Best of Unity Hour 2020: Career Search Bootcamp

Woman working at laptop

In this virtual session, The Mom Project culminates an unprecedented year with motivating strategies and tips to help advance your career search in 2021. Watch the video to learn from the experts about how to avoid job search mistakes, perfect your resume, ace your virtual interviews, and negotiate job offers.

Ashley Cash is a hiring manager turned career coach and consultant specializing in 6-figure resumes, interviewing, and salary negotiation. She helps women get hired and get paid! After 13 years of managing teams for big organizations like Coca-Cola, Whirlpool, and Globe Life, Ashley now teaches women how to create winning resumes, nail interviews, and confidently negotiate for themselves.

Jade Chapman is a Career Strategist that focuses on helping people align their careers with their passion and purpose. She has mastered the art of repurposing her own career as she has worked as an engineer for Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations domestically and internationally, and as a project manager in the Mayor's Office at the City of Atlanta. Whether you are a recent graduate, a mom returning to the work force or a mid-career professional ready to make a pivot, Jade offers a diverse suite of tools and creative strategies to help her clients identify and pursue work that feels purposeful and fulfilling.

Crystal Ohikuare is a working mama with a passion for coaching career driven mothers on how to manage their corporate and home life. With nearly a decade of HR experience, she partners with working mamas on how to launch, grow, and pivot their careers in a way that allows them to be present and available at home simultaneously. She is the Managing Partner of Blue Staffing Group - a staffing firm that fills corporate job opportunities with companies across the country, a national public speaker, mommy blogger, and co-host on Not Your Token Black Girl podcast.


  1. Boot Camp Step One: Outlining Your Plan with Jade Chapman
  2. Boot Camp Step Two: Owning Your Story with Ashley Cash
  3. Boot Camp Step Three: Walking the Walk with Crystal Ohikuare
  4. Boot Camp Step Four: Crossing the Finish Line with Ashley Cash 
  5. Q&A

0:00 Hiba Abdillahi: Welcome to our Unity Hour today, our last Unity Hour of the year, which is actually insane. My name is Hiba Abdillahi, I am the Social Media Manager here at The Mom Project. I am joined today with an amazing group of women that I'm gonna introduce in a little bit, but before we get started, I want to also introduce our Chief Community Officer, Colleen Curtis, who's here with me today, and then we have Katie Mack, our Community Partnerships and Programming Manager womaning the YouTube chat and welcoming you all today. 

As a reminder, this entire session will be recorded and can be accessed via the YouTube channel. You’ll also receive an email with the link and follow-up items if you are RSVP’d, we got you covered, 'cause we know things come up. I wanted to share with you guys, if you are new to The Mom Project community, what we are and who we are. We are a digital talent marketplace and community where moms can realize their full potential. 

Through our marketplace to be connected with job opportunities at family-friendly companies that allow you to thrive at work and at home, and through our community, we provide you with support and connections, all the things you need to keep moving forward in your journey as a working mother. We’re more than just a job marketplace, you guys...

1:31 Hiba Abdillahi: We are a community that cares, so I wanted to highlight some of our community programs for you guys today, if you are not familiar with our RALLY program, you could get matched one-on-one with a fellow member to meet, teach, learn and grow. I've had a rally booster and it was an amazing experience, so if you are looking to get boosted, join RALLY. We also have our Learning Center, which is called The Study, you could find helpful resources for your job search and beyond, we got you covered with tips, tools, how to guides, all of that. 

We will put the link in the YouTube chat for you, but you definitely wanna check that out. And we also are beta-testing our Lounges, you can be a beta member. It is a place where you could share your experiences, advice and knowledge on topics like job-seeking and working motherhood. And then today, I went a little too far, but we have an amazing, amazing line-up for you guys today. We are doing the Best of Unity Hour 2020: The Career Search Boot Camp. For those of you who weren’t able to tune into our past Unity Hours, this is basically going to be like a cliff note session with you. And we have our amazing guests back, Jade Chapman, Ashley Cash and Crystal Ohikuare.

Boot Camp Step One: Outlining Your Plan with Jade Chapman

2:58 Hiba Abdillahi: And they're gonna be here to just outline the plan for you of basically the mistakes that you make and how to avoid them fixing up your resume, acing that virtual interview and then negotiating once you get that job. So I am going to toss it to Colleen, who's going to introduce our step one of our boot camp. 

Colleen Curtis: Thank you so much, Hiba. So we'll jump right into this boot camp, end of 2020, outlining your plan, this is the base level foundational piece, like how do you get your plan together? So back in July, we had the pleasure of having Jade, a career strategist join us for one of the most popular sessions we hosted this year. Jade focuses on helping people align their careers with their passion and purpose, and she has some really great tips on mistakes, job-seekers make and how to avoid them. Also is one heck of a pivoter,  has pivoted her career several times, so has been in the trenches, kind of getting her plan together many times over. 

So some of her tips include, number one, limiting search up to applying online, only 20% of job opportunities are online, and you can combat this by building your network and leveraging social media networks, including The Mom Project, using the same resume for every application and your resume should be tailored to every application and not preparing for interviews, preparing yourself for common interview questions is really critical to landing those roles. So I'd like to welcome Jade Chapman back to go over a few more tips from her session. Jade comes to us. Are you there?

4:25 Jade Chapman: Yeah, I’m here.

Colleen Curtis: Awesome, hi. And so also just for the audience, if you wanna revisit all of Jade’s tips on job-seeking mistakes to avoid, we'll link that in the video, in the chat, but we will also send it in the follow-up, so, Jade I will hand it over to you!

4:44 Jade Chapman: Okay, thank you so much, Colleen, and thank you all so much for having me. Again, such an honor to be invited back. And so I was thinking about what I should share today, I decided to go back into the vault of testimonials and just feedback that I’ve received from my clients this year who have landed jobs... I wanted to see what do they feel about which strategies that were most helpful during their journey. So that's what I'm gonna share with you all today. 

