Education Career Services

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

May 25, 2010

Using Internships to Beef-Up Student Résumés

Filed under: Uncategorized — EducationCS @ 9:27 pm
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By Jenna Rew

Internships are vital for any college career, providing the meat to a sparse résumé in order to help propel you into the ever-changing job market. Don’t skip out on them; in this economy, they may be the deciding factor between you and an equally well-educated individual. Take part in as many as you can and if possible go for those that span more than a single semester.

Why risk having fewer internships for a longer running one? When transferring your list of experience to a résumé as applicable job experience, you want to show commitment and minimize the appearance of “job hopping”. Further, longer internships give you more opportunities to soak up information and show valuable initiative in an environment that might otherwise be too fast paced for any real contribution from you.

Typically, internships spanning only one semester last just long enough for you to learn how the position works and what you are responsible for but it doesn’t always lend itself to showing your real value, which could result in some very lack luster references. Look for those that are notorious for giving students real work and not just dumping clerical work on a desk, and try to build lasting relationships that could serve you later. If you can’t find a long spanning internship, then look for ways to squeeze out as much potential as possible from a shorter one. Work at home, do your research, talk to colleagues, and listen to conversations.

Always remember as you work, you are trying to build a résumé strong enough to land you a job. Consider what tools are most valuable in the industry you want to work in and look for internships that cater to those. Ask questions of your supervisors and don’t be afraid to volunteer for things that will give you more opportunities to show-off your skills.

When transferring these skills and experiences to a résumé you want to think in terms of numbers. What was the size of the project you helped with? How much money was at stake? How big was the company? For students, sometimes the prestige of the place you intern at can add value to your portfolio. How did you contribute?

Companies don’t care about your job duties; they know what the position they are hiring for does. They want to know what you bring to the table. If you know how to use some particular technical program, include that. If you worked on something difficult or unique, include that. Try to set yourself apart from your fellow entry-level job seekers, because they all need the job equally as bad.

After each internship, don’t be shy to ask if it is okay to list your supervisor as a reference on a job application, or better yet, to ask them to contribute a quote about your abilities for your résumé. Quotes are vital tools, especially for students. They help provide backing to claims that are non-quantifiable. As students, you probably aren’t going to be able to say you boosted sales 400% or reclaimed $30M in lost revenue. You just don’t have the experience, but you can show that prior employers value you and your ability to adapt to given situations.

Remember, this is your career. Do something you are passionate about and use your internships to make sure you are qualified to land your dream job. Don’t put off until tomorrow something you could do today. You don’t want to be that graduate who has to work an internship for free before getting a job because you just didn’t take the time to do it beforehand.

Thanks Jenna, we all appreciate your input and career management tips,

DHuffman,
education career services
career services international

May 20, 2010

Infiltrating the System: The First Week on the Job

By Jenna Rew

Landing a job is the first and most common hurdle in any professional career, and in today’s economy it is paramount that you nail the interview process, win them over with your incredible charm, and amaze them with your excellent skill set. Whether you’re fresh out of college or looking to revamp your job choice, once you make it in the door it’s all about surviving that first week and keeping your newly-found cash flow from running dry.

According to the employment situation summary released on May 7 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 15.3 million people were still unemployed with the number of reentrants into the labor force crouching down at around 195,000 in April, meaning there are literally thousands of people to compete with in any given field who both want and need a job, so once you land one, it’s important to keep it.

Every work environment has its own personality.

During that first week on the job, you are bound to find out what it is. My advice: adapt to it. Try to avoid confrontations at all costs and take all criticism with a grain of salt and a smile. Every one has something to learn when they enter a new work environment, even if it’s in a career they have enjoyed for decades.

Every company is different and it’s important to listen to what your co-workers and superiors have to say and try to implement those things into the work you’re doing. It makes you a better employee and puts you on the right track to completing the dreadful probationary period.

To be honest there isn’t much to do on the first week of the job. It’s okay, you’ll notice as the week goes on that you have more to do, but in the mean time, look for things to further your knowledge. Ask questions of your co-workers and read through any manuals you can find. It can be a lot of reading but it will help you later on. You can ask for practice or for one-on-one feedback, but do your best to show that you are excited about the job and ready to begin contributing to the well-being of your new employer. Try to be receptive and perform to the best of your ability. Cement for them the reasons they hired you and you’ll be on your way to a happy and healthy new work environment.

Thank you Jenna, you are a valuable addition to our team,

dhuffman

March 30, 2010

Green Challenge and Opportunity

Victoria Andrew presents…

The global challenge to focus on sustaining our environment is transforming our white and blue collars into green!  Multitudinous companies and entrepreneurs are pursuing strategies to capitalize on the New Energy Economy.  Simultaneously, many industrial and corporate employees are migrating to green professions by mastering training programs on how to produce alternative power, accelerate energy efficiency, and renovate buildings with sustainable energy systems.  Professionals are primarily attracted to green development to satisfy the demand for implementing environmentally conscious design, policy, and technology.

