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Are You Guilty of Unconscious Bias?

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Last Wednesday, serial entrepreneur John Greathouse published a blog post in The Wall Street Journal titled, Why Women in Tech Might Consider Just Using Their Initials Online. He argued that, “…women in today’s tech world should create an online presence that obscures their gender. A gender-neutral persona allows women to access opportunities that might otherwise be closed to them. Once they make an initial connection with a potential employer or investor, such women then have an opportunity to submit their work and experiences for an impartial review.”

Soon after the post was published, readers reacted, including Cathy Belk, founder of JumpStart, who wrote an article in Fortune titled No! Female Entrepreneurs Should Not Have To Hide Their Gender To Get Funding. She explains that “asking women to hide or change who they are doesn’t create equality or drive change. All it does is reinforce the status quo…”.

While Greathouse may have had good intentions, it ended up having unintended consequences. He may have thought that by hiding the fact they are women potential funders would automatically assume these applicants are men. This automatic assumption is known as unconscious bias. To back up his point, he stated that “Many people in the business community are “intellectually dishonest,” and while they preach diversity, they don’t practice it.” But, instead of  going after those he described as intellectually dishonest, he chose an easier path, suggesting that women create an online presence that obscures their gender. That, in itself, is acquiescing to the status quo rather than trying to change it.

Although the Wall Street Journal article focuses on women, there is a job search analogy to be drawn from it. Imagine a job seeker with a non-English name being asked to change it to one more readily acceptable, or suggest that they omit photos from their online presence, or use initials when applying for a job. This happens.

When it comes to bias, no matter how open minded we think we are, we all have it to some degree and by the way, it is not limited to ethnicity or race. It is shaped by our experiences, what other people tell us, media portrayals, etc. While we are mostly aware of conscious bias because it’s explicit, unconscious bias is instinctive; it is unintentional, and something we are not usually aware of. Because of all this, it is important that all of us (businesses, employers and individuals), become more in tuned with our biases before we make automatic assumptions.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Microsoft’s Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan wrote, a piece titled Screen In to diversify your workforce. She states, “Screening In reflects our desire to bring in talented people who aren’t carbon copies of existing employees, because building a homogenous workforce isn’t the best way to innovate and problem solve for the increasingly diverse customers we serve.” As well intended as this statement is, the image used in the article did not reflect the diversity of which she touted. Was unconscious bias at play with the choice of that image? Probably, although it does not detract from the message of a company committed to doing things right.

As part of the Screen In approach, all Microsoft employees are required to participate in an annual Unconscious Bias Training. Not only that, but Microsoft is making the training available externally for anyone to experience. Experimenting with the tool might help us learn our own unconscious biases and change our behaviours.

Another area of the job search where unconscious bias often rears its head is in resume reviews. A Fast Company article, How Unconscious Bias Affects Everything We Do,  suggests that before doing so, managers could be asked to respond to a series of questions such as:

  • “Does this person’s resume remind you in any way about yourself?”
  • “Does it remind you of somebody you know? Is that positive or negative?”
  • “Are there things about the resume that particularly impact you? Are they really relevant to the job?”
  • “What assessments have you made already about the person? Are they grounded in solid information or simply your interpretations?”

The Wall Street Journal article might have stirred up the hornet’s nest about gender, but it has also opened up an opportunity to have conversations around our preconceived notions. And, from a job search perspective, these conversations could help to decipher biases and tap into the skills, talents and expertise of everyone.

British Economist, Journalist and former advisor to the World Trade Organization, Philippe Legrain, said “Most innovations nowadays come not from individuals, but from groups of talented people sparking off each other – and foreigners with different ideas, perspectives and experiences add something extra to the mix. If there are 10 people sitting around a table trying to come up with a solution to a problem and they all think alike, then they are no better than one. But if they all think differently and bounce new ideas and reactions off one another, they can solve problems better and faster, as a growing volume of research shows.”

What are your thoughts on unconscious bias? Are you guilty? Take a few minutes to complete the free unconscious bias training offered by Microsoft. I am halfway through it.

Happy Valentine’s Day: 6 Tips to Put a Little Love in Your Career

Valentino-3Happy Valentine’s Day! Today would’ve been the 18th birthday of my cat, Valentino, seen here on the right. We lost him and his mom, Vanessa, last year, and I am just now getting the courage to even talk about them.

However, this re-run from last year’s archives is not about my cats. It is a gift from me to you. Click on this link (Put a Little Love in Your Career) to get some Valentine’s Day encouragement.

