What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

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Smiling businesswoman

Not only is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, but it is also one of four organizations approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, as part of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Each year, the federal government sets a goal to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to certified Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), particularly in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Becoming a certified WOSB and joining the SBA’s contracting program ensures your business is eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for this program.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for WOSB certification, your company must:

  • Be at least 51 percent, unconditionally and directly, owned and controlled by one or more women, who are U.S. citizens.
  • Be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the SBA’s size standards for that industry. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to check your industry.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Becoming a certified WOSB and participating in the SBA’s WOSB contracting program allows your business to compete for federal contracts within a more limited pool of other qualified WOSBs, thereby increasing your chances of winning business.

These contracts are for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Check out the SBA’s list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are already a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), you can easily apply for WOSB certification as part of your recertification process at no additional charge.

Before starting the application process, please review the criteria for certification and ensure you meet the SBA’s size standards for your industry. When you are applying for recertification, select “Yes” to the WOSB certification question and upload the documents labeled “WOSB Applicants.”

If you are a women-owned business and not yet certified by WBENC, take a moment to read about the benefits of WBENC Certification to see if it is a fit for your business. WBENC is the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and our world-class certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands. If you choose to apply for WBENC certification, you can apply for WOSB certification at the same time.

It’s important to note that once you receive your WOSB certification, you still must complete additional steps to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting program, including providing proof of certification information through certify.SBA.gov, and updating your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. Check out SBA.gov for details.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit wbenc.org/government for details on the WOSB certification process, documentation required, and frequently asked questions.
  • For more information about the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting program, visit SBA.gov.

ALPFA’s Damian Rivera: The Power of Your Origin Story

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headshot of Damian Rivera, CEO of ALPHA

The journey from Spanish Harlem to the boardroom has been magical. I have the benefit of being able to look back at my 20+ years as a consultant for Accenture, along with my life growing up, to identify all of the “hard times” as a kid, which have made me successful in the boardroom.

As a Latino managing director in a global Fortune 500 company, I have always given back to my community, from serving on the board of non-profits to leading up Accenture’s Hispanic American ERG for six years. With all the experience I have gained, it is my mission to help others achieve their dreams.

With the opportunity of stepping into the role of CEO of ALPFA, I am honored and humbled to continue the legacy built by our members, countless volunteers, leadership teams from our professional and student chapters, and corporate partners that have made ALPFA what it is today. As I think back to my childhood growing up in Wagner Projects in Spanish Harlem, New York, in the 1980s, I can’t believe that in the same way the Latinx community helped give me opportunities in life, I am now in a position to do the same for others. What makes it even more exciting is I am not alone—I have an extended family of 80,000+ members focused on the same mission.

Everyone has an origin story, but the ability to really understand how your story gives you power is critical for Latinos as we strive to elevate in the corporate world. Hearing stories helps inspire, but knowing how your story gives you strength translates inspiration to action.

So, the question I usually get next is, “How can we learn to better understand our story?” There are four components/activities that I tell people to focus on: (1) Journey Line (2) Value Tree (3) Value Mantra (4) Purpose Framework. I’ll focus on the Journey Line and Value Tree here because they are the most critical. I recommend everyone develop their journey line, which is a drawing of your life, starting at any point going to present day. Your level of happiness is on the y-axis, and time is on the x-axis. As you think back on your life, you will plot out the highs and lows, and it’s in these moments that we learn our lessons of life. The high of highs and low of lows are where we build our character and grow the most. When people take time to develop the line, they start to see all they have accomplished and all they have persevered through to achieve success. Once you have done that, you begin to see the strength you have on paper. This is your origin story; it’s no different than a Marvel comic superhero. Once you have documented your journey line, you realize just as Superman had his hero’s journey, so did you. You may not be able to fly, but you definitely have developed your own version of superpowers in finance, accounting, or blockchain. When people work through this, they often have more confidence because it removes the impostor syndrome issues they encounter. They see their story and realize: I belong in the boardroom!

The second key piece is knowing your values. My values are legacy, opportunity, diversity, justice, courage, fortitude, energy, and industriousness. When people talk about being their authentic self at work, I believe that means sticking to your values. Through a person’s journey he or she will change. Everyone should be evolving as a person, and if you stay true to your value system, then you are being authentic as a leader. Know your origin story, enjoy your hero’s journey, and remember to help others along the way.

