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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. 

 

Maximizing Your Marketing Spend: Want to get the most out of your budget? Get creative!

Everyone has a budget. Big, small, or in between, you have to work within those parameters. Research shows that B2B services companies, for example, spend an average of about 12% of their overall budget on marketing. It’s a wise commitment that can pay off big time.

But are you getting the most out of your marketing spend? Here’s how you can start right now.

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS

In a changing climate, it’s sometimes wise to step back and take a deeper look. Maybe you’ve always marketed in a certain way, and it’s worked well, but things are different today. That’s why the most important question you can ask yourself is: “How can I best market this product or service right now, given the current needs and behaviors of our target audience?”

Once you have an updated understanding of your audience and how that aligns with your company’s value proposition, you can better assess what type of marketing approach is optimal. Will it be what you did before? Maybe… but it could also turn out that a different approach will give you way more bang for your buck.

PICK THAT LOW-HANGING FRUIT
Have you tuned up your SEO lately? Updated stale content on your website? Revamped your email templates to match your overall brand? Honed your messaging? You can give your marketing efforts a quick but meaningful boost with relatively little commitment. 

MODERNIZE YOUR TOOLKIT

Digital marketing evolves quickly, and if you’re not using up-to-date tools, you may be missing out. First, check out the basics: Is your email marketing service robust enough for your needs? Is it time to switch to a marketing automation platform to more effectively manage your interactions with your target audiences? If you are already using a marketing automation platform, are you taking full advantage of customization options to provide targeted content based on audience profiles?

And what about online advertising? Are you getting the most out of it? It might be wise to look at whether the content you are providing on your website is attracting the traffic you want. If there’s a disconnect, perhaps it’s time to start using an online content insight tool like BuzzSumo to better understand what topics are connecting with people. And once you’ve identified the right subject matter, you can decide whether to add something like an e-book or podcast to share your thought leadership with maximum impact.

Don’t Waste Money on Mediocre Marketing
Slapdash efforts are not only a waste of money, they can be actively detrimental to your brand. On the other hand: High quality marketing is worth the work. And it might cost less than you think to develop a tightly focused campaign, or a small social media spend. Or maybe you need to invest some time in your brand: build personas, understand your audience behaviors, find their pain points, and develop refined, effective messaging. It will reward you handsomely down the road.


Denise Hart is President of O2 Lab, a marketing firm focused on technology and healthcare organizations; deploying digital, print, motion, and social media campaigns that drive results.



















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WIT.Connect 2019 – 2020 Accomplishments

The primary objective of the WIT. Connect program is to provide high-value networking and educational programs that bring women of metropolitan Washington’s diverse technology community together to expand their relationships and knowledge.

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, WIT had to pivot to ensure we continued executing our two final WIT. Connect events of the year. COVID-19 provided WIT with an opportunity to expand our reach virtually outside of metropolitan Washington as well as to non-WIT members.

The 2019 - 2020 WIT season saw a lot of challenges, accomplishments, and growth - and we are proud to share a few of our highlights. In total, our WIT. Connect program featured 18 outstanding women who lead across the Federal, Local, State, Non-Profit, Education, and Corporate sectors. We were able to provide valuable, educational content to over 280 WIT and non-WIT members and facilitate important conversations from data science to healthcare to diversity and inclusion in the field of technology. Our women investigated sixth-sense technology, discussed the advancements happening at the intersection of health and applied science, and investigated the mechanics of green initiatives to help our planet.

We go deeper than just the technological buzzwords at WIT. We are here to encourage conversation, exploration, and understanding. We thank you for a wonderful 2019 - 2020 season and look forward to seeing you soon at our next WIT. Connect program!

Sincerely,

Amber Hart
WIT Board Member, WIT.Connect

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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Suggested Resources to Learn More & Continue the Discussion - June WIT.Connect Follow Up

Knowledge is power. The more we know, the more we can do, and the more we can contribute to our communities and organizations. At the conclusion of our latest WIT.Connect, WIT asked our panelist to recommend and share one resource that they thought would be helpful to our audience:

 

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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

Reopening? Or Just Thinking About It? Internal Communications is Crucial

When you’re bringing people back into the office post-lockdown, nothing is more important than communicating well. Before, during, and after the transition, staff need to get up to speed quickly on all new protocols and restrictions to ensure a smooth, safe re-entry. They also need to hear from you as a form of reassurance that the company has a strong, well conceived plan. Effective internal communications takes smart thinking—and some of the same tools you use to market to outside audiences.

Here are some ground rules.

Choose Clarity.
This is not the time for vagueness. If you want to achieve your reopening goals, you need to be absolutely clear—word choice matters. For example, there’s a difference between saying “wear a mask” and saying “masks must be worn in public spaces where 6-foot social distancing is not possible.” Make sure your messaging is aligned across all communications and throughout all departments to eliminate any confusion or the appearance of disorganization.

