My Why – Work is Personal

 

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Recently, I found myself in an unexpected job search. I reached out to many of my connections, knowing that networking is key to any job search, and was blessed to get many leads and suggestions. During my search, I was seeking full-time work, and exploring part-time work and business opportunities.

I decided that whatever I would do for work would have to mean. My work is personal, just as Erin Brockovich’s character said in the movie about her important work on the investigation on PG&E –  “Not personal? That is my work! My sweat! My time away from my kids! If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is—.”During my job search, I have had the opportunity to take part in very meaningful research for MIT on long-term unemployment and earn a little money as well.

I also have recently joined Viridian, a clean energy company, as an associate – to help promote green energy. People have asked me if I could have any job, what would it be, and my answer is easy, it would be a job like the one “Erin Brockovich” had in her movie. I want to make a difference, and I am excited to be a part of helping people choice more green energy.

 

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I have also finally found a full-time job and have been working happily at a non-profit for the past month. My work is in human services, and I am making a difference in people’s lives during the day. Look for a blog next month about my day job.

In my free time, I feel great that I am making a difference in the environment, helping people make a better energy choose.

Work is personal. When I choose to spend time away from my children, I need to be making a difference. That is mine why. What is yours?20151012_142800

 

By day, Rachelle, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdCO. By night, Rachelle provided career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and follow her blog at https://solutionsbyrachelle.wordpress.com/

 

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Vacation from a job search?  To rest or not…

 

Becket Vacation Job Search

As it is summer and I am going on vacation next week, I thought this previous blog about job searching on vacation is very timely:

A couple of years ago, I was in a job search that had lasted almost two years.  During that time, I worked a couple of part-time jobs, with the hopes of turning part-time work into a full-time position, but alas, I was laid off from my part-time job too.

All summer, I searched, networked, sent out resumes, and the summer was winding down.  My family had a family vacation planned, a trip we always take to the same place, same week.  The question was whether or not to take the time off from my job search.  I was feeling burnt out, and decided I needed time off to recharge my batteries, but that I would take my laptop with me, just in case.

During a job search, it is necessary to recharge your batteries.  I am not suggesting to book a $5000 trip to Disney, but to take a weekend and get away or take that planned trip you already booked.  Your job search will wait, and you can always take a peek at new job postings on your smartphone while sipping your morning coffee.

As I said, last year I took my yearly planned camping trip, with my laptop in tow.  I had a great time with my family, swimming, boating, horseback riding, and still sent out a couple of resumes.  On my third day, I got a call for a Skype interview and another call with a job offer.  I was able to take the Skype interview in the camp director’s office.  Two weeks later, I started the job I have now, and will celebrate my first anniversary next week.

This past week, we took our yearly camping trip to Camp Becket, and had a wonderful time, and I was able to rejuvenate after a hectic year in a job I love.

So take that weekend trip, and recharge your batteries.  Your job search will wait.

By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdco. By night, Rachelle provides career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.

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5 Things to Consider When Furthering Your Education in a Job Search

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5 Things to Consider When Furthering Your Education in a Job Search

Two years ago, I received my MBA.  Since graduating with dual majors many years ago, I had planned to go back to school.  I thought about law school and business school.  But then life got in the way.  I had a comfortable job with good benefits, and a very generous vacation time.  I also got married and had two wonderful children.  I did not think I could fit school into my life, and I did not want to take time away from my children. But when my younger was just a year in a half, I got laid off from my job after 12 years.

After looking for work for a few months, I found the job market to be very difficult, and all the jobs I pursued required a master’s degree.  Two months before my last day of work, I enrolled into a local MBA program.  I could have taken classes over the years and received tuition reimbursement, but now, when I was being laid off, I finally enrolled in graduate class.

Three years later, and after being underemployed for almost two of those years, I will finally receive my degree, and be able to add the letters, MBA after my name on LinkedIn.  Was it worth it?  Am I receiving offers of advanced pay and better job offers?  The answer is complicated.  Pursuing my degree allowed me to intern in a new field that I thoroughly enjoy, and finally land a full time job in this field.

