The Career-Growth Gender Gap: It’s still here but we’ve got plans

women can take action to change the career-growth gender gap

The Career-Growth Gender Gap: It’s still here but we’ve got plans

November 22, 2021

women can take action to change the career-growth gender gapIf you are a woman and early in your career path, there’s something you need to know:

Women face challenges in their career growth that men do not.

If you think that we’re beyond the gender problem, I invite you to think again… because we are not!

In fact, women face TWO specific challenges:

First - Women don’t move up to the next level within their first five years at the same pace as men

Second - Because they don’t get promoted, women do not develop the same leadership skills as men within this same time frame.

These two steps are essential for career growth!

Researchers call this the “broken rung.” According to a 2019 study by McKinsey and LeanIn.org, these obstacles that prevent women from progressing in their careers.

Here’s the thing:

If you don’t get promoted, you don’t get into the pipeline for further promotions. Instead, you play a game of catch-up and it’s easy to continue to fall behind.

So… what can you do about this?

As an answer to that question, I’d like to tell you about a wonderful group of early-career professional women that I recently had the wonderful opportunity to speak with.

They were enrolled in a year-long program designed to address these common career-growth challenges that women face in the workplace. These women knew that they had to take control over what they needed and wanted in their careers. They were aware that if they were going to remove the obstacles they faced, they needed to understand the challenges that created them.

As part of their program, these women identified their values around what is important to them in the workplace. With that in mind, I spoke with them about three key areas that build upon what they value in the workplace.

  1. Work boundaries
  2. Confidence
  3. Assertiveness

These are foundational factors that support their values. (If you want to identify your own values with regards to the workplace, download the Corporate Culture worksheet.)

Here’s a quick summary of these key areas and how they support and align with your values:

Work Boundaries reflect how you want to be treated in the workplace. Keep in mind: You should treat others the same way you hope to be treated. Following the Golden Rule can serve a guiding light.

Confidence helps you define and establish your boundaries.

Assertiveness guides you towards using the right language to get your point across clearly and tactfully when your boundaries are threatened or compromised.

What I find most exciting about these key areas is that they are skills. That means you can learn them and practice them so that when you need them, you’ll be ready.

Here is what I’m hoping you’ll take away from this:

  • You have to choose to take control over what you want and need in your career
  • You can take action to combat the challenges you face
  • Finding support through communities and a career coach can help you make these things happen for yourself.

We are still facing gender challenges in the workplace, but we are not victims to them. You can take specific, focused action to support your own career growth. When you do the work, success will follow.

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Need a new job? Start here.

Sign: I quit

Need a new job? Start here.

November 1, 2021

Sign: I quit

You’ve likely heard of the “Great Resignation” a term recently coined by Anthony Klotz, a Management Professor from Texas A&M, who predicted a mass and voluntary exodus from the workforce

Well, it’s happening. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, four million Americans quit their jobs in August 2021, alone. The highest departures are among the 30-45 career professionals with the 20-25 being the second highest.

Employees are leaving for many different reasons.

They are leaving the company. They are disappointed with how the company has treated them during the pandemic. Many companies have focused more on profits than the people who help them make the profits, and now they are facing the consequences.

They are leaving their manager. Even if the company might be great, but their manager has not been supportive or concerned about the impact that COVID has on the mental and physical health of the people they manage.

They are leaving the job. The role they once loved has changed and, with going remote, the responsibilities may have grown while growth opportunities have diminished.

If you have left your job or if you are thinking about doing so, it is essential that you assess the factors that are driving you to leave. The pandemic may have been the catalyst to help you make your decision, but there’s always something deeper going on. Digging into your unique “something deeper” is essential for helping you move forward. If you don’t know the “why” of such a big decision, how will you know if the next job you find is the right one?

To begin understanding your “why,” answer the questions below:

About the company:

  1. What is it like to work there?
  2. What is the culture like?
  3. Looking at your answers to #1 and #2 above: What is a match for who you are and what is not?

About the manager:

  1. How is their management style congruent with how you like to be managed, and how is it not?
  2. In what ways do they support you in your professional development, and how do they not?
  3. How do they care about your overall well-being, and how do they not?