So I saw a certificate that said about 65% of jobs that are posted have already been given...have already been given away. And so that's telling me that there are some things that you need to consider. And it makes me wonder, how do you become that person who grabs that job before it’s even posted?  

5:33 Jade Chapman: And that comes from networking, that comes from internal...

Internal connections with people. And so in this virtual space, one of the best strategies to become that person who, who gets connected is through LinkedIn... And I know LinkedIn can be really overwhelming and intimidating sometimes, and so I wanna share a strategy with you. I recommend to my clients that they just spend 15 minutes each day working on building  their network on LinkedIn. And so the first step is you identify at least 20 companies that you feel connected with, whether you believe your values are aligned with their product, you just feel passionate about the work that they do, you feel like their culture is aligned with your personalities.

And you wanna make a list of 20 companies. Once you do that, you wanna follow them on LinkedIn. And by doing that, their content will start to show up on your feed on LinkedIn. So once you start seeing their content, you wanna engage with their company. You wanna not only just like posts that they post, but also start some conversations in the comments section. You also wanna connect with at least five people that work for that company, so that you can start to build your network within that company. And then wanna create a job alert which will send notifications to you about jobs that match your profile or just jobs of interest to you. So just as you feel, you may feel frustrated sometimes about people not responding to you on LinkedIn, recruiters feel the same way.

6:55 Jade Chapman: So LinkedIn created this artificial intelligence that gives them a short list of people who would be most likely to respond to them. And you can land on that short list because you've been engaging with the company, you’re following the company, you know at least five people that work for that company. And then your profile based on keywords are aligned to a position that they’re posting. So by doing those things, that will put you on that short list of the recruiters as they post positions. 

So, that's just a strategy that you may wanna consider. Like I said, just spend 15 minutes a day, only LinkedIn working through these steps, and that will help you be seen by recruiters on LinkedIn. Another strategy that a lot of my clients felt to be really helpful as they go through the interviews is thinking ahead of time about how to respond to the question, tell us about yourself. This is a great opportunity to show up authentically, tell your story about what you're passionate about and why this company was appealing to you. And don’t just use this as, you know, an opportunity to walk through your... Your resume. Really show up authentically.

8:01 Jade Chapman: Another really good strategy that's been helpful for a lot of my clients is using the STAR Method to tell their stories and talk about their accomplishments. Because a lot of us have a lot of experience and we work for years and have a library of stories to tell but we need a way to be able to tell it in a clear and concise way. And so the STAR Method helps you tell the situation, talk about the task that you were given to complete, to solve whatever problem you were trying to solve.

Do you wanna talk about what you role was? And then you wanna talk about the actions that you took, what's most important is the R in STAR, which is the Results. Most... Well, actually all hiring managers wanna know about... Yeah, you did a great thing, but what were the actual results? How did you impact their bottom mark? And so the STAR, it just helps you package that in a clear and concise way, so you're not just rambling on and on. 

8:58 Jade Chapman: Another thing that I always call my secret weapon and my clients have just been blown away by the reactions of the hiring manager in their interviews is by presenting their portfolio during their interview. This gives you an opportunity to really package and control the conversation and package your career brand in one document. And so within this portfolio, you can include case studies and this just captures experiences using the STAR Method and telling your story in that way, and if you don't have previous experience that matches the role exactly, the role that you’re applying for you can use case studies from other organizations that highlight some best practices from other organizations. 

So this is the opportunity for you to really show up and say, you know... if you're pivoting, you know, I may not have worked in this space, but I know how to do research, and I know how to speak the language, so that's just a great strategy for you to use in your interview. Another... another strategy within here that you can include in your portfolio is a 30, 60, 90 plan. This is just you showing them that you are taking that initiative to already think through how you would approach that position. 

You're in the first 30 days, and then 60 days and then 90 days and beyond. You know most hiring managers they get a little nervous when they're onboarding someone because it takes a lot of time, and by you presenting this 30-60-90 day and beyond plan it shows them them that you don't necessarily have to be handheld the whole way that you're bringing to the table, you know, some thoughts on what direction you need to take the position.

10:31 Jade Chapman: And then finally, one of the most important things that I share with my clients is how to practice self-care during the meantime. And the meantime is that space that you're in when you identify that it's time for you to move on but you haven't quite figured out that next role. The meantime is that space in between and it could be frustrating, it can be intimidating and can be stressful, and so I just really encourage you to practice self-care during that time.

It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, it can just be whatever brings you joy. It can be painting, time spent hanging out with friends, you could do Zoom calls…cooking your favorite meal but just acknowledging your mental health during this meantime is really important. So I invite you to join me on Instagram on the Out of Office box where I share some tools and tips on just how you can manage your self-care and your mental health during the meantime. 

Hiba Abdillahi:  Thank you, Jade! Yes, guys, follow her, I follow her, and it’s definitely helped me figure some things out about myself, so... Thank you so much. We will come back to you at the end for the Q and A portion. 

Jade Chapman: Thank you!

Boot Camp Step Two: Owning Your Story with Ashley Cash

11:42 Hiba Abdillahi: So, now we're gonna move on to our girl Ashley Cash who did our resume redo back in April. Our second step of the boot camp is owning your story, which you definitely could do with your resume. So, during the session that happened back in April, attendees got to unlock expert insights and the best practices for building their strongest resume, and they actually got to watch a real time resume review...that’s a tongue-twister...and we will definitely link that video in the chat if you missed it because it was really great.

So some of her tips included making sure that your resume is searchable, specific and scan-able. Include keywords from your industry, put them... like the most important information at the top, and to have two pages max, and you know if the resume girl is saying that it's for real. So, we're gonna get Ashley to go through her top tips from her session, so take it away, Ashley.

