5 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs

LinkedIn

1 Transparency.
Operating with transparency used to be a luxury versus a necessity but, now, it’s quite mandatory. Millennials, in particular, who wield a tremendous amount of influence and purchasing power, make buying decisions based largely on the provenance, manufacturing processes and overall business practices of a particular company.

Because millennials are now the largest population in the United States, to say that transparency will drive how businesses are perceived is an understatement, at best. However, the good news is that establishing and maintaining transparency doesn’t have to be difficult. Simply communicating regularly with honesty and unequivocally holding yourself, your staff and your company accountable will go a long way toward fostering goodwill with not only consumers and prospects but also with vendors, strategic partners and your industry at large.

2 Loyalty.
It used to be that only airlines had “loyalty” programs. Now, everybody from giant corporations like Pepsi Co. to mom-and-pop corner coffee shops have some sort of loyalty program. And rightfully so. Every industry faces new competition on a daily basis and customers are understandably price sensitive, often buying from whoever has the best sale or perks. However, what loyalty programs really come down to is creating that coveted repeat customer. For instance, airlines offering free first-class upgrades or hotels upgrading size of the room for elite travelers often creates an allegiance that trumps price point. This principle can be applied in every business. If you’re a service company and a client is at the end of his or her agreement, offer a specific service at a discount or another deliverable with a high perceived value. Those who do business online can easily build an awards program that fosters a faithful following.

3 Crowdfunding.
The ugly truth is if you need a loan, chances are extremely high you won’t be able to get one. In fact, the recent small business study also revealed that the majority—a full 61 percent—of those who tried to get a favorable loan were unable to do so. Venture capital and private equity funding is equally, if not more, difficult to come by. While some types of capital are actually easier to procure, the interest rates are usually more aggressive, often prohibitively so. Instead, focus on crowdfunding and non-traditional lenders, such as Bond Street, Kabbage and Deal Struck. According to Massolution’s 2015CF–Crowdfunding Industry Report, global crowdfunding was anticipated to be more than $34 billion. A revenue source of that size is simply too big to ignore and not tap into.

4 Pay-for-Play Social Media.
Facebook was among the first to implement the “pay-for-play” model by removing organic reach and focusing on paid advertisement. Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram is destined to follow. Pinterest and Twitter are also both currently growing into their pay-for-play systems and will likely make it difficult for pure organic reach as well. Unfortunately, this means entrepreneurs will need to increase their social media budget. However, Facebook’s paid ads have been shown to reach a significantly greater percentage of users than organic posts, making paid ads well worth the investment. However, social media shouldn’t only be leveraged as a form of advertising. Rather, social media is an ideal way to handle customer service in a way that not only improves marketplace loyalty but also your company’s transparency endeavor.

5 Instant Gratification.
Simply put, if you don’t offer some form of instant gratification, your prospective customer will likely go somewhere that does. This truth is particularly problematic for businesses that require information from customers, such as insurance or financial services. Having prospects fill out contact request forms to be contacted later on for products or services is becoming less and less effective in the “Age of Impatience.” To be competitive, you need to deliver to the customer instantaneously in some way, whether that be with the information they are seeking or some other deliverable that will satisfy them in the moment and keep them interested for a longer term. Even just offering quicker and more efficient processes for dealing or transacting with your company is certainly a form of instant gratification. At every available touchpoint, strive to impress the customer—an incredibly effective way of evoking that gratified feeling. No matter what industry you’re in or what type of business you run, you can still make a profit, no matter what the current economic outlook happens to be. That begins with giving customers what they want, how they want it and in a way that’s more sensitive to marketplace vs. company needs.

Source: americanbusinessmag.com

About the Author
Brian Greenberg is a multi-faceted entrepreneur who has founded and currently
spearheads an assortment of successful online businesses. He currently co-owns
and operates multiple entrepreneurial companies with his father, Elliott
Greenberg, which have each flourished for over 10 years, including Wholesale-JanitorialSupply.com, TouchFreeConcepts.com and TrueBlueLifeInsurance.com.

The Only Black-Owned 5-Star Resort In The U.S. Is Perfect For Your Bachelorette Party

LinkedIn

By Joi-Marie McKenzie

What happens when you get engaged and you’ve partied so hard in your 20s you’d rather not “party like a rockstar” at your bachelorette party?  Gather your best girlfriends and check out the only five-star resort owned by a Black woman in the U.S.

