Negotiating for the Job and Benefits (Job and Career Humor)

salary money office fallingReaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young engineer who was fresh out of MIT, “What starting salary were you thinking about?”

The Engineer said, “In the neighborhood of $160,000 a year, depending on the benefits package.”

The interviewer said, “Well, what would you say to a package of 5 weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years – say, a red Corvette?”

The Engineer sat up straight and said, “Wow! Are you kidding?”

The interviewer replied, “Yeah, but you started it.”

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Dilbert always has a fresh perspective on salary and negotiation!

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Hire Wire Tactics: Build a network safety net before you need it

tightrope safety netIf you think you are not in jeopardy of losing your job, think again. According to a survey by outplacement firm Lee Hecht Harrison, 50% of professionals laid off were caught unaware by the shocking news that they had been downsized.

Luckily, you can learn to become an outstanding networker, and grow your own safety net now, before you need it. Follow the 4 Golden Rules for Networking:

1)    “Givers gain.” Help people, and they in turn will want to help you. Focus on others and look for opportunities to help them without worrying what is in it for you. When you focus on yourself and your needs, it can show. It is often easier (and more fun) to zero in on helping other by sharing information and assistance. People remember who helped them when they needed it.

2)    Don’t confuse “great” networking with “effective” networking. Everyone knows a “great” networker—they seem to know everyone! However, knowing people and being effective in helping others build their business are not the same thing. Effective networkers deliver business results. It’s not simply knowing a lot of people, it is about being able to build productive links that benefit more than one person, and doing it consistently. self centered

3)    Be sincere. Nothing is worse than a person who offers help in order to get something in return. People can sense when they are being used. This is why it is easier to build a network before you need one; then you can be genuine in your willingness to help others without needing anything in return immediately. Even if you need help, make the effort to find out how you can reciprocate; even offering to give assistance or be a resource in the future counts. Also, make the effort to formally say “thank you” to those who helped, and provide ongoing updates or results with an additional thanks.

4)    Commit to spending the energy. Networks do not suddenly appear. Networks are built on relationships and shared experiences, so they need attention, time and nurturing to blossom. It is very challenging to network on a schedule or on a deadline, or when in crisis.

Networking before you “need” to do it is a stress-reducer. You are more relaxed and helpful to others, and that comes across in your demeanor and sincerity. Relaxed networking is also more likely to result in unexpected opportunities for advancement, participation, and current business windfalls. It’s just smart business.

For people who are afraid to leave their jobs (although they are miserable)

humor peek scared emergeThe alarm rang at 6:00 am on Monday morning, and Tom Martin hit the snooze button. The knot in his stomach tightened as he envisioned heading to the office for yet another day in corporate agony. He sighed, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and willed himself to get moving.

Sound familiar? Many American workers stay in jobs they hate. According to a national survey by The Conference Board, only 51% of workers are satisfied with their jobs.

To overcome fears of a career change, first define what keeps you from a switch. Is it:

  • Fear of a pay cut?
  • Fear of the time needed to re-school or recertify or start at entry level?
  • Potential embarrassment about your career dreams or what others will say?
  • Lack of information about how to make the switch?
  • Feeling you have too much invested in your current career choice?
  • Low self esteem?
  • Fear of failure?

The first key to a career change is “choice”. You are never trapped in a job; you choose to stay in it. You can leave, even though there may be consequences.

The second key is timing. Imagine trying to eat an elephant in one sitting. Sounds daunting! However, isn’t it a more manageable task if you took many little bites over a month? Making a major career shift all at once also seems impossible. However, as smaller, more discrete tasks you can make progress toward a new job that makes you happy. Look to the long term future: setting a goal to be in a new field in 3 to 5 years is not unrealistic.

BABY STEPS TOWARD A CAREER CHANGE

1)    Set a reasonable time frame. It may take as long as a year to decide on a career direction. Calibrating expectations will ensure you don’t get frustrated and give up too easily. Allocate time to write out your ideal job characteristics, and then to find jobs that match. Next, find people doing those jobs, and ask them for advice and perspective on the job. Lastly, you need to make a plan for any retraining or experience needed for the position.

2)    Evaluate your finances. Calculate the minimum living expenses you need. Investigate loans, refinancing, and other sources of money. Examine school scholarships and whether your company offers tuition reimbursement. Even though it is tough, evaluate what lifestyle choices you are willing to sacrifice in the short term for your long-term happiness.

