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My Family's Revolution Continues: The Power of a Prize

Gentle Readers,

Yours truly has been remiss in updating you on the progress of my family's revolution to become financially literate, get and keep great careers, own homes, prepare their kids for an education after high school, and to have multiple streams of income. Our February meeting focused on a bonus financial literacy module on estate planning and finding the right career, and our March meeting focused on getting the right career, i.e., job hunting and networking strategies, and keeping that career. Through the course of our meetings, we've picked up some new attendees, had other family members host the meetings (Thanks, y'all!), and started applying what we're learning from each other to our lives.

But we also try to keep things fun. To this end, I've discovered the power of a prize.

At each meeting, I try to have little contests that allow almost everyone to win a prize. What I've discovered is that a prize doesn't have to be expensive or even new -- many of the prizes I keep in my "prize box" are used books and used exercise DVDS from my favorite thrift stores. What a prize does have to be is unexpected and interesting. I've given away everything from a gardening gift set (a pot, gardening gloves, a kneeling pad, seeds, a garden marker, and starter soil -- for a grand total of $6 from The Dollar Tree) to a Billy Blanks Tae-Bo Boot Camp DVD to Suze Orman books on investing. Each person gets to choose the prize he or she wins, and by their choice they reveal a little bit more about what interests him or her. It's a good way for family members to get to know each other and keep the family meetings fun.

And yes, our sou-sou is still going strong. My niece won this month's $150.00 payout.

Below please find the agenda and modules from the past two meetings. I can't include all of the handouts because they consist of copyrighted material, most of which you can find on the internet and distribute to your family.

What touched me the most this month was that my niece who won the sou-sou payout couldn't make it to our meeting, but she let everyone know in advance and said how much she loved our family meetings and couldn't stand to miss them.

That sentiment makes it all worth while. Because, although my family may think these meetings are about spreading information, they're really more about building and keeping the ties that bind us together so we'll stand strong and together in the future.

Here's to our family's revolution and yours. Our past meetings are chronicled on this blog here, here and here.

A Series of Family Talks

Saturday, February 4, 2012
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

I. Prayer, Call to Order, and Dinner

II. Purpose of “Something to Think About”
· Knowledge: Share What We Know (mistakes and all), Learn What We Don’t
· Encouragement: Helping Each Other Reach Our Goals
· Action: Holding Each Other Accountable for Taking Positive Steps Toward Our Goals

III. Family Sou-Sou Drawing

IV. Five Goals for The Family
· Financial Literacy
· Home Ownership
· Having a Career
· Educating Our Kids to Prepare Them for College or a Vocation
· Multiple Streams of Income

V. Topics to be Covered Today – Bonus Module on Financial Literacy; Careers
· Bonus financial literacy module: Estate planning (wills
and trusts)
· Finding the career you want

VI. The Department of Gentle Nudges: Encouragement from Each
Other to Achieve Our Goals

VII. Adjourn; Next Meeting: Saturday, March 3, 2012

Something to Think About
A series of family meetings
Financial Literacy
Bonus Module 6:
Estate Planning

Disclaimer: We are not experts or role models with respect to estate planning. We’re only sharing what we know. You will need to do more research on your own for additional answers or clarification. This is a VERY basic discussion.

I. First Things First: What’s your estate and why do you need to
plan for it?

· Estate planning is simply the idea of giving directions and power to people on to handle your medical, business and personal affairs if you’re incapacitated (such as an Advanced Health Care Directive to tell people the medical treatment you want, or a Power of Attorney to tell
people how to handle your financial affairs) or dead (a will and a trust, to
direct the disposition of your assets after you’re gone on to Glory).

· If you don’t have an estate plan in place, you burden your relatives with making important life and afterlife decisions for you without knowing what you want, such as:

o Who inherits your property and what you want them to do with it
o Who will raise your children if you’re their only living parent
o Whether you want life-sustaining medical treatment or palliative care
o Who will run your small business owned solely by you

· If you don’t have an estate plan in place, you leave it to the courts to decide. Don’t
assume that your spouse or children will inherit everything you own just because you don’t have an estate plan.

II. Basic Documents to Have in Your Estate Plan

You should consult an estate planning attorney to address your specific needs, as the size of your estate and the needs of your family may require greater expertise in creating your
estate plan. Here are some basic documents to consider having in your estate plan:

o A Will.
Why? A will directs your executor – the person handling your estate if you don’t have a trust (more on that below) – as to how your assets should be distributed and who should be the
guardian of your minor children. If you die without a will or without already placing your possession in a living trust, the disposition of your estate may be subject to probate, a
judicial proceeding in which a judge tries to determine how to distribute your
assets and appoints an administrator – paid for by your estate – to carry
out what the judge thinks your wishes were.

A family court may also determine the fate of your children without your input if you don’t have a will and if you were their sole living parent. If you own property in different states, different state courts may be involved in the probate of your estate. Even the late Amy Winehouse had the good sense to 1) have a will; and 2) exclude her ex-husband from it before she died.

o What You Need to Know About Wills in California (since most of you live here):

§There are three basic types of wills in California:

· A handwritten or holographic will – a will you write completely in your own legible handwriting that is dated and signed and states what you are leaving and to whom.