Salamander Resort & Spa, owned by Sheila Johnson, is tucked on 340 acres of the greenest land I’ve ever seen in Middleburg, Virginia. If you’d rather lie by an infinity pool than turn up at a pool party, or visit a nearby winery rather than throw back shots, or enjoy fine dining rather than stuffing pizza to ward off that hangover that might come the next morning, this is the place for you.

Right outside of Washington, D.C, 16 of my closest friends, family and linesisters descended on Salamander Resort & Spa.

Here’s what we recommend you should try.

The Spa

After the drive, my maid and matron of honor decided to start my bachelorette weekend the right way: with a bit of R&R in the resort’s 23,000-square-foot spa. From exfoliating body treatments, to all types of massages, the spa is a one-stop shop. And for my girls who didn’t have time to get a pedi before they arrived, the spa offered that too along with make-up artists and manicurists. Since I’m expecting, it was the perfect spa to grab a pre-natal massage. Even the indoor whirlpool was body temperature so I could enjoy some girl chat in the water. Afterward, we all gathered by the infinity-edge pool to chill in a cabana and take in the lush landscape.

The Finest of Dining

Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill

We felt like we were in an episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac when we tried out Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill for dinner. Right there on the grounds, it offers a private dining room, perfect for any large party.

An Easy Trek To The Wineries

After a night at the resort, the girls and I were itching to get off the property and explore Middleburg. And Salamander makes that super easy to do thanks to complimentary car service. We hopped in the resort’s Audis, which took us to a nearby winery. While the girls sipped on wine blends, created from last year’s harvest in Virginia, I took in the sites and dreamed about lunch.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

Rihanna Is Now The Wealthiest Female Musician Alive

LinkedIn
Rihanna poses in red dress and red lipstick

It’s official, Robyn Rihanna Fenty is the world’s wealthiest female musician. Let’s let that sink in.

The 31-year-old singer, actress, entrepreneur, beauty and fashion powerhouse just became the world’s highest female earner in music, according to Forbes. Meaning she’s out-earned Madonna ($570 million), Céline Dion ($450 million) and, Beyoncé ($400 million), three of the most wealthy women musicians alive today.

The financial glow up is real: In 2018 Rihanna ranked number 7 on Forbes list with an estimated $37.5 million. As Forbes notes, she’s now worth an estimated $600 million.

As for the tipping point? In May, Rihanna officially launched her luxury fashion label in partnership with the French luxury goods conglomerate, LVMH. The partnership was historical, she became the first woman of color to lead an LVMH business and Fenty Maison is the first fashion company that LVMH has launched from scratch.

While news of Rihanna’s ascent into the highest tax bracket in her respective field is a major accomplishment, it comes as no surprise. Launched in 2017, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty generated $570 million in revenue during its first 15 months.

Then in May 2018, Rihanna launched Savage X, an online-based lingerie company. During the first 40 days on the market, the company made $100 million in sales. It’s now available in 40 markets. Sheesh.

Work, work, work, work, work indeed.

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article

Artist, Icon, Billionaire: How Jay-Z Created His $1 Billion Fortune

LinkedIn
Jay-Z is seated in front of audience clapping his hands wearing a NYN baseball cap

Nine years ago, two unlikely lunch partners sat down at the Hollywood Diner in Omaha, Nebraska. One, Warren Buffett, was a regular there. The other, Jay-Z, was not. The billionaire and the rapper ordered strawberry malts and chatted amiably, continuing the conversation back at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway offices.

Buffett, then 80, walked away impressed with the artist 40 years his junior: “Jay is teaching in a lot bigger classroom than I’ll ever teach in. For a young person growing up, he’s the guy to learn from.” This moment, which was originally captured in our 2010 Forbes 400 package, made it clear that Jay-Z already had a blueprint for his own ten-figure fortune. “Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational,” he said.

Less than a decade later, it’s clear that Jay-Z has accumulated a fortune that conservatively totals $1 billion, making him one of only a handful of entertainers to become a billionaire—and the first hip-hop artist to do so. Jay-Z’s steadily growing kingdom is expansive, encompassing liquor, art, real estate (homes in Los Angeles, the Hamptons, Tribeca) and stakes in companies like Uber.

His journey is all the more impressive given its start: Brooklyn’s notorious Marcy housing projects. He was a drug dealer before becoming a musician, starting his own label, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his 1996 debut, Reasonable Doubt. Since then he’s amassed 14 No. 1 albums, 22 Grammy awards and over $500 million in pretax earnings in a decade.

Crucially, he realized that he should build his own brands rather than promote someone else’s: the clothing line Rocawear, started in 1999 for $204 million to Iconix in 2007); D’Ussé, a cognac he co-owns with Bacardi; and Tidal, a music-streaming service.

Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, the superproducer behind some of Jay-Z’s biggest hits, looks at Jay-Z as something others can model: “It’s bigger than hip-hop … it’s the blueprint for our culture. A guy that looks like us, sounds like us, loves us, made it to something that we always felt that was above us.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

Making Strides in Health Care—AMA elects its first African-American woman president

LinkedIn
Patrice A. Harris, MDposes outside the AMA

Atlanta-based psychiatrist Patrice A. Harris, MD, is the first black woman to become the American Medical Association’s (AMA) president. When Dr. Harris assumes her role in June this year, she will also be the Association’s first African-American female to hold that office.

“It will be my honor to represent the nation’s physicians at the forefront of discussions when policymaker and lawmakers search for practical solutions to the challenges in our nation’s health system. I am committed to preserving the central role of the physician-patient relationship in our healing art,” Dr. Harris said.

First elected to the AMA Board of Trustees in 2011, Dr. Harris has held the executive offices of AMA board secretary and AMA board chair. She will continue to serve as chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force and has been active on several other AMA task forces and committees on health information technology, payment and delivery reform, and private contracting. She has also chaired the influential AMA Council on Legislation and co-chaired the Women Physicians Congress.

Dr. Harris continues in private practice and consults with both public and private organizations on health service delivery and emerging trends in practice and health policy. She is an adjunct assistant professor in the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

Source: wire.ama-assn.org

Naval Veteran And Realtor Brings Number One Home Inspection Company To Norfolk

LinkedIn
Demetrius Payne posing in front of his Home Inspection van

(NORFOLK, VA)- Demetrius Payne knows how to use his expertise and skills. After serving in the Navy for 10 years, he then went on to operate a testing facility for aircraft carriers and submarines for 11 years! Interesting background to say the least, but practical Payne decided to become a licensed Realtor a year ago. In September he added a Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® franchise and training to round out the tremendous services he can offer home buyers and sellers.

Payne serves homebuyers and sellers throughout Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Southampton and Franklin City. The franchise brand is a favorite among veterans such as Payne. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and it has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible. In 2018, one-third of new Pillar To Post Home Inspectors franchisees were military vets. “I was impressed by the level of commitment Pillar To Post Home Inspectors makes to its franchisees,” Payne said. “My previous careers have taught me leadership, professionalism and customer service skills. My real estate experience helps me understand the ins and outs of homes.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked as the top-rated home inspection company on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its 19th year in a row on that list.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report that is printed and presented on site. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

For more information visit: demetriuspayne.pillartopost.com or call 757-234-8566.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are nearly 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has been named as Best in Category in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® ranking for 19 years in a row. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit pillartopostfranchise.com.

The Right Way to Follow Up After a Career Fair (Email Template Included!)

LinkedIn
Career fair attendees walking to event

By Greg Ott

When you show up to a career fair, they just give you a job, right? If only it were that easy. While career fairs serve up great introductions to companies, recruiters, and career paths you may choose to follow, it’s still on you to leave a lasting impression that inches you ever-so-closer to landing a real interview—and a great job.

Being prepared and asking the right questions will help you stand out during the event itself. But when the career fair is over, don’t forget to send a proper follow-up email, too.

After all, recruiters attending career fairs often end up meeting dozens of quality candidates—and it might be weeks or even months before they actually fill an open role or internship position. A great thank you email not only highlights your interest in the company and demonstrates good business etiquette, it ensures you stick in the recruiter’s mind.

So what do you say to make yourself memorable? Use these super easy tips to craft a perfect career fair follow-up email. We’ve even got a template you’re free to copy and paste, along with an example!

Connect Quickly
Aim to send your career fair follow-up email within 24 hours of the event. Why? Recruiters are perpetually inundated with email and don’t always have time to respond to every connection or follow up. That’s especially true after a career fair ends. Typically, it takes a couple of days for a recruiter to sit down and sort through the mountain of messages they received as a result of the event.

But if you can make it into the first batch of emails to hit the recruiter’s inbox, you’ll have a better chance of staying top-of-mind as the recruiter starts connecting with candidates—and even more so when weighed against those who chose not to follow up at all.

Keep It Simple—and Short
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel here. As with any great thank you note, you should simply thank the recruiter for their time and express a desire to connect down the line. The recruiter should already have your resume, so there’s no need to attach it, says Muse Career Coach Victoria Morell, Associate Director of Miami University Farmer School of Business Careers—though if you’re worried and want to attach it anyway, it won’t hurt.

