Microsoft says you will need these skills after COVID, and it wants to help you get certified
LinkedIn
Happy young latina woman working on her laptop at home

By Lydia Dishman

Microsoft wants to help 25 million people around the world get better jobs by the end of this year. And by better, it means most in-demand now and post-pandemic.

That’s likely music to the ears of those who are currently unemployed in the wake of COVID-19. But even those who still have jobs can advance their careers by tapping into Microsoft’s new initiative, which tackles the problem with a three-part strategy.

The first part is identifying the opportunity. For this, Microsoft is leaning into LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, an analysis of  “all the data on LinkedIn that shows available jobs, their required skills, and the existing skills job seekers have,” and offering it for free to governments.

The Economic Graph already surfaced the current top 10 most in-demand jobs that it predicts will have staying power throughout the next decade. Among them:

  1. Customer- service specialist
  2. Sales -development representative
  3. IT support/help desk technician
  4. Digital  marketer
  5. Project  manager
  6. Graphic  designer
  7. Financial analyst
  8. Data  analyst
  9. Network  administrator
  10. Software  developer

The second part of the strategy is to get people up to speed on the skills needed to land those jobs. As such, they will offer free LinkedIn Learning video courses that align with the required core skills for these roles through the end of this year. These courses are currently available in English, French, Spanish, and German.

Finally, Microsoft wants to be sure that the people taking the courses will receive certification for their learning. So the company is making exams available at a reduced rate through the end of the year. These are “industry-recognized, Microsoft Certifications based on exams that demonstrate proficiency in Microsoft technologies,” for $15, which the company says “represents a large discount on the price of exams that typically cost more than $100.”

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Job Interviews are Going Virtual, Here’s What You Need to Know
LinkedIn
Hispanic man looking at computer monitor for online job interview

As businesses prepare to open their doors again, the hiring process has begun. Nearly forty million Americans lost their jobs from the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that many of those people will be searching for work and participating in job interviews.

But, as we are still adhering to some social distancing rules, many of these interviews are likely to occur via video call.

Interviewing virtually is an unfamiliar territory, but having a successful, meaningful virtual interview is definitely possible.

Here are the best tips for having the most successful interview on a virtual platform.

  • Presentation
  • As you would for an in-person interview, you want to look presentable. While this means wearing an interview-appropriate outfit, you want to make sure that your background and camera angle are also presentable. Make sure your background is clean, containing as little distractions as possible, and that your computer’s camera is catching the best angle of yourself. This will allow the interviewer to see the best version of yourself while bringing their full attention to what you are saying and not to what else is happening in your environment.

  • Make Eye Contact
  • As you would in a physical job interview, you want to make eye contact with the interviewer. It can be difficult not to look at your own reflection in the video call and worry about how you look to the other party, but remember to look into the computer’s camera to show the interviewer that you are paying attention to what they are saying and are really listening.

  • Remember the Lag
  • Unfortunately, video calls are known to lag and glitch. Neither party is at fault, but be aware of these inconveniences. Talking over the interviewer, accidentally interrupting, audio cutouts, and temporary freezes are bound to happen, so speak slowly and talk only when necessary to avoid these possible interview mishaps.

  • Use Your Resources
  • Virtual interviews allow for better access to virtual resources. Keeping interview notes on your screen and using screen share to give examples of your work will help you to remember your best selling points and show your interviewer what you are capable of.

Virus lockdown creates a world of night owls
LinkedIn
Young woman working on her laptop in the city at night

A study of global online traffic shows the whole world is staying logged on later at night and enjoying a lie in before starting work in the morning. VPN providers have a unique insight into global web traffic as their servers track usage in multiple countries allowing them to monitor patterns in how people are working in countries from Australia to Canada. And the massive spike in home working caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has meant more people are installing VPN software to protect confidential business networks as they work remotely.

The figures show that compared to pre-lockdown, people across the UK, the U.S., Germany, Australia, and Canada have been going to sleep and waking up later than usual.

The new data has been collated by privacy protection company Surfshark.  It indicates spikes in use from midnight to 3 a.m. that were not present before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Due to the aggregated anonymous data that we collect, we are able to compare how people behaved pre-COVID-19 to the current trends, and we have seen some interesting changes in their habits,” said Naomi Hodges, the cybersecurity advisor at Surfshark. “Weekend VPN usage has mainly remained the same; however, from the aggregated data alone, it is apparent that people have been behaving differently during the working days.”

With some variations, the Coronavirus outbreak has given a significant boost to VPN usage. While precise hours vary, new peak times are emerging, and a clear trend of night owls is present across the UK, the U.S., Germany, Australia, and Canada.

