Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Posts tagged ‘Employee’

Interviewing

How to Ensure Your References Are Gender-Neutral

 

Studies indicate the language often used to describe female professionals weakens their appeal to hiring managers. What can you do to level the playing field?

InterviewingDo job references describe men and women in different terms?

In subtle ways executives routinely use different terms to refer to men and women in recommendations, negatively affecting job candidates they are effectively trying to praise, according to a new study. Executives, men and women alike, routinely praise women using terms “helpful,” “kind,” “sympathetic,” “nurturing” and “tactful,” all of which are less valued by recruiters and hiring managers.

Even recruiting professionals don’t always realize the gap between the ways professionals are described by their peers.

A case in point is Jill Knittel, vice president at ER Associated, an executive recruiting firm in Rochester, N.Y. When asked to comment on how a reference might use different words to describe male and female candidates’ qualifications for the same position, she said, “I don’t run into that issue. As you become a C-level professional, it’s not an issue.”

Then, to prove her point, she searched her files for recommendations she has received for male and female candidates being considered for a midlevel finance position in a public accounting firm. What she found challenged her assumption.

First, she retrieved this recommendation for a female candidate: “She cared for her clients and took very good care of their needs.”

Then, this one for a male: “He had strong relationships with his clients and was very reliable.”

“Holy cow!” said Knittel, realizing her experiment contradicted her theory. “It’s really subtle, but it happens.”

Yes, it does, and even the best-intentioned people making those recommendations may not even realize what they are doing. A recent study by researchers at Rice University concluded that the words used to describe the qualities of men and women job candidates differ. While subtle, those differences can make or break a woman’s chances of being hired or promoted.

The study focused on jobs in academia but offered lessons that can be taken to the executive level.

The researchers, Michelle Hebl and Randi Martin, along with graduate student Juan Madera, reviewed 624 letters of recommendation for academic positions at colleges and universities nationwide, and found that the letters praised women by using adjectives such as “helpful,” “kind,” “sympathetic,” “nurturing” and “tactful,” along with behaviors such as helping others, taking direction well and maintaining relationships. When those recommendations were reviewed by volunteers who were unaware of the gender of the candidate, said Martin, “the more communal the characteristics mentioned, the lower the evaluation of the candidate.”

Lisa Torres, a former professor of sociology at George Washington University and now a social science analyst at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission office in San Francisco, notes, “We expect women to have certain skills, such as communication skills, empathy and communal traits. Yet these skills are not always valued. In some cases they are penalized. But, if women are described as assertive, self-confident and accomplished, people will question, ‘Where is the team building?’ It’s sort of a Catch-22.”

Changing Perceptions, Changing Language

The way for women to deal with this issue, says Torres, is to understand why people choose the words they do, and be proactive about changing the way they think. “When you ask someone to be a reference, whether he writes a letter or speaks to someone on the phone, there’s nothing wrong with giving that person some idea of what you’d like him to say about you. You need to take some control over that message.”

Knittel agrees, saying it is imperative that job candidates — men and women — take control of the reference process.

“The first thing you should say to a prospective employer after giving her the names of your references is, ‘Give me 24 hours to get in touch with these people to let them know you are going to call.’ ”

This, Knittel said, gives you time to do two things:

  1. You ensure they are available to speak to the recruiter or prospective employer.
  2. It gives you time to brief them on the job, and explain to them why you are a good fit. “Tell them what skill set you would bring to the company. Remind them of that acquisition you worked together on, or the client you brought in. Use the language you would like them to use to characterize your skills.”

Caroline Ceniza-Levine, co-founder of SixFigureStart, a career coaching firm in New York, instructs her clients to prepare their references as part of the job-seeking process. “Educate them on what qualities and skills you want them to highlight, and give them specific examples of your work that speak to these skills. It can help avoid a well-meaning reference from giving a lukewarm recommendation.”

