Featured Member Monday! Meet Lidia Varesco Racoma

There is a calm, collected steadiness to Lidia Varesco Racoma’s work worldview that’s impossible not to admire; a steadfast commitment to taking the long-term approach to building a professional life, brick by brick by brick. This kind of perseverance surely accounts, at least in part, for her extraordinary longevity in an ever-changing field, as this year she’ll celebrate being in business for eighteen years. Let the festivities begin here!


Tell us your work story: Who are you and what do you do?


I empower organizations and entrepreneurs to make a change. I create branding and marketing design that is targeted and content-driven.


What is your proudest professional accomplishment?


Being in business for almost 18 years (this year).


What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced, work-wise?


Deciding to focus on a single niche for my business, rather than being more of a generalist. It’s a little scary to potentially turn down work, but I know focusing will help me be stronger in that area.


If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be, and why?


I want to eliminate the stigma that designers—and especially women—shouldn’t earn as much as other industries (or that we should give away our work for free or at a discount).


What advice do you have for other women looking to make a career change but are afraid or lack confidence? How is it on the other side?


I can speak to working moms and say: your working world will be turned upside down when the baby arrives. But with patience and support from fellow working moms, you will make it—and even become inspired along the way.


Do you have any advice on how to craft a winning pitch?


Short, specific and friendly/personal.


What continues to draw you to your chosen field and what do you hope to accomplish in the years ahead?


I want to bring more awareness to branding and how it can positively affect an organization or business. And I want to make branding accessible to everyone, not just larger organizations.


What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?


Ask for help.


Who has been your biggest cheerleader // supporter // mentor? (We love to spread the love here at The Second Shift!)


My dad—also a small business owner—has been a mentor and positive influence since I started my business in 2000 (on his birthday, by the way).


How do negotiate the balance between life and work when you are the one setting the boundaries?


I have fairly set working hours due to childcare and school pickups, so I have to be efficient and focused during my workday (i.e. social media only during lunch breaks) and I try to be present for my family in the evenings (i.e. minimal work time or phone usage until after bedtime).


If you could tell your younger self one thing about what this professional journey would be like, what would you tell her?

Don’t rush, you’ll get there!


How do you make work work for you?


I have my own branding and marketing design studio, but I also take on contract, short-term or PT jobs as my schedule and workload allows—both for steady cash flow, as well as variety and learning opportunities.


Check out Lidia’s work http://facebook.com/lsvdesign and if you know someone who should be a part of the Second Shift member community please reach out to us at members@thesecondshift.com today!

Mind the Gap

There is a really interesting article in Fortune about why the pay gap persists in lucrative fields where with plentiful female talent. For example:


“The difference is even more pronounced for financial managers, where there’s a 35% gap. And in the legal field, the average salary for men is $140,270—a full 24% more than the $106,837 women earn.“


Why? We know why:


-sexism and discrimination

-women having children during the most demanding years to get ahead

-women taking lower paying less high-profile jobs to juggle career and family

-women negotiating poorly for themselves


What is interesting is seeing what is being done about it, not enough!


-many tech firms doing yearly salary audits and leveling up gender pay inequity

-pay equity laws in 40 states

-20 states do not allow employers to ask salary history


With 100 women in Congress in 2019 it will be exciting to see if more female/ family friendly legislation is passed. in the meantime, we encourage employers to learn about how The Second Shift can help you retain and attract critical, mid-career professional women to #superchargeyourwork.


Reach out to info@thesecondshift.com

Tech Bridging the Equality Gap

How is technology keeping women in the workforce? Second Shift member Marie Thomasson outlines how she is able to use key tech products to work for Microsoft and others remotely and productively in the newest issue of Techonomy magazine.


Whether you are video conferencing or sharing files through the cloud, there are myriad ways for hiring managers to think outside the box and hire top level women for remote work–that’s where The Second Shift comes in:


“Thomasson also relies on technology to find compelling work opportunities like this one. She connected with Microsoft on The Second Shift, our online marketplace of expert women interested in on-demand projects. By choosing to forgo upfront fees for members and companies, and instead screening experts and opportunities our service is home to a range of curated talent and projects across disciplines. It helps makes freelancing viable for women like Thomasson.”


Want to #makeworkworkforyou? Sign up for The Second Shift! Want to #superchargeyourwork? Post a job today!

Year of the Woman!