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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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5 Considerations for Brand Messaging in a Crisis

Marketing during a global crisis can seem like an impossible task. More and more Americans are unemployed due to the current pandemic, and no one knows what the next week will look like, much less the next sales quarter.

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Marketing in a Crisis: What You Can Do Right Now

While we work from home to help flatten the curve during this pandemic, we are also working hard to help our clients navigate a time of deep uncertainty and change. We’d like to share with you some insights gleaned from this “new normal.”

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Women in Technology — Offering flexible working isn’t enough: we need to stop stigmatizing it

Zoë Morris is President at a niche technology staffing firm Mason Frank International. Under her leadership, the company has achieved substantial year-on-year growth and won many industry-based awards.

When it comes to getting more women into the tech industry, there’s work to be done across the board.

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WIT.Connect – February 2020 Pre-Event Interview/Blog

On February 20th, Women In Technology (WIT) will welcome Genevieve Morris, Founder of Integral Health Strategies (HIS), and Patty Obermaier, Vice President of U.S. Health and Life Sciences Organization at Microsoft, for a discussion on the state of technology in healthcare. In advance of our event, we asked Genevieve and Patty to share some of their thoughts on the topic with the following Q&A.

1.  What is the most innovative health improving technology you know of?

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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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How to Make Your Resume Job-Fair-Ready

The WIT Job Fair is only days away and you are ready to find your dream job!  If you haven’t signed up yet, feel free to do so here.  When you do, you are strongly encouraged to submit your resume.  Since WIT is in the business of setting you up for success, the organization sends your resume to Job Fair prospective employers and exhibitors.  This is great because interested employer could contact you prior to the event about current and upcoming positions.  See – you are already a leg up and you haven’t even stepped foot into the job fair!

To make this great a reality, you need a killer resume.

As WIT President-Elect Daphne Wotherspoon’s previous blog post mentioned, “...don’t just dust off your old resume, slap your latest role at the top and hit print! Take the time to ensure your resume is aligned with your brand and that it tells a great story about what you’ve done.”

Most recruiters will only review your resume for up to 6 seconds.  Therefore, you need to design a resume that will effectively communicate your experience and value proposition in less than 6 seconds.

Here is a checklist for you to follow as you revamp and review your resume for the career fair.  Give yourself enough time to review your resume.  It may be thorough and excruciating, but this investment in your resume will pay off mad dividends.

 







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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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WIT Connect October PreEvent Panel Interview

On October 17th, Women In Technology (WIT) will welcome Emily Miller, an Assistive Technology Coach, and Claire Walsh, Director of Engineering and Services at Excella, for a discussion on Sixth Sense Technology. In advance of our event, we asked Emily and Claire to share some of their thoughts on the topic with the following Q&A.

For the sake of this conversation, we are defining Sixth Sense Technology as any type of technology which enhances the five senses. Technology includes but is not limited to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Assistive Technology (AT), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), Immersive Technology, and Predictive Analytics.

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WIT.Connect Preview: Data Science + Social Media

On September 19th, Women In Technology will welcome Erica Glotfelty, Director of Teacher Marketing and Socialization for Teach for America and Janet Waring, Vice President of Model B, for a discussion on Data Science and Social Media. In advance of the September 19th event, we asked Erica and Janet to share some of their thoughts on the topic with the following Q&A:

How has the integration of data science and social media changed the way we’ve approached marketing in the past 5 years?

Janet:
Integrating data science into your marketing is a game changer. Data science is responsible for those ads that pop up on Facebook showing you what you were just browsing for on Amazon and then recommends related products. And those articles that appear on your news source that seem to know what you were interested in – that is data science at work. Data science is the reason you get that creepy feeling that Google knows too much about you.

The data has allowed marketer to tailor the ads and information to a very targeted audience. Remember, marketing can often appear as educational pieces, but they are trying to sway your opinion on something. By targeting the audiences, you get leads that convert to customers.

For example, if I am selling swimming pool covers, I want to send my ads to not only consumers that own a swimming pool – but to those I know have been researching swimming pool covers online. And I want to have educational pieces online that consumers find when researching – so I have done my keyword research and know what terms they are using. That shopping audience is my main target for conversion and will give me the best ROI on my ad dollars. All possible with data.

What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years?

Erica: In the next 5-10 years, I predict organizations will understand more about the value of allocating time and budget to social media marketing. Online communities are becoming oversaturated with products and services being promoted. A digital ad budget will soon not an option, but a must to stay in the game and be seen. I also believe more web-based content management systems will integrate in new ways to streamline data with social channels, in addition to producing new data sets marketers can use to reach their audience. Each generation proves to display different habits and behaviors online, so it will be interesting to see how data can be used to reach segmented audiences based on historical data and how social media changes in relation. Be ready for new interfaces, new channels, and the end of the era for some channels we value today.

What is the biggest challenge in the digital marketing field now?