· A statutory will -- California provides a “fill in the blanks”
will form that you can find at the State Bar of California’s website,

· A will prepared by a lawyer --This is the best option, in my opinion, because it comes with expert advice on how to avoid creating legal issues in your will that will make your estate prone to probate or tax issues. Lawyers have an obligation to stay current on the law, so a lawyer will know the latest changes in laws regarding estate planning.

o What You Don’t Need a Will For: Anything that is already directed to be given to beneficiaries upon your death, including but not limited to:

§Life insurance
§Retirement plans
§Assets owned as a joint tenant or as community property with right of survivorship
§Living trusts
§Pay on death” accounts

For a basic discussion of wills under California law, consult the State Bar of California’s pamphlet, “Do I Need a Will?” at

o A Trust.
A trust is a separate legal entity that owns property and manages and
distributes it for the benefit of people. The person who creates the trust is called the settlor, grantor, or trustor. The person named by the settlor, grantor or trustor to manage or distribute property owned by a trust is a trustee. The people for whom the trustee manages and/or distributes trust property are beneficiaries. There are many kinds of trusts, and the type of trust you use will depend on your tax needs (revocable and irrevocable trusts are taxed differently) and other factors. Some to consider are:

o Living revocable trusts are commonly used in estate planning. They are created as a vehicle to avoid probate that you can revoke any time before you die. You can write your will so that all of your assets are given to your living trust upon your death. Then, the trustee you have named will manage and distribute your assets according to the terms of the trust. By avoiding probate, you avoid court costs as well as having the size and distribution of your estate publicly known.

o Special needs trusts are created for children with physical or mental disabilities who are incapable of managing property. A special needs trust provides for the management and disbursement of property for a special needs child by someone you trust.

o An Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney for Health Care. This is
referred to in other states as a “living will,” and it is used to state your
wishing about life-sustaining medical treatment, organ donation, and other
health care-related issues as well as who is to make decisions regarding your
care if you are incapacitated. The California Attorney General’s Office website has a standard California form that complies with California state law at

o Financial Durable Power of Attorney. This is a document that allows others to handle your financial affairs in the event that you become incapacitated. The importance of having a financial durable power of attorney is that it keeps your loved ones from having to go to court to seek a conservatorship to gain control over your financial affairs if you become incapacitated.

o Funeral Arrangement Contracts and Burial Insurance. If you have already made arrangements for your funeral and/or disposition of your remains (burial, cremation, etc.), these contracts should be kept someplace where your loved
ones can find them, along with copies of your burial insurance policies to pay
for your arrangements.

Again, you may want to seek the advice of an estate planning attorney if your needs are complex. Inormally do not make recommendations of attorneys, but one estate planning
attorney I recommend is Charlene Usher of The Usher Law Group in California,

III. Resources

o The State Bar of California has available on its
websites pamphlets on wills, living trusts and estate planning:

o The State Bar of California’s will form,

o Quicken WillMaker Plus 2012 book and software
kit, published by Nolo Press,

o’s “Twelve Simple Steps to an Estate

o California Attorney General’s Office – for a PDF form for an Advanced Health Care
Director and Power of Attorney for Health Care,

o Suze Orman’s Protection Portfolio – Provides
essential forms on CD for estate planning – wills, living revocable trusts, financial
durable power of attorney and more.
$59.16 plus shipping and handling,

o The Usher Law Group,

Something to Think About
A series of family meetings
Career Planning
Module 1: Finding Your Career

Disclaimer: We are not experts or role models with respect to career planning. We’re only
sharing what we know. You will need to do more research on your own for additional answers or clarification. This is a VERY basic discussion.

I. First Things First: What’s a career and why do you need to find

· A career is a series of jobs or positions of
self-employment – usually related, but not always – that provide you the
opportunity to use your talents and skills that you enjoy using for maximum
benefit to your employer or organization and personal satisfaction for you.

· You need to identify your career because most people spend a substantial portion of their everyday lives working. If you spend your life working in jobs that
don’t utilize your talents and skills that you enjoy using or don’t provide you
with personal satisfaction, you may be doomed to be unhappy for a substantial
portion of your working days for however long you work.

· CAVEAT: What provides you personal satisfaction is unique to you. For some, it’s a high salary. For others, it’s recognition. For others, it’s purpose. Part of finding your career is determining what provides you the most personal satisfaction.

II. How to Find Your Career – Many Paths to Enlightenment

A. First, Find Yourself

The first step towards finding your career is to perform some self-assessment to determine your personality, motivation, skills, talents, passions, and values. The following are examples of tests you can use and questions you can ask of yourself or others to perform to better understand yourself so that you can tailor a career to who you are and not the other way around.

