Archive for September, 2011

The Job Coaches: Take steps to retool skills, rethink options

September 30, 2011

Dr. Dorothy P. MooreBy Dorothy Perrin Moore

A new beginning requires re-examining one’s skill set. To assist, academic institutions are offering programs that address the needs of workers in transition.

Among the types of offerings are certification programs, part-time career re-engineering and more. The objective, perhaps best stated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is to enable people to “reconnect, renew, refuel, relaunch, re-enter, retool, reinvent, rekindle, reinvigorate, redefine, re-create, rethink, re-establish and re-equip.”

How can this approach assist the woman in transition who has no definite job prospect? First, she should focus on a personal profile based on an inventory of her talents. This will enable her to examine the full spectrum of job and career options she is capable of filling. It requires thorough research on prospective firms in fields of her competency. Then, she must use this knowledge to build more flexible approaches for new career options.

The position you are seeking may only exist because you show an employer how your set of skills can contribute to the firm’s bottom line. Developing a new profile and self-image can lead to creating a job niche. For example, assume you are a recent journalism graduate or laid off reporter, but the newspaper business has reduced columns and coverage due to a fall in subscriptions and advertising. How do you take your set of writing skills, which the majority of people in the labor market do not have, and turn it in to a creative position?

If you present yourself as a reporter primarily, you have not renewed, refueled or relaunched. You may be presenting the image that narrows your job opportunities. In short, you are showing employers your skill set in a closed box. The real skill you have is the ability to write, to articulate, to communicate, to market, to state things clearly, to improve the numerous essential documents all firms generate. Market it.

Suppose your background is in fabric design, but due to the large number of textile companies that have left the Carolinas, there appears no way for you to get your foot in the doors that remain. How can you use your creativity to launch your job search in new directions? Looking at the field more broadly is one beginning. Closely examine the spectrum of jobs that are being advertised. Visualize where additional openings might occur. Then determine what business skills might best fill out your resume for these potential openings. You might want to add some courses in marketing and advertising from your local college or technical school to expand your job search opportunities and also to develop new networks, friends or associates who may recommend you to an employer.

There are other avenues. If you are still in school, you are probably already aware of the vast array of services offered by the institution’s career service center. Graduates, and sometimes those unable to complete a degree, may not be aware that these services also are available to them. In many cases, institutions wave fees for the services in the interest of building goodwill (and possibly attaining future contributions). Many extend the services to members of the community as well.

If you elect retooling by taking a new program of study, it will be important to determine as nearly as possible what your future set of skills will be and how they will relate to the job market. Watch out for quick fixes that have no new jobs attached or require a substantial investment on your part. Stay focused on the return on investment for your time, effort and dollars.

Most of all, remember that you are the framer of your image and skill set. The steps you take in retooling are important.

Do the homework. Effort and perseverance count. Make at least three new contracts every day. Stay healthy, avoid hibernation and keep up your exercise and fitness program.

Dorothy Perrin Moore, Ph.D., is professor emerita of business and entrepreneurship at The Citadel.

The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 18, 2009.

The Job Coaches: Distinguish yourself online

September 23, 2011

Q: I’ve applied to dozens of jobs online, but can’t even get an interview. What am I doing wrong?

A: Probably nothing! Remember, you’re just one of thousands of people out there searching for a job. Hiring managers who post jobs online probably receive upward of 100 resumes a week and have various ways to winnow their list down to the top candidates to interview, so even if you’re following instructions perfectly, you may not receive a response. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of scoring an interview.

First, don’t be “Ms. Everycandidate.” If a cover letter (via e-mail, of course) is requested, don’t send a form letter. Don’t state the obvious, such as “attached is my resume” (because it is attached) or “I am applying for job XYZ” (because you are). Customize each e-mail to the position and company you’re applying for, and let your personality shine through. Your first two sentences should grab a hiring manager’s attention. For example, if you’re applying for a job in the graphic design field and you have 10 years working experience and a great portfolio, your first sentence could be “I’m perfect for the position you’ve posted because …” (and then state your most valuable attributes).

Also in your cover letter, you should indicate that you know something about the company. Do your research; at the least, visit the company’s Web site, read recent press releases, Google the company and find something positive that you can mention that explains WHY you’re interested in working for this company. A hiring manager will appreciate a candidate who has done her research, and it will improve your chances of getting your foot in the door if it is clear that you’re not just sending the same e-mail you send when applying for any job.

Second, there are a few things you can do to impress prospective employers when applying online. Even if you have a wonderful resume in Word format, consider signing up for www.VisualCV.com. It’s free, it’s easy, and you can set up your own resume Web site with links to former employers, scan letters of reference and upload them, and include samples of work you’ve done in the past (depending on your industry). Once you have your VisualCV set up, you can simply send a link to your resume online when applying for jobs. And because VisualCV is fairly new, most prospective employers will be impressed simply by the fact that you have an online resume.

