Education Career Services

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

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September 8, 2009

College Degree = Career…not so fast

42-15422212Offering support to as many people as possible via multiple mediums, I am an advocate of social networking.  As such, I am on LinkedIn and often respond to questions posted on that site.  I’m easy to find and welcome you to take the first step and invite me to join your network.  After all, we all need a helping hand now and then!

Below is one question (and my response) recently submitted on LinkedIn.  I bring this to you as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

Unfortunately, many graduating students possess a sense of entitlement in regards to employment. I recently spoke to a group of students and career directors at Yale University as well at a graduating commencement at ITT Technical Institute and found many students from all backgrounds and academic institutions have not been taught the concept of due diligence while many more have no concept of an effective career campaign. Heck, what about the law suit recently filed by a student in New York who is unable to secure a job?

While an instructor (I taught over 40 professional development classes to graduating students) and made it clear a degree is simply a tool toward career progression. While teaching and later as a program chair and dean of academic affairs, I engaged in many discussions with parents who also tended to have the idea that a degree equates to employment.  No doubt a lesson for all parties involved came to surface.

The economic situation is (obviously) playing a major role in this but the concept of instant gratification also lends his hand.  To help combat and better prepare students I encourage colleges to offer professional development courses.  Having written career books and career-focused guides for executives in the private sector, I developed material for students, classrooms, and workshop settings.  These materials are then customizes per college needs, degrees, diplomas, and agenda.  Having an advisory board of over 25 career directors to lend their ideas and best practice methods has been well received and now many colleges are using ECS textbooks in their career/professional development classes.  Those colleges not offering classes are placing material in their libraries or using the material during workshops; there is a countrywide understanding that possessing a degree is not enough to secure and/or progress in a career.  On this note, if you would like an electronic sample of our career textbooks and/or guidebooks/workbooks, let me know.

A degree does not mean career success.  Students and professionals alike must understand the complete career lifecycle, including hard copy development, self marketing and promotion, interviewing techniques, and research as well as a whole slew of practices in order to become competitive.  Simply graduating and blasting a resume template over the Internet is not effective.  How does one become competitive when so few are gaining employment? I believe it begins on day one, the moment a student walks through the door.  It continues with a well-rounded education and flows to career preparation (the right way and with the right materials).  Through hard work, diligence, theory, and practice, a degree can equate to a career—but it is not automatic.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

March 3, 2009

Recipe for Success: Attitude

How can two people with the same skills and abilities in the same situation have different outcomes?  I believe the difference maker is attitude. Many people will tell you if you can believe – you can achieve.  That is certainly important, but I know a lot of good people with great out-look who haven’t reached their goals yet.  Attitude isn’t everything, but it is the main thing that will make a difference.

 

It is THE DIFFERENCE MAKER, when you’re going for a job; meeting new people are simply doing chores around the house.  For example: two athletes with the same skills compete for the same position; but one is going to have a good team attitude and the other is not. Which one would the coach pick?  It really is the difference maker and with all things being equal, a good attitude will set you apart.

 

We all have a chosen attitude.  Our self-image, how we see ourselves, is going to greatly influence our tendency to be either negative of positive in our appearance and the way we convey our thoughts to others.  In the long run it is our choice and that choice does help determine the outcome of our efforts.

 

Now, attitude cannot replace competence and experience.  Great skills combined with experience are a hard combination to turn down.  However, when you mix their dynamics with a great attitude this is a recipe for excellence.

 

Competence in the work place and in living your life is the continuing ability to handle situations effectively, producing a positive outcome.  Experience, of course, is something you continuously gain as we work and enjoy our lives.  Those two things are facts that employees are looking for in a person.  Although attitude cannot replace competency or experience it will show your desire to learn and grow in your chosen career.  I believe a good positive attitude allows us to approach people and our responsibilities in such a mental way it gives all of us the best shot of walking in, taking off and succeeding.

 

The above was submitted by K. D. Byrne:  A former owner of multiple, successful businesses, has built start-up companies with diversified venues in the oil, food, and educational industries.

