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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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Want to be a better Negotiator? Improve your EQ!

This month’s blog post is an excerpt from our WIT friend Jane Maliszewski from Vault Associates and focuses on emotional intelligence. This is a nice lead to our event coming up on January 21st - Getting What You Want: Negotiation Skills for Women. Please see Jane’s bio after the blog post.
Want to be a better Negotiator? Improve your EQ!
Does the word “Negotiation” put a knot in your stomach? 
Turns out 39% of professionals in the U.S. feel uncomfortable with negotiations, according to a 2012 LinkedInSurvey of global professionals
Are you one of those who would consider a visit to the dentist more enjoyable than negotiating for something you really want?  [No offense to the valuable work of dentists, but a recent DeltaDental survey indicated 48% of parents express anxiety about going to the dentist.]
The definition of Negotiation is tame: a “mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement” Sounds easy and unthreatening, right? 
Negotiation is something we engage in every day. From convincing your mountain-loving spouse to buy-in to your beach villa dream for this year’s vacation… to buying a new car… to adding someone with special skills to your project team… to convincing a new employer of the value of your expertise… to brokering a multi-million dollar merger with a rival company.  
Your negotiation savvy can be enhanced with good Emotional Intelligence. Here are 5 EQ competencies to polish up that will improve your negotiation presence: 
  1. Empathy, the ability to deeply listen and understand where another is coming from, whether you agree with them or not. Knowing the other’s perspective can help you determine what looks like a win-win from their side. 
  2. Emotional Self-Awareness/Expression, the ability to be acutely aware of your feelings about the issue at hand, the parties involved, and the outcome, and how displays of emotion can be perceived in a positive or negative light. Displays of anxiety, for example, can weaken your bargaining position or tempt you to close the conversation too early. Just as important, the presence of mind to identify the emotional triggers around the issue that may arise for you and being prepared to recognize and deal with them.
  3. Assertiveness, the ability to effectively express feelings & beliefs, and stand up for your personal rights even when faced with opposition. Believing that your side/point of view/needs matters and effectively presenting your case. This is not aggression or bullying which only serves to alienate the other party and stir up a defensive reaction, making it harder to develop a solution all will agree to. 
  4. Flexibility, the ability to be agile, tolerant, and react to change. Negotiation by its nature, is meant to be a give and take. Those with flexibility and adept at assessing and responding to the shifting feedback they get from their environment. If you approach negotiation with no wiggle room it is likely you will not get an outcome you can live with. 
  5. Reality Testing, the ability to see things objectively, rather than how we fear or wish them to be.Those with a high reality testing competence are skilled at assessing the environment with an objective lens, keeping their focus on the main issue, and recognizing that all parties view a situation with their own perspective, colored by their experiences and prejudices. Reality testing in negotiation helps balance the ‘head swirl’ of negative emotions which seed doubt and anxiety against the ‘rose-colored glasses’ naiveté that everyone sees things our way.
Harvard Business Review devoted the “spotlight” in the December 2015 issue to the ‘softer side of negotiation,’ including this article on Emotion and theArt of Negotiation. Well worth a read!
Finally, if you are in the DC Metro area, join us on Jan 21st, 2016 when Leslie Mulligan, negotiation consultant at WatershedAssociates, presents a special workshop on Getting What You Want: Negotiation Skills for Women for the Women in Technology  professional organization of the DC Metro area. For more info and to register:

Jane Maliszewski is an Executive Coach and founder of VAULT Associates, a consulting business providing leader development and organization effectiveness services to technology companies. She often works with leaders who want to develop Emotional and Social Intelligence competency to create positive changes in their professional and personal lives. Jane served 27 years as an officer in the US Army. She has Masters degrees in Business Administration and National Strategy, and advanced professional certification in Leadership Coaching, Organization Development, and Knowledge Management. Jane is a WIT Board member and Chair of the WIT Programs Committee. Favorite things -- besides helping people achieve their potential! -- are cooking and adventure travel.

5 Money Hacks for the New Year

As we kick off a new year, this month’s blog posting is an excerpt from the December 20, 2015 Working Mother by Teri Cettina, Working Mother contributing writer. You can find her bio at the end of the posting.

5 Money Hacks for the New Year

These are uncomplicated and essential for keeping an eye on your finances.

Want to get smarter about managing your money this coming year? It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project, says financial coach and mom-to-be Kelsa Dickey, owner of Arizona-based Fiscal Fitness Phoenix. In fact, these are super-simple strategies for getting into better financial shape in 2016.