“Keep it light, nice, short, and to the point, but include something that makes them remember you or read a little bit further,” Morell adds. Referring to a personal connection from your meeting, such as a common hobby or interest you discussed, can help remind the recruiter of your initial encounter.

Be Professional
Even though it’s just a brief thank you email, that doesn’t mean it’s an opportunity to act casual. Pay attention to the tone of your email so you don’t seem flippant, nonchalant, or unprepared for a professional work environment.

For instance, don’t open your message with a casual greeting like “hey”—always choose a proper introduction, like “hi” or “hello,” to set a courteous and professional tone. It also doesn’t hurt to err on the side of formality in how you address the recruiter—think “Mr. or Ms. [Name],” rather than a first name, unless you know for sure that the company is super casual.

“At this stage in the recruitment process, you’re still trying to impress them,” notes Morell, likening the tone of a thank you email to a job interview. “Even if you know it’s a casual dress code, you’re still going to dress well for the interview to show you’re serious.”

Try this email template to put it all into practice:

The Template
Hello [Name of Recruiter],

Thanks again for the opportunity to meet you at the [name/location of career fair] on [date]! [Personal detail.]

It was great learning about [detail from meeting], and I believe my [relevant, personal experience] would make me a great fit for [Company].

I would love to connect regarding a potential career with [Company] and look forward to hearing from you in the future.

Thanks again for your time!

Best,
[Your Name]

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Financially Optimistic Millennials

LinkedIn
women holding dollar bills up to her face

Millennials are optimistic about how their lives will play out after college, despite the fact that they have a collective $1 trillion in student loan, credit card, and other debt hanging over their heads.

“Millennials are graduating at record rates, and it’s great to see that like most previous generations of college students, young people are optimistic about the future. On average, survey respondents expect to land a job in their chosen field and be completely financially independent by age 25,” notes JJ Kinahan, chief strategist for TD Ameritrade. “This is a financially optimistic group that’s feeling positive about the economy, the job market and their own plans. However, they will need to develop saving and investing habits that will help them reach some pretty big goals.”

Redefining Life Milestones for Millennials

“Millennials are a generation that has vastly different attitudes and habits than previous generations. So naturally, their lives and financial milestones after college may look different as well,” Kinahan explains. According to the TD Ameritrade 2018 Millennials and Money Survey:

  • Fifty-three percent expect to become millionaires at some point.
  • Twenty-four percent said they don’t expect to get married, and nearly that many don’t expect to own a home.
  • Thirty percent of millennials don’t expect to have kids.
  • Despite the general optimism, two in ten said they’re never going to be able to pay off their student loans.
  • Nearly 17 percent haven’t yet achieved financial independence from their parents; for those who have, it’s usually moving out of the family home that triggers being financially cut-off.

Planning to Retire Early or Not at All

One milestone in particular is going to need some extra attention. Millennials reported that they expect to retire at age 56 on average (millennial men expect to retire even earlier, at age 53 on average). However, on average, they said they don’t plan to start saving for retirement until age 36, which could be more than a decade after getting their first real job. Twenty-eight percent said they don’t expect to retire at any point.

“One of the greatest investments young people can make in themselves is to start putting money away in their 20s. Because of the power of compounding (Einstein called it the eighth wonder of the world), even with ups and downs along the way, those who start early potentially can end up with more in the end,” explains Kinahan. “Ideally, it would be wise to start right after college, and while some millennials certainly do that, we realize that’s not always possible. Understanding all of the available alternatives, like employer-sponsored retirement accounts or brokerage accounts, can be a step in a right direction. And, if you’re not sure, talk to someone. The sooner you can get started, the better your financial prospects may be.”

Consider this example of someone who begins investing $5,000 a year at age 22 and continues to put that amount of money away until they retire at 67, earning an assumed 6 percent return. They’d end up with twice the money as an investor who did the same thing starting at age 32. It could mean the difference between retiring with half a million dollars versus retiring with $1 million, according to a New York Times analysis. That’s the power of compound returns.

Saving Habits

  • Many millennials are making strides and overall, more rate themselves as savers than did in 2016 (70 percent versus 62 percent). Ninety-four percent of millennials said they are saving toward a specific goal – vacation (43 percent) and emergency fund (39 percent) being the top choices.
  • Thirty-eight percent are saving for retirement.
  • Twenty-five percent have started saving for the education of their children or grandchildren.