12:49 Ashley Cash: Hey friends! I am so glad to be seeing you guys again, especially as we get ready to close out the year, and so we don't have time today to do the full resume revamp, but what we're gonna talk about are some really quick things that you can do to get your resume ready to send out. Ladies, you can do this this weekend, you can do this this afternoon when you put your baby down for a nap, I'm gonna share with you the easiest way to update your resume without overwhelm and intimidation, and the first thing is all you need to do... And Jade already alluded to be clear and concise. No resume language. 

And you guys know what resume language is. If you're guilty, type in the chat “guilty.” If you have something on your resume that says something like results-oriented, detail-oriented, works well under pressure. All that resume language that doesn't necessarily tell the reader anything specific about you, so if you're guilty, put that in the chat. But I'm gonna show you how to fix that right now. So the first thing you need to do when you're thinking about writing a professional summary, a bullet on your resume, is you need to answer three questions. Who are you, what do you do, and what happened? And Jade alluded to this very same thing when she was talking about in an interview, right, that's what people wanna know what happened.

14:24 Ashley Cash: So let's walk through a couple of examples. Feel free to screenshot this or steal this and include it on your own resume. These are for you. So the first thing is, let's think about Who are you? And again, simple language. And here's a little tip, you can sprinkle in keywords just by talking about who you are, right? So say you’re a digital marketing professional.

Digital marketing, that's gotta be a keyword. So that's a great way to insert that, so you can start your resume, your header, you can use that in your professional summary, you can use that in descriptions for your job. So let's start with really simple, easy language that at a glance, the reader knows. That's my girl.  

The second thing is, what do you do? And this is where people always over-complicate it. Think about, if I had to explain to my grandmother or my three-year-old what I do all day... How would I say it? So in this first example, something like create and execute campaigns that make people click. It’'s simple, it's not flowery, it's not poetic. But at a glance, the reader is very clear on what you're bringing to the table. And then let's take it a step further and let's talk about what happens? Or what happens when you do the thing that you do best? And so this could look like something like: increased engagement by 20% across digital channels.

15:49 Ashley Cash: Now, the reason why I emphasize so much about being clear and concise and using conversational rather than resume language is because you don't want the reader to have to do what I call mental gymnastics. Right? They don't wanna work too hard. A hiring manager or a recruiter, they wanna make a quick decision, and so when you make it easy for them to do that, you're most certainly gonna get calls to come in for interviews. 

Let's walk through a couple more quick examples. The next one is business leader turned HR recruiter. Turned is a word that I love to use for folks that are pivoting. Right now, this is the season of the pivot. And so if you want to talk about your previous experience to sort of make it clear why you're applying for a new role, turned is a great word to use for that. So again, you see the example about matching top talent based on business needs and goals. Nothing poetic about that yet so clear. And then what happened? And this is helpful for folks who feel like you work in environments where you don't have metrics, you don't have those hard numbers or percentages that you can put on your resume...

17:02 Ashley Cash: That's fine. So in this example, this person created an intern to full-time employee pipeline to reduce recruiting cost and attrition. So we didn't have numbers or percentages, but we could talk about a cement or crystallized result of the work that they do. Third example says, sales and customer success. Again, some great keywords. What do you do? Create repeatable, trainable and available scalable sales procedures. Not fluffy, likely some language borrowed from a job description, and then again in the... What happened, this is someone who proposed and piloted a multi-million dollar contract expansion into Canada, and Europe for a key client. 

You guys, I want you to be thinking about, as you see these examples on the screen, as a career coach who was previously a hiring manager... I love candidates to make it plain for me, candidates like this, I'm just like, Oh, how soon can we get you in here for an interview because I want you to do that for me, I want you to propose initiatives and nail million dollar contracts for me, so when I can see the... So what... That's what makes me say, yes. And then this last example is for a non-profit executive. So this is someone who oversees a significant portfolio of programs and services for women and minority-owned small business owners. And what I love about this particular one is not only the key word peppering that we've done but also how specific it is.

18:34 Ashley Cash: If you ended that sentence with just “oversees a significant portfolio of programs and services…” That's great. But the specifics are what make people say, yes. If you're looking for a job where you're gonna be serving a certain constituency, in this example, it’s women and minority-owned business owners, but maybe it's families and children, maybe it's veterans and law enforcement right? The specific... Build the bridges to yes. So where you can be specific to do so. 

And then again, don't forget to talk about what happened. And so in this example, this person brokered access to 88 million in capital for minority entrepreneurs. That's the stuff that gets people excited. So whether you have numbers or dollars amounts that you can tout, if you do, do that. But if you don't, be okay with talking about the initiatives or the reporting that you did to make folks make decisions or to impact the organization. So if you just do that, you will get more calls. I would love for you to connect with me offline, I'm on Instagram at @AshleyNCash, or you can check out my website at

19:51 Hiba Abdillahi: Thank you, Ashley. I mean, her session was one of our top viewed Unity Hours ever. So, right now, before we get of the Virtual Interview with Crystal, I wanted to talk about the Five Day Resume Challenge. It's probably the easiest way to unlock your next level resume, all you really have to do is sign up and we'll send you a daily resume challenge directly to your inbox for five straight days, and then you follow along each day and then you unlock your next level resume by the end of the week. And then Colleen, did you wanna talk about our resume rev pool within our platform for people since they got Ashley’s tips now they can utilize that for fixing their resume up. 

Colleen Curtis: Yeah, absolutely. So resume rev is integral to this five-day challenge, you can use the five day challenge without it, but resume rev is a tool that we launched in April, based on the community insight that telling your story and getting that two-page resume really solid is really an effort in knowing who you are and how to really articulate your story, and so we build resume rev right into the product of The Mom Project.