Here’s How to Make Your Mark at a Big Company

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coworkers chatting in the hallway

Working for a big company has plenty of upsides. A large team means there’s tons of room to explore other areas and learn new things. There’s also a lot more opportunity to climb the ranks and—as an added bonus—the office has amazing facilities.

But like anything else, there are also some drawbacks to consider.

It’s tough to get to know people outside of your immediate team, you can barely figure out who does what, and you may find it challenging to develop any sort of reputation or name recognition for yourself.

It’s easy to feel like just another number in your massive organization. But the good news is there are some steps you can take to find your footing and make your mark at work.

1. Get Comfortable With Self-Promotion

We’re not always good at drawing attention to our own accomplishments because it can feel a little egocentric. However, owning your contributions and being vocal about them is a necessity when your work can easily slip by unnoticed at a large employer.

This doesn’t need to be as over-the-top as you’re likely imagining. It can be as simple as chiming in with a “thank you” when your boss points to something that was done well (that they weren’t aware that you were responsible for).

You can also incorporate some of your achievements into your introduction to new people in the company—particularly if your work is relevant to them in some way. For example, if you’re meeting someone from the sales team for the first time, you can shake their hand and say, “Great to finally meet you! I’m the one who worked on the new application for your customers.”

That statement not only highlights your work, but also pulls out a common thread between the two of you that you can use to get the conversation rolling.

2. Don’t Skip the Pleasantries

Speaking of conversations, I know how tempting it is to avoid small talk. It feels, well, small and completely inconsequential.

But here’s the thing: small talk can actually be quite memorable, particularly if you know how to do it well. So don’t be afraid to strike up pleasant conversations with people you don’t already know.

Maybe you’re waiting in line for coffee with a director from a different department. Introduce yourself and then get a conversation started—even if it means you just recommend the breakfast sandwiches.

These small interactions are a great way to expand your web of connections within your company and lay the groundwork for a continued relationship. Who knows, the next time you see that person, you might just move past small talk.

3. Raise Your Hand for Opportunities Outside of Your Team

When you’re part of an especially large organization, the bubble of your own department or team feels comforting. It’s daunting to venture out and surround yourself with strangers.

You already know what I’m going to say: If you’re eager to make your mark, you’re going to need to get over that and get used to saying “yes” to all sorts of different opportunities.

Is the product team putting together a golf outing that needs some more volunteers? Step in and help. Is there a happy hour or training program that you’d normally skip or a project that could benefit from a few extra hands? That has your name all over it.

Jump on those opportunities and you’ll meet more people, strengthen your impact, and feel more connected to your company as a whole.

4. Speak Up in Meetings

Do most of your meetings have a lot of different people packed into a crowded conference room? Do you still speak up and actively contribute—or are you too intimidated, so you choose to sit in silence and fly under the radar?

Of course, there’s no reason to chime in unnecessarily for the sake of being noticed. But if you do have something valuable to contribute, gather your courage and make it known.

It’s better to voice your thoughts and your opinions in the moment, rather than following up afterwards with an email. That way you’re giving people an opportunity to associate your face with your name.

5. Be Transparent About Your Career Goals

This tip is important whether you work at a company of two or 20,000. But, especially when you work for a big organization, you need to be upfront and vocal about your professional goals.

Your manager can’t read your mind, and you can’t expect them to advocate for you and your ambitions if you don’t make those known.

Whether you hope to eventually move into a management position yourself, want to learn more about a different department, or would like to pursue some additional training or education, have those honest conversations with your boss.

Not only does this investment in your own career and development help you stand out to your immediate supervisor, but being transparent about your goals also opens the door to other opportunities to make an impact at your company.

6. Solicit Advice From Others

Do you really want to know how to make your mark? Why not ask somebody who’s already successfully done it?

Within your organization, there’s bound to be someone who’s been there for years and successfully climbed the ladder. Reach out to see if you can take them out for coffee and find out more about their journey, as well as pick their brain for advice on how you can follow a similar path.

Even if you don’t walk away with a super-detailed action plan, you still have the benefit of forming connections and relationships with people outside your department.

When you’re one of hundreds or even thousands of employees at your company, it’s easy to feel like a small fish in a ginormous pond. Does anybody even notice all of the hard work you’re doing? Wait…does anybody even know your name?

You can’t snap your fingers and change the size of your employer, but you can change your own actions. That’s right—making your mark all starts with you.

Continue on to The Muse to read the complete article.

