Special Segment: Women Back to Work

November 2, 2009 (CHICAGO) Some female applicants find they need to adapt to compete for jobs.

It's hard for all job seekers now.

ABC7 took a look at ways to help get women back to work.

Diane Wilson is heading to her second interview of the day and it's only 10 a.m.

"I've walked out all my jitters," said Wilson.

She's been on the job hunt for a year - pretty typical in this economy. Wilson says the long search can wear you down.

"I do a lot of affirmations just to keep myself positive," said Wilson.

Wilson says she learned how to turn her attitude around with the help of Career Transitions Center of Chicago or CTC for short. The center offers assistance to both men and women, but we found some women sharing their stories, suggestions and encouragement.

During an accountability group at CTC, participants share their goals for the week and are held accountable by their peers. They say what may be more important they get support and advice from other women like moms balancing the job search with being with family.

Orla Castanien found child care was an investment. Now she makes the most out of time with her daughter and time when her daughter's with a babysitter.

"For a while, I was trying to work, look for a job, and develop a business plan while taking care of my 18-month-old but I soon learned that that doesn't work," said Castanien.

For many women in the group, a big challenge is being a bit boastful.

"I was raised to do a lot, accomplish a lot but not talk about it," said Nitha Nagubadi.

"There's the audacity of picking up that phone or sending that email," said Leanne Fosbre.

Lauren Milligan is a resume writer and says she often has to push female clients to think beyond the tasks they completed and answer these questions: what was the result of my work and why was my work valuable?

"The women really have to step up a bit and say I have done this and this and these were the results and these were the contributions this is what it meant this to my organization," said Milligan.

Milligan says confidence in your work leads to confidence telling your story to prospective employers.

"It's not always to most qualified candidate that gets the job it the person that can sell themselves the best," said Milligan.

Sima Dahl of Parlay Communications is a social networking coach. She helps clients change attitudes with this visualization.

"I really have to encourage women to put on their man hat and brag a bit about their accomplishments and take ownership for their personal brand," said Dahl.

We caught up with Diane Wilson now done interviewing for the day. She says an attitude shift was looking at herself as a valuable commodity. And after years in sales, she had to become comfortable selling herself.

"Practice in the mirror. Practice with your tape recorder. Toot your horn in a way that sounds natural for you," said Wilson.

Wilson says the sales pitch works on her too and it helps her persevere.

"You gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you kiss the prince," said Wilson.

One asset that many women have is the ability and desire to help others.

Sima Dahl suggests considering how you might actually help your prospective employer fill a need in the company or how you can help a fellow job seeker network if you extend a hand first.

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