August 27, 2019

{Guest Post} Tips for Moms Re-Entering the Workforce

Get Your Mojo Back: 9 Networking Tips for Moms Re-Entering the Workforce

Re-entering the workforce after you have kids is tough, but it’s not impossible—and savvy networking can open up tons of opportunities that you might not have otherwise, including family-friendly jobs with flexible schedules. If you’re feeling a bit rusty, follow these nine tips to get your networking mojo back as you prepare to become a working mom:
Connect with other working parents.
Working while raising kids (especially young children) is a huge commitment, one that other parents—particularly moms—will understand. Talking with other working parents will instantly give you common ground, making it easier to forge a connection. Not only will they be great contacts for you to know, they might also be able to introduce you to other working parents who are in a similar situation. Plus, they probably have tried-and-true advice on how to work while raising a family since they’re doing it themselves.

Use LinkedIn to your advantage.
The first step is to update your LinkedIn (and your personal website, if you have one) to reflect your most current professional accomplishments. Once that’s done, you can start using LinkedIn to reach out to your existing contacts, explaining that you’re looking to get back into the workforce and would love to catch up with them. You can also use LinkedIn to connect with people whom you haven’t met yet, but would like to know. Just make sure to send a note along with your connect request, explaining why you wanted to reach out.

Join professional organizations.
Professional organizations give you immediate access to professionals you have something in common with, whether it’s your gender, the city you live in or the industry you work for. Do some research to see what options are available in your city. The local Chamber of Commerce usually hosts several professional affinity groups, but there are likely other professional organizations out there as well. You might also want to check or similar websites to see if there are any gatherings of working moms in your area.
Attend conferences and other events.
Professional organizations aren’t the only way to meet new people. Look out for conferences, trade shows, workshops, networking happy hours and other events where you can mix and mingle with potential new contacts. Whether or not “networking” is officially in the title, many people attend these events with the express purpose of meeting new contacts. If you’re nervous about attending, see if one of your fellow working mom friends is willing to go with you and keep you company (just make sure you talk to people besides each other at the event!). Don’t forget to bring business cards to hand out to the new people you meet, and you might also want to carry a portfolio with copies of your resume, just in case.

Consider heading back to class.
Learning isn’t just for college students. Attending a class or workshop tailored to professionals is a great way to meet others in your field and continue your studies. Many universities and professional organizations offer workshops that span just a few days and cover a specific topic in depth, such as leading teams or working with millennials. If you want something a little more substantial, you can also look into certifications or even more involved degrees such as an Executive MBA program, which will introduce you to other professionals as well as jumpstart your old career (or help you switch into a new one).

Reach back out to old contacts.
It’s a lot easier to reconnect with people you already know than to rebuild your network from scratch. Even if it’s been a while, don’t be afraid to call or email old contacts from your previous job, or even friends from college. You’ll get a much better response rate if you reach out to someone you already know, as opposed to cold emailing a stranger, so rifle through your mental Rolodex to figure out who you know and who you’d like to re-establish a relationship with.
Volunteer at school.
Yep, that’s right. Your kid’s school could be a potential networking opportunity, especially if a lot of other working parents send their kids to the same school. Signing up to help with a committee or to host a fundraising event will give you a chance to spend quality time with other parents and get to know what they do for a living. Even if it doesn’t lead to a job offer or a work BFF relationship, you’ll get to learn from their experiences and earn brownie points for getting involved at the school.

Work with your partner on scheduling.
Many networking events are at night, which can make it tough for parents who need to put little ones to bed. If you have a partner, clearly communicate with them on the scheduling to figure out a compromise that works for both of you. Maybe you can handle bed time on Mondays and Wednesdays, but they’ll cover Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving you free to attend professional events on those nights. If you can afford it, you might also want to look into hiring a babysitter if both you and your partner are busy on the same night.

Maximize work hours.
If you’re already working, it’s important to keep networking since you never know when you might want to pursue a new opportunity. But if you have kids at home, it can be tough to be away from the house even longer than normal business hours. Rather than trying to accommodate dinner meetings and late-night events, see if you can schedule lunch or even breakfast meetings. That way, you can fit in your networking and still make it home in time to put the kids to bed.

Networking as a new mom won’t just help get you a job, it will also help you create a support network of fellow professional parents who know exactly what you’re going through. Follow these nine strategies to start building your networking again as a working mom.

