Susan Graham powers up midstate portfolios with free event

Nicole Chynoweth//September 28, 2020

Susan Graham powers up midstate portfolios with free event

Nicole Chynoweth//September 28, 2020

Susan Graham was watching a segment on “The Today Show” about resume building in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She started thinking about how to give back to midstate IT professionals looking to bounce back from layoffs. Her company, Susan Graham Consulting, specializes in IT staffing and talent recruitment.

“I just know there are so many people out there who lost their jobs and are still looking,” she said, “And I thought, ‘What can we do to help people and still be socially distant?’”

John Williams

The light bulb came on, and Graham thought of John Williams of JDUB Photography and Kristen Campbell of Threads of Hershey, both of whom she’s collaborated with through her own business. With their help, she envisioned an event to help jobseekers in the IT sector build their confidence to jump back into the job market. It’s not just about the resume – it’s the first impression an employer gets from a LinkedIn photo, and, of course, the interview look.

Graham hosted a free “Portfolio Power-Up” event on Sept. 15 at her Camp Hill office, during which she and her team assisted attendees with resume editing, while Williams took their headshot, and Campbell offered tips and tricks for building a polished wardrobe for in-person and virtual interviews.

Participants attended three, 15-minute pods, one each with Graham’s team, Williams, and Campbell – all socially distant and following COVID-19 safety protocols.

“My goal is if just one person gets a job and says, ‘Hey Susan, you won’t believe it, but I interviewed and felt so good and my LinkedIn profile rocks now and I bought a few new outfits and I feel amazing’ – if one person says that, we’ve done our job,” she said. “I’ve also been one who believes in and enjoys doing something to give back instead of writing the check. I like meeting the people and working with them. I’m much more hands-on.”

Williams, who met Graham through working in recruitment before diving into photography, had to postpone many photo shoots due to COVID-19.

“The good news is that my business has really come back strong,” he said. “Part of me feels like since there’s not as much in-person face time, people are realizing their online image is maybe a little more important than they initially thought.”
Recent clients have told Williams their photo shoot is the first time they’ve dressed up in weeks, as many professionals have pivoted to a work-from-home lifestyle. He thinks people are feeling “kind of beat up,” and he’s hopeful his photography will help reverse that by giving them an image they can proudly display as part of their digital, personal brand.

“When (Graham) reached out to me, I didn’t hesitate,” he said. “I was like, ‘Yes, let’s do this. Let’s help these people get back to work.’”

Even prior to COVID-19, Campbell, a wardrobe consultant, said society has been on a “march toward a casual culture.”

Kristen Campbell

“It’s very confusing for people when they’re going on an interview,” she said. “My main goal is to give some people ideas on how they should dress and why.”

One of the most frequently asked questions Campbell has fielded in the last few months is what to wear on a Zoom call. She strives to help clients take the emotion out of the process, follow a formula, and dress for their job, even if they’re working from home. For example, Campbell suggests pairing a statement top with a basic pair of hoop earrings, or a simple top with statement jewelry.

She was excited to be part of the event because Graham has “thought of the whole package.”

“It’s not just the resume or just the photo,” she said. “It’s the whole thing. I think we can all help each other,” she said. “If we get one person a job from this, it will be worth it.”

The event drew 15 attendees and exceeded Graham’s expectations.

“Every single attendee told us how much they appreciated the headshot — they turned out so great — and they loved the wardrobe tips, even the guys,” Graham said. “They all spent a lot of time doing resume clean-up with my team and couldn’t have thanked us more. It is without a doubt the best thing we’ve ever done.”