Pursuing Financial Goals

Kinahan offers some financial tips for millennials who may need to look at additional financial strategies to pursue their goals:

  • Don’t delay! Waiting to save for retirement can be costly. Giving investments the longest possible time to grow attempts to take advantage of the power of compounding, even with the downturns that take place along the way.
  • Know your numbers. Find out how much more you can contribute each year to pursue your retirement goal. For 401(k)s as of 2018, employees can contribute a max of $18,500 (up from prior years), likely not a realistic level for most people at this age, but certainly a great goal.
  • Tack on an IRA. Grads who snag a job with a 401(k) retirement plan and employer match should consider themselves lucky. But a 401(k) is only one piece of the puzzle. Young adults should also consider opening an IRA and making regular contributions.
  • Negotiate salary. An un-negotiated salary is a missed opportunity. You could be leaving money on the table simply by not asking. Of those polled, only half negotiated their salaries or compensation at their most recent job.
  • Put windfalls to work. Try not to get carried away during tax season and bonus season. Windfalls, even small ones, can be an extra splash of cash for your retirement accounts. If you can, think about “spending some, saving some.”
  • Get smart. Only 32 percent of millennials said they’re very knowledgeable about investing. Free investing education resources are available that fit every learning style.

Source: TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About How Commission Works—Because Money Matters

LinkedIn
woman working on a calculator

Commission can be a confusing topic for anyone, whether you’re great with money or not. Maybe you’re considering a job with a commission structure or are currently in a field where commission is a big chunk of your compensation.

If you’re not sure how it all works in the business world, we’ll break down the concept so you come out a little wiser than you were before.

What Is Commission?

Commission is additional compensation that’s earned based on job performance. When you agree to a commission-based role or commission structure (often by signing an agreement), you agree to be paid a certain amount of money that’s dependent on hitting some goal—goods sold, meetings closed, hires placed, to name a few examples.

What Kinds of Jobs Work Under a Commission Structure?

When you think of commission, your mind immediately goes to a sales-type role (think of a retail salesperson trying to get you to buy that extra pair of jeans). Commission is popular in most sales jobs because their responsibilities are heavily tied to a company’s revenue goals. Having the opportunity to earn commission—sometimes a hefty amount—motivates those individuals to hit or get close to their quarterly or yearly goals.

But commission can pop up in other places, too. In recruiting, you’re often provided a commission on each candidate you successfully place—usually a percentage of their annual salary. As an account manager, you can earn commission on clients you upsell or renew for the year. And in real estate you can get a cut of the money you make selling a property. In fact, in some roles commission makes up almost all of your compensation, meaning your income is variable and highly dependent on your output.

When Is Commission Paid Out?

It works differently at every company, but in general commission payment can be distributed monthly, quarterly, or yearly, depending on a company’s structure and when commission is considered “earned.”

For example, a company may define commission “earned” for a salesperson as when the new client signs a contract. This means that the employee who sold the deal won’t get their commission until a signature is collected and the deal is verified (which usually means they double check to ensure the right salesperson is compensated and the overall transaction is clean and accurate).

Another example: In recruiting, typically commission is earned when someone is hired and stays at the company for a period of time, maybe three or four months. If the new hire leaves before then, the recruiter doesn’t get the commission.

How Is Commission Calculated?

Commissions can be calculated by a set percentage or by a formula. As mentioned above, a recruiter generally gets a percentage of the new hire’s starting salary (usually 10 to 20%), while sales people may have a formula-based commission structure.

Take this scenario. In sales, your total compensation could be 50% base salary and 50% commission. So if your total yearly compensation agreement is for $100,000, $50,000 of that is guaranteed for the year and $50,000 is based on how well you perform. You may earn less than the $100,000 if you don’t reach your goal, but you may also be able to earn more than that number as long as your company doesn’t have a cap or “ceiling”—meaning the point at which an employer stops paying you more commission.

But a company may use an upward sloping curve to decide commission (where you’d earn less than 60%) because they want to really incentivize employees to get as close to their goal as possible—and to even exceed it and make a lot more money. What can be frustrating about this, of course, is that it’s not an easy formula to follow, so it’s not entirely clear what your commission will look like until you receive your paycheck.

They could also use a tiered model (the staircase line). This means you earn the same dollar amount of commission until you reach a certain percentage of your quota, where it jumps up in amount.

There may be other exceptions when you can earn more than the formula typically allows. If you sell a deal where the customer signs on for two years or a special kind of product, for instance, you may earn extra commission for that.

There’s also a concept called a “minimum performance threshold” or “floor,” which is common for more senior-level employees. This basically means that the person must get some percentage to goal in order to start earning any commission—the understanding being that a certain level of underperformance is unacceptable.