Thank you Lee Becknell, Senior Digital Marketing Manager from Pinnacle Promotions for this very informative guest post. If you missed her previous post click here:  Professional Networking Advice for Veterans

August 26, 2019

{Guest Post} Professional Networking Advice for Veterans

Professional Networking Advice for Veterans

Networking is a familiar concept to many veterans, and with good reason. Within the strict hierarchy of the military, most hires and promotions are based on merit and time served, not who you know. But things are completely different in the civilian world, where most jobs are never openly posted and 60 percent of them are filled through networking. If you’ve been applying for post-military jobs and not getting anywhere, networking could be the missing piece. But how can veterans network if they’ve never done it before? Here are seven strategies to help veterans get up to speed on networking in the civilian professional world:

Build your online presence.
Having an online presence is optional for the military, but vital for networking and job searching in the civilian world. At a minimum, you should have a filled-out LinkedIn profile that includes a summary of who you are and what you do (or what work you’re looking for), your past positions and experience and any degrees or certifications that you hold. You should also double check the privacy setting on your various social media accounts, since recruiters and hiring managers can and do vet the public profiles of potential candidates for red flags. It’s also worth Googling yourself to see what’s already available online so you can adjust accordingly.

Get your resume ready.
If you’re job searching, you’ll need to have a resumé ready for applications. Civilian resumés are much different from government ones in their length, formatting and language, so be prepared to take some time translating your experience for your post-military career. Updating your LinkedIn will give you a big head start, since much of the information required by LinkedIn can also be incorporated into a resumé. It’s also worth getting a civilian friend or even a professional career coach to review your new resumé and confirm that it will pass muster for whatever industry you’re applying to.

Research veteran-focused opportunities.
There are many organizations and events, both professional and otherwise, that cater to veterans. Do some research and ask your local contacts to see if there are any groups in your area in which you can get involved. Your local Chamber of Commerce may also host job fairs, offer career coaching or provide other resources for veterans, so they’re worth reaching out to as well. If you’ve decided to go back to school, see if the program provides a club or support group for veterans, as many of them do (more on continuing education in the next step). Don’t forget to bring business cards with you to the event so you can exchange information with new connections.

Reach out to past contacts.
You may not know it yet, but you already have a network in place and it starts with your fellow veterans. If you served with anyone who left the Armed Forces before you, reaching out to them to talk about the transition to civilian life gives you the perfect opening to get back in touch and restart that relationship. After you’re comfortable with that, you can ask them to put you in touch with other veterans you don’t know yet or reach out to them on your own. Veterans are usually happy to help other veterans, and having something in common to talk about will make the conversation flow more smoothly. And don’t neglect your other connections in the process: Past and present colleagues, friends, relatives, neighbors and classmates from your alma mater are all great people to reconnect with.

Consider taking classes.
If you don’t know what you want to do yet, continuing your education can be a great way to help make the transition to the civilian world and build your network. In fact, many civilians themselves pursue graduate work for the main purpose of growing their networks, so you’ll be in good company! If you need to continue working while you study, there are many flexible options available, including evening and weekend classes, online programs and low-residency degrees. You might also be able to get G.I. Bill and Yellow Ribbon funding for continuing education, so check to see if you qualify.

Ask for informational interviews.
Informational interviews are a great way to receive advice on your career, practice your interviewing skills and connect with someone in your desired industry. An informational interview is usually more casual than a “real” interview for a job, since you’re not actively competing for an opening. Now, if the company is hiring, your contact may pass you along to a recruiter for a formal interview, but don’t go into the informational interview with the expectation that it will lead to anything other than the discussion itself. Even though it’s informational, you should still come to the interview prepared to talk about yourself and ask questions, and it’s a good idea to bring a notebook or portfolio to jot notes in as you talk.

Don’t be afraid to follow up.
People are busy and sometimes they forget to reply to your email, so don’t take it personally if this happens to you. Instead, give it a week or two, and if you still haven’t heard back, follow up with a quick, polite note reiterating your request to connect. If you don’t hear back on the follow-up, you can assume that the other person is too busy to talk or just not interested, in which case you can focus your effort on networking with other connections. But many (if not most) of your contacts will need a nudge before they reply, so don’t be afraid to send that follow-up email after an appropriate length of time has passed.

Every veteran has to learn to network when they leave the military, so you’re anything but alone. In fact, as you start networking, you’ll probably realize that you have more connections (military and beyond) than you think. Good luck with your job search and transitioning to the civilian world!

Thank you Lee Becknell, Senior Digital Marketing Manager from Pinnacle Promotions for this very informative guest post. Look for her soon with more helpful advice. 

August 2, 2019

{Guest Post} 7 Fun Ways to Reconnect with Your Spouse After a Deployment

7 Fun Ways to Reconnect with Your Spouse After a Deployment
Being a military spouse is never easy. When the military deploys your spouse, you become a single parent who needs superpowers to run the household and take care of the children. It’s exhausting, and the thought of losing your husband or wife weighs heavy on your mind—not to mention the lack of emotional connection and the absence of your spouse’s physical presence.

