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New study on class cues confirms suspicions on workplace diversity

(NEWS) New study evaluates the effects of class, race and gender on job applications.

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It’s best to be a rich, white guy in America. Also, water is wet

Newsflash, you guys: in America, rich men have the most fun, the best jobs, the most money – they’re basically winning, and doing it way more often than any of the rest of us. A new study by the Harvard Business Review reaffirms this unfortunate fact of life, and discusses specific ways in which class cues and gender can effect recruitment decisions.

The field experiment focused on the legal sector, and analyzed data based on four nearly identical (fake) resumes for four (fake) law students. The legal industry can be especially unforgiving to those who fail to emit some sort of elite pheromones.

The way of the world

If you’re at a top law school like Harvard or Yale, the recruiters swarm you. If you’re a top law firm, the students swarm you for internships. If you’re a student without a degree from a top school, or an internship with a top law firm, you’re probably out of luck unless you want to go into an “inferior” area like non-profit work. The legal profession has its own 1 percent, and it always has that new-suit smell.

Basically, if you want the big name and the big bucks, you better get that big internship.

But if you’re a woman or you didn’t grow up in a wealthy household, you probably have to be a whole lot better than everyone around you to even get an interview.

Proof is in the pudding

The Harvard Business Review created four sample resumes, sent out to 316 offices of 147 top law firms in 14 different cities. Each fake candidate attended the same school, earned the same awesome GPA, served on the law review, and listed the same work experiences. Gender was signaled by first name, and class status was signaled by things like awards, extracurriculars, and hobbies: Sailing vs. Track and Field, classical music vs. country music, athletic award vs. athletic award for those on financial aid, peer mentor for first year students vs. peer mentor for first-generation college students.

Unsurprisingly, the resumes bearing male first names and upper class hobbies fared significantly better than all others. In fact, the upper class male candidate received more interview invitations than all other candidates combined.Click To Tweet

Slightly more surprising was the fact that being wealthy didn’t seem to make up for being a woman. The lower class female and male candidates each received more interview invitations than the upper class counterpart, making rich women the least desirable candidates of the four.

Why was having money hurting women’s chances?

The HBR conducted a second experiment to investigate. They sent the same four resumes out to 200 practicing attorneys nationwide, asking each attorney to assess one of the resumes to determine whether they’d like to interview them. They also asked each attorney to rate the candidate on relevant factors based on perception, which are proven to vary between men and women, like competence, likeability, organizational fit, and career commitment.

As before, the upper-class, male candidate was everyone’s favorite. The survey found that attorneys perceived both higher-class candidates as better fits with the (high class) culture and customers of the top firms.

But higher-class women were viewed as less committed to working a demanding job.

That means these attorneys, and 20 more individually interviewed attorneys, believe women are more likely to leave a job for an easier role, or for “family” reasons.

Beating a dead horse. (Not really, chill PETA)

That’s right, you guys. Because women are capable of growing, birthing, and parenting children, their plates are already full, or might, you know, eventually sometime in the future be full enough? And upper class women probably already have enough money, right? So why on earth would they ever choose to pursue a career? Just another example of women behaving illogically, I guess…

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The HBR study ultimately cites intersectionality as an explanation for their findings: “When it comes to understanding sources of advantage and disadvantage, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Like everything else in the labor market, privilege works differently for men and women.

How do we fix it?

Well, if you’re an employer, you can request initials instead of full names, to mitigate gender bias. You can also forgo information like extra-curriculars and hobbies, which have more potential to reveal class cues, though attendance at a top tier university will continue to send those signals.

As a candidate, you can also choose to omit this information on your resume, and to avoid listing awards and honors that might indicate class or background. But for many candidates, that would mean eliminating all or most of their impressive accomplishments. Everything’s a trade off, but if you’re after that 1 percent lifestyle, some tweaks might be worth making.

#SelectiveClassCues

Staff Writer, Natalie Bradford earned her B.A. in English from Cornell University and spends a lot of time convincing herself not to bake MORE brownies. She enjoys cats, cocktails, and good films - preferably together. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Business Marketing

Take Google classes online for free to give your brand superpowers

(BUSINESS) If you own a business or lead one, take one of many interesting free Google classes to brush up or learn new info to gain a competitive advantage.

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Staying competitive means not only hiring the right people, making the right product, and being a good leader – it means investing in your own development.

Especially if you’re an entrepreneur – it pays to invest in your own development by taking classes, webinars, and other forms of education.

Online courses in particular are useful if you have competing roles (or multiple roles!) that keep you from being able to attend a local course. Google offers a few free Google classes that are listed on platforms like Udacity.