21:01 Colleen Curtis: I actually was just looking at the numbers yesterday. We've had 30,000 people use that tool since we launched it, so 30,000 people kind of owning their story, or at least taking steps toward owning their story, which I think is a win, and so we've invited anyone to sign up and use that. It's really easy, it's built to be very easy. We know sometimes getting to those nuggets is not easy, but we wanted to at least make the development of that PDF easy. And so you log in, you register for The Mom Project if you're not already... I know many of you are, you fill out your profile to 100% and you're able to then click into the tool and it allows you to see sort of what the preview of your resume will be. 

You can download it and use it anywhere, so it's not Mom Project-specific, you can also use it to apply for jobs on our marketplace, but really this was built to build value for you in your job search, and so if you just need a spot where you can create a clean concise resume with some of these tips that we're learning today, you can download it and use it anywhere you want. And that's really the magic of The Mom Project. We wanna open doors and not just doors here, we wanna open doors for you everywhere, so resume rev is really built with that in mind, and so... Yeah, that's a resume rev. Give it a shot. Let me know you like it. 

Boot Camp Step Three: Walking the Walk with Crystal Ohikuare

22:07 Hiba Abdillahi: Yes, So let's jump to one of my favorite sessions from the summer, so the next step in our Boot Camp guys is walking the walk, which basically is taking everything you learned in the first couple of steps into your interview. So we have here at Mom Project, we get a lot of interview questions, and back in the summer, we had Crystal join us for the How to Ace a Virtual Interview session, we’ll link the video in the chat for anyone who missed it. But she went over such amazing tips, like... 

Make sure you test your technology because you just never know what could happen. Clean your camera, you don't think about that sometimes, but you really need to clean your camera off so you could be seen and then business attire, at least from the waist up, 'cause you wanna present yourself the best way. So I'm gonna let Crystal jump in now to give her tips on how to ace a virtual interview. 

23:08 Crystal Ohikuare: Awesome, well, thank you so much for having me back. I'm super excited to be here. I am not following all of my tips today, I had a migraine earlier, so that's why my light is off, so I've got shadows on my face and I'm just not following my tips, but I hope you will do as I say and not as I'm doing right now. So since my original Unity Hour this year, I've been working with a lot of candidates to ace their virtual interviews, and so based on what's going on in the world, I've got a good feeling that this interview style is here to stay and will continue to be the main way that most people go from candidate to employee. Especially as we go into 2021. 

So, back in April, about 86% of organizations were doing virtual interviews, and that number has actually increased recently by 3%. So as of last month, now, 89% of companies are using this interview style to determine who joins their team, so I hope this refresher helps you all to thrive in your next interview and not merely just survive it as my sweatshirt on the screen mentions.

24:11 Crystal Ohikuare: So I've got three main tips for today as you can see on the screen, that I really wanna hit home. So let's dive in. The first tip involves fool-proofing your technology, just like Hiba was mentioning. So now, admittedly, I'm not the best when it comes to tech. But these tips have saved me time and time again.

So, no one likes when technology fails during an interview. It can be even more frustrating when it's your only lifeline to the decision maker, and oftentimes the decision makers get even more frustrated because they're used to being catered to throughout the process. Right? Typically they go to work as usual, the candidate shows up at their office, they grab a coffee, they go meet them in the meeting room, and that's that. 

A lot of the heavy lifting of actually getting to the interview is on the candidate. But now that responsibility is shared, 50-50. So, there's nothing that can be more frustrating at times. So, I recommend doing a dry run with all of your technology 24 hours before the interview. There are dozens of platforms companies are now using to conduct their virtual interviews like Zoom, Google, Skype, and more...

So regardless of the platform that you're going to be using, I'm recommending that you download it to both your computer, your smartphone, as well as your tablet the day before and do a dry run on all three by sending yourself a link and logging in to make sure both your camera and microphone are working properly. Now you might be wondering, Crystal, Why in the world would I download this technology to three different pieces of technology? We're gonna get into that in my third tip.

25:50 Crystal Ohikuare: So next is my 30-15-5-Minute Rule. So on the day of your interview, make sure that everything is charged and ready to go, 30 minutes before your interview, that way if something is maybe at 50%, you've got a little bit of time to charge it before it's go time. Next, 15 minutes before is the perfect time to get dressed. Clearly, I'm a working mama, as you can see my little one in the background. If I try to get dressed 30, 45 an hour before any type of meeting, most likely I'm gonna have an apple sauce stain on it or red juice. 

So, I recommend 15 minutes before right as you're starting to settle into the room where you're gonna be having that interview. This is also a really good time, ladies and gentlemen as well, to add that last layer of powder on your face so you don't come off as oily on screen, and then five minutes before, go on and log in and be ready to go, because the last thing you want to happen is that the interviewer is waiting on you and not the other way around. Unfortunately, we can no longer blame traffic.

26:53 Crystal Ohikuare: So, I recommend going on and logging in five minutes before. You don't have to have your volume on or your camera on, but go on and be logged in, so when you do see that interviewer joined the meeting, you can quickly turn your camera on as well as your microphone. So, next, you wanna set the scene, you want to create a winning ambiance, so make sure you de-clutter your surroundings because it can be a distraction. Be sure to remove anything that could play on your interviewers conscious or unconscious biases. 

So you wanna avoid anything that's political maybe religious. Anything that covers a topic that is typically off-topic or off-limits during an interview, you want to remove those things. If you want to play positively on conscious or unconscious bias, maybe strategically place a book or another prop in the frame that they can relate to. So for example, I went to Louisiana State University, go Tigers. Anytime I see LSU paraphernalia on the other side of the screen, I'm drawn to talk about it, it is an immediate eye catcher for me. 