1. Review those January paychecks. If your salary is automatically deposited into your bank account, it’s easy to forget that this month’s checks could be slightly different amounts. Did you opt for different health insurance coverage? Change your 401k deductions? Who remembers? Those were way back during your open enrollment period. “Particularly if you’ve made any big changes, review your new deposit amounts and update your monthly budget if necessary,” advises Dickey. It’s a simple thing—but not doing it could mess with your bank balance and cause you to overdraft.

2. Let your calendar save you cash. How can something as basic as your schedule help improve your finances? Easy, says Dickey: “My clients who are disorganized spend a lot more money. They pay for missed doctor appointments and late childcare pickup, they eat out a lot because they forgot to pick up groceries, and more.” Whether you use a paper or digital calendar, commit to using it regularly starting January 1. Coordinate schedules with your partner too (Google Calendar makes it easy). Review your kids’ school/daycare calendar along with your and your partner’s work and personal calendars, and enter important 2016 events into your schedule ASAP.
If you use your calendar on your phone, make sure key reminders and appointments are set as pop-up alerts with sound or text. If you constantly run late, set reminders further ahead (30 minutes instead of 10) to give yourself time to disengage from whatever you’re working on and get out the door in time.

3. Use your FSA money now. Got a stack of healthcare and childcare receipts you haven’t yet submitted to your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) provider? Bite the bullet and round them up and submit in January. You probably have a few more months (your employer sets the date) to submit 2015 receipts, but the longer you wait, the more likely you are to forget an expense. If you have a chunk of money left, think: eyeglasses—and go today or tomorrow. Use it or lose it!

4. Embrace library e-book downloads. If you’re a big reader—as many professional women are—you probably drop a good amount of cash on books (both paper and digital). An easy way to save money in 2016: Commit to downloading digital books from the library instead of always buying them. “You can easily go back and buy the book if it’s really great—but often you’re only going to read it once,” says Dickey. Also, if you tend to rack up library fines for late returns, library e-books should be your new best friend. When your borrowing time is up—poof!—the book automatically removes itself from your digital device, so you never pay a late fee. Pretty slick.

5. C’mon, get app-y. “I’m still amazed at how many professional moms haven’t embraced money-saving apps they can use on their smartphone,” says Dickey. Some of her favorites:
  • GasBuddy Compare the price of gas at multiple nearby stations—including warehouse clubs like Costco—so you know whether to fill up near home or somewhere closer to work.
  • Key Ring Add everything from store loyalty cards to your barcode-scannable library card or gym ID card access to this app. You’ll never be without your important cards, and you’ll instantly slim down your wallet. If you have an Apple device, also consider the built-in Wallet app.
  • If you don’t use a full-blown budget program, Mint does a great job of tracking and categorizing your expenses, notes Dickey. You can also use its bill-alert system so you don’t overlook a bill and end up paying late fees and extra interest.
  • Your Bank/Credit Union App Mobile deposit is Dickey’s favorite banking feature. Snap a photo of the front and back of your check and submit it electronically. No need to drive to the bank! 
Teri Cettina is a Working Mother contributing writer who specializes in parenting/family, money and business. She also writes for Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, Parents, Women’s Day and more. Teri lives in Portland, OR, with her husband and two daughters. Follow her at @TeriCettina or on LinkedIn, or visit her website

Is Culture of Overwork Behind Women’s Stalled Advancement?

This month’s blog posting caught our eye. It’s an excerpt from Rebecca Shambaugh posted on June 9th. Please see her bio after the blog post.

Is Culture of Overwork Behind Women’s Stalled Advancement?
by Becky Shambaugh

The speculated reason why fewer women than men reach the leadership ranks has changed over time. From the early to mid-1990s, most explanations for the discrepancy at the top pointed to sexism and sexual harassment of women, according to research from Harvard Business School (HBS). From the mid-90s to 2000, the media chorus shifted to blame women’s exclusion from the “old boy’s club.” By 2001, the focus turned to responsibilities for children as the reason more women couldn’t get ahead.

But in recent years, the pendulum has swung in a different, though related direction—the challenge of balancing work and family, and women’s continued greater burden in managing household matters. Now, a 2015 study being released as part of HBS’s new gender initiative has questioned whether women’s competing work-life demands are really the primary problem—or if America’s corporate culture of overwork is.

The HBS study, co-authored by Harvard professor Robin Ely with researchers Irene Padavic of Florida State University and Erin Reid of Boston University, was based on results from an unnamed global consulting firm with 90 percent male partners. The researchers set out to determine how to both boost the number of women promoted to the higher echelons of the firm, and decrease the number of women who left the firm.

The surprising results were that it wasn’t a lack of family-friendly policies that were the main reason women were held back. Instead, the culprit identified behind this distressing long-term trend was a round-the-clock work culture that demands both women and men alike be constantly available to their boss and colleagues in order to get ahead.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Claire Cain Miller notes that this workaholic expectation is particularly acute in industries like consulting, finance, law, and accounting. Data from the Current Population Survey shows high earners work the longest hours, and that Americans of both genders spend significantly more time in the office today than they did in past decades.

