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

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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.”

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Financially Optimistic Millennials

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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

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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).

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Why Graduates Who Want a Career Full of Travel and Adventure Should Consider the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service

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Vella Mbenna

Amelia Island, FL—Now that graduation is finally here, you may be dreaming of finding a job that encompasses everything you want in a career: adventure, travel, challenge, growth, risk, and reward. The problem is, most jobs come up short in these areas. But if you’re determined to do meaningful work that’s full of excitement, the Foreign Service may be the right place for you.

For those who may not know, the Foreign Service is the corps of employees dedicated to representing America abroad and responding to the needs of American citizens living and traveling around the world. While not everyone is cut out for this line of work, says Vella Mbenna—who worked in the Foreign Service for 26 years—it is a great job opportunity for ambitious new graduates.

“Being a diplomat with the US Department of State demands intellect, courage, and a sense of adventure—not to mention an unshakable work ethic,” says Mbenna, author of Muddy Roads Blue Skies: My Journey to the Foreign Service, from the Rural South to Tanzania and Beyond (Muddy Roads Press, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-7327918-0-0, $16.99). “If this describes you, you may have what it takes to join the ranks of hardworking citizens making a difference in our global society.”

But make no mistake: Jobs in the Foreign Service are not easy to come by.

“In my opinion, they are one of the hardest government positions to obtain,” says Mbenna. “And once you’re doing the work, you’ll be challenged daily to push yourself and find out what you’re truly made of. You must have the right mindset and the right skill set—and acquiring them is absolutely worth it.”

Early in her life, Mbenna never suspected that she would someday work as a US diplomat with the Foreign Service. After getting her college degree, she wound up back in her hometown in rural Georgia with a young child and few career prospects. But staying put was not an option. Her wanderlust prompted her to apply for a position with the US Department of State, where she eventually became an information management officer (IMO) in charge of information technology (IT) and communications, working in places like Beirut, Uganda, and Tunisia.

There, among her primarily “male, white, Yale” colleagues, Mbenna (a minority three times over: black, Southern, and female) started the long journey to the top. Despite facing instances of insubordination, racism, sexism, and culture shaming, Mbenna worked her way up to level “01,” the highest-grade level you can earn in the Foreign Service—provided there is no desire to hang around for some years to see if you will be selected to join the cadre of senior, policy-level foreign affairs professionals.

For a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, the challenges, victories, and even the near misses Mbenna experienced were the very definition of a fulfilling career. Part memoir and part how-to success guide, Muddy Roads Blue Skies tells the remarkable story of Mbenna’s journey from the backwoods of Georgia to the far reaches of the globe.

If you’re ready to graduate and may be interested in a career in the Foreign Service, here are the skills and behaviors Mbenna says you should turn into habits right now:

Do the work—and more. Dutifully do your work every day, and do it well. And when your work is done, see if you can help someone else with theirs. Mbenna routinely went above and beyond throughout her career, including her courageous efforts in the aftermath of the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam. Her contributions during this dangerous time even earned her a Heroism Award from the Department of State.

“My mother’s ‘hard work from dawn to dusk’ mandate, which I was raised with, shaped my professional work ethic,” says Mbenna. “The good news is, anyone can learn this skill with enough perseverance. Challenge yourself daily to not just show up for your work—whatever it may be—but come with a contagiously positive attitude that shows your gratefulness for the type of work you do. Rise to the occasion consistently, and soon it will become second nature, and people will take notice.”

Find a role model/mentor. Develop trusting relationships with colleagues—in the field or not—who can help guide and develop you in your career. Think of someone you admire whom you could learn from and ask them if they will offer you career guidance. The Department of State also has an excellent formal mentor program, which Mbenna highly recommends newer diplomats take full advantage of.

Don’t be afraid to share ideas. “Never sit around the table during meetings thinking you are too low in rank or too ignorant of the subject matter to contribute,” says Mbenna. “You would not be there if you did not have something to contribute. Meetings are the ideal time for discussing ideas; come prepared with at least one or two ideas or questions, and then communicate them. Around mid-career, I became tired of sitting in meetings and rarely contributing. So, my motto became: ‘If you think it, share it.’ It paid off for me, and it will for you too.”

Respect the chain of command. “I do not believe any leader wants to be second-guessed or challenged by a subordinate, especially not in public,” says Mbenna. “The leader is the leader for a reason. Respect the chain of command and insist on it regardless of whether you are the leader, the second-in-command, or the follower.

