Posts Tagged ‘opportunities’

Do Latinos Help Other Latinos as Much as They Could?

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

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A frequent complaint I hear from Latinos trying to break into power circles is that other Latinos who are already there don’t extend a helping hand. I’ve seen it myself. And if you wonder, like I do, why there aren’t more visible Latino leaders or why our share of power is nowhere near the percentage of the Latino population in this country, part of the answer might lie in the lack of a helping Latino hand.

As a media contributor at national and local levels, I have spent the last few years pursuing opportunities in English media, because I believe that in order to expand my message and influence, I need to move beyond talking to an audience which has a similar background to my own. Otherwise, I’m just preaching to the choir instead of raising awareness in a segment of the population that may not understand a Latino perspective.

Unfortunately, like most of you, I have often heard renowned Latinos give public speeches about the importance of pulling up those who follow in their footsteps—then seen them turn around and cut the rope when they are asked for help. A few days ago, I ran into one of those well positioned Latinos who I had personally heard saying that more diversity was needed in the newsroom. Only a few days earlier I had sent him an email asking for help introducing me to one of his producers and he had responded with a suggestion that was not particularly helpful. When we met, he said ‘hello’ from a distance of only five feet and then turned and walked away as I was opening my mouth to follow up on our email exchange. The introduction I was hoping for wasn’t going to happen.

I know the world doesn’t revolve around me and my agenda. That people are protective of their connections and their turf. That many are overworked, understaffed and underpaid. That most high ranking Latinos receive an overwhelming amount of requests that they cannot possibly fulfill, and that these requests often come from people who are not the right candidates for the help they are seeking.

But nobody builds a successful career alone. No matter how smart you are, all successful careers are built upon a large, strong network, and with the help of sponsors who at some point champion you as the right candidate for that awesome opportunity. So, why do people find it so hard to help others who are respected professionals in their fields when they reach the pinnacle of their careers, and it’s within their power to do so? Why is it so difficult to put in a good word on behalf of a fellow professional with an impeccable reputation?

I can’t help question people’s motives. Whenever any one of us resists opening a door, we are shrinking the pie instead of expanding it for all of us. You may do it because you are one of very few Latinos in your company and you don’t want others to perceive you as an activist. You may do it because you don’t want your bosses to think your personal network is mainly Hispanic. You may do it because you fear that if other Latinos walk in they may take something away from you. Whatever the reason, in the end you are hurting yourself, too.

The truth is that if you have to protect yourself in such a way, it probably means you’re not as indispensable as you think. Or you are the “token Latino” in the wrong company and eventually they will get rid of you, too. Whatever the reasons for your protectionism, they are likely to backfire. In practical terms, you are putting up a stumbling block for all Hispanics trying to move into circles of power, something that in the end affects all of us. Because as long as we continue to have such poor representation at executive levels in the private and public sectors of this country, the Hispanic community will continue to be discounted. We don’t need one leader. We need many leaders who can carry the very diverse voices of this community.

So, while you’re busy making sure nobody else climbs the ladder next to you, you are missing the chance of a lifetime: to become the power broker for every Latino and Latina of high caliber. To create a legacy of leadership beyond your own and be remembered as someone who helped set the stage for a new conversation in this wonderful country of ours.

An earlier version of this column appeared on Fox News Latino on July 27, 2011 under a different title.

Where will the jobs be?

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

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Most experts believe the economy is showing signs of recovery. Officially, the Great Recession ended in June 2009. But if you were one of the 8 million people who lost their jobs or if you’re a recent college grad, the picture doesn’t look that bright, does it.

It’s not only that companies are hiring at a slower speed but also that whole industry sectors have been destroyed and certain jobs just won’t come back. In the global economy some manufacturing jobs, for example, have been lost to other markets with cheaper labor. So have jobs for people with less than a high school diploma or even for high school graduates without any college.