Additionally, VisualCV is adding new employers to its job search feature every day, so you can actually apply for jobs within VisualCV.com (and prospective employers can search candidates — they might even find you before you find them!).

Additionally, if you’re not already on LinkedIn, you should be. I know, I know — “I’m already on Facebook/MySpace/Twitter … why do I need ANOTHER social media account?”

LinkedIn has some great features for searching for jobs online, joining groups that are specific to your industry, and interacting with people who can connect you to people who work for or make hiring decisions for the companies you want to work for. Monster and CareerBuilder are great tools in an online job search, but having your resume and profile on LinkedIn and reaching out to make connections is a more personal way to find the right job for you.

With our unemployment rate in double-digits, adding some online networking components to your job search can help you stand out as a prospective candidate. Happy hunting!

Kelly Love Johnson is the author of “Skirt Rules for the Workplace: An Irreverent Guide to Advancing Your Career” (Globe Pequot Press, 2008). The Job Coaches are experienced volunteers from the Center for Women’s Job Counseling Program. Ask them a question by calling 843-763-7333 or e-mailing info@c4women.org. If you would like further assistance, make an appointment. A donation of $20 is requested for appointments.

First appeared in the Moxie section of The Post and Courier Friday, September 4, 2009.

C4W Business Member Profile: Sheryl Willis O’Neal

September 21, 2011

What is your profession? I am privileged to work with seniors and their families as an Eldercare Advisor at Care For Life, a care management and in-home care provider. I also serve as Marketing Director and Director of Business Development. I have found my career niche, my work- family that supports my endeavors, and I plan to be going strong for many more years serving families.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Interesting how having a nearly two year old grandchild nearby has changed my preference for how you spend free time! Elena lights up my life on a weekly basis! I enjoy living on a small farm on Johns Island with my husband who is an avid gardener and outdoorsman. I am constantly surprised what he brings in the door! I love being active in the life of St Philips Church. I enjoy mentoring younger women including my own daughter, Caroline.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women?

What inspired you to become a member? I came to the Center in my marketing role at Care For Life. I am consistently enriched by the women I meet there. I am so thankful and that Mary Peters and Care For Life chose to sponsor the Woman and Power Series this year. Jennet inspires me to be better at everything I put my hand to. I love the devoted staff, and I cannot say too many good things about them. They exemplify “customer service” and genuine compassion and concern for women. What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? The Center is a safe place for women to come and share, to vent frustrations in the workplace, and to grow. I am a “people person”, so I am impacted by the women from all walks of life whom I meet at the Center. Their influence on me is that I know more than ever that I can do anything I decide and commit to do!

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? I love my life as a woman. I have been an overcomer in my adult life. I have a strong faith in God that sustains me in whatever circumstances that come my way. I have always had a few very close friends who give me encouragement and support, and who kick my proverbial butt when I need it!

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? It is what it is. A sales manager years ago told me the three words that are key to success: See The People. You have to build face to face relationships. We are in a relationship economy according to experts…as if we needed “them” to tell us! So, get out of your robe and into your car! If you aren’t wildly excited about your product or service, who will be?

Half of Well-Educated Charleston Women Have Experienced Wage Discrimination

September 15, 2011

Wage Gap is the term used to describe the difference between men’s and women’s salaries. Study after study has repeatedly shown that even when the variables that influence salary such as education and experience are controlled, the wage gap persists. In South Carolina, women earn 78 cents for every dollar a man makes (American Community Survey 2009 www.census.gov/acs). Women work 16 months to earn what a man makes doing the same job in twelve.

The wage gap is a statistical fact, but we wondered whether local women actually believe that they have been paid less because of their gender. Over 100 women replied to our Center for Women survey. Our survey sample was not scientifically drawn, but it does paint a picture that well-educated, local women have personally experienced pay inequity. The majority of survey respondents had attended college or graduate school and about one-third each were between the ages of 20 to 35, 35 to 50 and over 50.

Out of 106 women, 51% stated that they had been paid less than male colleagues in a similar position even though they could not prove it. When asked to rate their pay inequity situation on a 5-point scale from subtle bias to overt discrimination, the results were spread evenly across the range. About 40% leaned toward describing their situation as subtle bias, 40% leaned toward overt discrimination and 20% were in between.  No less disturbing, 39% believed that they had been skipped over or denied a promotion because they were a woman and 14% held the opinion that they had been let go, fired or severed because of their gender.

When queried as to whether or not they had discussed the situation with their employer, the following verbatim comments characterize their positions, “I’ve spoken to my immediate supervisor, who basically blew me off. I’m afraid to take it higher for fear of losing my job if it appears I’m complaining;” “This is a right to work state and there are too many other people that would take my job and not complain;” “I did [discuss the situation] and have since been treated poorly;” “I could not prove it;” “ I saw [salaries] by accident and didn’t want it to be a problem;” “I need to keep the job, so I keep my mouth shut!” “State budget cuts make it unlikely that the situation could be resolved even if I were to convince them that the pay grade was unfair;” “I don’t want to rock the boat;” “I attempted to discuss and was shot down. Now I’m a trouble maker;” “There was no resolution in my favor. In fact, I was let go;” “Hard to prove and unfavorable outcome feared especially as an African American.”