People are staying up later – either to work or to play games or watch movies. However, it seems that the lockdowns have all but eliminated early birds. People around the world have been enjoying a lie in and typically not going online until 8:00 or 9:00.

The data shows people remain the most productive during the daytime. On the other hand, there’s no clear lunchtime lull as people are able to either eat at their desks or vary their breaks. There’s also been little change to weekend patterns, which shows that not even a pandemic can change the way people spend their off time.

In addition to that, peak times are now virtually gone. Instead of more people connecting in the evening, now the connection rates remain relatively even from morning to night, with only slight fluctuations that largely depend on a specific country in question.

The UK is waking up and staying up later 

Since March 23, when the UK went into a full COVID-19 lockdown, the average connection counts grew by 60%. It’s a considerable jump, far more than the 15% growth which had been expected.

There are clear patterns concerning working times. Early mornings saw a 25 to 34% decrease, while daytime grew by 10-30%, and nights from midnight to 3 a.m. increased by 25%. Going by these numbers, it is clear that people stay up longer than usual, and in turn, they start their working day later.

The United States is starting work later, but sleeping less

In April, the vast majority of the USA went into full lockdown. It was expected that this situation would make VPN usage grow in the US by approximately 20%; instead, it surged by 56%.

Just like in the UK, US workers have been starting their day later, as their 5:00 to 8:00 a.m. usage fell. Daytime usage saw a significant increase beginning at 11:00 a.m., hitting the peak at 1:00 p.m. Americans went to sleep later, with high usage rates from 0100 to 0300.

Although with slight variations from the United Kingdom, the US saw very similar patterns: people are staying up longer, and sleeping in; although in general, Americans are sleeping less than before the pandemic hit.

Germany is the most productive in the first half of the day

On March 20, Bavaria went into a full lockdown – the first of Germany’s federal states to do so. The average connection counts increased by 52% since the nationwide quarantine, although it was expected only to see a growth of 26%.

Just like in the US and the UK, Germany saw a decrease in connections in the early morning from 5:00 to 8:00 a.m. However, they seem to be earlier birds than most, with their peak covering the first half of the day – from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Australia is sleeping in and staying up late

Since closing non-essential businesses on March 23, there was a 58% growth in VPN usage. That’s a massive difference from the projected 14%, showing that many Australians probably started remote work and self-quarantine earlier than many other nations.

It’s no surprise that their connection counts dropped in the early morning hours, from 4:00 to 8:00 a.m. Another pattern we have already seen is a significant increase in usage late at night between 11:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. in Australia.

Canada is where VPN usage grew the most

During the past two weeks, VPN usage in Canada has increased by a huge 64%, compared with expected growth of 19%. That suggests a high number of companies taking their operations online.

Just like in the other analysed countries, Canadians have lower connection counts early on from 5:00 to 8:00 a.m. They are also staying up late, and there has been a considerable increase in connections through the night.

These new patterns have emerged during the unprecedented experience of global lockdowns. It’s difficult to predict whether we will see huge growth in remote work, although Twitter is setting a new example.

CEO Jack Dorsey has announced that all employees are welcome to work remotely even after the end of the lockdown. This sets a new precedent for more and more remote work, especially in industries where being physically present is not crucial.

It remains unclear how many companies will follow suit, but currently it’s evident that operations haven’t come to a full stop in many offices.

“Telecommuting does present its own unique challenges, and even if more and more companies are to adopt it in the future, it’s unlikely that it will continue as it has during lockdown. There are probably stricter on and off-hours to be expected, as the current habits are also affected mainly by the fact that most people are not leaving their homes very often,” said Hodges.

Not a ‘Math Person’? —You may be better at learning to code than you think
LinkedIn
close-up of person coding or doing web design on laptop

Want to learn to code? Put down the math book. Practice those communication skills instead.

New research from the University of Washington finds that a natural aptitude for learning languages is a stronger predictor of learning to program than basic math knowledge, or numeracy. That’s because writing code also involves learning a second language, an ability to learn that language’s vocabulary and grammar, and how they work together to communicate ideas and intentions. Other cognitive functions tied to both areas, such as problem solving and the use of working memory, also play key roles.

“Many barriers to programming, from prerequisite courses to stereotypes of what a good programmer looks like, are centered around the idea that programming relies heavily on math abilities, and that idea is not born out in our data,” said lead author Chantel Prat, an associate professor of psychology at the UW and at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. “Learning to program is hard but is increasingly important for obtaining skilled positions in the workforce. Information about what it takes to be good at programming is critically missing in a field that has been notoriously slow in closing the gender gap.”

