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According to the 2017/2018 Mercer US Compensation Planning Survey, the average salary increase budget is expected to be 2.9% in 2018, remaining flat from 2017. So how can you be perceived as a top performer in 2018? Here are some tips.

Document your accomplishments regularly throughout the year
Keep track of all the projects you manage. Upon completion of each assignment, write a note to yourself detailing your contribution and how your efforts helped the company make money, save money, save time, grow the business, or retain customers. Quantify your accomplishments with dollars, percentages, and other appropriate metrics. Actively seek out opportunities to improve efficiencies and profits regardless of the task at hand. By showing and quantifying your specific value add, you build a better business case to support the requested salary increase.

Become hard to replace
Create opportunities to diversify your experience by offering to learn how to perform tasks that support your main role and make you more efficient at what you do. An alternative strategy is to become a subject matter expert in one specific aspect of the job so you are seen as the “go-to-guy” for a particular type of information. No want wants to lose the “go-to-guy” because then they have to do it themselves.

Take on tasks that no one else wants to do
This does not mean taking on grunt work. It might just mean mastering a new technology that no one else feels comfortable with or taking on an assignment that is outside of the traditional scope of the job. Employees who demonstrate this level of flexibility tend to get more flexibility from their bosses on other issues, including compensation.

Accept high profile assignments close to review time
Since it is easier for people to remember what has happened most recently, why not take on an important assignment to coincide with an upcoming review? The project is bound to become a focal point of the performance review discussion and the boss can quickly remember and document the achievements relevant to the project.

Your success negotiating a salary increase or promotion hinges on your ability to discuss the increase in terms of what is fair and reasonable. By including some of these ideas into your career management strategy, you can keep the conversation focused on measurable achievements and build a compelling business case for the requested pay raise.

The post Want More Than the Average 2.9% Salary Increase in 2018? Here’s How appeared first on Career Solvers.

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During an executive job search, several tools and strategies can be used to weave together a compelling story of your value to an employer. Resumes, interviews and networking meetings should be rich with memorable information about you and the problems you have solved for organizations. Your story should be so good that the interviewer can’t wait to repeat it to the next person in the hiring chain. Here are some tips for making that happen.

  1. Create an exciting resume that the reader just can’t put down. Don’t just write about job tasks, and don’t just list statistics. Build a story around your accomplishments that succinctly communicates the impact you had on an initiative or an organization as a whole.
  2. Tell your story with pictures. Try adding some charts or graphs to your resume to create a visual representation of your impact. For example, if you increased sales 500 percent over a 5-year period, create a bar graph to show the year-over-year growth.
  3. Showcase samples of your work. Bring examples of the types of reports, business communications, or design work you do to the interview. Consider including links to Web sites, photographs, videos, or project prototypes to your portfolio when appropriate.
  4. Answer interview questions using the Challenge-Action-Result story format. Employers are interested in learning about your past successes because they feel that past successes are a good indicator of future success. By describing the challenges you faced, the actions you took to address those challenges and the corresponding results for the organization, you are more likely to create interest and excitement about your candidacy.
  5. Ask questions that invite the interviewer to tell her story. In order to build a strong rapport with the hiring authority, you need to share information. Asking the interviewer also to share information helps deepen this relationship. Ask what issues the department is struggling with and what types of strategies it has tried in the past to address these issues. Asking questions shows your interest and concern for the company’s problems and also positions you as the right person to address them.

The post Tell a Story Interviewers Can’t Forget appeared first on Career Solvers.

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I am pleased to announce that Career Solvers was recently nominated for three TORI (Toast of the Resume Industry) Awards by Career Directors International. Career Solvers has been nominated for this award over 30 times since 2006 and won 11 awards for Best Executive Resume, Best Technology Resume, Best Sales & Marketing Resume, Best International Resume, Best Creative Resume, and Best Cover Letter.

The competition draws hundreds of entries from resume writers from all over the world, and it is an honor to be a nominee this year in the categories of Best Finance Resume, Best Technology Resume, and Best Healthcare Resume.

The post Career Solvers Nominated for Three Toast of the Resume Industry Awards appeared first on Career Solvers.