I. Personality Tests

a. The O Magazine “Who Are You Meant to Be?” Quiz,

This quiz was featured in the November 2011 issue of O Magazine. Designed by Anne Dranitsaris, Ph.D., this test, based on personality science, identifies seven “striving styles,” modes
of thought and behavior, that make us seek satisfaction in different ways. These seven striving styles are:

a. Striving to help
b. Striving to be recognized
c. Striving to be creative
d. Striving to be spontaneous
e. Striving to be knowledgeable
f. Striving to be secure
g. Striving to be in control

(Note: I’ll be giving away a door prize based on the
results of this quiz).

b. The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II,

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II classifies human behavior based on what we say, or communication, and what we do, or action. The KTS-II divides communication style into two categories: Concrete, where people talk about reality, and abstract, where people talk about ideas. The two action categories are utilitarian, where people do what works, and cooperative, where people do what’s right. Based on these communication and action styles of human behavior, the KTS-II categorizes people into what are called four main temperaments (from the website):

· Guardians – Guardians are concrete cooperators. They speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, or what they can keep an eye on and take good care of, and they’re careful to obey the laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others.

· Idealists – Idealists are abstract cooperators. They speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for people, and they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics.

· Artisans – Artisans are concrete utilitarians. They speak mostly about what they see right in front of them, about what they can get their hands on, and they do whatever works, whatever gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the rules.

· Rationals—Rationals are abstract utilitarians. They speak mostly of what new problems intrigue them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring arbitrary rules and convention if need be.

You can take a basic KTS-II exam for free at

c. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator,

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) applies C.G. Jung’s theory of personality types to help people understand how their behavior is influenced by how they perceive and judge. According to the Myers-Briggs Foundation website,

“Perception involves all the ways of becoming aware of things, people,
happenings, or ideas. Judgment involves all the ways of coming to conclusions
about what has been perceived. If people differ systematically in what they
perceive and in how they reach conclusions, then it is only reasonable for them
to differ correspondingly in their interests, reactions, values, motivations,
and skills."

The MBTI uses four categories of preferences to determine your personality type. According to the Myers-Briggs Foundation website:

· Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I)

· Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)

· Decisions: When making decisions, do prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

· Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J)
or Perceiving (P)

· Your Personality Type: When you decide on your preference in each category, you have your own personality type, which can be expressed as a code with four letters. There are
sixteen personality types.

There are no better or worse personality types. The MBTI indicator sorts for personality types and does not measure traits, ability or character. The importance of personality testing is to have a sense of your own personality type.

II. Skills, Talents and Passions

In addition to assessing your personality type, you should honestly assess your skills, talents and

a. Skills

According to the textbook, “Career Directions,” by Donna Yena, a skill is an ability that you have developed or anarea in which you have expertise. They can be technical or personal, and they can be something we all can develop. Examples of skills include:

· Knowledge of software programs and apps
· Writing
· Math
· Organizing
· Managing others
· Budgeting
· Project management
· Nursing
· Teaching

What are your skills? What skills do you want to develop that you haven’t already?

b. Talents

Yena defines talents as “consistent, innate tendencies or predispositions to act, think, or feel a
certain way.” I would define a talent as something you do effortlessly and well.
For example, I would say that writing in general is my talent – I don’t
have to work particularly hard at it to do it well – while legal writing is my
skill – an ability I had to develop, as it didn’t come naturally to me. Examples of talents that Yena provides include:

· Acting/performing
· Creative writing
· Designing
· Playing a musical instrument
· Inventing

What are your talents? AuthorBarbara Sher has an exercise to help identify our strengths that was featuredin the November 2011 issue of O Magazine, which we’ll do.

c. Passions

Your career will probably be long and bring you more joy the more it is centered around your passions. Janet Bray Attwood and Chris Atwood, authors of “The Passion Test: The Effortless
Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose,” developed a 10-step test to help determine your top five passions featured in the October 2011 issue of O Magazine, which I’ll distribute and we’ll do. But think about it – what are you passionate about? Animals? Education? Making money? Rehabilitating houses? Think about your passions.

I know for sure that one of my passions is writing, and ironically enough, it’s creative writing. When I’m working on my novel, I can work for hours without going to the bathroom, eating, or even knowing how much time has passed – I call that “being in the zone.”
What activities do you do that get you “in the zone?”

Also, Oprah asked the following three questions in the October 2011 issue of O Magazine to help you find your true calling:

· How does what you’re doing make you feel? When you’re honoring your purpose, you feel a
sense of exhilaration and stimulation

· Does it have a positive impact on others? Nothing that really calls you has a positive
impact on you alone.

· Does it turn up the volume and increase the
vibration in your life? When you’re engaged in who you are meant to be, you’re more awake, alive, and ready to play a vital part in your world.

Some things to think about:

· Your talents may not be your passions – something that you’re innately good it may not be something you’d want to do for a living. Many people who are good in math don’t necessarily want to be mathematicians or engineers

· Your skills may not be your passions – You may have developed a particular skill that you’re great at, but it may not bring you joy.

d. Values

Finally, one thing you should consider in narrowing down your career choices are your values. What’s important to you, and how your career choice should fit around what’s important to you. For example:

· If you’re a family-oriented person, you may not want a career that requires working late nights and weekends or traveling.

· If you like a low-stress environment, being an emergency room surgeon might not be the career for you.

· If you value independence, you may want to be self-employed.

· If you don’t want to engage in activity that harms people, you may not want to be a bill collector.

Thinking ahead about your values will help you avoid choosing a career that meets all your other requirements – passion, skills, etc. – but conflicts with how you want to live your life.

