By Julie Wiles, Director, Enterprise Business Agility, FedEx Services, and PA Women Work Board Member
Do you want to find a meaningful endeavor that is sure to benefit you both personally and professionally? Have you ever considered joining a Board of Directors? If you haven't, you’re in the right place. I’m writing to share with you this often overlooked or unconsidered opportunity that is sure to reignite your career and boost your resume. This is the perfect opportunity for those looking for a career change, a promotion, or to fill a resume gap.
At the top of many organizations and all nonprofits sits a Board of Directors. These boards are charged with the responsibility of governing, planning, and budgeting. Volunteering your time on a Board of Directors is a way to make a tangible positive impact for an organization and your community, but beyond that it also offers the ability to grow your network, build executive level perspective, and develop your skills.
Grow Your Network
Networking is one of the most important paths to success in the professional world! From finding mentors and peers, to growing a professional community, networking is often the key to reaching career goals and milestones. Participating on a board is sure to increase your network, expand your reach and visibility to new industries, lead to leadership opportunities, and give you a platform to meet professionals, mentors and peers.
Executive Level Perspective
So often our jobs force us to focus only on a specific piece of a very large puzzle, i.e. marketing or accounting. However, missing the high-level view of operations limits some of our promotional opportunities. How can you gain operations and high-level experience without the job title or responsibility? Join a board! From participating in an organization's strategic planning to understanding each individual and department’s impact on the mission, being a member of a board allows you the opportunity to expand your vision and see the entire picture.
Skill Usage and Development
Being part of a Board of Directors allows you to put your expertise and skills to good use to support an organization. Many nonprofits have a small but mighty staff, and they look to their boards to provide support, guidance and knowledge. This gives board members the chance to put their skills to work and help make an impact for the organization.
Additionally, this professional opportunity can provide you with the chance to develop new skills or volunteer for projects or experiences that spark your interest. Learn about organizational budget management, strategic planning, large-scale operations management, operational leadership, political savviness, marketing, fundraising and so many other incredible skills that will make you stand out in the workplace.
When you are ready to take your next professional step, rebrand your professional image, or breathe some new life into your resume, consider joining a Board of Directors and place your energy where it really matters. Use your existing experiences to make an impact on others and, in return, you’ll gain new contacts, perspective, and skills.
By Ron McCloskey, VP and Chief Financial Officer PNCI, PNC Bank
To start, I’d like to provide a polite disclaimer that most avid golfers would agree with: Golf is an endlessly frustrating game that takes a lot of time, effort, and expense. But as I like to say when I’m having a bad day on the course, “If it were easy, I probably would have quit a long time ago.”
With that said, you might ask: what would make thousands of people take to the links on the weekend to torture themselves? Ultimately, golf can be a wonderful escape that is just complicated enough to occupy your mind for a few hours. It can also be a great way to grow your professional network, get to know a prospective client or employee, and build your career.
Golf is a metaphor for life, and it requires commitment, confidence, and perseverance. We’re taught as golfers to be honest. There are no referees in our game. We must conduct ourselves in an ethical manner and respect the course, our competitors and most importantly, ourselves.
Golf is also a very social game. There is plenty of time in a four-hour round to discuss the day’s events. That includes a pending business deal, or explaining what you, or your company, can offer a potential business partner. It’s a great place to build a relationship, and you can learn a lot about how someone conducts themselves by observing how they play golf.
How do they handle stress and adversity? Are they a very serious person or do they prefer to keep things light? Are they a stickler for the rules or is this an escape from the daily grind? Typically, these things can reveal themselves along the links. I’ve always said I look for two things when hiring: First, is the person smart? Second, can I get along with them? I can have the answers to both after a round of golf.
Golf can be a delightful way to enjoy a beautiful summer day, a means to challenge your physical and mental skills, and an amazing vehicle for meeting new people and building your network. I’ve been paired up with retired police officers, caddies on their day off looking to play a few holes, executives who have escaped the office for the day, and medical personnel who have offered sage advice…and not on my golf game. (The caddies have the best stories by far!) The point is, you never know who might be waiting on the tee box for you, or what their background is, what language they speak, or how they might be able to connect you to a new opportunity.