2018 has been dubbed the Year of the Woman and the results of the midterm elections certainly back up the title! What a thrill to wake up to see the historic election results: 

– A record 117 women were elected to office

– 42 are women of color and 3 are LGBTQ

-The first Native American and Muslim woman will serve in Congress

It will be interesting to see what happens in the national government when there are more women calling the shots. What do we hope for at The Second Shift– a focus on parental leave, universal pre-k, childcare subsidies– the building blocks that help working women remain engaged in the workforce because work = empowerment! It’s time to shift things forward for all women and #makeworkworkforyou. 

In the words of Ayanna Pressley, the first African- American woman to represent Massachusetts in Congress: 

“When it comes to women of color candidates, folks don’t just talk about a glass ceiling; what they describe is a concrete one. But you know what breaks through concrete? Seismic shifts.” 

Photo: @morganpansing @voteyourchange @sarilehrer

Featured Member Tara Barnes!

Little makes us happier at The Second Shift than watching women successfully reimagine their professional lives, shift gears, and set their own terms. And when they do that while trying to make positive changes for women and workers everywhere, we get downright giddy. That’s why Tara Barnes is this month’s featured member. Add to that her tremendous work ethic, laser focus, and clarity of vision, and we think you’ll find her every bit as inspiring as we do.

Tell us your work story : Who are you and what do you do? 

I am the Manager of Operations at an event and incentives agency, managing a team of eleven full-time Account Managers and Project Managers. I have had a bit of a unique career arc, as I spent the first ten years working in marketing and brand strategy, but within the last 3 years have shifted more into people and business operations after completing my MBA.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Getting my MBA. I was an admittedly poor undergraduate student, with terrible study habits and a lot of procrastination. I wanted to elevate myself and my career when I was 31 and decided that more depth in business was the way to go. I worked full-time almost my entire MBA program, and also got pregnant and had my first baby. It was an immense amount of work, but I learned so much, both by way of actual knowledge and about myself as a professional.

What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced, work-wise? 

My hardest challenge was trying to improve a negative company culture in a small organization where my co-leadership was contributing to the problem and making decisions that I didn’t agree with. I did my best to present business cases for changes and programs I was recommending, but I ultimately ended up leaving because my position was eliminated and I was asked to move into a role I’ve left behind in my career path. I was very close to my team and to their needs, so it was a sad decision to have to make.

If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be, and why? 

I’m in the unique position of working for a women-owned (and dominated) company in a field (hospitality) that trends toward being more women than men. One thing I wish I didn’t see in this field is how often women are judged and accepted for their appearance and not for their work performance. This judgment is non-discriminatory, as both men and women do it.

What advice do you have for other women who are looking to make a career change but are afraid or lack confidence? How is it on the other side?

Find a company you believe in and someone who believes in you. I had over a decade in marketing when an MBA classmate offered me a role in people/culture, and while it was a big leap of faith, I tapped into a passion and skillset I didn’t know that I had.

What continues to draw you to your chosen field and what do you hope to accomplish in the years ahead?

I like the energy of the hospitality industry, and there a lot of fun, creative problems to solve even in the realm of logistics and resourcing. I would like to broaden my operations experience across various departments, but I don’t necessarily see myself staying in this particular industry forever. I am very drawn to industries (non-profit) and companies making a positive impact on the world. I want to wake up inspired every day. My daughter has Down Syndrome so I would love to find my way into work that supports individuals with disabilities.

What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?
Know when to zoom in and zoom out. It’s just as important to get into the weeds on details and tasks as it is to step back and consider bigger picture strategy, and knowing when to do each is crucial.

Who has been your biggest cheerleader // supporter // mentor? (We love to spread the love here at The Second Shift!)
My current manager Shelley White has been such a breath of fresh air in my career. She supports, trusts, challenges, and empowers me, and is such a strong role model for a working mom who’s worked hard to get where she is today.

How do negotiate the balance between life and work when you are the one setting the boundaries?

Because I have two young children, work-life balance is incredibly important to me. I rely on crystal clear expectations and communication, both with my manager and staff. People know when I’m available when I’m out of the office, and that in general, I am offline and unavailable between 5-8 pm so I can focus on my family. I also respect my team’s family lives as well, so I try not to email or reach out to them in the evenings and on weekends.

How do you make work work for you? 