Published online March 2 in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal from the Nature Publishing Group, the research examined the neurocognitive abilities of more than three dozen adults as they learned Python, a common programming language. Following a battery of tests to assess their executive function, language and math skills, participants completed a series of online lessons and quizzes in Python. Those who learned Python faster, and with greater accuracy, tended to have a mix of strong problem-solving and language abilities.

In today’s STEM-focused world, learning to code opens up a variety of possibilities for jobs and extended education. Coding is associated with math and engineering; college-level programming courses tend to require advanced math to enroll and they tend to be taught in computer science and engineering departments. Other research, namely from UW psychology professor Sapna Cheryan, has shown such requirements and perceptions of coding reinforce stereotypes about programming as a masculine field, potentially discouraging women from pursuing it.

But coding also has a foundation in human language: Programming involves creating meaning by stringing symbols together in rule-based ways.

Though a few studies have touched on the cognitive links between language learning and computer programming, some of the data is decades oldusing languages like Pascal that are now out of date, and none of them used natural language aptitude measures to predict individual differences in learning to program.

So, Prat, who specializes in the neural and cognitive predictors of learning human languages, set out to explore the individual differences in how people learn Python. Python was a natural choice, Prat explained, because it resembles English structures, such as paragraph indentation, and uses many real words rather than symbols for functions.

To evaluate the neural and cognitive characteristics of “programming aptitude,” Prat studied a group of native English speakers between the ages of 18 and 35 who had never learned to code.

Before learning to code, participants took two completely different types of assessments. First, participants underwent a five-minute electroencephalography scan, which recorded the electrical activity of their brains as they relaxed with their eyes closed. In previous research, Prat showed that patterns of neural activity while the brain is at rest can predict up to 60 percent of the variability in the speed with which someone can learn a second language (in that case, French).

“Ultimately, these resting-state brain metrics might be used as culture-free measures of how someone learns,” Prat said.

Then the participants took eight different tests: one that specifically covered numeracy; one that measured language aptitude; and others that assessed attention, problem-solving and memory.

To learn Python, the participants were assigned ten 45-minute online instruction sessions using the Codeacademy educational tool. Each session focused on a coding concept, such as lists or if/then conditions, and concluded with a quiz that a user needed to pass to progress to the next session. For help, users could turn to a “hint” button, an informational blog from past users and a “solution” button, in that order.

From a shared mirror screen, a researcher followed along with each participant and was able to calculate their “learning rate,” or speed with which they mastered each lesson, as well as their quiz accuracy and the number of times they asked for help.

After completing the sessions, participants took a multiple-choice test on the purpose of functions (the vocabulary of Python) and the structure of coding (the grammar of Python). For their final task, they programmed a game—Rock, Paper, Scissors—considered an introductory project for a new Python coder. This helped assess their ability to write code using the information they had learned.

Ultimately, researchers found scores from the language aptitude test were the strongest predictors of participants’ learning rate in Python. Scores from tests in numeracy and fluid reasoning were also associated with Python learning rate, but each of these factors explained less variance than language aptitude did.

Presented another way, across learning outcomes, participants’ language aptitude, fluid reasoning and working memory, and resting-state brain activity were all greater predictors of Python learning than was numeracy, which explained an average of 2 percent of the differences between people. Importantly, Prat also found that the same characteristics of resting-state brain data that previously explained how quickly someone would learn to speak French, also explained how quickly they would learn to code in Python.

“This is the first study to link both the neural and cognitive predictors of natural language aptitude to individual differences in learning programming languages. We were able to explain over 70 percent of the variability in how quickly different people learn to program in Python, and only a small fraction of that amount was related to numeracy,” Prat said. Further research could examine the connections between language aptitude and programming instruction in a classroom setting, or with more complex languages, such as Java, or with more complicated tasks to demonstrate coding proficiency, Prat said.

Source: newswise.com

7 Reasons to Participate in a Virtual Job Fair
LinkedIn
Back view of female employee talk with male businessman on webcam laptop conference, woman worker with man employer brainstorm on video call from home, online

Traditional job fairs can be a drag, requiring your recruiters to travel, set up an expensive display, and stay on top of their game when they’re tired and maybe even a bit overwhelmed by a crush of candidates. But if you need a good-sized pool of potential employees, you probably feel you have no choice but to participate.

Actually, however, that’s not completely true. Your business can reap many of the benefits of such an event without some of the drawbacks, thanks to the growth of virtual job fairs.