As both golfers and professionals, we have to adapt to use our individual talents. There are a lot of ways people can play the game or grow in their career. Yes, it takes both athletic ability and mental acuity to play, but our skills are all different, and each golfer’s goals, talents and strategy will vary.
In golf, just as in business, the environment is always changing. We never play the same game twice. Like running, swimming or other individual sports, you are relying on your own determination to help reach your goal. The same goes in your career. The world might be changing around you, your company might be experiencing movement, or maybe you’re looking for your next opportunity. What you can rely on in these situations is your own resilience, talents and determination. In golf, this self-reliance and grit might be why it’s so incredibly rewarding when everything aligns correctly, and you pull off a great shot, or post your personal best score.
If you’re looking to get started as a golfer, reach out to a friend who plays or a local professional and ask how to get started. There are group classes offered in many locations. There are specific classes for female golfers, as well. Check out upcoming classes at both RMU and CCAC. Who knows…someone in your class might just be your next employer!
By Kayla Druga, Talent Manager, Arconic Human Resources, and PA Women Work volunteer
We all know this time of year is perfect for cleaning out our closets or the garage, but it’s also perfect for dusting off our LinkedIn profiles. The professional networking site, launched in 2003 and now boasting over 774 million members, is an ideal place to showcase your professional skills in your search for new opportunities.
Here are some ways you can update your profile to best reflect your background and attract the right audience:
Your Photo and Headline
Having a profile photo is one of the fastest ways to get others to notice you on LinkedIn. Be sure that the photo you use is recent and professional in nature. If a professional headshot is not in your budget, ask a friend or colleague to take a professional picture for you. Remember that this photo is an employer’s first glimpse of you and avoid using cropped, personal photos.
Take a moment to review your headline. If you have not created one, LinkedIn will default to your current title and company. Use this space to provide a quick, succinct impression to capture your potential audience’s attention. If there was only one thing you wanted someone to know about you, what would that be?
Be sure that your contact information is up to date. Many LinkedIn users will list a company email address on their profiles but fail to update it when they leave an organization. Be sure that the contact information you provide, including any links to other social media sites, is professional in nature.
Your Summary section should provide a snapshot of your abilities, accomplishments, and future goals. Think of this as your elevator pitch: if you only had one minute to tell the hiring team of your dream job about yourself, what would you say? Make sure that any videos, links, or documents (like a portfolio, writing samples, or resume) are up to date, active, and relevant to your career search.
For many of us, the work experience section can become cluttered as we progress in our careers. Don’t be afraid to remove older or irrelevant experience that no longer relates to your future goals, or short-term positions just to fill gaps in between full-time positions.
It’s also important to be sure the experience you do have listed are focused on your specific accomplishments, not those of the company for which you worked. In addition to your key responsibilities, use this space to highlight projects or specific accomplishments achieved in the role.
The Skills section is another area that can really benefit from some annual clean-up. Be sure that the skills you are listing are current and relative to your job search. Additionally, be as specific as possible when listing your skills. For example, millions of LinkedIn users list procurement as a skill, but less than 10% of those users have IT procurement experience.
While this may seem like an overwhelming list, approach spring cleaning your LinkedIn profile much like you would your house. By taking it section by section, using care and consideration throughout, you can be sure that your profile best reflects your background and goals.
If you are job searching and need further assistance with your LinkedIn, or with other challenges you’re experiencing, consider signing up for one of PA Women Work’s free programs or upcoming classes.
By Lauren Riegelnegg, Development Director, PA Women Work
As we approach the end of the year, many of us are on the fast lane straight to 2022. In our jobs, we are working hard to close out year-end projects before we take much-needed time off for the holidays. And in our personal lives, it’s a race to finish our shopping, wrap our gifts, run our children from one activity to the next, prepare to host family and friends for the holidays, and finish the dozens of other items on our to-do lists.
But this holiday season, I invite you to take a pause. Through all the chaos, take a moment to consider those in our community who are less fortunate than us and what their holidays might look like.