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A large part of my role as a career strategist is to help people in search be accountable and manage the inherent frustrations that are part of every search. Here are the five most common frustrations I see and advice for moving past them.

Applying to an online job posting.

The Challenge: Some of the systems that companies use to track applicants are so unwieldy that I’ve often compared the experience to that of the character from Greek mythology, Sisyphus, who was punished in Hades by having repeatedly to roll a huge stone up a hill only to have it roll down again as soon as he had brought it to the summit. The upload process for many of these applicant systems is exceptionally cumbersome, requiring significant time copying and pasting information that is already in the applicant’s resume. To make matters worse, the number of applicants who get their job through a job posting is abysmal, particularly for senior executives.

The Solution: Circumvent the job boards. If you see a position of interest, use your network and tools like LinkedIn to see if you can find a connection into the company. Even if you are still asked to post online, you will have explored multiple entry points into the company and potentially increase the likelihood of finding someone who will be willing to speak to you.

Waiting to hear back from a networking contact.

The Challenge: Frequently my clients tell me that they reached out to a solid contact for an introduction and all they hear are crickets. They often start doubting themselves, thinking maybe the relationship wasn’t as strong as they thought it was or maybe their request has offended their contact and that is the reason he/she is not responding.

The Solution: Usually when you don’t hear back from a networking contact, it has nothing to do with you. People are busy, and while we would like to think we are top of mind with them, we aren’t. If the first outreach was by phone, try email, text, or social media. If you make a second phone call, try reaching out during a different time of day to see if it’s easier to catch them. Try to create a follow up plan that is persistent, but doesn’t make you a pest. Don’t leave dozens of voicemail messages or send too many emails. You’d be surprised how many people eventually respond and profusely apologize for their tardiness. If there are others in your professional or personal circle who know the same person, consider asking them about the contact’s whereabouts. Maybe they will know if the person is extremely busy or out of town.

Additionally, before you reach out to your contacts, make sure your “ask” isn’t too big. Many job seekers tell their contacts that they are in a search and say, “If you hear of someone who’s hiring, let me know.” This is generally too much to ask. Most will not know of someone who’s hiring, which makes it easy for them to say no or not respond to you at all. Instead, start your conversation by bluntly stating, “I have no reason to believe you know of anyone who is hiring, but would you be open to spending a few minutes with me so I can learn more about…(a company, an industry, a job function, etc.)” This type of “ask” often leads to a meeting and introductions to other people who may be closer to an actual job lead. People like sharing information. They also like talking about themselves. It’s a low-risk interaction and many are happy to have this type of conversation.

Asking for a LinkedIn recommendation and not getting one.

The Challenge: LinkedIn recommendations can be a great way to build your brand online and demonstrate your value through the lens of people who have worked with you. But my clients often report asking for a recommendation and waiting a long time to hear back. This makes the situation awkward, because the person has agreed to do them a favor and the requestor doesn’t want to appear impatient or entitled by following up.

The Solution: If you want a LinkedIn recommendation from someone in your network, offer to write it for them. This allows you to tailor the recommendation to the skills you want to highlight and it helps expedite the process. Most people are perfectly happy to have you write the recommendation, and once it’s done, they are likely to make only minor edits or approve it quickly.
Another strategy is to write a recommendation for someone without being solicited for one. When the relationship is such that a reciprocal recommendation would be appropriate, you may very well get one without even asking.

Waiting to hear back after a final interview.

The Challenge: You have a final interview that you think went very well. The hiring manager suggests that they will make a decision quickly. And then nothing happens. You spend days in self-flagellation, picking apart every moment of the interview, trying to figure out what went wrong.

The Solution: Understand a delayed response often has nothing to do with your interview performance. Even when a hiring manager wants to make a decision quickly, he/she often can’t because there are others that have to be consulted or an approval process that has to be followed. In some cases, they have offered the job to someone else and while that person goes through their decision or negotiation process, you are kept in the dark. They don’t want you to know they are considering someone else and want you to be excited if they later present you with an offer.
You can try to gain some control over the situation by specifically asking when they plan to make a decision. If they say they will decide shortly, ask them if you should following up in one week or two. By asking a question with a forced choice, you may be more likely to set expectations.