So, immediately that candidate has my attention and they are playing on my unconscious and sometimes conscious biases, and that's called the halo effect. Someone has a commonality with me that resonates positively, so I automatically think positively of that candidate, so conscious and unconscious biases can work for or against you, so just be aware of what you've got in your frame shot.

28:28 Crystal Ohikuare: Next, when selecting a room in your house, you also wanna take into consideration both the flooring and the lighting. Rooms with carpet soak up sound, so if you have a softer voice, you may wanna take the interview in a room with either wooden or tile floors. I also recommend that candidates stand when they do their virtual interviews, you'll come off more confident and feel less nervous. I know this is a weird tip, I gave it out in my original one, and you won't believe how many people reached out saying, Hey, that's weird, but it actually worked. 

If you can, take your interview in your bathroom. Make sure no toilet shots or shower shots. This is probably best for a phone interview, but looking at yourself in the mirror while interviewing can help you relax and it can make you, again, sound more confident. And typically the acoustics in our bathroom make our voice sound very clear both on video and over the phone. Lighting is also important because you don't want to have shadows on your face like I do today, it can be a distraction, so sorry if my shadows are distracting any of you. You wanna take note of the natural lighting that's going to come into that room at your interview time and adjust either your physical position or your spotlight accordingly. 

29:39 Crystal Ohikuare: And lastly, you wanna plan for the unexpected...Remember, at the beginning of this, I told you to charge your laptop, your smartphone and your tablet. That's because technology fails, as we all know, but we can plan for that. If your laptop dies during your interview, you can easily hop back into the interview from your cell or tablet. Always be ready for the unexpected. 

Next, I wanna remind you to embrace the world that we live in now. I'm a working mom. She's the most important person in my world. Don't be ashamed of that. Embrace it, don't be embarrassed if your little ones make a debut during your interview. Apologize, and then just usher them out. Appoint an adult in the house to take care of all distractions during your interview. Remember that your interviewer is living through the same global health pandemic, as you are, and they're also trying to adjust to this new world that we live in. So if that happens, give yourself some grace, apologize, and then get right back into interview mode. For more tips, you can always follow me at @TheCrystalO on Instagram. 

30:48 Colleen Curtis: Thank you so much, Crystal. Every time I listen to this, I'm gonna redo the back, I have a lot of pine going on in my world and I need to break it up a little bit. And so I always enjoy this, and I think all of these tips and practices for virtual interviewing serve people well as they land those jobs, because a lot of the meetings and presentations that we're all giving these days are going to continue to be virtual, and so mastering the skill is one that is really important. So, thank you so much, Crystal, that was awesome.

Boot Camp Step Four: Crossing the Finish Line with Ashley Cash

31:19 Colleen Curtis: Alright guys, so we walked through mistakes to avoid during the job search, how to spruce up the resume, how to land that virtual interview, and so now I wanna go to the fourth step, final step in the boot camp, crossing the finish line. And I know we could do 75 hours of sessions on crossing the finish line, but we're gonna just cover this very briefly here. This is negotiating for that job or negotiating at your current job. So back in August, we had a negotiation and compensation 101 Unity Hour featuring Jordan Sale of 81 Cents, Niani Tolbert of #HireBlack and Ashley Cash. So she's back here today representing that group. 


It was really great having them come on, talk about some of the biggest negotiation and compensation tips questions, and answering some of those questions from the community. We know this is a very layered topic, it is very complex. So we're hoping to give some of the building blocks and tools that we can have people negotiate and navigate these conversations effectively. So we will link the video in the chat as always, and we're gonna invite Ashley back here to talk about her top negotiation tips.

32:43 Ashley Cash: Oh, I was just talking on mute, JK!!

Colleen Curtis: That’s okay! I’m just like, I just hope I'm the only one that can't hear her, I can see her. Okay, good. 

Ashley Cash: I was just telling Crystal, thank you, because I cleaned my camera as soon as I saw your tip, and I think it helped, so... Thank you. So let's talk about my favorite topic: money. Let's talk really briefly about just like Colleen said, negotiations and salary can feel like this very complex topic, and it is, but the one thing that I hope I can share with you to help put your mind at ease about this, is that you wanna approach negotiations as a conversation. I think sometimes when we hear that word negotiation, it just automatically sort of insights a little bit of anxiety, right? It's like, Oh, I'm not a great negotiator. 

But most of us are great at having conversations, and so... I just want you to sort of think about that as I'm just having a conversation, it's a two-way street. We're exchanging information to get to sort of a common goal, and that in and of itself will help. So let's talk about some practical things that you can do as you approach salary conversation. The first thing is, it's really important to approach the interview, I don't even mean by the time you get to the point of an offer is being extended. Before you go through the interview, have a good idea in your mind of what market value for the position is.

34:08 Ashley Cash: And there's a couple of ways that you can research market value, thank God for the internet, so right now there are tons of internet resources that you can go out and research market value for a position. My favorites are actually Glassdoor, I use LinkedIn Salary and Colleen actually mentioned this just a moment ago, I really love, I'm not affiliated with that organization at all, but it is very comprehensive. 

It's a site where they actually partner with experts in your industry, recruiters, Colleen, I think is actually a reviewer for them, where they actually give you a 25-page report of insights about your offer or your salary range that you should be asking for, should expect, so it is a great resource to go in quick. So that way, you know from the beginning, if the recruiter or decision-maker throws out a number or a salary range, you know right off of the bat if you're on the high low and if it's a good number or not. So you're already educated and you're not sort of waiting or anticipating to hear what they have to say. You know, okay, if they say anything less than this, they're outside of market value. So that is a great way to go and be empowered as you approach a salary conversation.

35:21 Ashley Cash: The second thing is, and this is a big one, now we know in some states, it's illegal to ask the salary history, but it's still very legal to ask, what are your salary expectations? And a lot of times when I hear... when people get this question, they start kind of shaking in their boots because they're like, I don't wanna anchor this discussion in a low number, you know? Or I don't wanna say something that's too high, and it sort of rules me out. So if asked for your number, you wanna go back to market value. 