Rosario Dawson: Called to Action

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Rosario Dawson Summer Issue Cover

By Erica Sabino

Rosario Dawson is more than just another famous face in Hollywood. In addition to her high-profile film career, she’s a philanthropist, activist, and entrepreneur. Not to mention producer, singer and comic book writer!

First and foremost, Dawson is fiercely passionate about her philanthropy and her desire to serve her community. Her early life wasn’t easy. Her family lived in a squatter’s apartment in New York’s East Village, where she grew up seeing poverty, sickness, and suffering all around her. “Growing up here in New York, with a mom who was a teenager when she had me, I had family and friends who were either trans and/or had HIV or AIDS and/or had drug problems or housing issues or issues with access to education,” Dawson said in an interview with the lifestyle website mindbodygreen. “I saw the whole maelstrom of privilege and access.”

Growing up in a liberal-minded family, she was raised to understand the value of social change at a young age. “My mother worked for a women’s shelter when I was young,” she said. “To see strangers helping other strangers, just showing up and giving, was so inspiring to me.” It’s not hard to see how her experiences have inspired her to make a change for others. She serves as a board member of V-day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. She supports charities like the ONE Campaign, Amnesty International, Oxfam, International Rescue, and Lower East Side Girls Club, and the Environmental Media Association, among many others. She is also active in such programs as Conservation International, Doctors Without Borders, National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy and Save The Children.

In 2013, Dawson partnered with her longtime friend Abrima Erwiah to found Studio 189, a fashion and media brand based in Ghana that produces African and African-inspired clothing and lifestyle content. In an interview with Google, when asked about their decision to launch in Ghana, Dawson and Erwiah had this to say: “We were impressed by the culture of creativity, craft, and innovation and the rich history present in Ghana. We felt it was a wonderful place to develop social infrastructure, to add value to natural resources, to create opportunities for work and support capacity building. At the same time, we wanted to support the growth of a local market of consumers as well and help create a space for more people to enter conversations and be included in the growth of the global fashion industry.” For these two partners, Studio 189 is not just a business, but also a social enterprise. Through their brand, they have been able to make changes in the community through educational workshops, counseling, and employment.

Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES
Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez, Zoe Saldana and Rosario Dawson are seen prior to the Latinas Stand Up rally ALEXANDER TAMARGO/GETTY IMAGES

Politically active for much of her life, Dawson says, “The American future is here, and there’s great news: the future votes.” She co-founded the pioneering civic media nonprofit organization, Voto Latino, in an effort to boost Latino participation in the political process. Established in 2004, Voto Latino’s mission is to provide culturally relevant programs that engage, educate, and empower Latinos to be agents of change. It also seeks to transform America by recognizing Latinos’ innate leadership. Whenever we do voter registration, we ask, ‘Why haven’t you voted before?’ The response is often, ‘No one’s asked us.’ It’s not about telling people what to do—it’s about sharing what they can do.

“Voting is the umbrella to everything else that I’m doing,” says Rosario. “Women’s issues, health and disease, poverty, housing—these all fall under that voting power.” In recognition for her efforts, she was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2017.

Also a health advocate, Dawson, a self-proclaimed oat enthusiast, recently partnered with Quaker Oats to create a three-part video series that encourages people to incorporate healthier practices into their everyday lives. “I’ve been eating Quaker oatmeal since I was a young child, ever since my aunt taught me how to make it from scratch, so I’m excited to team up with them to help spread the word about the benefits of oats,” Dawson said. “As an advocate for health and wellness, I never want to short-term my health—I think it’s so important to have long-term plans. And what’s great is that you don’t have to start big, because even small steps can make a difference.”

Rosario, Abrimaand guest
Designers Rosario Dawson, Abrima Erwiah and guest attend as STYLE360 THOMAS CONCORDIA/GETTY IMAGES

Dawson’s first step on her journey to fame happened by accident when she was just 15 years old. Sitting on the front porch step of her apartment building, she was spotted by photographers Larry Clark and Harmony Korine. Aspiring screenwriter Korine thought Dawson would be perfect to cast in the 1995 film, Kids, where she played Ruby, a sexually active adolescent. From there, Dawson went on to star in more films, like Rent, He Got Game, Men in Black II, Seven Pounds, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Sin City, among many others. In the music industry, she had a speaking part in the re-release of Prince’s 1980s hit, “1999,” renamed “1999: The New Master.” She also appeared in the music video for Out of Control by The Chemical Brothers and was featured on the Outkast track, She Lives in My Lap.

