Phil Freelon, America’s most prominent black architect, designs for the culture

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The ‘Blacksonian,’ Atlanta’s civil rights center — and a Durham bus station — are all part of his legacy.

It was a brisk early afternoon in January, and I was sitting in a van in Durham, North Carolina, with Phil Freelon, arguably the most prominent working African-American architect in the country. Freelon is best known for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other major museum projects — among them Atlanta’s National Center for Civil Rights, San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora, and Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. But on this day, we were admiring, of all things, a bus station.

“If you go around the country and visit bus stations, they’re usually seedy and dirty,” he said. “But they don’t have to be.”

And the Durham Station Transportation Center, which Freelon designed, wouldn’t be out of place on the gilded campuses of Apple or Google. The center, which opened in 2008, has a glass exterior topped by a sleek metal roof sloped like a beret, covering an airy, minimalist interior lounge and ticketing area.

“In my career, I’ve learned that if you build something beautiful, people will respect it,” he said. “You’ll notice there’s no graffiti. Now, I don’t think everyone going to catch a bus looks around and says, ‘Wow, this is a beautiful building.’ But I think they soak in the ambiance, and I’m happy about that.”

The paradox of architecture is that it’s all around us, and yet, for many people, the profession remains esoteric. “If you have a talented young African-American, their family will likely know a lawyer, doctor, teacher or a clergyman, but not an architect,” Freelon said. “My parents, who were both college-educated, didn’t know an architect of any color, and certainly not a black one.

“Diversity is a huge problem in our profession. The profession is small — there are only 110,000 licensed architects in the United States, compared to 1 million attorneys and 800,000 physicians. And only 2 percent of architects are African-Americans, a lower ratio than with lawyers and doctors.”

Freelon, 65, has attempted to change that on several fronts: through his hiring practices, visits to predominantly minority schools to speak about his work, and the establishment in 2016 of the Freelon Fellowship, which provides financial aid so a student from an underrepresented group can attend the Harvard Graduate School of Design. And since he founded his eponymous firm in 1990, much of his work has been focused on designing libraries and other academic buildings for historically black colleges and universities and cultural projects in traditionally black neighborhoods.

Currently he’s involved with a major expansion of the Motown Museum in Detroit, a mile-long open-air museum along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles and the North Carolina Freedom Park in downtown Raleigh. “He’s designed nearly every major museum or public space dedicated to black culture in the United States,” Fast Company magazine observed when it named Freelon its Architect of the Year in 2017.

“Of course, you don’t just wake up one morning and the Smithsonian wants you to build a museum,” Freelon said. “There’s 30 years of work that leads up to that.”

Before he had ever met an architect, Freelon had decided to become one. He grew up in Philadelphia, where his mother was a school administrator and his father was a salesperson for Cordis, a Miami-based medical device manufacturer. Freelon attended Central High School, an academically rigorous, predominantly white, all-boys magnet school, which also produced the famed architect Louis Kahn. Citing the influence of his grandfather, Allan Randall Freelon Sr., a Harlem Renaissance-era painter, Freelon said he was drawn to classes in the visual arts, as well as drafting and design. He also took inspiration from his strolls through the city, visiting the Franklin Institute and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “Only later,” Freelon said, “did I learn that a black architect, Julian Abele, helped design the museum,” including the iconic steps featured in Rocky.

Freelon had his mind set on attending a historically black college or university (HBCU) and enrolled at Hampton University in Virginia. “It was the height of the civil rights movement and Black Power, and I had an Afro and was very socially engaged,” he said.

Freelon plowed through the curriculum. “He was an excellent student, meticulous and curious,” said John Spencer, chairman of the architecture department, whom Freelon credits as his first mentor. Believing he would be more challenged at a larger university, Freelon transferred to North Carolina State, although he was anxious about moving deeper into the South. “When my father used to attend his company’s annual conference in Miami in the ’60s, he couldn’t stay in the downtown hotels and would stay in the black neighborhood of Overtown,” Freelon recalled. But a visit to Raleigh reassured him.

“At N.C. State, Phil and I were two of only a handful of black students at the College of Design, and there weren’t any black professors in our discipline,” recalled Percy Hooper, now an associate professor of industrial design at N.C. State. “We didn’t feel segregated from the white students, but we ended up spending a lot of time together, supporting one another.” The coursework was demanding, and there wasn’t a lot of downtime. To unwind, the friends would ride their bikes or, more ill-advisedly, toss around ninja stars.

During summers, Freelon worked for a professor at the Durham-based architectural firm of John D. Latimer and Associates and continued at the firm’s Taunton, Massachusetts, office while pursuing a master’s degree at MIT, which he completed in 1977. He worked briefly for a large firm, 3/D International in Houston, before returning to Durham to join O’Brien Atkins Associates, where he soon became the firm’s youngest partner.

Freelon helped design schools, churches and other buildings around the state. “As a young architect, you’re not a specialist and you tackle a wide variety of projects.” A significant step in his career, he said, was being tapped as lead designer for Terminal 2 of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport. “Of course, it’s since been demolished and rebuilt,” he said, chuckling. “At this stage of my career, there are a few buildings that I’ve designed that have been torn down.” (He later designed an award-winning parking garage at the airport, as well as the airport’s general aviation building.)

