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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Do You Still Need a Third Leg to Get Ahead?

There is a great post circling LinkedIn right now called Why Aren't Women Advancing at Work? Ask a Transgender Person. The post addresses how differently trans individuals have been treated at work in their new gender. I, for one, would be shocked if much of the information in this post came as a surprise to women. 

Transmen experience a higher level of respect, are interrupted less frequently, and have their opinions questioned less often than when they lived as women. Not surprisingly, transmen also felt like they were given more opportunities to succeed and to advance in the workplace than when they lived as a female. Transwomen have the opposite experience, and many find it shocking that they are now talked over in meetings and that their opinions are questioned even when supported by facts. 

If you're a woman reading this, you might be discouraged. But don't worry! You don't need a third leg to get ahead; you just need to be 2.5 times more productive than the average male to be thought of as equally skilled and competent!

How can we overcome the gender inequality that exists in the workplace (especially when some insist that it has been eradicated)? 

The glass ceiling that is so frequently talked about in HR circles is built on a rock-hard foundation of unconscious bias. Policies and procedures need to be in place to reduce or eliminate the objective factors that so easily overshadow the subjective factors that hiring and promotion decisions should be based on. It is also imperative that companies start training recruiters and hiring managers on how to identify their unconscious biases and overcome them. 

But why should companies stop there? Shouldn't all employees, at every level of the company, undergo this training? Why aren't companies including this in their new hire orientation and training?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Surprising Way to Increase Your Productivity at Work

Admit it, we've all been late to work at least once because we stayed in bed enjoying our partner a little too long that morning. And how did that day go for you once you finally made it into the office? Did you notice that you were happier, more energetic, and found it easier to concentrate?

We all know that sex has health benefits like improving heart health, reducing pain, and getting a better night's sleep. But did you know that having kinky sex has even more benefits than having vanilla sex? In 2013, The Journal of Sexual Medicine published an article to compare the psychological health of those who practiced BDSM sex versus those who practiced vanilla sex. The results astounded many. Instead of supporting the rumor that BDSM is associated with psychopathology, they found that those who practice BDSM are more conscientious, more extroverted, and more open to new experiences than those who have vanilla sex. Kinky sex also results in being less neurotic and less rejection sensitive while also having a higher subjective well-being. Several other studies have also arrived at these same conclusions.

Imagine, you go into work and your boss rejects the proposal you've been working tirelessly on for the last two weeks. You accept the rejection, but don't let the project fall off the table. Instead, you ask your boss what they found unappealing about the proposal. Once their objections are clear, you introduce yourself to a couple of people who work in departments that could help you build a stronger proposal. The three of you have coffee that afternoon and come up with an amazing new spin on the original proposal. You bang out the rough draft by 4:00, all while still managing to finish the mundane day-to-day activities that keep you employed. Your boss loves the new spin on the old idea and is now fully backing your efforts. 

And all because you got spanked and shackled (and maybe more) last night.

Why not give it a try? See if it lives up to its potential and report back. Help others understand exactly how their personal lives are affecting their professional lives!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Does Your Company Really Care About You?

I have worked for more companies than I would like to admit - probably twice as many companies as are listed on my LinkedIn Profile. I have worked two to three jobs at the same time for most of my life. I have seen the good, the bad, the ugly, and the illegal. Today was a reminder about what an amazing company I work for - a company that views me as a human being instead of as a faceless number or another cog in the wheel of their strategic business plan.

There is no doubt that my company is not perfect, and could improve in a several areas. But, I have faced several health challenges since day one of working there, and they have been shockingly supportive. I accepted their offer of employment on the morning of Monday, May 6th, 2013. Later that night I found out that I was pregnant. I decided to withhold this information from them, but on my first day I had to run to the nearest bathroom during my tour of the building because I was overcome with morning sickness. I had no choice but to reveal my secret. Four days later I suddenly started having some scary signs of a miscarriage and had to rush to the emergency room. I was sure that I was going to get terminated for all of the trouble I was causing. To my surprise, my boss was incredibly caring and concerned and worked with me to help schedule my required bi-weekly ultrasounds since my pregnancy had been deemed high risk.

I was also certain that my contract would be terminated when I gave birth to my son and decided to take six weeks off from work even though contractors don't qualify for maternity leave. Once again, to my surprise, they made it work and reinstated my contract at the end of my six week leave.