Thanks to a generous anonymous donation and our community-supported Compassion Fund, Pennsylvania Women Work was able to provide holiday gifts for some of our clients and their children. Volunteers joined us in our office earlier this week to prepare these gifts for delivery, and it was a joy to be able to do something for local women and families who needed a little extra support this time of year.
There is still time for you to do good in 2021 and join in the season of giving. I have compiled a list below of some easy ways you can give back this December:
I hope over the next couple weeks, you can not only get in the holiday spirit, but give yourself time to get in the spirit of giving, as well. If you have additional suggestions on how to give back this time of year, leave your comments below!
By Sharon Menchyk, Attorney, Tucker Arensberg, P.C.
We often hear that networking is important for career advancement, but why it is important and how to network effectively is sometimes not so clear. As a young lawyer I was told to network, but I was lost as to what that entailed. Years later, I’ve learned that it is not only important for those marketing goods or services, but for anyone who wants to advance their career regardless of their industry. I’ve also learned that networking is nothing more than making new acquaintances and strengthening the relationships you have already made in your career.
COVID-19 has changed how we connect with people. Virtual networking is often the only chance we have to meet new people and make connections. With some planning and preparation, virtual networking can be a successful tool in furthering your career goals.
The first step in networking, virtual or otherwise, is choosing the right path and developing a plan to meet your goals. In developing that plan, you should consider the following:
1) Long-term career goals – where would you like to ultimately be in five or ten years?
2) Goals at your current position – what do I need to do to get promoted or increase my compensation?
3) Personal considerations – how much time do I have to network and how much money do I have to spend on networking, either of my own or from my employer?
While virtual networking may be the current best choice, as circumstances change, your plan should include a mix of traditional, nontraditional and virtual opportunities. Traditional networking events, such as industry meetings, dinners or conferences, can be valuable and should be incorporated into any plan. Nontraditional networking opportunities include events we attend every day and can fit into almost anyone’s schedule, such as family gatherings, children’s school or sporting events and volunteering with a community organization.
The third type, and likely the most important given the current safety concerns surrounding COVID-19, are virtual networking opportunities. Virtual networking can and should include events planned by organizations that will lead to connections that support your goals as well as events you plan yourself, such as a happy hour with past classmates or an afternoon coffee with former colleagues to strengthen the connections you already formed. Despite the ease in locating and attending virtual events, this format can offer its own challenges – but if you prepare properly, you can have a great experience.
In attending virtual events, you should consider the following:
1) Prepare for the event: Learn the names and companies of the organizers, presenters and attendees; review the agenda or itinerary for the event; and research the topic of the event’s discussion. Most importantly, and this goes for both virtual and traditional networking, have your elevator pitch ready, i.e. a sixty second speech about who you are and what you do. This preparation will allow you to carry on an informed conversation and create credibility with fellow attendees.
2) Check your technology: Determine what platform is necessary for the event and ensure that any downloads or updates for any applications are completed prior to the day of the event. Make sure your device is charged and you have good cell or data service. Get familiar with the application before the event. Technical issues arise often but taking these steps will ensure that you look prepared and are not fumbling with your computer or phone.
3) Look the part: Dress as if you were attending an event in person and make sure your background is appropriate for the event. Wearing a complete outfit is recommended, especially if you might have to stand up unexpectedly – you don’t want everyone to see your old gym shorts! Also, make sure you are located in a quiet, private space to avoid interruptions.
4) Follow-up is key: Keep a notepad or tablet available to write down names and/or contact information of the event organizers and any key attendees. Asking for the spelling of names and for email addresses is not rude when done so at the proper moment – making connections is the point of these events. Follow up shortly after the event, even if it’s simply to say you enjoyed meeting the person virtually.
5) Stay focused: Keep the conversation and your comments focused on the topic of the event or career related topics. Be a good listener and ask others about themselves which will make you and your new connection more comfortable. Virtual events sometimes lose the personal connection we have at live events. People come from a variety of backgrounds, and a virtual event is not the time or place to introduce topics that might be considered controversial. Focus on your goal to meet people and advance your career.
Finally, remember, networking should not be stressful and can lead to great success if you take the time to plan, follow these tips, and set yourself up for success.