In 1989, Freelon received a fellowship to study independently for a year at Harvard. The next year, he left O’Brien Atkins to launch his own firm, the Freelon Group. It began as a one-man shop and grew to more than 50 employees, about 40 percent of whom are women and 30 percent people of color.

Continue onto The Undefeated to read the complete article.

Job Ghosting Is Real: Here’s What You Need to Know

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man on computer searching for job openings

Did you know job ghosting is real? And could be happening to you? You’ve probably heard of “ghosting” in the context of dating: You go out with someone cute, have a great time together, and come back home expecting a second date.

You wait by the phone nervously for the next few weeks to hear nothing at all, finally realizing that you’ve been ghosted. Believe it or not, ghosting happens in the working world, too. Job ghosting is becoming incredibly common, with one-third of candidates reporting that they were rejected from a job position by never actually getting a response in the first place.

This means hiring managers and employers are leaving candidates to wait in agony only to be ghosted after submitting their resume, after the interview, or even getting ghosted after multiple interviews. So, why would a hiring manager do this? Amanda Augustine, our career advice expert, weighs in on this practice.

You don’t make it through the ATS screening

When you don’t hear back from the hiring manager, you might be wondering if you’ve made a mistake on your resume. Of course, it’s entirely possible that you might have made spelling errors or missed critical information that led to your resume being thrown aside. However, if your resume is solid and you’re still getting ghosted, this might simply be due to the sheer volume of resumes being submitted for the job opening.

“The reality is that, on average, companies receive 250 applications per job advert — far more than an HR manager could possibly review by hand,” explains Augustine. “Which is why nearly all large organizations use software known as an applicant tracking system (ATS) to scan resumes and eliminate the least-qualified candidates for a role.” However, the ATS can easily reject more than half of the resumes before the recruiter even sees them! So how do you beat this system?

The best way to work the ATS to your advantage is by looking up three to five job positions similar to the role you’re applying for and identifying the keywords in each of these descriptions. Include these words two or three times in your resume, particularly in the “Key Skills” and “Work History” sections. If you’ve already sent in your application, try to search for the hiring manager’s contact information on the company’s website or social media pages and reach out. “Keep your note short when you do — only say enough to reaffirm [your enthusiasm] and quickly summarize your relevant qualifications,” suggests Augustine.

The job opening was put on hold

Sometimes, you might’ve been ghosted simply because the job opening doesn’t exist anymore. This is not uncommon at all. Perhaps the department’s budget was cut, leading to a hiring freeze. Or maybe the management team is still debating the requirements for this role in particular. More often than not, an internal reorganization could have taken place and the position you applied for just vanished. Unfortunately, there are no laws requiring hiring managers to give you feedback after an interview. So, what do you do to ensure that you get an update?

If you made it to the interview stage, it’s best to end your interview by asking when you can expect to hear about the next steps. If you don’t hear anything by then, send an email reminder that highlights your interest and politely ask for an update. Be more specific in your message to stand out. Something along the lines of “Can we hop on the phone for a few minutes? I have just one more question about this position” is more likely to get a response than a generic email. However, Augustine says you should cut your losses five weeks after the interview. After all, how the future employer treats you now says a lot about how you will be treated once you join the team — and making you wait isn’t the best sign.

You finished second to an internal candidate

Some companies tend to post job openings and interview external candidates even when they already have an internal candidate in mind. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to avoid getting ghosted for this reason. However, if you love the company and really want to work there, don’t hesitate to follow up.

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.

Master These Skills to Get Ahead in Your Career

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Businesswoman at her desk with paper looking at camera

By Casey Imafidon

To get ahead in your career, you have to bring something new to the table. While it may go beyond skill sets, other requirements for being selected for a position could be based on personal involvements, attributes, or extracurricular activities.

In this digital age, you’ll need these set of skills to stay ahead.

Accountability

There is a difference between passionately volunteering for a project and being committed to its execution. This is where accountability comes in. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew when you take that assignment.

In the modern workplace, be aware of what you are getting into when it comes to accepting a task, and you have to be accountable for the success of such task.

Adaptability

Change is not something you should shy away from in the modern workplace—it is something you should embrace. Getting stuck to old ways of doing things or old rules may not help the advancement of your career. Open your mind to new approaches and thoughts that would help you solve problems faster and better for your organization.

It is all about responding to what the current situation requires. You may have to bend your own rules and beliefs, but this will eventually make you a good people person and next in line for that promotion.

Networking

A simple conversation could pivot your career. You never know whom you are going to meet and how he or she can influence your career.

It becomes important to hold a conversation with anyone at any time and make it drive your progress in the workplace. From speaking to attending events to sending out your business card, consider what networking could do for you.

Focus

This one comes down to how productive you want to become. It is hard to focus or concentrate when there are many things begging for your time in the workplace.

We all reach that point or know that scenario when it is more fun to accomplish the easier things, such as checking emails or going through our social media page.

When it comes to standing out and staying ahead, you may need to practice focusing more so you have more satisfaction and meaning in getting work done.

Listening Attentively

Listening attentively is backed by taking the right actions after you understand a matter. You wouldn’t really understand a matter if you don’t listen or question every decision that is made.

You should be asking for specifics and getting to the root of behaviors or observations. This way, you would have clearer judgement and take smarter actions.

Being Innovative

It all comes down to asking the right questions and thinking of smarter and better ways of getting results. It could be your approach; it could be positioning yourself stronger and meeting the right people in the right way.

