With unemployment at 9.9%—meaning more than 15 million people are out of work—talk of an economic recovery offers little comfort for those who feel shut out of the job market. Prospects seem even more daunting for African Americans, who must contend with a morale-crushing unemployment rate of 16.5%. But there is a silver lining for those who can focus on opportunity—the other word that often frustrates and eludes the jobless. The truth is there are opportunities everywhere, but don’t expect them to fall from the sky. You have to be prepared to seize them.
In this issue, Editorial Director Sonia Alleyne and Careers Editor Annya M. Lott have developed a comprehensive editorial package that demonstrates that success, not luck, is when preparation meets opportunity. And they provide you with the tools to tackle today’s tough job market.
In our fifth annual 40 Best Companies for Diversity list, we unveil companies that embrace inclusion at all corporate levels and, at the same time, reveal hundreds of job opportunities and the regions in which you can find them. There’s much evidence that confirms that hiring diverse talent creates significant opportunities for prospective employers. In fact, the companies found on this year’s list have profited from their commitment to diversity in innovation, leadership, and solid financial performance. Here are few examples of how and why inclusion works at some of the nation’s largest corporations: Chairman and CEO Ron Williams’ turnaround of Aetna placed it on the path to higher levels of profitability; McDonald’s president and chief operating officer Don Thompson continues to boost revenues at the Golden Arches through diversification of products and services; and Xerox CEO Ursula Burns’ inventive strategies and managerial prowess has saved (and now serve to remake) the document management/technology services company.
None of these top-flight executives—all of whom can be found on Black Enterprise’s list of 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America—were randomly selected for their positions. Each success story was born out of crisis. But they leveraged opportunities because they were always prepared, they had strong networks, and they explored a broad range of related experiences. Ascending to the CEO’s position, however, hasn’t made any of them complacent; they continued to upgrade their skill sets and managed strong profiles in their organizations. They were also flexible in the acceptance of assignments.
Our companion feature, “The Job Seeker’s Readiness Guide,” will help you apply similar tactics: focus on the right areas, target the best companies, make powerful connections, and present your talents and strengths in the best possible light. The advice has become even more vital since the unexpected downturn that led to the Great Recession has totally reconfigured the workforce, challenged our ideas about job security, and introduced brand new ways to engage prospective employers. The truth is every era in business has ushered in new rules for identifying the best and brightest. Your chances at winning, however, are greatly enhanced when you are properly suited and equipped for the game. Our focus this month on jobs and opportunities is to get you ready to bat so you can hit your career grand slam.