“Overstepping boundaries without being invited to, especially if it is not your project or post, makes for a rough ride and stressful work environment for the entire team,” she continues. “As someone who has served as a leader and follower in my career, I can confirm that the chain of command works when everyone follows it.”

Be strategic. Don’t leave your career up to chance, advises Mbenna. Think carefully about the path you would like to take, then plan your career trajectory accordingly. Keep in mind that every position and grade level you attain are stepping stones to the next one, so be on the lookout for opportunities to learn and develop while whole-heartedly contributing to the mission. Finally, remember that new skills can qualify you for more advanced positions, so seize every chance to acquire them.

Know when to lead and when to follow. The higher you climb in the Foreign Service (and in most other fields), the more leadership responsibilities you will have. Still, different positions require you to serve in different capacities. Sometimes you will be asked to lead, and other times you will be asked to follow. Learn to do both with ease—and be aware of when either is appropriate—and you will be more valuable to your team and organization.

“After having been a leader in previous roles, I accepted a position on a ‘hardship’ tour in Kabul, Afghanistan,” says Mbenna. “I went in knowing and accepting that this time I would be a follower, and I became a good one because of that mindset. I did what I was supposed to do, and I did it as specified with a smile. Keep in mind that whether you’re a follower or a leader, your work counts. Whatever role you find yourself in, it matters, so be sure to make it work for you.”

Be dedicated/be useful, even in bad conditions. Learn to stay on task even during chaotic times (whether the chaos is work-related or personal). Mbenna’s last Foreign Service assignment was in Tunis, Tunisia, several years after the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Even though the turmoil had resulted in staff reduction and a revolving door of temporary staff at the embassy, Mbenna never stopped working and striving to uphold her responsibilities—not even when a broken leg forced her to work from a hotel and home for several weeks while she recovered.

“Don’t hesitate to do more than your specific duties in calm and chaotic periods,” says Mbenna. “Pitch in and help others, even if they do not ask. If they do not need your help, they will tell you. You’ll never regret going the extra mile, because eventually it will pay off for you, even if it only brings a smile to your face or a good memory years later when telling your Foreign Service story.”

Know when to leave. “When it’s time to leave the Foreign Service, you will know it,” says Mbenna. “This comes at a different time for everyone. It could be a few years into your career, or you may stay until you reach the mandatory retirement age of 65. You might start feeling restless, unsatisfied, or unhappy at work; or missing your family and friends so much that it distracts you from your duties; or simply realizing that you’re ready for your next adventure. Regardless of what it is, pack your bags and leave before you are burned-out or forced to leave. I reached my desired rank and left on my own terms, and what a happy feeling that was!”

“If you want to succeed in a high-stakes work environment like the Foreign Service, you’d better be ready to put your heart and soul into it,” concludes Mbenna. “Be ready to work hard and go all in, and from there the experience acquired and skills you are sharpening each day will help you truly excel. Yes, there are easier careers out there, but few are as rewarding or exhilarating. So if you want it, dig deep into who you are, find your greatness, and let it shine every day.”

About the Author:
Vella Mbenna is the author of Muddy Roads Blue Skies: My Journey to the Foreign Service, from the Rural South to Tanzania and Beyond. She was born in the Holmestown community of Midway, Georgia, where she grew up with eight siblings and parents who instilled in her the important values that would set her on the path to success. Throughout her youth, Vella dreamed of escaping small-town USA and traveling the world. In 1989, that dream came true when she was offered a position with the US Department of State Foreign Service. During her highly successful 26-year career as a diplomat, Vella served with honor in 13 foreign countries as well as two tours in Washington, DC.

7 Tips to Help Mentally Overcome an Employment Gap

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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.”

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What Does a Diverse Company Look Like?

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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.

Regina King Inks First-Look, Multi-Year Deal With Netflix And Fans Love It

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Regina King

Regina King has just inked a first-look deal with Netflix to produce films and television series, prompting much excitement on social media.

King’s company, Royal Ties (King, Royal ― her mind!!), has partnered with the streaming service for the multi-year deal, which typically gives the company the right of first refusal for unwritten projects. Her sister, Reina King, will be head of production for the new company.

Regina King, who won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for “If Beale Street Could Talk,” recently took home an Emmy for her role in Netflix’s limited series “Seven Seconds.”

“Regina King is a multi-faceted talent both behind and in front of the camera. She’s been a trailblazer for years, with boundless creativity and impeccable taste in projects, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she will bring her formidable talents to Netflix,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix chief content officer, said in a statement.