II. Finding Your Career – Exploration

Once you’ve done a personality self-assessment and identified your skills, talents, passions and values, now begins the journey of matching those to the careers out there. Start by narrowing your passions into fields, and fields into career paths.

A. Passions into Fields

Let’s say you’re passionate about animals. Given your skills, talents and values, how do
you translate those into a career dealing with animals?

1. Brainstorm

Start with your friends and family and ask them what careers would fit with your passion, skills, talents and values. Use that list as a starting point.

2. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the “Occupational Outlook Handbook.” This
book tells you the following for hundreds of types of jobs:

The training and education needed
Expected job prospects
What workers do on the job
Working conditions

In addition, the Handbook gives you job search tips and links to information about the job market in each State.
3. Career Counselors

Many colleges and non-profit organizations provide career counseling. If you are attending college or are an alumnus of a college, your college’s career center is a resource to
use not only find careers matching your passions, skills, talents, and values,
but to find people who are actually engaged in those careers whom you can speak
with. Don’t overlook this underutilized resource.

4. Professional Associations

Most industries and careers have professional associations for the benefit of their members, whether they are teachers, engineers or the like. Find a professional association
for the industry or career most closely aligned with your passions and skills
and ask for information about career paths and contacts within the industry
you’re interest in whom you can speak to.

5. Job Fairs

Job fairs are a great opportunity not just to find a job, but to find out whether you’d even like a job in a particular field. Take time to talk to people who are recruiting for their industry to find out the range of careers available and what it’s really like to work in those careers.

6. Adult Internships

Many adults are doing unpaid internships for brief periods of time – like a two-week vacation – to try out a particular career path to see if it’s for them. Don’t be afraid to
approach someone already working in the career you might be interested in to
see if you can volunteer for a week or two to get some exposure to the career
and better decide if it’s a fit for you.

7. Informational Interviews
Job candidates use informational interviews as a means of
becoming known to potential employers, but they are a great tool for finding
out if a particular career is for you. Using the Internet, job fairs, or professional associations, find people who are already in a career you think you might be interested in and ask for an
informational interview. During the interview, ask questions to make sure the career fits with your passion, values, skills, etc. or that you would be willing to develop the skills needed
to succeed in the career.


Donna Yena, “Career Directions,” 4th ed.
O Magazine, October and November, 2011
Barbara Sher, “I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Is”
The Myers-Briggs Foundation, http://www.
Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D., “Now Discover Your Strengths”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook,

A Series of Family Talks

Saturday, March 3, 2012
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

I. Prayer, Call to rder, and Dinner

II. Purpose of "Something to Think About”
· Knowledge: Share What We Know (mistakes and all), Learn What We Don’t
· Encouragement: Helping Each Other Reach Our Goals
· Action: Holding Each Other Accountable for Taking Positive Steps Toward Our Goals

III. Family Sou-Sou Drawing

IV. Five Goals for The Family
· Financial Literacy
· Home Ownership
· Having a Career
· Educating Our Kids to Prepare Them for College or a Vocation
· Multiple Streams of Income

V. Topics to be Covered Today – Getting and Keeping the Career You Want
· Getting the career you want
· Keeping the career you want

VI. The Department of Gentle Nudges: Encouragement from Each
Other to Achieve Our Goals

VII. Adjourn; NextMeeting: Saturday, April 14, 2012 (Moved
back one weekend in honor of Easter Sunday, April 8)

Something to Think About
A series of family meetings
Career Planning
Module 2: Getting Your Career

Disclaimer: We are not experts or role models with
respect to job search techniques, resume and cover letter writing, and
interviewing skills. We’re only sharing what we know. You will need to do more
research on your own for additional answers or clarification. This is a VERY basic discussion.

I. First Things First: Why is being knowledgeable about different
job search techniques, resume and cover letter writing, and interviewing

· Your strategic use of job search techniques
leads to information about job opportunities, your resume and cover letters
targeted at these opportunities lead to interviews, and interviews lead to jobs. A weakness in any of these areas will make it more difficult to get a job in your field.

· The job market is competitive, and having skills, education and experience isn’t enough.

· Different sectors may require different skills –the way to get a job in the private sector may be slightly different than the way to get a job in government or the non-profit sector

· You are more like to find a job through someoneyou know than through the Internet or want ads.

· Your best odds are with: 1) A job few people know is available; 2) You know someone who works in the organization with that job opening; and 3) They are well thought of in the organization and they vouch for you.