I like to say something like... I'm not sure at this point in the discussion that I know enough about the role to talk about salary, but I would expect that the salary range would be fair market value, and if you'd like, I'd love it if you could share the salary range with me, right? So just something simple, you can make that your own... It doesn't have to feel very scripted, but the bottom line is, if you want to try your best to have a salary negotiation later, don't anchor the discussion with a number, right?

Learn more about the deliverables, what’s peak season look like, what does the staff look like, how much training am I gonna have to do? All the things that are gonna happen in the scope of a role. At the beginning of a conversation, you truly don't have enough information to know what's a good number or not.

36:59 Ashley Cash: And then the third and final tip, and this is a big one, and I've made this mistake early in my career: Don't start negotiations right away. So what I mean by that is you get a phone call from a recruiter or a decision maker that says Ashley, we're so excited, we wanna extend an offer to you. And in your haste and excitement, especially if you're transitioning back into the workforce after a career pause, you say, Oh my God, I would love to join! And then you hang up the phone, you start the job, and reality sets in, and you're like, Whoa, I should have asked for a little bit more, or you learn that your peers are earning more than you... And that’s happened to me. 

So the first thing to do once you receive an offer via phone or via email is to express excitement and appreciation, and then what you're gonna do, what you're gonna say, I really appreciate the offer, I'm excited about joining the team. Could you please send my full offer, insurance information also any... Basically, you wanna ask for the full compensation package, including insurance that's important or any other benefits over to me in writing, and then ask the person for a day or two to review.

36:08 Ashley Cash: Now, my clients, we love when we get offers on Thursdays because that means we can schedule a time to connect back on Monday. So we have the whole weekend to review the offer, to research, if we hadn't done that already. To even connect with folks in our network to sort of say like, Hey, I've just received an offer, I'm wanting to fill this out. Does this sound good to you? And a little pro tip that I share with my clients all the time, although it does kind of hurt my feelings that I have to tell women this is: Ask men. We know that there is a wage gap. 

And so a lot of times I have been able to begin my negotiation by talking to a man in a similar industry with similar years of experience and say, Hey, would you accept this? And sometimes we say, Oh no, they're low-balling you, you can absolutely ask for more, and that's been helpful to have not only a data report like you can get from, but also someone in your network, may be in a similar industry or your experience that can also help you to understand or be clear in your Ask. So, definitely never start negotiations right away, take time to review.

39:20 Ashley Cash: There might be some questions about the offer that you want to clarify, and so taking the time to sort of not make that emotional or excited decision really helps you sort of clear your thoughts, it helps you prepare your counter and then you can revisit the offer, accept or present a counter with a clear head, no emotions, and probably my last and final tip is if you receive an offer, don't say, Hey, I wanna review this with my husband or my partner.

And of course, you do, like I'm married if I make a decision, I do need to discuss and review it with my husband, but don't take your power away. You wanna be perceived as this empowered in the driver seat, responsible person. And so you don't necessarily have to mention that you need to discuss it with a partner or a spouse. Just say you wanna take time to review it. So it's just kind of a small hack to, just as you sort of position yourself as empowered and in control. So super simple salary conversation tips, and I hope you find those helpful.

40:26 Colleen Curtis: Yes, one of my favorite Ashley Cash-isms is #UnshakenByNo. And it's something that she mentioned, I think in the negotiation and compensation one, but maybe in the other one as well, and super powerful, and that sometimes the answers and we know... our value is not aligned to a position, and that that's not a rejection, it's a redirection, and I've used #UnshakenByNo as a mantra for this year, so... Thank you, Ashley. 


40:54 Colleen Curtis: Awesome, so we're gonna go to the Q and A, we have a couple that we've compiled from the chat, but if you have some we’ll try to get to as many as we can here in the last 17 minutes. So I'm just gonna jump right in, and so I will throw these over to our coach extraordinaires. Well, this one's a little bit broader, so I'll see who wants to jump in on this one.  

So if we're talking about re-launching a career, and I know many of you who've worked with women who are returning to the workforce, it doesn't always feel like you have a lot of leverage to negotiate. You've been out, you've taken a step out. And this also kinda tied to an earlier question on how do you get back in and reach that empowered level to feel like you've got the footing you need to get in the door and negotiate to your value. Ashley, do you wanna take that first pass?

41:49 Ashley Cash: Yeah, I think one thing that's important to remember is not to discount your previous skills and experience. Even if you've taken a career break, if you have had work experience or your education, even skills that you've obtained during your career  pause... Those things still count. And the other thing is to remember that it is not an unusual request to want fair value for your work and the intellectual property or the contributions that you're gonna make. 

So I just want you to sort of reframe the fact of like, Hey, I've been in a career pause so that means that somehow my contributions are worth less... No, they're not. And again, just don't take for granted your skills, previous experience and what you can bring to the table and what you're gonna be contributing to the company's bottom line, and at the end of the day, fair is the word you lead with it, right? If someone tries to diminish your career pause or sort of insinuate you should be paid less because of your pause, sort of saying, all I'm asking for is fair market value for this position. That's it, that's the end of the discussion.

43:09 Colleen Curtis: Yes, love it. Okay. Anyone can take this one. I know all of you work with job seekers and active searches, and so this is when we see a lot that I would love the definitive answer for, so what do we do when an ATS, so applicant tracking system or application system asks for a salary up front to be able to submit interest for the role? This is before you've ever talked to someone and you're not in an active conversation with a hiring manager. You don't have the ability to try to get more information, what do you put in that field? You can't put zero, 'cause that doesn't work. We all have tried that. What number do you anchor to if that is the requirement?