Janet:
Privacy. 2018 was a big year for social media as people began to question the value of social networks vs their privacy. Great questions were asked, legislation is changing but at the end of the day, people are still using social media. But marketers need to adapt to the new consumer attitude. Consumers are demanding more value in exchange for giving up their email address or other personal information. The challenge for marketers is how to bring that value and build trust.

Erica: Everyone wants to be digital, but very few understand what digital marketing means, entails, and achieves. The biggest challenge in digital marketing is remaining user-first when planning. For example, if any business is asking themselves if they should have a digital marketing strategy, the answer will always be yes. Should everyone be using social media? No. A lot of digital marketers are dealing with colleagues and clients who are making decisions based on general trends that are not specific to their goals. To have an effective digital strategy, decisions should be made based on the audience and execution should be segmented to reach goals. A user-first mindset requires research, strategy, data analysis, and an ever-changing approach to what success looks like uniquely for a brand.

What are common misconceptions people have regarding data science, social media, and digital marketing at large?

Erica:
Two statements I hear often, and I am quick to react to are: “I don’t need digital marketing, we’re doing just fine” and “I don’t have the budget to compete in the digital space.”

Even if an organization doesn’t feel they need to use digital marketing for new business, there’s many other reasons to make sure their online presence is thoughtful and maintained. Credibility alone is enough to push a brand to consider what and where their brand should be online. Whether that be a website, a profile on social, or even a Google Business listing, consumers will use Google and they will question the trust of any organization with little to no “paper trail” online.

Regarding budgeting, that’s not an excuse to overlook a digital strategy. There are hundreds of FREE, effective, and user-friendly tools online that can support a brand’s design and content needs. In today’s world, smartphones serve as a one-stop-shop for capturing content, posting online, and managing channels to communicate to consumers – even providing a quick way to respond. In saying that, I will also stress the importance of quality and strategy needed for any digital execution.

What is the most interesting trend for 2019 and 2020?

Janet:
Messaging Apps. Top messaging apps—WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, QQ, and Skype—now collectively count nearly five billion monthly active users, according to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s 018 Q3 Global Digital Statshot. This should be on every marketer’s radar. You must develop a playbook for using messaging apps.

Erica: I love seeing the new and innovative challenges that are popping up all over the internet via social media. Users want engagement, entertainment, and feeling a sense of community. Knowing this, brands are creating challenges tied to unique hashtags that prompt users with questions and contests to win prizes and gain visibility.

What made you decide to tackle this subject? How did you get into this field, and why do you stay?

Janet:
I’m a Gen X’er who grew up with a father who was a computer engineer with the DoD. So even though I am not a computer native like the millennial generation, I have always been comfortable with technology. I kind of stumbled into this field when trying to help other Gen X’ers and Baby Boomer friends understand social media – knowing they needed to embrace it for their businesses. I held a workshop at a local realtor’s office on how to use social media in business – at that time we focused on LinkedIn and Facebook. The workshop took off and so did my marketing business. I stay in the field of digital marketing because I’m a total geek who loves the latest tech – and this field changes so often you must stay up on the latest technology or you will become inefficient.

Erica: I love problem solving! If you are in the digital marketing field, you will never run out of problems to solve. People and technology will always change and provide sudden challenges we need to account for – that’s where the data and creativity come into play. This field provides a play place for my mind where data and creativity collide. I find both elements of this work intriguing and fun.

What are some of the ways people from your field are making a difference in the world?

Janet:
Marketing is influencing. It is so amazing to launch campaigns and see the influence they can have on the public’s opinions and buying choices. It is important to me to work for brands that I respect and causes that operate with integrity. Model B does a lot of advocacy work. I have seen the public act and influence lawmakers by the ads we run. It makes a difference in the world.

Erica: Digital spaces provide quick reaction times, instant visibility, and virtual communities. There are countless organizations using these resources to spread awareness about their initiatives whose work is changing the world (Pencils of Promise, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Campaign). There’s also a need for people to connect and have access to resources and communities where they feel a sense of belonging support. Virtual spaces are sometimes the only means individuals must find community. Past social media, I will also note while working in out of home advertising I saw the meaningful impact of the use of digital billboards sharing amber alerts and other important information within minutes of receiving notifications. These digital messages have changed and saved lives around the world.

What has helped you get to where you are? What advice would you have for others who want to set off in a similar direction?

Janet:
I have clients who have been with me for over 15 years. They trust me, they refer me, and I do not take that lightly. I value people and relationships. A success for my clients is a success for me. Advice? Be genuine and authentic. Do not pretend to know something you don’t. Be willing to say, I do not know that tech, but I know someone who does and will get back to you. There is too much tech to be a subject matter expert in all of it.


To learn more about Data Science and Social Media please join us on Thursday September 19, 2019 from 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT at Valo Park (formerly the Gannett Building), 7950 Jones Branch Drive, McLean VA 22102. Register here.