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6 Tips to Help You Return to Work as a STEM Professional

Did you leave a STEM career behind to care for family or take an alternative path for work/life balance? If you are ready to return or transition to a technical field, the timing could not be better. Despite the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic, demand in STEM fields continues to grow, and this is especially true in the DC metro area. Explore Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Tech Talent Initiative or Northern Virginia Community College’s Labor Market Research to learn more about in-demand jobs. No matter how you cut it, there are more opportunities than ever for women returning to technical career paths!

OK. So the demand for tech talent is out there, but how do you get noticed by Hiring Managers when you lack recent technical work experience?  Here are a few tips to get you started:

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We asked two leading tech companies in Northern Virginia what they’re looking for in a candidate and how to wow them in an interview

Easy Dynamics (ED) and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE) are attending Women in Technology’s virtual career fair on Nov. 5— to give you a head start, we asked them what they look for in a candidate, what positions they’re hiring for, if they offer training and more. 

What positions are you hiring for at the fair?

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Ace the Video Call: Tips for Networking and Interviewing in a Virtual Environment

COVID-19 has forced employers and professional organizations to quickly pivot to conducting interviews and running networking events in a digital environment. Honestly, I doubt we will ever return completely back to “normal”. Instead, I see a future where job seekers and prospective employers regularly interact using both technology platforms and in-person exchanges. If you are waiting to start your job search until things settle back to normal, you are missing out on opportunities to connect and delaying the inevitable need to adjust to a new normal. Here are a few best practices to get you comfortably networking and interviewing in a virtual environment:

Get Camera Ready

Being camera ready involves using the proper equipment, creating the right environment, projecting a professional image, and mastering standard video technology features.

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5 Reasons Why Northern Virginia’s Tech Scene is Unmatched

  1. Leading the Nation in Tech Hiring - This year Virginia had more tech job posting growth than California and New York according to a recent report by Dice.com, making it one of the few states in the nation to experience job growth despite a pandemic. All in all, the Capital Region expects to add more than 130,000 tech jobs in the next five years. Who is leading Virginia’s tech job growth according to the report?  Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics and Leidos - all headquartered in Northern Virginia, which brings us to our next point…

  2. Employers that Support Your Entire Career - One of the reasons Northern Virginia’s tech scene has not just been resilient, but thriving, despite a national economic crisis? A diverse economy. While other tech scenes depend on the success of a few big names or industries, Northern Virginia’s tech scene supports just about every industry. Tech employers here fuel government agencies, major financial institutions, retail and more. That means across your career you can work for one of the 20+ Fortune 500 companies here or one of the hundreds of Inc. 5000 startups taking off.

  3. A Diverse and Welcoming Community - We are one of the country’s most racially, ethnically and internationally diverse regions. Women are twice as likely and African Americans five times as likely to work in tech in Northern Virginia than in Silicon Valley; and our communities are ranked among the most LGBTQ-friendly nationwide. The region’s population includes 27 percent international residents, representing more than 120 countries. It is no wonder why 15 Northern Virginia-based companies are among Forbes’ “Best Employers for Diversity 2020” in America.

  4. Your Work Here Makes an Impact - While startups in Boston and San Francisco meet consumer demands, tech companies in Northern Virginia are solving the country’s most pressing needs. Case in point: technology developed in Northern Virginia became the foundation for the Internet and the digital revolution. On a daily basis, Northern Virginia cybersecurity heroes are warding off attacks on national security and tech firms are hacking solutions for the environment, education and more. 

  5. Variety and Amenities That You Can Afford - There’s a reason Northern Virginia’s communities have been ranked among the best in the U.S. for young professionals and millennials. In addition to our booming economy, Northern Virginia offers high-value living that other metros can’t. Cost of living in Northern Virginia is 34 percent lower than Manhattan and 19 percent lower than San Francisco. That means you can reap more square footage (and if you choose to own, save huge on property taxes) whether you choose a new high-rise apartment with luxury amenities or a home with acreage - all just minutes from D.C. and next to natural beauty. Plus, you’ll have access to some of the nation’s best public schools: Fairfax County Public Schools — the nation's 10th largest school system — consistently ranks among the top districts in the US and includes Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the number one public high school according to US News & World Report's ranking. You can read more in The Verge on why Northern Virginia is so livable.