Luckily, I haven't had any major health issues that interfered with work over the last seven months. Until yesterday. I had a scratchy throat when I woke up, but didn't have any other them symptoms of being ill. Then, very suddenly, around 11:00 AM my throat swelled so badly that it felt like it was taking up my entire neck, I could barely swallow, and I was having difficulty taking a full breath, along with a slew of other symptoms. I called my PCP and she told me to go to the ER. Being the cheapskate that I am, I called my husband and asked him to come pick me up and drive me to the ER because ambulances are expensive but I didn't feel like I could drive myself. My very pregnant coworker came and sat on the couch in the lobby with me while I waited. Another coworker passed by and asked what was going on. When he found out that it would be 30 minutes until my husband arrived, he immediately pulled his car up to the front door and insisted on taking me to the ER himself. He stayed with me until my husband arrived.

I was at the ER for seven hours, during which time I received text messages from my superiors one and three levels above me. When I saw the texts come through I was immediately dreading reading them because I was sure they were going to be asking me when I would be able to come back to work, or if I could make up the lost hours from home once the doctor released. To my surprise, both of them were sending me notes of kindness and support, telling me that they hoped I felt better soon and not to worry about work until I felt better because they would figure out a way to cover my workload. I was completely shocked because we are currently understaffed and going through a transitional period in our department.

It's important for you to know that, as a contractor, my company can terminate my employment at any time for any reason. They are not being supportive and caring because they have to be, they are being supportive and caring because they want to be and because that is the kind of culture that they want to spread throughout the company. Is it like this in every department where I work? I don't know, but I sure hope so!

What is the culture like where you work? Do you feel like a nameless, faceless desk-jockey for eight hours a day (or more)? Or do you feel like your company truly appreciates the work that you do and recognizes that you are a person and that your contributions matter?

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Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Gain Visibility to Unadvertised Job Opportunities

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You've heard it before - a large percentage of job openings are never posted for the general public to see. A LinkedIn connection of mine recently asked me how she can gain knowledge of these unlisted openings. The sad answer is that there is no guaranteed formula for success. However, there are some things that you can do to skew the odds in your favor.

Network, network, network!
Build a network of contacts in your area of expertise. Most major cities have a plethora of networking groups. Just do a LinkedIn or Google search to find out what is available in your area. Attend the live networking events to get people to know and trust you. By gaining their trust, they will be more likely to recommend you for an unlisted opening. 

Participate in the social boards on LinkedIn. If you can use your expertise to help others solve a business problem then someone in that group may remember you if an appropriate opening comes along. Also, join and participate in appropriate forums. For example, if you are a female in the executive space then a women's leadership forum would be an excellent choice.

If you are interested in working for a particular company, find out who you know who works there, or who has someone in their network who works there and would be willing to make the connection for you. Don't be afraid to ask for a referral!

Increase your online presence and build your personal brand
Create a website or blog that highlights your expertise and why you are so uniquely awesome that any company would be better off with you on their team. Include the website on your LinkedIn profile.

Make sure your LinkedIn profile is complete and is full of keywords so that your profile will pull when recruiters search for people with your skills. 

Take a course in search engine optimization (SEO) so that you will be listed in a higher ranking in search engine results.

Happy Hunting!

Have you been interviewed or hired for an unlisted job opening? How did you find out about the opportunity?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

5 Easy Steps to Create a "Professional" Headshot for your Social Media Profile

Robin Brodrick's LinkedIn Profile Photo
Many people have asked me to refer them to whomever I hired to take my LinkedIn profile photo. I always smile because this photo was taken on a Sunday afternoon, in my house, by my husband (who is by no means anything close to a professional photographer).

Here's how we did it:

  1. Do it on the day you get your hair professionally cut and styled. If you are female, do your makeup (a matte finish works better than a dewy or sparkly one). I did my own makeup, but you could have your makeup done professionally at Clinique, Mac, or any other cosmetics counter in the mall. If you are male, make sure you are clean shaven or that your facial hair is neatly trimmed.
  2. Iron a neutral colored sheet and tack it to the wall. We chose gray because I thought it would compliment my skin tone, but you could just as easily use white, beige, or any other neutral color. 
  3. Position one Bayco 150-Watt Incandescent Portable Work Light on either side of you. Using two lights like this helps reduce or eliminate shadows. To produce truer colors than a normal incandescent light, we used a bright white light bulb that produces a natural daylight appearance. You can use any brand, but we used Utilitech 18-Watt (75W) BR40 Medium Base Bright White Indoor Flood Light CFL Bulb Energy Star. The total cost for materials was around $32.
  4. Get another person to take a ton of photos of you from as many different angles as possible. When that person gets bored and starts complaining, you should review all of the photos, decide you don't like any of them, and get that person to take a whole other round of photos.
  5. Choose the photo you like best and crop it appropriately. I used Windows Live Photo Gallery, but you can use any program that achieves the same result.

