Education Career Services

February 24, 2010

Labor Equilibrium NOT So Balanced for 2010

Synopsis: Nothing new is in the employment mix as many U.S. major organizations plan to hire while just as many intend to practice workforce reductions.  What else is new?

Don’t you love surveys telling you how wonderful the world is going to be if only we can hold back a few more months?  Just as exciting and revolting is how statisticians and politicians (yes, even our President) manipulates numbers knowing all too well the truth behind reality.  Holding onto Hope’s final thread, it seems like our hunger to believe is much greater than what is being served. 

With tomorrow’s menu searching for takers and for those not always in the loop of the latest, let’s take a look at what a new survey by Towers Watson ( is predicting.

Good News / Not-so Good News (Notice how they always comes in two’s):

          Good News: 92% of those responding plan to hire in 2010
          Not-so Good News: 36% of those responding are planning targeted workforce reductions

Continuing with the main course:

          * 41% felt it’s easier to retain talent now than it was before the financial crisis
          * 51% think retention will be more difficult a year from now (on a side note, those responding noted a rise in productivity over the past year)

The survey confirmed the toll the past year has taken on employees in terms of pay and benefit cuts, and how employees have responded:

          * 52% said the percentage of their employees working past their desired retirement age is higher than it was before the financial crisis
          * 31% expect employees working past their desired retirement age will be even higher a year from now
          * 32% said their employees’ cost of health-care coverage is higher now than it was before the financial crisis
          * 38% think healthcare costs will be even higher a year from now

Other Interesting findings:

            * 30% of companies report employees have on average reduced their contributions to 401(k) plans from pre-financial crisis levels, and 51% have seen an increase in employees’ hardship withdrawals from pre-financial crisis levels.
          * 48% said employees had shifted 401(k) plan allocations out of equities; however, 37% expect employees to shift back toward equities a year from now
          * Respondents expect to fund their short-term incentive plans at 100% this year, compared with 80% in 2008 and 60% last year

The survey is based on responses from 118 mostly large employers in the United States and 459 employers globally, and was conducted in early January 2010.

What do you think of the latest survey?  Will 2010 be the turning point or, as many surveys predict (mostly from economists), will our employment scene not feel any significant improvement for another two to three years?  Or would you prefer to tell me what’s really on your mind and tell all those statisticians, politicians, and predictors to take their numbers where the sun don’t shine?  After all, what really matters is job creation and placing real food on our table. 

What else is new? Absolutely nothing.

Let me know your thoughts and perhaps we will post our own survey…

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


November 2, 2009

Selling Your Soul for Your Paycheck?

Filed under: Career Cafe,Career Development — EducationCS @ 8:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

Submitted by Victoria Andrew

DevilBurnsCash_rf_120According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate has soared to 9.5%, making it all too easy to seize the first opportunity presented to us. Such an impulsive choice may sacrifice job satisfaction for the sake of economic security. Before accepting a new position, ask key questions to consider potential job satisfaction: 

  • Does the company provide products and/or services you would be proud to be represent?
  • Would your new boss be someone with whom you could establish a positive and rewarding working relationship with?
  • Are the leaders of the company people you respect and feel driven to work for?
  • Are you being offered a salary commensurate with your worth in the marketplace? Consider your total compensation in comparison to your past earnings. If you perform on a superior level, is there an upside opportunity or incentive pay?
  • Could the skills you learn within this position give you more of a chance of upward mobility in the future? If the position does not offer the economic security you are seeking, consider the experience, skills, networking, and certifications you may acquire on the job.
  • Will this be a job that is both professionally and personally rewarding for you?
  • Will the position make a difference in your department, the company, and society as a whole?
  • Is there frequent overtime in the culture of the company? Many professional jobs are inherently very demanding. Yet, excessive overtime could signify insufficient resources, ineffective management, and poor planning.
  • Will a healthy balance between your personal and professional life be possible within this position? Be honest with yourself as to whether or not the hours (including the commute) will easily work with your family. Maintaining peace at home will enhance your productivity level. 

Although it is exciting to be offered a new position, restrain your enthusiasm and   consider whether or not it meets your standards of job satisfaction before accepting it. Upward mobility, productivity levels, and job retention will revolve around whether or not our work is personally meaningful and professionally satisfying to us as individuals, independent of current trends in the economy.

