Hard-Cover vs Digital Portfolios: How to Best Showcase Your Skills

No matter your profession, having a portfolio is still the best way to showcase your skills in an interview. A portfolio allows you to tell the story of your career and show what you can do with the position you are interviewing. I have always benefited from bringing a portfolio to interviews and often it helped the interviewer to really get to know me and what I could offer the company.

While most experts recommend having a hard copy portfolio on hand, digital portfolios are becoming more and more popular. Freelance Switch offers advice for professionals seeking to make the decision of whether to go with a hard cover or digital portfolio in an article How to Make Your Portfolio Work for You. The article recommends taking a hard cover portfolio to the interview, but can’t put down the benefits of having a digital portfolio available as well. The benefits of having a digital portfolio include the absolute pure ability to reach a broader audience in finding a job or new clients for your business. The article recommends carbonmade.com and creativeshake.com as an option for those who want to get started uploading their portfolio items.

Got a new way to stand out in the interview pool? Add your comments here!


The Mommy Track

I now understand why women wait later on in their careers to have children. It can be difficult once you are getting started in your career to have a child because not only do you have to make sure that you do your job correctly and efficiently every day of the week (meaning getting a case of “Mommy Brain” is a major no-no.), but you also have to find a way to juggle the care of your family and maintain the high level corporate lifestyle you planned. Many of us are doing the best we can only to deviated to the “Mommy Track.”

Today I read an article about Goldman Sachs being sued by a former vice president who felt she was pushed onto the Mommy Track. Apparently, the woman was demoted when she came back from her first maternity leave and fired when she returned from her second maternity leave, after she switched to part-time; an option that is available to all employees.

The article reminded me of my experience with maternity leave. I planned my exit plan down to the last second of my pregnancy. I shared my plan with my supervisor and her supervisor in a meeting/writing. We agreed that I would be out for the typical time and that when I came back I would work part-time for the first two weeks so that I would be able to be get adjusted to the Mommy/Marketing Coordinator life. The result? Laid off the month after my return. Now granted the company wasn’t doing well, but in looking back I know I was on the list to terminate because my supervisor called me the week before my return to see when I was coming back. At the time, I thought they were genuinely interested in me coming back. I won’t be able to prove that allegation, but needless to say that it has caused me to plan my next pregnancy and be as prepared as possible for any negative consequences.

In the case of the woman from Goldman Sachs, that was case was dismissed, probably because this type of discrimination is extremely hard to prove. Especially since now many women are “trading money for family.” The lesson for all career-minded women who are considering having children is to do thorough research on the company you currently work for. Find out if there are women who have successfully gone on maternity leave and what was the result when they came back. And even though it shouldn’t matter, find a way to gauge your boss’s attitude about working mothers. This will help you find out whether you should look for another job or begin the baby making process!

For more information about the Mommy Track, take a gander at the following article from About.com

Two Years Later…Reflections of Being Laid Off

It’s been two years since I have been laid off. I feel immensely blessed because there are so many people out there that are unemployed and don’t know where their next meal is going to come from. Some people may think it’s strange that I make a big deal out of noting when I became unemployed, but I think it’s a way of counting my blessings.

Being laid off was such a shock to me. I was laid off one month after I returned from maternity leave. It was a poor time to be let go (as if there is ever a good time) because we were just getting back on our feet from the loss of income from my being on maternity leave. I was trying to adjust to being a nursing working mom that desperately missed her child.

I am not going to deny that I cried like a baby. I worried about where our next meal was going to come from and what would happen to little Sydney because she needed to have her shots. Thankfully, Michigan has the MI Child program, which ensures that every child receives the blessing of health care.

And though I was only unemployed for three months, the effects of being laid off will follow me throughout my professional career as well. I learned that being a “silent employee” doesn’t mean that you are protected from being let go. In fact, unless you are in the “in crowd,” nothing really protects you from losing your job. The best thing that anyone can do is do their job to their best ability, speak up when necessary and go home.

Now that it has been two years, I can honestly say that I am in a different place. I can look back on my former place of employment and remember the good times. I don’t harbor any ill will against anyone and can thoroughly appreciate the blessing the Lord gave me. Think about it..I didn’t have to search and search and search for a job. While I was laid off, I got to spend additional time with my infant and really had the time to prepare to go back to work. The Lord blessed me with another job within three months that has flex time, a working from home policy and allows me to work in the capacity that I truly enjoy (which didn’t happen right away, but thank the Lord it finally came!)

For those who are struggling being laid off, I am a living testament that it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Though it may be difficult, I encourage you to stay positive. Your blessing is on the way.

Complaining at Work..Communication Issue?