Currently, Dawson is set to voice the iconic heroine Diana Prince in the DC animated original film, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, a character she’s voiced since 2015’s Justice League: The Throne of Atlantis. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actress has also been cast in Sony Pictures’ next installment of the post-apocalyptic comedy, Zombieland 2. She will be working alongside original cast members including Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin, as well as newcomers Zoey Deutch and Avan Jogia. In addition to these roles, Dawson will both produce and star in the upcoming drama series Briarpatch from Sam Esmail, the creator of Mr. Robot. Based on the Ross Thomas novel, the first season of the series will be produced by Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television. In this drama, Dawson will be playing a Washington, D.C.-based investigator who returns to her hometown in Texas to help search for her sister’s murderer.

Last year, she announced her guest collaboration on La Borinqueña, an original character and patriotic symbol presented in a classic superhero story created and written by graphic novelist Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Her powers are drawn from history and mysticism found on the island of Puerto Rico. Dawson and her writing partner David Atchison joined Dawson’s uncle, comic book artist Gustavo Vazquez on the project.

Although she has a full workload, she still finds time to make an impact outside the world of Hollywood. From being a political activist to running a sustainable fashion line, Rosario Dawson is continuously showing her passion and commitment to the causes she advocates for.

Using her platform to make a difference, Dawson’s activism has allowed her to not only witness change but also effect it. “I’m really moved by everything I’ve seen achieved over the years, and there’s so much that’s being worked toward now with many more people,” Dawson says in an interview with InStyle. “I’m inspired to just do whatever I feel called to do and to be of service and to be of use… There are so many different ways that we can serve, and I want to figure out as many ways as I can to fit into this lifetime.”

Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough Releases Single Off Upcoming Family Album Based on His Childhood

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Howie Dorough posing for Album Cover No Hablo Espanol

He may have just kick-started the DNA World Tour with the Backstreet Boys, but Howie Dorough is never too busy to release more (yes, more!) music. On Friday, the musician released “No Hablo Español,” a fun new single off of his upcoming family album, titled Which One Am I?

“The song is loosely based upon me being half Puerto Rican, half Hispanic, and my dad being Irish Caucasian,” Dorough, 45, tells PEOPLE exclusively about the single.

Fun fact: Dorough’s 10-year-old son James, and his mother, Paula Flores Dorough, star in the video for “No Hablo Español”

“Kids would see me and talk to me in Spanish, and I would be like, ‘No hablo español.’” And they’d be like, ‘What?’ And it’s almost kind of like that look of, and I hate to say it’s a disgrace, but like, ‘You’re not proud of it? You’re not carrying on tradition.’ And it was never that — I was just a little kid.”

The album, which follows the path of a young Howie D. overcoming his insecurities to discover his true self, has been in the works for the past five years and is something Dorough is “very proud of.”

“It’s definitely not your normal kids record,” he says. “This is more of a twist on a kids record. The goal is to teach people that no matter what they’re going through, they can overcome any obstacle in front of them. I want people who listen to the music not to worry, everything that happens is meant to teach you how to be the person you were meant to be.”

Howie Dorough’s Which One Am I?

“I went through a lot of common issues that a lot of kids go through nowadays, including worrying and being shy, feeling small, being in somebody’s shadow, monsters in your head, bad dreams,” he adds. “I was definitely always trying to find my place and where I am and how I fit in with people. I wasn’t your tall jock, I was more of your shorter guys. I was more into music and musicals and dancing. Eventually I did find my place, and I’m very proud that I stuck to my grounds of knowing that I was a true entertainer.”

Now, a father of two (he’s also doting dad to Holden, 6) with wife, Leigh, Dorough said he wanted to create an album that was entertaining for both parents and their kids.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

7 Tips to Help Mentally Overcome an Employment Gap

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woman interviewing candidate for a job

Here’s advice on overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create before they sabotage your job search, from those who’ve been there.

William Childs loves his new job. He is Marketing Director at  Kitchen Magic, a growing national kitchen remodeling and cabinet refacing company. “This job is a creative person’s dream. The product, the people, the collaborative ideas we are generating, it’s totally amazing,” Childs says. “This is what I spent my 14-month employment gap searching for, and I am so glad I didn’t give up on my career goals.”

Employment gaps do not define you

According to a recent Randstad U.S. study, the average job search today takes about five months. When Childs was laid off late in 2017 from an executive-level marketing job, he did not anticipate a longer-than-average employment gap. He explained: “When my old job was eliminated, it was the first time in many years that I had no specific job to go to next. I had always benefited from people just knowing me and my work, so starting from scratch while unemployed felt pretty weird.” When a few leads at the beginning of his job search didn’t materialize, he felt a bit demoralized.

