Job Reference Misconceptions That Can Damage Your Career

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young business woman on phone

While there are many factors for the job seeker to consider in landing that new job, one stands out as particularly critical—and often overlooked. Your employment references will surely be vetted by prospective employers and can ultimately make-or-break the hiring decision.

Unfortunately, job seekers are too often unaware or misinformed of how job reference vetting really works. Here are 6 false perceptions that explain why countless job seekers go for months, or years, without landing that next job:

Myth No. 1:
Companies cannot say anything negative about a former employee.

Reality:

While countless companies have policies dictating that only title, dates of employment, and salary history can be discussed, their employees—particularly at the management level—frequently violate such policies. Former supervisors are particularly notorious in this regard, e.g. the boss with whom you had philosophical differences, was jealous of you, or perhaps even have harassed you.

Myth No. 2
Most corporations direct reference check requests to their Human Resources (HR) departments, and they are trained to ensure that nothing negative will be said about me.

Reality:

Most Human Resources professionals will indeed follow proper protocol. However, be warned that some will not. When asked whether a former employee is eligible for rehire, some will indicate they are not—and may go on to explain why this is the case. Even if they indicate “not eligible” and offer no further explanation, a potential employee is unlikely to take the risk of hiring you without knowing the reason why a past employer has described you as ineligible for rehire.

Myth No. 3
Assuming HR has nothing negative to say about me, I should be OK with that company, reference-wise.

Reality:

Prospective employers have figured out that former supervisors are much more likely to offer revealing commentary about a company’s former employees. Your supervisor(s) knew you personally and has formed opinions about you, favorable or otherwise. When asked for their opinion, supervisors frequently forget, or are unaware of, company policies that typically instruct them to refer incoming reference inquiries to HR.

Prospective employers will invariably seek this supervisory input. (How many times have you been asked “May we contact your former supervisor?”) For this reason, it is critical that you are aware not only of how HR will respond to reference inquiries about you but also how your former supervisor(s) will respond.

Myth No. 4
I should have my references listed on my resume and distribute them together.

Reality:

You never want to list your references on your resume or indicate “References Provided Upon Request.” You do not want companies that may have little/no interest in hiring you, bothering your references. What’s more, you may be wrongly assuming that the references you list truly “have your back.” Countless job seekers offer up the names of references that ultimately provide lukewarm or unfavorable commentary about them.

Instead, job seekers should cultivate their management references carefully, treating them with respect and updating them periodically as a courtesy. In addition, the candidate should have a list of their references readily available (in the same format/font as their resume) to be given to prospective employers. When offered at the conclusion of an interview—in a highly professional format—it can create a very proactive (and favorable) ending impression.

You should personally check your key references by utilizing a firm like Allison & Taylor, a third-party reference-checking organization that identifies the commentary that previous employers will offer about you to potential new employers. You will want to ensure that your key references will truly offer supportive commentary about you to your potential new employers. You will also want to identify what your previous supervisors/HR representatives will say about you as they will be regarded by employers as more important than the personal references you list.

Myth No. 5:
I took legal action against my former company, and they are now not allowed to say anything.

Reality:

They may have been instructed not be able to say anything definitive, but do not put it past them to make your life difficult. There have been countless instances where a former boss or an HR staffer has said, “Hold on a minute while I get the legal file to see what I am allowed to say about this former employee.” Most employers are uncomfortable hiring someone who has a legal history, probably dashing your job prospects.

Myth No. 6:
Even if I have a negative reference, there is no way for me to prevent them from continuing it.

Reality:

Your first step is to obtain documentation that a reference(s) is indeed problematic by utilizing a professional reference-checking firm to document both the verbal input and the tone of voice being offered by your reference. Once a problem reference has been confirmed, the reference-checking firm can identify an employment attorney well versed in assessing possible legal options. Foremost among these—particularly when the negative input does not constitute a violation of state or Federal law—is a “Cease & Desist” letter. Such letters are typically sent by attorneys to the CEO or senior management of the firm where the negative reference is employed, identifying the negative reference by name and the fact that the reference has been documented as offering negative input about the job seeker. The letter also suggests that if the reference-giver continues to offer such negative input, legal action would be contemplated against the firm.