Here are seven reasons why your company should take part in a virtual job fair:

1. You can interact with potential employees from all over the world and a variety of disciplines.
In today’s job market, you can’t afford to limit your hiring pool to a small geographical area or a particular kind of person. A virtual fair can put you in touch with a huge variety of people quickly and efficiently.

2. Virtual fairs save you money.
When your “booth” is in cyberspace, you don’t have to pay for a big display or for your recruiters’ travel. Your team can manage everything from the comfort of their offices—or from their own homes, if you offer remote work options.

3. You can take advantage of pre-fair promotion.
These events are enthusiastically and broadly advertised by their sponsors, and your participation will allow you to piggyback on that promotion to build your brand—all without paying for advertising. You can’t beat that kind of opportunity to create awareness about your company and what you do.

4. You can manage and target your message.
When you’re participating in an online event, you can be sure that your talking points will be communicated consistently and will reach your intended audience. “All applicants will receive the same information, face the same questions, and confer with the same company representatives,” says an article from Getting Hired.

5. Virtual fairs allow you to use your time more effectively.
“You can have multiple conversations going at the same time with job seekers, so it is less time-consuming than traditional career fairs,” says an article from Right Management.

6. Online fairs let you communicate the way your workers do.
“Whether you’re a millennial, a Gen Xer, or baby boomer, we all communicate online through messaging apps, such as Facebook messenger or through text messaging,” says an article from Brazen. “Online events and online career fairs offer the same form of communication. Take advantage of this shift.”

7. You can guarantee you’re capturing the information you need.
This is another point noted in the Getting Hired article. “A virtual career fair automatically captures the data of applicants, helping to ensure easier contact and follow up after the event, as well as retaining all candidates’ contact information for future roles and pipelines,” the article says.

Your company should explore opportunities to participate in these types of virtual activities. The savings in time and money, along with the ability to extend your recruiting reach nationwide or even worldwide, make them an obvious choice when you’re seeking the most talented workers to help your business grow.

Source: flexjobs.com

Working from Home? Here Are Some Tips
LinkedIn
Latina woman sitting at desk working At Home With Laptop Computer

Most advice about how to make working from home actually work focuses on the practical: The right office space. The right desk. The ergonomically perfect chair. The right software, the right messaging platform, the right apps…all the “stuff” you need to make remote work actually work.

Yet, ask most people who made the transition to working from home what they struggled with most – and continue to struggle with—and they will list things like staying motivated, managing their time wisely, avoiding distractions and staying on task—none of which has anything to do with “stuff.”

When I first started working from home, I instinctively replicated my old office environment. I bought a big desk. Nice credenza. Conference table. Large filing cabinet. Fancy chair. A cool land-line phone. To paraphrase the eminently quotable Chris Rock, that’s what I was accustomed to.

So, I assumed that’s what I needed.

But none of those things made me efficient, much less effective. I missed the “structure” of the workplace, the natural rhythm of a workday that, even though I was in charge, was still only partly under my control.

So, more often than I like to admit, I sometimes drifted. I was easily distracted. I was easily bored. I missed the structure. I missed the sense of urgency that the presence of other people helps foster.

Then I took a step back and thought about my most productive days. Not just the days I got a lot of things done, but the days I also got a lot of the right things done.

They all had one thing in common: A mission. An outcome, a deliverable—something tangible that created a real sense of purpose.

If you’re struggling to work as effectively from home—or if your employees are struggling to work as effectively from home—shift from focusing on tasks to focusing on outcomes. (Don’t worry; tasks are the foundation of outcomes.)

Before you end your workday, list what you need to get done tomorrow and determine the single most important thing you need to get done tomorrow.

Then, before you step away, set up your workspace (which, if like mine, is simply your computer desktop) so you can hit the ground running the next day. Have the reports you need open. Have the notes you need handy. Make sure the questions you need answered already have answers.

Then sit down and dive in.

And commit to completing everything you need to get done. Allowing yourself to give in to excuses, rationalizations, etc. is a slippery slope—and becomes a habit extremely hard to break.

But will be less of a problem when you get your most important task done right away. Starting your day with a productive bang naturally creates the momentum and motivation you need to move on to whatever is next on the day’s outcome list.

And the next. And the next.

Because completing a task is fine, but achieving an important outcome is satisfying, fulfilling, and motivating.

So never forget: What matters is what you accomplish from wherever you work. Success has nothing to do with your desk, or your chair, or your office space. (Today, my “office” is my backpack and my computer and wherever I feel like sitting.)

