Staying Motivated in a Tough Job Market

Staying Motivated in a Tough Job MarketThese days millions of people are out there pounding the pavement, looking for a  job, and growing increasingly frustrated. When you’ve been searching for weeks and even months without any progress, it can be difficult to stay the course. Whether you are a single woman who just wants a change or a mother with kids to feed, it’s vital that you stay positive and motivated.

Without a doubt, being unemployed is an incredibly stressful experience for you and your entire family. In addition to worry over bills, your own feelings of guilt about being unable to contribute to the household income can put a strain on your marriage and create a rift between you and your partner. You may even have a shorter temper with your children who, undoubtedly, sense their parents’ tension concerning money.

It’s important to stay focused on maintaining your family’s emotional health during these rough times. Make sure you keep the lines of communication open between you, your partner, and your children. Be honest with your kids and make this an opportunity to teach them about saving money. Continue to make date nights with your husband, even if it’s just for a drive in the country or a picnic in your living room while the kids stay at grandma’s.

Avoid falling into a job search rut. You may find yourself  looking through the same old websites or perusing the same classifieds each week (or day). Perhaps you are sending out a poorly written resume that never gets picked up by the software companies use to filter candidates. Branch out and try new approaches.

•Check alternate publications and websites. Try using social media groups as a place to connect with potential recruiters.
•Network! Call old friends and coworkers to see if they have any leads. Get out of the house and attend events, conferences, parties, and use every opportunity to meet people and make contacts.
Cold Call.  Contact companies that you’re interested in working for, regardless of whether they have openings posted. Connect with the diversity departments and leverage your ethnicity.
•Have your resume reviewed by a professional. If your resume doesn’t include keywords related to the kind of work you want to do it’s unlikely to ever make it to a final slate of candidates. Same goes if it has any mistakes. Make sure a professional reviews it.
•Post resumes in new places online. There are numerous sites that allow you to post your resume to the public. Ihispano focuses on companies interested in hiring Hispanics.

Have you considered going back to school? If you’re the main breadwinner for the family, a full time job is obviously a priority. However, if you are a part of a two-adult household, going back to school can give you much greater earning potential as long as you chose a degree that is in high demand. In addition, you could qualify for financial aid that can help keep the family afloat while you get additional education under your belt.

Want to be your own boss? As Latinas, daughters and granddaughters of immigrants we still carry that entrepreneurial gene. Tap into this entrepreneurial spirit by exploring what you’re good at and how it could be marketed to the masses. Many mamis have gone from unemployment to self-employment and seen huge success. There are countless stories of women making it as web designers, writers or bloggers, and many other business ventures. There are even women who have turned hobbies like baking cookies into lucrative careers.

When one route doesn’t get you to your destination, you seek another route. The same should be true when you are frustrated with your job search. By keeping a positive attitude, thinking creatively, and enlisting the help and support of your family, you can put yourself on the path to success while maintaining a happy home.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.

School As Priority, No Matter What

School as PriorityThe economic crisis is forcing more and more families to consider different ways of making ends meet. Unfortunately, for many Latino families this may mean that a teenager has to get a job. And although having a summer job can be a valuable experience (more on this later), you may want to carefully consider the impact that a full-time job or even a part-time job during the school year might have on your child’s education.

Even though some research shows that as long as your child works under 20 hours a week, their academics won’t suffer, there are other reports that have found just the opposite. These studies show that any amount of part-time work can cause grades to suffer and also increase the chances that your child will get into trouble, abuse alcohol or skip school. No doubt, the effects of a job on your kid largely depend on:

  • How many hours they work
  • Their ability to focus on their academics
  • The amount of support at home for work/school balance
  • Their personality
  • Their ability to cope with the added responsibility

When a child works to help put food on the table there is a significant amount of stress attached to their job. The sense of responsibility on their shoulders is much bigger than if they work because they want to have a few dollars to buy videos or go out with their friends.

You may be wise to do everything in your power to solve your economic problems yourself before you consider sending your teen to work to help with your family’s finances. As a parent, your kids should always be your priority, so giving them the best shot possible to succeed might mean to make some sacrifices you didn’t plan on. Like postponing the purchase of a new car, or even moving in with family members to save on rent and childcare.

