As the world changes so do the requirements of the corporate world. What does it take to get a job today? What do corporations require of us when it comes to hiring? Here to give you the answers is Celina Shands, the founder/CEO of Full Capacity Marketing (FCM). She joins Rosie Zilinskas to share with us what companies are doing to hire these days as they grapple with the world’s ever-changing landscape. Is a four-year degree really that essential? What can you do instead if you don’t have it? Celina also breaks down the skillsets companies are looking for and the challenges many skilled laborers are facing. Full of important information that will help you advance your career, this conversation is one you won’t want to miss. Find out what you need to get hired in today’s job market!
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What Do You Need To Get Hired In Today’s Corporate Job Market? With Celina ShandsWelcome back. Have you been wondering if you need a four–year degree in order to get a good job in the corporate world, or what the requirements are of corporations these days when it comes to hiring? Those are the things that we’re going to be talking about with Celina Shands. Born and raised in North Carolina, Celina approaches business like a true Southerner. Relationships first. Business second. She is the Founder and CEO of Full Capacity Marketing, a twenty-plus years old national consultancy specializing in brand storytelling and strategic communications for those in the workforce, education, and entrepreneurship sectors. Celina and I are going to have a great conversation about what companies are doing to hire. Do you need a four–year degree? Is it required now? Are there other alternatives? Stay tuned for my conversation with Celina.
—Celina, thank you so much for being here. You and I had a conversation previously. One of the things that we talked about is that it is no longer necessary to have a four–year university degree. Tell me a little bit about why you think that is. Rosie, thank you so much for having me on. I’m looking forward to having this conversation because there’s a big misperception out there about following a traditional path and having a four-year degree or a Master’s degree. Research shows us that the more education you have, the more money you make, and it’s true. However, there are a lot of different alternative paths for people building the right skillsets. If you ask any employer, myself included, what is important in an employee or a good worker, it’s going to be the skillsets. That’s valuable, especially in this marketplace where the labor market is so tight. It’s very important to build the right skills. You don’t have to have a degree to do that. Not to mention that kids are coming out of college with mounds of debt too. I know a couple of people that have graduated either with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, and they have $70,000 or $80,000 in debt. They graduate and go to school, and they’re already in the hole. Forget about trying to buy a home, raising a family, starting a family if that’s their desire, or even starting their own company. You’re already saddled with this ridiculous amount of debt. I do know that employers are starting to shift that perception. What are employers doing differently, now that they know that they require a certain skillset but maybe not necessarily a degree? How is the workplace changing in the future with that? It’s changing in many ways. It’s because employers have had to change. The pandemic has created this great experiment of working from home. We have had the Great Resignation where people are like, “I had some work-life balance during that time. I don’t want to go back into an office.” That’s why employers are focusing on this concept of their own employer brand. Why would someone want to come and work for you? Interestingly, I was looking at a piece of data that interviewed employers. Only 49% felt their brand was good in the marketplace in terms of attracting talent. That astonishes me. One thing that’s going to remain the same whether twenty years from now or today is that people want to feel like they belong. It’s creating that sense of culture, values, and things like that. Employers are waking up to that and trying to figure it out. The ones that have stickiness with their employees, workers, and contractors because they have created that environment. They create a sense of mission around their company. Everybody in that company knows their connection to that mission. Those are the trends that we’re seeing. Employers are trying to figure it out. I got asked another question on a podcast about employers and what they feel is important. Of course, it’s skillsets but they were talking, “How do I create even a hybrid model?” I don’t think it has anything to do with being hybrid or in-person. It’s that communication an employer needs to build within the company that’s going to help that stickiness with people saying, “I belong here.” I know that for some newer corporations, college graduates that are being onboarded, for example, don’t have that physical connection because they’re not in the offices. They feel like they’re isolated. When you say employers need to do a better job of