There are many courses available that could benefit your company; here are three worth starting with:

  • App Monetization – Ultimately, most of us are in the business to make money. This course is useful because it equips you to consider profitability from the beginning, and then introduces monetization models and from there, prompts you to develop a strategy and gives information to track a strategy. This course is focused on sharing best practices, and makes you a better manager even if not developing an app, per se. Course is available via Udacity.
  • Localization Essentials – If you want to compete in the global market, and you are ready for that, it is essential that you consider how your product will need to be adapted both in terms of language and culture. This course is especially valuable for developers, product owners, or localization newbies. Knowing the fundamentals of localization makes you more prepared for dealing with a global audience. Course is available via Udacity.
  • Responsive Web Design – People like it when things work. I’ve said before that people are visual, but they also crave intuition. This course talks about responsive web design and discuss what works across different devices (because we don’t always go on our computer!) with a focus on optimization. This class does require a good comfort in reading HTML and CSS. People interact with products first online many times – make sure your website is responsive to any device. Course is available via Udacity.

There are of course a much larger amount of online courses on everything from history to design, and beyond. Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are sustenance for knowledge seekers. Check out for example, the Science of Happiness from UC Berkeley, or learn about Analyzing and Visualizing Data with Excel directly from Microsoft.

Before engaging in an online course, make sure:

  • You are interested in the topic.
  • You have the pre-requisites and key knowledge. Read the course description!
  • You make the time.

Many MOOCs are free, not just Google classes – but time and your own work are still valuable. It’s easy to write off something for free, but you want to maximize your time and make sure you get something out of it. Being educated can give you an advantage, but keep learning relevant to your interests and goals.

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Business Marketing

5 ways voice is changing the SEO game

(TECH NEWS) As voice assistants take over our lives, you may worry how your SEO fares in this new, uncharted territory. Let’s discuss.

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SEO is a moving target. The standards change constantly so, despite years of experience, many web designers struggle to meet all the optimization guidelines. How, then, can any business confidently approach the web design process? It starts with recognizing those evolving norms, the newest of which is voice search.

Why Voice Search Matters

For years, the dominant SEO rule has been mobile first. The introduction of voice recognition systems, like Siri and Alexa, to smartphones has dramatically changed how we interact with devices. In fact, 20% of Google searches are voice searches with that number expected to grow rapidly over the next few months. Businesses and web designers, then, need to make sure their sites are voice ready if they want to stay relevant. Though the sites may stay the same visually, they need to gain a new edge functionally.

From The Ground Up

Modifying your website to support voice search isn’t as simple as many other SEO transitions, but if you take a ground up approach to the process, you’ll be able to reshape your website around those changes. Still, you’ll need help to do this correctly. When adapting your website for voice, SEO consultant Aaron Rains recommends hiring an expert for a full site audit and analysis to maintain your page ranking. You don’t want your page to take a rankings hit because you’re trying to keep up with the trends.

Expanding Your Device Options

In addition to its advantages from a mobile perspective, making the move to voice search also means expanding your site’s horizons by making it more accessible to new devices, particularly the smart home speakers that are gaining in popularity. Users are particularly comfortable with these devices because they rely on natural speech patterns rather than half-formed search terms. Children growing up with these smart speakers in their homes seem to view them as part of the family and will be native voice search users as they grow.

Snippets For Search

Part of updating your website for speech is optimizing the content to match changing search patterns. One of the key ways to do this is through the use of featured snippets.

Featured snippets are designed to help put your website in the #0 spot – the top ranking. To do that, you’ll want to put the answers to your most popular queries in the first few sentences on your page. This is especially for purchasing and local search since people frequently use voice search to find local businesses. If you can optimize for the most important snippets early on, you’ll be way ahead on the competition and have a greater ROI.

Rebuild and Reassess

After modifying your website for voice, you may find your rankings initially drop. That’s because you need to request your site be re-indexed. Otherwise, search engines won’t be able to match queries with your new site content. Re-indexing will put all of your new information into effect and make it possible for users to search using the featured snippets. Re-indexing your site will also help you ensure that you haven’t interfered with the crawl-ability of your site.

Experts expect half of all searches to be voice-driven by 2020, but since 50% of users with voice search access already use it at least occasionally, now is the time to act. Even if many users are still wary of voice search, you can’t afford to fall behind. Those users will still be able to rely on traditional text search mechanisms, but that won’t help voice enthusiasts. If you lose those early adopters now, they might not come back when you’ve caught up with the voice search revolution.

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Business Marketing

How to use offline marketing to your advantage in a digital world

(BUSINESS) We often become obsessed with new marketing strategies, favoring the internet over some traditional methods that continue to drive traffic timelessly.

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offline marketing open sign for small business

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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