HRC Blog

Back to Work with Sharon Skipper

The following is from HRC's Associate Director of Diversity Allyson Robinson: Sharon Skipper

HRC’s Back to Work project to empowers transgender Americans who are unemployed or underemployed to find jobs is making its first stop in Boston on February 26-27.  To find out more about how the Back to Work seminars make a critical difference for transgender job seekers I recently sat down with Sharon Skipper, CEO of the Foundation for New Directions and lead trainer for Back to Work, to ask her about her work and what participants can expect.

Q:  What topics do you plan to cover?

Our workshop is designed to provide a comprehensive, detailed education on the techniques used to secure employment.  We’ll start by talking about discovering and refining your career focus, expanding your marketability to potential employers, and turning things you perceive to be your liabilities into assets.  Then we’ll move into meat and potatoes: writing a stand-out résumé, building your network, and landing the interview.   We’ll cover interviewing, negotiating compensation, and starting your career the right way.  And of course we’ll teach how to manage information about your gender transition throughout the process.

Q:  Who should attend the seminar?

The Back to Work seminars are open to any person is or has been in gender transition and is unemployed or considers themselves to be underemployed.  Anyone who fits these requirements has a lot to gain from attending, regardless of their employment status, education level, or age.  Learning the proper job search techniques is like learning how to swim. Proper swimming techniques apply to everyone, and so do the job search techniques we teach. We’ve presented them to corporate executives hit by a “downsizing,” incarcerated prisoners in state and county prisons during the 60 days prior to release, senior military personnel facing an impending retirement, recent college and high school graduates, as well as bankers, truck drivers, medical doctors, ministers and priests, attorneys, musicians, those in gender transition, and house painters – all with outstanding results.

Q:  Can you tell me more about the Foundation for New Directions?

We’ve been assisting people since 1984 and have built a reputation for being the most successful (as measured by clients success in securing an appropriate position) and caring organization in the career management industry.  Much of that success comes from the kind of consultants we employ.  They’re highly educated and highly experienced – many with advanced degrees in career counseling, human resources management, or strategic planning, as well as such diverse areas as psychology, religion, and law.  They also hold important recognized credentials in the career coaching industry.

Q:  How have you made a critical difference for transgender job seekers?

Our customized marketing service is specifically designed to meet the needs of transgender people who are transitioning and competing in today’s new job market. It differs dramatically from traditional outplacement services, as we pick up where most outplacement services leave off.

We empower our clients to take a very active role in marketing themselves. This includes uncovering their options instead of simply giving advice; assisting with their copywriting instead of just showing them how to do it; using the very latest state-of-the-art research technology to develop opportunities instead of showing them how to use a library to do research; and actively assisting them every step of the way to achieve success in their new gender role.

Working by themselves, few people have the ability to create real interest in their own unique experience and credentials. The additional burden of marketing yourself during or following a gender transition is doubly daunting. Our services are all about competitive advantage. Our goal is to help the transitioning individual develop the right amount of activity, and to help them do it with far more speed and convenience, saving them time and money in the process.

The steps we use in each job-search campaign are the critical factors influencing their career moves. This is the non-traditional approach we’ve successfully used for marketing people from 44 foreign countries and every state and territory in the union.

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