Thank you Victoria!

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

October 14, 2009

Working for Free…a Georgian Experiment

Unemployed and looking for a job?  Good news, jobs are out there!  Only one catch, there is no pay.

According to an Intelligence Report from (October 11, 2009 page 6), the unemployed throughout the state of Georgia are “working without a salary in auditions for paying gigs.”  Naturally, I was hooked on the read and continued as, at first, if felt this was a rather brilliant idea.  An hour or so later, and after my morning cup of tea, I am not so optimistic the consequences of such a program will all be beneficial.

But first, a quick review (for those who have not read the article).  Under the Georgia Works program, jobless citizens work part-time for up to six weeks at businesses with job openings.  Let’s begin by highlighting the one very important element: you guessed it, a majority of individuals who took part in this program and worked part-time for a business also under this program received an offer to work permanently (58% of participants).  Pretty impressive!

So far so good?  Enough of the sugar-coating for a moment.  If an individual is working for free while unemployed, how will they be able to effectively search for a career of their choice?  Additionally, what are the rules the business owner must follow?  Does this program equate to a college internship?  On note, will this program become mandatory for all unemployed individuals?  In other words, if I suddenly became unemployed, would I be forced to work for free in order to receive benefits?  On the surface, this seems a tad unfair….or is it?

According to the article, 17 states (besides Georgia) have asked about starting similar programs.  The article concludes with the following quote from Andrew Stettner of the National Employment Law Project: “the purpose of unemployment ought to be to enable people to search for suitable work, not to give employers free labor.” 

An interesting article and insight into the world of politics….just keeping you in the loop.

Have a different opinion?  We’d love to hear it!

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

September 30, 2009

Are You Hiring (the sequel)?

As promised, the following is yesterday’s conclusion:

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
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110

August 18, 2009

Sorry Tony, Some Things do End

August 18During a recent annual doctor’s visit, I had the pleasure of hearing (how many times now?) I needed to lose 25 pounds.  Nothing new to me and perhaps this time I will actually do what it takes to become leaner.  Last night I had a vision about the economic atmosphere and began drawing parallels between my weight and our global employment crisis.  Wondering if such a correlation exists, I propose the following:

For the past ten years I did not worry about what I ate or the amount or what I ate.  Oh, those were the days of hot fudge, plenty of ice cream, lots of grease (who can resist onion rings?), and four meals a day.  Worries of larger sized britches and an increasingly uncomfortable lower back were placed on the back burner.  In reflection, it seemed as if my body could handle everything without consequence (okay, so a pound or two crept up as the months and years flew by).  Unfortunately, Tony Curtis’ song forgot things do end… 

           Those were the days, my friend
           We thought they’d never end
           We’d sing and dance forever and a day
           We’d live the life we’d choose
           We’d fight and never lose
           For we were young and sure to have our way

Sorry Tony I realize you just turned 84 (two months ago) but I am getting close to 50 years of age and it’s time to realize (and sacrifice) for the error of my dietary ways. 

Ten years ago the global economy and employment rate was going better than good.  Heck, we had it all, low unemployment, impressive industrial growth, and just about everyone was purchasing a home (or getting ready to).  Yep, those were the days of gluttony without worry of consequence.  Without doubt, those were the days…

So many were young not only in years but in experience; but ten years has a way of creeping on in a blink.  Over the past ten years we accrued a great deal of excessive fatty tissues from which to rake up credit card debt on the promise that tomorrow would exceed the profits of yesterday.  Where’s Tony when we need him now?

Yep, it was a good run and we ate, and ate, and then ordered dessert in a fight we thought we would never lose while the band played in the background!

Today, our economy, employment, and overall health are paying for the excesses of song and dance.  No longer are we experiencing the days of all you can eat buffets (metaphorically).  Rather, businesses, families, and just about everyone must go on a diet, some due to health reasons, some due to economic circumstance, and some due to a combination of both.  Will this be as fun a ride as we experienced in the not too distant past?  I’m not sure but I do realize there are positives and opportunities in all challenges; either way I can always watch reruns of Spartacus.