My current position is in a non-profit, so my pay is much lower than my previous pay from the full time job I had three years ago, but I finally enjoy and look forward to going to work on Monday, and finally am ready to thank my former employer for laying me off.  I do believe that my degree along with a couple more years of experience in my new field will pay off.

Here are 5 things you should consider when furthering your education in a job search:

  1. Affordability – There are a lot of options, from public, private and profit colleges.  The difference in each is price.  A well known school may help you land your first position, but after that, your accomplishments will determine your future, not the name of your school. I have met a number of MBA grads from top universities who have been looking for work for 6 months or more.
  2. Look for real world experience – Companies are looking more at experience and training than academics.  Programs that offer internships or volunteer positions will be more valuable in helping you land your next job, than purely academic programs.
  3. Will more education pay off – Education is an investment.  Be sure it will pay off. Racking up student loans only to find yourself in an even longer job search, with student loans to boot, will not improve your situation. Be sure to consider the return on investment.  Will employers be more willing to hire you with an advanced degree? Will you be able to demand more pay? Does this field have a bright outlook?  Be sure to do your homework.
  4. Goals – Consider what your goals are? Are you hoping to receive better job offers with an advanced degree? Do the positions you are pursuing require an advanced degree?  What you hope to achieve?
  5. Practicality – After considering the costs, return on investments and your goals, the decision about going to school really comes down to whether or not it is practical.  Even if you have the money, you need to consider if you have the time. Are you at the point in your life where you can dedicate the time and effort to continuing education?

By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdco. By night, Rachelle provides career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.

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Community Networking – 6 ways to incorporate your community into your job search

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Networking, Networking, Networking!  In a job search, we are told again and again that we must network.  The question I get from job seekers is where to network.  Do we limit networking to organized events?  Do we network in every situation we find ourselves, church, soccer games?  Or do we limit networking to past colleagues?  The answer is, it depends. Networking in structured meetings can be more focused on the job search, and how to help each other.  Networking in your community is about having natural conversations and building relationships, which can eventually turn into leads for your job search.

Here are 6 ways

  1. Look for job seeker clubsThese meetings will give you a place to go on a weekly basis, offer friendship and support, education and a place to exchange ideas and leads.  Attending these events will get you away from your computer, and improve your self-esteem.
  2. Create a job search buddy group – Creating a job search buddy group will create a sense of accountability, where you will be accountable for your job search activities to the fellow members of the group.  Job seekers  in these type of groups have a 70% success rate in finding employment.
  3. Never outright ask if a connection knows of a job – This will end the conversation fairly quickly, as most likely, the answer will be no. Conversations need to be specific.  For example, it is better to state the kind of jobs and companies you are interested in.
  4. Do your research – Before you start networking, it is necessary to know what you are looking for and what companies you are interested in.  Stating you are looking for jobs in accounting, is not as helpful as stating you are looking for positions in medical accounting and then offering two or three possible companies.  Name dropping is helpful, as it can help jog their memory of who they may know at a particular company.
  5. Attend traditional networking events – Look for events at local a chamber of commerce website, business journal calendar of events, and websites such asmeetup.com.  Attendees at these events attend with the sole purpose of networking.  A further benefit is that  this allows you to network with people who are working.
  6. No events are off limits – Book clubs, baby showers, church and your children’s soccer games are great places to connect and through natural conversation, explain your job search.  During my job search, my son’s Taekwondo center and my church provided me with much-needed support and leads.  Just be sure to be tactful and not dominate conversations with your job search, but instead, briefly explain what you do and ask people to keep their eyes open.

Let everyone know you are looking for a job, friends, family, hairdresser and fellow job seekers.  Over 70% of jobs are found through networking, and if you share what you are looking for with your connections, you will increase your chances of landing a job quickly.

By day, Rachelle, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdCO. By night, Rachelle provided career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children.