If you’re unclear as to how your commission is calculated, talk to your HR or finance departments, or your boss or team lead.

What Happens if I Leave a Job Before Getting My Commission Check?

Whether or not commission is owed to an employee after they’ve been terminated or left a role depends on a number of factors, including what’s defined as “earned” between the company and the employee and state wage law (you can see your state’s rules and regulations around wages here).

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

7 Tips to Help Mentally Overcome an Employment Gap

LinkedIn
resume tips

Here’s advice on overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create before they sabotage your job search, from those who’ve been there.

William Childs loves his new job. He is Marketing Director at Kitchen Magic, a growing national kitchen remodeling and cabinet refacing company. “This job is a creative person’s dream. The product, the people, the collaborative ideas we are generating, it’s totally amazing,” Childs says. “This is what I spent my 14-month employment gap searching for, and I am so glad I didn’t give up on my career goals.”

Employment gaps do not define you

According to a recent Randstad U.S. study, the average job search today takes about five months. When Childs was laid off late in 2017 from an executive-level marketing job, he did not anticipate a longer-than-average employment gap. He explained: “When my old job was eliminated, it was the first time in many years that I had no specific job to go to next. I had always benefited from people just knowing me and my work, so starting from scratch while unemployed felt pretty weird.” When a few leads at the beginning of his job search didn’t materialize, he felt a bit demoralized.

According to a 2019 Monster survey, 59 percent of Americans have had an unexpected gap in their career. For a lot of people looking for jobs with a gap on their resume, there can be internalized feelings of shame, says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist, CEC-certified executive coach, and author of “The YOU Plan.” “Shame puts on a lot of added pressure to an already stressful time, which can lead to obsession,” Dr. Woody explains. “Don’t victimize yourself over a lost job or a failure in the past. It can be debilitating.”  He advises readers to recognize their setback as just that, a setback — then deal with it and move on to better things.

Childs did keep moving forward. He designed an online portfolio and kept adding to it during his hiatus by taking on freelance work. He wrote for an online magazine and volunteered his talents to local non-profit groups. A year into his search, he took an advertising sales job as he continued to apply for positions. “The sales job was what I needed to do financially, and what I needed to do for my own piece of mind,” he reflects. “I was earning income, learning, and connecting with people. It helped me a lot.”

While he did not give up on finding an innovative executive marketing position, Childs needed ways to stay focused and positive on his continued career search. When it comes to overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create, the following advice can help keep you more focused, motivated, and confident.

1. Honesty really is the best policy

Susan is happily employed in Reno, Nevada at The Slumber Yard, a specialty online clearinghouse of reviews, comparisons, and deals for mattresses and bedding products. Prior to taking the job last year, this mattress review specialist (whose name has been changed for this piece) had left the workforce to care for her young son after he was injured in a serious accident. When she was ready to re-enter the workforce, Susan crafted a very targeted resume and cover letter that succinctly addressed her employment gap. Still, the two-year pause in her career had her a little nervous. “I wasn’t exactly sure what the job market would be like for me,” she remembers.

“Her resume had everything we were looking for, and when she told me why she had a gap in her employment history, her honesty really impressed me,” says Matthew Ross, The Slumber Yard’s Co-Founder and COO. Ross immediately called Susan in for an interview. “Her experience and knowledge of our industry are what got her the job. But, the way that she explained her employment gap really showed her character, both as a person and as a professional.”

You can explain your employment gap without oversharing, says Dick Lively, Partner and HR Consulting Director at RAI Resources in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “On a resume or in a cover letter, saying you took time to care for a family member who was ill or that you relocated across the country for your spouse’s job should be enough detail. Keep it professional but not too personal,” he says. It is also OK to exclude a gap explanation from the resume altogether, so long as you are prepared to address it during the interview if you are asked. Just don’t make something up. “At the end of the day, the truth always comes out, explains Lively. “You don’t want to face a potential employer or a new boss and try to explain why you lied.”

2. Don’t stop networking

Your first instinct may be to hide away until you have a new job, but that will not help your efforts. In fact, it might even hurt them. Keeping your name and face out there can help you get an introduction to a hiring manager. Plus, it’s great practice for interviews. “For me, I talked about the creative process and exchanged ideas; it helped me formulate how to best present myself as a job candidate,” says Childs.

Lively suggests that you don’t wait too long after your last job ends to start networking: “It is not only important to get your name out there and to hear about jobs that may be coming up through the grapevine,” he explains. “You also need to talk shop and connect with people. The longer you wait, the less confident you may feel. Interpersonal skills need to be kept sharp, just like any other skill.” That said, it is OK to take a few days or even a couple of weeks after your last job ends to regain your composure before you start networking. The last thing you want to do is get emotional about your job loss in front of your professional connections.