Ready to relocate or continue your tech career in Northern Virginia? Visit the booths of HP and Easy Dynamics today. Visit WorkinNorthernVirginia.com to view jobs, a cost of living calculator, community quiz and more. You can also secure your free spot for our Cyber and Cloud Virtual Career Fair January 28. 

 

Gap in Resume? Own It!

The first time I wrote this blog, it was eight months ago for WIT’s fall 2019 job fair. How quickly life can change! I touted the tight labor market as the perfect opportunity for professionals with career gaps to successfully re-enter the workforce. Returners remain an amazing untapped talent pool. But COVID-19 has hit women, especially caregivers, hard. Women are opting out of the workforce due to the pandemic, and studies show that getting back in is harder for women, especially older women.  At FlexProfessionals, we routinely and successfully place professionals who have significant career gaps, and I am not talking small gaps but breaks of 5, 10, and 15+ years. What are the secrets to successful re-entry?  Here are a few to get you started:

Believe in Your Professional Self

Most importantly, do WHATEVER it takes to maintain or regain confidence. You bring tremendous value to employers. Not only do they benefit from your diverse skillset, but you bring good judgement, commitment, unparalleled productivity, and trusted communication skills to the workplace. Start to become aware of how you communicate your value. Most re-entry candidates begin by highlighting the number of years that they have been out of work. No employer is going to hire you for your gap. Avoid long-winded, defensive, or apologetic explanations with lots of personal details. Instead, be proud of your decision to stay home, and quickly shift the conversation to your skills and accomplishments. Be careful not to dismiss your volunteer work because it is unpaid, or prior professional accomplishments because they are old. Think of yourself as the talented professional you are, and people in a position to hire you will think of you as the same. Watch this Amy Cuddy TED Talk for a little motivation and encouragement.   

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Ace the Video Call: Tips for Networking and Interviewing in a Virtual Environment

COVID-19 has forced employers and professional organizations to quickly pivot to conducting interviews and running networking events in a digital environment. Honestly, I doubt we will ever return completely back to “normal”. Instead, I see a future where job seekers and prospective employers regularly interact using both technology platforms and in-person exchanges. If you are waiting to start your job search until things settle back to normal, you are missing out on opportunities to connect and delaying the inevitable need to adjust to a new normal. Here are a few best practices to get you comfortably networking and interviewing in a virtual environment:

Get Camera Ready

Being camera ready involves using the proper equipment, creating the right environment, projecting a professional image, and mastering standard video technology features.

Read More

What’s a Virtual Job Fair and How Do I Prepare?

Hopefully, you’ve already registered for the upcoming Women In Technology Job fair on 6/25/2020. It is our first virtual job fair, and maybe yours too, but online career fairs and forums have been around for several years now and are a tried and true way to engage with potential employers. Here are a few pointers on how to prepare, what to expect and the benefits of participating in this type of event.

First of all, if you have not yet registered, here is the link. This will not only give you registration access (free for job seekers), but it offers a virtual tour of the platform so you know a little bit about what to expect and can check things out to ensure that when the event goes live, you are able to make the most of it. 

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Gap in Resume? Own It!

Today’s tight labor market presents an incredible opportunity for professionals with career gaps to successfully re-enter the workforce. Smart employers are now looking at untapped talent pools in order to find the workers they need. Returners are an amazing untapped talent pool! At FlexProfessionals, we routinely and successfully place professionals who have significant career gaps, and I am not talking small gaps but breaks of 5, 10, and 15+ years. What are the secrets to successful re-entry?  Here are a few to get you started:

Believe in Your Professional Self

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Congratulations! You’ve Registered for the Job Fair…..Now What?

Good for you!  You’ve taken the first step in finding your dream job and you’ve registered for the upcoming WIT Job Fair!

Now the real work begins!  Make the most of that valuable time in front of hiring managers and recruiters from more than 60 of the region’s hottest employers.  Here are a few tips to make sure you shine at the event, help to relieve some anxiety by knowing what to expect and how to capitalize on the networking you did after the event. Attending a job fair is like speed dating.  You want to make a great first impression, know what you want so you can spend the most time with the most relevant exhibitors and have a plan of attack for following up that demonstrates interest, but not desperation. 

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