Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘Vault.com

Did Goldman Break Its Diversity Policy?

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For the 11th straight year, industry insiders named Goldman Sachs the most prestigious bank in North America in Vault’s latest ranking. In hindsight then, all the public mudslinging of recent years has done little to upset the bank whether it’s in attracting the biggest deals or the best talent. And according to our survey, bankers continue to want Goldman on their resume.

Ironically, a day after the rankings debuted, the bank’s prestige is under attack by three former female employees who charge, according to The Wall Street Journal, that “The investment bank practices a system in which women are paid less, promoted less and ‘systematically circumvented and excluded.'”

Jobs, Careers and Reviews at Goldman SachsWhat’s astounding about the allegation is the repeated emphasis on intent, i.e., that the bank has a system that almost formulaically excludes women from getting promoted and compensated on par with their male counterparts. While the bank has called the suit without merit, stating that, “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals,” it seems it is yet again in the red with the public.

Comments from our Banking 50 survey—culled from responses submitted by over 1,300 banking professionals earlier this year—provide further perspective:

“Supportive and respectful management”

“They could do a better job of promotion as well as placement into areas that are a good fit and utilize skill sets…”

“Having come up through the ranks, from a junior trader to now an experienced one in fixed income products, I must say that I’ve been very pleased with the level of training, support and guidance that I’ve received over the years from the firm…”

“I’m a firm believer in the culture at Goldman Sachs. The firm is team-focused, emphasizing integrity and personal development within the industry.”

“I think we do a good job at getting women and diversity candidates in the door, but for real success we need to work on better retention.”

And, finally a snippet of their Diversity Mission Statement from Vault’s Annual Diversity Survey:

“The firm’s commitment to diversity is evident at the most senior levels and is driven down through the firm by way of our seventh business principle: “We offer our people the opportunity to move ahead more rapidly than is possible at most other places. Advancement depends on merit and we have yet to find the limits to the responsibility our best people are able to assume. For us to be successful, our men and women must reflect the diversity of the communities and cultures in which we operate. That means we must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives. Being diverse is not optional; it is what we must be.”

So where does this leave the banking king: A chauvinistic boys club, truly diverse with a few unintentional victims, or the victim of a ploy to take advantage of its current poor reputation? Weigh in by leaving a comment, emailing In Good Company or connecting on Twitter @VaultCSR.

More reading: The complete WSJ report.

What other banks made the Top 10 most prestigious banks in North America this year?

What’s Keeping You From Getting Hired?

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If there was one thing that stood out from Vault’s recent Job Hunting in CSR series, it was the disconnect between candidates and employers. A recent survey by Towers Watson further indicates that this disconnect might be much more widespread because of a difference in priorities for employers and employees.

Job Skills

A survey released by TalentDrive, the team behind online resume aggregation search engine TalentFilter, now adds yet another layer to the troubling scenario. The report suggests a widening gap between current employers’ expectations and job seekers’ actual skill sets.

In a month-long survey, 79,000 job seekers (86 percent actively seeking employment) were asked to assess their personal skill set and attitude toward the current job market. Additionally, 20,000 hiring managers from Fortune 1000 companies were asked if they had noticed a change in the quality of candidates since the recession’s start.

The results of the survey are unnerving:

Almost three-quarters of the job seekers surveyed were pessimistic about their career search: that’s the number of respondents who indicated that they possessed the required skill set for positions, but were not getting hired. Little wonder, then, that 37 percent of respondents expressed no hope that things would improve.

However, 42 percent of the employers surveyed indicated that the recession had not only increased the quantity of candidates, but that they were finding more qualified candidates than in years past.

So where is the disconnect? When candidates believe they possess the required skill sets, why are they not getting hired? Take into account that 67 percent of those surveyed reported having between one and five interviews per month since the beginning of their job search, and that 75 percent of those had not received a single job offer.

Specialization or general business skills?

Since your company started hiring, how many interviewed candidates on average would you consider

Could the disconnect come down to a question of specialized vs. general business skills? According to the report, 71% percent of HR representatives reported that more than half of their open positions were specialized.