3. Expand your network

As valuable as your tried-and-true network of professional connections is, Dr. Woody cautions that you shouldn’t always drink from the same well when you are trying to find a new job. “Always networking with the same group of people can put blinders on your job search or create an echo chamber where you keep repeating the same steps that aren’t working anymore.”

Expanding his network definitely helped Childs. “Learning about new businesses and how they do things and connecting with new people is very inspiring,” he says. Telling new people a bit about yourself helps remind you about your talents and experience. You don’t know what else is out there if you don’t ever mix things up.

4. Own your truth

“You can, and should, use a positive spin when talking about your experiences,” says Childs. During an interview or a phone screening, don’t try to hide what caused your employment gap. Don’t complain or point fingers either. Tell your story concisely and truthfully, ending with what you learned or what you have gained since. When Childs interviewed with his new employer, he was prepared to lay his cards on the table when the question came up about his resume gap. His honest, three-sentence elevator speech consisted of:

  1. I was laid off when my department was eliminated.
  2. I am now doing advertising sales. It’s not me, but it’s a job, and I am proud of the quality of work I do.
  3. I have learned a lot about customer service through this sales experience, and I can apply that knowledge to my next marketing and creative position.

Dr. Woody believes this kind of planning is invaluable: “Preparation builds confidence. Working on your narrative reminds you that you have talent and have a lot to offer an employer. Taking time to boil it down to a concise summary instills it in your mind. This is who you are.”

5. Keep up a motivating routine

For years, Childs has emailed daily “Thought Bombs” to colleagues and friends. These are quotes he has collected on creativity, inspiration, and business integrity. Throughout his 14-month job search, he committed himself to continuing this morning ritual. “It got me up and thinking, ready for the day,” he says. “On my worst days, I would tell myself, ‘All I gotta do is get out of bed and deliver the Thought Bomb,’ and it really helped me get moving.”

“I really love this,” says Dr. Woody. “He used this routine to get himself into the right mindset each day. He had a purpose that was of value to his mailing list, and the discipline it took to do this daily task set his whole day in positive motion.” For other people, the routine could be mediation, exercise, journaling, or some other daily ritual.

6. Concentrate on the connection

Childs kept himself well-versed in the current ideas and trends in his field. His knowledge and passion for his work inevitably crept into his cover letters and interviews. “People are much more engaged with stories that are filled with excitement, passion, and personality,” says Childs. “Bragging and standard-issue talking points get stale quickly, but if you can connect with someone about what truly motivates and inspires you, they won’t forget you.”

Coming across as arrogant or whiny is a red flag for employers, notes Dr. Woody. But sharing insights and understanding about your field is a way to help them envision working with you. It also helps them put your employment gap into perspective in relation to your qualifications and talent. He explains: “People remember more about how you made them feel than about the specifics of what you said.”

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.

What Does a Diverse Company Look Like?

LinkedIn
diverse business group walking and talking

By Francisca Brown

Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords in today’s corporate world. But diversity and inclusion must be more than a paragraph in a brochure, a few sentences on a website, or an occasional reference in the employee newsletter.

Firms need to fully embrace these values to reap their true, resounding benefits. But what does an intrinsically diverse company look like? Without being forced or contrived, contemporary companies thrive with a fundamental understanding of ways that employees from all walks of life make the office a better place to work.

A diverse workforce does more than offer varied employee perspectives; it changes the makeup of a company from the inside out. In fact, research shows that ethnically diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to earn above-average revenue and 15 percent more likely among gender-diverse companies. Clearly, there are reasons reaching far past the surface that make diversity and inclusion in the workplace so important in 2019.

Wider Appeal

The rise of the Internet and social media has brought us closer together, allowing us to share more with a larger global audience. As such, companies are also sharing more about their inner workings, specifically showcasing their workplace culture. With an extremely clear vantage point inside your business, any person can see what your company is about at any point in time.

Your reputation as a diverse brand truly depends on the extent to which you are willing to fully implement the concept into the day-to-day. When your company mirrors the world around you, the realities, insights, and experiences of the collective are embedded into the way your firm does business. And today, people want to work with those they can relate to. The company that truly represents everyone effectively markets to different socioeconomic groups, races, and genders.

