International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! International women’s day commemorates the movement for women’s rights.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) released an interview of Jonna Gerken, current SWE president. In the interview Jonna discusses the challenges and opporutnies that women engineers are facing today. She notes that company culture is one of the biggest challenges.

Jonna also discusses her priorities for her term as SWE president. The three main priorities are professional excellence, advocacy and globalization.

Reading her interview, its clear that company culture needs to change and finding advocates and allies might be the way.  To read the interview in full or learn more about International Women’s Day, please see the links below!

Link:

https://www.astm.org/standardization-news/?q=first-person/swe%E2%80%99s-2018-president-talks-about-women-engineering-ma18.html

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

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Women Earning More College Degrees – Still Underrepresented in Career Levels

A new study about women in the work place has just been released. The study has a lot of interesting statistics and tips or suggestions. We will be presenting some of the information in a series of blog posts.

The first sentence of the report is striking, “Women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for thirty years and counting.”

Why is this still an issue, with record number of company’s committed to gender diversity?

An interesting direct quote from the report may have one answer, “Men think women are doing better than they really are.”  As leaders in our field, we need to educate others around us about the issues that we may be facing.

How do you educate others?
  • First educate yourself by reading the recent articles and data.
  • Have a clear objective for these conversations:
    • For example, I want to improve the career training for young professionals. I suggest to management that we could have monthly brown bag lunches about career topics.
  • Be prepared for tough questions on how this will help the company.
    • Empowering and developing your employees can pay off in the long run.
    • Studies have shown more diverse group come up with more efficient and effective solutions.
  • Keep doing it. Get out there and educate others about the opportunities that can be improved.
Links:

Making Mentors Long-Term

Once you have established a relationship with a mentor through multiple emails, phone calls or meetings, its important to transition them to a long-term mentor.  Be honest and establish an expectation of how often you will contact them. It’s good to email them every 3-6 months with an update on your career and if you are comfortable, your personal life. My emails generally talk about my current job, if I am considering a switch in careers and an update about my daughter who just started walking.

What about mentors I have not contacted in awhile?

Consider the mentors you have now, when was the last time you contacted them?  Most mentors are understanding that you are busy and will email or call when you want to talk. Email them an update, worst case they do not answer. More than likely you will not keep every mentor you have ever had throughout your career.

Tips of Making Long-term Mentors:

  • Email every 3-6 months
  • Remember to ask them about their personal or professional life
  • Highlight your own personal or professional changes or accomplishments
  • Consider a phone call if you are comfortable

Negotiating Your Offer Letter

We know the gender pay gap exists. In 2016, women made 76 cents for every dollar men made. There are a lot of factors that cause this gap. This blog post focuses on what you can negotiate in your next offer letter.

Do Your Research
You just interviewed for a job that fits you perfectly. What now? Do you homework, research which items you may be able to negotiate.
Here are a list of suggested steps in your research.
  • Average salary for that job title in your area.
  • Salary range is comparing large cities to more rural locations.
  • Sites to checkout payscale, glassdoor and indeed.
  • Talk to mentors, colleagues or others in your field about how best to negotiate.
Plan Your Discussion
  • Review the job description and requirements:
    • What skills will you need to develop?
    • What additional skills do you bring?
  • What is your range?
    • Do you have a lower limit, know it and stick to it!
  • Is there an option for a bonus?
    • If you prove yourself in a year, can you get a 2% bonus?

Other Things To Be Negotiated
Usually the conversation about negotiation is focused only on salary, however there are other parts of the job offer to be discussed.

  • Vacation days, personal days, sick days
  • Health insurance – if you have it through someone else or another program, you dont need to pay into to it.
  • 401k matching, how much do they match?
  • Career development support – will they pay for you to go to conference or take a class

Tips For Negotiation

  • Be reasonable, ask for what fits the job responsibilities and you.
  • Anything can be negotiated. The worst outcome is they say no.
  • Know your worth, dont settle for less than you deserve.
  • Do you have a lower salary limit, know it and stick to it!
  • Keep your salary amount to yourself. You can deal in percentages, “I asked for 5% more.”
  • Practice the conversation with a friend or family member to get comfortable. Talking about money can be uncomfortable, work past that feeling.
  • Some companies do not negotiate salary. They calculate based on degrees, years of experience and title.

Links:

How to Interview

You are interviewing for your dream job, how do you prepare? Every email, phone call or interview conversation you have with the recruiter or company is important.

The basic list of topics are found below:

  • Review your resume
  • Review the job description
  • Research the company
  • Practice the STAR interviewing method

Everyone prepares for interview differently.  I spend a lot of time researching the people and the company. Personally, I have found the following to be critical:

  • Research the interviewers through Linkedin
  • Prepare specific questions for each interviewer
  • Try to determine the following through the interview:
    • The leadership style of your manager.
    • The work environment.
    • The overall atmosphere of the company.

If possible finish all your prep for the interview in the afternoon before. This will allow you to relax the night before the interview. Day of the interview

  • Leave an extra half an hour early
  • Find a local coffee place where you can go if you are early
  • Stay positive and focused the entire interview – turn off or completely silence your phone
  • Take notes while each person is talking
  • Give business cards to each person
  • Follow-up within 24 hours with a thank you email to all interviewers whose contact information you have. Your notes will help to make each email individualized.

The most overlooked step is making sure to interview the employees of the company. Do not be afraid to ask the tough questions. When you are talking to other employees, try to determine the work environment. What is my ideal manager? How will I grow under the leadership?

Overall, if you want to have a good interview, you must prepare.
Links:

What is Your Brand?

What is a Brand?
A brand is an image a person or product puts out to the world, or how it or they are perceived. For you, your career brand is your image, your reputation. It’s your promise of excellence, your distinctive characteristics that set you apart from other workers and job-seekers.

Why is Branding Important?
Branding allows you to be consistent and authentic. When competing for jobs or awards, you have a clear consistent message of who you and what you have accomplished.

What is Your Brand?
Who are you? Not just in your career but also in life. If this is a hard question, consider answering the questions below and start making your brand.

Where to Start?
You want to brand yourself and have no idea where to start. The first question to answer is what three adjectives would you use to describe yourself? How would others describe you?

If how others describe you is not how you want to be perceived, consider changing your behavior. For example, if you want to be known as a dedicated, strong leadership and goal-oriented, exhibit those behaviors.

Where to Go Next?
Review some of the questions below and start to think about what you want your brand to be!
  • What do you value?
  • What are your passions?
  • How do you accomplish your tasks or goals?
  • How do you accomplish the complex tasks?
  • What do others come to you for?
  • What adjectives do people use to describe you?