It’s a Workin’ Wednesday folks…

Over the past week or so, I have been talking with my co-workers about the difference between men and women in the workplace. One of the major differences we discovered is how women are often seen as complainers. Whether it’s over the coffee pot being left on or being the “fall guy” (no pun intended) for excess work, women have the job of having to be careful of how they are perceived.

When I asked a man at my job about this he told me quite simply, “that this is a male dominated society.” How unfortunate!  Is there really nothing women can do to change this view?

Enter my research. I have been reading over sites on the Internet looking for the golden goose that will point to the solution of this problem.  Unfortunately, to my dismay, many women shy, er, run away from anything that looks like complaining and encourage their fellow sisters to do the same. In fact, they attribute the complaints of their female colleagues to the creation of a toxic environment.

I asked some of my friends outside of work what were their thoughts about women complaining on the job and they found it to be extremely irritating and pointed out that men don’t do it.

Or do they?

In “How to Complain Constructively, “Alexander Kjerulf describes how complaining can be beneficial, when performed correctly.

A few of his tips include:

Unconstructive: Complain to whoever will listen
Constructive: Complain to someone who can do something about it

If your boss is the problem, complaining to your co-workers can be a lot of fun, but it changes nothing. Complain to your boss or to the boss’s boss.

Unconstructive:Point fingers
Constructive: Look at yourself first

Maybe it’s just you who has a problem and everyone else is fine with the situation? Try to recognize those situations where everything is actually fine – you’re just being irrationally annoyed (happens to me all the time).

Also: To what extent are you a part of the problem? How are you contributing to either the problem or to the solution? Before complaining about others, make sure you know what your role in the issue is.

Unconstructive: Seek blame
Constructive: Seek solutions

Going in with the intention of making people admit they’re at fault is rarely productive. Does it really matter whose fault it is? Forget blame and focus on moving on and finding lasting solutions.

Unconstructive: Only complain
Constructive: Also appreciate what’s good

Complain when there’s a reason to, but remember to appreciate the good stuff also – don’t just always complain.

Could the answer be that women seem to do more unconstructive complaining than men? Based upon this article unconstructive complaining is a no-no, but constructive complaining has the potential of being seen as helpful and productive. And most importantly, we must appreciate what’s good (like having a job in this recession) so that we be affirmed in our right to complain. Unless it’s about the coffee pot being left on or something like that.

The research continues…and I am most interested in your thoughts!

Career vs Parenting

I was late to work this morning because I was stuck watching The Today Show. The topic was on pregnancy after menopause and is it advisable for women to get pregnant later on in life. When posed with the question on whether older women should engage in the activity of attempting to get pregnant, Nancy Snyderman, chief medical editor for NBC responded with a question of her own. “Women should ask themselves, do they want to have a baby or be a parent?”

Some women believe the question should be if they want to have a career or be a parent.  And for some women, career comes first.  Time ran an article, “Making Time For a Baby,” that featured women who chose their career first and ended up dealing with the challenge of trying to get pregnant after 40. Sylvia Ann Hewlett said, “many women embraced a “male model” of single-minded career focus, and the result is “an epidemic of childlessness” among professional women.” The article also presented a terrible statistic. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, once a woman celebrates her 42nd birthday, the chances of her having a baby using her own eggs, even with advanced medical help, are less than 10%. At age 40, half of her eggs are chromosomally abnormal; by 42, that figure is 90%.”

I watched a program on the Discovery Health channel focused on women who were struggling with these statistics. The women featured were over 60 and were very much interested in getting pregnant. They followed the women through the process of contacting doctors to solicit their help and interviewed family members to gauge their response. As to be expected, most of these women had some sort of health issue and were seen by those around them as crazy. But the women deeply wanted a child or for some, another child and were determined to make this happen.

While many of us, myself included would never think of having children so late in life, perhaps it’s not our place to judge. Who are we to judge, when we as working women, are more often than not penalized for having children. If you don’t think so, think about the looks you get when you have to run out the door early to take your child to the doctor or a soccer game and then come back to me. It is easier for career-minded women to focus on being successful in the workplace because they don’t have to worry about maternity leave or being passed up because it is perceived they can’t be a mother and do their job, so they can focus on getting ahead.

Watching these women reminds me of Hannah from the Bible. Hannah struggled in her family because everyone had what she wanted and some of the women around her didn’t mind reminding her that she didn’t have a child to call her own. The agony of having to watch these women with their children must have been terrible. But with a prayerful spirit and a belief that God would grant her request, she received a child at a late stage in life.

Perhaps the women of today symbolize the modern day Hannah.  At a later stage in life, after their career has come and gone, they look around and see that they missed out on raising a child. And while for some of them, their biological clocks have gone into retirement, there are some who receive a “late” blessing.

And who can turn a good blessing down?