Ask a MW Mentor!

February 2018

Dear Mentor,

Thank you for last month’s suggestions on networking!  I took your advice and attended several events in the area. I met many wonderful people and would like to join an organization to give back to my local community. With so many wonderful opportunities available, how do I decide which organization might be a good fit for me?

Dear Networker,

Joining a professional or civic organization can be a great way to give back to your community.  

Before joining a club or organization, consider the following questions:

  • Can I attend a meeting as a guest to observe a program firsthand?

  • Whom does the organization serve?

  • What is the organizations mission & does it align with my mission?

  • How often does the organization meet & will I be able to participate in at least 75% of the meetings?

  • Does the organization have networking or educational opportunities outside of the regular meeting schedule?

  • Are there opportunities to serve on a committee?

After thinking through the questions, consider asking a colleague or friend if they belong to an organization and if you can join as a guest.  Besides being a great way to give back to your community, it can also be an opportunity to broaden your knowledge, make new friends, become a mentor and learn new leadership skills.

Best of luck in your search! 

January 2018

Dear Mentor,

What a journey this is!  And your support in this journey has been of great value to me.  So now, I am once again seeking your guidance.

I’m am settling into my new position and learning my way around the department I work in and the company. My supervisor has asked me to look for additional networking opportunities.  I’ve been with Management Women for two years and enjoy the women I meet.  Spreading my wings seems a bit overwhelming.  Any suggestions?

Weary Networker

Dear Networker,

You’ve got this!  Look how far you’ve come in the past few months.  You will be successful at networking too.

You are right, Management Women is a wonderful place to network!  It’s just that sometimes we develop close relationships within an organization and we’re so pleased to see them at the monthly meeting that we visit with those we know, and we don’t have time to meet new people.  It’s natural, many of us need to try to move outside our comfort zone and seek out new people.

Start with the basics: Ask other business contacts which organizations they are involved with.  People are often quite passionate about their networking groups and they will probably invite you to be their guest.  The Chamber of Commerce has a monthly evening networking event as well as breakfast and lunch time opportunities.  The key will be to visit several events and several organizations to find the best fit for you to build business sharing relationships.  And don’t limit yourself to business organizations.  There are various social groups in which to make new contacts.

Some tips for networking success include:

Arrive early to the event; it’s calmer, quieter and people haven’t settled into their ‘familiar’ groups.  It will be easier to meet other people when they aren’t already involved in conversation.

No point being an introvert; walk up to someone and introduce yourself.  Ask, “What brings you to this event?” “May I join you?”  Then listen to their reply.  You will learn about them and the exchange will begin.

Networking is about building a relationship; keep the conversation light and fun. People do business with people they know and like.  When they do ask about your company be ready with a brief description of the product or services your company offers. Share your passion for the product or services by sharing a short story about the company.  Your enjoyment will be contagious, other people will want to share their passion too, creating a memorable two-way conversation.

Follow up with those you met at the event with a brief hand-written note letting them know you enjoyed meeting them.  You might even consider an offer to meet for a lunch, or at their office.  Years ago, I set a goal to meet with someone new every month for a business lunch.  Some of those lunches led to business sales, but some led to close friendships I enjoy yet today.

As you begin this new year set goals to attend networking events and build new relationships.  You will enjoy the benefits, both professionally and personally.

Here’s to the new year and new ventures!

Your MW Mentor


November 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

Over the past several months you have given me resume and interview tips & I am happy to say—I got the job! I start soon and would like to make sure the transition is smooth and I adapt to the company
culture without too many bumps in the road.

Newly Employed

Dear Interview Weary,

Congratulations! As your start date gets closer, it is natural to feel nervous and contemplate how you
will fit into the company culture. While skills are important, so too is a good cultural fit. There are
several strategies that can help.

First, do your homework. Do you have any contacts that work for the company, or a friend that can
introduce you to a current or previous employee? Try to arrange a meeting for coffee or lunch and learn
all you can. Also, talk to those who interviewed you and plainly ask them for tips.
In addition, the internet is a powerful tool as well. LinkedIn can give you a sense of your coworkers
before you meet them. Also, read every page of a company’s Facebook page, paying special attention to
the mission statement or vision page.

Next, be open from the start. Take in all you can the first several days and don’t hesitate to take brief
notes to help remember names and details. It takes effort to integrate into a company culture so
remember to be sociable and friendly. Although this may be difficult for those of us shy by nature, it is
worth the effort. Also, ask questions of your coworkers as well as your boss, and treat them as advisors.

Finally, stay engaged over time. Different companies have different rhythms, different busy and slow
seasons and often a company’s culture will shift during these times as well. It may take a full year
before you have a complete picture of the company’s culture. Enjoy the process, learning about a
company and its people can keep the workplace exciting and your work from becoming stale.
Best of luck in your new venture!

