When will equal work = equal pay?

No matter what women have on their resume or how well they do in a job interview, chances are they won’t get paid the same as their male counterparts when they get the job. In Canada, a woman earns 74 cents for each $1 earned by a man.

If you think that there are extenuating circumstances that result in this disparity, like women working part-time more often, women putting their careers on the back burner to raise a family, or women accepting lower-paying jobs more often, not so fast! These are just some of the myths that lead people to believe that the gender-based gap in pay isn’t real.

The fact is that women don’t get paid the same as men for the same work.

From the perspective of a woman in the workforce, I find this both discouraging and frustrating.

60 Minutes screen shotHowever, a recent 60 Minutes episode has shed light on what’s being done about this issue. It featured a corporation that has recognized the pay gap and its strong leadership is contributing to the fight against it.

In this segment, 60 Minutes interviewed Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, a company that offers customer relationship management software. He discussed how his company is prioritizing pay equality.

As a company that’s been named as one of the best places to work, Benioff expected that the pay gap wouldn’t exist at Salesforce. He decided to execute an organization-wide audit of positions and salaries based on gender to uncover the truth. Benioff admitted that he was surprised when the audit revealed that gender-based pay disparities did, in fact, exist there.

What happened next makes this story notable: Benioff acted on the results and fixed the problem. He revealed that in one year, resolving the issue cost the company $3 million (USD). I’m assuming that when he took this action, he was considering the advice of Salesforce’s human resources executive working on the project (notably, a woman), who advised him that if the audit revealed an issue, the results couldn’t be simply read and filed away – they would need to act to correct them to keep the company’s integrity  intact.

Benioff also noted that he recalled sitting in meetings with high-level folks in his organization, and noticing that the room was filled with exclusively men. He remarked that this practice had to stop, and moving forward, wanted to see women involved in every meeting, proactively giving women the opportunity to bring their perspectives, ideas and approaches to the table when it mattered.

Woman leading a meeting

Once his eyes were opened to issues with gender-based pay at Salesforce, Benioff has described pay equality as one of the big social issues that he’s gotten behind, and has started to spread the word. Other recent social media-based events, one of the more well-known ones being #EqualPayDay on April 10, are also helping to get the truth out and debunk the myths.

Why does spreading the word matter? In the 60 Minutes interview, Benioff said he believes that ending gender-based disparity in pay is one of the doors to gender equality, at the same level of importance as having equal opportunities and being free from harassment.

I’m inclined to agree with him.

What are your thoughts on Salesforce’s move toward implementing equal pay for equal work? Has the leadership in your workplace addressed this issue?

Photo credits: Pixabay.com; CBS News.

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Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
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New year, new goals, new you

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, for many of us, the start of a new year is the time to take on resolutions to change ourselves for the better.

At the start of a new year, I like to reflect on my goals and check-in on where I’m at with them. A rule of thumb for me is:

“Write down two personal, two business and two health goals for the next 1, 5 and 10 years. Do this four times a year. Goal setting triggers your subconscious computer.” – Lululemon mantra

This mantra works well for me because it reiterates the importance of having different goals across the different facets of life, and over different time ranges. Writing your goals down is also very effective at helping you stick to them – even billionaire Richard Branson agrees! I also love that it acknowledges that goals can change based on the different circumstances that you face when you check-in on them, even if you haven’t achieved them yet – and that’s okay!

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Although it’s January 3 and I should probably have fleshed out more of my 2018 resolutions, I’ve so far only focused on setting professional goals for the year. To keep me accountable, I’ll share them (in writing!) here. This year, I’m going to step outside of my comfort zone as a communications professional and expand my skill set in other related areas that aren’t categorically “PR”. I’ll be honing my graphic design skills and further advancing my project management knowledge.

What are your 2018 goals? Do you jot your goals down and check on them often to keep yourself on track? Share in the comments.

Photo credits: Pixabay.com; Laine Jaremey.

 

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Free career resources from the Toronto Public Library

“The best things in life are free.”

