might write the letter – but you had the chance to throw it away before you mailed it!  Remember that what you put on-line in an instant can be accessed by the wrong person before you have the opportunity to remove it

By constantly considering what you put on the Internet from the point of view of a hiring authority, you can make your on-line presence a boost to your career rather than a stumbling block.

Thanks Kimberly

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

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 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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