Your MW Mentor

September 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

Thank you for the resume advise!  It worked!  I’ve made several changes to my resume, including spelling corrections.  As a result, I have been receiving calls for interviews.  I was so nervous on the first interview, I blew it.  You’ve helped before, so I’m asking for help with this ‘next step’ also.

Interview Weary

Dear Interview Weary,

A few well-prepared steps will give you the confidence you need for your next interview.  

When you receive the call for an interview make sure to write down the date, time, location and who you will be meeting with.  Repeat this back to the caller.  If you’re unfamiliar with the company location take a trial drive; you’ll want to know how long the drive is and the location of available parking. Become familiar with the company and their product/services.  Their website is the perfect place to start.  Look through your past business contacts and make a few calls to learn more about the company.  Learning about the company and the position for which you have applied will aid in creating a more successful interview.  Check your Facebook Account, are the postings and profile photo appropriate for the type of career you are seeking?  I can assure you most interviewers will be looking at your postings to learn about you too. Change your setting to ‘private’ if necessary.

Your interview tool box (portfolio) should include a clear, concise answer to the question “Tell me about yourself” which includes a list of skills you possess that will be a benefit to the company, or position, you are seeking.  Also list challenges you have overcome, accomplishments you have achieved, and a couple of specific examples of challenges you have faced and how you overcame them.  Each should be a distinct example in different areas of expertise, such as Detailed Orientated/Strong Work Ethic/Excellent Communication Skills.  Include a list of references with current contact information, the relationship you have with them and the length of time you have known them.  Be sure to include additional copies of your resume.  Include a note pad with prepared open-ended questions you can ask about the position, job duties or company goals.  Your interview is meant to be a conversation, not an interrogation, so prepared questions will give you the confidence to keep the conversation going in a positive direction.  Be sure to bring pens as you’ll want to make notes of vital details about the company or position.

The day before the interview determine what you will wear, over dress slightly for the position, making certain everything is cleaned and pressed, shoes shined/polished.  Determine which accessories you will need; minimal jewelry is best.  Use caution with perfumes and cologne; less is best.  Fill the fuel tank of your vehicle, you don’t want to arrive smelling like a gas tank.  

Your most important job on interview day is to make a great first impression and sell yourself!  Arrive at the interview location 15 minutes early allowing you to be relaxed and confident. Turn off your cell phone; that’s an interruption that could cost you the job.  Greet everyone you meet with a sincere smile, making eye contact and offering a warm greeting.  When appropriate, extend your hand and offer a firm handshake. Whether you are sitting or standing maintain good posture.  Be sure to speak clearly and with appropriate volume.

During the meeting focus on the interviewer and listen.  You will reply confidently because of your prepared responses. Ask questions which indicates your interest.   After the interview; stand, offer a firm handshake and thank the interviewer for their time and interest. Ask each interviewer for a business card.  Within a few days send a handwritten thank you card to each member of the interviewing team.  (At a minimum, you will leave a positive impression on the interviewer, and you will stand out from other candidates.)

Prepare and be confident!  The right job for you is out there.

Your MW Mentor

July 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

I am in the midst of looking for a new job as I was recently downsized.  I have serval versions of a resume built but I am not sure what to include anymore.  Furthermore, I have sent out 6 resumes to various organizations in the area that have great opportunities that would fit my skills set and they are roles which I am certainly qualified for. I have not heard back from one.  I am starting to get frustrated and I need to get a job!

Resume Weary

Dear Resume Weary,

It can be a challenge writing and updating your resume because your resume is typically reviewed by software first to weed out those that do not match certain criteria.  Only after the resume makes it through the software does an H.R. professional or a hiring manager review it.

Try these tips:

  • Choose the right resume format

    • There are several basic types of resumes used to apply for job openings. Depending on your personal and professional circumstances, choose a chronological, or a targeted resume.  Use the one that's the best fit for your work experience, educational background, and skill set. Take the time to customize your resume – it is well worth the effort.

  • Include resume keywords and skills

    • This will certainly help to “get through” the software phase of the process.  Look at the job description and use key words to match your skills based on the words in the description.  

  • Tweak for Technology

    • Your resume needs to stand out because it is competitive out there.  

    • Use a resume template

    • Make sure your on-line application is just as great as your written resume

Make sure to proof your resume for grammar and spelling as improper use or errors could land your resume right into the trash bin.

Take your time and ask others to review!  Happy to help,

Your MW Mentor


June 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

I have worked for the same place for the past 20 years. For the most part I have enjoyed working for the organization but the past five years have been extremely challenging.  The business itself is not doing well financially and morale is very low. I have been looking for a new job and have had a few interviews. I go back and forth every day with should I stay or should I leave and I feel guilty because I have been here for so long. Should I stick it out or should I try and change jobs after 20 years? Where do I start?

Future Career Change.

Dear Future Career Change,

After 20 years with an organization, looking for a new job may feel like cheating on the person you have been married to and love. Through thick and thin you have given your all and now you are thinking about cheating.

Look beyond the guilt, and remember you must do what is in the best interest of you and your family because if the business does go under, they will meet you at the door and send you home without a severance package.