II. Job Search Techniques

a. Why Job Search Techniques Are Important?

i. Job search techniques help you find out what skills employers in your industry are
looking for.

ii.Most job openings are hidden– known only to those within the particular industry, profession or organization. Relying on visible, obvious job search resources – the internet, want ads – will yield only 20% of available positions at best.

iii. You cannot rely on only one job search technique.

b. The Nature of the Job Market and Applicable Job Techniques (from Donna Yena’s “Career Directions”). Yena describes the job market as having three parts:

i. The Visible Job Market: The sources of job leads that are most
obvious and easily accessible, such as:
· The newspaper
· Career fairs
· Job-listing bulletins
· Placement office listings
· The Internet
· Job hotlines

II The Hidden Job Market: Less obvious sources of jobs that require more effort to find, such as:

· Magazines and trade journals
· Professional and trade association job finders
· Business directories
· Human resources departments
· Professional associations
· Employment agencies
· Mentors
· Relatives
· Classmates
· Community contacts

III. The Very Hidden Job Market: Opportunities that are usually overlooked as sources of job information, such as:

· Telephone directories – to be used to compile
lists of contact information for businesses in your career field to make your
own mailing list or telemarketing campaign
· List of new firms with 100 employees or less
from your local chamber of commerce

Most job opportunities are in the hidden or very hidden job markets.

c. The Top Six Ways Employers Prefer to Fill a Vacancy and What it Means for Job Seekers (FromRichard Nelson Bolles’ “What Color Is Your Parachute?”)

i. Promote from Within – Hiring a full-time employee, a part-time employee, a temp, or a
consultant whose work the employer already knows.
· Job seekers – If you can get hired at an organization you’ve chosen as a temp, contract worker or consultant, the better your chances at being hired permanently.

ii. Using Proof – Hiring an unknown job seeker who brings proof of what he or she can do with regard to the skills needed
· Job seekers – bring proof of your skills to an interview, such as a writing sample if you’re a writer

iii. Using a best friend or business colleague: Hiring someone whose work a trusted friend of yours has seen.
· Job seekers -- Find someone who knows the person with the power to hire at your target
organization and who knows your work and will introduce you two

iv. Using an agency they trust

v. Using an ad they have placed

vi. Using a resume

d. The Five Best Ways to Hunt for a Job (From “What Color Is Your Parachute?”): Since your job hunt energy will be limited, you should start with the best job hunt strategies and their
success rates:

i. Asking for job leads from family members, friends, people in the community, staff at
career centers, especially at your local community college or the high school
or college where you graduated. (33%)

ii.Knocking on the door of any employer, factory or office that interests you, whether they are known to have a vacancy or not. (47%)

iii. Using the phone book’s yellow pages to identify subjects or fields or interest to you in the town or city where you want to work, and then calling up employers listed in that field to ask if they are hiring for the type of position you can do. (69%)

iv. In a group with other job-hunters, a kind of “job club” using the phone book’s yellow pages to identify subjects or fields of interest to you in the town or city where you are, and then calling up the employers listed in that field to ask if they are hiring for the type of position you can
do (84%)

v.Doing a life-changing job hunt by which you do extensive homework on yourself to determine your skills, the job environments you’d best survive in, and how to get to where you want to go by
finding out the names of the jobs you would be most interested in, the names of the organizations that have those jobs in your area, and the names of the people or persons who actually have the power to hire you. (86%)

e. The Five Worst Ways to Hunt for a Job (From “What Color Is Your Parachute?”) and their success rates:

i. Using the Internet (4 to 10%, around 10% for tech positions)

ii.Mailing out resumes to employers atrandom (7%)

iii. Answering ads in professional or trade journals appropriate to your field (7%)

iv. Answering local newspaper ads (5 to 24%)

v.Going to private employment agencies or search firms for help; (5 to 28%)

f. LinkedIn.Com

I’m a hug fan of LinkedIn.Com as a networking means of finding a job for
the following reasons:

· Your friends’ networks become your networks. When you join, you invite
friends and colleagues to join your network. Once they join your network, the people in their network are considered part of your network (Your 2nd degree network), and those peoples’
contacts are also part of your network (Your 3rd degree network). Although you may not know the 2nd and 3rd degree members of your network, they may work at companies you’re interested in, and because you have someone in common, you can approach them through to get more information about their employer.

· You can join online groups that post jobs targeted towards members of those groups.
For instance, I’m a member of my law school alumni organization group so
that I can introduce myself to other alums and get information on job
openings. I’m also a member of groups outside of my profession that I think might have helpful information, such as the Black Enterprise group, the Black Professionals Network, and others.

· You can state on your profile page that you’re looking for new opportunities.
When people read your profile, they’ll know you’re in the job market.

· You can see who is looking at your profile. Depending on whether you have a free or paid
membership, will tell you either the exact person who was checking
out your online profile or what industry the person was from. will also tell you how many people have checked out your profile within the last month, giving you an idea
of how marketable you might be.

g. Networking- What It Is And What It Isn’t

Many of you network and you don’t even know it. All networking is building and maintaining
relationships that may help advance your career. You already have numerous networks:
· Your family
· Your co-workers
· Your church family
· Your high school and college classmates
· Your former teachers and professors
· Your friends
· Your colleagues on
· Your college fraternity or sorority

What makes a network successful isthat it is maintained when you don’t need a job so it’s available when you do. What networking ISN’T is passing out business cards to people you don’t know or asking people you don’t know to start doing things for you.

The Black Collegian website has a page on networking:

How do you build a network? Meet as many people as you can.

· Get out from behind your cubicle. Make it a point to interact with people outside of your own group or department or organization. For example, a person I know made it a point to take each and every employee to lunch to get to know them. She believed that eating alone was a wasted opportunity to get to know someone.

