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Do Women’s Networking Events Move the Needle on Equality?

By Shawn Achor
This article was originally published on February 13, 2018 by the Harvard Business Review
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Image courtesy of napw.com
Recently, I was flying home from the Conference for Women, where I had been invited to speak. I was carefully holding a copy of the conference program on my lap – my mom likes to save them, and I wanted to be a good son and bring her back an unwrinkled copy. The guy sitting next to me on the airplane noticed it and asked me about the conference. I told him it’s a series of nonprofits across the country that run conferences for women from all industries to talk about leadership, fairness, and success. He then surprised me by saying, “I’m all for equality, but I’m not sure what good a conference will do.” Done with the conversation, he put on his headphones, content in his cynicism as I stewed, trying to come up with the best, albeit incredibly delayed, response.
By the time I landed, I realized the best response to such a cynical attitude would be data. It won’t change anyone’s mindset to just claim that connecting women is “important” and will “have an impact at work and in society.” We need to show that it actually does. That’s why Michelle Gielan, best-selling author of Broadcasting Happiness, and I partnered with the Conference for Women to see if we could test the long-term effects of uniting women. Spoiler alert: The results astounded even us.

In our initial study of 2,600 working women across functions and industries attending Conferences for Women in several U.S. states, we examined several outcomes that occurred in the year after the women attended the conference. Since women who attend a conference might be different demographically and psychographically from women who elect not to, we used a control group that was made up of women who signed up for a conference but had not yet attended.

As part of the study, we were looking for two types of positive outcomes in women attending a conference: financial outcomes (pay raises and promotions) and intellectual outcomes (increased optimism, lower stress levels, and a feeling of connection). Since we were looking at financial outcomes, we made sure the time period we studied was the same for the research group and the control group, to account for any changes in the larger economic landscape.
For the women who’d signed up for the conference but had yet to attend, 18% received a promotion during the time period we studied, compared with 42% of women who had already attended the conference. In other words, in the year after connecting with peers at the Conference for Women, the likelihood of receiving a promotion doubled. (I wish I could find that guy on the plane to share this stat with him.)
In addition, 5% of the women in the control group received a pay increase of more than 10%, compared with the 15% of women who had attended the conference. That means that in one year, attendees had triple the likelihood of a 10%+ pay increase. (Remember, this isn’t selection bias – women in the control group were also signed up to attend a future conference.)
We also polled the women who’d attended the conference about how it affected their overall outlook. 78% percent of them reported feeling “more optimistic about the future” after attending. While we did not compare this with the control group’s outlook, this still seemed like a significant finding to us in part because of what we know about how a positive mindset can affect other aspects of life. In my HBR article “Positive Intelligence,” I describe how optimism can create a “happiness advantage,” where nearly every business and educational outcome improves as a result.
Perhaps most tellingly, 71% of the attendees said that they “feel more connected to others” after attending. This is important. In my book Big Potential, I outline why the greatest predictor of success and happiness is social connection. Research has shown that social connection can be as predictive of how long you will live as obesity, high blood pressure, or smoking. There is power in connection. I start Big Potential with the story of a study of synchronous lightning bugs from Indonesia, in which researchers at MIT found that if lightning bugs light up alone, their success rate for reproduction is 3%. If they light up simultaneously with thousands of other lightning bugs, their success rate rises to 86%. By lighting together, they could space themselves out to maximize resources, and the increase in their collective brightness would help them be seen for up to five miles! I wrote Big Potential because I have found that if people feel like they are trying to get out of depression alone, or fighting inequality alone, or striving for success alone, they burn out and the world feels like a huge burden. But there is a powerful, viable alternative to individually pursuing success and happiness: doing it together.
I’m not sure every conference would have such a long-term positive impact. I have been to quite a few where either the conference is unengaging or the attendees are disengaged and on their phones. I think it’s safe to say there is an inverse relationship between the benefits you’ll get from a conference and the time you spend on your laptop or phone.
But the key to a beneficial conference, based on my experience speaking at more than 900 conferences over the past 12 years, are (1) a sense of social connection felt by the attendees, (2) engaging sessions, (3) leaders who role model and exemplify the qualities that the conference is attempting to instill, (4) a memorable moment, and (5) a realistic assessment of the present with an optimistic look to the future. Based on the responses of the women in this sample group, we see elevated optimism and social connection, as well as superstar role models (for example, Michelle Obama and Brené Brown also spoke at the event I went to).
Moreover, many of the sessions offered practical applications for moving forward at work, such as how to ask for a raise, or stories from other women to let you know that your experiences at work are not unusual or isolated.
Laurie Dalton White, founder of the Conferences for Women, adds, “Something special happens when you see that you are not alone. Making connections and building relationships with other attendees and speakers helps women form an understanding of their worth, and then they learn strategies to ask for promotions, seek fair pay, and even become mentors to others. We invite women like Michelle Obama and Sheryl Sandberg to speak at our conferences not just because of their own personal success stories, but because they are role models who inspire women in both big and small ways.”
There is power in connecting, and it’s not just about gender. Men and women alike can benefit from the power of connection. If you are a manager, encourage your employees to go to events where they can connect with others to remind them that they are not pursuing success and happiness alone. If you are a CEO, invest in conferences that help build up all members of your organization, regardless of where they sit in the organizational hierarchy.
We have so much more to learn about the value of connection in a hyper-competitive world. To the guy sitting on my plane: This research shows that cynicism regarding women’s conferences and initiatives is unfounded, unconstructive, and uninformed. To the rest of us seeking a positive path forward at work and in society, regardless of gender: We must pursue happiness and success together. Like the lightning bugs, rather than trying to light up the darkness alone and in isolation, there is power when we add our light to something bigger. In doing so, we shine brighter.
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Executive Resume Trends for 2018- And What’s Next Adrienne Tom