Share your comments here to let me know how you have been putting some love in your career and job search. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

And the Most Overused Resume Buzzword for 2013 Is…

 

Responsible2

Over the past several years, LinkedIn has been coming out with its top ten list of buzzwords found in members’ profiles and resumes. This year, ‘responsible’ heads the list, but it won’t be considered ‘news’ to some recruiters.  In a 2010 survey of Canadian HR professionals and recruiters, they unanimously agreed that employers hire based on results, not on what job candidates were “responsible for…”.

To arrive at the top ten buzzwords, LinkedIn analyzes the English-language profiles of millions of its worldwide members. Since 2010, some words have been eliminated or moved further down the list but ‘innovative’ has been a constant. It is interesting that creative, organizational and effective occupy the top three positions in 2011 and 2012.

LI_Buzzwords

What tends to get lost in these analyses is the fact that job descriptions and job postings are full of these buzzwords. The dichotomy then is, how original can a job seeker get? To ensure their resumes are selected by the applicant tracking system programmed with these same buzzwords, job seekers have little choice but to stack their resumes or profiles with them.

All is not lost. There is a way to circumvent this overuse of buzzwords. It is called networking, an activity that many job seekers detest. Networking does not rely on buzzwords. It is a planned approach to building professional relationships through social media and in-person contacts, and a chance to be seen by recruiters and decision makers. Job seekers have an opportunity to add value to conversations, showcase their expertise and gain visibility from the people who really matter.

So while you might be a responsible and strategic thinker, who is creative, effective and patient; an expert in organizational development, driven to deliver innovative ideas and be extremely analytical, you still have a long way to go to create a resume and LinkedIn profile that will totally be devoid of these buzzwords.

Are you ready to shun those buzzwords? You can start by sharing concrete examples of your accomplishments and how you have added value to your employer.

 

Related links:

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2013 [Infographic]

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2012

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2011

LinkedIn Most Overused Words in 2010

 

 

 

Why Are Robots Reading Your Resume?

Robot Reading ResumeAfter a robust discussion this week on a LinkedIn Group (Career Coach Forum) about applicant tracking systems, one contributor, Sharon Davis shared the infographic below about ATS.

What started out as a discussion about the length of time recruiters take to scan a resume, ended up as a segue into a thread on the inanimate ATS (applicant tracking system). That pesky tool that gets to decide which resumes get in front of the hiring manager, and which ones don’t.

Resume overload in human resources departments has given rise to robot-like applicant tracking systems. One of my earlier blog posts, 10 Resume Tips to Beat Online Applicant Tracking Systems, explains how these systems work, but this HireRight graphic shows how job seekers what they can do to ensure their resumes have a better chance of being seen by recruiters.

Since applicant tracking systems remain core to HR, according to Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte, job seekers should learn how they work and beat them at their own game.

Meet the Robots Reading Your Resume - An infographic by HireRight

Attribution to www.hireright.com for this graphic.

Canada Career Week – November 4 – 8, 2013

Canada Career WeekToday’s issue of the Monday Morning Rx is a salute to Canada Career Week.

The week, November 4 – 8, 2013, has been designed “to promote, showcase and celebrate career development nation-wide”, by the Canadian Career Development Foundation and its partners.

Canadians are, indeed, at a crossroads in their careers, and even though there are a plethora of services and resources available, many are still not sure how to access these resources and make them work to their advantage.

public perceptions about career development and the workplace

At The Wright Career Solution, we will be hosting a FREE Q & A on Thursday November 7, at 8:00 pm EST, to provide answers to questions about career, resumes, interview strategies, or the job search. Details are below.

Can’t attend? No worries…send your questions to: careercoach[at]thewrightcareer.com, and we will answer them live.

To join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Go to Canada Career Week at The Wright Career Solution. If you would prefer to join by telephone, the phone line is: 1(424)203-8450 (US/Canada only). Meeting ID: 474 467 653.

If you are a career professional, then I invite you to participate as well.

Related information on Canada Career Week and Career Development:

Sharon Graham’s Blog

Facebook

CERIC’s Online Survey of Public Perceptions About Career Development and the Workplace

 

 

 

 

Is Your Resume Telling Your Story?

This is your Monday Morning Rx…a weekly does of career inspiration (or humour)!

Is your resume telling your story

Once upon a time there was a resume that thought it was the best resume in town. It had an Objective that focused on what it wanted from the employer; followed by a series of job description statements and ended with References Available on Request. The resume looked at itself in the mirror and was quite pleased with its appearance.

Off to the job boards it went – Workopolis, Monster, Indeed, Eluta – where it applied for all the jobs that were available, whether it met the qualifications or not. It was so busy applying that it forgot to customize itself for each position. This resume then to sat and waited…and waited… for calls! It started thinking, “I have sent out so many resumes, why am I not being called for interviews?”