communicating, especially with these individual remote employees, what have you seen that has worked? What works better for employers? I shared it with you my companies. I’ve had three companies. The one I have currently is 21 years old. I’ve had a virtual model for 21 years. We’re a marketing and communications company. That doesn’t mean we don’t have face-to-face but it has allowed me to recruit talent from all over the world and become part of that. As such, we have had to find ways to communicate and build systems in place. There was one project that we worked on. It was with a consortium of community colleges in Central California. As part of that contract award, they wanted us to groom nine of their students. This was before COVID and they were all over California. We couldn’t bring them to the office. It was a lot of setting expectations upfront like, “What is a workplace environment?” “You’re getting a taste of a different one now, and I want to tell you that.” We still set expectations with them. We still coach them and all of that. It was just done all online. In turn, they said, “This was a unique experience. I thought it was all about going to an office and working in an office.” It’s setting expectations and making sure that everyone has a voice in the staff meetings, and is participating. As leaders and employers, we come in and think we have to know it all and put all the ideas on the table. What I have found as a leader is that you go in and say, “Here’s the project. Here are my thoughts. Let’s poke holes in it.” Allowing people to do that with the leader can be powerful because they start to open up and find their voices. I’m so impressed that you had your virtual company for 21 years. We didn’t have tools like Zoom. Did you do all of your training over teleconferences? How did you do your training way back then? Onboarding and teleconferencing were all done by phone. We were one of the first companies that beta-tested Webex. We were so excited. We were like, “There’s something coming out.” A lot of it was email and phone calls way back when. Now, we have tools like Asana, a project management tool that everybody can tap into. Slack is real-time communication and other tools that we all use collaboratively. We will still do team meetings. We connect at conferences, but I have people in every time zone. It’s an interesting business model. It was born out of my desire to not be in the office. It was interesting. I had a dream one night that I had a cat named Sheldon. I started laughing because I thought, “Why am I dreaming about cats? I’m a dog person.” The next day, I found this little baby kitty and his little brother next to him. I said, “This is Sheldon, the cat that I was dreaming about.” He had special needs and a lot of challenges. I said, “I don’t want to go back to the office. I want to stay home with Sheldon.” One of my motivators for starting the company in part was taking care of the cats. We all have different motivators. That’s awesome. I love that name too from the character in the Big Bang Theory. We talked a little bit about skilled workers. What are some of the biggest needs that you see now for skilled workers that are not going to universities and are now seeking employment? If you look in any sector, they will tell you across the board, “We will train them in the technical skills. We want soft skills.” Soft skills are things like communicating, writing, and connecting with folks. We work a lot with the community college system and also adult schools. A lot of people have misconceptions about adult schools, which are fantastic for someone who’s trying to learn English better, have stackable credentials where they can learn office skills, and then build from that. There was a woman that was helped by one of our customers, which was an adult school. They were helping a homeless woman who was living in a shelter. She obtained her high school equivalency and then earned some stackable credentials. Now, she’s earning over $60,000 a year. You look at things like that. My nephew is another example. He was not cut out for four years but he loved computers. He went to the local community college. He got a lot of different credentials and all of that. Now, he has his company where he manufactures these different machines. He writes code for this specific machine that is in high demand. I asked him, “How much did you bill last month?” He said $30,000 was his billable. A lot of it is not worrying so much about the skills of what employers want. You want to beef up your soft skills, lean into something that you’re very interested in, and find mentors in that field who can get you where you want to be because many can’t afford the traditional path. The debt is high. Some of the best entrepreneurs and people who are in the corporate world found their way and built their skillset to get where they needed to be. There are a lot of paths to where folks can go. I like that you talked about local community colleges and adult education because we have a local community college here, Moraine Valley. Once a month, we will get a catalog. My husband always makes fun of me because I always look through it because I love learning. They have Office, Excel 1, Word 1, and things like that. I also