You may not necessarily be the hardest worker in the room, but you would be more effective if you push yourself to look for creative solutions to a problem in the workplace.

Confidence

There is a difference between misguided arrogance about your achievements and developing the ability to stand up for ideas. Sometimes, developing confidence helps you ensure and promote the achievements of others. You need confidence in the workplace if you are to deliver, engage, and reach certain goals.

Leadership

Leadership skills could be a source of influence for your co-workers and would get them on board to reach future objectives. Anyone with leadership skills will always gain visibility within an organization and be considered for more opportunities or promotions.

Communication

Whether written or verbal, communication skills help foster relationships with co-workers and superiors in the workplace. With good communication skills, clear expectations can be extracted so that you meet deadlines and deliver excellent work. Workers are more productive when they know how to communicate with their colleagues in an organization.

Teamwork

There is not much a company can do if it all depends on the activity of a singular person. Success is achieved when different people are working together for a common objective. Team players tend to build a friendly office culture and aid collaboration. Moreover, an organization will fare better when its employees can synthesize their varied talents or strengths.

The modern workplace is looking for persons who can collaborate well with co-workers. If you are a good team player, then you are going to be considered for promotions and career advancement.

Persuasive Skills

There is always that point in your career when you have to tell others about your ideas, services or products. Persuasive skills are necessary for career advancement because you have to be able to form a strong, convincing argument for why the other person should buy your products or services.

Negotiating Skills
In today’s workplace, good negotiating skills are beneficial during both internal and external discussions. Sellers of a new product or idea and customers always require negotiations to thrive in the marketplace. If you can have this quality and maximize it, then you have a great chance of moving upward in your career.

Knowing When and How to Show Empathy

Building relationships and sustaining them is important to long-term career success. Having the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes helps foster relationships and is a key ingredient to getting ahead in your career.

With empathy, you can provide insights and offer support that will help them grow in their job. You don’t have to be in a robotic work environment that limits growth, but with compassion you can steer your coworkers to performing at their peak.

Learn to offer support, sympathy and feedback every day you do business. You will have a more human work environment and be blessed with positive emotional returns.

Problem-Solving Skills

Your work environment presents a series of problem-solving situations. Be proactive at solving problems in an organization by going the extra mile to take the pressure off your boss and colleagues.

Patience with Others

Your patience with others could be vital in a tense situation. While the modern workplace could present stressful situations, how patient you are with coworkers and your superiors could determine your career advancement.

Patience will be noticed by management and perceived as a strong asset in pushing the company forward. There will be times when troublemakers are brought to book for their actions, but you wouldn’t be one of them if you have patience as an asset or skill.

Source: lifehack.org

Living the Dream and Tapping Into Your Potential

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Yes, it’s something people say, but did you know that there are those out there who are truly living their best life? Coriel Taylor is one of them.

And for her it started with a dream job leading the Digital Delivery Studio team for Accenture, where they “create killer experiences for clients in mobile and web applications,” she says.

To really discover how Coriel landed at the company, you have to take a look back at a girl from Detroit who grew up surrounded by a large, close-knit family and suddenly found herself as a black woman on a majority-white college campus. At the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the high-school honor student wanted to feel included, valued and respected. This unique perspective—and as a result, her understanding—has become the backbone of her charismatic leadership style. “We need that extra encouragement to feel comfortable,” she says. “That may mean spending a little bit of time to talk about how a person’s day is going or getting to know a person’s background and what their story is.”

At Accenture, Coriel has been given the freedom to tap into her personal potential while building a well-rounded team with her signature family-style approach. Dedicated to diversity and inclusivity, her Digital Delivery crew features a former pipe fitter, a teacher and a group of individuals with a variety of different backgrounds and skills—but together they become truly innovative. “I drive them to deliver transformational results for our clients, and a critical part of this is ensuring that everybody feels valued and appreciated for the role that they play—and is rewarded for it. It’s our home,” she says.

Now she has the opportunity to fulfill another lifelong goal of encouraging diversity in the workforce. After finding her way in college with the help of an on-campus office for under-represented minorities, Coriel was inspired to carry this mission with her to Accenture, where she supports diversity recruiting and mentoring. As one of the co-sponsors and leads for Accenture’s sponsorship of the National Society of Black Engineers, she gets to meet a lot of diverse engineering students whom she hopes will come and work for Accenture. Coriel says, “I can’t really imagine work without diversity. I mean, think about it. It’d be so boring.”

Continue on to Essence to read the complete article.

Looking for a STEM Job? Head to These States

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woman shaking mans hand in a room withdiverse co-workers

Milken Institute’s 2018 State Technology and Science Index, a biennial assessment of states’ capabilities and competitiveness in a tech-focused economy, ranked the top ten states to pursue a STEM career. “The success stories of states profiled in this year’s index reflect sustained efforts to not only build but to maintain their ecosystem,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the Milken Institute Center for Regional Economics.

“Making the changes that are necessary to perform well on the State Technology and Science Index can contribute to stronger long-term economic performance.”

 

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Colorado
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. Utah
  6. Washington
  7. Delaware
  8. Minnesota
  9. New Hampshire
  10. Oregon

Massachusetts benefitted from the presence of major research universities, the availability of venture capital, entrepreneurial expertise, and a tech-oriented workforce, according to the report. The state was first in three of the index’s five composite indexes and finished third in another. Massachusetts continues to strengthen its position in tech and science by increasing public funding of neuroscience research, cybersecurity innovation, and startup development.