Comparatively, 61% of the job seekers’ group considered themselves to be “professionals with broad skill sets.”

Interestingly, my interviews with MBA graduates Ashley Jablow and Geet Singh reveal a flipside to the specialization picture. Having focused on CSR and sustainability at business school, both Jablow and Singh confessed that their job hunts weren’t exactly working out to be walks in the park. However, in their case, partial blame goes to a lack of demand for CSR work. For the respondents of the TalentDrive survey, specialized skills leaned toward more traditional fields like IT and technology.

Job Search Destinations

What source has recently delivered/uncovered the most quality candidates?

If there is one area where the TalentDrive survey shows job seekers and employers in agreement, it is where they are finding each other. The winner: Social Media.

An overwhelming 74% of job seekers said the most beneficial job search method was posting a resume on job boards followed by 27% picking social media, for the first time surpassing traditional methods like classified ads, professional recruiters and networking events.

Agreement was mutual with 27% of employers saying the highest response for most effective search method was social networks, followed by resume sourcing technologies.

Other highlights:

For the types of positions your company fills, what skills/activities make an applicant stand out?

Differs for each position: 55%
Longevity with past employers: 21%
Certification: 16%
Advanced degrees/MBA: 5%
Extracurricular work/Volunteer work: 3%

What category would the majority of your open positions fall under?

Mid level/management positions: 67%
Entry level: 16%
Director/Executive positions: 14%

Since beginning your active job search, how many interviews have resulted in an offer?

No offers: 75%
Less than half: 21%
More than half: 3%
All interviews resulted in an offer: 1%

Given the current job market, how willing are you to transfer fields or change your skill set to adapt to a new work environment or industry?

Not willing or interested: 11%
Somewhat willing, depending on the opportunity: 44%
Very willing: 45%

Does your experience relate to these results? Do you have a story to add to these numbers? Leave a comment, email us In Good Company or connect on Twitter @VaultCSR!

Should You Bring ‘This’ Up During a Job Interview?

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In 2007, when the financial industry was at the brink of collapse, one executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) saw opportunity. Shannon Schuyler, then a member of PwC’s recruitment team, wrote a white paper for company leadership emphasizing that the firm needed someone to reorganize and refine their community initiatives, and give their corporate responsibility a face.

Three months later the job was hers. How did she re-strategize the firm’s hiring policies and recruitment outreach to encompass PwC’s commitment to corporate responsibility?

  1. For one, having a background in experienced hiring and on campus recruitment helped. She has seen first-hand the gradual evolution of the hiring landscape, where candidate priorities shifted from the best-paid job offer to work/life balance, and today, to a company’s commitment to responsible corporate citizenship. Her experience assured peers that directives coming from the new Corporate Responsibility Leader would be balanced and realistic.
  2. Secondly, the message from campuses was loud and clear. According to Schuyler, candidates are increasingly asking what the firm is doing to give back to the community, who they donate to, what they do toward the environment, etc. “They want to know how they can get engaged when they start. They want to know what our strategies are,” she said.
  3. Finally, she noted, markedly changing business strategies and decision making processes can be a double-edged sword. As her team continues to work on ensuring that new hires are aware and receptive of the company’s commitment from day one, she is also responsible for inculcating a deeper cultural change among current employees. And that is where her real battle lies.

Her observations mirror findings of Vault’s recently concluded Job Hunting in CSR series, where four MBA candidates discussed business school, their career transitions and job hunting, all connected with a commitment to CSR and change management.

For now, Schuyler is focusing on the “life cycle of a student.” Her team is busy redefining the firm’s hiring strategy by shifting their focus from best practices to candidates’ personal journey. “Increasingly, we ask, what are the opportunities? What could we continue to build on as a continuum? Would that really change what their education experience is, and ultimately, their success? It’s not just how you do the equations, but how you’re taking that and making it part of their life.”

–Posted by Aman Singh, Vault’s CSR Editor

Does Dissent Have Any Room In Your Team?