King said in the release that she’s “beyond thrilled to join the Netflix family.”

“They are at the top of their game and as an artist, I am so excited to come play in this wonderful sandbox they have created for storytellers,” the actress said.

Fans have been showing love on Twitter, calling King “admirable” and her Netflix deal “well deserved.”

Continue on to Black Voices to read the complete article.

Why is Being a Team Player Important?

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group of businesspeople in a team meeting

By Greg Stuart

From time to time, you will be forced to work in a team setting. Not only do you have to function in your team setting, you also have to be able to effectively collaborate with other teams in the workplace.

Rarely do situations exist where there isn’t any separation of duties.

That being said, working within a team is not always a fun scenario. In fact, it can be the worst. Why? In a team setting, your team is only as good as your weakest link. This is true in sports, and the workplace. If you have an amazing offense, but your place kicker does not do well, you could lose games for it. If you are a superstar at presenting material to decision-makers, but the technical elements can’t implement the ideas, your team is actually terrible. Your great ideas are pointless. Let’s explore how to be good team players, even in the worst scenarios.

You Can’t Be Your Best Alone

To start this off, I’m going to suggest you read two books that are crucial to achieving happiness in the workplace and achieving your full potential. They are both written by Ted Talker Shawn Achor—The Happiness Advantage (read this first) and Big Potential (follow-up to Happiness Advantage). The place to start is to become a happier person. This will dramatically impact how you function in a team setting. If you are happier, you will be more productive, more positive and a better team member. As Shawn points out in his book, working more doesn’t necessarily equal success and happiness. Being happy first equals success and productivity in the workplace.

In Big Potential, Shawn points out how you can’t achieve your full potential all by yourself. Think about growing up and the people who you had in your life who have influenced you. Some of us had lots of support, some of us didn’t, but I think most people can look back and see how their success was influenced by others. Studies coming from Big Potential point out that Harvard students who crammed and studied all by themselves fared worse on exams than those who joined study groups and worked together to learn. The workplace is no different. The more we learn to rely on each other’s strengths and less on weaknesses, the more successful we’ll be as a team.

What to Do with the Slacker

At some point in your career, you will have a team member who doesn’t do his or her part. He or she is slacking. When you get a slacker on your team, it’s hard to not be angry at him for not pulling his weight. This is especially true when you have put in a ton of effort on your part and he does just enough to squeak by. What do you do with The Slacker? What I have found works from past experiences is engaging the slacker head on. I don’t suggest yelling at them. Instead, help them to understand what their responsibility is and then give them ownership of it. People who take ownership of tasks tend to put forth more effort because they want their work to shine. Think about when you were a kid and your dad asked you to clean the garage because he knew you were the best at it (I’m guilty of using this tactic with my kids). How much effort did you put into cleaning the garage? If you were like me, you owned it and were so happy when your dad looked it over and was amazed at the job you did. The same applies in team setting—engage the slacker and give them ownership of a task.

Getting What You Want Without Being Selfish

Generally speaking, getting what you want can really be seen as a selfish thing, but it doesn’t have to be. Everyone should get what they want, but it’s not always possible. Contrary to popular belief, compromise is not a win-win situation, it’s lose-lose. In a compromise, each party loses some aspect of what they want. I want to watch Rocky IV for the 100th time, and my wife wants to watch a Hallmark movie. We compromise and watch the Food Network instead. We both lose! I’m not watching Rocky and she’s not watching Hallmark. We need to look at compromises this way in the workplace, especially in a team setting.

Being the Example

If you want to be a good team player, you have to set the example. Through your actions, you need to show your team how you would like to be treated. Talk about confrontation, talk about conflict management, and set rules. If you set a good example, your team will see that and follow suit.

Source: news.clearancejobs.com

Reprinted with Permission

What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

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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.

Teaching—How to Know, Show, and Tell That You Have What it Takes

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woman writing on a chalkboard while she's teaching class

By Jennifer Magliano

Not all teachers start out with mini chalkboards, offering spelling tutorials to their stuffed animal students, at age 5. Sure, some future educators’ fates were sealed early on by a teacher they loved to imitate, but many arrive in the classroom after starting down different paths.

Whether you’re newly inspired or have been training since kindergarten, how will you—or those hiring—know you’re right for the job?