Utah’s move to fifth was driven by tech-sector employment growth – the fastest in the nation – averaging 4.3 percent annually. The state also had the most university graduates with degrees in science and engineering – 15.4 per 1,000 students. Utah stood out for the success of its universities in spinning research into commercial ventures.

Delaware rose to seventh from tenth, strengthened by an increase in venture capital invested in technology companies. The Legislature authorized a 25 percent tax credit for small companies (those with fewer than 25 employees) engaged in research and development in specific high-tech fields. The state ranks fifth in the number of business startups with 53.4 per 1,000 residents.

The State Technology and Science Index provides a benchmark for policymakers to evaluate their state’s capabilities and formulate strategies for improving STEM education, attracting businesses, and creating jobs in the tech sector. Indices considered in the report include the number of patents issued and doctoral degrees granted in each state.

“Investing in human capital and developing a STEM workforce is crucial for regional economies that want to attract large technology companies and the jobs they bring,” explains Minoli Ratnatunga, Milken Institute’s director of regional economics research.

In addition to the index, the report offers case studies that examine issues such as non-compete contracts that limit employee mobility, along with access to higher education in building a vibrant, adaptable workforce.

Drawing on this data, the report recommends four steps policymakers can take to improve their state’s competitiveness:

Increase scholarships and other financial aid to lower the cost of higher education for in-state students who plan STEM careers.

Better align STEM curriculums to make it easier for students to transfer credits from lower-cost two-year colleges to four-year institutions.

Encourage partnerships between higher-education institutions and private companies to provide students with work experience to improve workforce readiness and job placement.

Make employee noncompete laws less restrictive to encourage a freer exchange of ideas and talent among tech companies.

The index draws on data from government and private sources dating from 2015 to 2017, including the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation, the Small Business Administration, the American Community Survey, and Moody’s Analytics.

Source: milkeninstitute.org

5 Perfect Opening Lines for Your Cover Letter

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cover letter and resume

When you apply for any job, the very first tool you will use to grab the attention of employers is your cover letter. (Yes, there are of course companies that are so big they don’t have time for cover letters.

But plenty of hiring managers at small and mid-sized companies do read them, myself included.) A cover letter highlights the reasons you are the best person for the job and how you will benefit the company. It also demonstrates your ability to effectively communicate your objective and unique value proposition. That’s why the opening lines of your cover letter are so important—you need to hook the employer so they want to continue reading and learn more about you.

There’s no one right way to open your cover letter, but there are a few techniques you can try to make your letter stand out. Here are five ways to write the opening lines of your next cover letter.

  1. Job Title & Accomplishments

This is a common and effective way to start out a cover letter. The idea is to get straight to the point and impress the employer with your background. Use your most impressive and most relevant accomplishment stories to explain your worth.
Example: As a social media coordinator for Company X, I manage many digital media outlets. By implementing new social media marketing tactics, in the past year, I have doubled our audience on Facebook and tripled our followers on Twitter.

  1. Excitement Means Dedication

Another approach is to begin your letter by expressing your excitement for the job opportunity. If there’s a job or company you’re particularly enthusiastic about, it’s great to say so. When a potential employer sees you’re excited, this translates into how motivated and dedicated an employee you would be. This makes them want to find out if you’re as qualified as you are eager.
Example: I was excited to find an opening in human resources with Company Y because your work with XYZ (be specific) has been important to me for a long time. I am the perfect candidate for this position because it combines my experience with human resources and XYZ.

  1. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords

When applying for a larger company where you know an applicant tracking system will be used, a smart idea is to make your opening lines keyword-heavy. The right keywords will make sure your cover letter gets read and will immediately highlight many of your most relevant skills.

Example: Written and verbal communications are two of my strongest areas of expertise. Through my years of experience in public relations, I have perfected my skills in social media, media relations, community engagement and leading a team. It is the combination of these skills that make me the best candidate for your public relations manager.

  1. Network Ties

If someone in your professional network refers you to a position, company, or specific hiring manager, the best approach is to use this right away in your cover letter. Name-dropping your mutual contact will provide the employer with a point of reference to go from. They’ll be interested to see why your referrer thought you’d be a good fit for the job.
Example: My name is Jane Doe and recently I spoke to your communications coordinator John Smith, who informed me about the opening in your IT staff. He recommended I contact you about the job because of my strong interest in the field.

  1. What’s in the News?

Another unique option to impress employers is to demonstrate your knowledge of current events in your opening lines. Look for recent news about the company you’re applying for and tie it into the job opening. Explain why the news item makes you think you’d be best for the job.

Example: Recently, your company has been highlighted in The Huffington Post and Forbes because of your partnership with Charity Z. After reading those articles, I became inspired to seek employment opportunities with your company and was happy to see an opening for an administrative assistant. As someone with vast experience in that area, I would be the perfect candidate for the job.

With all of these options, it’s important to tailor your entire cover letter to your specific experience and each individual job description. A personalized cover letter is essential to prove your qualifications and will be more likely to result in an interview, so start making changes to your cover letter today!

Source: glassdoor.com

These 6 Customer Service Skills Will Help You Land Any Job

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Working in retail, hospitality, a call center, or another job focused on customer service can give you vital workplace skills. No matter which industry you want to work in, the following six strong customer service skills are transferable to any job.