Originally published on November 30, 2017 on Forbes.com

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This article was published at the end of 2017 to discuss what employers will be looking for from resumes in the new year. Though this article is geared toward “executive resumes,” the tips contained herein are applicable to all administrative or office-focused resumes:
With the approaching New Year, many people will decide it’s time for a new start. This may include new goals, new activities and, maybe, a new job. Despite evolving job search tactics, the traditional resume remains one of the most important tools in the job search toolbox. In 2018, executives will be able to locate, create and apply to positions in a variety of ways, but at some point in the hiring process, a resume is likely to be requested. This is why you need a modern resume for modern times.
Recently, I participated in a podcast comprised of industry experts to dissect and discuss important resume requirements and trends. Some of the tips, ongoing necessities and “what’s next” insights for executive resumes in 2018 included the following five points.
1. Customize content.
One of the most important modern resume strategies is content customization. Hands down, this tactic must be applied to increase resume success. Regardless of whether a resume is read by a human or a machine, customizing details, results, facts, skills and keywords in the file is paramount to getting the resume processed through to the interview stage. The reasoning behind this is simple. Readers are short on time and want to know “what’s in it for me” — fast.
Hiring authorities don’t want to dig for results, read unrelated content or make assumptions. They want to know in a short, succinct fashion how a candidate’s skills and abilities will benefit their open position. So tell them, removing anything that doesn’t directly support the case.
2. Make your value known.
The top tip that I share with all of my executive clients is to infuse a resume with value. In close relation to the first point above, value must be aligned with employer requirements.
Having developed hundreds of resumes for executives, I know that a resume only has a small amount of time and space to convey value to a reader. When partnering with executives on the development of resumes, my goal is to help each individual distinguish their value proposition and then work to succinctly support this proposition throughout the resume. When you write your own resume, you must do the same.
To succeed at making your value known you must know yourself, know your audience and know what matters. You can read more about the process of making your value known in my recent article.
3. Prove your claims.
In order to captivate a reader, executive resumes require more than just strong, tailored content. They also need proof: proof of the communications expertise or business leadership one claims to possess. Saying you are good at something and providing clear evidence of it are two different things. In an executive resume, one must prove their claims.
Supporting evidence lies in measurable impacts, specific quantities and strong metrics generated during a career. If you increased revenue, drove new initiatives or collaborated closely with others, you must provide clear examples of how the application of skills resulted in positive business outcomes.
Support all resume statements with concrete achievements or success. Even better, quantify facts as often as possible, answering how many, how much and how often.
An example of a weak statement:
* Employed excellent communication skills to successfully lead a team through the creation and delivery of a new marketing strategy, which produced significant revenues.
Now a stronger, results-focused statement:
* Generated $6 million in new revenues in just 18 months by directing a team of 20 to create and execute a new marketing strategy.
4. Lead with results.
