New System Unveiled to Eradicate African American Unemployment Crisis
Strategies on how to reduce the ever rising unemployment rate among the African American population are explored in a new book released February 5, 2014. When Your Parachute is Black: The African American’s Guide to 21st Century Employment unveils a system that will permanently shrink the African-American unemployment crisis.
When Your Parachute is Black is authored by leadership expert Dr. William M. White. White has previously co-authored Apex Thinking and What Leaders Believe, two leadership books used in leadership degree programs in higher education.
In When your Parachute is Black, White has expanded the outplacement model used successfully for over five decades to prepare primarily unemployed white workers in the private sector for new and better positions by addressing many of the challenges faced by African Americans as they seek employment. The current published unemployment rate for African Americans is over 13 percent while the unemployment rate for the general population is less than seven percent. The number is even higher for African Americans between the ages of 18 and 24. This unacceptable discrepancy has existed since the mid-sixties.
When Your Parachute is Black answers five critical questions by providing African-Americans an opportunity to evaluate their skills, accomplishments, values, strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes in a manner that reduces the opportunity for racism and discrimination. More importantly, readers learn how to pursue their passion or vision. The step-by-step techniques presented in When Your Parachute is Black provide African-Americans with valuable management skills necessary to successfully navigate the twenty-first century job market.
Readers of his book have expressed great enthusiasm for his project. Carol Rolling, an African-American executive Outplacement Consultant from Laguna Hills, CA, wrote, “I applaud Dr. White for his insight and patience to make When Your Parachute is Black a reality; a process that will change the way African Americans view work for generations to come.”
TABLE OF CONTENTS
When Your Parachute is Black – Available February 15th 2013
Part I: Planning
Chapters 1-3 Beginning Your 21st Century Employment Journey into the Unknown
In Chapter 1-3 of When Your Parachute is Black, African-American job seekers learn about the changes in the job market in the 21st century and how they must adapt to be successful in this new market. Special emphasis is placed on the Department of Labor Statistics employment projections through the year 2020 and The Hudson Institute’s employment projections through the year 2020 in Workforce 2020. The discussion centers around the skills, education and training necessary for employees to remain competitive and the specific challenges presented to African-Americans. From studying projections, readers are taken through an exercise on goal setting. They are led through the process of setting personal goals, family goals, community goals, spiritual goals and career goals. Next, the African-American job seekers are introduced to the five critical career questions for success:
- 1. What do I need to do now to further my career?
- 2. What do I want to be in five years? Ten years?
- 3. Do I have a plan or strategy to reach my goal?
- 4. What will some of the roadblocks be and how will I deal with them?
- 5. Where do I start?
Chapter 4- Career Coaching and Diagnostic Tools
Chapter 4 begins with a discussion on understanding the ways that people get hired; creating positions, being a known candidate through networking , and searching the ads and applying. Chapter 4 is one of the most important chapters in When Your Parachute is Black, because readers have the opportunity to clearly define what they want to do in their work lives. Readers use assessment tools to identify skills, traits, interests, achievements, and values. At the end of this chapter the readers create a 3-5 year career vision and develop a professional objective.
Chapter 5- Goal Setting
In Case You Need More
While When Your Parachute is Black is designed to be a stand-alone self improvement document, some readers may want more. At the end of each part, additional print resources and internet resources are provided for those readers.
Phase II: Zeroing in on a Career Objective
Chapter 6- Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
In Chapter 6 of When Your Parachute is Black, the readers are provided with a step-by-step process in developing their knowledge, skills and abilities or what is frequently referred to as KSAs. KSAs are used as a tool to rate a candidate’s potential performance in a position as described in a job vacancy announcement. KSAs are important because they are the primary tool currently used to evaluate potential employees. Essentially, these are competencies or capabilities that one has relating to what one knows, the things one can do and the roles one can play to effectively perform a job. At the end of the chapter, readers list their KSAs for use later in the process.
Chapter 7- Personal Characteristics Inventory
In chapter 7 of When Your Parachute is Black, readers identify their prominent traits or personal characteristics. African Americans must carefully identify their personal characteristics because they may adversely affect their ability to be hired or promoted. People make assumptions about you, valid or not, based on their perceptions of your personal characteristics. The need to adjust one’s behavior in the workplace may seem an unfair requirement for African Americans, but in fact, it is no different than when we have to make similar adjustments in other situations such as church, synagogues or a library. This chapter provides concrete examples of how personal characteristics play out in the workplace.
Chapter 8- Identifying Personal Values: A Thoughtful Process
African Americans frequently hold on to low paying jobs that are in total conflict with their values. They suffer from migraine headaches, heart problems, hypertension and other stress related disorders partly because of these values conflicts at work. In chapter 8 of When Your Parachute is Black, readers are taught how to review their values as an ongoing process in order to make improvements in their lives. They identify their top ten values, identify values of interested organizations and compare the two for compatibility. Often the compatibility is not there. The goal in chapter 8 is to provide information that helps the reader determine if he or she “fits” in an organization. This allows the reader to make informed decisions about accepting a position or remaining in a position.