· Join organizations in your field or industry. Take leadership positions in
those organizations so people will become familiar with your work and work ethic.

· Volunteer! Join community service organizations
that attract the kind of people who would be useful to your network, e.g., The Junior League, the Rotary Club, etc.

· Be active in the organizations you already belong to – your church, your sorority, etc.

· Seek out people who are doing what you want to do and invite them to coffee or lunch.

· Give before you ask. Before you ask someone for information, introductions or favors, provide information, introductions, or favors.

· Join groups on and share what you know.

· Blog! Write a blog about your area of expertise and share it with your colleagues. If it’s good, they will share it with others who may seek you out.

· Attend conferences. Some of the best job leads are from people you meet at conferences.

· Take training courses or professional education courses. The people you meet in these
courses share an interest with you and may be sources of information.

· Keep in regular contact with the people you already know on a regular basis. Send an
email or a note just to ask how they’re doing and catch up. Nobody wants to hear from you only when you want something.

· Start a support group for people in your industry or profession. It can be as
large (for example, child care providers) or as small (African-American female child care providers) as you’d like.

Some networking do’s and don’ts from The Black Collegian:

· Do continue to nurture and cultivate your network.

· Don't start the process if you are not committed to developing your network by making contacts monthly or annually.

· Do strategically plan and market yourself. Ask yourself, "Who do I need to know within this school, company, industry or community?"

· Don't appear to be self-serving. People will not help you.

· Do engage people so they can see your value.

· Don't hide. Get out and meet people.

· Do volunteer. Be genuine about helping others. Put yourself in a position to network.

· Don't call people by their first name without their permission.

· Do develop a personal vision statement and objective. Print it on a business card.

· Don't pass out business cards without talking to people first.

· Read trade journals and other periodicals. Keep abreast of what is going on in your field of endeavor or industry.

· Don't tell people, "I want to pick your brain." This is not a good visual.

· Do send thank you cards or notes. Follow up is important.

· Don't forget to ask, "What can I do to help you?"

h. What This All Means:

· Although you may use many different job search techniques, you may want to have a greater focus on those techniques with higher success rates

· Even job search techniques with lower rates of success, e.g., want ads or the Internet, can still be useful in giving you an idea of who’s hiring and what they’re looking for so you can tailor your resume around those facts

III. Resume and Cover Letter Writing

a. Resumes

i. Resumes Are Marketing Tools

Your resume is a marketing tool to market YOU. It needs to convey the skills you have that you want to use, your achievements, and what you can do for the employer you’re sending it to. It
also needs to include keywords related to the job you’re seeking that can be picked up by an optical scanner, as resumes are increasingly read and screened by machines, not people.

· Susan Ireland’s resume and cover letter website
( has ten
steps to writing a resume along with her top five resumes tips, which I’ve
included as a handout.

ii. Know What Kind of Resume to Use (From

Depending on your work history or the kind of job you’re seeking, you may use different types of resumes.

Resumes come in three basic types:

· Functional Resumes – functional resumes list your work experience under skill headings instead of in chronological order. According to Susan Ireland, a functional resume may be most effective if one or more of the following applies:

oYou are making an extreme career chance such that your work history is in no way relevant to your job objective

oYou have a checkered employment history (such as difficult-to-explain gaps in employment or job hopping) that you want to downplay as much as possible

o You are preparing to re-enter the job market after a current span of unemployment, which you prefer not to highlight on your resume

o You need to focus on experience or skills from a much earlier time in your work history

o Your most current position is not impressive or relevant.

Be aware that employers tend to be suspicious of functional resumes.

· Chronological Resumes – chronological resumes list your job history in reverse chronological order highlighting the dates, places of employment, and job titles. The chronological resume may be most effective if at least one of the following applies:

oYou wish to remain in the same field or industry

oYour work history shows lateral or vertical career growth or an increase in job responsibility, making your job objective the next obvious step in your career path

oYour current or most recent position is one you are proud of and enjoy

oThere are no gaps in your employment history

· Combination Resumes – combination resumes combine both chronological and functional resume formats to highlight both your work history and relevant skills. The combination format may be most effective when at least one of the following applies:

oYou are making a career change and want to highlight your transferable skills

oYou wish to advance in a field or industry in which you are currently working

oYour job titles do not accurately describe the level of responsibility you held

o You want to fill gaps in employment with unpaid experience that is relevant to your job objective

Attached to this handout are Susan Ireland’s Ten Steps to Writing a Resume as well as examples of chronological and functional resumes. Visit Susan’s website for more examples.

iii. Keyword Optimization

Because resumes are often optically scanned as a means of screening applicants, you have to write your resume to include keywords that an optical scanning program will pick up so that your
resume isn’t screened out. Don Goodman’s blog provides three ways to figure out what keywords should go on your resume:

· Review the job posting. The job posting typically tells you the title
or position, specific experiences, skills and education desired or required of
candidates. Highlight all these keywords and work them into your resume in context.

· Review job descriptions. Conduct searches on career or job board websites
for job descriptions of the position you are applying for. You will notice
common keywords coming from each of the job descriptions that you can also use
in context for your resume.