1. Strong Communication Skills

Good communication is the key to good customer service. It’s also the cornerstone of working in any industries where you need to work with other people, from customers to colleagues, and clients to business contacts.

Through your customer service role, you’ll learn how to explain concepts to others in easy-to-understand terms and how to placate people who may not share your point of view. You’ll find that you use these same skills in most roles. Your oral and written communication skills will also help you get your points across in meetings and during collaborative tasks.

2. Solid Active Listening Skills

Good communication and active listening skills tend to go hand in hand. Good communication is a two-way street. While effective public speaking skills are important, so is effective listening. Customer service professionals hone their active listening skills when they listen to what a customer says, then ask questions to clarify what they’ve heard before delivering a response.

A study by Korn Ferry International, an executive search recruitment firm, found that active listening is the most important competence for any workplace. The firm gave active listening this rating because it believes active listening can cover gaps left in other workplace areas. For example, if you don’t yet have skills in negotiation, you could rely on your active listening skills to get through a negotiation process.

3. Excellent Problem-Solving Skills

Customer service representatives are pros at problem solving. So much of their job involves handling complaints and queries customers have. They must use ingenuity to find solutions that work within a business’s preferred practices yet satisfy customers. Problem-solving skills cultivated in a customer service role are transferable to almost any profession, but they are especially important for creative and technology roles, such as advertising executives, engineers, and software designers.

4. Ability to Work as Part of a Team

No customer service worker is an island. Instead, customer service employees work as part of a team to support their employer’s positive image and customer service standards. Many customer service workers find themselves jumping in to help colleagues address customer queries or assisting their co-workers when they’re especially busy.

The kind of collaborative teamwork skills demonstrated by customer service workers is essential for success in many professional environments. It’s important for people in a range of industries to work within their designated roles but come together when required, such as for group projects and meetings.

5. Good Multitasking Skills

Many customer service professions require you to multitask well. Every customer wants to feel important, even though your attention may be pulled in several directions. It’s not uncommon for customer service professionals to run computers or cash registers while speaking with customers.

You might also deal with a number of customers at once if people with more urgent concerns need help while you’re dealing with more routine matters. And, of course, you must do it all efficiently and with a smile on your face! That aptitude for multitasking is useful for working in any busy profession.

6. The Ability to Show Resilience

Customer service workers must be resilient. While most members of the public are pleasant, some can be short-tempered and belligerent. In these circumstances, customer service workers must rely on their skills of resiliency to power through. Otherwise, they can’t deliver their best service to the next customer they interact with.

Similarly, you won’t find all the people you deal with any profession in good humor all the time. Sometimes, events in life simply don’t go your way. Despite the challenges, it’s important to rely on your skills of resiliency to move on to the next task. Demonstrating your resilience to a potential new employer will hold you in good stead on any job interview that you face.

Don’t underestimate how important having a background in customer service can be. A role focused on helping members of the public can position you well for landing any job.

Source: CareerBuilder

After Careers With U.S. Armed Forces And Fema This Couple Opens Their Own Business

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McDuffie,Sharron, Rodney, Lee's Summit, MO

After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

So on April 15, Rodney, “61 years young,” and Sharron, “59 years younger,” as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Lee’s Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February. “We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government,” Sharron said. “And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to.”

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master’s degree in Public Affairs, is “more excited than my husband and myself,” said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing. “Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business,” Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

Tech with a twist: Innovative youth program combines coding and dance

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group of diverse girls dancing in the danceLogic studio

Numbers, stats and creativity are all integral parts of choreography — but they’re vital for coding, too. That’s the idea behind danceLogic, a program in Philadelphia that integrates dance and computer programming for 13 to 17-year-old girls.

“With dancing, you have to look at the steps and figure out how do they fit into one another. Same with coding,” said 14-year-old Nailah Shabazz, adding “basically, if I see myself coding and helping others, I think I can also bring in other people who look like me, to also want to pursue that field.”

For 14-year-old Lauryn Dorsett, the dancing part came easy – the coding, not so much. “The coding part is sorta hard at first when you think about it,” Dorsett said. “But once you really grow into it, and stay with it for a while, it starts to get easier.”

When she realized how much money she could potentially make with the skills, Dorsett said, she was even more intrigued. “Not all fields offer the same type of opportunities,” she said. “You can get far with this.”

Franklyn Athias believes that opportunity is everything. While working as a senior vice president at Comcast, Athias started danceLogic in 2018.

Originally, Athias only planned to focus on coding – but “he had trouble getting [kids] to participate,” according to his friend and co-founder Betty Lindley.

Lindley, who runs a cultural center, suggested he incorporate dance.

Athias wants people who might be intimidated by the math and science behind coding to understand that it’s like any other skill. “It’s always hard in the beginning,” he said. “This is why the dance part is so important, because a lot of young ladies came in and could not dance. But they practice.”

That’s what happened with Shabazz, who said she “inherited two left feet” from her father. “If I have the confidence to dance in front of a bunch of people and not be afraid of making mistakes, then I have the confidence to accomplish whatever goals I have in life,” she said.

“Something they thought was hard now became easy, right?” Athias said. “And it was all because of practice. It wasn’t anything else besides, ‘let’s try it, let’s get it wrong, let’s try it again and then boom.’ The smile comes on your face and say, ‘I got it, Mr. Franklyn.’ When that happens, he said, “the world is theirs.”