According to a Moody’s Analytics for TIME magazine, in the next couple of years, 37.6% of jobs will require a Bachelor’s degree or higher; 10.2% will require an Associate’s degree and another 17.5% will require some college. How are you positioned to get or keep your job?

One of the greatest problems we are facing as a nation is the mismatch of labor needs and workers’ skills. Even during the worst of the recession there were companies that couldn’t fulfill their open positions because there were few candidates with the right skill-set. People who work with technology: engineers of all kinds, artists, designers, programmers are at the top of the list for companies across the globe.

Opportunities in the professional services are also growing because as large companies have downsized they are now looking to outsource the capabilities that they don’t longer have in house. So, you may need to consider setting up your own consulting firm to serve several clients rather than seeking a full time job.

And looking beyond your own city and state may be more of a necessity than a choice as well. When you think that North Dakota has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate (a mere 3.8%) you realize that you may want to move from Detroit were the unemployment rate is anywhere between 30-50% depending on who you believe.

It’s a great time to leverage your Latino nimbleness: To become independent if you were used to full time employment, to get extra certifications and higher degrees if you notice that the available jobs require them, and to move wherever the jobs are. Keep in mind that you were raised with the ability to adjust to change, to try new roles, and to think out of the box. This is the time to make those traits work for you!

Latino employees make a difference

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009
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Years ago, when Employee Resource Groups (ERGs, also known as Affinity Groups and Employee Networks) made their appearance in corporate America, the goal was to provide a space for diverse groups of employees to be heard and to offer support and networking opportunities which would result in an increased level of employee engagement.

As with most things, ERGs have evolved through the years and at a time when businesses need to leverage any advantage they have to earn market share, using the power of employees to reach an increasingly diverse population is key. In the words of Kerrie Peraino, Chief Diversity Officer at American Express: “We don’t want to loose the educational, informational and celebratory mandates of ERGs but we also want them to help with recruiting, orienting, training and retaining of talent and to share and develop business ideas that bring direct benefits to the bottom line.”

As a matter of fact, the AHORA network at American Express (their Latino ERG) helped develop the idea and the design for Amex’s new ¡Felicidades! gift card that went on sale recently and which will be available until January to account for the Hispanic community’s habit of buying gifts for Three Kings Day. ERG members voted online for one of the three designs that the company’s ad agency came up with after hearing AHORA’s input.

Ms.Peraino is not alone in her thinking. Recently, I moderated a panel called “Optimizing ERGs business effectiveness” at a Diversity Best Practices’s conference in Washington, DC. While discussing the different models ERGs are using to impact a company’s bottom line, one of the presenters on the panel, Claudia Mastrapasqua, Managing Director Client Executive Practice at Marsh, shared the innovative approach of her company’s Women’s network (WEBB.)

For the last few years WEBB has been hosting an event where Marsh clients and Marsh employees get together for some strong networking around a keynote speaker at a great venue. These events have helped the company develop new relationships with prospective clients and strengthen existing relationships. Most recently, I was the speaker at their event at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, where about 140 women got together at around 6 PM on a Thursday night.

Everyone networked until 6:30 when the 1/2 hour program started. First, Joseph McSweeney, president of Marsh’s US/Canada Division, said a few words and then I made a twenty minute presentation. That was it. The group went back to their networking, their shopping and having their hands massaged for free. No doubt that the wonderful hors d’oeuvres, the Holiday Martinis, the 15% discount coupon and the personal shoppers assigned to help the women shop privately (the store closed its doors to the public at 7 PM) helped make the evening a wild success.

But what I want to point out to you is this: through their involvement with their ERGs the members of AHORA and WEBB have found great opportunities to connect with senior management and gain visibility within their companies, which is often hard to do. By taking an active role in developing programs and products that affect your company’s bottom line you become part of a selective group of individuals who get recognized for their contributions. AHORA and WEBB have received lots of internal praise as well as external press and their members are preparing for wonderful year-end reviews.