According to a 2019 Monster survey, 59 percent of Americans have had an unexpected gap in their career. For a lot of people looking for jobs with a gap on their resume, there can be internalized feelings of shame, says Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, Ph.D., organizational psychologist, CEC-certified executive coach, and author of “The YOU Plan.” “Shame puts on a lot of added pressure to an already stressful time, which can lead to obsession,” Dr. Woody explains. “Don’t victimize yourself over a lost job or a failure in the past. It can be debilitating.”  He advises readers to recognize their setback as just that, a setback — then deal with it and move on to better things.

Childs did keep moving forward. He designed an online portfolio and kept adding to it during his hiatus by taking on freelance work. He wrote for an online magazine and volunteered his talents to local non-profit groups. A year into his search, he took an advertising sales job as he continued to apply for positions. “The sales job was what I needed to do financially, and what I needed to do for my own piece of mind,” he reflects. “I was earning income, learning, and connecting with people. It helped me a lot.”

While he did not give up on finding an innovative executive marketing position, Childs needed ways to stay focused and positive on his continued career search. When it comes to overcoming the mental roadblocks employment gaps create, the following advice can help keep you more focused, motivated, and confident.

1. Honesty really is the best policy

Susan is happily employed in Reno, Nevada at The Slumber Yard, a specialty online clearinghouse of reviews, comparisons, and deals for mattresses and bedding products. Prior to taking the job last year, this mattress review specialist (whose name has been changed for this piece) had left the workforce to care for her young son after he was injured in a serious accident. When she was ready to re-enter the workforce, Susan crafted a very targeted resume and cover letter that succinctly addressed her employment gap. Still, the two-year pause in her career had her a little nervous. “I wasn’t exactly sure what the job market would be like for me,” she remembers.

“Her resume had everything we were looking for, and when she told me why she had a gap in her employment history, her honesty really impressed me,” says Matthew Ross, The Slumber Yard’s Co-Founder and COO. Ross immediately called Susan in for an interview. “Her experience and knowledge of our industry are what got her the job. But, the way that she explained her employment gap really showed her character, both as a person and as a professional.”

You can explain your employment gap without oversharing, says Dick Lively, Partner and HR Consulting Director at RAI Resources in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “On a resume or in a cover letter, saying you took time to care for a family member who was ill or that you relocated across the country for your spouse’s job should be enough detail. Keep it professional but not too personal,” he says. It is also OK to exclude a gap explanation from the resume altogether, so long as you are prepared to address it during the interview if you are asked. Just don’t make something up. “At the end of the day, the truth always comes out, explains Lively. “You don’t want to face a potential employer or a new boss and try to explain why you lied.”

Continue on to Top Resume to read the complete article.

Sneak Peek At The Big Panels Featuring C-Suite Speakers At 2019 CMC Annual Summit

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The Staler Hotel Dallas, Texas

The Culture Marketing Council: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing will bring together C-suite leaders from top agencies and marketing associations, celebrated creative directors and pop culture experts for a series of powerful panels,taking place June 10-12 at the Statler Hotel in Dallas and covering topics critical to connecting with today’s complex and multicultural mainstream.

In addition to a powerful panel featuring Wendy Blume, vice president of marketing for Advance Auto Parts, Federico Valiente, senior director of marketing for Pollo Campero , and Isaac Muñoz, senior business consultant of customer insights at Southwest Airlines who will discuss best practices from their recent culture marketing efforts, other sessions include:

  • THE CULTURE DRIVEN STORYTELLING
    In an on-demand world of videos and images, your story matters. How do you connect your brand or service with the multicultural mainstream in an authentic, culturally fluent way? It’s all about culture-driven content that is 100% American and 100% Latino. Moderated by Angela Rodriguez, vice president of strategic insights at Alma, this panel features Gil Gastelum, founder of Cosmica, Nuria Santamaria Wolfe, CEO and co-founder of Encantos, and Felix Contreras, host of Alt.Latino, NPR’s program about Latin Alternative music and Latino culture.
  • AGENCY BUSINESS
    When it comes to running a marketing business, there are numerous considerations—from structure and billing to staffing and knowledge sharing. Moderated by Jorge A. Plasencia, co-founder, chairman & CEO of Republica Havas, this panel represents associations with Marla Kaplowitz, president & CEO of 4A’s, independent agencies with Eduardo Perez, partner at PM3, and agencies that are part of a holding company with Franke Rodriguez, partner & CEO of Anomaly New York and Toronto , discussing how their strategies and approach differ.
  • LATINAS: POWER OF TRANSFORMATION
    Latinas are the foundation of Hispanic marketing. While they remain the gatekeepers to the family and one of the most important consumers in the market, the Latina woman has changed in the last ten years, and advertisers need to adapt their strategies and efforts to reach her effectively. Two of the categories that have this important target are healthcare and beauty. This fireside chat, moderated by Salma Gottfried, Principal, Brand Management, Richards/Lerma, features Marie Quintana, SVP of marketing & communications for Tenet Healthcare, who will provide insights and strategies to win the hearts of U.S. Latinas.

The CMC Annual Summit features high-caliber content thoughtfully curated by experts rather than sponsorships, breakthrough data and business-building best practices, and networking opportunities with the biggest players in the multicultural marketing industry. Register here!

Jump into a Manufacturing Career—Opportunities are endless

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Manufacturing has always been an important part of our country’s economic landscape, and manufacturing is alive and well, with opportunities abound. In fact, now is a great time to jump into a career in manufacturing, and here are ten reasons why.

1 Candidates are in high demand. Due to Baby Boomers retiring at a record pace and a small pool of candidates equipped with the right skills, there is a significant shortage of qualified workers in the manufacturing industry right now. This means more opportunities exist for those willing to train for them.

2 Competitive wages. According to The Made in America Movement, “The average worker earned $25.58/hour in February of 2016 compared to the U.S. average of $21.32/hour.”

3 Conditions are safe. Manufacturers are replacing repetitive and/or dangerous jobs with robots and shifting opportunities to those requiring more thought and skill.

4 On-the-job training. In 2014, manufacturers spent approximately $1,500 per employee in training each year. Not only do employees benefit by broadening their skill sets, but employers also benefit by building a well-trained workforce.

5 The industry is growing. According to a 2015 study, the U.S. manufacturing industry will add nearly 3.4 million jobs over the next decade to meet demand both here and abroad.

6 State-of-the-art technology. If manufacturing brings an image to mind of dirty, old, broken-down machinery, think again. Today’s manufacturing puts modern technology like Internet of Things, virtual reality, and 3D printing into play to create more efficient and safer operations.

7 The sense of pride. Ask almost anybody working in manufacturing what they like most about their jobs, and they’ll tell you that it’s the sense of accomplishment they feel from being a part of the process that produces a finished product. In fact, according to Quality Magazine’s State of the Profession survey, sense of accomplishment ranks above salary and job security in importance to manufacturing employees.

8 Flexibility of working shifts. Manufacturers often require two or three shifts to keep up with production. Shift work affords workers with the opportunity to share parental responsibilities without hiring childcare, go to school during the day and work at night, or even make some extra money by taking advantage of the shift differential in pay for working off-hours.

9 Today’s manufacturing means small business. If you’ve been turned off from manufacturing because you thought it meant working for a company so large that you’d get lost in the shuffle, it’s time to reconsider. In 2015, the Bureau reported there were 247,961 manufacturing firms with less than 500 employees in the United States, and of those, 187,862 had less than 20 employees.

10 Targeted education. Many colleges are offering certification and degree programs to help students gain knowledge in their desired field. Locally, Great Bay Community CollegeUniversity of New Hampshire Center for Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Innovation, and New Hampshire Technical Institute offer many educational opportunities for the next generation of skilled manufacturing workers.

Source: leddygroup.com

5 Things Successful Employees Do Right

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Hispanic man standing outside in suit with arms folded

Being good at your job can buy you a degree of security and set you on a path toward a promotion. If you’re eager to step up your game, it helps to understand the habits of employees who are already successful. Here are a few positive traits to mimic.

1. They communicate well

Communicating well means knowing when to share information and how to share it effectively. Strong communicators are able to express themselves succinctly and diplomatically when warranted, and they’re good at conveying information electronically, over the phone, and in person.

Working on your communication skills often boils down to observing those who are good at it and aiming to adopt their behavior. Being mindful of the language you use, however, will also help you improve in this regard, so start taking the time to really think about what you’re putting in emails or how you’re responding during live conversations.