About the job:

  1. When you think back when you were first hired or promoted into the most recent role, why were you excited about it?
  2. What did you hope to learn, and did you learn it?
  3. In what ways do you find your role challenging, rewarding, or demanding… and in what ways do you not?

Your answers to these questions can help you define what you are looking for in your next role.

When we cut to the chase, every theme of the “Great Resignation” points to the fact that employees are leaving their jobs because they are not happy. They want something else that their existing company, job, and manager are not able to provide.

If you have left or are thinking of leaving, make sure you clearly understand your reasons why. Your answers to the questions above will help you create the path to a new position that will fulfill you in the ways that you need.

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Having trouble finding a job? This might be why.

How to find the right job for you

Having trouble finding a job? This might be why.

October 18, 2021

Are you struggling to find a job?

Not just any job… the right job. The job where you’ll be happy, with a company whose culture fits you well, and where you can see yourself staying for the long haul?

You, my friend, are not looking for a job; you’re looking for the next step in your career. And unfortunately, it’s no surprise that you’re struggling.

The process of looking for a job is convoluted and bottlenecked. Almost every job seeker goes to the same big places to post their resume and look for jobs, and almost every company goes to that same place to filter through the chaos in search of that one perfect person who checks all the boxes on their job listing.

Unfortunately, this will stay as it is so long as everyone keeps doing what they’re doing.

I think it’s interesting that both job seekers and companies with job openings all go through this same process over and over, even though it’s convoluted and difficult to work with. I recently wrote an article addressing how companies could do things differently.

I’m wondering… did you know that you have options?

Posting to LinkedIn and the common job boards is just one way to try and find a job. But since most other people use that same process, it’s going to be incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to stand out.

So, what can you do instead? You can tap the hidden job market.

This means you’re going to have to do something active rather than passive.

When you distribute copies of your resume to LinkedIn, job boards, and directly to companies, you’re actually being very passive. It’s a lot like throwing your resume into a huge haystack of resumes and hoping the person reaching in just happens to grab yours.

If you really want the right job, you’re going to have to get active. When you actively job search, the people who have a job opening that fits you will already know about you. They won’t reach into the haystack; instead, they’ll download your resume from their email, or even just pick it up off their desk.

What is the “active” action that will make that happen? You’re going to have to talk to people.

Here’s the thing: The best jobs are found through your network.

It’s ok if you don’t have one yet, or you do but you’ve let it languish. We all need to build our networks, and then we need to maintain them.

If you’re looking for the right job right now, the best thing you can do is reach out to your network. Get connected and stay connected.

If your next question is, “But what do I say?” I’ve got you covered! Here are some of my recent articles that will help you be strategic in how you connect with your network:

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Solve the Hidden Talent Shortage with a New Approach

Solving the Hidden Talent Shortage with a New Approach

Solve the Hidden Talent Shortage with a New Approach

October 4, 2021

Solving the Hidden Talent Shortage with a New ApproachAccording to the Manpower Group, almost 70% of employers report that they cannot find the people with skills they need. (Manpower Group, 2020, The Talent Shortage.) In the U.S., employer intentions to bring on workers is at a ten-year high. (Manpower Group report, Q4 2021)

At the same time, the U.S. unemployment rate was at 5.2 in August 2021.(Bureau of Labor Statistics, September 3, 2021, The Employment Situation – August 2021)

In short: There are jobs available, and there are plenty of people looking for those jobs.

So, what’s the problem? The operative word is “talent.” There are plenty of people who are looking for jobs. But companies struggle to connect with the job seekers who have the right skills and experience to fill the open roles.

I believe this challenge exists because companies are using old ways to find new talent.

Thanks to improved technology and changes that we’ve need to make around the globe to adjust for a global pandemic, the use of video interviews and social media outlets to drive recruiting strategies has increased. But where companies find the talent to interview has not changed.

Until companies start approaching the talent pool from a different direction, finding the right talent to fill open roles will continue to be a challenge.

The strategies for finding talent that companies typically use are no longer working. To get ahead of the trend, companies need to become proactive not reactive in finding talent, and they need to bring in more of a human touch to the process.