Better Service for Your Clients

As part of the expanding global market, clients are no longer one-size-fits-all. According to Rosetta Stone, bilingual employees earn an average of 10 percent more in revenue for their respective companies. Furthermore, employees who speak different languages or who are familiar with other cultures are an asset to national and local corporations alike. As clientele diversifies, your workforce should as well for your customers’ benefit and your own.

Diversity Goes a Long Way in Recruitment

According to Glassdoor, now more than ever, people value diversity as one of the top qualities in a potential employer. Rather than hiring from the same pool of candidates, firms that expand their search to include different schools, environments, and geographic areas have a larger selection of people with various specialties. In recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce, companies will have a wider appeal to candidates who otherwise might not have applied.

Innovative Ideas Come from Diverse Groups of People
It goes without saying that different ideas come from different groups of people. Creativity and innovation are aspects that every office needs to be successful.

As one of the main catalysts for both of these attributes, diversity fosters growth that spans across every sector of the company.

In fact, research from Michigan University shows that groups with members from different backgrounds solve problems faster and more effectively. A clear example of innovative ideas generating solutions, this study— Groups of Diverse Problem Solvers Can Outperform Groups of High-Ability Problem Solvers—shows the value a diverse team can bring to your company. With a wider pool of perspectives, teams reach solutions more easily through creative, collaborative thinking.

Retain More of Your Employees

The gig economy is alive and well. According to Mercer.com, people leave jobs at a faster rate than they ever have before. Employees will likely be more inclined to stay at companies where they feel valued, heard, and understood. Fostering growth for more people in your company, regardless of their background, is something everyone can get behind.

In making everyone feel included and represented, more employees will mirror the investment. People want to work for companies that make the effort and look out for their employees’ best interests; committing to diversity is in everyone’s best interest.

About the Author

Francisca Brown is the Senior Director, African-American Multi-Cultural Market Strategy, at Northwestern Mutual.

What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

LinkedIn
woman business owner

Not only is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, but it is also one of four organizations approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, as part of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Each year, the federal government sets a goal to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to certified Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), particularly in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Becoming a certified WOSB and joining the SBA’s contracting program ensures your business is eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for this program.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for WOSB certification, your company must:

  • Be at least 51 percent, unconditionally and directly, owned and controlled by one or more women, who are U.S. citizens.
  • Be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the SBA’s size standards for that industry. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to check your industry.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Becoming a certified WOSB and participating in the SBA’s WOSB contracting program allows your business to compete for federal contracts within a more limited pool of other qualified WOSBs, thereby increasing your chances of winning business.

These contracts are for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Check out the SBA’s list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are already a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), you can easily apply for WOSB certification as part of your recertification process at no additional charge.

Before starting the application process, please review the criteria for certification and ensure you meet the SBA’s size standards for your industry. When you are applying for recertification, select “Yes” to the WOSB certification question and upload the documents labeled “WOSB Applicants.”

If you are a women-owned business and not yet certified by WBENC, take a moment to read about the benefits of WBENC Certification to see if it is a fit for your business. WBENC is the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and our world-class certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands. If you choose to apply for WBENC certification, you can apply for WOSB certification at the same time.

It’s important to note that once you receive your WOSB certification, you still must complete additional steps to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting program, including providing proof of certification information through certify.SBA.gov, and updating your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. Check out SBA.gov for details.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit wbenc.org/government for details on the WOSB certification process, documentation required, and frequently asked questions.
  • For more information about the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting program, visit SBA.gov.

How to Answer “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?”

LinkedIn
man in a suit and tie shaking hands with a hiring manager

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” When a hiring manager asks you this, there may be a few things running through your brain. “Moving (way) up the ranks,” “running this place,” “working for myself,” or “in your job,” for example. None of which are necessarily things you should say out loud in an interview. So, how do you answer, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” This can feel like a bit of a trick question, because sometimes the answer is, “not in this job,” or, “in your job,” or something like, “at a bigger better opportunity elsewhere.” But none of those are things you actually want to say to a hiring manager.

The good news is you can be honest while still telling them what they really want to know. Do you have realistic expectations for your career? Are you ambitious? And does this particular position align with your growth and goals overall?

For example, one way I like to think about it is: Think about where this position could realistically take you, and think about how that aligns with some of your broader professional goals.

So, for example, you might say, “Well I’m really excited by this position at Midnight Consulting because in five years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the energy sector, and I know that’s something that I’ll have an opportunity to do here. I’m also really excited to take on more managerial responsibilities in the next few years and potentially even take the lead on some projects. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing managers, and so developing into a great manager myself is something I’m really excited about.”

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article and view the video.

America's Leading African American Business and Career Magazine