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90 Second Commercial – Stand Out with Video

90 second commercial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A very talented film digital engineer, Gary Brefini. Gary had agreed to film a 90 second commercial for me, which is part of my personal branding plan. Gary had developed an outline to prepare for the commercial.

We prepared this video over a year ago…

I would like to share 7 tips to create a great commercial, it is necessary to be comfortable with being on camera, and this takes practice:

  1. Write a script – use the following outline as a guideline “60-second pitch” the ideas/concepts from Stuart Paap’s presentation to a local job seekers group:
    1. Basic format/content:
    2. Name
    3. Professional title
    4. Transition Phrase
    5. The “magic”
    6. “what I really do”
    7. “what my passion really is”
    8. Help or Assistance provided
    9. Target Group that you help
    10. Goal
    11. What is the ‘something” you help them do or accomplish
    12. How do you feel about it
    13. Name, title, contact info, salutation
  2. Become comfortable with video – Practice with your smartphone/laptop or tablet. It is amazing how once you press the record button, how psychologically changes the way you feel. The feeling is very different from just reading your script aloud.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice – This script not be memorized, but come across naturally, like a conversation, not a speech.
  4. Voice and body language – Remember to vary your voice – voice exercises will help – and your body language, use open body language, sitting a little forward, be engaging.
  5. Use semi-professional equipment – when you feel ready to shot your commercial, have someone who is talented and knowledgeable with video and has semi-professional equipment – Gary did a wonderful job, and I was amazed at his knowledge and the equipment he used. Gary also recommends: “Good sound and lighting is critical. No “orange” skin tones. The semi-pro equipment and good imaging are important. Your face should be correctly lighted…Sound should not have background sounds of any kind such as room echo or people talking or phones ringing etc…”
  6. Link video to your LinkedIn – Use YouTube or Vimeo – People should be able to find your 60 – 90 commercial easily.
  7. Smile, Smile, Smile – This is the most important point – When you smile, your voice is warmer, and you will come across as a kind and pleasant person, someone people would want to get to know better. Look at the camera and speak as if you were talking to a close friend.

By day, Rachelle, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdCO. By night, Rachelle provided career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children.

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How Working Moms and Moms Returning to Work Can Succeed in Job Interviews

By Rachelle Lappinen, originally posted on job-hunt.org

Interview

One of the most stressful parts of a job search is preparing for job interviews, and this gets even harder when you are a stay-at-home mom trying to return to the workforce. Going from answering questions “Why can’t I have chocolate milk before bed?” to “Tell me about a time when you dealt with a difficult client?” can be challenging.

I work with many mothers who thought they had a few more years to stay home with their kids and are now in job search mode due to a spouse being laid off. There are many things to take into account, from research and preparing for possible interview questions, to dealing with explaining why there is a gap in your work history.

The Employer’s Concern

Employers want to be sure that you will be a reliable employee who does a good job, consistently.

If you have been a stay-at-home mom for several years, be ready to answer why you took time away from the workforce.

Deal directly and forcefully with “the employment gap” question if this is your first job after staying home.

For example, if there is a 6-year gap, address it head on, or the employer will assume the worst. Give them an honest answer, such as

“I decided to leave my last job and become a stay-at-home mother until my children reached school age. I am now ready and excited to return to the workforce!”

Never act apologetic! Tell them “I was raising children” — but don’t assume the interviewer will want to hear about your life as a stay-at-home mom. Avoid providing too much information, particularly information that is not relevant to your qualifications for the job.

10+ Tips for Your Next Job Interview

Following these ten tips should help you succeed in your next job interview:

1. Appearance.
Dress one or two levels higher than the position you are interviewing for.

2. What to bring.
Bring several copies of your resume, printed on resume paper, and references printed on the same. If appropriate, also bring your career portfolio with writing and project samples.

3. Preparation.
Research the company on the Internet. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to find people who work there, and learn about career paths of current and former employees. (Read The Winning Difference: Pre-Interview Preparation for more details.)