There are some nuances to this problem that I want to address: It starts with where companies are looking for talent, but also includes what they are looking for from within the talent pool.

First, companies habitually look for talent when the position is ready to be filled. They open the position and only then do they hit up LinkedIn and other online platforms. They work their way through the pile of unknown talent via resumes from people they’ve not yet met. Bigger companies may even filter those resumes with technology using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which removes any sense of the human behind the words.

But what if companies reversed this process?

What if they started with the pool of talent and got to know the people interested in working with them… and at the same time, gave those people an opportunity to get to know the company and its culture better?

What I’m suggesting here is that companies could build their own Hidden Talent Network where they can gather the pool of interested job seekers before the job is open.

This would allow the companies to address the second nuance that I mentioned above: Changing what they are looking for from that talent.

Typically, companies look for ideal candidates who already have everything that is listed on the job description. That means they miss one key factor: the candidate’s potential.

Finding the right person for a job isn’t just about whether they’ve got all the boxes checked. It’s also about their potential to check more boxes as they grow with the company.

Why does this matter? Turnover is expensive!

It can cost a U.S. company $4000 or more to hire one employee, and it can take up to 52 days to fill a position. (Toggl.com) If you hire someone who doesn’t stay, the company starts the process again, losing more money and time in the process.

Therefore, the goal should not be to hire someone who checks all the boxes in the job description; rather, hire someone who has the potential to check those boxes and much more. Hire someone who envisions themselves staying with your company for the long term, and who you already know fits the culture.

Building your own Hidden Talent Network would help you do this. It provides you with a pool of people that you already know, and who have gotten to know your company as well. Before the job is even open, you can identify the people who tick most of the boxes and show potential to grow with your company. You’ll shorten the time to hire and potentially reduce how much money it costs to find them.

So how do you build a Hidden Talent Network? Slowly, over time, by scouting talent and giving the talent the opportunity to scout you.

For example, you could host talent events where you can speak to them in groups about where your company is going. In what ways is it growing and what types of talent do you hope to be looking for in the future? Talk about your organizational culture and what you value. This would also be a great time to set expectations: What can job seekers expect during your hiring process? Which skills and qualifications are mandatory? What can they do to be an even better fit as the anticipated jobs come open?

Transparency on your part will help you find the right people and get the conversations started early.

From all the years that I’ve spent working with job seekers to help them find the right positions that will help them build a career for themselves, the one thing that I’ve consistently seen is that the best jobs are found through the hidden job market.

That “hidden job market” is something that a job seeker builds for themselves by making connections with the companies that they are interested in working with.

Companies could do this as well by making it easier for individuals to connect with them and speeding up the whole job placement experience for everyone involved. It could also provide them with an untapped market of talent that they could onboard quickly.

The world has changed and continues to do so. If companies want to get the best talent, they’ll need to change with it. The global pandemic has made us all more human. Connection matters more to us. The companies that are embracing this humanness are the ones that will find the best people.

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3 Easy Tips to Leave a First and Lasting Impression

How to leave a great first impression

3 Easy Tips to Leave a First and Lasting Impression

September 20, 2021

How to leave a great first impression

I have been working in the career field for over 20 years helping early-, mid-, and late-career professionals in job transition. Networking is always a topic of discussion since it is a key success factor in finding the right job! My goal is to make sure my clients understand how to network effectively and see where they might need some guidance.

I start with my definition of networking, which is: building relationships with people who can provide you with information, advice, and contacts. You want to leave a favorable impression with those you meet so that if they hear about a position that is not published, they will let you know.

It’s important that my clients and I have a mutual understanding of the definition of networking. I’ve noticed that some job seekers think networking is all about them. They tell everyone they are looking for a job and ask everyone to let them know if they hear of any jobs that would be good fit.

That does not sound like building relationships. Rather, it’s a transactional relationship focused on one purpose: Finding a job!

That isn’t how networking operates. It leaves a negative impression because it’s one-sided… all take and no give.

If you want to leave a favorable impression with people you meet, you need to start by focusing on the other person first.

Here are three simple steps to get you started:

Tip #1: Use their name at least 3 times: At the beginning, middle and end of the conversation.