2. They ask for help when they need it

In an age when multitasking is often hailed as something to celebrate, asking for help might seem like a sign of weakness. Actually, though, it’s anything but. Acknowledging the need for assistance, whether for a minor issue or a major one, is a sign that you’re aware of your own limitations and are being resourceful in seeking out other ways to get a given task done. And the more comfortable you get with it, the more you’re likely to excel.

3. They’re not afraid to step outside their comfort zone

Once you get into a flow at work, it’s easy to grow content with that routine. But if you don’t change things up or push yourself to do new things, you’re apt to get stuck in a rut. Those who are successful at work often take on challenges that scare them just a bit. But it’s their can-do attitude and willingness to take chances that sets them apart from the pack.

4. They build solid relationships with their peers

Developing relationships is an important part of being successful, and people who do that typically make a point of working well with their peers. If you’re eager to do the same, invest some time into getting to understand your colleagues better.

Figure out where their strengths and weaknesses lie and how you and your peers can help each other achieve mutual goals and overcome collective challenges. It also helps to get to know your co-workers on a personal level to take your relationship to a more solid level.

5. They stay organized

When you only have so many hours in a day, week, or month, you really need to make the most of that limited time. Successful employees are generally good at time management and being organized, so if you can’t say the same about yourself, make an effort to improve.

You can start by physically cleaning up your workspace so it’s easier to access the documents and tools needed to do your job. Additionally, it pays to get into the habit of creating daily or weekly to-do lists so you can keep tabs on various deadlines and ensure that priorities are addressed as needed.

Continue on to Yahoo News to read the complete article.

10 Steps To Become An Entrepreneur

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Small business owners

Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions, and completing a series of legal activities. Learn how to get started on your business in 10 steps.

Conduct market research

Market research will tell you if there’s an opportunity to turn your idea into a successful business. It’s a way to gather information about potential customers and businesses already operating in your area. Use that information to find a competitive advantage for your business.

Write your business plan

Your business plan is the foundation of your business. It’s a roadmap for how to structure, run, and grow your new business. You’ll use it to convince people that working with you — or investing in your company — is a smart choice.

Fund your business

Your business plan will help you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business. If you don’t have that amount on hand, you’ll need to either raise or borrow the capital. Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to find the capital you need.

Pick your business location

Your business location is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Whether you’re setting up a brick-and-mortar business or launching an online store, the choices you make could affect your taxes, legal requirements, and revenue.

Choose a business structure

The legal structure you choose for your business will impact your business registration requirements, how much you pay in taxes, and your personal liability.

Register your business

Once you’ve picked the perfect business name, it’s time to make it legal and protect your brand. If you’re doing business under a name different than your own, you’ll need to register with the federal government, and maybe your state government, too.

Get federal and state tax IDs

You’ll use your employer identification number (EIN) for important steps to start and grow your business, like opening a bank account and paying taxes. It’s like a social security number for your business. Some — but not all — states require you to get a tax ID as well.

Apply for licenses and permits

Keep your business running smoothly by staying legally compliant. The licenses and permits you need for your business will vary by industry, state, location, and other factors.

Open a business bank account

A small business checking account can help you handle legal, tax, and day-to-day issues. The good news is it’s easy to set one up if you have the right registrations and paperwork ready.

Continue on to sba.gov to read the complete article and more small business news.

4 Tips for Responding to “Sell Me This Pen” in an Interview

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interview sign

You’re in a job interview for a sales position, and things are going well. Then the interviewer presents the challenge that you knew to expect (yet were still dreading): “Sell me this pen.”

This type of prompt is enough to send your stomach plummeting to your shoes. It’s challenging to think on the fly to begin with, and when that’s combined with the fact that your nerves are running high, it’s common to draw a blank and stare at that pen completely slack-jawed.

Fortunately, like any other type of job interview question, a little preparation and practice can help you knock your response out of the park.

So what do you need to know to effectively answer a “sell me something” interview question? We’re covering all of the details right here.

Why Do Interviewers Ask This Question?

As you might guess, this type of question is frequently asked in interviews for sales positions.

While a pen is a common default object, that’s not the only scenario for this type of sales prompt. Your interviewer might say, “Sell me this bottle of water” or even simply, “Sell me something” and then have you choose an item in the room and state your pitch.

It’s tempting to think that they’re only asking this to stump you or put you in a tough spot—and honestly, that’s partially true.

“Sales can be a very high-pressure job. Interviewers want to see how you answer the question, not necessarily what you say,” says Neely Raffellini, Muse Career Coach and founder of the 9 to 5 Project. “Do you respond with confidence? Do you seem genuine?”