4. Prepare for situational questions.
Have 7 to 10 STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) stories to use as answers to many interview questions. Write out these stories and practice reading them aloud, especially the day before the interview. For more information, Google “Preparing for STAR Answers for your job interview.”

5. Prepare questions to ask.
Be ready to ask well thought-out questions about the job, company, and career path. Do not ask questions that can easily be answered from the “About Us” section of the company website, which you should be very familiar with, but instead, use ones that show that you are really interested. (Read 45 Good Questions to Ask in Job Interviews and 45 Questions You Should NOT Ask in a Job Interview for ideas.)

6. Prepare good answers about your strengths and weaknesses.
Use the job description as your guide, finding your strengths among their needs. The answer about a weakness is best dealt with by using one that you have improved on and turned into a strength, or one that is not essential to the job. Avoid cliches, such as “I am a workaholic.” (Read How to Answer the Common Job Interview Questions, which includes the greatest weakness and greatest strength questions, for help.)

7. Practice smiling and making eye contact.
This may seem obvious, but when you are nervous, you may seem shifty and untrustworthy, and forget to smile. A lot of people do not naturally smile in conversations, and you should know if you are one of them. Practice mock video or Skype interviews, making a conscious effort to smile and connect. Use a mirror during your rehearsals. Grab a friend or family member to help, if possible!

8. Do a test run.
One or two days before the interview, drive to the location at the same time of day, taking note of traffic and where to park. It is unwise to trust a GPS or Google Maps alone and take a chance on being late. Have a backup set of directions printed on paper if you are relying on electronic directions. If at all possible, allow extra time for problems such as a flat tire, etc. You really want the job, right?

9. Relax before the interview.
To take off the nerves, practice deep breathing. This will relax you, and will also help to open up your airways, making your voice sound better, more confident. Don’t know how? Just Google “relaxation breathing techniques.” There are instructions and even videos explaining it in detail.

10. Get a good night’s sleep.
Prepare things days ahead of time, such as clothing, resumes, and your portfolio, so that you will be well rested for the interview. It is best, if at all possible, to have no preparation tasks left to accomplish the day before the interview, so you can completely relax.

Important — child care! One last tip, be sure to have a back up to your back up on child care. You won’t make a great impression if you need to reschedule your interview due to a lack of child care.

Considering Life Balance

When considering life balance – such as what happens when you need to take time off to pick up your child, consider the advice of Liz Ryan, in her article “Five Questions To Ask Before You Accept A Job Offer.”

Sometimes, we are so excited that we got an offer, that we forget about what is really important to us. Some of the questions that Ms. Ryan suggests you ask are:

  • How do you handle communication after hours and on the weekends? At one of my jobs, I stayed in pretty close touch with my boss when we had big projects brewing, so we’d text and email on the weekend. At my last job we didn’t do much of that. How does it work here?
  • How do you handle time off requests for a person in this position? I don’t have any specific plans coming up but I wanted to find out how you deal with situations when somebody needs a few hours or a day off work, for instance. Can you tell me about that?

Some organizations are more flexible than others. It’s best to know which kind the employer is before you accept the offer.

How to Handle Illegal Interview Questions

Be ready for illegal interview questions. For a working mom or a mother returning to the workforce, illegal interview questions could deal with marital or family status. You can refuse to answer these questions, be evasive, or answer honestly. Often, a good response is, “Is that relevant to the job I’m applying for?”

In Cynthia Shapiro’s book, “What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here? 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get You Hired,” Ms. Shapiro talks about how hiring managers will trick you. The interviewer may say “I’m sorry for being late, but I had to pick up my daughter from soccer practice,” followed by, “Aren’t kids great?”

Although sometimes asked innocently by an inexperienced interviewer, the purpose of this question may be to invite you to volunteer a social response. Don’t fall for it by sharing your stories of being a taxi mom. Just smile and say instead “Yes, they are; how old is your daughter?”