Start by using it as you are introduced: “Jayne, it is a pleasure to meet you. Thank you so much for taking your time to talk to me.” If their name is difficult to pronounce, this is your opportunity to ask: “Can you please pronounce your name again. I want to make sure I am saying it correctly.” This is a very gracious way of respecting them and people always appreciate it.

Mention their name again during your conversation and most importantly, use it at the end: “Jayne, I appreciate your insights today and I intend to follow up with many of your suggestions. Thank you!”

In addition to helping you build a respectful connection with them, you’re almost guaranteed to remember their name in the future because you’ve done the repetitive work to get it into your memory.

Tip #2: Show interest in the other person by asking questions. You can ask them what they do for work and what they like about their job. You can take it even further and ask how and why they entered their field. Invite them to go into a little bit of detail by asking questions like, “Can you tell me a little more about that?” Resist the urge to chime in or comment right away. Use this as an opportunity to practice listening as you give them the space to tell their story before you bring the conversation around to you.

Tip #3:  Follow up twice! First, send them a note of appreciation either by email or with a handwritten note. Mention some of the highlights of the conversation, which will show that you were listening and also remind them of what you talked about.

Then follow up again a couple of weeks later. Perhaps you can send them an article related to something that they mentioned when you first met. You could also give them an update on your job search.

Wait – job search? YES! You do get to tell them about your job search. Just don’t start there, and don’t let that be the only thing you talk about.

When you make it about them, they’ll remember you and be more willing to help you.

Leaving a first and last impression with people you meet might take a bit of effort and awareness on your part. Trusts me… in the end, it is worth it!

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How to Get Clear on What You Want in Your Next Job

How do you figure out what you want in your next job?

How to Get Clear on What You Want in Your Next Job

June 14, 2021

How do you figure out what you want in your next job?Almost everyone I have coached through a job transition wants to find a job with a company whose culture enables them to do their best work.

The big question here is: How do you figure that out?

How can you tell whether the culture of any given company will support you in the way that you need it to so that you can show up as your best self and deliver your best work?

To help my coaching clients work this out, I always start with this question: “What did you not experience in your last role that you are looking for in your next company?”

I love this as a starter question because it tunes us in to the one thing that they know for sure: What didn’t work for them last time and why. For my clients, it’s one of the most powerful pieces of knowledge they own because, if nothing else, they know what they don’t want!

But that is just the beginning.

We then take a deeper dive, reflecting back on their previous two or three roles to give them a broader perspective of their whole career so far, rather than just their last job.

The thing that I think makes these coaching conversations so powerful is that by the time we’re done talking, my client has a clear view of two very important things: (1) what they want in the next company they work for, and (2) their own values.

Knowing their own values is imperative because the next time they interview for a job, they’ll be able to evaluate that company through this new knowledge. And that will enable them to make a much more informed decision.

If this kind of a coaching conversation sounds like just the thing you need to get clear on what you want in the next company you work for, I invite you to download my free guide, What is the Right Corporate Culture for you? It walks you through a series of key questions to help you identify the values you bring to the table that need to be matched by the company you work for.

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How to Have Balanced Networking Conversations and Leave a Great Impression

balanced conversations

How to Have Balanced Networking Conversations and Leave a Great Impression

May 31, 2021

balanced conversationsNow that we are moving back into in-person networking opportunities, we need to get comfortable with talking with people in real life. These conversations have the opportunity to be powerful for you, so let’s spend a moment talking about how to do them well.

Effective networking conversations are about balance. We need to balance how much we listen and how much we talk.

When you can bring balance into a networking conversation, your conversational partner feels listened to, and you feel like you’ve shared just the right amount of information about yourself, as well. This makes for a powerful opportunity because when they feel listened to, your conversational partner will think positively about you. And they’ll also know a bit more about you without feeling like you took the conversation over.

That sounds like a great networking result, right?

So, what does a balanced networking conversation look like? It’s easier to understand if we first get clear on what balance does NOT look like.

So, let me introduce you to my friends:

First, we have Hijack Harry. Have you ever started talking with someone about an experience you’ve had but before you got share any details, they started telling you about their experience? If so, then you too have met a Hijack Harry!