3)    Create a detailed written description of your ideal job. You can’t make a career change without a clear and detailed picture. Forget about job titles in the beginning. Focus on the tasks, environment and output. Include the following:abc basics start list

  • Physical environment: office type, setup, dress code, work hours, office atmosphere, and working conditions.
  • Describe the kinds of people you work with: peers, subordinates, bosses, clients. Describe how you help these people, and how they support you.
  • Team or individual work: state your preference for working alone, or always with others? If both, under what circumstances you prefer each. Decide when you are happiest and most productive.
  • What is your work output, or what do you “DO”? Do you make something, provide a service, work with data, or share information?

4)    Share your list with others and ask them what jobs and careers might fit with your criteria. Don’t be shy; people love to give advice! Develop a list of potential careers and jobs you need to learn more about. Don’t prematurely reject jobs because of a perceived barrier. Find out the truth first.

5)    Find ways to safely explore whether this new career might be right for you. Once you have defined the job you think you want, research information about what it might take to get into the field. Think about ways to make sure this is the correct choice. Examine alternatives carefully. Ask the following questions:

  • What skills might you need that you can get on your current job? Are there additional responsibilities or projects you can volunteer for that will boost your skills in a needed area?
  • Do you need retraining or additional certifications?
  • Do you need a new degree? Can you take night or distance classes? Does your current company offer tuition reimbursement?
  • Are there professional associations you can join to network and learn about the field?
  • Are there industry conferences you can attend? Many are on weekends.
  • Can you use the network of people you know to find someone who is doing the job you want to do? Arrange a conversation where they can tell you about it and give some advice.
  • What Internet resources are available to research the field, find companies that might hire you, and meet others who work in the field? Are there chat rooms, message boards, or E-lists to meet people?
  • What books can you read to help make decisions about life choices?
  • What volunteer opportunities are available to grow your skill base in the areas you need?
  • Are there second jobs you can take to gain experience or test out your interest in a job?

If you are miserable in your current job, remember that taking slow and steady tiny steps in a new direction can be very empowering. It’s your choice.

Cool as a cucumber during salary negotiations

cool announcer microphone adtAsk the Career Coach
Question: Within your negotiations, how do you play it “cool” without coming across as inflexible or desperate?

Everyone wants to be “cool” like Elvis or “The Fonz”, right? Cool as a cucumber.

Unfortunately, we are all human and are vulnerable. You need/want a new job, so you are out looking for one. The employer knows that. They need that slot filled too, and might be equally nervous about whether you will say “yes.”

There’s nothing wrong with being excited, positive, hopeful and a little bit nervous during the negotiation stage. There’s also nothing wrong with showing that or sharing it—a little.

The most power you will ever have in a negotiation is when:

a) They really, really want you and have invested a lot of time/money in you

b)  You are perfectly willing to get up and walk away

The reality is that you will rarely be willing to get up and walk away (i.e. you don’t really need that job, so you can be inflexible and demand rather than negotiate). However, try this: pretend you don’t “need” but are willing to “consider” the job. How differently would you act? Would you be more relaxed and easygoing? Try this mental tactic on yourself  during negotiation.

Two things you don not want to display during a salary and job negotiation are inflexibility and desperation. Both of these traits really blow your cool image out of the water!

Inflexible:

Inflexible job seekers tend to focus narrowly on salary, do not offer alternatives, use the word “I” a lot, and don’t use words like “concessions” and “win-win”. They tend to view the world as black-and-white, and aren’t interested in finding shades of gray or common ground. Often they take an adversarial position once the job offer comes, and bring emotion into the process.

When discussing the future job, try to focus on being willing to create alternatives, finding areas of agreement, and stating that you want both parties to be satisfied. When you make absolute statements you don’t give the employer any room to create other options and work with you.

Avoid:salary budget money negotiate coins penny

  • “I won’t/can’t take any less than…”
  • “My market research says that $X  is the right amount…”
  • “I really need…”

Desperate:

Desperate job seekers are afraid, and they show it. Usually it is financial desperation, but could also be based on insecurity, loss of identity with job loss, or age/discrimination-based fears.

Desperate job seekers tend to be in a rush, have little patience, and freely share their many stresses with everyone they meet. Rather than getting the empathy they seek, they tend to either be pitied or labeled as a whiner (cringe).