Some careers obviously fall into the green-collar category, such as the hundreds of jobs available for the Spanish wind company, Gamesa, in Fairless Hills, PA.  If you engineer wind turbines or solar panels, your job is clearly green.  Yet, some propose that the work of decarbonizing America’s economy will also galvanize millions of new jobs.  In the next 20 years, an estimated 75% of buildings in the U.S. will either be brand new or substantially rehabilitated according to green standards.

Green IT is also taking root, whether you’re looking at specific methodologies from power management to virtualization, or taking a top-level look at corporate-sustainability goals.  The Worldwide Green IT Report unveils how far corporations had come in greening their data centers.  The overall results unveiled a consistent agenda for most firms to integrate green IT as a cost-savings tool.  In the past, green IT was merely a wish-list item, yet now it’s essential for the majority of the major corporations surveyed internationally.  Especially in Silicon Valley, job opportunities are being backed by millions of dollars into the renewable energy industry.

According to a CareerBuilder.com hiring trend survey, thirteen percent of employers said they plan to add green jobs in the new year, compared to merely one in ten from 2009.  The survey also disclosed the following top 10 environmentally-friendly jobs for the green economy, with salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

1)       Hydrologist: Median annual income $51,080.

2)       Environmental Engineer: Median annual income $50,000.

3)       Conservation Biologist: Median annual income $52,480.

4)       Toxicologist: Median annual income $79,500.

5)       Environmental Attorney: Median annual income for attorneys specializing in construction, real estate, and land use is $70,000.

6)       Landscape Architect: Median annual income $53,120.

7)       Corporate Waste Compliance Coordinator: Median annual income $39,000.

8)       Pollution Control Engineer: Median annual income $66,000.

9)       Urban and Regional Planner: Median annual income $45,250.

10)    Environmental Chemist: Median annual income $51, 080.

So, how do you find the quintessential green job for you? Consider the following possibilities for hunting down a green-collar career:

1)       Idealist.org : Idealist is an interactive site provides a diverse job listing in the green sector, green career fair notification occurring throughout the U.S., and even an on-line career center for those new to the industry.

2)       GreenJobSearch.org: This comprehensive listing of jobs is searchable by keywords, state, and major cities.  It also offers helpful tips for job seekers.

3)       EnvironmentalCareer.com: You can take advantage of their advanced search engine, view all jobs, create an account, and post your resume on this site driven by visionary determination to ensure a green future.

4)       JobsforChange.org: This progressive site provides a keyword search and category listing that tends more towards green/white collar jobs, as opposed to green/blue collar careers.  An excellent advice section discusses everything from interviewing to job-hunting resources.

5)       GreenCollarBlog.org: You will find an extensive listing of green job boards with separate sections for jobs inLEEDs construction (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), solar, clean energy, wind power, etc.

Riding the new wave of green collar jobs is the ideal career path for 2010, especially if you wish to capitalize on the New Energy Economy, or synergize your socially progressive ideologies with an environmental mission.  Now is the time to take advantage of the huge demand for executives, project managers, engineers, educators, scientists, and individuals of multitudinous industries to penetrate the green world.  Both economic security and social change await your future if you decide to “go green” once and for all.

Thank you Victoria for sharing such valuable information.

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
Creator, The Huffman Report, www.westorlandonews.com

March 23, 2010

The Power of Non-Profit Achievements

You’re a full-time student with little time for even part-time employment…how do you start building your résumé to get a solid launch upon graduation?  Non-Profit Organizations may be your answer.

Achievements with a non-profit group are very compelling on a cover letter and résumé.  It stands out, it says something about who you are, and it will likely prompt an interview.  

Like any other position (be it an intern, extern, or part-time opportunity), make sure you build achievements and not just “experience.”  In other words, this is a perfect time to develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities, all of which are the foundation of a long and successful career.  If you’re interested in business management, get involved with the administrative side of the organization: planning, fund raising, strategizing…quantifiable contributions that can be documented.

No doubt about it, DOCUMENT your Performance, Action, and Result (PAR) as employers want to see YOUR contributions and immediate impact.  For instance, if you built a spreadsheet while working as an intern or at an non-profit organization which streamlined procedures, document what you did and, when applicable, the results… such as how many labor hours were decreased due to your spreadsheet.

Things to consider when you are choosing a non-profit group, make sure the group:

a) resonates with you, and
b) resonates with future employers.

The Society to Promote Body-Piercings simply won’t do, but PAWS, MADD, homeless shelters, food banks… causes that benefit society not just special interest groups add bling too your résumé.  But be careful: Non-profit groups need volunteers and will let you work whatever hours you can; keep control of your schedule and prioritize your studies with volunteering or you may find your time monopolized.