After a frustrating few weeks, it found the courage to call one of the employers. It was told that they received the resume but it was tossed into “File 13”. “What is File 13?” the resume asked. “The garbage bin”, the employer answered. “You did not include any achievement stories, neither did you demonstrate how the company would benefit from what you had to offer.”

As you can imagine, that was not a happy-ever-after story for this resume. It had to go back to the writing board to think of strategies to create an effective resume. Luckily it found a blog post on 5 Ways to Get Your Resume Ready for Prime Time.

Moral of the story… A resume that dresses itself up with a ‘me-focussed’ Objective; a laundry list of job descriptive statements instead of success stories, and a meaningless References Available on Request declaration, will never tell a convincing story or open doors.

While I can’t lay claim to the resume acronym below, it clearly illustrates that to capture an employer’s attention, a storytelling resume must contain:

Relevant

Experiences and

Skills, which are

Understood and

Measured by

Employers

What about your resume? Is it telling a compelling story? If not, it’s time to seek help.

Hope you received some resume inspiration from today’s dose of Monday Morning Rx.

Job Hunting Guide for Canadian Newcomers Goes Digital

Brampton, ON, February 20, 2012. The second edition of No Canadian Experience, Eh? A Career Success Guide for New Immigrants is now available as an ebook and in digital formats such as Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iPad. Career Coach and Author, Daisy Wright, who first published the hard copy version in 2007, said, “It is common for me to field enquiries about the book from professionals around the world who are planning to move to Canada and want to make sure they understand how to conduct an effective job search campaign on arrival in Canada”.

While the book addresses job search basics such as résumé and cover letter design, and how to prepare and master the interview, ways to build professional networks, and secrets to access the hidden job market, this edition includes contributions from 16 top career experts.

“The job search process has changed significantly since 2007, and it was important to give newcomers up-to-date tools and information that will help them compete with other job seekers in the crowded marketplace”, said Wright.

Wright says that while settling successfully in a new country is not an easy task, it is achievable if one adopts a success mindset and perseveres. “I hope that readers will recognize, and be inspired by, the consistent theme throughout the book – that perseverance and the application of various job search strategies can, in the end, provide the desired results and minimize the trauma often associated with settlement.”

The ebook can be ordered directly from the book’s website at No Canadian Experience, Smashwords, and Amazon. The regular hard copy can be ordered from Career/Life Skills Resources in Concord, Ontario as well as from CreateSpace, a division of Amazon.com. In a few months it will be available from Chapters-Indigo and Amazon.ca.

The Wright Career Solution is a full service career coaching firm providing job search strategies to individuals who are ready to move their careers forward.

– END –

 

CONTACT:  Daisy Wright
The Wright Career Solution
Phone: (647) 930-4763
E-mail Address: daisy[at]thewrightcareer.com
Websites:  www.nceinstitute.com  & www.thewrightcareer.com

 

5 Questions a Candidate Should Ask in an Interview

Are you one of those candidates whose eyes turn to the ceiling, or who say “No” when asked if you have any questions? As a job seeker, professional or senior executive, you are smarter than that. You have already researched the company and have a list of questions to ask. After all, the interviewer(s) may have been so busy taking notes that they missed some of your key points, and you welcome another opportunity to emphasize those points.

One way of making sure that your key points were not missed and that you have demonstrated your value in the interview, is to be ready for this inevitable question – “Do you have any questions?” Here are some questions to ask:

What do you see as the priorities for this job in the first three months?

Their answer will give you more clarity and allow you to zero in on how your background closely matches those priorities.

Is there anything you’d like me to explain in more detail?

This question gives you a chance to delve deeper into your successes and illustrate your ability to exceed their expectations.

Do you have any doubts about my ability to do this job?

You may or may not get an answer to this question but if you do, it will help you to address any weaknesses or shortcomings they may have picked up during the interview.

Why did this vacancy occur?

You will want to know if it’s a newly-created position; if the person was let go, or if it’s a hot seat where no one stays for too long.

If I am the successful candidate, which duties would you like me to accomplish first?

This will go to the heart of where they are hurting, and you will have to be prepared to focus your energies in those areas first.

Since you are also interviewing the company, the responses to these questions will also help you determine if the company will be a good fit for you. Go ahead and boldly ask those questions. It’s another opportunity to tell your stories and get hired!