Some take-home points from the HBS study:
  • Men quit at the same rate as women, and were as likely as women (or more so) to blame long hours at work for interfering with their family lives.
  • While more women took advantage of formal flexible work policies (like working part-time) than men, deciding to do so often derailed their careers.
  • Men used different strategies than women to try to deal with the problem of long hours expectations. Unlike women, men often worked their preferred number of hours without asking for their company’s permission, while others reduced travel by finding more local clients or arranging informally for colleagues to cover for them while they attended their children’s events.
  • While men’s attempts like these to maintain work-life balance often led to promotion, women were not similarly rewarded by the company if they left the office at the end of the day or flexed their schedule creatively. In Miller’s article, she reported that the researchers said, “When a man left at 5 p.m., people at the office assumed he was meeting a client. When a woman left, they assumed she was going home to her children.”
There are no easy answers here, yet the study raises new questions about what types of changes in corporate culture might help the problem of women’s stalled advancement. In Miller’s article, she quotes HBS study co-author Ely as asking, “Is it really necessary for people to be on call 24/7? The answer is increasingly no. These professions are beholden to the whims of the client, and every question has to be answered immediately—but it probably doesn’t.”

To learn more about how SHAMBAUGH can help you build inclusive/integrated leadership within your organization, or about SHAMBAUGH’s targeted women’s leadership development programs, executive coaching, and other core services, visit

Rebecca Shambaugh is author of the best-selling books “It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor”, “Make Room for Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model to Achieve Extraordinary Results” and "Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton."

Rebecca Shambaugh’s Biography

Rebecca Shambaugh is an internationally recognized leadership expert, author, and keynote speaker. She speaks before thousands of leaders around the world every year, challenging conventional wisdom and overturning assumptions about how to lead in today’s business environment. Her compelling and new vision for leadership in the 21st Century has electrified and inspired audiences on six continents.

Rebecca is President of SHAMBAUGH, a global leadership development organization and Founder of Women In Leadership and Learning (WILL), one of the first executive leadership development programs in the country, dedicated to the research, advancement, and retention of women leaders and executives. Rebecca has coached and advised over a hundred leaders and executives and has enhanced their overall level of excellence in such areas as communications, strategic thinking, inclusive leadership, employee engagement, executive presence, and culture transformation.

Prior to starting her own company, Rebecca has worked for such premier organizations as General Motors, Fairchild Industries, and Amax Inc. as a senior executive in the leadership and human capital arena.

Rebecca has been showcased on CNBC, TED Talks, Fox News (New York), NPR, Washington Business, ABC, and numerous syndicated radio talk shows. She has been featured in publications such as: Leader to Leader, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, USA Today, Fortune Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Pink Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Rebecca is a known thought leader in the industry and is the author of two best seller books titled, “It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor” and “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton,” and her new book, “Make Room For Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model To Achieve Extraordinary Results,” all published by McGraw-Hill. Her books illustrate her unconventional and results-focused approach to creating great leaders.

Rebecca partners with a cross-section of clients such as: Booz Allen Hamilton, Dow Chemical, Hilton Worldwide, KPMG, Marriott International, IBM, Cisco, National Grid, Humana, HP, Intelsat, MedImmune, Microsoft, and J&J. She is a member of the National Press Club, the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on the Board of Visitors for Marymount University, on the Board of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, and on the Executive Board for the Virginia Women’s Center. Rebecca is also the Chairman of the Board of Young Women Lead and an Executive Partner for Bentley University’s Center for Women and Business, as well as on the Board of the Red Cross. Other accomplishments include recipient of the Smart CEO Brava! Award, Women Who Mean Business Award, Entrepreneur Organization of the Year Award, and Finalist for the Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Award for Woman-Owned Business of the Year.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Relations from Purdue University and a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Development from Marymount University.

Do I dare to follow my dream?

This month’s blog posting is from our own Jane Maliszewski, Chair of WIT’s Programs Committee. This post focus on the upcoming WIT.Connect: Dreaming Big, Growing Big, Thursday September 18th, 6:00-8:30 PM at the Gannett Building, 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean.Register at: Please see her bio after the blog post.

Do I dare to follow my dream?
Guest post by Jane Maliszewski

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Consolidating IT Infrastructure: Lessons from the Trenches

This month’s blog posting is from Teri Takai, you may remember her as the Keynote Speaker for this year’s WIT Leadership Awards. Please see her bio after the blog post.

Consolidating IT Infrastructure: Lessons from the Trenches

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