Last night I had the pleasure of dining out (just another way of contributing to economic growth via spending) and carried a new approach to the table.  Elaine and I shared a main entrée as the issue of excess (and the constant nagging from my doctor) flooded our minds.  After the meal, both of us were comfortable; neither stuffed to the gill (in my typical fashion) and neither feeling guilty about the evening. 

Being lean does not mean being without pleasures or being in jeopardy.  This morning I jumped on the scale and noticed two ounces missing…a good start.  Thinking about our economy and employment rate, perhaps chipping away two ounces at a time can be a lesson we all can share.  After all, have you noticed the sense of entitlement in every crack and cranny of our existence?  Perhaps it is time to get back in shape, to shed a few pounds, to share a main entrée, to help others in need, to become less self-centered, and to become MORE human. 

My doctor probably did not intend for her request for me to place my weight in check to become an economic philosophical model, but it has.  Can you lose the weight, the excess, the sense of entitlement?

And one more thing while on the subject, Mr. Curtis, you will always remain one of the best…

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
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July 29, 2009

Helping Hands, Student Career Transition, and Tech Support Opportunities

July 29 hopeLast week CNN Money began spreading good news for the technological industry.  In a time where most have begun tightening belts (I am on the last notch) amidst the uncertainty of tomorrow’s job market, it appears there is more than a helping hand on the horizon.

“The fastest demand in the U.S. is for help desk and desktop support.  A recent survey of Robert Half International shows 51% of employers plan to add IT staff over the coming year.”

To be specific: CompTIA, trade association for IT professionals, is currently launching a hiring campaign to fill an estimated 400,000 tech job openings.  Tech jobs are appearing in Des Moines, Boise, Louisville, and all over the U.S.  In Detroit tech jobs in hospitals are plentiful for jobs that require continual collaboration with other departments.  In the medical industry, tech jobs are available for medical providers.

No doubt this is not an overnight resolution for many executives and students transitioning into their respective career, but it does bring hope.  To be clear, tech support positions are found in a wide range of industries, from hospitals, to hotels, to factories; so get out of that mindset about tech support being held hostage in a Weber-like cubicle.

Why the sudden burst of good news for this particular sector?  Good question, and I believe the answer resides not only for tech support but goes across into all industry areas.  In other words, the trend about to take off may very well take off in your industry.  There appears to be a scarcity of skills, experience, or combination of these that employers want.  If you are currently a tech professional, think about increasing your value by upgrading certifications to remain competitive and venture into untapped territory in order to retool your career for today’s job market.

Developing transferrable skills and continuing your professional development will always pay to your advantage (and most importantly, to the advantage of your employer).  For students entering college to those graduating in the near future, never stop progressing and developing your value. 

For additional information, I encourage you to go to the source of the data at:

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
Career Services International:

July 14, 2009

Economic Darwinism: For Better or Worse?

July 13I had the opportunity to check out this Sunday’s employment section and was not impressed by the amount or type of open positions.  I don’t recall the last time this section was such a quick read as I barely had time to take two sips of my tea!  Anyway, after a short pause to shake the thin webs of a one-page print off, I had to find out what was really going on.

Is our employment situation getting better or worse?  To answer that, one must come to an understanding as to what’s really going on.

According to information released this month by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the ratio of job seekers to job openings is slightly above: 5 to 1.  To be specific, there are 5.4 job seekers for every advertised job opening.  Is this a good number or a not so good number and what does it tell us about the better or worse question?  Then again, think about it, the advertised job opening market only represents about 25% of all job openings out there—seems like our first step is one guided by misdirection!

On the other side of the story, the number of job seekers can also be misleading if one is not careful.  From all accounts and from several business economic classes way back in the dark ages, job seeker counts are typically under-recognized.  In other words, government statistics claim the 5.4 seekers for every job advertised but do not take into account those individuals who are passively looking to better themselves or the super-sized number of underemployed conveniently forgotten about by those in control.

I know what you’re saying, numbers are no good unless there is something to compare them with and 5.4 may be a number to strive for.  Unfortunately, we can look at the figures from March (4.8 job seeker for each advertised position) and the numbers from when the recession officially began.  That would be December of 2007 when there were 1.7 job applicants per single job opening.  Hmmm, wonder if further interpretations by me are even necessary?  Are we beginning to get a clear picture of the better or worse question? 