Allison & Taylor Inc. estimates that approximately 50 percent of all reference checks they conduct reflect some degree of employer negativity. The best way to combat this type of career sabotage is to have written documentation of its existence.

Source: Allison Taylor

 

4 Questions Candidates Should Ask During a Job Interview

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Job Interview

It’s a great time to be searching for jobs and exploring different opportunities. And ideally, that’ll mean going on lots of interviews.

Now, you’re surely aware that as part of the interview process, you’ll be asked a number of questions about your work experience, skills, and goals. But at some point during each conversation, you’ll most likely also be asked to come up with questions of your own. And that’s where a lot of job candidates find themselves stumped. Rather than let that happen, go in prepared with a list of insightful questions that show you’ve put thought into the role at hand. Here are a few you can start with.

1. How has the company evolved over the past few years?

Generally speaking, it’s best to work for a company that’s been showing signs of growth. And a good way to figure out whether the employer you’re applying to falls into that category is to see how it’s changed over the past few years. Ideally, your interviewer will give you insight as to how the company has progressed and developed its staff and product or service line. As a follow-up question, you might also ask how the company has adapted to recent challenges to get a sense of how it operates. Not only are these thoughtful questions, but they’re ones whose answers will inform your decision of whether to accept a job offer if you get one.

2. What has your experience been like working for this company?

Asking your interviewer about his or her personal experience working for the company you’re applying to is a good way to gain insight as to what your own experience might entail. It also shows that you’re taking an interest in your interviewer, and that you value his or her opinion.

3. What’s the company culture like?

You want to enjoy going to work, and a company whose culture promotes a pleasant environment is generally one worth pursuing. It’s always smart to ask about company culture during an interview because it can give you great insight into what your days might be like. Ask how the typical day goes for the average employee, and what steps the company takes to foster collaboration and teamwork. Along these lines, don’t hesitate to ask whether employees generally manage to maintain a decent work-life balance. While the answer might vary on a case-by-case basis, you should try to get a general sense of whether employees get enough personal time or are pushed too hard to always be available for work purposes.

4. What made the last person who filled this role successful?

Assuming you’re not the first person to land the position at hand, it pays to ask what made the previous employee good at what he or she did. Was that person a strong project manager? Was he or she a risk-taker? Asking this question shows you’re invested in being successful yourself.

The last thing you want to do during a job interview is come off as apathetic or unprepared. Before you sit down to meet with a prospective employer, jot down some important questions to ask in advance, or use the ones we’ve discussed here.

Continue on to YahooNews to read the complete article.

This Latina Started A Studio With Her Family And Became One Of NYC’s Top Trainers In The Process

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Samantha Ortiz started a business before even realizing she started a business. A couple of times a week, her sister and her sister’s best friend would find themselves in the Ortiz family living room getting ready to be led in a workout by Samantha. Thanks to social media and personal referrals,what started with just the three of them slowly grew into more structured classes — and this was the beginning of Triple Threat Bootcamp, or the Ortiz family business.

“I outgrew my parents’ living room,” explained Samantha Ortiz. “I had to start running bootcamp classes in public parks and [eventually] I rented a small studio on the 3rd floor of a building, but [even that] still didn’t feel like home to me. I had this image in my head of having a fitness studio designed with monkey bars, a slam wall, a view overlooking Brooklyn, equipment all around the room and a place where my clients could call home. A few months after renting the small studio, my family and I were driving up Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and as we stopped at a light, I looked up and saw a “for rent” sign. We called and the rest is history.”

Samantha’s mother, Aileen Ortiz, who now serves as President and CEO of TTB, never doubted the why behind her daughter’s decision because she related to it herself.

“I was motivated by the vision of seeing the three of us using our talents and skills to bring a healthy lifestyle to others,” shared Aileen. “My interest in healthy living began 26 years ago and I instilled that in my girls from a young age.”