So the question is: In this economic climate, what are you doing to stand out in your company?

What do you fear?

Sunday, August 30th, 2009
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Whether you were born in Latin America or in the US to Hispanic parents/grandparents, you probably share many traits with other Latinos. Yes, we all have our own nuances and we are not all the same by any stretch of the imagination, but coming from the same region provides a common denominator.

If you take in consideration that, in general, the system doesn’t work as well in Latin America as it does in developed nations like the US, you already have the makings of two traits: a strong need to develop relationships (because unless you know somebody, nothing will get done and you will get nowhere!) and a great flexibility. We are the masters of trouble shooting, we are resourceful beyond belief, we are incredibly creative and we are awesome at coming up with solutions to the most complex problems. All of which makes us very adept to change, something that comes in handy in job market situations like the one we are experiencing now.

In the context of the global economic collapse, Latin America is not doing that badly. Why? Because it has seen many crises that were much worse than this one. Because they’ve been in the forefront of making do with less, in figuring out how to get out of an impossible predicament. Talk about “reduce, re-use, recycle,” people in that region grew up inheriting the clothes of their siblings, cousins and friends; they wash their paper plates and plastic ware and they’ve had smaller cars that run on alternative fuels for a very, very long time.

And even though this trait is extremely powerful in our current situation, you must remember that it is just one of the many advantageous traits that you bring to the table.

So my question is this: Why if we have so many unique characteristics are we not assuming more leadership positions in this country? What are we afraid of?

Using social networks to find job opportunities

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

A short video with great tips to leverage social networks to develop relationships that may lead to job opportunities.

Online jobs: a myth?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

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You think nobody gets jobs on the Internet, right? Wrrrrrrrrrong! Lots of people do! There are, however, three main reasons why that happens:

1. They are people who have a skill set and education that is unusual and for which there’s little supply and a big demand. For example, I have a friend who posted her resume and within 48 hours got two calls from recruiters that led to two in-person interviews and a job offer.

2. They have very well written resumes that are tailored to the positions to which they are applying. That means: if they list an objective, it is appropriate for the job they are applying for, they have included plenty of the keywords relevant to the job they seek and the resume has NO mistakes. (None, not a misplaced capital or a typo or formatting issues or grammatical errors like saying “leaves in NY” when you mean “lives in New York.”

3. They are actively engaged in the online search and not just posting resumes on every job board out there. That means: they choose certain job boards and stick to them so they can monitor the new positions that become available and they can participate in social networks on those sites; they use the job boards as a way to find out about companies that are recruiting and contact those companies directly for other opportunities; they join professional groups online and develop relationships that lead to sharing information about job openings.

These people understand that job boards are designed for the benefit of the recruiters (who pay for the service) rather than for the candidates (who access the site for free) so they develop strategies to become visible to these recruiters. For example, they answer questions on professional networks like Linkedin so they are seen as experts.

Follow these strategies and you too will cut the time it takes you to land a job online!

Don’t go it alone

Sunday, July 12th, 2009
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If you’re trying to find a job or would like to leave yours but are afraid that you won’t find another one in this economy, what about connecting with a few talented individuals and coming up with project that you can promote/sell as a team?

Assembling a team for a particular project is how movies are made. You have a director and producers who get together, look for actors, hire designers, assistants and all types of professionals with the goal of producing one movie. Once the movie is finished, the group is dismantled, so to speak.

What stops you from doing the same, connecting with individuals with different interests and abilities? Pull your collective resources including money, contacts, specialties and create your own job instead of lining up for an interview along with hundreds of others who are trying to get the same position?

I believe this is going to be very much the way of the future and the sooner you start figuring out how to make it work the better. I’ve been doing this in my practice for a while and the key is in finding the right people. Not just the right talent for your project but people who you trust will do their part to make the project successful. It may take several tries before you identify the colleagues you work with best, but it’s worth the effort. I currently have four of those teams.

