This story was originally published on the Dress for Success New Orleans website.
This past Tuesday we hosted our quarterly Alumni Professional Women’s Group meeting of our former clients who have gone through at least one year of the monthly Professional Women’s Group employee retention program; the program usually covers themes such as financial literacy, nutrition, and more. This quarter’s Alumni PWG meeting was centered on makeup in the workplace, branching into discussions on skincare and professional hairstyles. At the start of the meeting, we led a “shining moments” icebreaker in which each person in the room shared three of her greatest accomplishments in her education or career with the rest of the APWG members at her table. After the small table discussions wrapped up, each person shared a single “shining moment” with the whole room.
And those shining moments were as diverse as all of our client’s backgrounds. Two of our clients shared that they’re now in school to pursue an MBA. One of our clients has a son who will be celebrating his first birthday in a few months. Another of our clients shared that she quit a job where she didn’t feel that her work was valued, and after a short search, she found a position at a new organization where she feels appreciated every day of her work. Yet another client recently started a community organization to support incarcerated women with re-entry assistance. And finally, one of our clients shared that her shining moment was with Dress for Success New Orleans, to be able to join a community of which she will undoubtedly remain a lifelong member. That continued commitment to Dress for Success New Orleans is the key foundation for the Alumni Professional Women’s Group — supporting women even after their appointments in the boutique and in the career center, to create sustained success in their careers.
Later in the week, one of our APWG clients came in to the career center for help with job applications for an upcoming temporary position. Using the new resume template and other resources we’ve created for the career center, our client was able to revise and format her resume. However, in the process of helping our client create an online application account, several other questions were raised. How does one go about submitting resumes if there’s no field for them online? Which other job posting sites should she create an account on? How does she set up LinkedIn and other job application sites on her phone? How should she format her resume if it’s going to be read by software and not by another person in the first round?
Those questions are undoubtedly overwhelming for many of our clients currently applying to jobs — as technology changes, companies have moved to various online ways to solicit more applications. And those technologies have drastically changed the way that people prepare their applications — for example, when submitting resumes online, clients soon learn that their resumes will be automatically scanned for keywords from the job posting, likely before any person actually reads the application. Because the workforce is changing faster than many job applicants can keep up, it’s critical that we are always able to provide current advice on how to apply to jobs and what digital skills to develop. Our client from last week showed us that on top of having those current resources and career coaches, it’s even more important to have that desire to learn about job application websites, public transportation apps, networking sites, and everything else that now has a role in the digital economy. That desire to learn is what brought her into the career center, and her continued engagement with the program and volunteer coaches will support her sustained success.