The duo is rounded out by Christine Ortiz, Samantha’s sister and the studio’s Operation Manager and co-owner.

“We have always believed in health and wellness,” shared Christine Ortiz. “Combining fitness and nutrition was a no brainer once Samantha became a trainer. We wanted to impact more people in our community and be pioneers of female fitness entrepreneurship.”

With their mother at the helm, the studio has grown to be a staple in their Brooklyn neighborhood and has provided a platform for others to experience Samantha’s training style. This year, for a second year in a row, Classpass (the flexible fitness membership app) recognized Samantha as one of its top fitness instructors in New York City.

The recognition serves to underscore how Samantha’s mission behind TTB has simply been amplified as its grown.

“I was inspired to open Triple Threat Bootcamp because motivating others to be the best versions of themselves has always been my passion,” says Samantha Ortiz. “I felt like it was my mission to bring fitness and health to my community.”

Below Samantha shares more insight on what it has been like running a business with her mom and sister, what advice she has for other Latinas, and what she would do differently.

Vivian Nunez: What advice do you have for any Latinas who are looking to break into fitness and the business world?

Samantha Ortiz:I love to remind my fellow Latinas that anything is possible. Being Latina in the fitness industry and owning a fitness studio with your family (mom and sister) isn’t normal by any means but that’s what I love about it. You don’t have to follow the crowd, you can create your own lane. Don’t be afraid to go after what fuels your soul. Even if you don’t know everything, you will learn along the way. Life is about taking chances and learning from every experience. Last piece of advice, network. Go to events, reach out to people who are in your field of work. There’s nothing like being surrounded by like minded people.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Students In The Workplace Keep Industry And Academia On The Cutting Edge

LinkedIn

When college students can spend several months at top international firms like Goldman Sachs, they naturally come away with valuable résumé-building experience. But what’s often left out of the conversation is the value that students inject back into the business.

Joseph Camarda, a managing director in private wealth management at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, cited this mutually beneficial exchange when explaining why the company has partnered with Drexel University in Philadelphia to place 145 students in cooperative education positions at its U.S. offices since 2014.

“They bring a young, vibrant, innovative mind to the team and that adds a value that we want to use over and over,” he said.

By collaborating with businesses, colleges and universities can deliver on the promise of relevance for career-minded students. From co-ops and internships, to mentoring and research opportunities, they can also invigorate programs on campus and bring value to firms.

Ashley Inman, a human resources expert who has worked with college interns in several industries, recalled one intern at a construction firm who developed an app for the company to better track inventory — a strategic innovation that helped streamline sales.

“Organizations can get stuck in their ways,” she said. “The value that the students bring is a fresh perspective.”

It’s part of the reason Goldman values its partnership with the university today — 13 years after the co-op relationship began with just a few students in the company’s Philadelphia office. A number of graduates since that time have gone on to work for Goldman full-time.

“The work ethic of these students is just phenomenal,” Camarda said. “It shows up every day.”

Real-Life Reciprocity

Students, in turn, bring valuable perspectives back to campus with them – including “bottom-line” urgency that can sometimes be lacking in academia, said Inman, who sits on the talent acquisition panel of the Society for Human Resource Management.

Strong and meaningful links to industry can inform curricula and programming on campus – helping to make sure academic offerings remain relevant to the needs of industry and students seeking jobs.

Higher education, however, has typically struggled to create and maintain those links, leading to a skills gap that leaves companies with jobs they can’t fill and students who can’t get jobs.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

How to Write an Impressive Cover Letter From Scratch in 30 Minutes

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You know enough to regularly update you resume—so if you find a job posting you’re interested in, you’re halfway through the application process.The other half, of course, is your cover letter. If you have some time and are just rusty, you can make a game plan to write a draft, then take a break, and come back to it with fresh eyes.

But if you see the deadline to apply is just 30 minutes away, you don’t have any time to spare. Here’s how to write a cover letter that will bolster your application—in just half an hour. (And if you need to revamp your resume or prep for interview in the same amount time, look here and here.)