Once you’ve identified critical content and rich results from throughout your career, lead with them. This means front-loading the resume with results to create immediate connection and greater impact.
As an executive leader, you understand the value of measurable outcomes and you appreciate getting to the point. Long-winded resume summaries, statements and bullet points diminish the impact and bury key content. Leading with results ensures you spoon feed the reader what they want first. You answer questions before they can be asked, and you align proof points with position requirements.
In addition, front-loaded points powerfully position strengths and build the readers’ appreciation of capabilities.
Weaker, end-loaded statement:
* Employed longer sales cycle to close accounts in historically challenging European territory to grow new business revenue 156% over two years.
Stronger, front-loaded statement:
* Grew new business revenue 156% over two years in the European market, employing a longer sales cycle to close accounts in historically challenging territory.
5. Adapt for ATS.
Despite the demand to market oneself uniquely, keep in mind that the majority of major organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)to scan submitted applications.
ATS is a software application that supports electronic handling of recruitment requirements, such as resume screening. It is estimated that the majority of major companies now use these systems to screen incoming resumes. When applying for a position online, be aware that an ATS is likely screening your resume. As such, you won’t be able to navigate the application process effectively if you don’t have a full understanding of ATS.
In addition, a resume that is not ATS-compliant is unlikely to ever be selected as a match, regardless of the candidate’s actual qualifications for a role. Of course, each ATS is unique, so getting your resume through the system requires a strong understanding of common ATS practices.
Finally, what’s next for executive resumes?
Bolder creations and modern design tactics that support more effective, modern job search approaches like networking and referrals will continue to rise. Visually stimulating resumes employ unique formats, layouts, color, charts or graphics to segregate key content and naturally guide a reader’s eye.
The trick to a well-balanced visual resume is not to go overboard. Design should not distract from compelling content but work hand-in-hand to produce impact. Finally, remember that these creative resumes are intended for review by an actual human and may not always be ATS-compliant — but working around the system is exactly where the focus will be for job seekers in 2018 and beyond.

LAW AB 168: Important Notice for Employers

On October 12, 2017, Governor Jerry Brown of California signed into law a state-wide ban on employer inquiries into an individual’s salary history. The new law (AB 168) will apply to all employers, including state and local governments, and will take effect on January 1, 2018.
Under AB 168, no employer may rely on an applicant’s prior salary history “as a factor in determining whether to offer employment . . . or what salary to offer an applicant.” Salary history information includes both an individual’s rate of compensation as well as other benefits. Moreover, an employer cannot-orally or in writing, directly or indirectly-seek this type of information about an applicant. Accordingly, employers and their agents can no longer ask candidates, or their current or former employers, what candidates have earned in the past. An employer must, upon reasonable request, provide an applicant with the pay scale assigned to the position sought.
There are certain exceptions to the salary history restriction. First, employers may review and consider salary history information that is publicly available pursuant to federal or state law. Second, salary history may be discussed if an applicant “voluntarily and without prompting” discloses his or her history to a potential employer. In that event, the employer may consider and rely on that history in setting that applicant’s salary.