like that you said stackable credentials because if you go and do an eight–week course in Word and then Excel, then you have the basics of those two things. There’s Excel 1, 2, and 3. You can stack them. In the local community college, the education is more targeted and much more affordable than that four-year university. Not everybody is cut out for that four-year university. A lot of people are left in this economy that are like, “What do I do?” Maybe they have multiple barriers. Maybe there are childcare issues, transportation issues, or anything like that. I always go back to the story of the homeless woman because it’s very inspiring. I love that inspiration because you think, “If she can do it, there are resources out there for people to tap into.” We’re running a national campaign with the Coalition on Adult Basic Education. They represent 79,000 adult education providers across the nation. It’s called Move Ahead with Adult Ed. Folks can go to that website and plug in their ZIP code and then, “I’m interested in doing what.” It will lead you to their local adult school, which is very affordable. You can’t even get to a community college. You just go there. That’s a great resource. Their stories are remarkable coming out of there. I like that. There is this paradigm that we’re trying to get out of that a four-year university is the only way because it’s not the only way. There are plenty of people that go into entrepreneurship from high, school and they don’t even go to college. Also, I’m thinking that we’re so much more knowledgeable now in neurodivergent learning. These are kids or people who may have ADHD or something. Their brains do not function in the mainstream way of teaching. They suffer in the traditional classroom. It’s so refreshing to know that there‘s Move Ahead with Adult Ed. These are different programs and avenues for those people that don’t want to or can’t afford to go the traditional way. The bottom line is that there are ways of gaining that education and that skillset. If there’s a will, there’s a way. A lot of employers now are looking for motivated talent and people with those good soft skills. I’m the same way in my company. It’s interesting. We have a very unique mix here of folks who have their PhDs and Master’s all the way down to folks who have been homeless or have been on public assistance, including myself who grew up in a poverty-stricken area. It’s cool because we understand those folks who have those barriers and who are trying to lift themselves up. There is a ton of ways you can get there. You don’t have to be saddled with debt. If you can’t afford it and you have a desire to, by all means, go and get fully educated. There’s so much online now. I’m like you, Rosie. Every week, I like to take at least one webinar. There’s so much out there that you can go and continue to learn in so many ways. Our show is primarily geared toward women in the corporate world. Once a skilled worker is established in a corporation, what are some of the challenges that you have seen these skilled workers have to face? I can speak to my own experience with this for sure. Even though I’ve had three companies, they have also been interspersed with different jobs, corporations, and whatnot. The glass ceiling is still there, and we’re still trying to break it. We haven’t gotten as far as we need to. I was doing the same job as other male counterparts, and they were getting paid more than me. That’s one thing that’s very much prevalent. I don’t know how you see it. There are all kinds of other things. I’ve experienced sexual harassment in different jobs and things of that nature. I’m trying to carve out my niche like, “Who am I?” Part of my journey with that and how I overcame it was understanding the unique brand and skillsets that I offered to let them shine. Many people say, “You have to work on your weaknesses.” What I have found is that if you lean more into what you’re good at, you’re going to shine. There’s going to be a pathway for you. Those two are the big ones that I continue to hear about and see with the folks that I work with. I don’t know if you’ve experienced or seen others. It’s the same, whether you’re a skilled worker, with a degree, or without a degree. The whole reason why I started my show is because there’s that gender gap and that pay gap in the corporate world and the business world between males and females. Although we have made great strides, there’s still a lot of work to do. It all boils down to women owning their confidence, leaning into their strengths, and highlighting those. More than anything, it’s having those conversations with senior leaders to let them know what their aspirations are. That’s one of the downfalls that happened to me. I was 40 years old, waiting for someone to be like, “Rosie, do you want a promotion?” It wasn’t until I was like, “What am I doing? I need to go out there and talk to my manager.” Once I did that, then I started advancing in my career. Awareness is the first step. This is why this conversation is so important because there’s this misconception that you have to have that four-year degree and a Master’s degree to continue to move up the corporate ladder. That’s not necessarily true. Find women in your workspace who