Athias wants danceLogic to help give back to the community. “I came from a very rough neighborhood, and someone introduced me to something that kept me out of trouble,” he said. “If I can help motivate some other person to do the same thing that’s the reward I get outta this.

When the girls finish the 14-week program, they’re rewarded too. Athias gives them iPads, so they can keep coding – he has no doubt they’ll keep dancing.

DanceLogic costs $50 total for the 14 weeks. The West Park Cultural Center, which runs the program, says it will never turn away anyone who can’t afford the cost. The center offers scholarships, too.

Continue on the CBS News to read the complete article.

How to Brand Yourself and Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired

LinkedIn
Professional Black Man Standing Outside the Office

Job seekers who want to break into a new role in 2019 need to think hard about the image (or brand) they project to employers. Building a strong professional brand that is aligned to the companies or industries you wish to work for will absolutely increase your chances of getting hired.

You need to assume that any recruiter that you approach is going to research you online, so you should have pillars in place that reinforce your skills, expertise and interest in your desired field.

Meanwhile, by branding yourself through online content and engagement, you may even draw an audience of followers, including recruiters who are interested in your profile.

How do you go about branding yourself? Here’s a three-step strategy to follow.

1.  Develop Your Own Website and Blog

If you want to brand yourself as an expert, you need a way to showcase your past work and current ideas. A website or blog is the perfect medium.

Just about every company uses a website as a central tool for brand-building. You should do the same.

Don’t worry, nowadays building your own website, with your own personalized URL, requires little to no technical knowledge. Wix, SquareSpace and WordPress are just a few the most popular platforms people use.

The advantage of having your own professional website is that it can house a wide range of content that is relevant to employers. Plus the site alone can be used as evidence of your skills: tech-savviness, eye for design, etc.

Having a website that includes a well-written bio and updated resume/CV will allow employers to find you online. Plus there is a growing trend of recruiters asking candidates for creative job applications. Sharing a link to a personal website where you customize content to a specific job type is bound to impress.

Having a blog integrated into your website can be a major boost to your professional brand. Through a blog, you have the opportunity to write about what matters to you and demonstrate your knowledge of particular issues in order to impress employers.

For example, if you are passionate about sustainable technology and your goal is to work in the field, then blog about it. Tap your thoughts and creativity and produce content on topics that are dear to you. Then, make sure you point employers to this content during the recruitment process.

DOs and DON’Ts of Creating a Personal Website/blog that Appeals to Recruiters

DOs

  • Set a clear focus niche for your blog based on your career goals
  • Produce timely, original content
  • Integrate with social media channels

DON’Ts

  • Get sloppy (strive for consistent design and error-free content)
  • Be too negative or political with blog posts
  • Forget to include contact info (phone, email, etc.)

2.  Harness Social Media

Social media has a bearing on your professional brand whether you like it or not.

The vast majority of recruiters screen candidates by searching them online and reviewing their social media profiles. What will they dig up on you?

You may not want to use social media for strategically positioning yourself as an expert in a specific field. But you absolutely will want to make sure that any of your active profiles don’t hurt your chances of getting hired.

At the very least, every job searcher should do their own audit of their social media channels and determine what content employers might see. Change your privacy settings if needed.

However, ensuring a clean online presence is the bare minimum that you can do using the power of social media. By embracing its many sharing and networking functions, you can cement yourself as a thought leader and get your message in front of those who make hiring decisions.

For example, social media gives you plenty of channels for sharing news and content from your website or blog. As mentioned above, integrating social media with a personal website or blog is a must as it allows you to promote your site to your network.

If you don’t have a blog or website, then you can still share your opinions through social media. Twitter, after all, is a micro-blogging platform, while LinkedIn is a common medium for self-publishing longer-form articles.

When you are totally immersed in a particular field, chances are you come across all kinds of interesting content that may be valuable to like-minded people. Share it!

Sharing content with your network by posting links to articles and videos is a way of proving you are engaged in specific issues. There is also the added benefit that if you share or comment on other people’s content, they will reciprocate or engage with you.

As a job seeker, following the companies you want to work for through their social media channels offers many opportunities to express your interest in them. You can essentially become a “superfan” of these companies by consistently commenting on or sharing their content.

The benefit of becoming a superfan is that you are always up to speed with what the company is doing, giving you in-depth knowledge of their operations. This knowledge can then be used to write an amazing cover letter or letter of interest, and you may rely on it during job interviews.

Of course, social media has also become a popular tool for soliciting jobs. The obvious example is LinkedIn where you can identify recruiters and connect with them directly. But identifying opportunities through Facebook and Twitter can also prove effective.

Regardless of the platform, when you connect with companies through social media, their first impression of you will be based on the brand you’ve built and expressed using your accounts.

DOs and DON’Ts of Professional Branding Through Social Media

DOs

  • Strive for consistency across social platforms (usernames, headshots, etc.)
  • Include your resume summary on your social profiles (especially for LinkedIn)
  • Share content that people in your target industry might find valuable
  • Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry
  • Follow and comment on content from targeted employers
  • Reach out to recruiters to ask for informational interviews

DON’Ts

  • Use unprofessional usernames or photos
  • Forget to edit all content before posting
  • Be offended by critical comments from others – keep any responses professional
  • Spam online groups with your resume/CV
  • Comment on absolutely everything a company posts – give your replies substance
  • Ask recruiters for jobs through social media

3.  Engage Elsewhere

Having your own website and an active social media presence will help you get noticed amongst recruiters.