Educating your references, as well as the people who are reading them, will ultimately make a difference for women seeking to move up the ladder. “Subtle gender discrimination continues to be rampant,” said Hebl, one of the study’s authors. “It’s important to acknowledge that because you cannot remediate discrimination until you are aware of it.” It will take a great amount of education, among both employers and employees, before people will stop making gender-specific characterizations, said Torres.

“I can’t legislate these changes,” she said. “But I can start from the bottom up. When I write a recommendation for a female graduate student, I’m watching the words I use. I instinctively want to say what a nice person she is. Instead, I should be saying she’s brilliant.”

Good Information, email the author for questions.

Personal BrandingBusiness sucks.
Layoffs abound.
Job stability is wavering.

Will you panic or prosper?

If you want to accomplish the latter, remember this three-word philosophy: Anonymity is bankruptcy.

That’s why we’re going to explore three tactics for elevating your visibility:

  1. Exert your distinctiveness.
  2. Prepare to be vulnerable.
  3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.

When executed consistently, these practices will capture the attention of potential employers, thus contributing to a greater awareness of the value you bring to the company.

1. Exert your distinctiveness.

As an executive, the net worth of your human capital is a function of your expertise. So, the three questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • What are you known for knowing?
  • Who is already attracted to you and sees you as a resource?
  • What have you done, specifically – in the last 24 hours – to amplify that expertise within your company?

Once you’ve identified and evaluated your true expertise and inventoried your negotiable personal assets, the next challenge is to assert that distinctiveness in every possible personal-branding touchpoint: questions you ask, answers you give, e-mails you write, meetings you attend and conversations you hold.

The cool part is, asserting your distinctiveness elevates your visibility. Elevating your visibility attracts more responsibility. More responsibly increases the net worth of your human capital. And an increased net worth of human capital compels potential employers and solidifies your job security.

Remember: If your presence makes a difference, your absence will make a different. You want people to start asking where you are when you’re not around. You want to become so invaluable that you become noticeable in your absence. Executives like that get hired and rarely get laid off. What are you known for? What are you known as? And what hard-to-copy capabilities do you possess that position you distinctively, effectively and continuously?

2. Prepare to be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is attractive. Vulnerability is approachable. Vulnerability is strength. Even President Obama – during his first month in office – recently owned up to the media for his poor appointee choice.

“I’ve got to own up to my mistake,” Obama told NBC News. “I’m frustrated with myself, with our team. … I’m here on television saying I screwed up.”

Look, we’re all a bit nervous. And we’re all a bit vulnerable. The danger is when we’re not willing to disclose that vulnerability by practicing radical honesty. So here is my suggestion: Dare to be dumb.

In my workshops and seminars, I challenge people to increase their usage of the phrase “I don’t know.” It cuts down on the pressure to know everything. Plus, pretending like you do know when you don’t cracks your foundation, your integrity.

It’s a falsehood in your personality, and during interviews employers can smell it. Being vulnerable, however, means being secure enough to be who you are, even if who you are is wrong. What’s more, in a sea of gargantuan professional egos, your vulnerability will stand out as a refreshing change. Are you willing to admit your ignorance? Are you someone others can feel dumb in front of?

Remember: When you maintain this attitude of approachability, your employees and your potential employers will respond to (and have more respect for) you. How are you branding your honesty? Are you willing to take the lead with your integrity and become someone others can be vulnerable in front of?

3. Be smart, not a smarty-pants.

Yes, human capital is a function of knowledge. At the same time, there’s a fine line between being smart, and being a smarty-pants.

Here’s the difference: Smart people attract others; smarty-pants people alienate others. Smart people are trusted with greater responsibility; smarty-pants people are avoided.

