Category Archives: Vancouver Women Career Counselling

Career Tips for Vancouver Women

Outfit Posts – Great Everyday Fashion!

I love it when I stumble across creative blogs and this blog  Outfit Posts is one of those great finds.

choosingclothesOne day I was looking for travel fashion ideas and in particular how to mix, match and pack all the outfits. What caught my attention was Outfit Posts’ – One Suitcase Series which featured clothes that the writer had in her closet and advice on how she made the most out of those items when traveling. Whether for business, personal or travel she had some practical suggestions and photo examples.

What I enjoy most is the detail she shares along with who has inspired her fashion pick of the week and where to buy the items. Brilliant!

After perusing her site for a while I decided to reach out to MK, (that’s her name) introduce myself, and let her know how much I loved her blog. I asked if I could share Outfit Posts with my readers and she replied, “Sure. If you want to mention my blog on your site – that’d be awesome.”

From time to time I provide some inspiration for career fashion but I’m sure you will appreciate MK’s good mix of fashion to suit any occasion. If you are looking to get more ideas on how you can amp up your everyday fashion or travel without half of your closet crammed into a suitcase then check out  OUTFIT POSTS!

Thanks, MK. 

 

The job that influenced my future career

Many years ago I trained to become an RCMP Victim Services Worker and I believe that set the tone for how I approached every job going forward. Given the nature of the position I would describe the training as complex, intense, very detailed but steeped in compassion. Even though I was supported by Coordinators and Senior Victim Support Workers there was a protocol that must be followed without exception.

Everything had to be documented. Did I say documented? Yes, I mean DOCUMENTED! This was so important not only to the case but also to protect my own butt. Being highly attentive to what was being said and sensitive to what was not, was a needed skill honed even more over time. There were strict rules as it applied to files, namely making sure that at all times they were updated and secure. Certain breaches in protocol would mean immediate dismissal. It is due to this strict but necessary training that to this day I am hyper vigilant with the security of client information.

My conversational style is to tell it like it is. When I spoke with officers the conversations were respectful and straight to the point. There was no time for “warm fuzzy” talking, that was saved for those who needed a soft approach in the throes of terrible circumstances.  Precise speaking or a strong stance was also important when dealing with individuals who were not happy to see support on the scene.

The impression Victim Services left on me continues to shape my future. Where I see it highlighted the most is in my handling of different work cultures. As a contractor I move around a lot and have to adjust to different work styles and systems. I get to work with amazing clients and colleagues and for the most part I handle all the changes well. Again, I feel my early training allowed me to see what it is like to drop into the unknown and hit the bricks running.

Working in crisis intervention meant ongoing training was expected – either in-house or out. It was important to be on top of your game for the sake of self, public and agency. Attendance at conferences or taking additional training on your own time was necessary in order to keep current and confident in your abilities. I didn’t have a lot of money for education but I found ways to be where I needed to be in order to learn. It was not lost on anyone that we played a particularly pivotal role in a person’s life.

The other day when I returned home from a job at an employment office I was drawn to my memories of Victim Services. I was struck by its influence on how I see myself but also how I view others around me. I must admit that very few agencies I have worked for since could hold a candle to the unwavering camaraderie and high expectations set by a police-based unit. I feel proud that as a young woman I was taken under the wing of one very special mentor and a host of others who taught me that the responsibility of any position ultimately lies with me.

Have you ever stopped to wonder who or what influenced your career the most?

Why women should be in the boardroom

According to Status of Women Canada there has been a huge increase in women’s participation in business and leadership type positions within a variety of sectors. Despite their educational and on the job success, having a position on a company’s board remains a challenge. The following is a link and quote from a report by the Government of Canada’s Advisory Council for Promoting Women on Boards:

Good for Business A Plan to Promote the Participation of More Women on Canadian Boards

“Over the past three decades, women’s participation in the Canadian workforce has more than doubled, to approximately 47%. Women now earn over half of all Canadian university degrees, and 34.5% of the Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) granted in 2011 were to women. In addition, women represented 47% of students in business and management programs at the master’s level in 2010.

The level of progress among Canadian women, in just a few decades, is impressive, with women achieving unprecedented success in a variety of settings, sectors and roles, including medicine, law and other professions. Yet, the representation of women on boards has not followed suit.

Consider the following statistics, which speak to the notable disparities among the decision-makers in Canada’s top publicly traded companies, and the sharp contrast to the leadership role being played by the Government of Canada. In 2012, women held:

  • 10.3%. of seats on Canadian boards
  • 15.9% of board seats on FP500 companies
  • 0.0% of seats on 40% of FP500 boards, with significant variations by business sector; and
  • 31% of federal GIC appointments, including those to Crown corporations and government agencies.”

