Thursday, November 1, 2007

Get to Work

Lately I've been attending plenty of conferences, but not blogging as I should. Since I last wrote there was the IACPR conference where one of the panel discussions included a VP of HR for a major investment bank claiming that they couldn't find enough women interested in their re-entry program. Turns out the program welcomes women of all financial services stripes -- not only alumnae of that particular firm. Well, this is interesting. Name brand banks and consulting firms, among others, are welcoming back women to work on a project basis or on flexible schedules. The reason? We're in a Talent Shortage. Another speaker at the conference, Tammy Erickson, wrote a book called "Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent" based on several years of research. She claims that companies still operate as they did in the 50's and show few signs of changing. But a few are paving the way out of need--the driver that will enable women to join up on new terms.

Linda Hirshman wrote her manifesto "Get to Work" on the premise that women do all women a disservice when they opt out of work, not to mention the impact on themselves. She speaks forcefully of the lack of power women have in their marriage when they stop bringing in income. It's hard to argue with her.

The trends surrounding the War for Talent will force companies to look to disenfranchised groups, such as formerly professional women, to provide some of the brainpower those companies lack. This is excellent news for those women everywhere who, as their kids get older, want to get back into the workforce.

Each time I discuss my work with women seeking flexible schedules or a way back in, I get a very strong reaction. It would be a win-win if more companies would hire those women to meet their needs. There's plenty of work to be done between an identified need, the search and camera-ready candidates, but it is happening. Both sides are becoming more motivated. If these conference topics are any indication, and they are all about the War for Talent, change is afoot.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nexxt Phase

Yesterday I attended a lunch given by a group called Nexxt Phase: a networking community of women looking to get back into the workforce after a hiatus.

The group represents an elite Manhattan community of accomplished, polished, well-off women -- all of whom have decided it's time to do something in addition to raising kids and doing volunteer work.

The energy in the room was palpable. There was a warm-up exercise to get to know other people and then a guest speaker: one of the authors of the book "Back on the Career Track", which speaks to women relaunching their careers.

Everyone in the group is busy, most of them have launched projects of some sort. However, many of them appeared inflexible in how they would ultimately let work intrude on their busy lives.

The truth is: we can easily fill our time; there's always plenty to do. And if you haven't worked in years, you've of course been occupied with plenty of things, including raising a family in many cases. But paid work requires a different mind-set. If you really are serious about going back to work, you need to carve out the time and provide the resources to support your decision. And you need to organize that before you start looking for a job.

Many people have good intentions about working again, but if a real financial need isn't there, the motivation may not follow. However, there are plenty of people who are really serious about relaunching themselves, and are ready to make the job a
priority. I'm going to be interviewing some of those women who returned to work after "stopping out", on these pages. So stay tuned.

Do you have questions about relaunching your career? I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, October 8, 2007

It's Always About Work

Do you find that your feelings about your work spill over into your free time--the time you've specially reserved to relax and do non work-related activities?

It's amazing how work touches everything we do: if things are going well with work, time off is more fun. If work has taken a downturn, well, watch out.

Make no mistake: because our work is what we spend so much of our time and energy doing, and because our long-term prosperity is tied to it, it tends to form an important part of our identity. And sometimes it's hard to let go, even during the weekend.

So my point is this: Whatever your work entails, it's worth spending a lot of time and resources making sure you get it right. Because at the end of the day, it's not work; it's life. And life is indeed too short.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Resumes and The Education Dilemma

I frequently see resumes that lack specific educational data.

Some people state the institution and type of degree without the date of graduation--a sign they think they're old.

Others list the institution without the type of degree--a red flag since it looks like they didn't graduate. And maybe they didn't.

Being old or failing to graduate are not things you can really hide. They are simply facts about you, and the clearer you are on your resume, the fewer questions you'll have to answer later, assuming you get the chance.

Always list dates, even if it's simply to say that you expect to receive your degree in a certain year. Be as specific as you can. Employers will thank you and, more importantly, they'll take your resume more seriously.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Executive Mobility 2007

According to Marci Alboher ( I am a career slash: In addition to being a career consultant I am head of marketing for the global trade association for executive search.

The career work I do is typically focused on women in mid-life who are struggling to either a) get back to work after a hiatus to raise kids, or b) are simply looking for more meaning and connectedness from work and life.

My position at the association is a perfect complement to my private client work as it keeps me abreast of trends in the senior employment market. We do plenty of research in the area of workplace flexibility, and I am really noticing a sea change. I regularly hear from corporate HR executives about their need to find top performers in what is shaping up to be a very serious talent shortage.

This is of course great for those of us seeking flexibility and work situations that speak to our multiple interests.

One of the prevailing terms of the senior job market today is Executive Mobility, which refers to the attraction and retention of senior executives--something companies have a very big vested interest in.

We're in the early stages of a major Talent War, since 80 million Baby Boomers will be retiring and will be followed by just half that number of Generation X'ers. So we're seeing companies stand up and take notice--it's a seller's market. And this is of course good news for talented, seasoned executives of all stripes.

So what does mobility look like in 2007? It's looking pretty traditional.

We recently conducted research with senior executives through, the online executive talent database of my association--the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC). Our research revealed a global trend among senior executives. While executives surveyed view high job mobility with some caution, traditional values about tenure and job loyalty remain well ingrained. Seventy-one percent of respondents have been in their jobs between one and five years, with 59% having worked for between 4 and 7 organizations during their careers. Eighty percent are between the ages of 35 and 54, so we are talking about Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers.

The question is whether we are going to see mobility trends change, in particular with younger people. I believe we will. The generation in their teens and twenties today (Gen Y or "Millenials") is more concerned about making life the priority than any other generation in history. But Generation X, currently in senior roles, is leading the way, as they bring with them an insistence on flexibility in the workplace to better accomodate work, family and outside interests. They are also the first generation to experience predominantly dual-income households, where the burden needs to be shared more equally between men and women. In the US today, 75% of households have dual earners. In Europe, dual income households outnumber single income households by two to one.

For those who want to improve their work lives today, or create a seamless balance between working and living, creativity should be your guide. Formal programs to help employees create work-life balance are offered by many large organizations and have been for a long time; but more and more career experts are encouraging individuals to craft their own scenarios--provided a business case can be made.

I'll be providing more specific information on this topic, and meanwhile, encourage comments.

Fast Company