Career Confidential-Making Yourself Relevant
Many women take themselves “off the career grid” for a period of time in order to care for small children or elderly relatives. Perhaps you are interested in returning to the paid workforce, but are worried that you have lost your “mojo” or workplace relevancy. Will you be able to fit back in and be an asset to an organization? Of course you will! You are smart, resourceful and hard-working, you just need to update your skills, vocabulary and professional image. Mom Corps has some prep ideas will ease your job search anxiety without busting your budget.
At a bare minimum, everyone re-entering the professional workforce should be familiar with all elements of the Microsoft Office Suite. Word, Excel and PowerPoint have been the standard applications used in professional environments for well over a decade, and any new cloud-based apps like Google Docs and Apple’s iWork are loosely based on the same tools. If you don’t have the latest version of Microsoft Office on your home computer, most local libraries have computers available for subscribers at no cost. Use free online tutorials to learn the basics we suggest below and practice on your own. Remember even if you used these applications a few years ago, you should familiarize yourself with the newest version.
- Word Basic Skills :set up a standard letter, insert graphics, create tables, use bullets or numbered lists, headers and footers
- Excel Basic Skills- set up worksheet with multiple tabs, basic functions like sum and average, sorting and creating basic charts/graphs
- PowerPoint Basic Skills-create a presentation, insert graphics, create charts, use pre-defined templates, set up a slide show, create notes pages, use table options
You should also make yourself familiar with new computer file formats. For instance many documents are now saved and shared in a PDF (portable document format) file. There are also new graphic file formats like .png which will eventually replace .gif and .tiff formats.
Every industry has its own technical specifications. As you browse job listings, make notes of technical terms you don’t understand and take a little bit of time to demystify them. Ask former colleagues to teach you about any new technologies in your desired field. These small steps will make you well prepared to wow your future employer.
Even if you have been out of the office for only a couple of years, it is likely there are new terms , jargon and buzz words for general business and your specific area of expertise. Start reading articles or publications that are specific to your area of interest and start a list of unfamiliar terms that you can research. Just browsing the job listings listed on Mom Corps web site, you can get see a variety of acronyms and methodologies like HCM (stands for Human Capital Management in the Human Resources industry) or RASI (which in Project Management refers to Responsible, Accountable, Supports, Informed as part of defining project roles). Taking time to relearn the industry vocabulary will keep you from being uninformed or confused in the interview process.
Once you’ve beefed up your computer skills and updated your lexicon of industry terms and jargon, take a look in the mirror. Let’s face it…as parents we often spend our time and money making sure our kids are well-groomed and well-dressed , making ourselves lower priorities. Now is the time to put your best foot and face forward. By no means, do we suggest investing in an entire new wardrobe or completely changing your look. Just spend a little time and money finding two great interview outfits that are industry-appropriate. The suits you wore years ago may be completely inappropriate for today’s less structured environment. Seek the advice of your most stylish friend on what to wear or refer to images of modern professionals you see in business magazines or news shows. Find a simple but functional handbag that can hold a padfolio, resume and other documents or examples for the interview . Treat yourself to a great haircut and manicure to really look the part of career woman…your future employer doesn’t’ need to know you spend the last few years driving carpool in sweatpants!
Re-entering the workforce can be a little intimidating, but you can overcome the hurdle of professional obsolescence easily with a little time , research and practice. Good luck!
It's not just employees that benefit from workplace flexibility.
Studies show that in areas of company profitability and employee satisfaction, employers are just as likely to improve. Flexible staffing, which gives employees more control over when, where and how long they work through options like flextime, compressed work weeks, telecommuting and job sharing, is all it’s cracked up to be. It is a crucial workforce strategy when it comes to retaining mid- to executive-level professionals—predominantly women, but men as well in growing numbers
Here are some ideas for implementing flexible work options within a company of any size:
- Ask employees their opinion—you will likely find they aren’t asking for much. Learn what works best for them to accomplish their work goals. Before the HR team launches into full program development, provide a forum for your teams to discuss and offer suggestions based on their needs and those required of the jobs they do. Lead the dialogue with questions about maintaining high productivity levels, challenges they face with work/life balance, and the best way to work as a team.
- Define regular office hours for both in the office and off site. For off-site days, identify when each team member is available by phone or email. Utilize online calendars to schedule meetings to alleviate some of the back-and-forth. Set core hours when all staff works at the office for a set amount of time on a specific day. This can alleviate some anxiety around flextime for managers who know they can plan around those times to physically see their team.
- Review company compensation models and policies to reflect flexible work options and ensure that employees who participate are not unfairly and inadvertently penalized. Adjust evaluations and performance critiques to acknowledge part-time, job share or telecommuting schedules so that these practices do not negatively affect an employee’s career trajectory.
- Don’t just offer the program to employees … encourage it. When you are talking about a culture or mindset shift, no one wants to be the first person taking the leap. Feature employee flex work success stories on internal communications channels. Senior leadership and managers need to participate in some capacity whether they have a need for it or not. It demonstrates that there won’t be an unspoken consequence (or "scarlet F") associated with those taking advantage of the program.
- Have a back-up plan in place. Consider adding a contingent, or contract, labor policy to your flexible work plan with pre-approved partners. This provides employees as well as the organization ground cover should special projects, temporary leaves and last-minute absences occur. Companies such as Mom Corps can find specialized professionals, often the next day, so employees maintain their flex schedules and companies continue to see productivity.
- Promote flexible work programs externally as well as internally. Apply for "best places to work" and "top family-friendly companies" distinctions offered by media outlets and professional organizations across the country. Top professionals are placing these organizations at the head of their target list of employers. Your company’s reputation will precede you as you look to fill your leadership ranks.
This is an excerpt from a compelling article by Mom Corps CEO, Allison O'Kelly. The entire article, entitled "U.S. Workforce Staffing Models are Unnatural and Outdated-The Value of Flexible Work Options and Ideas for Implementing Programs" can be downloaded by clicking here.
||Name: Michele Rougon
City/State: Grapevine, Texas
Family: Married 22 years, 2 children
Education: Master’s of Accounting and Finance Management, CPA Exam Candidate
New Job: I recently joined Cambridge Healthcare Properties, Inc., as Vice President – Accounting, in a permanent, full-time role. It is a great company with a family friendly environment.
Summary of your professional experience: Over 21 years experience in accounting covering all aspects in the accounting and finance field. With the last 15 years at the Accounting/Finance Executive Level in the corporate and commercial real estate.
Why did you engage with Mom Corps? I turned to Mom Corps because I was not impressed with the other agencies and was looking for an agency that would see me and my qualifications as an individual and not just some other candidate.
How was your experience working with the Mom Corps team in Dallas? Great! Cindy Yared, one of the Mom Corps Dallas Principals, made the entire experience exceptional. She was very supportive and took the time to listen to what I could bring to the table as well as what I was looking for in a new position. She was there during every step of Cambridge’s interviewing process.
How has having a flexible job through Mom Corps affected your work-life balance? It is refreshing knowing that I can attend my children's special events without reprisal. I feel more relaxed with the caring and supportive environment at Cambridge. They are a very family oriented company.
What is your go-to stress reliever? Some quiet time and an occasional pedicure.
How would you describe your overall experience? My overall experience surpasses any experience with other well known agencies. Cindy makes you feel like you are an individual and not just a “client”. She truly gives that 110%.