Hispanic-Serving Universities Outrank Others for Return on Investment By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

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A recent report from Third Way, a Washington-based think tank, has shown that while many famous ‘best’ lists continue to rank ‘top’ colleges and universities based on their prestige and exclusivity, schools that prioritize inclusivity are achieving more desirable graduation outcomes. According to the report, “Out with the Old, In with the New: Rating Higher Ed by Economic Mobility,” Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), or schools whose student populations are at least a quarter Hispanic, have had the greatest success at providing their students with economic mobility.

Thus, the Third Way report asserts schools should not be judged by traditional factors of elitism, but rather through an Economic Mobility Index that measures an institution’s ability to offer students, specifically those from low- to moderate-income backgrounds, a significant return on their educational investment. Third Way’s goals to develop a “high-quality education agenda,” influenced and informed the methodology of this report. They sought to answer the question, “If the primary purpose of postsecondary education is supposed to be to catalyze an increase in economic mobility, which schools are succeeding in that goal?”

It’s interesting to note that the schools ranked as having the best economic mobility outcomes are heavily concentrated in three states — California, Texas and New York — which all happen to allocate significant funding and resources to public higher education. The schools also matriculate larger populations of low- to moderate-income students while offering them quicker returns on their investment than those colleges that focus on enrolling more affluent students.

For example, the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which ranks fourth in the Third Way report, enrolls over 60 percent of students who are Pell Grant eligible. Pell Grant is a federal, financial need-based scholarship awarded to undergraduates. Recently, the school also increased its in-house “tuition advantage grant” that covers the costs of tuition and mandatory fees for students with family incomes of up to $125,000.

For Magdalena Hinojosa, senior vice president for strategic enrollment and student affairs at Texas Rio Grande, the report offers the opportunity to look “at our institutions in a different way…bringing to light who we are as institutions.”

According to Hinojosa, “You don’t have to be what is known as a traditional elite institution to really have successful students.”

Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) also did well in the ranking on the Third Way report. It states that, “Beyond the overemphasis on institutional selectivity, other factors such as racial, economic and educational discriminatory practices have also systemically undervalued the accomplishments of HBCUs across the U.S.” but “when accounting for the proportion of low- and moderate-income students that colleges enroll and the outcomes those schools produce, HBCUs score much higher on the EMI than traditional rankings reflect.”

Thus, the best route for a return on one’s educational investment, as shown in the report, would be a school that is in a state with significant funding for public higher education as well as an emphasis on enrollment that is inclusive across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The report concludes that, “The reach, willingness and ability to serve low- and moderate-income students will all combine to create the kind of socioeconomic mobility that institutions of higher education were intended to produce.”

Creating Truly Inclusive Workplaces for The LGBTQ Community
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The LGBTQ community is diverse and broad, bringing unique value to the workforce through its fabric of differentiated experiences. This often includes heightened levels of empathy and grit as well as a deeper understanding of social dynamics and cohesion building. However, Bain’s recent study found that more than 70 percent of LGBTQ employees do not feel fully included at work. This puts employers at risk of missing out on the full value of these diverse skills and perspectives.

“Many companies are awakening to the business benefits of welcoming LGBTQ employees, including an ability to attract and retain talent,” said Brenen Blair, expert associate partner in Bain & Company’s Houston office and a leader in its Organization and DEI practices. “But inclusion is about much more than ‘welcoming everyone.’ Being LGBTQ brings a distinct feeling of ‘otherness’ and comes with a life backdrop that often translates into differentiated perspectives and abilities in the workplace. Our research identified some of the most important steps employers can take to build more inclusive work environments for their LGBTQ employees and truly reap the benefits of this diversity.”

Because the category “LGBTQ” is so broad — and many organizations lack accurate data about the specific contours of their LGBTQ populations — it may seem daunting for employers to understand how to create greater inclusion for members of this group. For example, Bain’s research shows that while the top enablers for inclusion among the LGBTQ community consistently fall into areas of growth and career development — coaching, talent development programs and growth mindsets — notable differences exist between LGBTQ employees in North America and Europe as well as by gender.