Choosing the Right Summer Job

A summer job is a different story. In this case you can help your kid choose a job that offers valuable lessons for the future. Some of the benefits of a summer job include:

  • Acquiring a good work ethic and real-life experience
  • Developing a sense of how hard it is to earn money
  • Having some personal spending money
  • Practicing time management skills
  • Exploring possible career choices
  • Developing relationships with potential, future employers

The idea is to help your child find a job in a field for which they might have a particular interest. For example, if they want to go into the medical field, it makes sense to try to find something at a local community health center, nursing home or children’s hospital. Not only will this kind of job provide an overview of the field and help them develop some specific skills, but it will also look good on college applications.

Beware of the harsh consequences of asking your child to find a job

If your family situation forces you to ask your child to look for a job, make sure that they only work part-time and that you help them balance their academics with their workload. One of the main reasons many Latino students drop out of high school is the need of students to help their family financially. So be aware that asking your child to work puts them at a higher risk of not finishing high school. And that is almost a guarantee that they will never make more money per hour than whatever they’ll be making today.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.


Returning to Work after Staying At Home

Going back to work after you stayed home with the kids for a few years usually requires some adjustments. But in this tough economy returning to work can be particularly challenging. There are, however, several things you can do to facilitate the transition from being a stay-at-home mom to the workforce.

Stay up to date with your sector. If you haven’t opened an industry journal for several years, it might be a good idea to play a little catch-up with the news of your sector  before you begin the interview process. Going to an interview with no clue about recent changes within your field will be an automatic red flag for employers looking for competitive candidates who are one step ahead of things. Subscribe to relevant journals and newsletters, check the websites of professional organizations or industry associations and attend some key workshops or conferences.

Stay in touch (or get in touch). Former colleagues and professional contacts can inform you of any new trends in your sector and, more important, help you identify job opportunities. It’s important to reconnect or stay in touch on a regular basis in order to stay top of mind. You never know when a position is going to open up.

Network. Who you know (and who knows you) is crucial for anyone looking for a job, but particularly important for those who have been away from the workplace for awhile. For moms returning to the job market this is the best way to find a position. Try to meet people through former colleagues, your children’s school, church, the local Chamber of Commerce, a MeetUp group  of local professional Latinas, or another professional networking organization.

Address resume gaps.  One question I always get from moms returning to work is “What do I do with the three-year employment gap?” The truth is that nowadays, employers are more understanding of people taking time off to raise their families. The key is explaining concisely and clearly that you decided to take a few years to raise your family, that you kept abreast of your field and that you are now ready to join the workforce again. Claudia Magallan-Berroud suggests using a functional resume format to highlight skills and draw attention away from the gap in your employment history, and this is certainly a good option. However, it’s good policy to be honest and upfront about the reason for the gap.

Understand what you bring to the table. You may think that you’ve lost your edge or done much related to your career during those child-rearing years, but the truth is that you were the CEO of your home and the skills you developed to keep the household running while raising kids will be very useful at any job. Here’s a list of some great traits to get you thinking: ability to coordinate and juggle schedules, to multitask, to manage a budget, to deal with several needs and interests, and to gain consensus. Make your own list and be sure to weave these traits into your resume.

Dress the part. Depending on how long you’ve been out of the workforce, it might be a good idea to invest in a new interview outfit (or two). Showing up to an interview wearing a dated suit will do nothing to create a good first impression. Enlist the help of a friend whose style and professionalism you respect. If you are on a tight budget, Dress For Success is a great organization that provides free professional clothes for exactly this purpose.

Returning to work after any hiatus can be a little nerve wracking. When you’re accustomed to wiping noses and fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, the transition can be interesting to say the least. But it’s important to remember that you are still the professional that you were before you took a break, and now you have a new arsenal of skills that can prove to be very useful in your new position.

This article was originally published on Mamiverse.

Record Hispanic Enrollment in 4-year Colleges — Why?

Record Hispanic Enrollment in 4-year Colleges -- Why?It’s always great news to hear that there’s been a record increase in Hispanic college enrollment to the point that Hispanics are now the largest minority group on four-year college campuses.

The Pew Hispanic Center has just released an analysis of newly available U.S. Census Bureau data indicating that for the first time, the number of 18-24-year-old Hispanics enrolled in four year colleges increased 20 percent from 1.0 million in 2010 to 1.2 million in 2011. Hispanics now represent a record of 16.5  percent of all college enrollments. In other words, the percentage of Hispanics on campus is the same as the percentage of Hispanics in the total population of the U.S. YAY!