Success is all about what you achieve, and achievement always starts with knowing what you want to accomplish. And more importantly, why.

Jeff Haden is a keynote speaker, ghostwriter, LinkedIn Influencer, contributing editor to Inc., and the author of The Motivation Myth: How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win.

Source: Owl Labs

A Remote Manager’s Guide to Successful Teams
LinkedIn
Remote team working from home in a video conference and manager communicates via video call communication with her team using laptop

Being away from your employees can create its own challenges when you work remotely. It can be difficult to gauge how employees are doing and what they are getting accomplished, which can cause a tremendous amount of stress.

Ryan Malone, the founder of Smartbug Media, has run his company 100% remotely since he opened in 2008. To be successful as on off-site manager, Malone offers his top four tips.

1) Adjust Work Hours

Working remotely has different challenges on different work styles, ways of efficiency, and in decreasing commute time. Working a 9-to-5 work day may work best for you but may not be the best way for your employees. Assess the needs of the company with how your employees work best to find the work hours that would be the best for them and the company.

2) Keep Your Documents Updated

Keeping track of your business’ various tasks and who is completing them can get confusing. Implement a system that will track the status of ongoing projects and tasks. This way, employees can easily locate what step of the task is being completed and what they need to implement for the next step.

3) Connect and Bond

Getting to know your co-workers is important for work morale, teamwork, and finding ways to best communicate. Talking about work is important, but it doesn’t have to be the only conversation that you ever have. Create a space where your employees can have a “water cooler” of sorts. Creating chatrooms and hosting virtual non-work-related events for your employees to attend will aid in strengthening these relationships with your co-workers.

4) Exercise

Exercise is not only important for your physical health but also for your mental health. Ryan Malone uses exercise as a means of health and to relieve stress. It can be difficult to directly gauge where your company is at from the comfort of your own home, but you need to be able to stay calm and think clearly to proceed. Exercising is a great way to keep your mind sharp and your anxiety levels down.

Is “To Whom It May Concern” Acceptable on a Cover Letter?
LinkedIn
Cover letter pictured on a laptop

Career websites across the internet claim that opening your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” can sink your job prospects. But does it actually matter at all? We interviewed over 1,000 hiring managers to find out the answer.

A fine first impression: 83% of hiring managers revealed that seeing “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter would have little or no impact on their hiring decision.

Nobody hates opening a cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” quite like so-called career experts.

If you only read career blogs, you’d quickly come to the conclusion that hiring managers take one look at your cover letter, see “To Whom It May Concern,” and promptly toss your application into a paper shredder. But that got us thinking: there are countless job-seekers who address their cover letters this way — they can’t all be jobless, can they? We wanted to see for ourselves if “To Whom it May Concern” was as problematic as it’s portrayed across the internet.

To find out more about whether seeing it on a candidate’s cover letter would impact how they viewed that candidate’s application, we surveyed over 1,000 hiring managers and recruiters.

The results were shocking.

More than 83% of respondents admitted that seeing “To Whom it May Concern” would make little or no impact on their decision to hire someone.

This striking number goes against what career websites (including ours!) have claimed for years — that your cover letter opening must be personalized to the reader, or it will destroy your chances of getting an interview.

It seems that how you start a cover letter isn’t as important as we’ve all been led to believe.

Age: Gen Z and Boomers are the most likely to reject an applicant for starting their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.” Imagine someone who might reject a cover letter based solely on it starting with “To Whom It May Concern.” Now picture their age. Chances are, you’re probably envisioning an older professional, right? Maybe someone over 50? After all, it seems logical that they’d be the most attached to traditional ideas about formality in the hiring process. However, our research revealed that the most likely age group to reject a cover letter based on its salutation is, in fact, professionals between the ages of 18 and 24.

The second most likely age group to reject an applicant for a generic introduction — perhaps unsurprisingly — is older hiring managers between the ages of 55 and 64. So if you envisioned a baby boomer, you’re still partially correct.

Meanwhile, hiring managers between the ages of 25 and 34 cared the least about how candidates start their cover letters.

Maybe less surprising are how results were divided by gender:

Gender: male hiring managers are 3X more likely to reject an applicant for addressing them as “To Whom It May Concern” than their female counterparts. While the vast majority of both men and women admitted that using a generic opener for your cover letter is insignificant, men clearly had stronger feelings about the topic.

If your application is being read by a man, you may want to take time to track down their name, because 6% of men — compared to 2% of women — responded that it’s “very likely” they would not hire a candidate who addressed them as “To Whom It May Concern” in their cover letter.