The added benefit of networking is also at play here.  When you meet fellow professionals, get their contact information and keep in touch… you never know who the person volunteering next to you may be or will soon be.

Submission by Rob Swanson, certified professional writer at Career Services International / Education Career Services

March 19, 2010

Work is NOT the place to conduct a job search

Today is dedicated to a fairly common question I hear from individuals who possess a job yet are also looking elsewhere.  No doubt we’ve all experienced a sense of being uncomfortable on this issue so how about a few minutes to get my take…

Does your boss know you are back in the job market?  There’s a gray area here but overall, it may be in your best interest if your boss is left in the dark… it can mean the difference between wanting to get a new job and having to get one.  

In the employer’s right shoe: if one of your employees (who you count on to get the job done) is actively seeking employment elsewhere, what would you do?

Most corporations avoid keeping employees who don’t want to be there. They certainly won’t tolerate employees who are not being productive in their current position while surfing Monster.com. With an ironic twist, you may end up being eaten by that monster (i.e. your boss).

I typically suggest to my clients (and now to you) to keep your job hunting to yourself. Even though statistics show that 25% of employees perform their job searches while at work, don’t do it. Never sit at your desk and search job sites or scan the local newspaper’s want ads while on your lunch break with coworkers. This is like having a neon sign above your head that reads, “Job seeker here.”

If you must make search-related phone calls during work hours, use your cell phone where no one can hear you. Look for some isolated area, like a sound-proof room once used for interrogation of disloyal employees. Do not use the phone at your desk or workstation. Many employers do not approve of their staff using equipment for personal reasons. They might also monitor employee phone calls. This is not the way you want them to discover you’re hoping to find a better position.

If you have an interview with another company, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer not to contact your current employer. Most hiring professionals understand the necessity of discretion and will avoid any undo disclosure.

Your employment search is nobody’s business but your own. Keep it private or prepare to be unemployed until you find your next job.

In the employer’s left shoe: It is not uncommon for employers to monitor the sites you surf or print out the phone numbers made from your extension.  If you owned a company and noticed an employee completing an application, how would you react? 

Much like Dorothy and her journey, there’s no place like home (to surf and apply for jobs)… think about it.

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC, author, educator, and co-owner of Career Services International/Education Career Services.

January 16, 2010

Pools Getting Larger, BUT not for Swimming

A few days ago I read an article from the Career Management Alliance (CMA) highlighting how the pool of workers will be increasing for many years to come.  In a nutshell, this is due to our seasoned employee’s intent to remain active in the workforce many years after retirement age.  The rippling effects of such a shift have consequences well beyond the immediate.

For those unfamiliar with the article, I’ll share the text printed by CMA:

The baby-boom generation-those born between 1946 and 1964-is expected to remain in the labor force longer than previous generations. As this group ages, the number of people in the labor force aged 55 to 64 is expected to grow by 33 percent between 2008 and 2018, and the number of people aged 65 and older is projected to grow by 78 percent. The numbers of 45- to 54-year-olds and 35- to 44-year-olds are expected to shrink as baby boomers age and shift into older groups.

Total labor force growth is expected to average about 8 percent during the projections decade. Because of such factors as better health and medicine, the number of adults in the labor force aged 65 and older is expected to grow about 10 times faster than the total labor force.

With our unemployment situation in such a depressed mode, it appears the world will need more than a helping hand from our government and President Obama.  From senior-level employees to high school students to graduating students, the impact of a larger pool of applicants means more competition.  As a result, more competition means a return to Darwinism; survival of the fittest may be this decade’s mantra…. Hey, just keeping it real.

No longer are employers seeking candidates unable to perform a wide range of responsibilities.  The new “fittest” will be employees capable AND willing to do more (and often for less—sorry).  For those in the workforce, continue professional development training, learn more skills, become adaptable, prove to your employer that you are focused on progression.  In other words, no more complacency.

For the student or recent graduate, I encourage you to also learn as many skills as possible.  Become active in the community; develop a diverse network of peers from various industries.  While in high school or college, take a good look in the mirror and check out what stares back, objectively.  Sitting back, attending to your major while ignoring the competition is not career survival.  As a career coach and resume writer, I encourage you to study beyond your major—as a matter of fact, obtain a minor in a completely different field…think about it.

With the pool of applicants increasing (and no release valve in sight), it’s time to gather as many skills and experiences as possible.  Is the pool large enough for all to swim?  No doubt if Darwin was around, he would keep it real and tell it like it is.

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 

January 14, 2010

Don’t spam filter out a job offer!

By Kimberly Sarmiento

The only thing more annoying than spam e-mail is that we still get junk mail in our physical mailboxes.  You know – the ones we have to go outside to check?