Minutes 1 Through 10: Write Down Your Main Points

Maybe it’s just me, but I often struggle the most on the opening line of a cover letter. I know I shouldn’t lead with “My name is…,” and I want something that’ll grab the hiring manager’s attention. But my quest for the perfect beginning can lead me to spend 15 minutes (or more) typing and deleting the same line over and over. (And at that rate, my 30-minute cover letter would be all of two sentences.)

So, skip the intro if need be, and just start writing about why you’re a great fit for the open position. Don’t stress about the very best way to phrase your current responsibilities. Just write down your main points.

Need a prompt? Answer these questions: What do you find most exciting (or interesting) about the position? What relevant experience do you have? What would you bring to the role (and/or company) that’s unique to you?

Definitely make sure to have your resume and the job description open or printed out next to you. That way you can glance over at both and make sure you’re highlighting the right experience.

Minutes 10 Through 20: Add in Examples

OK, so you’ve written out all of reasons why you’re perfect for the job. Now it’s time to make sure you’re on the same page as the hiring manager. How so? Go back to that job description.

Re-read what the position calls for. Did you mention the experience and skills they’ll be screening for? To connect the dots in a way that’s clear—but wouldn’t be confused with a laundry list—add in an example or two.

If the job calls for people skills, swap out the line that reads, “I have excellent people skills” with a line that explains how in previous roles you’ve managed relationships with board members, which taught you about working with opinionated stakeholders. Does the position call for someone with sales experience? An anecdote about how you’ve been in sales since you set up your first lemonade stand when you were seven years old is memorable.

Continue onto Muse to read the complete article.

Want To Land A Job After A Parenting Gap? 10 Mistakes To Avoid

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As much as you may want to believe that quitting your job to parent won’t affect your career long term, the unfortunate reality is that landing a job after a gap can be a challenge. You may have to learn new skills to stay current and the longer you have been out of work, the harder it can be. You will also be competing against applicants who haven’t left the marketplace and other parents looking to restart. According to Après Group, a career platform connecting employers with parents returning to the workforce, there are more than three million women in the U.S. with college or advanced degrees looking to get back in.

So how do you make yourself more marketable, boost your profile and get the job you want? Lauren Smith Brody, author and founder of Fifth Trimester Consulting, which helps workplaces improve their culture for new parents, and Jennifer Gefsky, the cofounder of Après, share their advice on how to avoid common mistakes and land an amazing job.

Mistake #1: Sending Out Your Resume Too Soon

Once the decision is made go back to work, the instinct is to immediately start applying for jobs. Don’t. Start by taking steps to make yourself relevant in the current market. “ You can’t go into an interview and say, “I haven’t worked in five or ten years, but here I am!” says Jennifer Gefsky. Do an internship, take an online course, or update your tech skills first. “I’m a huge fan of taking an in-person class and just being around people other than your social networks at home,” reveals Gefsky. “It’s putting yourself in a different world. It’s getting yourself ready to go.”

Mistake #2: Only Applying For Part-Time Openings

Part-time jobs can seem like a less jarring way to ease back into the workforce, however, Gefsky advises against limiting your search: To close off that majority of available jobs is a mistake. You will be excluding potentially great jobs that might ultimately be able to offer part-time down the road, but maybe aren’t going to offer it for a new employee.

Mistake #3: Not Leveraging Social Media

“The number one piece of advice I give people who have been out for a period of time is get on LinkedIn as soon as possible,” says Gefsky. Not only should you update your profile to include relevant skills, classes or internships, Gefsky suggests writing short articles on topics related to the career you want. This will build up your digital presence, personal brand, and show your expertise. “That advice surprises a lot of people because they think, ‘I’m not a writer!’  But that’s the amazing thing about LinkedIn, you can publish articles on your page,” says Gefsky. “Then, when people look you up, it’s, ‘Oh, wow, this person is totally up to speed on what’s going on in our industry.’”