Overall, 82% of men and women agreed that using a generic opener for your cover letter doesn’t actually impact your hireability.

However, these numbers look a little different depending on where you live in the United States.

Region: Midwestern charm? Midwesterners are the most likely to reject an applicant for starting their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

New Yorkers pride themselves on their pizza, while southerners brag about their barbeque. It’s no secret that every region in the United States has its own distinct flavor.

So it might not come as a surprise that food isn’t the only area where Americans’ tastes differ by region. According to our research, hiring managers perceive your cover letter introduction differently depending on where they’re from.

If you’re applying for jobs in Boston or New York, you’re in luck: respondents residing in the Northeastern United States cared the least about whether or not a candidate opens their cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern.”

“To Whom It May Concern” in the US: a map showing that the percentage of hiring managers who dislike “To Whom It May Concern” varies by region.

In contrast, 22% of hiring managers from the US Midwest admit that seeing a generic introduction on a cover letter would make them less likely to hire that candidate. This means the Midwest is the strictest geographic region in the US when it comes to cover letter etiquette.

Meanwhile, hiring managers from the South and West are more in the middle, with roughly 80% claiming that the use of “To Whom It May Concern” on a cover letter would not impact their decision.

Ignore the career experts: “To Whom It May Concern” is no big deal.

Bottom line? If you’re unable to find a hiring manager’s name, our research proves that starting your cover letter with “To Whom It May Concern” isn’t the career-killer that experts make it out to be.

Continue on to Resume Companionto read the complete article.

How One Latina Entrepreneur Founded An Award-Winning, Female-Led PR Company
LinkedIn
Natalie Boden the founder and President of BODEN is setting on her desk in her home office

She dreamed of becoming a librarian. As a child, Natalie Boden would spend hours organizing books on her shelves. She even developed her own card catalog filing system. The Honduran native today is the founder and President of BODEN, a public relations and social media agency which counts McDonald’s, Target and UnitedHealthcare among its clients.

The bibliophile little girl has grown up to become quite the successful woman. PRWeek inducted her into the 2020 “Hall of Femme” class earlier this year. She’s on the Latin Grammy Cultural Foundation committee and serves on the Board of Directors for CMC, the Culture Marketing Council.

Boden even now maintains a collection of books, including sections for business, female empowerment and children’s literature. Calling her library “my pride and joy,” she admits to still keeping a card catalog file.

In this interview, the Miami-based business leader talks about her path to entrepreneurship, the importance of “leading with culture” to reach the U.S. Hispanic marketplace and what her firm is doing to help brands during the COVID-19 crisis.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

The part of you that wanted to be a librariando you see her dreams in your business work today?

The love of books, of stories, of words that draw you in, are certainly part of what we do today at BODEN. We use words to sell, which I think is the perfect blend of what I loved as a child—storytelling and selling. Other than a librarian, I always knew I’d be an entrepreneur. I had great examples in my parents and my grandmother. That’s what drove me to set up lemonade stands when I was seven and sell cakes at my parents’ store. No matter what I would have done in life—even as a librarian—I would’ve figured out a way to generate revenue from it. It’s in my blood.

How did you start your firm? 

It started organically, on my own, a client or two. My first client was The Miami Parking Authority, $1,000 per month. I was subcontracted by a larger agency. I then got our first set of small retainer clients and hired my first employee. We’ve grown organically since then. When we won our first pieces of Fortune 500 business, Target and then McDonald’s, we were in a 900-square-foot office. Several years later, we won the Hispanic Public Relations Association’s “PR Agency of the Year” and then PR News’ “Best Places to Work” in 2018. This year, we’ve won a PRWeek “Hall of Femme” Award, as well as signing on DishLATINO and L’Oréal’s Dermablend. It hasn’t been without its ups and downs, but I’m certainly proud to be where we are today.

As an independent PR company, what’s the competitive advantage that helped you grow from a team of three during the last financial crisis to 25?

We use our independence to our advantage. Our clients often say we are the perfect blend of the standards of a global agency, with the creativity and speed of a boutique agency.

What do we do well? We understand how to generate trust. You cannot buy your way to trust, you must earn it. Many brands, when thinking multicultural or Hispanic, immediately turn to paid media and advertising. And whereas that is extremely important, our approach is an earned media-first approach. All our initiatives, whether they be sales-driven or purpose-driven, generate earned media and build brand advocacy. We are trusted by the press, by influencers, by organizations, by community leaders. That gives us an edge.