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In today’s highly skilled work environment, dissent is a no brainer. As college graduation rates continue to climb, they are gradually also redefining work culture. Hierarchies and established ways of doing things are increasingly being tested by a new generation, adept in technology and much more in favor of a work/life balance. Call it the war between the millennials and baby boomers or just yet another realignment of the way we operate in corporate America, life in the cubicle is changing.

Learning to embrace opposition and maneuvering it toward resolution is no easy task. Even in the most modern and youth-centric offices, traditional rules and authority often end up becoming reasons for dissent and fraction. But sometimes all it takes is a different take on the process or eventual conclusion of a project.  As an executive, then, how do you handle conflicting ideas from team members?

Keeping in mind that not all offices follow a democracy, here are five ways to ensure your team remains motivated, creative and purposeful.

1) Set the tone for the team and the project: When introducing the project, make the process, the expected conclusion and everyone’s role in it clear. By detailing personal targets as well as specifying individual roles, you will make participation easy as well as achievable and accountable. Also, by spelling out the process, you’re indicating how much participation, engagement and thinking outside the box you really want. Because let’s face it: not every project needs brain surgery and new processes. But what if you’re positive that your idea will succeed and you just need your staff to fall into line? Again, offices aren’t democracies, so just make your idea clear and ensure that everyone understands what you want. You might not receive the Favorite Boss of the Year award, but at least you won’t send mixed signals to the team

2) Talk it out: Despite making goals and the processes clear, sometimes team members–many of whom have been taught that creativity, engagement and leadership give birth to the best ideas–will still go ahead and put forth a proposal that might run counter to yours and propose a different set of outcomes.

You can handle this two ways: a) Invite the employee to present her idea to the team and get collaborative feedback. Hey, after all, two (or three) heads work better than one. Or b) you have a one on one conversation with the employee and demonstrate why you think your proposal has a higher rate of success. If there remains disagreement, chart out the pros and cons, connect the differences in the two proposals and invite dialogue instead of restraining thought. While debates don’t always lead to conclusions, they ensure active engagement and tell your team that their ownership in the project is equally valuable.

3) Test it: If an active debate doesn’t sort out the picture, give her the chance to test it out. Give the employee a fixed time span, the resources and the bandwidth to test out the proposal within a limited test area. By encouraging a practical solution, you’re ensuring engagement, encouraging creative thinking, leadership and respecting their input. As I said, the aim isn’t to prove someone wrong, but to find the most efficient and successful way of completion. Together.

4) Simulate a proposal: Simulation exercises can be useful in resolving team conflicts. Especially if the project is time-sensitive and you need to test out a new theory/proposal of a team member, and don’t have the resources to ensure a proper test. Give the team member a test environment to work with internally and use the results of the simulation, whether that be a closed network meeting, a survey of the contended parties, or a role play within the office, to decide the eventual process. Again, this will keep your team motivated and involved. And nothing breeds respect for the boss and commitment to the company’s success like active engagement.

5) Make it clear: Every executive has a different modus operandi. Make it clear if your prescribed methods are the only way. The autocratic management style still exists in many executive suites and if it is the way you swear by, the least you can do to ensure follow-up and diligent conclusion is to make it clear from the start. Again, no guarantees of team loyalty laurels, but at least you ensure attracting the right kind of talent for your team. Rest assured there remain many today who will kowtow to your ideas and orders without the tiniest objection, so if obedient and hard working employees are your goal, make it clear.

    Events Lineup: Vault Reports from Internet Week, New York

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    This week promises to be high on event coverage as well as new products (Apple announced their new iPhone) and collaborations (Vault will host featured blog posts from the 2010 Class of Climate Corps, EDF’s sustainability-focused internship program). Below is a quick lineup of all the event coverage you can look forward to.