Mistake #4: Not Asking For Help

Once you have established your digital presence and updated your skills and resume, you are ready to network. The key is to leverage all of the relationships you have. “There are all kinds of things we can learn from our personal relationships that apply to work,” explains Brody. Her advice? Ask a friend currently in the workforce to run through a mock interview with you or find out what qualities they look for with new employees. Even if they are in a different industry you can gain valuable insight and direction.

Mistake #5: Discounting The Skills You Learned As A Full-Time Parent

It’s easy to see your work life and home life as two totally separate arenas, but the skills learned in parenthood can definitely be a boost to any career.  “You are probably better than ever at managing your time, your budget, your goals. You pivot more quickly between tasks. You know what’s worth saying yes to, and what’s not. Feel that empowerment when you enter into negotiations,” advises Brody. Also any volunteer work you did around your child—helping to organize events for school, leading committees, etc. Those should be added to your resume too. They can provide examples of your leadership, organization, finance, and management skills.

Mistake #6: Only Submitting Your Resume Online  

One way to get noticed by recruiters who might overlook applicants with parenting gaps is to ask friends, family, or former co-workers to hand-deliver your resume to higher ups or their company’s HR reps.  “It’s very hard to submit your resume and get noticed, especially when you’re competing against people who haven’t had a break,” says Gefsky. “The way you’re going to get hired is by people who know you. Networking is critical.”

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

This is the most important career skill to master in 2019

LinkedIn

Chances are, no matter what your job title is, in the coming year you’ll have a series of conversations that are important for your career. Whether you’re being interviewed for a new position, discussing a promotion, or pitching an important project, high-stakes discussions await you in the months to come.

To ace these exchanges, you must master one crucial skill: the ability to handle Q&A, the impromptu questions and answers that are at the heart of every interview. Studies show that those who think on their feet and respond without hesitation come across as leaders who project a certain charisma. In fact, the same research indicates that this quickness of mind is rated as being even more important as a barometer of your mental smarts than IQ is.

Here are the four fundamentals that will help you answer any question with grace.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

To begin, prepare for these impromptu exchanges. While we think of answering questions as a totally spontaneous act, you can and must get ready for these conversations. Sure, you can’t anticipate ALL the questions you might be asked, but you can take a stab at preparing a list of questions and answers. This holds for job interviews, performance reviews, client meetings, and presentations that have a Q&A component.

I have coached everyone from individuals who were applying to med and law schools, to executives going for their next big job. In each case, we spent hours writing down questions, preparing answers, and role playing Q&A. The result has been a series of success stories. Candidates got what they wanted: law school, medical school, acceptance into grad school, or a CEO position.

So if you’re heading for a job interview this year–or any other critical conversation–begin by prepping.

Don’t rush to answer

Next, take your time answering. You’ll come across as more confident if you do. Listen to the entire question. If you rush to formulate your answer while the speaker is still talking, you may ignore part of what they’re saying. The result: You’ll answer the question you think they’ve asked, instead of answering the actual question.

Rushing can also cause you to interrupt the speaker—who may be contemplating the second part of her question. That will make you seem rude and panicky.

You’ll present yourself as a confident, thoughtful leader if you wait for the full question to be asked and then pause to reflect on your answer. Even if you have the answer in your mind, that pause will suggest that you are taking the question seriously and judging that it deserves a thoughtful answer.

But just because you are pausing doesn’t mean you have to fill in the silence with words like, “That’s a good question.” You’re not there to evaluate questions, you’re there to answer them. (And, hey, what about the other questions: Are they bad questions in comparison?)

Structure your response

Third, carefully structure your response. If you want to sound smart and quick on your feet, organize your answer and include the following components.

  • Begin with a segue from the question. For example, you might open with “That’s something I think a lot about,” or “Yes, I’d be glad to tell you about my qualifications for the job.”
  • Then state your point. Every answer should have a one-sentence message that’s presented clearly and with conviction. For example you might say, “I believe I have the credentials to be successful in this role.”
  • Give two to four proof points. These reasons support your message.
  • End with a call to action. This might be telling the interviewer you are excited about the opportunity being discussed and look forward to hearing from them. You also might ask what the next steps are. When preparing your answers in advance, use this structure so you will come across as clear and confident.