It seems natural for service-oriented folks with great people skills to consider teaching, especially if they’re already an amazing aunt or fun uncle. But what if you’re nothing like the dynamic teacher who galloped into fourth grade on a hobby horse, sporting a powdered wig?

We’ve got the advice you need to evaluate whether teaching is right for you and tips for polishing up your skills if you decide it is.

Evaluate Your Skills

Not every teacher needs to be that over the top singing and dancing educator to be great. Many skills and attributes you already possess have prepared you to make the life-changing commitment to teach—sans props and costume.

Your best qualities, whatever form they take, are needed in classrooms everywhere. Whether you submit that resume tomorrow or years from now, you can make your unique skill set practically pop off the page. Check out the skills below to see if any sound like you.

Effective Communication

Not all great communicators are able to get up in front of a group and improvise. But, just because you’re not a ham, doesn’t mean you don’t have what it takes. Are you an active listener, who engages deeply? You might be just the right person to encourage a struggling student, respond with humor, or point out a dynamic no one else has noticed. Education means “to draw out,” and introverts have a knack for allowing others to open up.

Creative Problem Solving

Are you a creative type who’s always finding an alternative solution? Your resourcefulness will make for a more interesting classroom experience that engages kids with different learning styles. When you integrate music, nature, movement, or visual arts into your lessons, you’ll motivate students—and interviewers, too.

Strong Organizational Skills

One of the best teachers I’ve ever worked with started as a substitute. She impressed others, too, with her color-coded planner replete with goals. She toted multi-colored highlighters and wore a smart watch. Her penchant for planning and organization, impeccable time management and purposeful use of technology (and stylish way of showing it), along with her passion for teaching, made her incredibly effective in the classroom. Needless to say, my school offered her a full-time position as soon as one became available.

There are many skills and traits personified by accomplished educators. When it comes to your resume, those that come naturally will be easy to highlight as you outline your experiences with clubs, activities, and work.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Jade Colin is the Youngest Black Woman to own a McDonald’s Franchise

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Colin and her employees pose in the lobby of McDonald's

Meet Jade Colin, the youngest black woman to own a McDonald’s franchise.

The New Orleans native, has always been independent  and a hard worker. The 28-year-old started her career in college while working the night shift at a local McDonald’s.

There, she earned promotions and awards, inspiring her to purchase her own franchise.

After graduating from the University of Louisiana with a business degree in 2012, Colin applied for the Next Generation program for children of McDonald’s owners. During the program, Colin earned several awards for her business management skills.

She received a Ray Kroc Award and was recognized as one of the top McDonald’s restaurant managers in the country.

After she finished the two-year program, Colin became a manager at her parents’ franchise. From there, she planned to open her own – and she succeeded.

Colin opened her first franchise in 2016, and she is still the youngest black franchise owner.”

As an African-American community, we need more men and women to know that it’s not just about right now, but it’s about the generations to come,” she told The Black Professional.

9 Reasons You Should Be in Health Care

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African American nurse in uniform smiling with hands in pocket

Healthcare careers can provide the challenge, security, and salary you’re looking for in a role, while also fulfilling your humanitarian side.

Read on for nine reasons the healthcare industry can offer you the career of your dreams.

  1. Job satisfaction

By and large, healthcare workers are satisfied with their jobs and don’t regret their career choices. For example, an AMN Healthcare survey revealed that 83 percent of registered nurses are satisfied with their career choice.

  1. Job security

While legislation will continue to change the healthcare landscape, the Affordable Care Act has increased the demand for health care, thus leading to the need for more workers in the industry. Likewise, as people age, they typically require more medical care, and America’s Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age by the millions every year.

  1. Positions for all education levels

While doctors still spend several years hitting the books, health care has many other careers that require far less education. In fact, you can find many positions that pay well and don’t require a bachelor’s degree. For instance, to become a surgical technologist, you only need a postsecondary non-degree award, and the job pays $22.68 an hour.

  1. Explosive growth

Jobs in health care are projected to grow 18 percent by 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Here are the expected growth rates for a few of the fastest-growing medical professions:

  • Home health aide – 41 percent
  • Nurse practitioner – 31 percent
  • Physical therapist assistant – 30 percent
  • Dental hygienist – 20 percent
  1. Free schooling

Within the healthcare industry, you can find many programs that repay student loans in exchange for a certain number of years of service. For example, the National Health Service Corps asks medical residents to work for two or three years in an underserved area of the country in a primary care specialty. In exchange, the federal government will then repay as much as $120,000 of participants’ student loans.