But if you want to go even further in establishing your name and building your professional brand, you can look for other engagement opportunities.

Your goal is to make it known to as many people as possible that you have something to offer: skills or expertise in a particular area.

Go to industry networking events in your field. Better yet, don’t just attend, see if you can participate in panel discussions or speaking opportunities.

Try to get published in industry publications, newspapers or online. Many media outlets crave well-informed content that expresses strong opinions about current issues. Be prepared to encounter some resistance from editors, but keep pitching your writing.

You can always resort to self-publishing on your blog, or other platforms that attract talented writers looking to express themselves, like Medium.com.

Continue on to novoresume.com to read the complete article.

Former School Custodian from Denver is Now the School Principal

LinkedIn
Michael Atkins School Principal

Michael Atkins, a former school custodian in Denver Colorado, has been recently promoted as the new principal of Stedman Elementary School. He plans to use his past experiences as a former student in the area and a custodian to become successful in accomplishing his goals in his new career.

As a child, Stedman Elementary had been a part of Atkins’ life. At one point, he was bused to Bromwell Elementary School where he met a second-grade teacher who “took the time and the opportunity to form a relationship that opened a door for me,” Atkins told 9 News.

But he had to separate ways with the teacher when he was bused to Hamilton Middle School. By then, he realized how black students like himself were treated differently even by some teachers.

“Just the different interactions that I had with the teachers, I had the social intelligence at that time to understand there were differences,” Atkins said. “Teachers telling me that I’ll be dead by the time I’m 21.”

By the time he could work, he had his first full-time job at Denver Public Schools at Rachel B. Noel Middle School. That was when he met his old second-grade teacher again and helped him get a job as a paraprofessional teacher.

Since then, he climbed up the ranks as he eventually became a teacher, then an assistant principal, and now a principal. He said that as a principal, he hopes to fix problems of racial disparity he experienced when he was a student before.

Continue on to Black News to read the complete article.

7 Ways You Should Never Answer “Why Should We Hire You?”

LinkedIn
woman looking confident in a job interview

The question comes up in nearly every interview. It might be phrased in any number of ways, but every interviewer is going to ask, in some form, why should we hire you?  The most important thing to remember when answering this question: Your answer should focus on how you can benefit the company and what you can offer your potential employer.There are plenty of right ways to answer this question, but there are even more ways you can get it wrong. We’ll walk you through all of them.

First things first — there are some things, though they may be true, you should never say in response to this question.

1. Because I need the job

This will do nothing to excite the hiring manager. It doesn’t illustrate any passion for the position or company — it doesn’t even express interest.

2. Because I want to move

You’re looking to make a move to a new city, but you have to have the job to make the move possible. This isn’t a great reason to hire someone, because it can make the company feel like it’s just filling a temporary purpose — to get you to your destination. While you should be honest about your intention to move, you shouldn’t use this as the reason why you want to work there.

3. Because I hate my current job

Badmouthing a past or current employer in a job interview is bad form. Saying you want a new job just to escape your old one might be true, but the interviewer doesn’t need to know that.

4. Because I want to make more money

Don’t we all? Let’s be honest. For many people, this is the reason they’d like a new job. But if you use pay as the reason why a company should hire you, its hiring managers could see you as a flight risk — the moment someone else offers you more money, you’re gone just as quickly as you came.

5. Because I can grow your business by 1,000%

Don’t answer by promising something you can’t deliver. Be realistic — you’ll have to make good on your word later.

6. Because I am [insert fluffy words not backed up by anything concrete]

Just about anyone in a job interview can say things like, “You should hire me because I’m a team player! I’m hardworking and creative.” So is everyone else. If you’re going to talk about “soft” skills and attributes, then be ready to back them up with anecdotes or metrics.

7. Because your company would look great on my resume

Companies are probably well aware of this — and it’s not a reason to hire a candidate. Remember to make your answer about what you can give the company, not what you hope to get from it.

5 good ways to answer, “Why should we hire you?”

1. Because I have something you won’t find in other candidates

Companies should hire you because you have a unique skill they need. Think beyond the basic job description — you and the other candidates likely tick all those boxes. You’ll need to bring a skill they didn’t even know they needed.
Let’s say you’re interviewing for a graphic design position. You check all the boxes on the job description and you have a killer portfolio‚ so the reason that company should hire you over anyone else should be one that makes you stand out. Maybe you have experience with JavaScript, maybe you’ve managed people and processes simultaneously, perhaps you have experience with large and recognizable companies. Give them something you’re sure they won’t get from another candidate.

2. Because I bring something unique to company culture

Hiring managers and recruiters want to make sure you’re a good fit for their company and team culture. Be clear and honest about how you would contribute to the office climate:
You should hire me because I see at this company a culture of excellence. I won’t work anywhere that I feel doesn’t have the same standards I do. I’m positive, forward-thinking, and at my last job, I led my team from disappointment to success.