Bottom Line

In the end, remember, an interview is a two-way conversation. You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. This is especially the case if you are looking for full-time work, where you will be spending most of your wakeful hours with these people.


About the author…By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdco. By night, Rachelle provides career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.

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8 Ways to get Kids in Nature

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Re-blogged by Rachelle Lappinen

8 Ways to Get Kids in Nature – http://wp.me/p1aPgJ-1z

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The Benefits of Joining a Job Search Buddy Group

Job Search Buddy Group

In past blogs, I have written about the benefits of attending job search clubs, from networking, learning new job search techniques and improving self-esteem, and getting out of the house and away from the computer. Now, I want to share with you another idea, the idea of job search buddy groups and how they can really jump start your job search.

Buddy groups are different from the traditional job club – where 20 to 30 job seekers attend to network and take part career workshops. Instead, buddy groups give you a space to share such things as your frustrations, successes and seek advice from fellow job seekers. These groups also allow for members to become accountable to each other, which is very important in order to keep going strong.

The elements of a good buddy group are that each member gets time, usually 10 minutes, to share such things as the types of jobs they are looking for, how their job search is going, what they are doing to improve, goals for the next week, and what resources and help that they need. The beauty of this is that each member shares what has gone well in the last week, and by stating their goals for the next week, they feel obligated to accomplish them.

Setting up – It is easy to set up a buddy group. I would recommend the number participants of 4 to 5 members, and a meeting of once a week, same time, the same place. Members need to be committed to meet each week, and there needs to be a fixed agenda. Face to face is the best option, but Skype meetings can work as well. I would suggest coffee houses as meeting places or meeting rooms in local libraries. For leadership, each meeting needs a facilitator for timing and making sure the meeting is keeping to the agenda. This facilitator can rotate each week.

Meetings – It is imperative to start each meeting on time, and at the start of each meeting, it is important to recap the ‘ground rules’ such as confidentiality – Vegas rule, keep all conversations positive and non-judgmental. I would also suggest starting the meeting with a good piece of news or positive quote. The goal of each meeting should be to have each member leave feeling more confident on their job search than when they arrived.

Topics – Possible topics to discuss would be debriefing interviews, what went well, what could have been done better. Peer review of resumes and cover letters, and requests for leads and needs. If members have an interview coming up, it is recommended to arrange a call to a fellow buddy for a prep-talk before the interview.

Problems – Of course with any group of people come together, there are bound to be problems. One possible problem is what to do with the non-contributor – sometimes you have a member who is quiet, without anything to add. The best way to handle that is to ask them, “do you have any ideas that would help Sue Jones?” The second problem could be the Me, Me, Me syndrome. Do you have a member of the group that seems to like the sound of their own voice? Handle this by using a timer and being strict when the time is up. Finally, as job searches are filled with enough negativity, it is imperative that you end any negative talk. Be insistent on keeping the conversation positive. Remember the number one goal of the meeting, to have each member feel more confident with their job search.

Individualized – Buddy groups, unlike traditional job seeking meeting are meant to concentrate and tailored for the job search needs of each member, and not a place to network. Buddy groups generally meet once a week for about 2 hours and provide individualized support. New ideas are exchanged, such as how to network into particular industries, how to focus resumes for a particular position and more importantly, what should be accomplished during the following week.

Accountability – Members report on their accomplishments each week, creating a sense of accountability, which pushes each member in a positive direction in their job search.

Please share with me your experiences with job search buddy groups.

About the author…

By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdco. By night, Rachelle provides career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.

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Salary Negotiation Strategies for Working Moms and Stay-at-Home

Salary Negotiation 2

By Rachelle Lappinen, reposted from Job-hunt.org

Often the toughest part of re-entering the job market or changing jobs is the salary negotiation process. Is it a mistake to accept the first offer? Or, do you risk alienating your new employer if you push for a better salary or compensation package? Numerous studies show that a substantial “wage gap” exists. Women are paid, on average, 79% of what men are paid to do the same job.