Ask questions

Finally, take a proactive approach and ask questions. For example, in a job interview, ask your future employer about the position or the culture of the company. These questions will show you’re engaged and have been an active listener. There are tons of great questions to ask. Giving the other person a chance to share her experience and expectations conveys your emotional intelligence–and keenness for the position.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2019

LinkedIn
woman looking at computer financial documents

Resumes get a bad rap. We write them begrudgingly, usually during periods of transition, or tumult. We fiddle with phrasing and format, agonizing over how to craft our qualifications into the best resume possible. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

For smart job seekers, resumes are an opportunity — to make a case for their candidacy, to get the salary they’ve earned, and to convince any hiring manager she would be crazy not to hire them.

Yahoo MONEY teamed up with Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder of Brooklyn Resume Studio, to help you become one of those job seekers. Here’s how to write the perfect resume — and a free resume template that you can download and use for your next job interview.

Resume sample-Yahoo MONEY

(Resume design courtesy of Dana Leavy-Detrick; click here for a free downloadable template)

[1] The Best Resume Format

When it comes to resume format and design, opt for a clean layout. A recent study from the job site Ladders found that resumes with so-called F-pattern and E-pattern layouts, which mimic how our eyes tend to scan web pages, hold a recruiter’s attention for longer than those aligned down the center, or from right to left.

There is no one specific “best” font for resumes. You should use the same font style throughout, Leavy-Detrick says, but play with different weights and sizes to draw a recruiter’s eye to key parts of your resume. Sans serif fonts usually work best — Franklin Gothic, Calibri, and Avenir (the last of which we used for the attached template) are three of Leavy-Detrick’s favorites.

[2] Make Your Resume Stand Out

If you’re applying for an investment banking job, a hot-pink resume probably won’t do you any favors. But subtle pops of color, like the orange used here, will work for just about everyone.

“It’s very minimal, and gives a bit of a design element,” Leavy-Detrick says.

If you do use color, “Use it sparingly,” she warns. “Stick to one color, and one color that’s going to print well.”

[3] Add a Skills Section in Your Resume

Lead with the good stuff. The top of your resume should include “critical keywords and a quick snapshot of your core strengths,” Leavy-Detrick says.

Hard skills, tangible attributes that can easily be measured, take precedence here, so highlight them accordingly. If you’re in a tech-driven field, software and programming expertise is what employers want to see on your resume. If you’re in a creative industry, design and communication skills might be your best bet.

[4] Make a Resume That Shows Impact

To prove you’re worth a hiring manager’s time, highlight recent examples of what you bring to the table. Statistics that build upon your skills section are most impactful — bonus points if they show a track record of growth, revenue, and profitability, Leavy-Detrick says.

If you’re drawing a blank, she suggests adding resume skills that can help solve a “problem area” for the company you’re applying to.

“Impact doesn’t always have to be measured by metrics,” she says. “Cultural improvements, special projects, customer growth … anything that showed success can work.”

[5] What to Leave Off a Resume

Be discerning with the content—don’t list salary requirements, use tables or columns, or tick off every job you’ve ever had. The same goes for social media profiles. Unless your Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s probably best to leave those off your resume.

“Only include them if they add value in some way,” Leavy-Detrick says. “If you have zero followers, you may not want to advertise that.”

Continue on to Yahoo MONEY to read the complete article.

How Diversity Officers Change Corporate Culture

LinkedIn
Diversity executive

By 2045, people of color will make up the majority of the U.S. population.

That demographic shift, predicted by the U.S. Census Bureau, is one reason why companies are starting to take workplace diversity, inclusion and equity more seriously.

In corporate America, this has manifested in part through the proliferation of chief diversity officers, who are charged with creating policies and climates supportive of workers from an array of backgrounds.