Would you rather have lunch with Winnie the Pooh’s eternally mournful donkey friend Eeyore, or with the bouncy, cheerful, and optimistic Tigger? Your outlook on the future and the job results you will bring to the company need to be the focus of your energy.  You don’t need to blurt out the whole truth; decide what you want to share.

Avoid:

  • “They (last employer) really caught me unaware when they laid me off, I had just… (name expensive thing you did).
  • “I’m really under a lot of pressure at home, my spouse/significant other is really upset…”

Keeping your cool during the negotiation of a job offer isn’t easy. It’s like walking a tightrope. Don’t be afraid to show your humanity and your personality, but do be mindful how the words you use can impact your image.

Updated Employee Handbook (Career and Job Humor)

clock boss time lateUPDATED EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK

 DRESS CODE

It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your salary.  If we see you wearing $350 Prada sneakers, and carrying a $600 Gucci Bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore you do not need a raise.

If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes, and therefore you do not need a raise until you learn this lesson.

If you dress in-between, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.

SICK DAYS

We will no longer accept a doctor’s statement as proof of sickness. If  you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.

PERSONAL DAYSHoliday

Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called  Saturday and Sunday.

BEREAVEMENT LEAVE

This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for  dead friends, relatives or co-workers. Every effort should be made to  have non-employees attend to the arrangements. In rare cases where  employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will allow you to work through your  lunch hour and subsequently leave one hour early.

 RESTROOM USE

Entirely too much time is being spent in the restroom. There is now a  strict 3-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes,  an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall  door will open and a picture will be taken. After your second offense, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the “Chronic Offenders” category.

Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide a  positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments,  concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations,  insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation, and input should be directed elsewhere.

Have a nice week!

THE ADMINISTRATION

What’s the worst mistake to make in a job interview?

Superman arrogantWhat can really make a future employer not want to add you to their team? According to a RHI Management Resources survey, executives were asked about the worst mistake management-level candidates can make during an interview.

Half (50%) said a display of arrogance was the biggest pitfall.  Much of interview coaching advice tells candidates to “be confident” and “act the part” and “show them you can do it”, but when these qualities are taken too far they can results in “over-confidence” which equals arrogance.

Arrogance is the workplace is one of the most off-putting qualities because it comes across as a character flaw–which can’t be fixed. No one wants to work with a know-it-all, or someone who is so confident they have lost a humanistic and empathetic quality. Mistakes happen, errors are made, economic factors make an impact, and someone who is arrogant is usually quick to avoid blame, point fingers and not respect other people’s feelings.

When the arrogant worker is in a management position the stakes are higher. They can directly impact high turnover among their subordinates, and create chaos in a cross-functional leadership team. These alone can have a negative and lasting impact on a company’s bottom line.

“When hiring at the senior level, companies pay particular attention to a candidate’s ability to lead, motivate and communicate effectively,” said Paul McDonald, who was the executive director of RHI Management Resources. “Firms value applicants who not only convey authority and aptitude, but who also have the interpersonal skills needed to direct a team and collaborate with top executives.”

Other mistakes to avoid in the interview

Other big errors that candidates made  which had a negative effect include:halt
• Avoiding difficult questions (13%)
• Being unprepared to discuss specific achievements (13%)
• Asking up-front about compensation and other benefits (10%)
• Demonstrating a lack of knowledge about the company (9%)

Expectations about details and business knowledge are expected in today’s tough work environment. You have to be prepared to logically discuss uncomfortable topics and withstand probing questions. By keeping your answers truthful and showing self-awareness and a willingness to grow from your mistakes, you will help avoid many of these common issues which get you fired before you get hired!

 

The survey was developed by RHI Management Resources, and conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 1400 CFOs from a stratified random sample of U.S companies with more than 20 employees.

Cover Letter Band-Aids: Fix all those boo-boos!

bandaid helpCover letters should be easy to write. You want to write it like you might say it. While email and texting has helped our writing become more casual and easy to read, for some reason cover letters make job seekers revert to awkward and unwilling letter writers.

Here’s some tips and band-aids to avoid common cover letter mistakes:

1)    OVERLY STILTED LANGUAGE:
Before: “Salary should be commensurate with experience.
After: “Salary can certainly be negotiable based on the exact responsibilities of the position and we both agree I am a great fit.”

2)    OVERLY FORMAL TONE
Before: “Allow me to introduce myself” or “Dear Sir/Madam” or “Cordially Yours.
After: Replace with a name, or “Dear Hiring Professional.” End with “Sincerely” or “Thank You.