LGBTQ men in North America place greater importance on the overall diversity, equity and inclusion mission and goals of an organization than LGBTQ men in Europe, who put a greater focus on open and honest communication. Bain’s research showed similar differences between LGBTQ women in North America, who place greater importance on the perceived empathy of others than women in Europe, who value growth opportunities and transparent feedback more strongly.

Leaders looking to ensure all queer talent feels included should focus on the following areas:

· Get the basics right. Create an environment where “coming out” is safe and easy. Revisit benefits packages, particularly healthcare and family leave, and ensure they meet the needs of all identities, genders, orientations and family setups. Build allyship programs that both educate and “lighten the load.”

· Embrace individuality in talent management. Examine role expectations, performance reviews and accepted language for describing success. Ask whether the organization is set up to encourage and cultivate diversity of thought in its most critical roles.

· Enable tailored career pathways. LGBTQ employees are continually coming out, and identities and passions may change significantly over the course of peoples’ careers. Inclusive organizations create clear pathways for lateral career moves that keep strong talent engaged. For example, part-time, hybrid and remote roles and sabbaticals benefit everyone, but are particularly important for creating equity for queer employees.

· Cultivate true sponsorship. Mentor programs for underrepresented groups are common, but true sponsorship opens doors, creates advocates and helps employees navigate their organization.

“To be truly inclusive, we must recognize the diversity of our people and celebrate their unique qualities,” said Andrea Arroyo, a senior manager in Bain & Company’s London office. “For example, my sponsor at work pointed out that my sensitivity — a trait I originally thought of as a flaw in the workplace — helped to make me highly attuned to both clients and teammates who were uncomfortable or even struggling. It turns out, being fully myself has helped me to be more effective in serving my clients and made me a better team member.”

Source: Bain & Company

Lining Up Your References
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Employers often ask job applicants for references. A reference is someone who can vouch for you, whether it’s confirming your professional experience or speaking about the personal attributes that make you a strong job candidate.

Because of the value employers place on what your references say about you, it’s important that you choose them wisely. A good reference can make all the difference in whether you’ll get that job offer. Let’s discuss the steps involved in obtaining and developing your reference list.

What are employers looking for in a reference?

When an employer contacts your references, they are really seeking information about you that will help them decide if you will be a good fit with their organization. They’ll often be interested in learning about your work habits. For example, are you a team player, self-starter or problem-solver? They will also ask questions about:

· Your previous duties and responsibilities

· Your accomplishments

· Your dates of employment

Who makes a good reference?

Now that you know what an employer is looking for, you can make a decision about who you should choose to be your references. A good rule is to have at least three references. These do not belong on your resume. Rather, prepare a list with the names of your references and their contact information that you can take with you to an interview or send separately when asked by the potential employer.

Who you choose depends on your own work experience. For example, if you’ve had a job before, you can ask your past supervisor or manager to be a reference. They can confirm your work history and your ability to perform specific job tasks. A coworker that you’ve completed projects with can also speak to your abilities, experience and your teamwork skills.

If you’re looking for your first job or just completed school or training, a teacher, advisor or instructor would be an appropriate choice. Similarly, a colleague with whom you did volunteer work could be a reference.

The important thing to consider is how well this person knows you and what they are likely to say about you. If you have any doubt that they will give a lukewarm or even a negative answer to any of the questions above, choose another person. You want your reference to be your enthusiastic supporter.

How to ask someone to be a reference

Once you’ve narrowed your list of possible references, there’s still work to be done. You not only have to ask the person if they’ll agree to be a reference for you, you also need to prepare them to be an effective voice for you. Take the time to follow these tips.

· Get their permission. It can leave a bad impression with a potential employer if someone you’ve listed as a reference is caught off guard when they are contacted.

o If you haven’t been in contact with the person recently (such as a previous supervisor), consider a written request by letter or email. Otherwise, an in-person or telephone request is best.