Now the question that has more than a few people scratching their heads is, why? Why such a large increase in such a short period of time? Is it just reflective of Hispanic population growth? Apparently, not. According to Pew Hispanic Fund, this doesn’t account for the substantial increase.

So, here are some of my theories.

There’s an increasingly larger second generation of children born in the U.S. (now 52 percent of the nation’s 16 million Hispanic kids,) who are more acculturated and have all the advantages in terms of financial aid afforded to U.S. citizens. In addition, in part thanks to the Internet, these students socialize with college- bound kids of Hispanic and other ethnic backgrounds.

  1. In the last decade, there has been a strong, consistent focus by civil society on education. From national organizations such as Hispanic Scholarship Fund, USHLI, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Hispanic College Fund, LNESC, Excelencia en Educación, Latinos in College, to the local grass roots organizations such as Latino Youth for Higher Education (LYHEP), Aspira, Let’s Get Ready, and Yonkers Partners in Education, they have provided support for different pieces of the puzzle to make college more accessible to first generation students.
  2. There’s been a relentless educational push by corporations such as McDonald’sCoca Cola, and Verizon among others, by the government trying to keep America competitive, and by the media (I.e.: Univision’s “Es el Momento,” Telemundo’s “El poder de saber”) that when combined with the ongoing efforts by civil society mentioned above are starting to produce results.
  3. A lot more students are checking the “Hispanic” box in their college applications because they want to have access to the additional funds available for people considered “minorities.”  Very often these applicants are children of mixed marriages, something that has become increasingly common in the last few decades. In 2010 the share of new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity was 15.1  percent up from 3 percent in 1980.

There might not be just one reason for the phenomenal increase in Hispanic College Enrollment, but a mix of some of the factors outlined above with great population growth. I’d love to hear what other elements you think might be playing a role. The more we know what is working, the more we can all replicate the successful initiatives.

Mariela Dabbah’s latest book Poder de Mujer will be out in English April 2013 by Penguin. She’s the founder and CEO of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization, and of the Red Shoe Movement, an initiative that invites women to wear red shoes to work on Tuesday to signal their support for other women’s careers.

This article was originally published on Fox News Latino.


Powerful women owe their success to the examples of Mamá

Powerful women owe their success to the examples of MamáIt never fails: When women receive any sort of public recognition, we almost always dedicate it to our moms or to the woman who raised us, often, our abuelas. This profound tie with our mothers is the first aspect of ourselves that becomes apparent when we reach any milestone or receive an award that makes us proud.

And as expected, this is exactly what happened at a gala organized by New York Moves magazine that took place at the upscale Setai Fifth Avenue Hotel; the magazine awarded more than 20 powerful women, among them–and as the only Latina–María Elena Salinas, the famed Noticiero Univision anchor.

One after the other, the recently honored women spoke about their mothers. Shaifali Puri, Executive Director of organization Scientists without Borders, said: “The seed of every powerful woman is an empowered girl. I was lucky to grow up with a mom who not only came to this country, and established a medical practice in a language that was not her native tongue, but showed me every single day that when I stood in front of my mirror (as a little girl) and I practiced my speech as the President of the U.S. or the anchor of 60 Minutes, that I wasn’t pretending that I was practicing.”

Our own María Elena Salinas recognized that her mom–a seamstress with only a sixth grade education, who was nevertheless able to raise three strong and independent women–was her role model. “She worked long hours and yet my sisters and I never felt there was anything missing in our lives. So growing up I thought being a working woman was very easy, a piece of cake. When it came my turn to do that I realized it was the biggest challenge anyone can face.”

Not all of us have the chance to be honored during a glamorous event surrounded by celebs and powerful women, but we can all equally have a deeply moving moment if we thank our moms in private for everything they’ve done for us and in doing so, becoming role models for our daughters (and sons).

The end of the year gives us the opportunity every 12 months to evaluate our lives up to that point and start anew. Why not finish off this year thanking your mamá (or thanking her memory if she’s passed away) everything that she’s done for you during your life, even if you’re not standing on a stage? It’s a tradition that should replace those oftentimes silly resolutions that we impose on ourselves every year.

And just in case my own mom is reading this, I’ll start: Thank you, Mami, for all the sacrifices you made during your life only to see me happy and for always supporting all my decisions…even those that you didn’t agree with.

Now it’s your turn!

Image via Thinkstock

This article was originally published on Mamas Latinas.