Crystal Ohikuare: I can take that one. I work with ATSs all day. I have put $1000, $100 something that is obviously ridiculous. And they will pick that up, the recruiter on the other side, because really it's not fair for an organization to ask you what money do you want before they have a conversation and learn more about you as a candidate, and for you to learn more about the job, because a job description is often not the meat and potatoes of everything that you will be doing, it is a preview of what they think the skill sets you need to be successful are... And a preview of what they like this person to do. 

So I typically don't advise candidates to put an astronomical amount right? Like a million dollars or something like that, but put something that is so low that it will catch their eye, you would have filled it in, so that ATS is gonna allow you to continue, but it's obviously not appropriate for the job, it wouldn't be appropriate pay... 

Colleen Curtis: Fair. I like that recommendation. Jade or Ashley, anything to add to that? No? Good, perfect, 1000. 

Crystal Ohikuare: Perfect.

Colleen Curtis: Good, so that's an easy one. We might need to write up an article on that. Okay, this is a big one and one that's very current events related. We're gonna see a lot of women in particular with Covid-induced resume pauses. And so how do we address that on a resume or within the kind of personal narrative in an interview? And what are you all seeing from companies and hiring managers as we start to see this influx of candidates that have been laid off, furloughed or otherwise impacted since March. 

45:41 Crystal Ohikuare: Jade, do you wanna take that one? 

Jade Chapman: Yeah, Sure. You know, that's a really good question. I know on LinkedIn, I have been advised by some of my peers in the coaching space to leave your current position as president as long as this kind of within the six-month period of time. So that way, you're still showing up and it's not lying, but I think you have a six-month period to just kind of leave it there.

As far as in the interview, I believe in showing up authentically in your truth. Having been laid off or furloughed is something... because it's because of Covid it’s not within your control and it doesn't devalue the value that you add to an organization, so it’s totally okay to speak about it, but continue to speak in confidence about what you can the table despite what's going on. 

Colleen Curtis: Thank you so much Jade, yeah, I think because it's been such a collective experience in the workforce, and we all know people who have been laid off and furloughed and have been experiencing unemployment for a significant amount of time, that it would be strange to not be running into candidates that have been laid off, and to me, it seems that we may actually be in a scenario where a Covid-induced layoff or “gap” in employment experience is actually a far easier barrier to overcome than say a caregiving gap, which has a bit of a bias associated to it, because the Covid layoffs have been so widespread and so wide unfortunately. Ashley or Crystal, anything to add?

47:23 Ashley Cash: Yeah, I absolutely agree with you and Jade, Colleen. I'm seeing that employers are extending a lot more grace as it relates to gap, because of this collective experience that we're all having. And I also think that makes this a great season for moms who have had a career pause to re-enter into the workforce. Even though, even if it was related to a caregiving gap, so that's the first thing. 

Now is a great time to re-enter into the workforce. And I think the other thing that I wanted to add is, whether you were talking about a Covid-induced gap or caregiving gap, keep it concise. There's no reason whatsoever on a resume, a cover letter, a phone screen or interview to talk at length about, Oh, you know, we had these layoffs and they drove us on for months and months, and I've been looking for work ever since. 

It's okay if you say something very simple. If asked, Why did you leave your last job? Just say,  Well, I was one of the many folks impacted by the Covid economic downturn or loss related to Covid. End of story, that's it. And same thing, if you are asked about maybe a caregiving pause, and you could say something very simple, like I chose to take some time off to attend to a personal matter that's now been resolved, period. Right? 

Now let's pivot back and kind of talk about my work, my value, the position, etcetera, so just don't over talk about or over-emphasize the gap, if you make it a small thing and sort of refocus back on your skills and what you're bringing to the table. They have no choice but to do so. 

49:11 Colleen Curtis: Speaking in my language, Ashley. I totally agree. I think sometimes when we feel that we have something to defend is when we start to over-explain and try to get around, and then all we end up doing is sort of exacerbating as opposed to redirecting the conversation. And that's great advice. Okay, a bit of a segway on this, we've had... It's a hot issue. 

Okay, LinkedIn, looking for work, the little green thing that's around the picture, they launched that during Covid, and so, as recruiters and coaches, what is your recommendation. The Mom Project does not currently have a stance on... Yes, no, on return... looking for work badge. We do not have it. So I would love to know from the experts, Do recruiters like that? Are people wanting to talk to you because you have that on? I think we have that question a lot, and I would love the audience to be able to get that answer. 

Jade Chapman: I can speak to…

Crystal Ohikuare: Oh, go ahead Jade. 

Jade Chapman: Yes. I just got a LinkedIn profile writing certification. And the gentleman that taught the course highly recommended to not put it there. And he's also a recruiter, and he said that there was not one person that had that.

50:28 Jade Chapman: He looked at their profile because of that. This is his opinion. And I'm just speaking on his behalf. He felt like it just kinda takes away and it feels a little desperate... But there’s an alternative to that. There's another setting on your LinkedIn profile that you can select that can still indicate to recruiters that you are open for work. So that's an alternative so I suggest you use that if you're feeling a little unclear...unsure about…

Colleen Curtis: And those are separate, you can set that signal and that's like a private signal to recruiters on the LinkedIn platform that are like, you're open to work, 'cause you can actually have that on when you're currently employed and you're looking for your next move. Okay, that's great to know. So the LinkedIn expert writer, recruiter says, no. Okay. Crystal? 

Crystal Ohikuare: I'm saying yes.

Colleen Curtis: You’re saying yes, this is good I like this. 

Crystal Ohikuare: I’m shaking things up. 

Colleen Curtis: It's a hot issue!