· Include details. If the person isn’t familiar with your current job search, let them know what sort of work that you’re looking for. Knowing what type of work you’re interested in will help the person think about skills and experience you have that relate directly to that type of job when they are contacted by the potential employer.

· Provide your latest resume. This gives your reference a better appreciation of your capabilities and also lets them know what the employer has seen.

· Follow up and stay in touch. If you learn that the employer called your reference, you’ll want to know how the conversation went. This will give you a sense of what the employer thinks is important and possibly more information on the skills and experiences for the position. Periodically, let your references know how your job search is going.

· Say thanks. Once you receive a job offer, remember that the people you’ve asked to be references helped. Let them know that you’ve gotten a job. If they agreed to serve as a reference, they’ll be excited for you! A written thank you note or a personal phone call will show your appreciation for the person’s time and help.

Source: Ticket to Work

Cover Letter 101
LinkedIn

A cover letter is a one-page document that supplements your resume. Though they may not be required for every job you apply to, including a short letter to accompany your resume is an excellent way to help you stand out in the application process. Your application materials should look like they belong together visually.

If you take the time to write a cover letter, be sure the style matches your resume. Remember, a generic cover letter is not worth your time. Make it personal, or don’t do it at all.

Why Should I Write a Cover Letter?

A cover letter lets you tell your employment story with some freedom to express yourself. You can explain your qualifications more fully. Clearly state why you are a good fit for the position and the company. You want to demonstrate an understanding of the specific challenges this company is facing and how you are prepared to add value. Keep this document to one page in length, max. If you can make your point in fewer words or paragraphs, do it.

The Cover Letter Structure

A cover letter, like your resume, should be developed individually for the position and company where you are applying. Remember, a great paragraph needs to have at least three complete sentences — a topic sentence and two supporting statements. The best structure for a cover letter can be described as the following:

· Heading and greeting. Include the date, your name and your contact information. Address the letter to a specific person whenever possible. If you can’t find an individual’s name, use the job title of the recipient (Maintenance Supervisor, Office Manager) or perhaps “Human Resources” or “Search Committee.” Do not address your letter to a business, a department or “To Whom It May Concern.”

· Opening and introduction. Explain who you are and your reason for writing, including how you found out about the position. Use the first paragraph to express your energy, enthusiasm, skills, education and work experience that could contribute to the employer’s success.

· Body. Sell yourself. Reveal why you are a perfect and unique match for the position. Explain why you have chosen the employer. Briefly summarize your talents, experience and achievements. Give a story about a time you went above and beyond in a similar role or share a specific problem you solved in a previous job. Don’t just repeat the information found in your resume. Go one layer deeper about what makes you the best candidate.

· Assertive closing. Thank the person for taking the time to read your letter. Use an appropriate closing, such as “Sincerely.” Tell the employer how you plan to follow-up.

Types of Cover Letters

While a generic cover letter is effective much of the time, you may want to consider one of the following types of cover letters depending on the nature of your application:

· Invited cover letter. Use this format when responding to an ad or other listing. Describe how your qualifications meet the needs of the position.

· Cold-contact cover letter. Use this format to contact employers who have not advertised or published job openings. Research careers to find the requirements for the job you’re applying for matching your qualifications with that research.

· Referral cover letter. Use this format if you were referred to a job opening through networking, informational interviews or contact with employers. A referral may be to a specific job opening (advertised or unadvertised) or to an employer who may or may not be hiring now. Make sure you mention the person who referred you.

· Job match or “T” cover letter. Use this format to match the specific requirements of the job one-to-one with your qualifications, for example “You need 10 years’ experience.” and “I bring 12 years’ experience.” You can learn about the requirements from the job ad, position descriptions, phone conversations, career research and informational interviews.

Remember, cover letters, much like a resume, are supposed to be brief and informative. Use the cover letter to show off your ability, talent and capabilities, but don’t worry about including every tiny detail in your letter. Give it a try and best of luck!

Sources: Ohio Means Jobs, CareerOneStop

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