Education Career Services

April 9, 2009

Education House Bill: Career Commitment?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 20, 2009

Political Promises and Career Management: Can We?

Of all days within my recent memory, today is more than a day of inauguration; today is the first day of a promised economic Spring where fields of flowers will cover the landscape far and near. No doubt the world will be watching as our president-elect becomes sworn in…a glorious day indeed. Not to be caught up in the hyperbole of the moment, what does all this mean for the career-minded professional trying to get and remain ahead? We’ve heard the speeches and the promises; they sound, well, promising but how did we get into this mess anyway and will an economic stimulus package get us out of this funk today, tomorrow, or next decade?

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I’ll leave the economic jargon, claims of greed, and wide mood swings for the final round and will concentrate on what I’ve come to hear in the past few months. My neighbors are excited; both are retired and feel confident they will be able to rebound from personal loses encountered from the stock market. Heck, they also carry the notion benefits will increase, mortgage payment will decrease, their undereducated and unemployed son will find a high-paying job by the end of February, and their daughter will once again be able to go to college (with the government paying most the way). I’m not sure how this is going to happen but I’ve listened to the rhetoric and witnessed the parades celebrating our sudden (okay, by tomorrow afternoon) economic turnaround.

 

In my opinion, economic relief without career guidance on a global scale leads to chaos.  I don’t have an issue with chaos theory (I am an avid supporter) but throwing money into a system ill-prepared to handle employment issues is not a feasible remedy. Is the United States prepared to go career-global? Are our colleges and universities training student’s international perspectives? Cultural sensitivities? Cultural semantics? Being an instructor and a dean at a small college, I refuse to answer the above questions as many will not like the answer.

 

Political promises aside, government and the new administration must accept and resolve our educational complacency by supporting institutions of higher learning. Only an aggressive approach and infusion of capital will create a long-term resolution to our recession, both economic and intellectual.

 

Will our new government address the issues of career management on a grand scale or will educational budget freezes ruin progressive thinking? With so much money being thrown in all directions without accountability, I wish I could be more optimistic.

 

President Obama, give our children and young adults the opportunity to better themselves and, in return, improve the United States standing in the world. Now is the time to invest in our future, not by supporting greedy corporate leaders, but by supporting academic institutions and the working class of America. Will supporting these causes be an overnight solution? Of course not.  Career management policy and implementation is a long-lasting solution where benefits are built upon a solid foundation.  America is put together upon intellectual freedom—strapping students and those wishing to promote themselves is not an option we can afford.

 

The talk, rhetoric, and promises are fine for yesterday and today.  In a time where optimism is required, the marketing strategies from President Obama’s campaign was not only perfect, it was our light in a storm.  But time for talk and promises are over and career management must be on the forefront of government investment.

 

Can we? Depends….

 

Danny

January 12, 2009

OOOPS, Did This Really Happen? Another Interview Blunder

Interviews in and of themselves can be an overwhelming experience…and I do not necessarily mean for the interviewee—think about how the interviewer feels:

 

As a company owner, I have the luxury of interviewing candidates.  Last year I noticed an applicant who I felt had the potential to be a great match and made the decision to handle this one myself.  On paper, this lady (who we will name Sally) had the qualifications, experience, and education I was looking for.  The day and time came without a hitch and before long, I was notified Sally was here and completed our application form.  In typical fashion, several minutes passed before I made it to the front, but only several.Anger

 

I walked into the lobby to find a candidate visibly upset for having to wait five minutes.  Her posture was hunched and ready to pounce, I approached cautiously.  Sally shook my hand and we went back to my office.  Within seconds it was clear the image on paper did not represent the reality in front of me. 

 

Though my company is not what one would call conservative, I expect first interview sessions to be conservative in conversation and style.  Sally did not seem to calm down from the time delay and after several questions, it was clear this was not a good fit.  Don’t get me wrong, she answered the questions well and did not lack the skills to do the job…but doing the job is not good enough.  The ideal client can do the job but will also bring to the company a team attitude, a good spirit, a pleasant nature, and a personality ready to work under many contingencies. 

 

Sally refused to look anywhere but directly at my eyes.  I was spooked by her creepiness and her ability to NOT blink for minutes at a time.  Her voice never changed in tone and she kept flicking her pen on and off.  At first I felt as if I had misplaced ketchup on my nose and this would explain her refusal to look away—then I remembered I have not had lunch yet. 

 

Fifteen minutes later I escorted Sally to the front office and thanked her for coming in…she gave me another direct glare—daggers all but pierced my skin.  The next morning Sally was found in the front office area, sitting, waiting, and looking angry (I avoided the situation by entering through a back door).  For three hours Sally sat and stared and waited.  This ritual lasted five consecutive days until I finally found body armor and informed her a decision was made.  I told Sally her resume and application would remain on file just in case.  Thinking this would do the trick, I went back to my office.

 

For the next two weeks Sally sat and stared, to this day I am not sure what she was looking at.  Oh, I somehow lost her resume and application within seconds of her initial (and only) interview.