I set my own limits and communicate them clearly. No one ever wonders where I am because my calendar is up to date. Because I manage the largest team in the company, I’m in the office 4 days per week, but I will ask for more remote days if I need them. I create time to take my kids to the pediatrician, drop my daughter off at preschool once a week, and work at her preschool once per month. My work from home day means I get to nurse my baby on that day, which is really special because he’s only 6 months old (and it’s one day I don’t have to pump!). I also make sure to shut down at the end of every day and focus on my family, and my team knows to expect that and text if there are ever emergencies. My family is incredibly important to me, as is being present with my kids and partner. I’m laser-focused at work and often work through lunch, so it’s all a balance.

Professional Summary Do’s and Dont’s!

Advertisements for Yourself: The Dos and Don’ts of Creating Your Professional Summary

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Remember that classic commercial one-liner? True then; true now. And most definitely true when it comes to writing your professional summary. It’s the very first thing an employer will see, and although it’s not public, it’s external facing, an enticement to learn more. Bold, confident, concise, and chock full of experience, this is your opportunity to celebrate your best self. Think of it as the highlights reel of your C.V., your most baller work face. In other words, if your professional summary doesn’t draw in the employer, your professional summary isn’t working hard enough for you. Here, some pro tips for how to get it to work harder. 

Do …

Think in terms of your professional brand value. Connect the dots for your audience between your value and their needs. This is the ultimate answer to that horrible perennial cocktail party question, “So … what do you do?”
Stop apologizing! Emphasize the skills you have that will get you hired. You don’t need to explain why you’ve stepped away from the traditional full time work force, or why you’re pursuing new avenues. Your career is a marathon with different paces at different markers, don’t treat it like a sprint.
Have a friend read it over. Because your best friend knows how amazing you are and will make sure you are selling the most badass version of yourself versus burying the lead.

Don’t …

Simply reiterate your resume. This shouldn’t be a copy and paste job. Nor should it be the 5000 word corporate bio crafted by a professional at your last place of employment. Rather, it’s the story of your professional life in a few fast and punchy sentences, the top line highlights.  
Talk about what you want. This isn’t about what you’re looking for; it’s about who you are.
Be long-winded. This is your elevator pitch, not a cover letter. Brevity is key.

Personal Summary Do Example: Specific about where she has worked and her particular expertise and experience in house and as
a consultant.

I have provided insights and analysis for customers in pharmaceuticals, consumer package goods and financial services since 2002. My experience spans from the
most elite advertising agencies such as EURO RSCG Tatham and DDB to premier Fortune 500 clients, Pfizer, P&G, JNJ, Novartis, Microsoft and many more. As an
independent professional, I am a qualitative moderator, strategic planner and marketing consultant. 

Personal Summary Don’t Example: Not enough specifics— use names of companies and metrics to prove your success. Reads
stream of conscious not tight and cohesive. Unnecessary to put in personal social work unless it works in with professional story and/
or goals. 

Media and tech industry leader with extensive experience across the US, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. An accomplished strategist, business
developer, product leader, marketer and researcher having led strategic initiatives for numerous leading media brands, negotiated partnerships, established new
business ventures, managed cross-functional project teams and launched products and services all over the world. In addition to my extensive career in the media
sector, I am also the founder of Pebbles of Hope, a non-profit formed to help premature babies thrive through parent education. I am also a full-stack developer
with programming skills in Python, Java and Ruby. I am seeking a senior level strategic part-time or project-based role focused on product development and
management, particularly for a consumer-focused product in the technology sector. I love exploring and evaluating growth opportunities for a business, launching
new products, conducting research and developing strategic plans.

How to Update Your Profile

Since our re-launch in early August, we have asked you to be sure your profile is updated. Thank you to those members who have gone in and do this already! However, many of you have not yet completed your updates, even though you are still pitching for projects.

Here is why profile updates are important:

1. We are refining the way in which we match projects. 

Based on your feedback we are starting to limit your matches to your geographic area. As we continue to grow our client base, an increasing number of projects require some time in office. If your geographic area is not up to date, then you will miss out on matches

So if your profile lists your location as “Springfield”, your street address, or “New York”, please go and update it to include your City and State. Also, you must select your nearest metro area to be sure you are matched accurately. 

Here’s how:

When you log into your account, click on the little arrow beside your name in the upper right corner. Then click View My Profile.


Here, you will see your profile. Click “Edit” in the section marked Summary.


Now you can properly enter your City and State. Be sure to select the correct option that appears as you type. Also select your nearest metro area to ensure you are being matched properly.


While you’re here, tell us if you’re interested in a full-time job (with flexibility!), and check that your Professional Summary is up to date. Remember that employers see this summary, so make sure that it is relevant and (briefly) describes your experience and interests. Remember that employers are short on time, so they don’t want to read your autobiography, so keep it brief and to the point. 

