On Monday afternoon, the Dallas Convention Center was the place to be for all aspiring women in the security field. The ASIS International CSO Roundtable’s Preseminar Intensive offered a wealth of good advice and ideas for today’s professional females aiming to succeed in their careers.
The events began with the introduction of the speakers for the first session, “How to Promote Yourself.” They were Kathy Lavinder, executive director of Security and Investigative Placement Consultants, LLC, of Bethesda, Maryland, a retained search firm devoted to finding and placing highly qualified experts in security and investigation; Stephanie Angelo, president and owner of the consulting and training company Human Resource Essential, LLC, of Chandler, Arizona; and Ed McDonough, CPP, director of global security for Tyco International Ltd., of Princeton, New Jersey, a diversified, global company that provides vital products and services to customers in more than 60 countries.
Angelo began by giving attendees an honest picture of how recruiters such as herself sort through the résumés that arrive for an open position. She asked the audience if they thought she spent five minutes, a minute, or 30 seconds looking at each résumé. The truth, she admitted, was none of these. She said she spends about 15 seconds per résumé. “If certain things don’t pop off the page, they go in the ‘thanks, but no thanks’ pile,” Angelo stated.
The résumés that make the cut include a résumé and cover letter that is customized for that company and position. “You need to do your homework—or rather eyework—to find out about the company and know who you are talking to,” she explained. Among the ways to do this, she suggested, are including a quote from the company’s annual report or from the job description.
When reviewing résumés, she said, prospective employers do not want to see a reverse chronology of the applicant’s work history. “Companies want to know what’s in it for them. What did you accomplish for a past employer that you can do for them? Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. They want to know if you saved money for the organization, or if you managed with five employees when there used to be 10—quantitative things.”
Angelo cautioned against “cutesy,” saying that using fancy fonts or colored paper résumés, for example, “no longer work.” She suggested using a good stock white paper with a single font in three formats—for example, regular, bold, and italic.
She told listeners that the cover letter needs to speak to the person who is receiving it. It should not be addressed to “dear sir or dear ma’am.” It should also highlight accomplishments that don’t fit on the résumé.
Next, Lavinder focused on self-promotion. “I want to talk about what self-promotion is and isn’t and what it can do and can’t,” she explained.
Lavinder said that she has met many women who say that they cannot be self-promotive, “It’s not in my nature; it’s not in my culture—I tell them to get over it. You have to do it to get recognition and promotions.”
Women needed to be self-promotive both in the company and outside of it. “If you don’t do it, no one else will. Let people inside know about your contributions and skills,” she prompted, saying that there are ways to do this that do not appear overly aggressive or self-serving.
“How you say it is as important as what you say,” Lavinder explained. As an example, she noted, rather than saying to “your boss’s boss that you worked all weekend to make sure that the company didn’t end up on the front page of the newspaper, say that ‘We dodged a bullet the other day, but we became aware of the situation and we worked to correct it.’” In this way, the employee stresses that she is a team player who is bringing value to the organization.
Lavinder also told attendees that certain behavior gets results. “You should project confidence, say what you need to say, and then stop. Believe in yourself. Use humor, storytelling, and creativity,” she noted.
Externally, Lavinder said, women needed to network, volunteer, and make themselves “thought leaders” in their industry. She highly recommended participating in LinkedIn’s forums. “There is no downside to doing this,” she stressed.
McDonough stressed professionalism. “It’s the key element in getting noticed in a positive way. People think that that is someone valuable who can add to the organization,” he said.
He coached the attendees to “be confident, but not cocky. Be assertive but not aggressive…. Stay composed, be cool under pressure. In the security world that is very important. You inspire confidence that way.” McDonough also said that is important to communicate effectively in writing and in presentations. He also stressed finding a mentor within the company who can be consulted, and to mentor others in return.
McDonough stressed the importance of networking and looking for opportunities to volunteer. “ASIS can provide so many opportunities to do this through ASIS councils or with the local chapters,” he said.
Later in the day, attendees heard about “Staying Competitive While Managing the Work/Life Balance,” from experts Natalie Runyon, vice president of leadership and training for Goldman Sachs; Lorrie Bentley-Navarro, CPP, deputy director of security, SAS Institute; and Normadene Murphy, manager-in-charge for Guardsmark. This was followed by an open session and a networking reception sponsored by Accenture, a global management consulting firm.