  1. Generous salaries

The burgeoning demand for health care has more benefits than just job security – medical careers also pay well. The 2017 median pay for physicians and surgeons is $208,000, while nurse practitioners can make $110,930 per year, according to the BLS. As mentioned before, even healthcare careers that don’t require advanced degrees can still pay a pretty penny.

  1. Flexibility

The flexibility of healthcare careers is especially attractive to job seekers. Geographically, healthcare workers can go almost anywhere they want, provided they have the appropriate licensure. Some programs, like Doctors without Borders, send medical professionals abroad to deliver services where they are needed the most. Similarly, traveling nurses receive assignments all over the United States and receive benefits, such as relocation and housing allowances.

  1. Variety

The variety of occupations and settings in health care allows those in the field to change their environment without necessarily changing careers. For instance, medical professionals typically work in doctors’ offices or hospitals, but many also work in laboratories, public health agencies, insurance companies, universities, and other varied settings.

  1. The chance to make a difference

Although jobs in the medical field can be stressful because lives are often at stake, the profession is unquestionably rewarding. Healthcare professionals are desperately needed, and they use their education and training to better people’s lives.

Source: careerbuilder.com

Robin Givens: Standing Up for Women

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Robin Givens, star of the series Riverdale is pictured standing at a podim speaking to an audience

By Jovane Marie

It has been more than 30 years since Riverdale star Robin Givens walked away from an abusive marriage, the traumatic union dissolving in a highly publicized fashion. While it’s a chapter she doesn’t feel the need to dwell on, she has used the experience, along with her platform, to assist and empower fellow survivors of domestic violence and raise awareness for the cause.

Her advocacy has included service as a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, working in support of the YWCA USA (a leading provider of domestic violence and sexual assault programs and services) and DV Leap, which fights to advance legal protections for victims of domestic violence. Givens also serves as a keynote speaker, donates supplies, and makes personal visits to shelters.

It’s an admittedly hard thing to do, and Givens acknowledges that after decades of dogged involvement, she has eased up on revisiting the past to focus on the future.

“I’ve been fully involved for almost 20 years, and it’s not an easy thing to do, because I have to travel back in time,” she says. “When I went through that moment in my life, I was younger than my oldest son—I was a baby! I don’t want to walk around with the weight or badge of that—no one does. I’m ready to live, thrive, and be all that God intended me to be.”

Riverdale Actors Lochlyn Munro, Skeet Ulrich, Martin Cummins, Robin Givens, Luke Perry, Nathalie Boltt, Marisol Nichols, Mädchen Amick, and Mark Consuelos of CW's 'Riverdale' pose for a portrait.
(Top L-R) Riverdale Actors Lochlyn Munro, Skeet Ulrich, Martin Cummins, Robin Givens, Luke Perry, (Bottom L-R) Nathalie Boltt, Marisol Nichols, Mädchen Amick, and Mark Consuelos of CW’s ‘Riverdale’ pose for a portrait. BENJO ARWAS/GETTY IMAGES

Her eyes may be set toward the future, but her hands remain behind to uplift those battling their way through a storyline she knows too well. It is, she accepts, a part of her purpose.

“We all wrestle with our purpose,” she says. “But why go through something if you can’t use the experience to help someone else? It can be hard, sure. But I try to do what I can, as much as I can, whenever I can.”

Her message to those who are facing or living in the aftermath of abuse is clear, concise, and urgent: “You are not alone, and it is not your fault. You have to leave to be safe. And when you get out, and you’re tired of living just to survive, turn your focus to thriving. Now is your time.”

The Power of the Post

After a recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show, Givens was asked if she could imagine going through her tumultuous marriage during the age of social media—wouldn’t it have been crazy?

Her first thought? That time in her life couldn’t have gotten much crazier. Her second? That actually, a social media presence might’ve proved to be a useful tool in showing her she wasn’t alone and convincing her to leave earlier.

Robin Givens poses in a purple dress ,standing with son who is in a dark suit, for a charity event
Robin Givens with son attend the 14th Annual Women Who Care Awards Luncheon Benefiting United Cerebral Palsy PHOTO BY DANIEL ZUCHNIK/WIREIMAGE

“I look at the impact that social media has had on the #MeToo movement, and I think the domestic violence issue is closely aligned in that it involves an abuse of power, and there really is something to social media when it comes to speaking your truth,” she said. “I say it’s wonderful in that you can stand up for yourself—if someone says something about you that isn’t true, you can just hop on Twitter or wherever and say your peace. Your voice has a platform, and there’s extreme power in that.”