Another example - Let’s say that now that the world is opening up again, you’re looking forward to lunch with someone in your network. You can be sure that the topic of the pandemic will come up. Maybe they had COVID or someone in their family had it and as they begin to tell their story. Be cautious about jumping right in to share how you dealt with it, or how one of your family members got sick, or whatever your experience was. If you take over the conversation too early, you are no longer listening to their story with empathy and interest. Instead, you will have hijacked their conversation. They are no longer the speaker, but the “captive listener” to your story. Don’t let this happen!  Be an active listener not an active talker!

Next, we have Humble Hannah. She is more of an introvert and is perfectly happy to let you talk about yourself… maybe for the entire lunch. Hannah is uncomfortable sharing the spotlight and will more than likely downplay anything that might have happened during the pandemic. You might be all excited because you can talk all about your background, experience, what you could do for her. Throughout all of this, Hannah doesn’t claim any space for herself.

If you ever notice that the conversation feels one-sided because you’re doing all the talking, you might be talking to a Humble Hannah! Your best move in a case like this is to create space for your conversational partner. Invite them into it by asking something like, “What about you? What was your experience with that?” or “What about you? How did you get to where you are today?” and then, most importantly, wait quietly. Give them the space to claim their own ground in your shared conversation.

Ok – so now we’re clear on what balance does NOT look like. We’ve checked in with Hijack Harry, who takes over the conversation. And we’ve visited with Humble Hannah, who struggles to bring her own voice to the table.

What does balance look like?

I’d like to introduce you to Balanced Bailey. During a networking conversation, Bailey focuses first on you, and even stays there for a beat. She brings herself into the conversation briefly, and then moves back to you again. Bailey strives for balance between the speakers so she takes small actions to help make that happen. You feel listened to, and you’ve also heard from her.

I call this rhythm: “You, You, Me, You” (YYMY).  I talk about the YYMY rhythm extensively in my book, appropriately titled, You, You, Me, You: the art of talking to people, networking, and building relationships.

Whenever you are in a networking conversation, I encourage you to be like Bailey and strive for balance by thinking in terms of YYMY.

Here is what that looks like:

Y: Start by focusing on the person you’re speaking with.

Y: Stay there for a beat and ask a few questions about what they’re saying. This will help them feel listened to and you’ll learn a little more.

M: Talk about yourself, using something that your conversational companion has said as a base. “You mentioned that you love museums. I do, too! My favorite is…” When you do this, you create connection between yourself and your companion while also sharing something about yourself.

Y: Bring it back to them.

What next? Try it! Next time you’re in a networking conversation, try the YYMY rhythm. And then come back here and let me know what happened!

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Conducting Your First Post-Pandemic Networking Conversation

Conducting Your First Post-Pandemic Networking Conversation

May 17, 2021

Building a broad professional network to support your career requires a strategy, time, and effort. Let’s be honest, the past year has presented many career challenges and one of them was our relationship building in a virtual world.  Not having face-to-face opportunities at networking events, association meetings, or over has left many of us feeling less connected than we would like.

I’ve heard from many of my colleagues: “I can’t wait to get together for coffee or lunch. We have so much to catch up on!”

How true it is!  Who doesn’t have a story to tell about what has happened to them or to others they know? I can see it now… one person starts talking and you start to say, “That happened to me, too!” It creates a ping-pong conversation.

If your intent is to reconnect and rejuvenate your relationship, I recommend spending more time listening to the other person’s story before you begin to tell yours.

That’s right, I said it. Do not talk. Not yet.

Instead say something like, “Before we talk about me, I want to hear more about you.”

Saying something like this will make them feel listened to. They’ll appreciate having the space in the conversation to share their recent experiences. And all of those positive feelings will be remembered as how you made them feel.

So, spend some time during your conversation really focusing on your companion and what their experience was.

I’m not saying that you don’t get to talk. I’m saying don’t talk yet. Take your time getting to you. When they’ve gone a bit into their story and you’ve asked a few questions, then you can talk.

This is just the beginning of the networking framework that I offer through my book, You, You, Me, You: The art of talking to people, networking, and building relationships. It’s especially relevant right now, when we’re all getting reconnected.

I hope you’ll try it out. If you do, let me know how it goes!

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