Next time you attend a department meeting, consider this three-step, unforgettable strategy:

  • Bite your tongue. Don’t say anything until the last five minutes of the meeting. That way you can collect you thoughts, clarify your position and speak confidently. By looking around, listening and learning first, your comment will contain its maximum amount of brilliance.
  • Come out of nowhere. When the meeting leader says, “Does anybody have any questions?” or “Any final thoughts before we finish?” you raise your hand and say: “I had an observation …” All the people in the room will turn their heads, rotate their chairs and look in the direction of the one person who hasn’t said anything all morning – you.
  • Articulate your idea. This is the best part. See, if you only say one thing, it becomes more profound because scarcity creates a perception of value. What’s more, the longer you wait to say something, the more everybody else will want to know what you’re thinking. Ultimately, your calmness, patience and quietude will draw them in. In the words of our mistake-friendly president, “Power grows through prudent use.”

Remember: Let go of the need to prove how smart you are by always adding some super-intelligent comment or asking some super-tricky question. You can still be smart – and be perceived as being smart – without looking like a know-it-all jerk. Are you sharing your knowledge or showcasing it? Are trying to elevate your visibility or be the center of attention?

Look, times are tough – tougher than they’ve been in a long time. But you’re tougher. And I’m confident you’re going to make it out alive!

Challenge: Pick a few of the strategies from this list that work best for you. Customize your visibility plan according to your unique skills and passions. And remember those three crucial words … Anonymity is bankruptcy.

Let me ask ya this: How are you elevating your visibility?

Let me suggest this: For the list called, “30 Ways to become the Most Interesting Person You Know,” send an e-mail to me, and I’ll send you the complimentary list!

Scott Ginsberg, a k a, “The Nametag Guy” is the author of eight books and an international professional speaker. He’s been recognized by The Wall Street Journal and 20/20 as “The Authority on Approachability.” And, as the producer of NametagTV, he teaches professionals how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business. To rent his brain, email scott@hellomynameis scott.com.
 

Now this is just terrible!!!

End of Days: Taco Bell Worker Gets Shot Over a Taco in Miami

091006_Rebecca_Bouie_Taco_bell_employee_shot

Rebecca Bouie works as a cashier for Taco Bell and was shot in the leg after a customer was upset that they were closed at 3:30 in the morning. What is really going on… all because they were closed he decides to start shooting!!!

SMH… More Details Under the Hood

MIAMI (WSVN) — A worker shot over a taco by an armed and angry fast food customer is speaking out about the terrifying moments at the receiving end of a hail of bullets.

The gunman, who remains at large, ambushed several employees as they stepped out of the Taco Bell at 630 NE 79th St. at closing time, at about 3:30 a.m., Tuesday. He fired several shots, and Rebecca Bouie took a bullet to her leg, before he fled the scene.

Bouie, a single mother, works until 3 a.m. as a cashier at that Taco Bell to support her 2-year-old boy. “I just got finished off the phone with him, and I said, ‘Baby, I’m on my way home, I miss you, Mommy loves you.’ He’s like, ‘OK, Mommy, I’m going to talk to you later.’”

She still has the bullet in her leg and needs crutches to get around. “I couldn’t believe it because I’m never rude to any of my customers, I never get any complaints. The most I get is compliments and something like that, but when it happened I’m like, oh, my God, I couldn’t believe it.”

She said she could not believe she nearly lost her life over a taco. “I was scared to think that… to live without my baby over something that’s stupid. I didn’t even speak to the guy.”

Bouie took the bullet, according to Miami Police, because some guy was upset the store had closed and he could not buy any food.

She feels lucky to be alive and hopes to see luck run out for her assailant. “For you to do what you did, it was very unnecessary,” Bouie said, addressing the shooter, “and I have a child. I didn’t do anything or say anything wrong to you, and even if I did, that doesn’t give you reason to shoot or to fire your gun at anybody, and I hope you get caught for what you did.”

Surveillance video captured still photos of the suspect vehicle, a white sport utility vehicle with dark tints, at the drive-thru of the store. If you were in the area and saw the vehicle or heard the shots, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.

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