7 Highly Effective Ways to Maximize Your Online Brand Presence

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Photo courtesy of Brand Driven Digital

This article by R. Kay Green was first published on the Huffington Post in 2013
It is no secret that in this day and age, online presence = brand awareness. In fact, most marketing experts agree that how you present your brand online is the 21st century equivalent of your first meeting with a customer. Your online brand is what people think of you when you are not available. In fact, your online brand is as important as any of the traditional forms of branding and becoming more important each day. Most customers today are technologically savvy and typically rely on a company’s online presence as a validity test of its credibility in the market.

 

In the competitive-age we live in, in order for your brand to succeed online, it must be highly recognizable, relatable, and authentic; thereby setting itself apart from the competition. High visibility of your brand increases credibility and customers will be more willing to retain your product/services. Creating an online brand presence is about capturing the attention of the targeted audience. At present, consumer’s today look to connect directly with business owners and hear their stories before they make a decision on whether to buy their products/services. With that in mind, let’s examine seven key insights as to how to effectively maximize your online brand presence:

 

1. Be Consistent With Branding. Ask yourself one question: “What is my business really about?” It is very important to display a consistent branding strategy across all online channels. This creates brand recognition and helps to reinforce the brand. It is common for a business to use several channels to reach out to customers. For example, a business may use its website, several social networks, blogs, document sharing sites, and more.

 

2. Optimize Your Website. As we know, creating and maintaining a website is one of the most important branding tools for any business. Website optimization for optimal performance on search engines is one of the first things companies can do to drive traffic to a website and improve the brand’s visibility.

 

3. Social Media. Social Media Marketing is one of the most effective and cost effective ways to promote both small businesses and corporations; and, enhance the visibility of your brand. Social Media Marketing promotes visibility, brand loyalty, recognition, and can also grow your sales. In addition, social media marketing allows small businesses and established ones to compete with an advantage. It enables businesses to reach worldwide audiences.

 

4. Produce and Distribute Great Quality Content. Creating and distributing quality content is the best way to gain visibility online. It is one of the most effective marketing strategies to promote your business and create brand recognition online. Creating quality content has become essential to any successful marketing strategy today.

 

5. Press Release Marketing. Press release distribution is a very effective and inexpensive way to enhance brand visibility and recognition. If it is picked up by Google News, your company will receive additional coverage for your brand.

 

6. Leverage Video Marketing. Businesses of all sizes and scale can benefit from video marketing i.e., YouTube, Vimeo, Metcafe, etc. Posting branded videos relevant to your niche is a very effective way to promote your business, drive traffic to your website, and get your brand noticed in front of a targeted audience.

 

7. Start a Blog. Having a blog can enhance brand visibility and improve your chances of success. In fact, blogging is one of the most effective ways to improve the visibility of your brand online. Blogging greatly improves your search engine rank, establishes validity in your brand and increases reach. In addition, blogging helps to cultivate relationships with customers and other influencers.

 

As a final point, when creating an online brand presence, don’t attempt to create your online brand like any other brand in the market. Be authentic. If you can be open and honest with yourself about your brand’s value, you will be able to authenticate this value when creating your online brand presence.

Unpaid Internships Are Not Uncommon-But Are They Legal?