    Today: Conference Board’s webcast on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Future of Integrated Reporting

    The panel includes Mike Wallace, the director of the sustainability reporting framework with GRI; Intel’s Director of CSR Strategy and Communications, Suzanne Fallender; Doug Kangos, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers National Professional Services unit; and Rina Levy, a ESG analyst with Bloomberg. The topic: the future of integrated reporting, and how much data is too much? Coming up: Is integrated reporting, i.e., meshing the traditional annual report, which focuses on financial metrics, with the other annual report that discusses CSR initiatives, the future?

    Tuesday and Wednesday: World Innovation Forum

    Already underway, the forum will host top thinkers and strategists from the corporate world as well as academia. Some of them include Harvard Business School professor and head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Michael Porter; Xerox CEO Ursula Burns; Seventh Generation cofounder and CSR advocate, Jeffrey Hollender [See his exclusive interview with Vault: “Take the ‘S’ out of CSR”]; and Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com Joel Makower. Vault’s News and Commentary team will be at the Bloggers’ Hub to bring you live coverage from the forums. Also, stay tuned for their tweets @VaultCareers or follow the hastag #wif10.

    Thursday: The PepsiCo and ThinkSocial #Promise Conference

    Pepsi's Sustainability Challenge

    Part of the lineup for Internet Week in New York, this is a unique conference that promises to pair an unpopular pair: sustainability and social media. Featuring marketing executives from PepsiCo, Timberland, GE, Nokia and MTV, and moderators from Fast Company, TED and GOOD, the full day event will cover a wide variety of topics including Pepsi’s Dream Machine, “Promise” presentations by companies like GE, Timberland and Pepsi, all of which will discuss their observations and lessons of pursuing socially responsible commitments using social media.

    To round off the mash of corporate perspective, media outlets, individuals who cover CSR, social media and public interest organizations will weigh in. Vault’s CSR Editor Aman Singh will be at the conference to bring you live coverage In Good Company, as well as on Twitter @VaultCSR.

    Friday: Hot and Bothered Breakfast: Why It’s Time to Change The Gender Ratio in New Media & Tech

    To regular readers of this space, this will sound familiar. In Good Company recently discussed a NPR report that blamed the lack of women experts on their lack of aggressiveness and narcissistic personality. This panel will discuss “why women are present and accounted for across the new media and tech space— just not at the top, or on panels, or at conferences, or in magazine articles…or, crucially, in VC money.” Culminating Internet Week in New York City, the panel promises to be controversial, if not revelatory. We will be at the panel to bring you live coverage In Good Company, besides tweeting @VaultCSR.

    A Non-Profit Career – Not a Bad Idea

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    Everyone has dreams of either saving the world or making lots of money; and many of those people believe that there is no way to accomplish one task without forsaking the other.  This belief has led many people to shy away from a career at a non-profit…until now.

    Vault Guide to Nonprofit Careers coverIn addition to President Barack Obama’s call to public service, the need for skilled job seekers in this sector has grown as individuals coping with a tough economy turn to nonprofits for unemployment assistance, workforce development, healthcare, housing, and food distribution.  As a result, Black Enterprise noted that wage and salary jobs in this growing sector are projected to increase 14% over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Black Enterprise Magazine, which interviewed Vault.com for their latest article on Nonprofit Careers, also adds that there are currently about 1.4 million nonprofit organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service, mostly as 501( c ) (3) tax exempt “public charities,” under the following categories: charities, foundations, social welfare, or advocacy organizations; community-based organizations; professional and trade associations; and religious organizations.  Nonprofits are out there, but are they worth pursuing?

    While attending Baruch College, I had to take a mandatory internship class and while others in my field were taking internships at Sports Illustrated, I felt I could get more experience working at a nonprofit community newspaper.  On my first day on the job, I was given a story about a pharmacy that had burned down and immediately relocated to a bigger location across the street.  Within a month, I had my first front page story about the Bronx River cleanup.  And before my internship was over, I was attending City Hall hearings on the controversial water filtration project that resulted in a renaissance for New York City parks.

    I chose experience over name recognition.  As Carolyn C. Wise, Vault’s senior education editor, noted in a recent Business Insider story on the perfect internship program, “The prestige of a program is the obvious resume gold star, but if you’re making copies and coffee all summer the name won’t matter.”  The experience I gathered at the nonprofit helped me become an expert in various fields when I became an editor for another for-profit paper.