 

Image: Courtesy of Lifehack.org

Own Your Name. Build Your Personal Brand. Up Your Job Search Game

Do you own your name? “Of course, I do”, you say! Last week I hosted a free teleconference for job seekers and professionals to gauge their career plans for 2012, and see if I could help them achieve their goals. I offered some options on how they could up their job search game in the new year, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. A few days later, I had coffee with someone who had missed the call, but who wanted to bring me up-to-date on her next career move. She told me about her plans for the year and about her new website. While discussing the website, I suggested that she claimed her name on the web by registering it as a domain. Her eyes opened widely as in “What do you mean?”

These days whether you are a job seeker or an entrepreneur, one of the first steps to building your personal brand is to claim your name – register your name as a website. I learned this early. You see, actor Jude Law’s former nanny has my name, and I wasn’t aware of it until I heard of the scandal surrounding their alleged affair. Soon after that, I claimed and registered www.daisywright.com and www.daisywright.ca, as domain names through Hostmonster (Affiliate Link). I have since given up the .CA domain.

Why is it important to own your name? The hiring process has changed for job seekers, and personal branding has become very important.  Recruiters and employers don’t rely solely on traditional methods to learn about or evaluate potential employees. They are swamped with résumés, phone calls and emails. It is, therefore, your responsibility to change the way you market your stories and your skills to employers, and raise your visibility because your résumé and cover letter are no longer enough. The same is true for entrepreneurs.

To begin your brand-building process, your first step is to register your name as a domain, if it’s still available.  Use it as a one-stop haven for your social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube (if you’re venturing into videos). When employers and recruiters begin searching for you, or when you need to connect with someone of influence, it’s easy to send them a link to your own website which houses your other profiles.

In a recent Fast Company article, the writer tells a story of how a 16-year old high school student emailed her out of the blue, and asked to join her as a guest on her TV show. He did not send a résumé, but instead included links to his website, Twitter account, Facebook page, and three relevant YouTube clips. This is a 16-year old! He has already learned how to use the web to his advantage–building a strong and positive personal brand before he even reaches his adult years. Twelve months into his brand-building exercise, he is already a well-known regular tech TV expert and blogger–and he’s not even out of high school yet.

What about you? Are you ready to step forward and do something as daring as ‘Mr. 16-year old’? Do you own your name on the web? Are your profiles up-to-date and housed in one place? Have you scoured your Facebook profile to make sure that everything is professional? Do you have blog? If not, are you contributing your expertise to industry blogs? If a recruiter or employer begins searching for someone with your stories and skills, will you stand out from the herd, or will you stay hidden in the crowd?

CEOs, HR Executives and recruiters encourage job seekers to use social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and blogs to improve their chances of getting a job. One CEO stated in a Boston Globe article that, “We often find hires because of their activity in social media and, especially, the blogosphere.”

A recruiter said, “We like to see candidates who have filled in their LinkedIn profile completely. Upload your resume, and if you are a blogger (and it is relevant to your career), post the link to your blog. With respect toTwitter, she said,”We use Twitter directory tools to find candidates whose bios match our hiring needs.”

The field is too competitive these days for you to continue doing what you have always done and expecting different results. You’ve got to be willing to go the extra mile in bringing visibility to your story. It’s time to up your game, begin building your personal brand and let the job vacancies find you.

Sources:

Five Steps to a Better Brand

Social Media Advice for Job Seekers

 

Monday Rx: Thank a Co-Worker Today!

This coming Thursday, November 24, is the US Thanksgiving, and the Black Friday TV ads are already reaching me from across the border. After all, I am just a mere 90 minutes away from Buffalo. But, because of the prevalence of these ads, a debate has begun between my brain and my pocket. Should I head across the border on Friday? Right now, I don’t know which one will win the debate by the end of the week.

OK, so what does this have to do with my topic? Well, it’s so easy to get wrapped up into the commercial aspect of the Holiday; so much that we forget the real reason for the season. It’s all about gratitude – being thankful for what we have; being appreciative for family, friends and coworkers, and being open to share.  And talking about coworkers, when last have you thanked one of them for ‘just being there’?

According to Jon Gordon, author of the Energy Bus, “the number one reason why people leave their jobs is because they don’t feel appreciated. A simple thank you and a show of appreciation could make all the difference.”  Can you imagine that a simple ‘thank you’ could determine whether a co-worker stays or leaves? Yes, two small, but very powerful words could make a difference.

Wherever you are today, whether or not you are celebrating the official US Thanksgiving, find a co-worker and tell him or her how much you appreciate them. It could make their day, and yours too!

To your success,

 

 

 

PS: Every Monday, I take off my career coaching and resume writing hat and write a ‘Monday Rx’ post to stave off the Monday blues from which some of us suffer. Why not add your email address in the box on the top right of this page to receive each post? And, while you are at it, ask a friend or coworker to add their email address as well. I appreciate that. Thank You!