In any sort of sales role, you’ll occasionally find yourself in sticky situations. So interviewers don’t ask this question with the expectation that you’ll have a flawless response (although that certainly doesn’t hurt!). Instead, they simply want to observe how you react under pressure.

4 Tips for a Solid “Sell Me This Pen” Answer

It’s comforting to know that employers are more interested in your overall demeanor—as opposed to only the content of your response.

However, you still need something to say (and ideally, it’ll be effective and impressive). Here are four tips to help you craft an impactful answer to this common question.

1. Be Confident

Remember, the primary reason your interviewer is asking this is to gauge how well you respond when you feel pressured or caught off guard.

Even if you don’t have a perfectly polished sales spiel to whip out at a moment’s notice, do your best to display a level of confidence as you work your way through your answer.

Sit up straight, maintain eye contact, speak clearly, and smile. Those nonverbal cues will go a long way in making you seem poised and self-assured—regardless of the actual content of your sales pitch.

2. Highlight a Need

In a famous scene in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character tells a salesperson, “Sell me this pen.” The salesperson immediately takes the pen from DiCaprio and then asks him to write his name down—which is impossible to do without any sort of writing utensil.

“The purpose is to prove that he needs the pen,” explains Dan Ratner, a former account executive at The Muse.

While you might not replicate that exact approach, this is definitely a tactic that you can borrow when answering this question yourself.

The best place to start is by asking questions. The temptation is strong to jump right in with a long-winded sales pitch. But remember that a good salesperson takes the time to learn about the needs, goals, and challenges of their prospective customers so that they can tailor their pitch to their audience.

“Your goal is to dig deeper and to understand why they need whatever you’re selling,” adds Ratner. “Usually, this can be ascertained by simply asking, ‘why?’”

Ratner demonstrates the power of asking this type of question with the below interview question and answer example:

Interviewer: “Sell me something.”
Candidate: “Okay, what do you need?”
Interviewer: “A new car.”
Candidate: “Why do you need a new car?”
Interviewer: “My car’s a gas guzzler and I want something that has better MPG.”
Candidate: “Why do you want better MPG?”
Interviewer: “I’m tired of spending tons of cash to fill my SUV. I want to save money.”
Candidate: “Why is it important to you to save money?”
Interviewer: “I’m saving up to buy a house.”
Candidate: “What I hear is you’re in need of a car that helps save you money in the long run so you can buy a home. Is that right?”
Interviewer: “Yes, exactly.”
Candidate: “How serendipitous! I’m in the business of selling electric cars. I’d love to get you started on your dream as a homeowner. Do you prefer cash or credit?”

3. Emphasize the Features and Benefits

In addition to connecting your sales pitch to specific needs, it’s also helpful to call attention to the features or benefits of whatever you’ve been asked to sell. This is all about setting up a distinct value proposition for that item.

“For example, does your pen write with very smooth ink? How will that benefit them? Maybe it can help them write faster or more effortlessly. Does your pen have red ink? Red ink will help their markups stand out on a page,” shares Raffellini.

Raffellini says that selling these unique attributes or perks is a tactic she has used herself in job interviews.

In her first sales interview, “the interviewer [who] asked me this question already had a pen sitting in front of them and pointed to the pen sitting in front of me saying, ‘Sell me that pen.’ I realized that the interviewer didn’t need a pen, so I explained why I would choose the pen that I had in front of me. It worked, because I got the job!”

4. Don’t Forget to Close

The close is the most important part of the sale, but it’s also an easy one to forget when you know that the interviewer won’t actually be cutting you a check for that pen of yours.

The last piece of your response is the portion when you can really end on a strong note and leave a lasting impression, so don’t fall into the trap of leaning on something weak like, “So yeah, that’s how I’d sell that…”

Instead, summarize the main points you made and then show the interviewer you know how to close by actually making the ask (like you would in a real sales situation). That might look something like this:

“With its comfortable grip and smooth ink, this pen can help you increase your writing speed, save precious time in your workday, and get more done. Should we move forward with placing your order?”

When you’re on the hunt for any sort of sales position, you need to be prepared to answer some variation of the “sell me this pen” interview question.

The good news is that interviewers don’t expect that you’ll have a completely polished sales pitch ready to go—they’re mostly trying to discern how you respond in high-pressure situations.

Continue on tho The Muse to read the complete article.