· Review a company or organization’s website. You will notice there are field- or
industry-specific terms that are commonly used that should also be applied to
your resume in context.

Attached please find two handouts titled, “Three Things That
Make Your Resume Less Effective” and “Optimizing Your Resume with Keywords.”

b. Cover Letters

Your cover letter is intended to show that you’re a good fit for the company and have what the company needs so that the reader takes the next step and reads your resume. Cover letters are also scanned, so you need to make sure you’ve included the right keywords in them. Here are some important points:

· Make sure your cover letter goes to the correct person – either the person accepting resumes or the person doing the hiring. Avoid addressing a cover letter to “To Whom It May Concern”

· If you have a personal connection to the person receiving your cover letter, say so: “I appreciated speaking with you at the XYZ conference and wanted to express my interest in the Sales Representative position you mentioned.”

· If you have a personal connection with someone in the company who is well thought of, say so: “Raymond Johnson in your sales department suggested that I apply for the position of Sales Representative.”

· Get to the point: Say up front what you’re applying for and why you’re the best for the job: “I’m writing to express my interest in the Sales Representative position with your organization. My 10 years’ experience in corporate sales and account management with AT&T and Verizon would be a benefit to your organization.”

· Tell them what education, skills and accomplishments you have that are relevant to the position and use the right keywords from any job announcement or ad for the position: “At AT&T, I created sales leads from non-traditional sources such as minority chambers of commerce, African-American professional organizations and alumni associations from historically black colleges and universities resulting in a 27% increase in sales in one year.”

So, in organizing your cover letter, consider the following:

1. Make sure to include a proper heading with your contact information and an address to the
appropriate person with his or her correct title and address. For example

Ava Jones
1234 Employment Street
Working, State 01234
(111) 555-1212

Simon Cowell, Vice President
Sales and Marketing
Amazing Telecom, Inc.
5555 Business Street
Working, State 01234

Re: Sales Representative Position with Amazing Telecom, Inc.

2. First Paragraph: Say why you’re writing.

Dear Mr. Cowell,

Raymond Johnson suggested that I apply for the position of Sales Representative with your organization. I believe my ten years of experience in telecommunication sales with AT&T would be a benefit to your organization.

3. Second Paragraph: Say what you have to offer this employer – your education, your skills,
your achievements. You may even want to use bullet points. Try to keep it short:

During my time with AT&T, I generated sales leads from non-traditional sources such as minority chambers of commerce and increased sales 27% in one year. I also
developed a training program for new sales representatives and provided
information I gathered from new clients to help our marketing department penetrate underserved markets. I have a Bachelor’s degree in business from California State University, Sacramento.

4. Third Paragraph: Thank the employer for considering you and tell him or her how you
intend to follow up.

Enclosed please find my resume. I will call within the week to see when an
interview can be arranged. Thank you for your consideration.

5. Closing and signature line:

Respectfully yours,

Ava Jones

I’ve included a handout on the steps to writing a cover letter.

IV. Interviewing

By the time you’ve received a job interview, you’re halfway there. You’ve distinguished yourself
from a stack of resumes to get your foot in the door. However, interviewing has changed. No longer is it just answering questions posed to you by your interviewer. An
interview is your sales pitch opportunity – your chance to demonstrate that you
can offer solutions and ideas that no one else can or offered to do. In addition to answering questions, you should come prepared to use what Ramit Sethi calls “The Briefcase Technique” –
offering some tangible work product demonstrating how you would solve an
existing problem the organization has or add value in a way the organization
hasn’t done. Here are some basic interview do’s and don’ts, along with a discussion of The Briefcase Technique.

· Research the organization you’re interviewing with, the people you’re interviewing with, and the management of the organization. Read annual reports, thenorganization’s website, and any trade or industry journals. Google the people you’ll be interviewing with
as well as the top leaders in the organization. You should know everything publicly available that there is to know about the organization and the people you’re interviewing with.

· Arrive ten to fifteen minutes early.

· Do a mock interview ahead of time – what tough questions would you ask? Write them down
and have someone ask those questions of you. Provide answers in no more than 2 minutes.

· Have a prepared answer to these standard questions that is two minutes or less:

oWhy do you want this job?

oWhy do you want to work here?

oWhy should we hire you?

oWhere do you see yourself with this company five years from now?

oWhat’s your greatest weakness?

· Dress appropriately. That means conservatively. Your style of dress should be polished but
not attention-getting or too fashion-forward.


oOutrageous jewelry (e.g., chandelier earrings, tons of necklaces)

oBright colors (stick to neutrals)

oSparkly makeup or evening looks

oOversized purses

oOpen-toe or slingback shoes (pumps, please)

oShort hemlines (no more than one or two inches above the knee)


oEarrings or bracelets for men

oTattoos (because you never know how people feel about them, cover them up if they’re visible)

oExcessively long nails or loud nail polish color (you can’t go wrong with a short French manicure, boring as they are)

oGoing without pantyhose if you’re female and wearing a dress or skirt.

oIf all else fails, dress like President Obama or Mrs. Obama.

· Have extra copies of your resume to hand out if needed.

· Have a firm handshake when you meet your interviewers

· Maintain eye contact when answering questions, even with interviewers who didn’t ask the question.