    Later, when I decided to leave the paper, after eight years on the job, numerous raises, and a sale to a prestigious media empire, I took a position as an associate manager for public relations at a major nonprofit and ended up making more money with better health benefits, clearly debunking the myth that nonprofit means low pay.  Vault’s career experts point out in the Black Enterprise piece that senior management and mid-level positions at nonprofits are competitive with salaries at major corporations.

    With that settled – what kind of jobs are out there in the nonprofit sector?  If you are a writer of any kind, there are a number of great opportunities available, especially when you consider how important grant writing is to obtain the funding necessary to keep nonprofits afloat.  If you have management skills, nonprofits will need your decision-making abilities.  For every field in the for-profit sector, there is a potential job in nonprofits.

    The Black Enterprise piece is a very helpful resource.  If you know a particular nonprofit company, check their website.  Also, Vault has released its first Guide to Nonprofit Careers, offering a realistic look at what to expect from nonprofit jobs, the types of nonprofit jobs available and what companies are leading the pack, along with the usual cover letter, resume and interview tips many come to expect from Vault guides.  There are plenty of resources at your fingertips.  Let your preconceptions go.  There is a new path to career success waiting for you.

    Vault.com Offers Free Job Search/Career Management Webinar – April 30, 2010, 12-1pm

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    Despite news that first-time jobless claims have taken a dip last week, the national unemployment rate continues to hold steady at 9.7%.  Finding a job is still a priority for so many Americans and Vault.com is taking another step in its quest to help them get back to work with another in a series of broad-based free webinars that will allow job seekers to ask former recruiters anything.

    The webinar, slated for Friday, April 30, 2010, from 12 to 1 p.m. coinciding with the traditional lunch break, is designed to provide career information, advice and resources to help students entering the workforce and employed professionals land their next job.  The monthly free webinars offer users a taste of what is offered during the more focused webinars offered each week at $27.  Last month, over 1,000 participants signed up for the free career guidance. You must register to participate.  Go to http://www.vault.com/SixFigureStart.html.

    “Despite signs of an economic recovery, job seekers still find themselves in a challenging and highly competitive marketplace.  Vault has a long history of providing the critical insight and information to enable high potential candidates to build and execute a well planned job search strategy.  Vault’s proven tools help candidates identify the right industry, the right role and the right company,” said Claude Sheer, Vault CEO.  “Our career experts will pack this one hour session with experiences and strategies built over a combined 40 years of career management experience.”

    Vault career experts and SixFigureStart co-founders Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio and Caroline Ceniza-Levine are former Fortune 500 recruiters who have led staffing groups at Citigroup, Warner-Lambert-Pfizer, Merrill Lynch and Time Inc.  Together, the duo will be on hand to provide resume writing, interview preparation, and other job search-related advice.  They are prepared to answer the toughest job search quandaries for those at the executive level to those beginning their first job search.

    Participants can look forward to discovering answers to some of the following questions:

    • I am losing jobs after getting to the final round of the interview process.  What am I doing wrong?
    • How do I respond when a job posting asks for a salary history and requirements?
    • I am working full-time.  What’s the best way to manage time during a part-time job search?
    • I am miserable in my new job after less than six months.  How can I leave without damaging future prospects?

    “The job search is tough and only candidates with exceptional job search skills are getting placed,” said Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio.  “Taking part in these webinars will give you the edge needed to beat the competition, and there is a lot of competition out there, from the employed to the unemployed; and let’s not forget the college graduates that will be hitting the job marketplace in May.  Get all the critical advice you need during your lunch break.”

    While this webinar is free, space is limited and filled on a first come, first served basis.  Vault encourages all participants to go to http://www.vault.com/SixFigureStart.html for more information and to register immediately as each webinar is announced.  Submit your questions in advance to info@sixfigurestart.com or pose them during the webinar.  Questions submitted in advance will be answered first.

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