When I read this I was surprised just how low those numbers were considering the interest women have in business. For the majority of women I have met over the years leadership, mentorship and visionary skills have been at the forefront of their daily lives. Women bring a unique awareness and often inclusive perspective which can only strengthen strategies and decision-making at a board level.

Recently, Business in Vancouver posted the following brief interview with Minerva Foundation’s Nancy McKinstry. Ms. McKinstry provides some insight into the benefits of hiring women.

Are Resumes Messing Up Hiring?

In a Harvard Business Review article Resumes Are Messing Up Hiring, the authors explore the potential bias that can occur when applicants are screened for employment.

Interesting points to consider:

1. What role will CV’s and Resumes play in future recruitment?

2. Does a wealthy family history ensure more opportunity?

3. Will the growing use of tools to analyze an applicants “fit” – based on behaviour, values and other more personal indicators, lessen any inequality that may exist and instead widen the talent pool?

Take a look at the article and see what you think.

 

Career Fashion for Spring and Summer

If you haven’t already done so, it is time to switch out that closet of yours. Go to those stored clothing bins or underused drawers and assess what you have for spring and summer.

Breaking out of standard greys and blacks we can now burst into the season with some great graphic and floral prints.

Add pops of colour with your accessories or a really cute blouse and don’t be afraid to mix and match.

If you do feel you need a little help with your career wardrobe choices then step in to the stores and have the sales associates put together a great outfit for you.

The classic black jacket and pant will always be a staple along with the pencil skirt and a crisp white shirt; however, there is much more that says ‘professional woman’ in the fashion world so check it out!

Spring Fashion2

 

 

Hiring a personal fashion consultant

About a month ago I hired Michelle Addison to come in to my home and do a basic cleanse of my wardrobe. This was particularly helpful because…

1. I finally parted with clothes that really needed to be donated or consigned

2. I gained an education on what is working for me and what isn’t

3. I now shop differently for clothing

4. I feel more like me with an increased confidence and love of my style

Having said all that, I want to be honest and say this service was an investment on my part. Unlike many socialites, celebrities and fashionistas that probably have the means to hire a personal stylist I had to justify in my mind that this was worth a portion of my pay cheque. It was and I would highly recommend this to anyone either as a gift to self or gift to someone they love who is struggling to feel good in their clothes.

Where this got a little out of control was when I met Michelle at Hudson’s Bay City Centre in downtown Vancouver. When we talked before she had mentioned there were great sales on a the Bay right now and so it would be a good time to meet where she could provide free personal styling. I poked around a week or so before and noticed the seasonal sales were in progress and thought, Wow, this is actually going to be fun and within my budget!

I arrived, went to THE ROOM on the second floor and was escorted to a changing room area that I assume is exclusive for this service. The first thing I noticed was Michelle, beautifully polished and trendy as ever, and then I noticed a rack of clothes and accessories. I switched my head from work to me time and quickly realized the magnitude of my good fortune. The first outfit was carefully thought out and ready for me to try on and once I stepped out of the room I was in love.

This love grew with multiple outfits and like a good student I carefully committed to memory what and why this works. At different points when I closed the changing room door I took a brief moment again to think about this opportunity and the likelihood that it will not happen this way again. This was a first, (different from being in a store with a great sales person) and the joy that comes from experiencing such personalized service is unexplainable. This was not lost on me because I had just come from a place where women have never experienced such attention and I couldn’t help but wish I could give them this gift.

Here’s the down side to this service… I overspent. There were only maybe one or two items on sale, the rest were high-end prices. I felt a little duped in the previous mentioning of sale and now she was placing regular priced items like $150 belts to $340 blouses in front of me. It seemed advantageous to her and not so much for me. However, I’m in THE ROOM and I’m working with someone who has picked perfectly for me and I can see in her world this is no longer extravagant.

Shopping again

My advice to you if you are thinking about hiring a personal fashion consultant or stylist is do your homework:

1. Check out their website to get an idea of their philosophy about fashion, who their clients might be and who they are. There is a fair bit of  branding and PR but most of it will likely be true and that can lead to the next step.

2. Talk to the stylist by phone or meet to discuss their services. They will ask questions and you may have a few of your own.

3. Establish your budget. What I learned from this, is that it is important to communicate what you can afford. Given free rein both consultant and client can take this experience from pleasurable to regrettably costly.Trips to return items you love can be heart breaking.

4. If budget is your problem then see the value in a consultation but find ways to get what you want through online deals, consignment or thrift store purchases. For instance: A Helmet Lang wool tuxedo blazer looked fabulous on me! It was $575. I thought it will be an investment piece as the style pairs well with pants, jeans or skirts. When I went to Turnabouts Consignment Store I managed to find the exact style, by a different designer, minus wool fabric and hidden button, for $25.99. Guess which one is hanging in my closet?