See the difference that cropping makes?

You can also check out this awesome post by Ariella Coombs that outlines what your profile photo should not look like (although I disagree with #8 - I happen to love black and white profile photos).

Have you created your own professional looking profile photo? What methods did you use?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How to Write an Effective Professional Profile for your Resume or LinkedIn Summary

Why do you need a professional profile?
Because many potential employers will not read your cover letter, so they may not know how absolutely awesome you are (note: this does not mean that you shouldn't include a cover letter in your application!). If you have a similar experience level as other applicants, your professional profile may help set you apart.

What is a professional profile?
A professional profile is a resume section that introduces who you are. It should include any notable professional, volunteer, or academic experience and accomplishments.  

What isn't a professional profile?
A professional profile is not an objective statement. An objective statement states what the job seeker is looking for. A professional profile states what the job seeker can offer an employer.

Who should use a professional profile?
If you have experience in your field, or have transferable skills and experiences from another field, you should use a professional profile.

Who shouldn't use a professional profile?
Candidates who have never been employed, are applying for an internship, or have no transferable skills should not use a professional profile.

How long should a professional profile be?
Four sentences or less.

Template to write an effective professional profile
(Insert industry here) professional with extensive experience in (insert relevant skills here). Key accomplishments include (insert accomplishments here).

Example of a short professional profile
Human Resources Professional with extensive experience in talent acquisition operations. Key accomplishments include being recognized for outstanding contribution to TA Ops by EMC in 2014, developing and implementing a staffing plan for all BJ's new club openings on a national level in 2013, and growing GL Advisor's customer service department y 52% in two months in 2012.

Example of a long professional profile
Human Resources Professional with extensive knowledge in recruiting, talent acquisition operations, and working with senior executives across multiple business units and functions. Strong leader who understands that each human interaction is an inherently critical component of a broader strategy for continuous growth, which sets the stage for long-term success in creating higher profits, employee satisfaction, and customer loyalty. Key accomplishments include:
- Being recognized for outstanding contribution to TA Ops department by EMC in 2014
- Developing and implementing a staffing plan for all BJ's new club openings on a national level in 2013
- Growing Graduate Leverage's customer service department by 52% in two months in 2012

Do you use a professional profile on your resume? If so, do you structure it the same, or differently than I have recommended here?

Do you know someone who could benefit from including a professional profile on their resume? Why not share this post with them?

Have questions? Post them in the comments section and I will respond!

American InterContinental University's Career Services Department, 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Optimize your Resume and Attract the Attention of Recruiters

You're on the hunt for a new job. Maybe you're actively looking because your company just went through a round of layoffs. Perhaps you’re passively perusing to see what opportunities you're missing out on. You've uploaded your resume to CareerBuilder, Monster, and LinkedIn and applied to a few job openings at various companies (maybe even the one you’re at now), but the phone just isn't ringing. It’s time to revamp your resume, my friend.

Most companies use applicant tracking systems that allow them to search their database by keyword or by doing a Boolean search. Recruiters also use these techniques to search for candidates on LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, Monster, and other websites. It is critical that your resume be Search Engine Optimized (SEO). There are 6 easy steps that you can follow to optimize your resume and attract the attention of recruiters.

Keep the format simple
  • Use Arial or Calibri for your font.  These are the fonts that are recognized by most applicant tracking systems.
  • Avoid using headers, footers, or text boxes.
  • Use black font.

Include a Professional Profile section
  • Many recruiters will not read your cover letter (note: this does not mean that you should not include a cover letter!). 
  • This is your opportunity to succinctly tell recruiters why you are awesome, explain how you add value to the company, and mention some of your accomplishments.
  • Keep it under 4 sentences.
  • Place this section towards the top of your resume.
  • For an example, check on the Summary section on my LinkedIn profile.

Include a Skills section
  • Your resume will now be more likely to appear if recruiters are searching for a specific skill-set.
  • List 10 skills or less.
  • Organize your skills alphabetically or by category.
  • Make this the last section on your resume.

Use industry key words, phrases, acronyms, and abbreviations
  • This will increase the odds of your resume appearing in recruiter searches.

Include an Education section
  • Mention all of your education, even if it is incomplete, ongoing, or not for credit.

Don’t forget your contact information
  • You would be surprised at how many strong candidates submit their resumes with no phone number or email address.
  • Include your name, street address, preferred phone number, and email address.
  • Some people don’t like to include their street address. It’s important to keep in mind that applicant tracking systems also let recruiters search by distance from the primary office location. If there is no street address on your resume then it will not show up in the search.

Do you know someone who is searching for a job but isn’t getting any calls from recruiters? Why not share this with them?

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