If you have a Toronto Public Library (TPL) card, this saying is true when it comes to ways to boost your career.

TPL provides access to helpful resources for searching for a job, refining your resume, and updating your skills and knowledge.

Career-related workshops

The fall 2017 edition of TPL’s What’s On publication lists some career and resume-focused sessions at library branches. They cover:

  • An introduction to LinkedIn
  • Job market opportunities
  • Resume writing and critiquing
  • Improving interview skills
  • Networking and job search tactics for newcomers to Canada

resources

Online education at lynda.com

LyndaTPL card holders have access to lynda.com for free. Lynda.com provides “over 3,500 video tutorial courses led by experts on web design, software development, photography, business skills, home and small office, project management, 3D + Animation, graphic design audio, music, video editing and more.” This perk gets you a Premium monthly membership, which has a value of $29.99 per month.

Completing courses at lynda.com can increase your knowledge of tasks you’re doing on-the-job or that you’re curious about, impress your boss, and boost your resume or LinkedIn profile.

Need a library card?

September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, so there’s no better time to get or renew your card. Further to the TPL resources listed above, the other benefits of having a library card are numerous. You can get a TPL card if you live, work, go to school or own property in Toronto. Learn more about getting a card here.

Photo credits: Laine Jaremey; Lynda.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Like motivational podcasts? Which do you recommend?

It’s safe to say that I adore to listening to podcasts. Any and all types! I usually have them on in the background while I’m at work, doing chores around the house or commuting, and have even listened to them while at the gym.

Over the past few weeks, I spent some time on the dock at the cottage (check out a photo of my view below!) and enjoyed hearing new stories and perspectives from podcasts as I relaxed in the sunshine.

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While one the dock, I got hooked on the genre of motivational podcasts. They generally cover increasing your productivity, thinking differently and transforming yourself for the better, both personally and professionally. Some feature interviews with experts, business people and even celebrities who provide valuable viewpoints, information and tips in an easy-to-digest format.

My go-to shows at the moment are the Tim Ferriss Show, the Tony Robbins Podcast and the School of Greatness with Lewis Howes.

That said, it can be eye-opening (or, ear-opening!) to listen to episodes of new shows that I haven’t heard before. What motivational podcasts do you recommend? Please share your suggestion(s) in the comments below!

Photo credits: Pixabay.com; Laine Jaremey; Apple Podcasts.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
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Work emails: Judgement required

From a formal “Dear” line and asking about your weekend, to one-word messages and emojis, to swear words and jokes that toe the line into being NSFW. There are many different approaches to how people write emails at work.

A friend and former colleague, Amanda, recently sent me a hilarious video from CBC’s TV show, Baroness von Sketch, on the topic of work emails. In addition to being just plain funny, she thought the video, which you can view here or by clicking on the screen cap below, was particularly relevant to me given the theme of Pencil Skirts & Punctuation.

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The manager in this video is at one end of the spectrum when it comes to email etiquette. She is informal and unprofessional in emails, and expects staff to act similarly. Although her unprofessionalism is taken to the extreme because it’s *~hilarious~* in the sketch, it’s also relevant for work emails in the real world.

“There’s nothing wrong with throwing in an ‘exclamaysh’… It lets people know that you’re not gonna skin us alive.”

Let’s think about what a real professional work email looks like. In my opinion, it includes a clear subject line, a greeting (such as “Hi Mary,”), short sentences and concise writing, one exclamation mark at the most if required, a clear request or action item, finished with your name and email signature. Don’t forget to proofread. Pretty simple!

As a general rule-of-thumb, being professional (or “profesh”) in emails is important. Why?

  • You may know the person you’re sending an email to, but others CC’d on an email thread – either immediately or in the future – may not know you as well and may not interpret an unprofessional tone in a favourable manner.
  • An attempt to be informal or to make a joke could be risky, because emails lack the nonverbal cues that often make jokes land as intended.
  • An email may be filed for future reference. It would be unfortunate to have an unprofessional email as part of a thread that’s in an official record.
  • Whether you’re starting out in your career or are a seasoned veteran in an industry, email is a tool that helps communicate the type of person you are and your work style. Using a professional tone communicates that you’re polished, dedicated to quality and serious about your career.