Crystal Ohikuare: It’s a hot issue! So I've been doing this, I'll just say, longer than I care to admit. And I coach and advise my team when I'm looking for talent. I like looking for it. One, as a leader in the recruiting space, I feel like a rock star in my LinkedIn inbox. I have thousands of messages that I will never be able to get through. But if I can quickly look at a person's profile picture and see that, I'm more inclined to click that because they're available, they're available now, it's just a visual distinction from a candidate who might be passively looking.

52:06 Crystal Ohikuare: I will admit, one of my biases... or one of the things that I love most about being a recruiter is especially this time of year, getting someone a job at the holidays is the best feeling in the world, right? So especially now, everything is red and green, I'm looking for that green circle, because I have a bias. If someone is employed, especially during these days, and I've got a candidate that's just as good, who has that green circle who's out of work, especially if it's because of Covid or caretaking, I'm inclined to give that candidate who's ready to work that job opportunity. So that's why I encourage people to use it. 

Colleen Curtis: Awesome, thank you alright, Ashley, what do you think? I mean.

52:51 Ashley Cash: I mean, Crystal just laid out a pretty compelling case, so I'm gonna side with Crystal, but put in a shameless plug for keywords and also make sure your skills are updated on LinkedIn. Like who cares about the filter no filter. If you wanna be found, make sure your About section, your headline...and there's a little section where you can have up to, I think, 25 skills. Make sure that you take the time to fill those in. I think Jade was gonna jump in and echo that. Do that, forget about the filter. Make sure those skills are updated. 

Crystal Ohikuare: And put your contact information in your About Me section, because depending on how many relationships out a recruiter is to you, they might not get access to your contact information. But if you list it in your About Me section, everyone can have access to it and everyone can read you.

53:50 Colleen Curtis: Smart That's great. Alright, I'm glad we could all collate on that issue. It’s a hot issue in the LinkedIn recruiting, job searching world. Okay, last one that we're gonna get into here. And this is one that I think is really relevant in that this myth of job hopping, knowing that we have a lot of women who are working project-based work, consultant, freelance, self-employed, and so it will appear potentially that you have a huge amount of roles, right, that are relatively short term. How do you work with job-speaking candidates to kind of condense or you know kind of frame that story and not have it... overcome that objection of like, Oh, it looks like your job hopper, how do you work with candidates on that? We'll let everyone go. Crystal wanna go first?

Crystal Ohikuare: I will say, I think this is a result of the generational transition that is happening in the workplace, right? Gone are the days...almost gone... are the days where the baby boomers were staying at Ford for 30 years and we're gonna die on this assembly line, right? Millennials, we aren't having it. You get a good five years, that's the equivalent to 30 boomerangers and moving towards a gig type career, we're seeing that it is exploding, especially with millennials, we value flexibility.

55:15 Crystal Ohikuare: And personal and family life first. Job comes second. And so if that means I need to work a couple of gigs to ensure the revenue coming into my family is sufficient for our lifestyle, I'll do that versus being a chain to one company, one desk all the time. So it is about how you frame it, I liked how Jade mentioned, you know, show up as your true self. Own that. Show that you are a successful multi-tasker, it doesn't mean you are a flake, it means: I have values around flexibility and this and that. Whatever is the result of you working gig-like work or going from one company to the next and be able to explain that concisely and to the point, like Ashley was mentioning, but don't devalue it. 

Jade Chapman: Yeah…

Colleen Curtis: Go ahead, Jade. 

Jade Chapman: Yeah, I agree. I think it's how you control the narrative and how you put your brand out there. I know, I'm like that. I've worked through a lot of different spaces, and I sell that as... I have a very broad perspective. I have a very diverse perspective, and so that's the way that you can just really highlight the value that you bring to the table because of all the places and the things that you’ve done as opposed to someone who's just been in one spot. They offer value as well, but you do wanna talk about how your diverse experiences make value. 

Colleen Curtis: Great, and so Ashley, a big million dollar question, How do you keep it to two pages when you've worked at multiple companies over 10 plus years?

56:46 Ashley Cash: Yep, I was getting ready to give you the practical way to solve this equation, and for those clients, actually do a skill-based resume. It's actually more of a hybrid, so we... I think to Jade and Crystal’s point, we sort of lead with skills and competencies on the resume. So you have your name, your contact info, you have your professional branding, and then we start talking about, Okay, I'm great at digital marketing. And we really kinda illustrate the great things that I have done, or key projects within digital marketing. So we really frame it that way from a competency standpoint. And not necessarily that chronological employer standpoint. 

And then below that, so maybe we get to page two after we led with the competency, then we sort of just chronologically list our employers, but it becomes a little bit of a condensed list because you don't have it all blown out with key projects. You sort of lead with key project skills and competencies, and that has worked very well for my gig economy client. And also my folks who are pivoting, where we really just kind of talk about, Hey, here's what I'm good at, here are some key projects, please hire me and call me and pay me.

58:06 Colleen Curtis: Hire me, Call me, pay me. Yeah, so if we can just end 2020 on that...that's all we need. That's all the diamonds we need as Hiba would say. So, that is all the time we have for today. We are so grateful, Jade, Crystal, Ashley, thank you so much for being part of our 2020. We are just in awe of all of the knowledge and inspiration that you've brought to this community. To our community, we are so thrilled to have been part of this with you. We know this year has been very, very difficult. We know we couldn't get to all of the questions. Katie has been putting the links to videos and to The Study, we will follow up with that via email as well. 

We have big plans in 2021 to not only build you more resources and tools that will aid you in kind of living your best life and thriving both at work and at home, but also to create more experiences for you to connect and really be able to open doors for each other. I think that's where we can really create some magic, some mom magic that there's no magic like moms, and we're really grateful to have you all with us, and so thank you all to the panelists and to Hiba and Katie who are the masterminds of Unity Hour and brought it all to life, it's been really such a pleasure. So, thank you all so much. We'll see you in 2021. Bye!

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