As of 2012, 60 percent of Fortune 500 companies had diversity executives, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“It’s becoming standard across companies,” says Allison Scott, chief research officer at the Kapor Center, which aims to increase diversity in the technology and entrepreneurship sectors. “I think that’s a promising and important sign.”

However, having a chief diversity officer on the payroll is not a panacea, researchers say.

“That all sounds good and well, but in the past there wasn’t as much accountability for it,” says Kisha Jones, assistant professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University. “You could get an A for effort for attempting the different practices but not have to show how change happens.”

Still, the presence of a diversity executive in the C-suite is one sign job seekers should look for when assessing whether a company is equipped to hire and retain diverse workers and effectively market to the heterogeneous customer base of the future.

Learn more about what these officers do and other signs to look for when evaluating a company’s commitment to diversity.

Duties and Conditions for Success

The work of diversity officers, also known as equal opportunity professionals, cuts across departmental boundaries. They influence hiring, training and company cultural practices that relate to three “big buckets,” explains Archie Ervin, vice president and chief diversity officer at the Georgia Institute of Technology and president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education.

Continue on to US News to read the complete article.

Which Coding Language Should You Learn?

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It’s a great time to learn how to code. Whether you’re looking to reinvent your career and become a developer, leverage a new skill in your current job, or just better understand what the developers on your team are up to, there has never been a better time to get into programming.

There’s been an explosion of coding boot camps and online resources to help you get started. But it’s a double-edged sword: with near-unlimited resources, countless different languages—and a rabbit hole of passionate voices debating which are the easiest to learn, best to help you get a job, and so on—where do you start?

The best way to learn to code is to stop endlessly analyzing what to learn and just start. So, with a giant disclaimer that these aren’t all of the languages you could consider learning to start your coding journey, here are a few languages you can learn.

JavaScript

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Think of the difference between dynamic, automatically updating Gmail account and your old static Hotmail, which needed to be reloaded to see new messages. That fundamental change was thanks to JavaScript. And, as one of the most popular languages out there, it’s still bringing websites to life in new, exciting ways. It has a ton of resources and tools available to help you use it effectively, and it opens you up to a ton of software engineering jobs. It can basically do everything, and if you’re going to be a full stack developer, you simply can’t avoid it.

Ruby

Great for: beginners, aspiring software engineers

Ruby was specifically designed by its inventor Yukihiro Matsumoto to make programmers happy, and it’s delivered upon that objective: Ruby is accessible and reads like English, allowing new programmers to focus right away on the fundamental concepts and logic, rather than basic syntax. Even beginners can start building right away. The teachers at the Flatiron School find Ruby to be extremely effective at helping students learn how to think like programmers, break problems down, express themselves technically, abstract ideas, and work together with other programmers. (The Flatiron Co-founder Avi is a little obsessed with it, too.)

Python

Great for: budding data scientists

There’s a massive amount of data out there. Companies that harness it can create better products and understand their businesses better; companies that don’t lose their competitive edge and get left behind. But while at its core, data science may be similar to your high school stats class, with so much data (hundreds of millions of records), your old spreadsheet is the wrong tool for the job. That’s where code comes in. The R language is super specific to statistics, whereas Python is a general-purpose language that happens to have great tooling available to make it a perfect language for data science. It’s actually similar to Ruby in a lot of ways: easy to read, forgiving for beginners, and there’s a passionate community around it, devoted to creating and improving the tooling to make Python even more powerful.

Swift

Great for: mobile developers, developers breaking out of their comfort zone

For beginners hoping to get into mobile app development, now is the perfect time to dive into Swift. It’s new enough that there is a lot of energy and excitement around it. Each year, Apple holds their Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) where Apple engineers discuss the intricacies of Swift along with all the new and exciting features (don’t be surprised if it inspires you to try implementing all the new concepts into your own apps). But it’s also been around long enough that the early kinks have been worked out, and the open source community has grown significantly. If you’re already a programmer, learning Swift is a way to get out of your comfort zone—the constraints iOS puts on your code forces you to, as Apple would say, “think different.”

