The keys to becoming a successful businesswoman are knowing your goals and working to reach them, a human resources professional told a seminar group this week.
"Planning our careers take time, a conscious effort," said Connie Pritchard, president of The Pritchard Group in North Augusta. She said career help begins with looking at self.
The group of seven women who attended the seminar at Augusta State University's Galloway Hall were encouraged to look at their lives, design their perfect jobs without lingering on job titles and realize that the employment atmosphere and job market has changed.
"That old employment contract is not there anymore," Dr. Pritchard said. Workers who thought they just needed to show up for work on time, do a decent job and not make waves for 30 years are losing their jobs to downsizing now, she said.
Downsizing and severance packages are leading longtime workers into different professions and leading some to form new businesses. And because aging baby boomers - the largest segment of people in the United States - mostly are affected, many managers now are younger people.
"We may be 30 and supervising a 60 year old," Dr. Pritchard said. "... Our security in our careers lie in our ability to find another job."
Finding another job, learning how to succeed in a present job and looking for job fulfillment were the topics mainly on the women's minds.
One topic was networking, how some people abuse the vital tool in finding information or even a job.
"I found out I do for a lot of people but they don't return the favor," one woman said. She wanted to know how to determine with whom to network.
"This isn't just beating someone over the head senseless and all their information falls out and then move on to the next person," Dr. Pritchard said. "We are not about doing that here. ... It's an ethical relationship."
One woman, an engineer, was frustrated because of the red tape involved just to speak to supervisors. .
"I can't seem to break out," she said. "I'm done. I'm burnt out."
"Look for boundary-spanning people in your life" to network with, Dr. Pritchard said, such as copier repair people, car dealers, ministers, bankers and children's teachers.
One woman who has been unemployed since returning to the area from California needed advice on looking for a job.
"I'm looking for the perfect job title and it doesn't exist," she said.
Job-seekers should look at skills they can transfer from one job to another rather than concentrate on job titles, which can change and even be part of a bargaining tool with a potential employer.
After getting hired, "once you've established yourself ... all of a sudden, you have room to find your niche," Dr. Pritchard said.