can be mentors and who you can share things with and strategize. I work with my customers on this even though it’s not part of what we do. For example, I’ll be in a meeting with my customers in the boardroom, and notice that a particular customer who hired us all of a sudden may shut down in a meeting. I may have a conversation to say, “Woman to woman, may I share something that I noticed today? Is it okay if I share this?” I get her permission and talk, “Did I perceive that correctly? Was she shutting down? Why?” Asking that opens up a pathway to have a conversation. For example, in that situation, she felt a little bit bullied. I could see that happening in there. We had a great conversation about that. Having hard conversations too is a way to maneuver through that corporate world. “Having hard conversations is a way to maneuver through the corporate world.” Click To Tweet I love the fact that you said, “I noticed something. Is it okay if I share this with you?” You’re not just coming out and saying, “I noticed that you shut down. What the hell happened?” You ask for permission to share. That’s valuable for any manager out there. I also had another guest previously. When she was a manager, she would say, “I‘ve noticed some changes in your performance lately. Is it okay if I share them with you?” That made it a less defensive and less combative conversation. If the employee said, “I don’t want to know,“ then she would be like, “I won’t tell you.” At least she put it out there and she was saying, “I have some feedback. Let me know if you want it or not.“ I was working in an ad agency. I always think setting expectations and hard numbers are important because I like that. I know that boundary. I want to exceed it or what have you if I’m in a job. I remember I took this job as the VP of Marketing. A gentleman owned the company. It was a small firm. He says to me, “I’m going to give you two choices. I’m going to give you a lower salary and a higher range for compensation, for bonuses or whatnot, or you can have this B salary.” I said, “I’m going to do the lower salary and bonus structure.” Three months in, I was killing it on every goal. He brings me into his office to talk about not leadership. He says, “I want you to know that this month, you made more than me.” My response to him was, “I suggest you get busy.” He looked at me. I started laughing and said, “You set the structure. I took the risk, so I get the reward.” Fortunately, I’m Southern. I can have a fun way about myself sometimes. I said it but I did mean it even though I laughed. Sometimes having those conversations and being able to manage them is as important. You said something there that you were willing to take that risk for that reward. That balance is very personal from person to person. For example, I’m more risk–averse whereas my husband is into risks. It’s different. I probably would have taken the other one because, at that time, I would have been like, “I need to make sure that I know exactly how much I’m going to make and stuff.” Now, things have shifted a little bit for me. I probably would take that risk for that reward, but that comes with time and experience. Everybody is in different places. I know that you have several companies, and you have all of your global awards for customer service behind you. Tell me a little bit about your story. You’re very accomplished. You are an athlete. You went to school for basketball with a basketball scholarship. You didn’t grow up wealthy. How did you get to be the owner or the CEO of your companies, and then win all of these awards? Thank you for that. You never get anywhere by yourself. You have to have mentors and support. The first mentor in my life is my sister, and still to this day. She’s seven years older than me. She raised me in a very tumultuous alcoholic family where we did not have our needs met. She got a worker’s permit at age fifteen and made money so we could have food and necessities. She led by example and always told me, “Whatever you can dream, you need to go and do it.” It’s not only her words but she started her own company. I had that role model early on even though all this craziness was going on all around us. She saw it fit to say, “I’m going to get you into this small private school.” It was a little country school. I went there and started playing every sport because sports then got me out of the house. I played everything imaginable, and then that led to a basketball scholarship where I was able to study business and marketing. There were a lot of twists and turns in the story. For business one, I moved from North Carolina to California because a hurricane hit North Carolina, and I was tired of hurricanes. Anybody that lives in the South knows that hurricane season is coming through. I moved out to California, which was a trip unto itself. I started working on my Master’s degree in Sports Medicine because I had that passion as an athlete. I thought, “I could help doctors understand how to do sports medicine as part of their practice as a profit center.” That was company number one. I got tired of the big city of San Francisco and moved to San Diego. What I lacked in skills was working with the news media. I took a job at the county of San Diego and ran