 

Let me know what you think,

 

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

dhuffman@careersi.com

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

Career Services International: http://www.careersi.com

February 18, 2009

They Come Bearing Gifts

windows-vista-icon1I had one candidate bring me flowers at the interview; another brought donuts and coffee (had they been Krispy Kreme, he might well be CEO by now); one fellow tried to give me Orlando Magic tickets, bless their hearts.

 

Payola?  Desperation?

 

Maybe, but I choose to believe they understood interviewing is seldom enjoyable for the hiring manager.  Tangible gifts, of course, aren’t the right way to go; being prepared and upbeat is.

 

Except in rare circumstances, a hiring manager has a full-time job apart from interviewing.  It is a necessary evil fraught with things to make that manager feel truly crummy.  The fact is, you can only hire one person per position and you have to go through a lot of people to find that individual.  That means the manager will be dealing out a lot of rejections.  Few managers are so sadistic that such a thing is enjoyable.  Nonetheless, the interviewer is on your side; we want you to be the one so we can stop looking.  Let’s run down the candidate possibilities from my personal experience.

 

The Bad Interview:  The candidate sits like a lump and answers questions in one or two word replies.  Or shrugs.  Conversely, there’s the candidate that runs off at the mouth and never answers the questions.  I ache for these people.  They probably have value but can’t express it, so there’s nothing I can do for them.  If I have to pull teeth to learn anything meaningful, you’re blacklisted.

 

The Bad Candidate Who Isn’t Qualified:  She thought she was perfect for the job and I disagreed. Normally not a problem but she wouldn’t let go.  Even when I told her I need these certain skills she didn’t have (and wasn’t teachable), she argued with me.  Never a winner.  In another similar instance, he begged.  Personally, I’d rather argue; at least there’s some vindication in say no.

 

The Bad Candidate Who Is Qualified:  He nailed the requirements, but his demeanor was so uptight and arrogant that there was no way I’d hire him.  Other such candidates include the gossip who could do the work but would be so busy chatting the work wouldn’t get done.  Another is the profanity captain who couldn’t keep a civil tongue in just a half-hour interview.

 

The Great Candidate Who Isn’t Qualified:  He came in wearing dreadlocks and a three-piece suit… and made it work.  Within moments I knew this articulate, talented fellow had every skill that I didn’t need and none that I did; he was such a great interview I wanted to hire him but I couldn’t.  I was completely impressed and told him so; I just didn’t have anything for him.  I remember this young man’s name (a feat for me) and have his resume handy all the time.  Even if I don’t have a position for him, I keep my ears open for other opportunities I can recommend him for.

 

The Great Candidate Who Is Qualified: You know you have magic right away.  Professional, up beat disposition; meets all the requirements and seems a good fit for the team.  This is what the interviewer prays for.  Little bumps are easily overlooked (one said, “I know I talk too fast, can’t do anything about it, sorry” with a great big smile.  She also brought in a well organized portfolio that was outstanding.  At that point I was afraid I couldn’t afford her.  Fortunately we came to an understanding and she’s the best employee I’ve ever hired.)

 

Do you see how important it is to be a great candidate?  Well-prepared, great presentation?  In both cases, when I hired and when I didn’t, I want nothing but the best for the candidate.  That means looking out for ways to benefit the great candidate I couldn’t hire.  I’ve received two jobs by referral from interviewers who didn’t hire me.  And to be fair…

 

Sometimes Hiring Managers are Wrong: I recall a conversation with one of my best employees, telling him how glad I was I hired him.  He pointed out I’d rejected him the first time he applied.  I was surprised.  “Yeah, I wore short sleeves so my tattoos showed, I had a nose rings, six earrings, and a lip ring, and I let my hair free, fanned out to my waist.”  I did recall that interview.  I’d made it short and didn’t try to break through the dark façade.  He hadn’t made it easy and I didn’t do the work.  Fortunately for me, he reapplied a few months later without the hardware, in a long-sleeve shirt, and his hair tied back in a ponytail.

 

Make it simple for the hiring manager; if you’re the one for the job, deliver enough information to make it clear; if you’re not, ask for a referral and move on.  The great candidate will find a good job, so be that great candidate.

 

Rob Swanson, CPRW, DTALM

swansonr@careersi.com

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

Career Services International: www.careersi.com

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