Your company’s stated mission is “to help global brands lead with culture.” What does “lead with culture” mean? 

There’s a famous quote by author Shaun Hicks: “Only someone wishing to disappear would ever strive to fit in.” When it comes to Hispanic, many brands want to develop a Spanish language ad, hire a Hispanic celebrity, sponsor a soccer tournament, or develop a recipe with a “Hispanic” ingredient. Suddenly trying to fit in and be safe is the strategy.

Leading with Culture is about being bold, being first out the gate with an insight that is true and authentic and inspiring. And to lead, and to be bold, you have to ask yourself, “What is the legacy you want to leave with this segment? What is the long-term purpose-driven strategy?” Leave one-off Hispanic Heritage celebrations to the followers.

What does diversity and inclusion mean for you on a granular level?

D&I is not about checking the box. It’s a question of what an organization believes in, and the impact it has on its stakeholders: employees, consumers, communities and suppliers.

As marketers and communicators helping support some of the leading brands in the world, we have the ability to continue to invest in the sectors of society that are the most vulnerable, that are in need of our help. It’s not a creative imperative. It’s a moral imperative and a business imperative, because by investing in these groups we will not only continue to prosper as businesses but also as a society and a country.

Does your emphasis on diversity have to do with your past? 

There is no doubt that my upbringing has to do with what I do today. Growing up with an English father and a Honduran mother of Palestinian descent made our household incredibly multicultural. I didn’t really know it at the time, but I realize it now.

My father instilled that love of culture in all of us. I was reading The Economist by the time I was 12. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and we were there the following year. Whether it was in my African American Literature or European Politics class, I knew I was somehow going to do something that helped others understand the importance of culture. What that was, I didn’t know.

What’s the worst day of your career? 

A few weeks ago—when all came to a grinding halt. The lockdown began as a result of COVID-19, and, as business leaders, we were faced with an avalanche of challenges. That first week I had to make tough decisions, plan for all contingencies, make sure our employees were safe, ensure continued excellence service to our clients, while turning outwards and asking ourselves how we could support our Hispanic community—all while ensuring my own family was safe.

The thought of having to lay off personnel, furlough or cut salaries was dreadful. I ended that first week with my head buried in my hands, thinking of all that could happen. Thankfully, we’ve been able to ensure that no furloughs, layoffs or cuts have had to be done, except to my salary.

I can’t think of any other time in history as bleak as this one—and I lived through the dot-com crash, 9/11, and the 2008 recession. And much like a tsunami, it came in one big blow.

But as they say, “Anyone can lead when the plan is working. The best lead when the plan falls apart.”

What’s the best day in your career? 

For Boss’s Day last year, I received a gift from the team at BODEN—a pair of Reebok shoes that read “It’s a Man’s World” but with the words crossed out. It was great to realize how well our team knows me. I love sneakers and I’m a staunch feminist. There were also several balloons with a personal message from each person on it. As leaders we strive to be the best we can be for the business, our clients, our employees, our communities, our families—and we know we don’t always get it right. In that moment I thought, “I must be doing something right.”

Talk about the launch of BODEN’s Covid-19 Hispanic Public Relations Resource. 

It’s important to support our Hispanic community, and today they need the help of both the private and public sector more than ever before. So, we did what we do best and built a PR resource. We brought our team, friends in the media and Hispanic celebrities together to launch the COVID-19 Hispanic Public Relations Resource. This resource provides insights from the top Hispanic journalists, influencers and experts from around the country. It also includes a downloadable list of stakeholders including media companies, celebrities, organizations and social media influencers.

It will help brands broaden their message of health and wellness to the right stakeholders, helping them make a positive impact across the Hispanic community. The Hispanic community constitutes an economic, social and political force in the U.S. Nevertheless, it faces a great threat from the COVID-19 crisis as a result of various socio-economic factors, including lack of health insurance and lack of trust in the healthcare system. This resource is our way of giving brands insights to the most important voices in our community right now, as well as ways brands could help support this 50+ million Hispanic segment.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

5 changes to expect in the workplace after COVID-19
LinkedIn
Latina woman working from home with laptop and smartphone in her hand

As a result of the coronavirus, the workplace will never be the same. Even the word “workplace” suddenly seems obsolete, as the physical location in which we now work has merged with the places in which we eat, sleep, learn, exercise, and play.

The COVID-19 crisis has created the ultimate “burning platform”—an unexpected, overnight opportunity for people to see the impact of swift and meaningful change, and to witness the negative consequences of trying to ignore this aberration from everyday life. Within organizations, the virus has been driving significant change in how their employees operate with each other, as well as with clients, customers, and vendors.