That said, know your audience. If you’re emailing a close contact at work, it could be appropriate to include something lighthearted and funny in your email – just make sure it’s suitable for work, and that you think the recipient will be okay seeing it. Showing your personality is an important part of fostering positive interpersonal relationships with colleagues.

What guidelines or rules of thumb do you use for writing work emails? Please share in the comments.

Thanks again to Amanda for inspiring this post!

Photo credits: Pixabay.com; cbc.ca.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Getting an A in Study Habits 101

It’s been years since I’ve needed to crack open a textbook, make notes, study and write a test. Not since completing my undergraduate degree and post-graduate certificate years ago have I needed to review, digest and apply a course-load of information and then demonstrate mastery of it during one written exam.

This is unfortunate, because right now, I’m preparing to study for and take an exam. Gulp.

Which exam? The Project Management Professional, or PMP certification exam. As a communications professional, this certification will complement and enhance the work I do. To make sure communications and PR campaigns are successful, managing the moving pieces and making sure everything is being done on-time, on-budget and high-quality is critical – this is where effective project management comes in. Plus, I’m a huge fan of professional development!

So, I’m first brushing up on my study skills. Here are some tips that I’m going to keep in mind as I embark on this exam preparation journey:

  • How I study matters as much as what I study. Science proves it! Edudemic.com reports that some study habits are proven by science, such as regularly exercising, not rushing through course material, switching up studying locations and topics, getting good rest, and taking a tech break.
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  • Setting a studying schedule will help me to map out key milestones in my exam preparation. This is particularly important because I’m doing self-directed learning and there’s no one to make sure I’m on track. Using a critical path (there’s more about creating a critical path and other planning tools in an older post here), I’ll keep myself accountable and organized, ensuring that all important content is covered.
  • In my university days, mnemonic devices were helpful for remembering detailed information, like lists or theories, when cramming for a test. They’re great for everyday things too! But, sometimes I find that creating the mnemonic device seems like as much work as actually remembering the thing it stands for! A digital mnemonic generator will make life easier (I wish these were around when I was in school!). Since there are many lists of processes and components to remember, this tool will be helpful in my exam PMP prep.
  • Quiz yo’ self! Testing my knowledge before the exam can help me assess just how much I’ve retained from studying. I’ll try making flash cards, doing practice exams, or explaining key concepts to someone else to assess my understanding.

What are your favourite study tactics? Share your tips in the comments!

Photo credit: Pixabay.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Nine tips for successful informational interviews

Have you ever been on an informational interview?

If you haven’t heard of them before, an informational interview is a meeting with someone who’s already in an organization, field or industry that you’d like to get into, which doesn’t relate directly to a job opening. It’s an opportunity for you to learn, grow your network and get your foot in the door.

Informational interviews can help improve your career prospects. They’re especially helpful when you graduate or if you’re starting out in a new field. In fact, the effectiveness of informational interviews has been described as “engineered nepotism”. Essentially, if you don’t have an existing strong personal connection, an informational interview can have the potential to result in one.

Informational interviews have benefited my career. My first job at a PR agency was the eventual result of an informational interview with a VP there. We were put in touch through connections in our networks, so I didn’t know her personally before the meeting. That said, I diligently prepared for the meeting and it was a success.

That’s why, when a role became available at my level at the agency a month after the informational interview, the person I met with contacted me. She thought I could be a good fit based on what she learned about me in the informational interview. As I had already dipped my toe by meeting with her and learning about the agency, I was immediately engaged. So, we met again to discuss the role and I was interviewed by other senior members of the organization. As a result, the role was a great fit for me, and I was a great fit for the team.