My advice is to interview.  It has been a long time since you have and you need to know that your resume gets you in the door and then you need to have all the examples in your toolbox to really sell yourself. Take the time to review behavioral interview questions and use the STAR method to answer.  State the situation or task, what was the action you took and what was the end result.  Preparing for the interview is the first step to success and it takes time to dig deep into the vault to remember all of the situations over the past 20 years that you have learned from.

It does not mean you need to change jobs, it means you are being responsible and looking out for the most important person, you!  And if your current business becomes more stable and you stay, at least you know you are marketable and have a strong portfolio.

Good Luck!

Your MW Mentor

May 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

Recently one of my team members opened up about some personal issues she is experiencing.  She had asked me if it would be okay to share this with the team because she felt it would be fair for them to know she was struggling.  I realize work is work and personal is personal I agreed.   I now feel like I’ve made a terrible mistake!

I have always believed that this team was supportive of one another.  When we had a project due, or month end issues, everyone dug in and helped. The team expressed sympathy when some experienced a loss, and celebrated together when there were marriages and births. It wasn’t a business is business department. I was often inspired to see 23 individuals work together for the success of the team.  

Surprised is an understatement to describe some of the things I have heard from team members.  I am shocked at the rudeness and lack of compassion expressed by a small few.  I have a team member that with the sincerest of intentions has now been hurt emotionally.

Is there anything you might recommend that will help me ‘right the ship”?

Disappointed team leader.

Dear Disappointed,

It is sad when a ‘small few’ feel the need to express negativity with little regard for another.  The key is remembering that it is a ‘small few’.  It’s comforting to know the rest of the team is understanding of the emotional toll a personal situation can take on an individual.  None of us can predict when our own world will be shaken, and how we will react to it.

Ask your team member how she might like this handled.  She may not want anything addressed further.  Count on the majority of your team to do what’s right, just as they have done so in the past.

And lastly, remember, Karma can be brutal!

April 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

I manage a team of 3 in a small office. There has traditionally been a family atmosphere through-out the company, with many employees being with the company for 15 plus years.  

My challenge is a relatively new employee.  “Sally” is quiet and sometimes not seen as a team player by the boss. Sally does a great job & does interact with her co-workers, just not as boisterously as her predecessor.  

How do I help the boss see the positives in Sally’s communication style?

Please help,
Challenged Manager

Dear Challenged Manager,

We do seem to live in a fast paced, social society that values extroverted skills like acting and speaking quickly.

Perhaps you can help the boss see the benefits of a diverse workplace.  While extroverts are often the ones that bring in the clients and customers, introverts provide valuable insight and expertise that help move the company forward.

Introverts have many natural strengths—they tend to weigh situations carefully before jumping in, they are often good listeners and they can be skilled at taking independent action.

To help Sally shine, respect her need for alone time and quiet in the office.  If possible, provide agendas and requests for feedback in advance to give adequate time for thought.  Also, create opportunities for Sally to lead on projects that match her strengths and skills.  And finally, celebrate your teams’ success. Consider writing a summary of each team member’s contributions and submit it to the boss.

As with a family, your children unlikely have the same personality.  In business, our team members will unlikely have the same personality too.  Yet it can be this mix of diversity that can provide the best opportunity for growth for both the team members and the company.

Glad to help,
Your MW Mentor



March 2017

Dear MW Mentor,

I manage a team of 15. We work in cubicles, and have team meetings in our conference room, which is small compared to the size of the team.

My challenge is this: Three team members have come to me with comments regarding “Bob” and hygiene concerns. Bob is a valued team member, but I will admit, I’ve noticed an odor too.

How do I talk to him about this without embarrassing him?

Please help,

Challenged Manager

Dear Challenged Manager,

This is a challenge we all want to avoid and to say the least - it’s uncomfortable.Speaking with Bob will not embarrass him as much as allowing his co-workers to talk about him behind his back will.

Arrange a meeting with Bob in a private office, or the conference room. “Bob,this is a discussion between you and me. What is discussed here will be kept between us, and not leave this room. I am speaking with you because I care about you and do not want anyone here talking behind your back.” “It has been called to my attention that some co-workers have discussed a hygiene/odor issue they have noticed. None of usare perfect and sometimes we just need to pay a little more attention to our personal care.”

In my experience the team member has expressed appreciation for the discussion. Bob may say very little, or may have an explanation (sometimes it’s a new prescription) No matter the reason he will appreciate your honesty and sincerity.

It may be appropriate to offer solutions:
Foot odor: powders or in-soles.
Clothing: smoke and body odors stay on clothing, sometimes just laundering more often solves this.
Body Odor: Deodorant, Body spray or powder. Maybe this team member works out before work and doesn’t always have time to shower.

End your discussion with:
“Bob, remember, this is between us. No one else needs to know about our conversation today. I’m here to help if needed. Thank you for your time today.”

Glad to help,
Your MW Mentor


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