5. Upscale consignment stores often provide fashion consultations to customers. One such store is REWIND Consignment in South Surrey. In a recent discussion with one of the staff I was told that for under $30 (price to be confirmed) Bianca and Alex will book an appointment time with you for a personal consultation. Contact your local consignment store to see if they offer a similar service or if you want to travel out the sunny South Surrey go to REWIND.

If you want to build your self-esteem, need to connect with your stylish side, have been feeling worn out or have a wardrobe that no longer wows you then I say,

Invest in hiring a personal fashion consultant ~ Internally and externally you will reap the benefits.

 

Life and Career Change Tips

When I was young I used to go to a lake where you could climb up a cliff and then jump off – plunging into the water below. As I waited for my turn I observed the difference between those that throw caution to the wind and just go for it and those that take a moment to assess the depth of the water and quite possibly their sanity in attempting the jump. I was the one assessing depth, wind conditions and my own sanity.

Making any life or career change can feel like you are standing on the edge of a cliff. Of course you want to consider options before making that leap towards a new future but how much assessment is too much? In constantly weighing out all the variables are you missing out on the prospect of a life affirming experience or simply some good ol’ fashion fun?

The following are steps you can take to make change a little easier.

1. Identify the pros and cons.

The pros vs. cons list is quite helpful in decision-making as it offers a simple method of deduction.  If the cons out-weigh the pros then you have to ask yourself, “What is the price I’m paying for staying in my current situation?

2. Analysis breeds paralysis and procrastination is disabling.

Analyzing yourself, running through every scenario, researching websites till 3 am every night and considering every angle in an attempt to mitigate any mistakes is going to burn you out before you even get started.

Procrastination encompasses fear, laziness and a lack of confidence, it’s personal. Putting things off for another day, month or year is like pulling off a band-aid very, very, slowly. The band-aid is still there waiting for you and the wound isn’t getting attention.

At some point you have to pull the trigger and gain some real experience. Surmising what might happen or expecting something to just appear is wasted energy and time. The information and affirmation you are seeking can be found in your action not in your inaction.

3. Move beyond guilt or feelings of inadequacy. Do you have that little voice in your head that likes to point out your flaws, questions your motivation for change, suggests you might hurt someone by your choice or provides an opinion on whether you are even deserving of a new opportunity? If you are experiencing some form of self-judgement consider yourself normal. We all have that little voice but the trick is knowing when to put it on mute. Remember: You are more than what appears to be holding you back. When you can recognize the value of your ideas, develop relationships that reinforce your goals and make the space for something or someone new to come into your life, guilt and fear hold less and less power.

4. Take the risk. Give up on the idea that failure is a bad thing. If you fail, you have experienced something that inherently holds better lessons than any book could offer you. With risk, you have the very real possibility of success and it may not come right away and it may not come in the form you thought it might but it will come. Get out-of-the-way and let YOUR LIFE unfold.

5. Get support. As with almost everything in life, there is no reason for you to take this change on without the help of family, friends, or a professional who specializes in life and career transitions. With ego aside bring in your team, its therapeutic, strategic and frankly speaking it’s darn smart.

 

Easy Ways You Can Take Control of Your Career Development

This weeks guest blogger is Melany Gallant. Melany has some great tips that will hopefully inspire you to feel more powerful and in control of your career.

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Many of us still look to our managers and employers to play a primary role in our career development and progression. We feel dependent on them to approve and pay for the courses we want to take or the conferences we want to attend, and to promote us for our good work when the opportunity presents itself.

But when we do that, we give away our power, and act as “spectators” in our own lives and careers. All workers, but especially women, need to take control of their own career development—after all, it’s your career not theirs.

So here are some tips for ways you can take control of your own career development.

Start with some self-reflection

The first place to start is with yourself. Spend some time reflecting on your career and work interests. What are the things you are most passionate about? What are your strengths? What are the things you find least enticing or attractive about your work? If you could start all over, what would you “be when you grow up”? Use these questions to help identify your career aspirations.

Sometimes it helps to keep a work or performance journal to record your performance highlights and challenges. Looking back in your journal can help you identify trends, or even to read between the lines of what you’ve written to find your larger truth.

Another great tool can be a self-appraisal. Take the form your manager uses to assess your performance, and rate yourself honestly as a way to better understand yourself as a worker.

Identify your strengths and passions

Using your performance journal, self-appraisal and self-reflection, identify your strengths and passions. Write them down. These are the things you want to play on as you progress in your career. Look for opportunities to leverage your strengths and passions in your role today, and in any role you aspire to.

Identify areas for development

You can also use your self-reflection, career journal and self-appraisal to identify areas you need to develop. What are the things you currently struggle with or feel less confident doing?