This experience has made me believe in the power of informational interviews. Since, I’ve continued to participate in them, both as interviewer and interviewee. Based on what I’ve learned, I have some tips for acing informational interviews as your start off in your career:

Tip 1: Prepare as you would for a job interview – Would you ever go to a job interview without Googling the company and person you’re meeting with? Informational interviews should be treated the same way. In addition to reviewing the company’s website, check out the social channels of and recent news articles about the company, its leaders, its brands and the person you’re meeting with. Review your contact’s LinkedIn profile and consider connecting with them before or after the meeting. Show you’re really on-the-ball by weaving-in what you learned in your research during your conversation, or even print out and bring an article or two.

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Tip 2: Determine an objective – Understand what you hope to get out of your informational interview. Keep your objective(s) top-of-mind, and even mention them to the interviewee either before or early in the interview. For example, if you’re emailing the contact in advance, you could say, “I look forward to meeting with you to learn about your career path and the trends and opportunities you see in the industry,” if that’s what your objectives are. This will help the interview subject prepare, and as a result, you’ll get more from the meeting.

Tip 3: Prepare a list of questions – Make a list of questions to address anything you’re curious about – the person’s career path, something you learned when researching their organization, industry trends, their organization’s culture or their organization’s open positions (if they’re not posted online). Write the questions down in your notebook (see point 5, below) or print the list. Refer to them during the interview to demonstrate your preparedness and engagement.

Tip 4: Get ready to share a bit about yourself – Ideally, the interview should focus on the person you’re meeting with. However, it would be helpful for the interviewee to know a bit about you so that they have context when sharing information or advice. Rehearse a summary, also called an “elevator pitch”, about yourself in advance. Make sure it’s short, concise and clear. Learn how to craft an elevator pitch here.

Tip 5: Make notes – Bring a notebook and pen and jot down important things that your interview subject says. Write down questions that arise when they’re speaking and ask them later to avoid interrupting them. Even if you’re a digital record-keeper, writing down notes demonstrates to the speaker that you’re fully engaged. Making notes on a smartphone, tablet or laptop can have the opposite effect. (Still not convinced to write in a notebook? Richard Branson has a compelling pitch for using them!)

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Tip 6: Dress to impress – First impressions count. But, before you put on a tailored suit for an informational interview, keep in mind that in recent years, attire for job interviews and other professional meetings has changed, just as how people dress in the workplace has evolved. A suit is great, but not always necessary (hello, suit separates!). As part of your research, learn about the culture and dress code of the organization and industry of the interview subject to ensure your attire is appropriate. However, even if the organization’s dress code is very causal on a day-to-day basis, you should dress more formally to convey your seriousness and professionalism. Learn more about dressing for a job interview here.

Tip 7: Find an appropriate venue and time – Allow the interview subject to share their preferences for when and where they’d like to meet. Encourage a venue that’s close to their workplace to minimize their time away from work. Your interview subject might suggest a meeting room at their office. Or, coffee shops or casual cafés are usually good bets, but make sure you can get a table at the meeting time; you might even want to arrive early to secure seats. Don’t order drinks or food in advance, and offer to pay if you’re the one who called the meeting (although if you’re a student or if it’s early in your career, the interview subject may politely decline your offer!).

Tip 8: Be mindful of time – Arrive early and ensure the meeting ends on time. This shows that you respect the interview subject’s time, that you’re able to manage time effectively, and that you understand they have other priorities in their schedule.

Tip 9: Send a thank-you note – Express your appreciation after the interview in an email or, better yet, a card sent in the mail. I mean, who sends cards these days? It’s a unique way to stand out. Also, if someone introduced you, take the time to send them a short email to share that the interview occurred and to thank them for the connection.

I’ll finish up with a disclaimer. The result of my informational interview scenario, described above, was ideal for me at that time because I was starting out in my career and looking for a job at the same time a position became available. However, not every informational interview will result in a job offer. And, sometimes, that’s not your objective!

You might not be able to anticipate how participating in an informational interview now can benefit you down the road. Outcomes can include being approached regarding a job opportunity, increasing your technical knowledge, absorbing perspective based on the interview subject’s experience and gaining connections to the interviewee’s network.

What other tips do you have for making the most of an informational interview? Share in the comments below!

Photo credit: Pixabay.com.