3. Because I can solve a problem you have

You can really pique a hiring manager’s interest by solving a problem for them. It’s one fewer thing for them to worry about and something they can get excited about. If you can solve a problem for someone at the company, you likely have won a champion in the hiring process. You said your customer acquisition engine has stalled and your cost per lead is too high. You should hire me because I can solve this problem — I’ve done it before. At my last job, I lowered CPL by 42% in eight months.

4. Because I believe in your company mission

Companies that are highly mission-focused want to hire teams that back that mission, too. Explain why that mission matters to you and provide examples of how that mission has motivated you beyond your professional life.You should hire me because I, too, believe that all children should have access to high-quality education. I spend my free time working with at-risk youth to ensure they don’t fall behind on their schoolwork. I’ve done this for three years, and I understand the causes and unique problems these kids face.

5. Because I’m hungry to learn

<Let’s say you’re interviewing for a position that’s a step up from your current job; you should show your employer why you’re ready to take on more responsibility. You should hire me because I’ve been a product manager for four years with excellent success, and I’m hungry to take on more responsibility and grow in my career. I see so much potential for this role, and I would love the opportunity to step in as a manager and teach junior team members what I’ve learned and watch them grow, too.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

185 Powerful Action Verbs That Will Make Your Resume Awesome

LinkedIn
applicant is picked by hiring managers

Led… Handled… Managed… Responsible for… most resume bullet points start with the same words.

Frankly, the same tired old words hiring managers have heard over and over—to the point where they’ve lost a lot of their meaning and don’t do much to show off your accomplishments.

So, let’s get a little more creative, shall we? Next time you update your resume, switch up a few of those common words and phrases with strong, compelling action verbs that will catch hiring managers’ eyes.

No matter what duty or accomplishment you’re trying to show off, we’ve got just the resume action verb for you.

Check out the list below, and get ready to make your resume way more exciting.
 
 

You Led a Project

If you were in charge of a project or initiative from start to finish, skip “led” and instead try:

  1. Chaired
  2. Controlled
  3. Coordinated
  4. Executed
  5. Headed
  6. Operated
  7. Orchestrated
  8. Organized
  9. Oversaw
  10. Planned
  11. Produced
  12. Programmed

Action Verbs 13-33 You Envisioned and Brought a Project to Life

And if you actually developed, created, or introduced that project into your company? Try:

  1. Administered
  2. Built
  3. Charted
  4. Created
  5. Designed
  6. Developed
  7. Devised
  8. Founded
  9. Engineered
  10. Established
  11. Formalized
  12. Formed
  13. Formulated
  14. Implemented
  15. Incorporated
  16. Initiated
  17. Instituted
  18. Introduced
  19. Launched
  20. Pioneered
  21. Spearheaded

Action Verbs 34-42 You Saved the Company Time or Money

Hiring managers love candidates who’ve helped a team operate more efficiently or cost-effectively. To show just how much you saved, try:

  1. Conserved
  2. Consolidated
  3. Decreased
  4. Deducted
  5. Diagnosed
  6. Lessened
  7. Reconciled
  8. Reduced
  9. Yielded

Action Verbs 43-61 You Increased Efficiency, Sales, Revenue, or Customer Satisfaction

Along similar lines, if you can show that your work boosted the company’s numbers in some way, you’re bound to impress. In these cases, consider:

  1. Accelerated
  2. Achieved
  3. Advanced
  4. Amplified
  5. Boosted
  6. Capitalized
  7. Delivered
  8. Enhanced
  9. Expanded
  10. Expedited
  11. Furthered
  12. Gained
  13. Generated
  14. Improved
  15. Lifted
  16. Maximized
  17. Outpaced
  18. Stimulated
  19. Sustained

Action Verbs 62-87 You Changed or Improved Something

So, you brought your department’s invoicing system out of the Stone Age and onto the interwebs? Talk about the amazing changes you made at your office with these words:

  1. Centralized
  2. Clarified
  3. Converted
  4. Customized
  5. Influenced
  6. Integrated
  7. Merged
  8. Modified
  9. Overhauled
  10. Redesigned
  11. Refined
  12. Refocused
  13. Rehabilitated
  14. Remodeled
  15. Reorganized
  16. Replaced
  17. Restructured
  18. Revamped
  19. Revitalized
  20. Simplified
  21. Standardized
  22. Streamlined
  23. Strengthened
  24. Updated
  25. Upgraded
  26. Transformed

Action Verbs 88-107 You Managed a Team

Instead of reciting your management duties, like “Led a team…” or “Managed employees…” show what an inspirational leader you were with terms like:

  1. Aligned
  2. Cultivated
  3. Directed
  4. Enabled
  5. Facilitated
  6. Fostered
  7. Guided
  8. Hired
  9. Inspired
  10. Mentored
  11. Mobilized
  12. Motivated
  13. Recruited
  14. Regulated
  15. Shaped
  16. Supervised
  17. Taught
  18. Trained
  19. Unified
  20. United

Action Verbs 108-113 You Brought in Partners, Funding, or Resources

Were you “responsible for” a great new partner, sponsor, or source of funding? Try:

  1. Acquired
  2. Forged
  3. Navigated
  4. Negotiated
  5. Partnered
  6. Secured

Action Verbs 114-122 You Supported Customers

Because manning the phones or answering questions really means you’re advising customers and meeting their needs, use:

  1. Advised
  2. Advocated
  3. Arbitrated
  4. Coached
  5. Consulted
  6. Educated
  7. Fielded
  8. Informed
  9. Resolved

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

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