Kendra and I met many years ago, while working for an Employer in New Orleans. She was my manager and a few years younger; she always had her act together. I admired her greatly and learned so much on how she cracked some codes while working Human Resources. The year 2020 marks my 20th anniversary working in HR. I spent my twenties and early thirties making mistakes and benchmarking. I was constantly asking for forgiveness and looking for comparisons...a rebel without a cause "Pee Wee Herman" voice.. I did not emerge until my late thirties. I wish I had known much sooner that they broke the mold, when they hired me. I am different, you are different. We are all unique and have special talents and gifts. Our diversity makes the workforce more competitive. Knowledge is POWER. Learning can be done individually and collectively. I learned to look for my blind-spots and address them with myself. It has always been a FACT to study the details about people you most admire. I took copious notes, studied Kendra, and we shared "in debt" conversations about women THRIVING and SURVIVING in the workplace.
April 2nd 2019, marked a very special date for women. This date symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Because women earn less, on average, than men, they must work longer for the same amount of pay. It has been a short time since Kendra started her resume writing business (Ascend Resumes). I asked her to shed some light on a few issues with women in the workforce. She shared some best practices and tips for women. After brainstorming, she sent me the notes below and I nearly dropped my phone! It was, literally, dead on point. Let’s just dive right into our discussion on women navigating their careers in today’s society.
Women and Careers
By: Kendra Trahan
As we navigate through this article, I want you to keep in mind your career goals, your current career, and the environment in which you’d want your daughter, niece, baby sister to work. This won’t be the typical “can we juggle it all as women” article; I really want us to explore what it means to successful in our careers in this day and age. First let’s discuss the definition of success. For you it may be earning six figures, for your girlfriend it may be making it home by 4 pm daily to ensure your children are greeted by you when they arrive home from school. If we get nothing out of this article, we should all understand that success to you is not the same as success to others.
With that established, let’s now delve into some universal standards I’ve learned to accomplish my career goals. First, I’ve always remained authentically me. Sounds simple, right? Not so much. In my professional career (13 years) I’ve changed positions at least four times. If I find that I am altering my ethics, beliefs, personality, hair… for a company, I know it is not for me. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to find the best fit for YOU and YOUR family. This leads me to my second standard; putting yourself out there. As the old saying goes, all progress takes place outside of your comfort zone. As I tell my staff and clients, you are the expert. Don’t be intimidated by others’ judgements when you know your knowledge speaks for itself. How many times have we sat back in a meeting, listening to someone explain something that we either already know or can explain better? We as women hesitate to put our toes in the water if the water isn’t the exact temperature we’re used to. I’ll let you in on a little secret—men don’t do this. If they are remotely qualified for a position, they apply. We should really reassess how we make career decisions and not be afraid to go for it. Finally, this takes me to my third standard; be the expert. Are you an accountant? If so, you should seek out any relevant training, certifications, etc. that is available for you. Are you a nurse? If so, are you keeping up with your credentialing and researching innovative developments in your field? To some, this sounds like extra time and money you don’t have. Think about it this way—you are giving yourself a leg up for the long haul. If you can’t speak competently to the latest and greatest in your field, my last standard (putting yourself out there) becomes null and void. Don’t cut yourself short for something you can do in an hour or less a day. Do the work, as they say.
So what does all of this mean for you? Well, think about the intro to the article. Did you think about your current career, your career goals, your daughter’s career? If so, apply the standards above to these—I think you would agree that at least one applies. Also, as an aside, don’t forget to refine your research and negotiation skills. As Equal Pay Day just passed, it reminded me that the onus is on us as women to speak up when it comes to our compensation. Could you use more sick days in case a child gets sick or more vacation days because you are planning a big trip? Negotiate! Do you know the going rate for your position in your area? Research! Your career is in your hands and your hands are perfectly crafted to handle it.
So tell me, what career standards, best practices, etc., do you live by? I’d love to know!
Let the Good times roll!