Why should men care?  

Women’s salaries no longer pay for extras or the nice-to-have of family life. Women’s earnings are essential to supporting families. In married households, women’s income typically accounts for 36% of the total family income and about one-third of employed mothers are the sole breadwinners for the family. (US Senate Joint Economic Committee 2010 Invest in Women, Invest in America: A Comprehensive Review of Women in the US Economy.) Fair pay for women translates to fairness for families and a more economically stable environment for children. I would ask men, “do you believe that your hard-working wife, mother or daughter with equal skills and ability should be paid less than her male peers?” Don’t you want to see her appreciated, paid fairly and not undervalued?

What can be done?

The wage gap is an injustice that deserves attention from the business community and all employers. We should not be afraid to acknowledge its existence and talk about its consequences. When the opportunity presents itself, middle management and executive women should raise the issue within their organizations and press for Human Resource policies and procedures that seek pay equity. Understanding that some pay inequity is due to subtle cultural bias and not in your face gender discrimination, open discussion and dialogue can do much to increase awareness of how widespread the practice really is and how unfair to families it is.

Women on their part can learn to be better salary negotiators. Men are much more likely to negotiate their pay than women. Women are not as comfortable with self-promotion and do not like to be perceived as pushy. Yes, the job market is very tough today and many of us are simply thankful to be working, but fair pay is a goal we should all be working toward.

Ginger Rosenberg is the Marketing Coordinator of the Center for Women. The Center for Women is a local, non-profit organization providing job counseling and job search workshops as well as programs on negotiation skills. Contact the Center for Women at www.c4women.org.     

C4W Business Member Profile: Mary Ross McQuage

September 9, 2011

What is your profession?  Owner of Aging Resources

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career?  I love to spend time in the outdoors.  My husband is one of the owners of Sea Kayak Carolina and, fortunately for me, I love to go kayaking along the coast and in the rivers in our area.  I have a very impressive collection of shark’s teeth!

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women?  Since 2008.

What inspired you to become a member?  I came to appreciate the power and significance of women as a Women’s Studies Minor at Wake Forest University.  I believe it’s so important for women to support each other, learn from one another, and to be a resource for each other.  The Center for Women provides the structure for women in our area to do all of these things and more.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you?  Several years ago when I was going through a difficult transition in my life, I participated in a support group at the Center for Women.  I am so grateful to have had that support during that time.

I love the annual Women in Business conference.  It is so inspiring as well as an incredible venue for networking.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you?  It’s a constant balancing act – mother, wife, business owner, volunteer, friend, chef, housekeeper – among the roles we find ourselves in.  It’s not easy but I am grateful for every opportunity and having a lot of fun along the way!

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? You may have to approach your goals a little differently in this economy, but don’t let today’s economic environment be your excuse to hold yourself back.  Set your goals, get focused, seek out good mentors, and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

C4W Business Member Profile: Dr. Marguerite Germain

September 7, 2011

What is your profession? Board Certified Dermatology / Germain Dermatology

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Traveling, visiting friends and family, reading, writing, painting, and catching up with old Navy buddies.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women?  1 year

What inspired you to become a member? I have always felt that women can be successful and happier when they work together. The Center for Women is an organization that inspires strong and hard-working women to support each other as a community. I wanted to be a part of it.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? The Center of Women allowed me to meet wonderful and strong women, and it opened my eyes to the wonderful possibilities that we have in Charleston. There is so much to be gained by the wisdom and experiences of others that are so willing to share.

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? I believe that as women, we are resilient, however, we often put others before our own needs which means we neglect ourselves both inside and out. We all should take some time for ourselves. When you feel good on the inside, your strength and beauty shows. Taking care of your skin is vital, but I have always said that skincare is not about looking as young as possible, its about looking as good as you feel.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Knowledge is power. Learn everything you can and keep up with the trends around you. With today’s shift in business and technology, it’s important to broaden your horizons and always be learning. And never be afraid to try new things, because you never know where that new idea or thought will take you.

C4W Member Profile: Mary Chapman

September 2, 2011

What is your profession? I work as a trusted advisor for individuals interested in philanthropy. I also work with many local and statewide non-profits helping them reach out to their donors.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Taking in the beautiful sites and plethora of activities Charleston has to offer!

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? Just over a year.

What inspired you to become a member? It was recommended to me by someone I met at a C4W event.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? It has been a wonderful opportunity to meet other women in Charleston. The professional development and networking opportunities have been outstanding!

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? It’s equipped me with opportunities to display a strong, quiet confidence in who I am and what I do best while enabling me to enjoy and display the softer side of life.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Be patient and steady. Celebrate who you are and freely give of yourself to others. Work hard and don’t hold yourself back.


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