All of this to the side, there remains hope for the applicant who is skilled in the art of career management and self marketing.  Think about it, we seem to be experiencing an economic/employment Darwinist revolution where the fittest not only survive but STRIVE in this new jungle.  True enough, there remains good news amongst the struggles: During the month of April, there were 4,099,000 new hires!

What’s it going to take to be leading the pack?  Continue checking out this blog for guidance and interaction.  Many of our previous submissions are focused to get you through the hard times by offering insight and time-tested approaches to career management.  Thus, review the lessons from submissions posted in the not so distant past…just because a post was presented two weeks (or even six months) ago does not mean it has lost any value.  Take a journey to the beginning; you will find value at such little cost.

Ultimately to answer the question of better or worse, it all depends on you.  For those insisting on defeat and self fulfilling prophecy, don’t let tomorrow pass you by due to your lack of initiative and ability to maximize all resources. 

Help is one the way but your hand must also reach.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
Career Services International:

June 1, 2009

(In)visible anger

The last few months I have seen (and felt) so much anger in just about all sectors of the market.  No doubt there is cause for so many ill-feelings as unemployment, foreclosures, higher gas prices, and on and on are no hitting harder each day.  As a professional resume writer and career coach, I hear heartfelt stories all the time.  Who’s safe from economic devastation?  Not to spoil anyone’s breakfast but no one appears to be safe.

Since, in my opinion, no one is “protected” from crisis way, becoming prepared is the only sound practice in this crazy world!  So you’re asking how does one protect him/herself; good question.  Without any hesitation, I believe the first step is to recognize there are more people than available job positions.  Okay, what does this do?  Another good question.  Recognizing you are not the only contestant in a competitive market brings reality to a new level.  Since there are more people than job positions, you must develop a plan to increase your value, your worth, and your immediate contribution. 

What determines value?  On a company perspective, what can the job applicant do right now—not next week or even next month?  Recent graduates, you offer theory and perhaps a capstone, intern, extern, or a bit of experience to go with it.  Is this enough?  For some yes, for some no.  For experienced executives, knowing is not always enough either—you must be the top performer as well.

Let’s make a connection to American Idol for a moment.

Paula and Simon decreased hundreds of thousands of wanna-be’s to a baker’s dozen.  In most cases it was clear that the vast majority of applicants were pretenders; only a hand full truly belonged.  After months of hard work, the top ten dwindled to only a few.  Here’s where you come in….for the pretenders, lack of true talent (or value) will create a schism between the ones who can.  In career management, this schism is created and reinforced within 15 seconds of reviewing your cover letter and/or resume.  Leaving you with one approach: you must prove quickly that YOU offer value….and still no guarantee (this is where so much (in)visible anger comes into play).

Getting back on track, your cover letter MUST accompany your resume in EVERY situation.  Your cover letter MUST be tailored to EVERY job posting.  In other words, do not submit a blanket cover letter—incorporate words from the posting and from research about the job and/or company (if known).

Don’t submit a response to a posting without doing your homework.  How many contestants on American Idol blew their one chance by not knowing the words (and many still became angry at Simon for eliminating them due to lack of homework)?  In addition to creating a tailored cover letter to fit each job posting, so should your resume be constructed.  Do not submit a blanket resume under any situation.  If you do, don’t become angry at your invisibility!  Place key terms, your connection to the job, and what you can do for the company immediately. 

There’s no easy way to become “visible” but there are ways to shed light on your work and value.  These are tough times but that does not mean anger is the answer. 

Complete your homework, get involved in your career campaign, and never forget the words.

Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP
Education Career Services:
Career Services International:

April 27, 2009

Body language speaks volumes during an interview

Over the past weekend I was asked to review elements regarding the interview process; the result of the april-27a1conversation will be displayed throughout the week in our blog (I always invite your input and stories).  Though common sense typically defines professional behavior and consequence, sometimes it’s good to have an outside source confirm your suspicions. 