But as aggravating and virus infested as spam mail might be, you don’t want to filter out a future employer’s contact.  Therefore, I recommend against adding on features which will require a hiring authority to go through steps to establish they are a real person – ie. getting transferred to a website and typing in random numbers and letters they have to read through a strangely colored box.

I’ve gone through the trouble of doing this for a couple of friends and clients, but if I was in the position of scheduling a dozen candidates for interviews – I’m not sure I would bother.

If you are strongly concerned about spam mail, go ahead and establish a separate e-mail account used solely for your career search.  Remember to check it several times a day, but at least you know that all correspondence sent to and from that account will be dedicated to your career.  Therefore, there will be no chance of you losing an important e-mail in the shuffle of your regular correspondence. 

A dedicated e-mail account will also allow you to track easily which companies have responded to your inquires and/or submissions.  And it offers the benefit of professionalism should your current e-mail account be a little too cutesy, flat-out inappropriate, or give away information you might want to not reveal (your children’s names, your birth year, etc…).

Rather or not you choose to keep your current e-mail on your resume or replace it with a new one, remember you want to make it as convenient for the hiring authority (or their assistant) to contact you.  The more steps you ask them to take to get a hold of you, the more you increase the possibility they move on to another candidate!

Thank you Kimberly!

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

December 22, 2009

2010 Employment Outlook

Today’s morning ritual of sipping hot tea and reading the newspaper transpired without alarm until turning to the business pages. According to an article written by McClatchy/Tribune news, next year promises to be a rough one.

Breaking down the US employment figures for November (compared to the same month/2008), there will be little gain in jobs.  Breaking down per job sector, the percent change over the past year is as follows:

Construction: down more than 20%
Manufacturing: down more than 15%
Professional and Business Services: down more than 7%
Retail Trade: down more than 5%
Education and Health Services: down more than 4%
Leisure and Hospitality: down more than 3%
On the brighter side, forecast for positions in the government are a pinch above even

Needless to say, breakfast was quick.  Being in the human capital/management industry, I speak to individuals from all levels and demographics daily, vicariously experiencing each story and hardship. The upcoming year is another time to buckle down and find support in novel ways.  According to today’s article “the slow recovery won’t bring much relief for job seekers.” Given things will not improve overall, that means we must also market our skills in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

With this in mind and the numbers as a backdrop, how does one keep their job or secure a new one if unemployed?  Obviously networking is king but a close second must be in the package itself.

For those employed, continue pushing job effectiveness and develop quantifiable goals for the upcoming years. In this regard, write a business proposal outlining a particular situation which needs improving, the task required to deliver, the action you propose and will implement, and the results projected. Developing a STAR analysis is useful during evaluations and keeps you on focus.  Employers wish to retain (and promote) employees showing initiative and willing to give a helping hand to the overall bottom line.  The old saying “it’s not in my job responsibilities” no longer applies.

For those seeking employment, continue networking, practicing your branding statement/elevator speech, and develop effective marketing material.  Knowing how to package yourself is just as important as the message itself.  Keep your perspective on the employer, what will that person be looking for? Additionally, your message must be prioritized as the reader typically spends less than 15 seconds to review your material.  How does one market effectively?  As a certified resume writer, certified career coach, and co-founder of several human capital companies, I would recommend asking for a professional in the field for assistance as we often look into the mirror with myopic vision.

The upcoming year promises to be one of challenges but also can be one of vast opportunities.  By developing and demonstrating your hard skills with solid and transferrable soft skills, the value you bring to a company can propel you above the crowd. 

Wishing you and those in your life nothing but the best this holiday (and the many years to come),

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

December 9, 2009

The UnAdvertised-Advertised Job Market

We have always advocated the 360-degree job search.  Apply to online postings and print postings, but PLEASE don’t stop there!  Direct mail campaigns are far better and second only to strong networking.

Today’s employers turn to current employees for referrals.  They take recommendations from networking contacts and they’ll turn to their LinkedIn contacts.  But wade through the mountain of résumés received from online postings?  Only if they have to.

So why do they post the job if they aren’t going to fill it that way?  Largely to cover their backsides from the threat of litigation or the appearance of impropriety, not to mention the need for market analysts to see the implications of favorable growth that advertised positions offer.

Job-seekers toiling solely in the field of online postings are dramatically slowing down their search.  It’s worth devoting a small amount of time to advertised positions, but do NOT forsake the fertile fields of the direct mail campaign, the power of informational meetings, and networking functions.  If you need a new job, play every card.

Keep a Networking Card with you at all times for easy business card exchange and follow up any personal contacts with a LinkedIn invitation. You friends and business contacts are your best advocates, so activate your network and aggressively build it whether you seeking a job or not.

Think 360!

Rob Swanson
Career Services International
Writing Manager

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