How to Close the Wage Gap

Since employers are not going to uniformly decide to pay women equitably, negotiating that starting salary seems like a very good idea.

What You Stand to Lose if You Do Not negotiate

According to Dr. Linda Babcock, author of “Women don’t ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation – and Positive Strategies for Change,” a woman stands to lose anywhere from $500,000 to over $2,000,000 of income over her lifetime.

Every bonus, every salary raise and future position is based on your starting pay, so the lower the starting pay is, the lower future pay increases will likely be.

By not negotiating your pay, you also run the risk of resenting your job.

This is especially true when you realize that co-workers are making far more than you for the same position.

Most employers also expect that you will negotiate — after all, they almost always offer the lowest possible salary due to the need to keep costs down.

By not negotiating, according to Cynthia Shapiro, author of“What Does Somebody Have to Do to Get a Job Around Here? 44 Insider Secrets That Will Get you Hired” — the employer may question whether or not you are the right choice.

Understand that salary is only one part of a job’s “total compensation package” which usually includes benefits like paid vacation time, paid sick time, help with medical coverage, and more.

Why the Wage Gap Exists

While institutional sexism still exists, many other factors have great effect on women’s wages. First, we are the caregivers.

Many of us stay out of the workforce for months or even years to raise our future citizens, as well as take care of our elders. This results in years of lost salary increases. Women also choose occupations that offer more flex time and therefore less pay, to be better able to care for their children.

However, the biggest reason that affects the wage gap is the fact that women simply do not ask for more pay. According to a poll of over 2,000 participants, by Salary.com, 46% of men always negotiate pay, while only 30% of women do.

Obstacles Stay-at-Home Moms Face

Some employers discriminate against mothers who stay at home to take care of their children by valuing them less than their peers. It would be unthought-of for an employer to low-ball the salary of a cancer survivor, offering them less pay due to illness and time out of the office.

1. Employer Discrimination

However, the stay-at-home moms are not alone in facing this salary discrimination. Currently, the long-term unemployed have been dealing with the wage gap created by the large breaks in continuous employment on their resume.

Employers rationalize this gap in pay because of the time and money it takes them to get you up to speed again.

2. Job Seeker Low Expectations

Many mothers accept lower pay without understanding the level of salaries currently being paid, grateful to receive a salary after years out of work with their children. However, accepting lower pay can have a huge impact on any future raises and promotions.

This starting pay will affect your future wages for the remainder of your career and also lower your retirement and social security benefits.

Reasons Women Do Not Negotiate

Many times, women will say – “I don’t really care about the money, I just want the job.” Other times, women just do not want to take part in tough negotiations, being afraid that it will create an unpleasant relationship with their new employer.

However, the biggest reason women fail to negotiate is that it makes them uncomfortable. Over 55% of women feel apprehensive over negotiating salary, but only 39% of men do — according to a survey by Salary.com.

Salary Negotiation Tips for the Stay-at-Home Mother

Start out with including a short, get-up-to-speed time in your initial employment agreement, maybe three months, with the agreement to be re-evaluated at the end of that time, and then transition the salary from the starting pay up to the market value.

1. Salary is always negotiable

No hiring manager expects you to accept the very first offer for a professional, salaried position. The job of the hiring manager is to hire you at the lowest possible cost, so the first offer is almost always a low-ball one.

2. Know your value

Prepare for negotiation by knowing your value and the market value for the position you are applying for. By researching, you will be more calm and confident and less likely to back down.

3. Use a collaborative approach

Avoid statements such as “Is that the best you can do” and instead use a collaborative approach by using the word “We.” A statement such as “Thank you so much for the offer! I am excited about the opportunity. I really appreciate the stock option plan, the 401k plan, and the health benefits. But I was hoping for $75,000, as it is near the market value for someone with my level of experience. Is there anything we can do here?”

4. Role play

Before you call to negotiate your salary, role-play the conversation with a friend. Research shows that role-playing before an interview or important conversation results in candidates being less anxious and more confident. Therefore, practice!