The most important communication during the job interview is often what your body communicates as opposed to the mouth.  Without any doubt, body language (that thing called nonverbal communication) has a huge impact on the truth of how you are perceived by giving the interviewer an opportunity to tap into who you are without the benefit of filters.  One of the problems of subjective perception (as you must be aware) is that each individual brings his or her own background interpreting YOUR behavior.  In other words, what you do and how you act may seem normal (and without baggage) to one person, but to the next person, the “reality” may not be so kind.  Let’s take a quick look at one nonverbal act of communication (not too worry, we will go through several looks as the week progresses):


Fish or Fresh

Several individuals came to my office last week in response to a job posting.  To me, and to the two other interviewers in the room, the first impression by way of physical contact is an important moment.  In just about all interview settings, a handshake will be the first physical contact and with it, certain expectations should be considered.


For example, I don’t know many people who like or appreciate holding a limp fish… a handshake without confidence, without pressure, and without any response is like holding a wilted trawl.  Needless to say, not a good impression and one which will (more often than not) be a topic of conversation once the interview concludes. 


The initial interview handshake must:


  • Not be a fish, limp and iced down
  • Be responsive, firm, and fresh
  • Be confident and confirmed with direct eye contact
  • Last no more than a few seconds—over 2 seconds may become uncomfortable  

What is the impression you make with a handshake?  No matter if you are sure of the message being displayed, ask a peer or friend for an honest reaction to your handshake.  Sure, it may seem silly at first, but the consequence of asking your interviewer to handle a fish is not in your best interest. 


No matter the situation, you should never be intimidated (nor should you intimidate anyone with a superhero handshake), do not be afraid when approaching any hiring manager, and never be timid with your first contact impression.  


For today, everyone should become familiar with the manner in which they shake hands.  Tomorrow we’ll look at another nonverbal act of communication…


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

Career Services International:

April 20, 2009

Beach: a story of metaphoric consequence

This past weekend I went to Clearwater Beach, Florida for a quick getaway.


You’re asking what does this have to do with career management.  Right?  Let me get to the story…early yesterday we walked along the beach to enjoy the solitude and limited crowd.  As we walked I couldn’t help but notice trash (cups, wrappers, toys, plastic bags, napkins, etc) littering every few feet (literally).  At this time, more people began walking the beach, intentionally stepping over or ignoring the filth.  Not sure what they were thinking but it must have been: “won’t worry about picking up the trash, I didn’t throw it away so I don’t need to clean it up.” 


Before 20 minutes I collected two loads of trash. 


Now we’re getting to career management….


Is the “I didn’t create the mess so I don’t have to clean it up” philosophy carried over to employment?  Like it or not, there’s a mess out there!  Who is going to fix the problem?  I suspect the first thing to do is examine the roots of the economic / employment problem and then develop a plan to resolve it.  To most (as witnessed on the beach), the attitude of “I will let someone else fix it—perhaps the government,” remains status quo.  Besides, what can one person do with such an epidemic?


Much like my picking up litter on the beach, we all need to do our part…okay, so what is my or our part?


I believe parents, teachers, community, and the media share a piece of the responsibility equation.  In other words:


  • Parents should create a home environment conducive to educational advancement; where excuses and circumstances are not allowed. 
  • Teachers should pick up students falling behind, losing sight, being ignored, and/or or those being intentionally side-stepped…giving each student a foundation of belief and confidence.
  • Community must be a place where fear, intolerance, crime, and prejudice are eliminated.  No doubt the supporting cast runs deep and affects each one of us.  But each one of us can dedicate time to tutor or donate books, supplies, etc. to a worthy cause.
  • Media must display the value of education and the benefit that care will bring not only to the initial recipient, but to the countless of others who will be touched.  The media has created a social and economic paradigm following the tenets of instant gratification while undercutting the moral fabric of which built this country.


Our economy has issues, plenty of them for all to share.  Looking at a gestalt approach to resolve today’s ailments, each piece is just as important as any other.  If we want to progress, it must begin with sacrifice, dedication, and hard work—even if it means bending over and picking up items often ignored or intentionally thrown away. 


Together is the only way to beat the greed, the hatred, and the fear.  


At the end of the day at the beach, I saw just as much litter as the day before…as if my effort was a futile attempt to make a difference.  Perhaps nobody cares about our beaches, about our economy, or about the next generation.  I’m not buying into that.  


I’ll continue to believe parents, teachers, our community, and the media have the capacity to make a difference….what do you think?


Danny Huffman, MA, CPRW, CPCC, CEIP

Education Career Services:

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