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BY ALAN S. LEVINS AND KATHERINE M. KIMSEY|MARCH 1, 2016

Internships have become a rite of passage in the United States for many aspiring workers. There are published estimates indicating that that “70 to 75 percent of students at four year [colleges] undertake at least one internship.” See Ross Perlin, Intern Nation: How to Learn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy (Verso 2012) at 26.
Many of those internships are unpaid (Id. at 27), which raises a substantial legal question about-and the specter of substantial liability for-failing to treat “interns”as employees. To further complicate the matter, the legal test for determining just who qualifies as a true intern, and who must be treated as an employee entitled to wages and benefits, has not always been clear.
Indeed, the law regarding unpaid internships is in conflict at the federal appellate court level.In contrast, the State of California has established a relatively clear set of guidelines to follow to ascertain when an “intern” must be paid the minimum wage and provided with employment benefits. In most cases, however, employers must comply with both state and federal law.
FEDERAL STANDARDS
Nine years after the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA, 29 U.S.C. §§ 201, et seq.) was enacted by Congress, the Supreme Court issued a brief decision carving an exception to the protections embedded in what was then a relatively new law. The Court decided that persons who were given training by a railroad company before they were eligible to be hired were not ’employees’ under the FLSA during the course of that training.For that reason, the railroad was not required to pay the trainees the minimum wage set out by the FLSA during the approximately week-long training.
See Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148, 152-153 (1947).
Over the years since the Portland Terminal decision was handed down, the DOL has articulated six key factors that must be met in order to avoid having a “trainee” classified as employee. The factors are:
1.The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
2.The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
3.The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
4.The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage fromthe activities of the intern;
and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
5.The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;and
6.The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.
See Wage & Hour Div., Fact Sheet #71, Internship Programs Under the Fair LaborStandards Act (April 2010), available at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm(hereafter “DOL FactSheet”).
Although this seems reasonably straightforward, federal appellate courts have notbeen consistent in interpreting and applying Portland Terminal or the DOL factors.
Some courts have eschewed the six-factor test altogether.See, e.g., McLaughlin v. Ensley, 877 F.2d 1207, 1209-10, n.2 (4th Cir. 1989) (applying a “primary beneficiary” test); Solis v. Laurel brook Sanitarium and School, Inc., 642 F.3d 518, 525(6th Cir. 2011) (applying a “totality-of-the-circumstances approach” and “primary beneficiary” test).Other courts have applied the test exactly as written by the DOL.See Atkins v. General Motors Corp., 701 F.2d 1124, 1128 (5th Cir.1983) (stating the six factor test “is entitled to substantial deference by this court”). Still other courts have noted the usefulness of the test, but refused to apply it strictly. See Reich v. Parker Fire Protection Dist., 992 F.2d 1023, 1026 (10th Cir. 1993) (using a balancing of the six factors).

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How the 80/20 Rule Can Help Improve Productivity

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This article by F. John Reh was last updated on thebalance.com on August 8 of this year. I included it in The Temptimes because keeping a productive office and an organized office are two inextricably linked goals. Since the Monroe theme of October is organization, this seemed an apropos edition to our blog collection. Enjoy! 

In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country. Pareto observed that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, quality guru, Dr. Joseph M. Juran, attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto, calling it Pareto’s Principle. Pareto’s Principle or Pareto’s Law is a useful tool to help you prioritize and manage the work in your life.

This article offers an overview of the rule and examples, and how it can help you improve your personal and professional productivity and effectiveness.

What It Means

The 80/20 Rule means that in any situation, 20 percent of the inputs or activities are responsible for 80 percent of the outcomes or results. In Pareto’s case, it meant 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the wealth. In Juran’s initial work applying the 80/20 rule to quality studies, he identified 20 percent of the defects causing 80 percent of the problems. Project managers know that 20 percent of the work (the first 10 percent and the last 10 percent) consume 80 percent of the time and resources.

Other examples you may have encountered:

  • 80% of our revenues are generated by 20% of our customers.
  • 80% of our complaints come from 20% of our customers.
  • 80% of our quality issues occur with 20% of our products.

Or:

  • 20% of our contributors provide 80% of our funding.

Where Should You Keep Your Money?

  • 20% of our employees are responsible for 80% of sick days.
  • 20% of my ideas generate 80% of my traffic on my blog.

There are a nearly unlimited number of examples that we tend to apply the 80/20 rule to in our personal and working lives. Most of the time, we are referencing Pareto’s Rule without applying rigorous mathematical analysis to the situation.

We generalize about this 80/20 metric, but even with this sloppy math, the ratio is uncannily common in our world.