· Turn the interview on its head using The Briefcase Technique

oThe Briefcase Technique allows you to provide insight as to how you would add value to the organization by solving a problem it currently has or creating value in some way. By researching the company and its industry, you should become aware of
some problem or challenge it is facing. Using The Briefcase Techqniue, you work a discussion of that challenge or problem into the interview and then take out of your briefcase or portfolio
something you’ve written that shows how you would solve that problem or address
that challenge. For more on The
Briefcase Technique, visit

· Be sure to close the interview with a summation as to why you’d be good for the organization. “I appreciate the opportunity to interview with you. I think I could offer some creative and profitable solutions to improve your sales lead generations as I did when I worked with AT&T.”

· Be sure to get the business cards of the people you interviewed with and send a thank you note THE NEXT DAY.

Resources – There are many, many websites and books devoted to job searches, resumes, cover letters, networking and the like. These are only a few:

Susan Ireland’s website,
Richard Nelson Bolles, “What Color Is Your Parachute?”
George Fraser, “Success Runs In Our Race”
Donna Yena, “Career Directions”

Something to Think About
A series of family meetings
Career Planning
Module 3: Keeping Your Career

I. First Things First: Why do I have to worry about keeping my career?

· Economic downturns. During an economic downturn, employees who
are disliked, unproductive, or the least senior are the first to laid off. Employers use economic downturns to shed dead weight in an organization because most organizations are required to achieve the same or better results with fewer resources, human or otherwise, in an
economic downturn.

· Mobility and Marketability. You may have to move to be with a spouse or take care of a parent. The more you’ve done to grow your career, the easier it will be to market yourself in a
different job market.

· Promotions and raises. By tending to your career growth, you will have greater justification for promotions and raises, especially if you have to compete with your co-workers for them.
Giving that, over time, the cost of your household increases with age, having children, or taking on other responsibilities (mortgage, retirement planning, etc.), by growing your career, you increase your salary to cover these increasing costs.

· Career changes. If you’ve been successful in one career, you may be seen as less of a risk to employers in a different field or industry if you decide to change your career.

II. How Do I Keep My Career?

· Networking
· Planning
· Preparation
· Education
· Achievement
· Attitude

III. Networking

In order to advance in your career, people in a position to help you advance need to know you and your work. It’s crucial to build and maintain your professional network throughout your career so it’s available to you when you need or want to make a move. Networking should also include:

· Cultivating relationships with people outside of
your department, profession or industry who may be able to help you advance

· Cultivating relationships with the people who are in the professional networks of your superiors in your organization

IV. Planning

Whether you plan to stay in your organization or move to another, you should have some idea of what positions you’d like to hold, what it takes to get into those positions, and your plan
for getting into those positions. Your plan should have timelines and specific objectives. It’s far too easy to get settled into one job if you don’t have a plan.

V. Preparation

Preparation is merely putting your career plan in place. It’s also a matter
of taking on opportunities or challenges that allow you to demonstrate that you
have the skills and expertise to move to the next level. Preparation may include:

· Volunteering to work on a project with someone who is already in the position you want

· Taking the initiative to solve a problem your boss has and isn’t aware of

· Taking on duties that belong to a position that you’re aspiring to have

· Creating programs and processes that help your unit, department or agency run more efficiently, save money, or increase revenue

· Keeping up-to-date on changes in your industry and helping others to do the same

VI. Education

Education is crucial to career growth. You not only have to have the
required knowledge for your position or profession, but you have to continually
update your knowledge to remain competitive. You may also have to have earned your degrees from certain institutions in order to be competitive for positions in certain organizations. (For example, large international law firms prefer to hire lawyers who’ve graduated from the nation’s top twenty law schools.)

· Be aware of what kind of training or education will best position you to get the job you ultimately want.

· Continually update your knowledge

· Teach or provide in-house training to demonstrate your knowledge to others and become known as an expert

VII. Achievement

At the end of the day, the employee with the longest record of tangible achievements in an organization will be considered the most valuable one. You should aim to solve problems or provide ideas that will lead to achievements that matter in terms of what your organization, industry or profession values, such as cost reduction, increasing revenue, winning
lawsuits, or higher customer satisfaction. You should keep track of these achievements and make sure they are included in your annual reviews as a basis for being considered for promotions
and raises.

VIII. Attitude

In this increasingly competitive job market, no one wants to work with someone who is difficult or causes problems unless that person is so valuable to an organization that he or she almost cannot be replaced. That is rare, so having a great attitude is key to career advancement. Examples:

· Willingness to do more than you’re asked to do

· Treating everyone within the organization with respect, no matter their rank

· Being professional and courteous

· Arriving on time and staying as long as needed to get the job done

· Anticipating your supervisor’s needs and problems and dealing with them without being asked

· Staying in the information loop but out of the gossip mill

· Never embarrassing your boss and always endeavoring to make her look good to her superiors

· Working well with teams and leading fairly when called to do so

· Never taking things personally and keeping criticism professional

As Grandpa always said, “Never let anybody outwork you.”


Cathie Black, “Basic Black:
The Essential Guide for Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life)


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