 

Interviewees beware: not only are you being evaluated, but your behavior and total presence is also being evaluated.  If you become angry, scary, or in stalker-mode, chances are you will not get a second chance.

 

I still share this experience with individuals preparing to go to an interview.  Not that it calms them down, it does not seem to.  I share this story to reinforce the fact that another individual with his or her own perceptions, fears, and beliefs will be looking at more than what’s on paper; and that’s a lesson we all should take to heart.

 

Your turn:

For those wanting to share interview experiences for all to benefit from, be sure and send them to me.  If nothing else, they are great fodder for fireside chats.

 

Danny

January 8, 2009

OOOPS, Did This Really Happen? An Interview Blunder

While a college professor and later as a Dean of Academic Affairs, I heard many stories from students about how their career interview was going along well until…yes, that pause and the rest spoils the moment and potential offer.  With this, I would share actual events with my classes in the hopes they would learn what not to do.  Being a company owner, I am privileged to experience blunders first hand…this one comes to mind:

 

Just before the holiday break I was holding interviews for administrative support.  I typically interview and hire students ready to graduate and this was no exception.  After placing an ad for the position, received the typical 250 responses; filtered those down quickly to a top 10 list.  Definitely liked one of the applicants and felt she was perfect for the job.  Had a great informational interview and successful face-to-face interview; within the next few days she was to come in for a final interview and offer…so far, so good.

 

She arrived in the appropriate time but seemed a bit distracted.  Two supervisors escorted the applicant behind closed doors to discuss final terms – again, so far, so good.  Five minutes later, a young gentleman (about 23 years old and we will name him Mark) wearing short pants, a torn shirt, slides on his feet, and a cigarette tucked behind his ear raced in the building and began yelling for “Mary.”  Mark strolled all aisles and several minutes later I was able to catch up to investigate.  He kindly used words not gentle to the ears and proceeded to yell for Mary.  I was able to gather something about children and alcohol through the chaos.  Mary popped her head out and yelled back to Mark, “not again.”  Within seconds, both left the office.

 

The next day Mary called and asked if we could simply forget what happened the day before and start again.  She offered no explanation other than her boyfriend gets wired once in a while and goes off.  Needless to say, Mary did not receive the job offer.

 

Students beware: not only are you being evaluated, but your situation is also being considered.  If you need a ride to work, make sure the driver remains out of sight and sound.

 

Your turn: as an employer, how would you react to this situation?  As a job candidate, how would you desensitize the situation?

 

Interviewing can be stressful and cause many to act in ways not typical to their character.  Becoming aware of mistakes via other applicants true events can be eye-opening.  And if you think this was a tad peculiar, the next applicant who came into my office has it beat…can you guess what happened?

 

For those wanting to share interview experiences for all to benefit from, be sure and send them to me.  If nothing else, they are great for class discussion.

 

Danny

January 7, 2009

A Brief Summary Describing Recruiters and Career Service Firms

It’s been a rather hectic week as the New Year began with a shake.  Hope you and yours experienced a safe and warm transition.  Let’s get to the core and if you have any questions, feel free to take a shot.

 

RECRUITERS:  At the high-end of the pay scale, recruiters represent specific employers (or claim to).  They typically offer a single strategy and don’t help in document creation or personal preparation.  They may critique your résumé but be wary as many are in it for their own strategy.  To make the introduction between you and their client company, they typically charge 15% to 20% of your annual salary (they tell you the company pays for it but it comes right off your compensation—you just never see it, thus, ignorance is not always bliss). 

 

Value:  Expensive.  If they get you a job, it’s costly, but you have the job.

 

Drawbacks:  You will probably need to hire someone else to write your résumé, and it will only be good for recruiters.  Using a recruiter alone is putting your eggs in one basket and for a 360-degree career search, this method is not always recommended.

 

CAREER SERVICES FIRMS: Our company falls into this category, but be warned, career service companies can span affordable to ridiculously expensive.  Some CS firms provide very few services.  While we handle all phases, some handle only document creation and charge upward of $5,000 for two documents.  The key to engaging a Career Services firm and avoiding scams and outright fraud is to confirm Credibility and Services, and always read the User Agreement.

 

A good CS firm is accredited by certified associations such as National Resume Writer’s Association or Professional Resume Writers Association. They offer certified services spanning Strategy to Distribution.  CSI, for example, provides career coaching from certified career coaches, document creation from certified résumé writers, verified research of corporate contacts, and direct mailing services.  In addition, clients receive an online portal including access to a Career Manual describing today’s job market realities and strategies to prevail.

 

Value: Quality service and materials from career professionals.  Their goal is to optimize your ability to achieve your career goals.

 

Drawbacks:  The potential for scams and fraud is high.  Do your due diligence and check reputable sources such as the associations listed above as well as spots such as Bluesteps.com (be sure your sources don’t offer similar services; if they do, their advice may be tainted).

 

We will revisit both definitions in the issues to come but for now, let’s call it a day. I do look forward to expanding on these concepts and will take your queue as a springboard.

 

Danny Huffman

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