their media and marketing division. That then led me to workforce development. I knew nothing about workforce development. A gentleman had seen one of the business plans that I had written for foster care youth for fundraising. He goes, “I want you to come and work for us.” Once I started learning that workforce development is all about helping people on their educational pathway to find work that they love, I thought, “This is such a powerful industry. I want to be a part of it.” I worked there for four years, understanding public sector models and how they work with the private sector. That’s when I launched this company, Full Capacity Marketing, which I’ve had for 21 years. We’re a traditional marketing consultancy, but we help those organizations that focus on workforce education and entrepreneurship because that’s such a passion of mine. That’s the journey but along the way, what made a difference is I had help every step of the way because I didn’t have a family other than my sister. My teammates, my best friend, her family, and my teachers in school became my family. What people need to know is that most people out there want to help other folks. If you show the desire that you want to move ahead in your career pathway, you’re going to find help. There will be some mentors there that will help you. What an inspiring story for your sister at fifteen. That means you were eight years old at the time. She went to get a worker’s permit to support you. That warms my heart that she knew enough that she needed to take care of you. She became your role model. What kind of work does she do? What company did she establish? She started her mortgage company, mortgage loans, and things of that nature. She has been VP in banks and the whole financial industry. She’s looking now to go back to consulting because she wants to slow down a little bit. She’s looking at doing that. She wants to teach and all that. It’s wonderful to see. She’s called Sissy Shero in my contacts, and will always be that for me. It’s amazing. I wouldn’t be here without her. I have two older sisters. Both my parents were very supportive but it was my sisters that I always turned to and asked for advice and that kind of thing. We moved from Mexico City to the United States. My parents didn’t know anything about high school, college, or anything. It was my sisters and myself who tried to figure it out so we can help each other throughout. That’s why we need to help each other as sisters in the corporate world. Maybe I look at it that way because I never had a biological family other than my sister. I look at other women who are in the workplace as my sisters. We have that viewpoint. We have to lift each other. We have to have each other’s backs because when one of us wins, the other one wins. It’s the way it needs to be. “We really have to lift each other up. We have to have each other's backs because when one of us wins, the other one wins.” Click To Tweet This has been such a great conversation. I wonder if you can share with us two actionable tips that women in the corporate world could use to continue to do well in their careers. I thought about this. I knew you were going to ask me this. What’s applicable across the board if you’re just starting or you’re up there on the corporate ladder? One of the things is you have to clean house periodically. What I mean by that is letting go of what I call the energy suckers. The energy suckers are the naysayers who cannot get behind any new ideas and innovations. It’s a good business practice to shoot holes in any business concept. You want to practice that, give constructive feedback, and receive it. It is a more negative projection coming from someone. Advice number one is to find the people who can support your dreams, and then let go of the rest without resentment or fear. I don’t know about you, Rosie, but I feel like business is personal. People always say, “Business isn’t personal.” It is personal because it’s a lot of what you do every single day. Those people who you surround yourself with have to support you and your dreams. That’s one. The second one would be to take setbacks as positive. Throughout my journey throughout the years, what has come to me is that having a strong faith that the universe has my back is an important concept. What I mean by that is whatever is meant for you is not going to pass you by. Let’s say a promotion came up that you’re gunning for, and someone else got it. It wasn’t meant for you. I’ll give an example. We lost a contract. I put 350 hours into this proposal. It took us two months. It was a huge contract. We weren’t awarded the contract. I thought, “We were perfect for this, but it’s probably a blessing. There’s a message in there.” I still went back to the folks. I was very gracious. I said, “May I have a moment of your time? I’m so happy, first of all, that you found a contractor that you can work with. We’re always looking to improve. What about our proposal that didn’t stick with you? I would love to know.” You can do the same thing in the corporate world. You’re passed over for a promotion. Go into the folks and say, “I thought this was my pathway. I’m glad that you found the candidate that you feel is best. I thought it was me but I would love