Review past performance appraisals and any 360 degree feedback you may have received. And talk to your manager and the people you work closely with. They’ll likely be happy to give you feedback on your performance and give you ideas of what you need to develop in order to progress.

And if you want to move to a new role, ask yourself what knowledge, skills and or experience you would need to get the job. Look at job descriptions and/or job postings for the roles that interest you.

They’ll give you information about the requirements for the job, so you can identify the knowledge, skills and experience you’d need to acquire if you wanted to work in that role or area. You can also talk to people who are already working in that area to help you identify your development needs.

Create your own development plan

Using all this information, create your own development plan. Identify a manageable number of learning goals for the coming month, quarter and year. Think about your preferred learning style and the kinds of learning resources that work best for you. Then identify a few appropriate learning activities, and commit to doing them. Some your current employer may be willing to pay for, others you may decide are important enough for you to invest in personally, and others may be free.

Take advantage of all your company has to offer

Most companies offer their employees an opportunity for learning and development each year. Some allocate a certain budget amount or number of training days for each employee. Find out what your employer provides, then make sure you take full advantage of it.

But you should also look beyond any employee development programs. Some companies also offer career counseling, either through an internal department or through an employee assistance program.

Larger organizations often have a leadership development program. Some have formal mentoring programs. Find out what’s available to you. And talk to your manager about your career aspirations; she can help you access the resources your organization has to offer.

Find a mentor

Another great way to develop your career is to find a mentor who can support your growth, development and career progression by sharing their knowledge, skills and experience, and even extend your network.

Make use of free resources

Don’t forget the value of free resources. The internet is full of blogs, groups, videos, podcasts, research and other resources to help you develop, expand your network and prepare for career advancement.

Volunteer

Another great tool for career development is volunteering. It gives you the chance to try your skills out in a new environment, learn new skills, or just be exposed to different challenges and ideas. While we typically think of volunteering as a charitable activity, you can also volunteer for committees or teams at work, or even “volunteer” to take on a work assignment that will challenge you and help you progress in your career.

Take back your power

Your career development and progression are your responsibility. By taking back your power and being more self-directive in this area, you can build a rewarding career path. And you’ll be even prouder of your accomplishments, because you took charge of your destiny.

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Melany Gallant has written about career development and employee empowerment in numerous articles and blog posts. She’s an HR strategist, social media maven and frequent blogger for Halogen Software.

 

 

 

Women in Construction – Career choice for you?

I want to introduce women to a great resource I found online called Canadian Construction Women. Their goal is to support women who are in the construction industry or thinking about getting into the industry. I love this! As much as I try to keep up on all the career related resources out there, it is impossible. When I saw this resource I was not surprised but certainly grateful for its existence.

freedigitalphotos.net

Here is a personal story of my short lived dream to be a women working in the trades:

I had always flirted with a career in a trade but it simply was not the direction women were encouraged to go. In high school I was one of only two girls in a large automotive class and I distinctly remember the surprised looks on the guys faces as I walked in to the shop. It ended up to be one of my better subjects, I did well in that class both with my grades and my fellow mechanics. Just recently I came across my papers from that program and was reminded just how cool it was. I would have enrolled in woodworking too but that would have been a huge leap for girl kind; I didn’t know any girls who had attempted such a thing. Typing class was where you would find most of us, not down in the woodworking shop wielding a hammer.

The love affair with working with my hands started early. My fondest memories as a child was time spent with my father doing something around the home or garden. I still remember the large workshop he built with all his tools neatly lined up on the wall and a pile of sawdust on the floor. My curiosity was always peaked whenever he started a new project.

Back in my twenties I enrolled in a college program that allowed women to explore the trades and this was where I had a chance to test out both the auto parts counter and construction programs. I did very well in the automotive parts counter program and was told by the instructor that he would happily take me on as a student, should I wish to continue. Sadly though, my construction dreams were foiled by my poor math skills. Despite trying to boost my average I still could not properly calculate anything and really struggled to understand the concepts. What I was good at was erecting scaffolding and even went out to a construction site to set up rebar for concrete slabs. The only thing I gained from my construction course attempt is a wooden tool box I built from scratch. That now holds a spot in my workshop.

As you can see my life went in another direction, one of service and I’m just fine with that choice. I still get to dabble in projects from time to time and feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of my labour infused day. Over the years I have seen the emergence of women in the trades and associated programs. I’ve talked in my classrooms about the options for trade employment and spoke one to one with women who have been in various trade related positions. I am encouraged by organizations like these that seek to inform, support and mentor other women who may want to explore the trades as an option. So if you or someone you know wants to think outside of a prescribed box for employment, I say, research this field, contact other women in construction and see if this is the right choice for you.