JOAN CIRILLO | JOB DOC

Make sure company's hires and fliers reflect its desire for diversity

Q. I have just accepted the position of director of talent acquisition for a financial services company new to the New England area.

I really want to reach out to the community, as well as to attract college grads, to fill a great variety of jobs. One of my new company's values is attracting a truly diverse workforce and I want to do a good job.

Since I'm new to the New England area, any suggestions?

A. Sure, but these suggestions aren't just for New England; they can be used by any company in any part of the country:

Begin by looking at your company's current marketing materials. Do they only have pictures of young Caucasian college grads in them? If so, you need to rework your marketing materials. If your company is truly committed to a diverse workforce, your recruitment materials must reflect this.

A company that does a really good job in this department is McDonalds. Take a look at one of their commercials or fliers. You will see pictures of employees of all ages and a variety of races and cultures.

State your commitment to a diverse workforce right on your materials. You might say "We are an equal opportunity employer" or "We are committed to hiring a diverse workforce."

Ensure that the human resources staff at your company reflects a variety of ages and cultures. Job seekers want to see whether there are employees at the company that look like them.

Connect with the One-Stop Career Centers in your area. In urban areas, there may be several within one region. For example, in Boston, there are three different One-Stops located close to one another. They draw a very diverse group of job seekers from all different backgrounds and education levels.

Most of the One-Stops have an individual on staff called a "navigator" who particularly works with the disabled and helps them get placed in jobs. Don't forget that often, with minor adjustments, a disabled person can do many jobs, as well, if not better, than someone without disabilities.

Partner with several employment and training nonprofit vendors in your community. Again, these organizations attract job seekers with a variety of backgrounds and with fresh job skills. These job seekers are eager to get back into the workforce and start making an income after spending several months gaining new skills.

Investigate the community colleges in your area. Again, community colleges, particularly those located in urban areas, attract a cross section of job seekers.

Participate in a variety of job fairs. Job fairs attract motivated job seekers of all ages who want to find work. You should find plenty of well-qualified candidates at these job fairs.

Host open houses and publicize them in community newspapers. Research the community newspapers in your area and be sure to place ads announcing your open houses.

Waiting for a second job offer can be risky choice
Q. I have bachelor's (Swarthmore) and master's (Harvard) degrees in education with a specialty in teaching science, and for the past 13 years, I have taught high school science courses in the suburbs of Chicago. Next year, I plan to relocate to New York, and I have been interviewing like mad.

I have one offer from a high school that I like , but I am holding out for an offer from another school that I love . However, because of union rules, they cannot make me an offer until the middle of May. I don't want to lose the first offer, but I sure would like to hold out to see if I get an offer from the second school and any others that come along.

How can I keep the first school interested and still hold out for other offers?

A. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. You can tell the first school that you are delighted to get the offer but that you would like to wait and see what other offers you get and make your choice at that point. You could let them know in about a month. However, the first school has the right to say, "Sorry, we need to firm this up and we can't wait until the middle of May." So understand that there is some risk involved in putting off the first school.

By not jumping at their offer, you are also communicating that they are not your first choice .

However, it sounds like your resume has generated some excellent interest and that there will be other offers. You've got a killer combo of great education, 13 years of teaching experience (and high schoolers no less) in a subject area where there is a shortage of experienced teachers.

If you are comfortable holding out for the best offer, I say "Go for it!"

Be aware of language, culture differences
Q. I am a fairly new supervisor, and I have been pulled in to a rather sensitive situation.

One of my Caucasian staff members said to one of my people of color: "You go girl!" The person of color took offense, though I am convinced that nothing mean-spirited was meant by the remark.

However, though they talked this out, the Caucasian staff member says that she and co-workers feel like they are always "walking on eggshells."

Any guidelines you can provide here?

A. All of us need to be mindful that our workplaces are made up of people from a variety of countries, races, ages, and cultures. We need to be sensitive to other peoples' customs and cultures. Being sensitive to other peoples' cultures does not mean you have to walk on eggshells. It does mean that we need to be aware of our language at all times.

One of my favorite stories about this is one a longtime supervisor told me. It was Valentine's Day and by 10 a.m., one of her most reliable employees, Raphael, was not in yet. Growing more and more concerned that something was wrong, she finally called Raphael's home to see if something had happened to him. Raphael responded that he was just fine but today was a holiday and therefore he thought he was supposed to stay home. In other words, someone had told him that in America, when there is a holiday, you stay home, you do not go to work.

There was clearly a miscommunication here.

Here are a few principles that I think are worth mentioning:

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Don't take anything for granted, particularly if you have a multilingual staff.

Be sensitive to slang, idioms, or language that could be misinterpreted. Try to use simple English whenever possible.

Be sensitive that in some cultures, things are done differently. For example, in some countries, employees don't establish eye contact with their bosses. It is considered rude in many cultures. In other cultures, there are spatial differences. What would be considered "getting into someone's space" in our country, is perfectly acceptable in other countries.

Other differences exist in when it is acceptable to bring up business. In many Latin countries, for example, one would never discuss business until the end of the meal, after dessert and coffee. To bring it up earlier is considered very rude.

Companies must adopt a zero tolerance policy for any language or action that might be interpreted as disrespectful. Make sure that it is printed in the employee handbook and discussed first thing during orientation.

More than ever, America is a melting pot of different cultures, languages, and customs. We all must learn to be respectful of these differences and try to communicate as clearly as possible. When there is a misstep, and most assuredly there will be, try to address it immediately so that there are no hard feelings. Explain what was meant and then move on.

It can't hurt to ask to be reconsidered for a job
Q. Recently, I turned down an offer for a job doing similar work that I did before I was laid off. However, I was offered $20,000 less than what I had been making, and the company did not want to negotiate with me at all. I understand that I do not have a degree and can't earn what I used to, but I thought they would negotiate a bit with me.

It has been a couple of months, and I have not received another offer and I am starting to panic. My unemployment insurance is just about over. Did I make a huge mistake? Is it too late? Can I call the company back and ask them to reconsider?

A. You can certainly call the company back and ask whether they have filled the position. If they have not, tell them that you would like to be reconsidered.

What are the chances of them not filling the job? Pretty slim but you never know.

I urge job seekers to do their homework when they are job hunting. Have a clear idea of what the education and skill qualifications are as well as the salary range for the position that you are seeking.

Research whether there are many similar types of positions available or whether they are few and far between.

In addition, do your homework about your personal finances. Know what salary you absolutely must make to live. Be realistic. It will help you make the best decision for you. Good luck!

Joan Cirillo is the executive director of Operation A.B.L.E., a nonprofit that provides employment and training opportunities to adults age 40 and older. E-mail questions to jobdoc@globe.com or mail to Job Doc, Boston Globe, Box 55819, Boston, 02205-5819.