Givens is far from labeling the societal mainstay as an absolute positive, though, admitting that society’s fascination with the image of perfection has definite setbacks. As a mother, she laments, thinking about the pressure young people in general and her sons in particular must feel to look a certain way and portray a perfect life.

“It’s a tricky thing, and I’ve played it from multiple perspectives—from being out of the spotlight and not caring in the least about followers or posting to being told I need to boost my engagements and post multiple times a day. It’s really hard to wrap my head around,” she says. “When it comes down to it, there’s an upside and a downside to social media—that’s where balance comes in, and we have to do our best to navigate the waters.”

It’s a balance Givens is learning to measure with increasing precision as she spends more and more time in the digital space promoting her current show, Riverdale, and hosting upcoming projects.

Career 2.0
True to form, Givens never planned on landing a role on the hit show Riverdale as the town’s mayor. It’s an opportunity that found her in Houston cheering on her youngest son at a tennis tournament, of all places.

She’d spent the last few months easing back into acting after being challenged by her publisher to make herself her own project.

“It was actually pretty funny. My children were older and preparing to leave the nest, and telling me, ‘you’re always around mom, go do something,’ and I’d respond, ‘you’re what I do—what do you mean?’ So, when I received the call from my agent asking me to come out to audition, I didn’t think twice. I flew out, read, and by the end of the day, I had a job.”

Robin Givens chats on set with Daily Pop Co-Hosts Justin Sylvester and Carissa Culiner
Givens chats on set with Daily Pop Co-Hosts Justin Sylvester and Carissa Culiner. AARON POOLE/E! ENTERTAINMENT/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

Based on the Archie comic strip, Riverdale follows the life of teenager Archie Andrews and his high school exploits in the seemingly idyllic town. If you’re expecting the cookie-cutter storylines of comic strips past, though, you’re out of luck.

“I grew up in the age of Archie and the Pussycats and the whole gang, and I loved them, but in no way is this the Archie I grew up with,” she said. “The creators were brilliant in bringing everything current and dealing with issues that our youth are facing today.”

The best part of the remake by far—and what Givens is most proud of—is the diversity of the cast and the ease with which it’s accomplished.

“The thing I love most is that when you look at the show, you have black people and white people and gay people—so many people are covered, and it’s done effortlessly. It just looks like the world is supposed to look and moves the way the world is supposed to move.”

Riverdale isn’t the only role on her radar. As Givens continues to answer passion’s call, the upcoming projects are starting to stack up.

She stars on ABC’s newly premiered series The Fix, a legal drama co-written and executive produced by Marcia Clark (lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson case) that centers on a famous prosecutor searching for redemption and justice after losing a case and freeing a killer years earlier.

Givens is also set to lead an ensemble cast in OWN’s upcoming family drama Ambitions, produced by prolific producer Will Packer and set to premiere later this year.

What’s next on the list? Without a doubt, Givens has her heart set on two future goals: authoring another book and finding her way back to Broadway. Those plans aren’t written in ink, though—she knows they’ll manifest when they’re meant to—and not a moment before.

“It’s not necessarily part of a plan—those are just things I feel it’s important to do for me,” she says. “I’m at a point in my life where I realize that my happiness and passion for life is more important than having what people deem to be a ‘successful’ career; I’m just going with the flow and working on being the best, healthiest, and most well-rounded person I can be.”

Rockin’ Robin

God, truth, authenticity, and yoga. It’s a tried-and-true combination that has seen Givens through her highest peaks and deepest trials.

She’ll be the first to admit that had just one circumstance changed along her journey, life would’ve looked completely different. If her mother had anything to do with it, we’d have never known Givens as the femme fatale Imabelle in Rage in Harlem, the unapologetically feminist Jacquelyn Boyers in Boomerang, or the militant Kiswana Browne in The Women of Brewster Place—we’d be calling her Dr. Givens instead. But, despite the rollercoaster of ups and downs, she acknowledges her path has molded her into a woman she is proud of today.

“I’m very much a work in progress, and it’s hard to say I’m happy for all the difficulty I’ve experienced in my life, but it’s a big part of who I am now,” she says.

“I truly believe there is opportunity in adversity,” Givens continues. “When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm or some unimaginable circumstance, those are the moments to push and stretch to become all we were intended to be.”

Becoming…now that sounds like a plan.

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