to get your input on that.” You will be amazed at the dialogue that will take place. We have lost contracts because of that conversation. They looped back around, and we got the contract. It was a year later. It’s building relationships. Look at it as an opportunity to say, “It didn’t turn out like I thought but the universe has something better for me. What can I learn from it and move on?” Those are fantastic tips. They’re the first time that I have heard of cleaning house periodically. You’re absolutely right. Sometimes we have those people that have negative energy, or they’re energy suckers. Every time you get an email from the person, you’re like, “This is going to be bad.” Cleaning house is one. The universe has your back. There’s an author whose name is Gabrielle Bernstein. She has a book called The Universe Has Your Back. I wholeheartedly believe that things happen for a reason. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. If you work toward getting that promotion, and you don’t get it, it’s for a particular reason. It wasn’t the right time or whatever. My recommendation is to keep going. Have those conversations so that you can get that feedback, “Can you let me know what I could have done better?” That’s where your learning comes in. You continue to hone your skills with that. Those are great tips. It’s interesting. It may be that the reason you get into that meeting is very political, and it does not make sense to you. That happens a lot of times in the corporate world. Maybe this person knew somebody that you didn’t know or what have you. That is life. It is part of the game but you don’t give up on yourself and your dreams. That’s what’s important. Even if it’s political or doesn’t make sense, take what you can to learn, leave the rest, and say, “It’s going to take me to the next path.” What I found is if I’m grateful in those situations and trust that the next step is on the way, the next step is on the way. “Trust that the next step is definitely on the way.” Click To Tweet I couldn’t agree with you more on that. Celina, we have had such a great conversation about education and things that you can do. Any final thoughts on anything that you can leave our audiences with? We have said so much of it. Keep learning. For anybody out there who is in the corporate world and find that they want to become an entrepreneur, I would love for them to connect with us. We’ve got a lot of learning series. We launched a brand amplifier for entrepreneurs. If you feel like you’ve had enough of corporate, or maybe you feel like, “I’ve got great skills. Why am I not starting my own company?” I would love for you to connect with us. We’ve got a lot of blogs, resources, and thought leadership articles on that. I’m always about women in business. That would be some great resources for your team or your folks to connect into. That’s wonderful. Thank you very much, Celina, for all of your time.
—Celina has such great insight into how the corporate world or the entrepreneurship world is changing when it comes to hiring individuals. No longer is it required that everybody has to have a degree. There are corporations that are evolving, and they are now more focused on hiring people with the right skills versus the fact that they have to have a four-year degree. We all know that just because you hire somebody with a degree does not necessarily mean that it’s going to be a right fit for your business, your corporation, and your purpose. Celina leaves us with two great tips. The first one is to clean house periodically. We all know that when you have employees that have a negative attitude, they are energy drainers. Occasionally, you get an email from them and you’re like, “I cannot read one more negative email.” Tip number two as she says is, “Take setbacks as positive. Know and have faith that the universe has your back.” Whatever you’re trying to do, whether it’s getting that promotion or that raise, if that doesn’t happen, it’s for a reason. It wasn’t meant to be, but that doesn’t mean that you stop trying. That means you keep going. If you didn’t get a promotion or a job, maybe try to talk to your manager, the hiring manager, or the recruiter and see if you can get some insight, “I‘m so glad that you got the right candidate. Could you tell me what could I have done better?” We’re always looking for ways to improve ourselves. If you don’t ask the questions, then you’re not going to know why you didn’t accomplish what you were trying to accomplish. It was a great conversation with Celina. I am very glad that corporations are seeing value in alternative education and not just the standard or traditional four-year degrees. There are plenty of people that a four-year university is not for them, and that‘s okay. There are other alternatives. Celina mentioned MoveAheadWithAdultEd.org. It was a great conversation. I hope that you got something out of it. If you are contemplating getting a job in the corporate world or even becoming an entrepreneur, rest assured that you can be successful even without a four-year university degree. With that, remember to be brave, be bold, and take action.
- Full Capacity Marketing
- Coalition on Adult Basic Education
- Move Ahead with Adult Ed
- The Universe Has Your Back