Still not sure where to start? That’s OK! There’s really no correct first language to learn. The important thing is to consider what you’re excited to build, what language will help you do that, and then to just start learning!

In the end, this is why schools like Flatiron School doesn’t focus on teaching one specific technology. It wants you to learn how to learn—the only coding skill that will be never become obsolete. You don’t see Fortran or ColdFusion developers anymore. Similarly, you probably won’t be a Ruby or JavaScript developer in 10 years. Eventually, you will need to know more than one language if you want to have an awesome career and build amazing things. If you become skilled at learning languages, you’ll be ready to keep pace with technology as it changes.

Source: This piece was originally published by WeWork, which provides companies with the space, technology, and services they need to success.

Take Your Publishing Career to the Next Level with a Writing Re-TREAT

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Many people want to be authors. They have ideas for a novel, or have dreams of having a best seller, but they are often so caught up in the day-to-day duties and stresses of life that they rarely get time to simply focus on telling their story.

One expert writing coach says the best way to combat that block is to opt for a re-TREAT, which will give you the guidance, time, space, inspiration, and tools to focus on your story and help move your career along. Plus, she has an exclusive manor house retreat coming up May 5-10, 2019 in England. With only six slots, spots are filling quickly.

“You owe it to yourself to have some time to focus on your writing,” explains Annalisa Parent, fiction writing coach, author, and international speaker. “If not now, then when? If you take action now to get serious about finishing your book, just think of where you will be a year from now, five years from now. This is the time to put your dreams first.”

Parent runs workshops and retreats around the world, helping to guide countless writers to start, complete, and sell their novel. The 2019 Writing Gym England Retreat will be held in Devon, England in a historic country manor located on the edge of Exmoor, a national park famous for its beautiful coastline and spectacular views. The retreat will offer writers five days and five nights of relaxing, peaceful, and focused opportunities to tap into their creativity, learn more of their craft, and focus on writing.

The 2019 Writing Gym England Retreat includes:

  • Daily guided writing sessions led by Parent, where participants will engage in a feedback-response process that is based on neuroscience and how the brain learns and creates best. This is geared to help people advance quickly and boost their creative confidence.
  • Afternoon tea and coffee session where people can relax, mingle, and be at peace.
  • Open writing sessions, as well as time to enjoy the garden and views to get inspiration, and an optional group literary tour of Coleridge Way the path poets such as Coleridge, Byron and Shelley walked to get inspiration.
  • Writer’s discussions each evening on publishing topics, plus a one-on-one session with Parent to discuss your manuscript
  • Three home-cooked meals per day that are made from fresh local ingredients. Foods being served include free-range eggs, leg of Exmoor lamb, a full English breakfast, and fruit compote from the manor house garden.
  • An exclusive group with a focused intent, with the retreat being limited to only six participants.

“If you want to be a writer, this is where you need to be,” Linda Butler, a participant at last year’s retreat said of the experience.  “If you’re serious about writing and you’re serious about learning your process and who you are, then find a way to make the sacrifice to get into her programs. They’re some of the best I’ve ever seen,” Janiel Miller, another participant said.

To see first-hand what the retreat is like, go toThe Writing Gym Writer’s Retreat in Devon England. To hear what her attendees had to say from her past England Retreat visit: Date with the Muse. For more information about Annalisa Parent, her book Storytelling for Pantsers: How to Write and Revise your Novel Without and Outline, and her coaching services, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com. For more information on how to become a published author, download her free e-book The Six Secrets to go from Struggling Writer to Published Author here: datewiththemuse.com/6secrets.

About Annalisa Parent

Annalisa Parent has worked with writers all over the world. She offers writing coaching services that have been instrumental in helping writers to go from idea to publishable piece and have the confidence to take their work to the market. Parent focuses on three main areas: Quality, Clarity and Creative Flow, all through a neuroscientific approach. For more information on her services and to set up a chat about publishing, visit her site at: datewiththemuse.com.