7 Areas the 80/20 Rule Can Help Your Productivity:

  1. If you scrutinize the items on your “To Do” list, chances are just a few of the items are tied to important issues. While we may take satisfaction in crossing a large number of the smaller issues off our task lists, the 80/20 rule suggests we should focus on the few, larger items that will generate the most significant results. The list might not grow much shorter, but you will be practicing effective prioritization.
  2. In assessing risks for an upcoming project, not every risk carries equal significance. Select the top risks that pose the highest potential for damage (given the probability of occurrence) and focus your monitoring and risk planning activities on those items. Don’t ignore the others, however, distribute your focus proportionately.
  3. As a sales representative, work hard to understand the attributes of the 20 percent of your customers that make up the majority of your revenues and invest your prospecting time on identifying and qualifying similar customers.
  4. Regularly evaluate the 80 percent of your customers that generate approximately 20 percent of your business and identify opportunities to shed those customers for those that drive better results. Some managers and firms actively cull their customer listings every few years, effectively firing the bottom performing customers.
  5. If you work in customer support or a call center, look for the 80/20 distribution where 80 percent of your customer calls or support issues are attributable to either 20 percent of your offerings or 20 percent of your total number of customers. For the offerings generating all of the calls, focus on root cause analysis to identify quality or documentation issues, and then take corrective action. For the high call volume customers, strive to understand the reason for their calls and offer alternative methods of obtaining answers.
  6. Entrepreneurs, soloists, and independent professionals should evaluate their workloads and assess whether the gross majority of their time is spent chasing small value activities, including administrative work that is easily and inexpensively outsourced.
  7. When evaluating your mid-year progress on your goalsfocus on the few goals or activities that are most critical to your development or success. Similar to the task list, not all duties and goals are created equal.

Practical Limits to the 80/20 Rule:

As we’ve explored, the 80/20 Rule has many applications in our work and personal lives. However, there are opportunities to misapply this tool and make critical mistakes.

  • You should not focus on just the 20 percent of top performers on your team at the expense of the other 80 percent. You are accountable for increasing the number of top performers as well as assessing and potentially eliminating those who are consistently poor performers.
  • The 80/20 rule might suggest reducing the level of diversification you strive for with investments. Careful attention must be paid to your overall portfolio mix and adjustments made if only 20 percent of your investments are driving 80 percent of the results.
  • While 20 percent of the time invested in a project through planning and execution might generate the majority of the results or progress, you cannot afford to ignore the details of the initiative. 

The Bottom Line:

Pareto’s Principle or the 80/20 Rule is a useful construct when analyzing our efforts and outcomes. It is priceless when applied to task or goal lists, and it provides a useful analytical framework for many problem situations. Use it liberally, but don’t accept it as an absolute or you are likely to misstep.

5 Tips to Improve Your Career Development: You Owe Yourself a Career Development Action Plan

This is an excerpt of an article that was last updated on August 22, 2016, on the balance.com 
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Image courtesy of the thebalance.com

Career management isn’t just a nice-to, it’s a must do if you expect to gain maximum success and happiness from the hours you invest in work. Face it, you are likely going to work 40 hours a week for your adult life. Why not make it the best 40 hours that you can create?
Career management in which you plan and work to obtain new skills, capabilities, and experiences, is the answer. Share your goals with your boss and you have a partner who can help you broaden your experience.
When most employees think about their careers, they have not thought past their current job or the next promotion that they’d like to receive. They need to broaden their short term thinking. As employees are promoted up the organization chart, fewer jobs become available, yet continuing to grow skills and experience should still be a priority for people obtaining value from their career.
Here are a few ways in which you can collaborate with your boss to manage your career.
  • Job shadow other employees in your company to learn about different jobs.
  • Explore lateral moves to broaden and deepen your experience.
  • Attend classes and training sessions to increase your knowledge.
  • Hold book clubs at work to develop knowledge, and share terminology, concepts, and team building with coworkers.
  • Seek a mentor from a different department that you’d like to explore.