Contrary to what you might think, this is a great time to explore this idea because there are lots of extremely capable and talented people out there looking for their next opportunity. Why not leverage all that energy for your next career move?

Students looking to make money?

Sunday, July 5th, 2009
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Latinos in College, the nationwide public awareness campaign to help increase the number of Hispanic/Latino students who graduate from college, is implementing a strategy that offers students across the country the opportunity to make money.

Here’s an idea of what it entails:

  • Contacting local high schools and universities to tell them about our initiative
  • Offering our student and parent workshops and the Latinos in College: your Guide to Success book
  • Conducting student and/or parent workshops

    You are:

  • Interested in helping Latinos and Latinas graduate from college
  • A college student or recent grad
  • Self motivated, perseverant
  • A great communicator
  • Good talking to groups
  • Comfortable calling people you don’t know
  • If you are interested in finding out more, contact us at: mariela@latinosincollege.com. Please share this posting with your friends and colleagues on your social networks.

    Interships available

    Sunday, July 5th, 2009

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    Are you a high school senior or college student looking for an internship? Get involved with the Latinos in College initiative!

    I have recently helped launch this nationwide public awareness campaign to help increase the number of Latinos/Hispanics who graduate from college. Yes, it’s not just about getting into a university but graduating with a four year degree. And although right now there are opportunities out there for people with great technical skills and lots of experience, keep in mind that the unemployment rate for people without a college degree is three times higher than for people with a college degree.

    So, here’s a great opportunity: Latinos in College is looking for interns to help us with Internet marketing. What does it mean? That you’ll be using Internet tools to make other students aware of our initiative and website. You’ll be using Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and all the other Social Networking sites to drive traffic to our site.

    We are looking for a team of committed students. Here’s how you’ll benefit:

  • You’ll be in touch with experts in various industries who can open doors for you now and in the future
  • You’ll gain experience in a critical field that will give you an edge when you look for a job
  • You’ll have a wonderful internship experience to add to your resume
  • You’ll be in touch with other students with a Latino background who can support you in your own path to college

    We are looking for people who:

  • Are high school seniors, college students and recent college grads
  • Are very well versed in Social Networking tools and on how the Internet works
  • Are motivated, self directed and enthusiastic about education
  • Are interested in developing their leadership skills
  • Are interested in helping other Hispanic students

    Although this is an unpaid internship, you may be able to get college credits for it. Check with your school.

    If you are interested in becoming a part of this exciting initiative, contact us today at: mariela@latinosincollege.com

  • Graduating with no job?

    Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

    Graduating from college right now could be a pretty scary thought. There are less job opportunities than there used to be, the industry you focused your studies in may be in shambles and even internships are hard to get.

    Don’t despair. There are always things you can do to beat the competition and get ahead. Currently, there are three million jobs that employers are having trouble fulfilling. They are in areas such as education, health, accounting and government. The big problem right now is a mismatch between employees skills and job openings. By adapting your skills to industries that need professionals like you, you might be able to land a coveted job.

    Here are a few things to consider:

  • Expand your horizons and consider industries outside of your major. Many of your skills are transferable so focus on sectors you may have not ever considered before.
  • Look into government internships and jobs. They offer great benefits and competitive pay. www.scholarships.fatomei.com.
  • Join professional associations of your industry and other industries where you would consider working. That will allow you to meet people and to expand your network.
  • Use sites like www.linkedin.com and www.ihispano.com to join groups and to ask for referrals to people who might have opportunities. Becoming active on these sites by answering questions, for instance, will give you more visibility.
  • Be aware that many companies are not listing their job openings to avoid being bombarded by resumes and are using their internal networks to find candidates. By expanding your network you will increase your chances of hearing about those hidden opportunities.
  • Keep in mind that over 90% of the people have jobs right now and they can help you get leads within their companies. So, make your network aware of what you are looking for and update them regularly on your progress.