5. Negotiate like a woman

Negotiating like a stereotypical man — in an aggressive way — likely will not work and may backfire. Society has bad words for women who negotiate like this, from the “B” word to “pushy,” “high-maintenance,” and being called “not a team player.”

On the other hand, men who negotiate in this fashion are often called “go-getters” and “ambitious.”

While this is not right, it is often a reality that we live with. It is commonly believed that women are not as effective in negotiating as men. However, studies show that women really are just as effective in negotiating.

Bottom Line

The key to negotiating as a woman is to remember to have respect, and to imagine you are negotiating for someone else. In effect, you are, because you are negotiating for your family’s and children’s future!


About the author…

By day, Rachelle Lappinen, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdco. By night, Rachelle provides career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children. Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her blog SolutionsByRachelle.

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Vision Boards – Finding your Career Direction and Bringing it all together

vision board

By Rachelle Lappinen

Vision boards can be a great way to find direction in your job search. Whether you already know what you are looking for and just need clarification, or if you are unsure, vision boards can help bring it all together – essentially, connect the dots between your interest and your career aspirations.  Vision boards can also help to re-invent your career. If you are considering a career transition, exploring your interests through browsing magazine pictures and phrases often can lead to a-ha moments.

Creating a vision board is easy. There are many websites, software, templates, but I prefer the old fashion method of magazines, scissors, glue and a poster board:

  1. Collage your images – Start with magazines and cut out pictures that mean something to you and meaningful phrases that speak to your heart. There is no right or wrong. You could look for pictures of your occupation, pictures of the activities you like to do or pictures of places you would like to go.  I would also suggest that you look for pictures and phrases that represent your values .
  2. Arrange pictures and words – On a poster board, arrange the pictures and phrases – You could start with your ultimate goal in the middle. Another possibility is to separate the board into sections, with 3 month, 6 month, and yearlong goals. Again, there is no right or wrong. My vision board has a center piece of a cheetah which represents strength to me. After I selected my images, I found my theme was  of health – through yoga, meditation and nature.  At first, I selected only pictures, which speaks to my preferred visual learning style. After, I selected words to communicate my message. My theme speaks communicates my desire to look at the whole person during my career counseling sessions.
  3.  Glue your picture – Once you have the pictures laid out, and your phrases added, glue these to your board.
  4. Display – Display the board in a place you will see it often. For me, I posted mine in my kitchen near the door I go out each day. I stop and look at my vision board a few times a day – making sure I am staying true to my goals.

Finally, when I hold vision board workshops, it is amazing how many people find the actual process of making a vision board to be calming and relaxing. Once you finish your vision board, don’t stop there. Continue collecting images and phrases. Add to your board. Make a new board. Keep your visions alive and active.

I would love to hear about your experiences with creating and using vision boards.

By day, Rachelle, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdCO. By night, Rachelle provided career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children.

Earth Month

Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and follow her blog at https://solutionsbyrachelle.wordpress.com/

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How Stay-at-Home Moms Can Network to Their New Jobs

October Blog Heifer

By Rachelle Lappinen

When a stay-at-home mom decides to return to work, it can be a big surprise. According to Richard Bolles, author of“What Color is Your Parachute,” the job market has changed significantly since 2008. Therefore, what used to work, doesn’t anymore.

Now, for any given job, the average number of people applying is 118. How do you stand out from 117 other applicants? Re-entering the workforce involves learning a whole new process. One cannot just expect to start applying online and receive a job offer in a few short weeks. After assessing your transferable skills and writing your resume, it is time to focus on the most effective way to find a job – networking.

According to Bolles, more than 80% of jobs are found through networking. Research backs up that statistic.

Reconnect with your network – being out of the workforce for a long time can create a feeling of isolation – but remember, you are not really isolated, so reach out to your current and past network!

7 Ways Moms Can Leverage Their Network for a Shorter Job Search

Think of everyone you know.