Chapter 9- Translating Knowledge, Skills Abilities and Personal
Characteristics to Results Oriented Accomplishments Chapter 9 of When Your Parachute is Black provides African-Americans with a clear understanding of how to translate knowledge, skills and abilities and personal characteristics to results oriented accomplishment statements. These are exciting stories to be shared later about the reader’s past accomplishments. Accomplishment stories showcase one’s knowledge, skills, abilities and personal characteristics on their resume to support how well he or she has performed their jobs in the past; on cover letters to tailor their resume to a specific job; during a networking meeting, to tell a networking partner what he can do; and during an interview to support skills necessary to perform job functions. Many African Americans find this process difficult because the African American worldview is generally one where the individual comes into being only, in context of the group. One goal is to help African Americans understand the difference between bragging and sharing what you can do to solve an employer’s problems. The POAR (problem, obstacle(s), action, result) process is introduced to help the reader write results oriented
Chapter 10- Likes and Dislikes
Many of the decisions we make about our careers revolve around who we like, the environments we like to work in, the tasks we like to perform and the way we like to be managed. The 21st century workplace is challenging workers to learn to live in a workplace filled with ambiguity and to adapt to change. This means learning to deal with work environments that are not perfect. In chapter 10 of When Your Parachute is Black, the reader is presented with approaches that help her evaluate the value judgments she makes about the people with whom she works. Identifying likes and dislikes allows the reader to make conscious decisions about what he will or will not change about likes or dislikes to be successful in a job.
Chapter 11- Career Visioning
No matter how success is defined, those who reach it do so with a vision. In chapter 11 of When Your Parachute is Black, the reader is introduced to the concept of a “definite major purpose.” This concept of visioning allows one to be specific as to the type of career he seeks, the industry of interest and the location of the job. This vision is written for a five year period. The definite major purpose becomes the foundation for the job search or career development process.
Chapter 12- Mentoring as a Vehicle to Reach Your Vision
Mentoring has always been the most important vehicle used to transfer knowledge and develop employees. Most African Americans do not have formal career mentors. Chapter 12 of When Your Parachute is Black, provides an in depth discussion about choosing and working with a mentor. Six primary pillars of mentoring are presented. Detailed instructions for the mentoring process are provided, including clear protégé and mentor responsibilities necessary for success. A template is provided at the end of the chapter where the reader summarizes her personal assessment, including the mentoring process.
Chapter 13- Choosing a Career/Professional Objective
Chapter 13 of When Your Parachute is Black, focuses on developing one’s career or professional objective. A career or professional objective is a personal statement that will detail the specifics of one’s career choice in terms that are comfortable to him. It provides direction so that the individual can focus on the long term and short term goals one needs to reach in order to meet the stated objectives. It is action oriented in that it is an opportunity for one to take control of his life while being able to communicate effectively to an employer what one can do for them. An effective career objective contains a career specialty; a job title; an industry of interest; functional areas; and skills. Career objects are usually presented as a narrative or with bullet points. African Americans have to master this section if they are to reach their full potential for their careers.
In Case You Need More
As with Phase I, Phase II provides additional print and internet resources for the reader who seeks more information on the subjects presented, including www.yourblackparachute.com which is the companion to this book.
Phase III: Creating an Effective Communication Plan
Chapter 14- Communication Challenges for African Americans in the 21st Century
Given an environment where African Americans continue to face discrimination in the workplace, creating an effective communications plan that delivers a consistent message, connecting to the employer or networking partner, an African American with a clear communications message cannot be easily dismissed. In chapter 14 of When Your Parachute is Black, the reader is taught how to create a race neutral communication package which consists of a professional profile, resume, cover letters, reference list and a status message. Strategies for effectively promoting one’s self to minimize being at the mercy of the marketplace and all its biases are addressed.
Chapter 15- Developing a Professional Profile
In chapter 15 of When Your Parachute is Black, the reader is taught how to present himself as a professional, which includes your job title, what you specialize in, where you obtained your skills and how you have additional skills which are transferrable that help him stand out from other applicants. Additionally, developing a professional profile is used to write a race neutral summary statement for the resume and to answer the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question during an interview. This is particularly important for African American job seekers because too many of us try to “wing it” and do not bother the practice. Throughout When Your Parachute is Black, I emphasize the importance of being prepared, practice, polite persistence and patience to being successful.
Chapter 16- Creating Your Race Neutral Resume
Chapter 16 of When Your Parachute is Black focuses on the creation of a race neutral resume. Employers cannot afford to bring in hundreds or even thousands of applicants for an interview for a position. Research shows an applicant has 20 seconds to get the attention of a screener. Getting around entries on the resume that exposes one’s race such as Black sounding names are dealt with in this chapter. Chronological resumes, functional resumes, combination resumes and curriculum vitas are discussed at length. Also, presented in chapter 16 are the three major uses of the resume; to screen out candidates, the agenda for an interview and a reminder for the applicant of her accomplishments and dates during an interview or networking meeting.