When they come home from a tough deployment, they’re as eager as you to reconnect. We’ve put together a list of fun ways to reconnect with your spouse after they return from a long deployment. So, greet your spouse confidently as he or she walks through the door and drops their ditty bag and life-saving LAPG tactical gear because you’ll have entertaining ways to strengthen your relationship.

1. Honeymoon
A mini vacation is a favorite for many people because getting away brings back fond memories of other special times together. It allows you to focus on your relationship and the love you have for each other. Try to get away even if it’s just for a weekend.

Sometimes going on vacation after deployment is tricky, so, if you can’t, pretend you’re a tourist where you live. Have a romantic candle-light dinner at home or out at a restaurant and go on a long walk. Plan a picnic in the park. It’s critical to cherish each moment spent together because you never know which deployment will be your spouse’s last.

2.Reconnect with Memories
Use old photos to make a timeline of all your favorite memories as a couple. Talk about how you first met or your wedding day. Where was your first kiss? If you live close to the place where you first met or got married, take a trip to that location to bring those memories to life. 

You probably don’t live close to those locations but walk down memory lane the next time you go home for a visit. Couples with busy lives can grow apart over time. It takes effort to remain committed to each other. Reminiscing helps you see what attracted you to each other in the first place. Rekindle the romance and recommit to your life as a couple.
3.Take a Cooking Class
Relationship experts say that cooking together helps you reconnect because it allows you to work as a team. Calphalon sponsored a survey around 2016 that Lightspeed GMI conducted on how cooking influences a couple’s relationship. 

The survey asked approximately 1,000 adults aged 18 and older what they think about cooking and relationships. Eighty-seven percent of those people said it’s one of the best activities to strengthen a relationship. The study illustrated that couples highly value communication and cooking together fosters excellent communication.

No matter what stage of their relationship the respondents were in, they all agreed that cooking strengthens relationships via communication. Around 92 percent of those surveyed also said that preparing food for your significant other is an incredible way to show them that you love them.

In fact, eating separately from your husband or wife can damage your relationship. It sends a message that you aren’t a team, and it can cause conflict. So, take that cooking class or even cook a meal at home listening to your favorite music with your mate.

4.Have a Pajama Party
This activity comes from licensed family and marriage therapist, Robyn D’Angelo. She suggests that you put on your favorite music and get some of each other’s favorite food and treats. Most importantly, don’t talk about what type of pajamas you’ll wear to the pajama party. This activity would be a great one for when the kids stay at a friend’s or family member’s house. 

5.Create Mystery Dates
Take turns planning a mystery date. This activity requires you each to pay attention to one another’s ideas about exciting places and activities, and then incorporate those ideas into the mystery date. For example, maybe your soldier mentioned a mountain town that they’d like to discover. Find a unique place to have lunch there and plan some activities that he or she would love like hiking or zip lining.

Make sure that you take care of all the details, such as finding a babysitter or paying for attractions. Keep the date a secret but tell your partner what to wear. This activity engages your empathy muscles while you design and plan fun activities that you’ll enjoy as a couple.

6.Create a Jar of Activities
Another fun exercise to help you reconnect with your soldier is for each of you to create a jar filled with different seasonal activities that you would love to do, such as kayaking or tubing. Write each idea on a piece of paper, fold it up, and put it in the jar. Each time you want to do something together, take turns drawing an activity out of each jar.

Susan Lager, licensed psychotherapist and self-help author, created this activity to bring couples closer together. She said that you could also spice things up and use the same process for physical touch. With this exercise, it's critical to honor each other’s fantasy in a safe and exciting way.
7.Find a New Hobby to Do Together
Maybe he likes to hunt, and you’d rather do creative projects. Sit down and discuss your different favorite activities, and then find common ground between them. You can usually even find a connection between active and sedentary hobbies. Figure out an activity that factors in things that both of you like.

For instance, perhaps take up hiking or walking in the woods. He can look at animals through a sturdy pair of LAPG binoculars while you take pictures for a scrapbook or unique photo album.

Reconnecting Requires Effort from Both Sides
Reconnecting takes effort from you and your military spouse, whether it's staying in and cooking together or going on a new adventure in a new town. In today’s busy world, you may have to schedule times to reconnect in your hectic life. It's worth the time and effort to strengthen your relationship so that you can be a more successful couple, as well as better parents.

Meta Data: Reconnecting with your spouse after they return from deployment can be difficult and takes time. Here are some fun ideas to reconnect and grow stronger as a couple to enhance your relationship. There are even ideas for partners with diverse interests.

Thank you for this guest post: Mark Hedman, CEO of LA Police Gear, LA Police Gear