Once you’re finished with this section, click “Save”.

2. Employers are looking for more detailed information about you.

Next, add, your resume and your website if you have one, and most importantly your LinkedIn profile. We know that employers want this information the most, so if you don’t have it on your profile, they may look past you to another member who does. 

Click the “Edit” button beside the Additional Materials section to add these critical elements. 


3. We added 20+ new skills (and removed many as well!)

When we rebuilt our system, we added many new skills that reflect what employers are looking for. You may have lost a few skills in the transition, so please go and make sure you have properly selected the right ones. PLEASE only choose skills in which you have subject matter expertise. 

Because this drives your matches, select only those skills that you would want to work on as a project. For example, if you once did some hiring at a previous job, but you are not a professional recruiter, or if you do not want to do a recruiting job, do not select it as a skill. 

Think about your strengths and interests. What would you hire you to do?


4. We have added Work History and Education to help with matching

Finally add your Work and Education histories. Note that in some cases, we may have lost your school information in the transition, so be sure that this information was not cleared out. If you’re adding a new company in your work history, or a new school, select the “Add new:…” menu that appears while you are typing. Not doing this may prevent you from saving your information.


Once you’ve updated all of this information, then your profile is updated! While it seems like a lot of steps, it should only take you 5-7 minutes to get everything done. We recommend you do this on your computer or iPad, not your phone! It will be faster and easier to manage.

Don’t delay! 
Log into your account and get updating! 80% of the projects we have posted since the new platform launched have gone to members with updated profiles!!!

Have questions or issues? Contact us.

Zoe Schaeffer — Our October Featured Member!


Passion, curiosity, courage, and optimism are just a few of the reasons Zoe Schaeffer is this month’s featured member. Editor-turned-trendspotter-turned-shop girl -turned blogger-turned writer … her career is a lesson in reinvention, in constantly challenging oneself to pursue new avenues of expression. 

Tell us your work story : Who are you and what do you do?

I’m Zoe Schaeffer. I was a beauty editor at Conde Nast for many years before working for a national trend forecasting company. Ultimately, I went on to open my own designer clothing store, a dream that I desperately needed to fulfill. Soon after, I had three little girls, went back to freelance writing, and started a lifestyle blog that lasted for six years. In the time since, I’ve written three television pilots and now slowly am exploring the world of scripted dramedy.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Writing an extensive 70-page business plan for my retail concept to show investors and then opening a brick-and-mortar and e-commerce site that turned those pages into a reality.

What is the hardest challenge you’ve faced. work-wise?

What I’m attempting at the moment: trying to enter a notoriously competitive and grueling industry after having worked from home for so many years. Half of me asks, What the hell are you doing? while the other half answers, Who cares? You have nothing to lose!

If you could change one thing about how your given field operates, particularly with regards to women, what would it be, and why? 

Here, I can speak to my former fields of beauty and fashion: They value youth so it’s easy to “age out” of many great opportunities. 

What advice do you have for other women looking to make a career change but are afraid or lack confidence? How is it on the other side?

I don’t quite have the wisdom to answer this question just yet. What I will say, however, is that the collection of skills acquired in those 10, 15, 20+ years of working are valuable! Even if you are switching gears completely, those skills can always be transferred on some level.

What continues to draw you to your chosen field and what do you hope to accomplish in the years ahead?

I’m so passionate about bringing ideas into reality. I’ve felt most alive during these times in my life, when I’ve been able to express my own point of view through writing, curating, merchandising. (I actually produced my own magazine for my store, which was a love letter to my years of writing for others.) Creating a show is the ultimate form of self-expression—you can literally tell an entire visual story that was once just in your own head!

Who is your biggest cheerleader / supporter / mentor? (We love to spread the love here at the Second Shift!)

One of my first bosses at Conde Nast is still a close friend. She’s been championing me since day one and continues to insist that one day she’ll be working for me. It’s a gift to have someone in your professional life look at you like that.
How do you make work work for you?

I think knowing your own limitations is key. I personally love a project-driven job. A concentrated work experience means that there is downtime after a deadline. But I know that many women thrive in a 9 to 5 setting because it’s predictable and more secure. I just think it’s a matter of personality. 

Refinery 29 + The Second Shift

Thinking of making a career transition? Our co-founder Jenny Galluzzo outlines 3 essential steps to set yourself up for success and #makeworkworforyou!  

1. Be Open

2. Be Confident

3. Break the Rules 

Read the article here!