Chapter 17- Writing Cover Letters That Get Responses
The second most critical element of a communications strategy is the cover letter. Too often this tool is treated much too lightly. Chapter 17 of When Your Parachute is Black, zeros in on what works and what does not work on the cover letter. Cover letters are used to introduce a candidate to a perspective employer or a networking partner; identify the position the candidate is applying for; to present how the candidate found out about the position; to tailor the candidates knowledge, skills and abilities to the position for which she is applying; to make one’s resume stand out amongst hundreds of equally or better qualified candidates and to turn a lack of education, experience and other negatives in to pluses. Sample cover letters are available in the appendix to support chapter 17.
Chapter 18- Providing the Proper References
Providing proper references is another element of a communications plan that warrants a considerable amount of thought. Many African Americans fail in this area. Choosing the right references and coaching them provides a consistent message. One of the most common reasons highly qualified applicants are turned down for a position is they received a bad job reference. Chapter 18 of When Your Parachute is Black, works with the reader to provide strategies that will insure that consistent message.
Chapter 19- Clarification of Status Statement
Most job seekers are at an all time emotional low when looking for a new job or changing careers. It is easy for them to come across negatively. For this reason, the candidate should take the time to explain to a prospective employer in positive ways why he is looking for a new position. Chapter 19 of When Your Parachute is Black, teaches candidates to present their status in language that suggests future opportunity and growth. At the end of this chapter the reader is coached through writing their clarification of status statement.
Chapter 20- Creating Your Plan
African Americans in general have not devoted much thought to planning their careers or immediate employment. Often they do not land the jobs they really want or jobs that provide the quality of life they desire. Chapter 20 of When Your Parachute is Black provide the reader with 10 guidelines for creating a marketing plan that has landed great jobs for Americans. The reader is reminded how central to the success of marketing one’s self is, the need for him to stay motivated, and how critical it is to be focused and remain patient.
In Case You Need More
As with Parts I and II, Part III provides additional print and internet resources for the reader who seeks more information on the subjects presented, including www.yourblackparachute.com which is the companion to this book.
Phase IV: Pulling it All Together: Implementation
Chapter 21- Researching Your Target Organizations
In chapter 21 of When Your Parachute is Black, the focus is on researching one’s target organizations and industries. In order for the reader to increase the odds a new job is a good fit, it is critical that research is performed on the organizations he is interesting in joining. Performing a background check on companies of interest will help ensure that the organization is a place where he can be productive, grow and build a future. In the 21st century, there are many ways to perform research on organizations which include: personal networking, Online networking, organizational Websites, media searches, company blogs, Twitter, message boards, professional associations and third party resources such as Hoovers, www.vault.com, and www.irin.com. Readers begin to internalize how completing the research improves their chances of nailing the interview and more importantly set themselves up for a career that is most rewarding emotionally and personally.
Chapter 22- Using Diverse Methods in Your Job Search
Eighty to ninety percent of workers find their jobs through networking in the 21st century. However, most African Americans do not know how to effectively network. They do not realize that networking is a systematic process that when employed correctly is powerful. Much of chapter 22 of When Your Parachute is Black, focuses on effective networking. Other methods in an effective job search strategy include: the job application process (in person and online), finding jobs online, attending job fairs, and using search firms. Through these processes the reader is reminded why finding a job is a full time job.
Chapter 23- Nailing the Job Interview
As I mentioned earlier, it is not unusual for an African American job seeker to “wing it” when they are looking for a new position. Chapter 23 of When Your Parachute is Black, presents the interview as the single most important process to getting a job offer. There are 17 steps listed that, when mastered, produce knowledge which leads to self-confidence and a good performance during an interview. Also, presented, are 50 questions with recommended strategies for answering the questions effectively and guidelines for appropriate follow-up. Chapter 23 concludes with a section on compensation negotiation. Readers are taught how to determine what their minimum salary requirements are and to determine their worth.
Epilog – You Landed that Great Job – Now What?
Chapter 24 of When Your Parachute is Black, advises the reader of what must be done to close out her search. Topics covered include thanking relevant networking partners; setting up a meeting with your new manager to strategize on-boarding for the new job; identifying major partners, including subordinates, who will help lead to her success; clarifying expectations for the job, managing by walking around; not changing things before you determine what is working and what is not; becoming familiar with equipment; listening with and watching for unwritten rules for success; letting others know you enjoy your work; not forgetting to say thank you; and keeping your resume current and your network active.
The appendix contains all the forms needed to complete the assessments, a template for resume preparation, a template for creating a marketing plan, and forms to be used to track productivity.
Www.yourblackparachute.com is a companion website for When Your Parachute is Black. Purchasers of When Your Parachute is Black will have access to www.yourblackparachute.com which features employment articles specifically for the African American job seeker, sample resumes, sample e-portfolios, and an active blog. The general public will be encouraged to share their employment stories on the Website.
When Your Parachute is Black will be updated as needed, resulting in subsequent editions.
It’s a New Year – time to evaluate your professional goals and assess the progress you’ve made in your career over the last 12 months. Are you happy with where you’re at and where you’re headed?