3)    “ME, ME, ME”
Before: “Seeking upwardly mobile, challenging position utilizing my skills in…
Remember, the cover letter is supposed to be about what you can for them, not what they can do for you.

After: “If your department needs a seasoned customer service manager who can create and deliver training to new representatives…”

4)    TOO GENERICband aids envelope
Before: “I am submitting my resume and application for the job you advertised in the local newspaper…”
After: “A recent Wall Street Journal states that you are entering the global market. At my previous company I led similar efforts and successfully built sales in Europe and South America…”

5)    TOO PASSIVE/WEAK ENDING
Before: “I look forward to speaking with you about a position at your company.” This often-used phrase gives all the power to the reader, and strips you of an ability to follow up. Keep control while showing enthusiasm and persistence.
After: “I would like to talk with you and see if I can help your company with its marketing efforts. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll give you a call next week.”

Remember, a human will (hopefully) read your cover letter at some point, so make it a pleasurable experience for them!

Don’t shortchange your resume by neglecting volunteer work!

gift present giveTake credit for all of your life accomplishments. Just because you were not paid, do not relegate your volunteer experience to the end of your resume.

A potential employer doesn’t care whether any of your experience allowed you to be paid very well, very poorly or not at all. They care about, “What’s in it for me? How will this help MY business?” That is the unspoken question your resume must answer. Follow 3 principles:

1) TAKE THE RELEVANCY TEST

Include volunteer experience on your resume where it provides a specific example of a skill you have, or a wonderful personal trait such as creativity or team leadership, when those traits are valued in the position you are seeking.

2) DON’T JUST LIST IT: EXPLAIN IT!coach

Instead of listing:

  • Little League Coach
  • PTA member

Try this:

  • Coached Little League team to its first winning season in 6 years through improved morale, an added sense of fun, and enhanced skills
  • Spearheaded quarterly PTA Bake Sale which raised funds for desperately needed new band uniforms

3) POSITION IT CORRECTLY

Consider folding your volunteer experience into the resume body.  Place it before/after/alongside paid work experience. Title the section “PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE,” or “RELEVANT EXPERIENCE” or “SELECTED ACCOMPLISHMENTS”  instead of “Work Experience” or “Work History.”

Taking all the credit is up to you–if a situation was relevant to your ability to contribute to a new organization, you have to be the one to list the facts.

How to transform a job fair to a job offer

 job fair sign  (3)Local and regional career and employment fairs can streamline your job hunt, let you practice interviewing skills, and easily allow you to  conduct research on career opportunities and companies.

Like many job-searching techniques when there are many candidates for a few jobs, job fairs often don’t turn directly into job offers. However, if you are smart you can learn to transform a job fair into an eventual job offer.

As you’ll see in Step 3, it’s what you do after the job after that can really make a difference in results.

STEP 1: HOMEWORK

Many job seekers visit a job fair “to see what’s out there.” Wrong. Prepare for a fair as if it is a personal interview. That means upfront research. Know what companies are there. Be ready to ask intelligent questions about the specific job, not the company because you should already know that from pre-show research.

Carry a portfolio with laser-printed, professionally-prepared resumes. Dress professionally and simply. Don’t bring bulky bags. Keep your right hand free to shake hands.

STEP 2: YOUR PLAN OF ATTACK: WORKING THE JOB FAIR

Watch from afar, and pick who you are going to speak with at the booth. Approach the company representative, offer your hand and introduce yourself. Tell them you are interested in working for them, and why. Ask about their hiring process. Ask how to get an interview. Ask the names of the decision maker or head of the department (very important). job fair  (8)

Get business cards from people you meet (very important). Don’t overstay your welcome, but communicate your qualifications and your interest level. Ask what would help you get the job.

Importantly, target companies and get information about them even if (especially if) they don’t have an advertised opening in your area of expertise.

STEP 3: POST-FAIR JOB-WINNING TRICKS

Now you have names of HR managers, names of all the “decision makers”/department heads, and a good understanding of what the companies need.

Send resumes to department heads at each company, with a personalized letter summarizing qualifications for that specific job, your interest in it, and a willingness to meet. Copy the HR managers met. Do not expect them to contact you, so promise to follow up. And do it.

Follow the same tactic for companies that do not have advertised openings. You know they are hiring, which is a good economic benchmark. You have met someone who works there. By approaching the hiring manager of the department where you could contribute, you will have zero competition. It works!