Get back in touch with your former co-workers, and also your mom’s group, members of the PTO, Boy Scout and Daisy leaders, other soccer parents, and more.

All of these people are part of your network. You never know who is married to the HR director of the company you are looking to work for.

1. Create a LinkedIn Profile

Remember, when you are a stay-at-home mom, you are working. So create one, or update your existing LinkedIn Profile to support your job search. Include your volunteer activities, board memberships, and freelance projects.

[Read Job-Hunt’s free Guide to LinkedIn for Job Search for more details.]

2. Don’t Forget Facebook

Facebook is under-estimated as a good platform for job seekers:

  • Start with filling out your professional profile, by clicking “edit profile” and looking at the top of the screen for “Work and Education.”
  • Most people only list their current job, but Facebook offers many slots for more details.
  • Classify your friends – create two lists – “Professional” and “Friends.” This will allow you to target updates to each list.
  • Post content and respond to others – “Like” other people’s posts – people want to help people they like – be engaging!

[Read Job-Hunt’s free Guide to Facebook for Job Search for more details.]

3. Use Social Media to Network

After you create your profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, as well as Twitter, use these platforms to network with your connections.

  • Upload your contact lists and connect with your friends, former co-workers, the parents of your children, etc.
  • Join groups, post content and take part in discussions.
  • Use LinkedIn’s alumni tool to re-connect with alumni.

Most importantly, use these social media tools to reach out to contacts and connect with them in person.

4. Establish Your Support Network

Before you start to network, you need to have child care in place, and a back-up to your child care. Once you start setting up networking meetings, you don’t want to have to cancel your meetings due to a lack of child care.

Reach out to family, friends, members of your church, and the parents of your children’s friends.

Don’t be afraid of asking for help! This is a part of the networking process too. Networking is about helping others without expecting immediate help in return. During your time at home with your children, you helped many and helped educate our future citizens.

Now it is time to reach out and ask for help, and build your own support network.

5. Create a List of Everyone You Know

After so much time at home, you may feel that you don’t know anyone who can help you in your job search. Write out a list of everyone you know, from your hairdresser and yoga instructor to the leaders of your daughter’s Daisy Troop and more.

You never know who is connected to someone who has the power to hire you. One of my job seekers landed a job through the mother of their son’s best friend. Include members from your church, your family and their co-workers, your former co-workers, and school and corporate alumni.

This is where the power of LinkedIn comes in – helping you find out who is connected to who.

6. Improve Your Communication Skills

Actually, practice improving your communication skills. A great and safe place to do that is an organization like “Toastmasters International.”

Here, you can practice improvisational speech – through table topics – where you are asked to speak for 1 to 2 minutes on a random subject. You can also practice your presentation skills and earn a designation of “Competent Communicator.”

Join a job-seeking networking group, sometimes called a “job club,” where you can practice networking in a safe environment.

7. Create a Brief “Elevator Pitch”

You may have heard of the idea of an elevator pitch. Amy Cuddy talks about this in her famous TED talk.

The idea is to have a 30 to 60-second pitch you could quickly give in the time it takes an elevator to go from the first to the top floor.

In our Twitter, etc., social media-filled world, people’s attention spans have decreased. You will want to develop a quick, short, and to-the-point elevator pitch, and then practice it.

[For how-to details, read How to Develop a Killer Elevator Speech.]

Keep Expanding Your Network

Of course, this is not a full and comprehensive list of networking sources and skills needed for your job search. For more ideas, Google “Using networking to find a job” and you will find many more! Also, watch for future posts for more in-depth ways to use LinkedIn, social media, etc., to network your way to a job.


About the author…By day, Rachelle, working mother of two, serves as an education advocate and career advisor for MassEdCO. By night, Rachelle provided career consulting and works to promote green energy. When Rachelle is not writing her blog, advising her students, or coaching her clients, she enjoys camping and going to the theater with her two children.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter at @RLappinen and follow her blog at https://solutionsbyrachelle.wordpress.com/

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