Now that companies are shifting past their immediate response to the crisis, we’ve entered into a temporary “new normal.” However, what will the long-term impacts of our new normal be on the world of work? Winning organizations will be those that integrate and master digital work, community, and collaboration.

To succeed, companies need to begin planning now for five key shifts:

1. Full digital transformation, supported by a truly virtual workforce

Companies have quickly figured out how to serve their customers and clients remotely, and there’s no going back. From telemedicine in hospitals to remote learning for public schools and streaming fitness classes, every industry has accelerated its own digital transformation. As a result, the demand for highly skilled remote workers will continue to increase.

With a surge of candidates in the market, organizations should be preparing to recruit and integrate these key individuals into the organization quickly and seamlessly, so they can capitalize on the cost savings and broader access to rockstar talent.

2. Focus on outputs versus face time

Being the first one in the office and the last one to leave is no longer a measure of commitment and performance. In a post-COVID-19 world, employees will be measured on what gets done and the value of their work rather than on the individual tasks and the time it takes to get the work done.

Leaders must provide crisp, outcome-driven expectations so that their people can deliver on goals successfully. Motivating employees to perform will require modeling and measurement of their outputs and being clear on those metrics. Companies must level-set expectations for what drives organizational priorities and goals, rather than discrete tasks.

3. Respect for work-life blend

More than ever before, companies are recognizing that working “nine to five” is unsuited to the demands of a modern workforce. If leaders can place greater emphasis on flexibility for people to accomplish their best work—when and how it meets their personal needs (as well as the needs of the company)—they can reinforce the cultural shift of measuring staff based on performance, which can result in exponential benefits for the organization.

Organizations must remove stigma and support employees’ needs to make time for self-care–including exercise, meals, and family time. Policies and procedures need to reflect these shifts, and leaders must model a true work-life blend so that it becomes part of the company culture.

4. Stronger communications

Now that companies have gone fully virtual, individuals are communicating more efficiently and more frequently across a networked environment. To do this well, everyone, at every level, must make opportunities for dialogue by employing numerous channels.

Leaders can make communication easier for their people. They can remove roadblocks, create a governance structure that pushes decision-making out and down, and provide employees with the tools and training they need to empower them for ongoing communication and local decision-making. With traditional hierarchies gone, true leaders must step up to facilitate information flow across the organization.

5. Increased trust, transparency, and empathy

We are witnessing a revolution in leadership. In a recent leadership study of Fortune 500 executives and entrepreneurs, respondents cited behaviors such as humility and listening skills as essential qualities of great change leaders. And leadership experts such as Kim Scott and Brené Brown have long proselytized about the importance of candor and vulnerability. Now, leaders and employees must understand and support each other like never before. People are sharing more about their personal situations with colleagues, and as a result, they are creating an expectation of humanity, active listening, support, and connection.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

Need a job? These booming businesses could be hiring during coronavirus
LinkedIn
Happy young latina woman working on her laptop at home

Looking for a job? A new report from Yelp indicates which businesses near you are booming—and likely hiring.

Yelp tracks consumer interest (page views, reviews, photo posts) for millions of businesses. Here are the most active shops and services around, all worth calling:

  • CSAs: Community supported agriculture businesses (typically farm-to-doorstep veggie deliveries) are up a whopping 579%.
  • Tobacco shops, cannabis clinics, and vape shops: All up double.
  • Grocery and/or produce stores: Up 123%.
  • Cosmetics stores: Up nearly triple as people seek home-beauty regimens.
  • Gun and rifle ranges: Up 269%.
  • Butchers: Up double.
  • Order-out restaurants: Order out is replacing dining in. Particularly popular are chicken-wing places and pizzerias, with nearly doubled interest.
  • Exercise equipment stores: Up 424%.
  • Pet breeders: Up nearly quadruple.
  • Firewood services: Up nearly triple.
  • TV service providers: Up by 52%.
  • Insurance businesses: Life, auto, home, rental are up by a quarter.

Know that now is the time to call. Early in any downturn, customer habits shift quickly, as, for example, newly unemployed people begin to frequent budget grocers and stores. The newly popular businesses hire swiftly over a few weeks, creating many new jobs and the best rehiring opportunities of the recession. This means that the coming weeks are likely the ideal time to get rehired.

Continue on to Fast Company to read the complete article.

HNM BLM

 
*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Upcoming Events

  1. 2020 Unidos US Annual Conference
    July 25, 2020 - July 27, 2020
  2. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  3. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020