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The elevator in the Toy Building is packed. The door opens on six and a petite woman dressed in black steps out. "Did you see who that was?" one man asks another, poking his side. "Betty James." The other man snorts. "Yeah, I could tell by the diamonds on her finger," he says.
Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman has traded the East Coast and its knee-high snowdrifts for balmy, palmy Palo Alto this winter, teaching journalism at Stanford University for a quarter. "Winter quarter?" she asked incredulously. "They call this winter?" Goodman, 54, describes her generation of working women as having been "on the cutting edge of change." She began her career at Newsweek magazine in 1963, at a time when sex discrimination was still legal. She worked there as a researcher because only men were allowed to be reporters.
You may not know it, but Robin Burns probably had something to do with what's in your makeup tray. For 15 years Burns has been a major player in the cosmetics industry. As president of Calvin Klein Cosmetics, she supervised the creation and launch of Obsession and Eternity, two blockbuster fragrances of the 1980s. Since 1990 Burns has been president and chief executive officer of Estee Lauder, USA & Canada, the nation's largest manufacturer of department store cosmetics.
How can you earn the salary you're worth? You have to ask for it. In today's economy, most employees can't bank on annual megabuck raises as a matter of course. In fact, surveys indicate that salary increases in 1996 will hover around 4 percent.
Anyone who has worked longer than a week knows the importance of mentors. They advise you on career development, guide you through the corporate jungle and champion your cause, helping to position you for promotions or high-profile assignments. But today, the traditional belief that mentors can be found in the big office down the hall no longer is true. First, downsizings have obliterated the concept of lifetime employment and removed many of the people who, in earlier times, would have been ideal mentors.
As most college football fans know, the Northwestern Wildcats didn't make it to the 1996 Rose Bowl on talent alone. Much of the credit for the team's success goes to coach Gary Barnett, who convinced players to believe in their success and fostered an environment in which success could flourish. The same motivational strategy can translate to the working world if managers practice positive thinking and help employees develop their potential.
Plenty of daunting chores await the job hunter, from writing a knockout resume to acing an interview. But writing an enticing cover letter might be the toughest task of all. "First, it's not easy to describe your skills," says Richard Beatty, author of "175 High-Impact Cover Letters" (John Wiley & Sons, $10.95). "Second, most people only write cover letters once or twice over a lifetime, so it doesn't come naturally." But learning how to write a compelling cover letter that highlights your accomplishments and promotes your attributes is crucial. That's because a cover letter does more than introduce a resume. It should "show what distinguishes you from other candidates who may have similar qualifications," says Judi Lansky, a Chicago career counselor.
Have you resolved to find a new job in 1996?
Ten years ago Barbara B. Roberts did the unthinkable: She walked away from a lucrative job on Wall Street.
Sally McMillian, a Texas correctional officer, was violently assaulted one day while locked in a dorm with inmates. An angry woman charged her, screaming. "She had a combination lock in her hand and she hit me in the left side of my head," recounts McMillian, who worked at a maximum security prison for women. "It addled me. My glasses fell, and I thought she had burst my eyeball. Blood was going everywhere. She started pounding my head, and I passed out."
Diane Elswick spends 90 percent of her workday at a desk - mostly typing on a computer. That's why the pain in her back, which used to ache all the way from her neck down to her tailbone, made sitting at that desk an excruciating experience.
There's no denying that job interviewing is something of an art. In many cases, your success in landing a job will hinge not on your qualifications but on how well you present them to interviewers who have laundry lists of specific responses they want to hear and specific behaviors they want to see.
In the 1980s, many smart, dressed-for-success women and men invested much of their time on getting ahead. Now they are asking: "Is it worth it? What is it all for?" Over power lunches in the 1990s, the successful, but stressed, talk enviously about those lucky souls whose every waking moment isn't scheduled weeks ahead in Daytimers, who actually have time to walk their kids to school or maybe coach Little League. On a moment's notice, they can have a beer with friends or stop by and see the folks.
Tired of those holiday potluck luncheons and Secret Santa gift exchanges at the office? This season you can help your community and boost morale by getting involved in a charitable project instead. There are diverse possibilities, from tutoring children to serving food at a soup kitchen. Here's how six companies nationwide are giving back to the community during the holidays:
Do you ever dream of parlaying your business expertise into a consulting practice? Or turning an avocation into a sideline business that ultimately could lead to full-time work? As businesses continue to downsize, a growing number of Americans are seizing control of their futures by developing small businesses while they are still drawing steady paychecks. For many professionals, moonlighting provides an insurance policy against being caught off-guard in the next restructuring.
Do you ever daydream about changing careers? Or launching your own business?
To get ahead in corporate America, you'll need an army of allies to vouch for your accomplishments and potential. And the general of that army? Your boss, of course. She has power and credibility, so it's important for her to give you credit for clinching a megabucks deal or improving the flow of paperwork in your department.
For six years Donna has been a territory sales manager for a manufacturing company. During that time she established close friendships with five female colleagues in her department.
How do you stay organized when faced with a mountain of work commitments, family responsibilities and social obligations? We asked seven busy women how they keep themselves on track.