Being asked about past salary regardless of its relationship to the job you are interviewing for.

The Challenge: Your most recent salary is not a competitive benchmark for your next salary. All a salary represents is what someone was willing to pay you to do a specific job at some point in time. It doesn’t account for changes in industry, market demand, geography, or economic factors. Yet many hiring managers continue to ask this question. Identifying this information could put you at a disadvantage, but not disclosing could damage the relationship you are trying to build with the hiring manager.

The Solution: Let the hiring manager know that while you are happy to share that information, your past salary may not represent your expectation for the job you are interviewing for. Let them know you would like to learn more about the position and ask if they would be willing to share the salary range. Do some research before your interview on salary sites such as Glassdoor.com or Payscale.com. Talk to industry recruiters who may be able to disclose salary ranges for certain types of roles or seek out information from professional associations that may conduct industry salary surveys. If the hiring manager asks you to identify a salary range, let him/her know what your expectation is based on your research. In this scenario, your past salary becomes irrelevant, because you have identified a new benchmark and reset the expectations.

Job search can be frustrating at times. Work on managing the situations you can control and letting go of those you can’t. This will help you build confidence, patience, and maybe even a greater sense of humor throughout your journey!

The post How to Avoid Five Job Seeker Frustrations appeared first on Career Solvers.

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After discussing the salary negotiation process with more than a thousand clients, I’ve found that many of them made mistakes in the past that we corrected during our coaching sessions so they could have better outcomes.

Some negotiate too aggressively, damaging the relationship with the hiring manager; others negotiate for too many things or for too many rounds, giving the perception that their expectations are unrealistic; and still others don’t negotiate at all, leaving the hiring manager to wonder if the person will be effective negotiating with colleagues and clients when this is a necessary part of the job.

Here are the five most common negotiation mistakes I see job seekers make and suggestions for negotiating more effectively.

1. Offer an ultimatum.

Negotiating a job offer is a collaborative process. The person you are negotiating with may very well be your future boss. When candidates negotiate in a very aggressive way, saying they can only accept a job offer if certain conditions are met, they reduce the chances of finding common ground with the employer.

Rather than giving an ultimatum, explain why your request is fair and reasonable. For example, if you are negotiating for a larger car mileage allowance, say something like, “In order for me to offer exceptional customer service, I will need to visit clients at a minimum of two times per month. Given the number of clients I will be responsible for, I believe it is fair and reasonable to request a larger car mileage allowance.”

2. Say you have a competing job offer when you don’t.

When you actually have another offer, a negotiation strategy is to hedge that offer against the other to see if you can speed up the decision process or improve the quality of the second offer. However, if you say you have another offer but don’t, this could backfire as the employer might respond that they can’t make (or change) their offer and wish you the best of luck in the other job.

If you are interviewing for another role and think you might be close to an offer, an alternative is to say, “I want to be totally transparent with you. I am expecting an offer from another company, but I am much more interested in this role. If there is a way to expedite the interview process and I was to receive an offer, I feel confident this would be the job I would select.”

3. Negotiate yourself out of a job.

While the negotiation process may require some back and forth, you want to make sure you are negotiating for what is important and not just for the sake of negotiating. Over-negotiating, or going back to the table too many times, may give the impression that you are not flexible or a team player, and the employer might decide you are not the right fit.

To avoid over-negotiating, create a list of pros and cons following the presentation of the job offer and be prepared to discuss alternative concessions if your original negotiation points are not granted. This will help you avoid too much back and forth and show that you are negotiating in good faith.

4. Fudge salary information.

While your previous salary should not be the basis for an employer’s offer, tread lightly here. Some employers request to see your W2 or a pay stub to confirm your previous salary and failure to be transparent about this could cost you the job. Bottom line: Don’t lie.

5. Fail to prep your references.

Even though your references might be prepared to say great things about you, they might not be saying the things that will resonate with the hiring manager. For example, if you’ve done a combination of print and digital advertising sales roles and you are going for a role with a heavy digital focus, you want to make sure your references are touting your digital skills and not focusing on your successes in the print world. Prep your references following the stage in the interview process when the employer lets you know they will be checking references. Explain to your references the value you sold to the employer, so they can reiterate these points in their discussion with the hiring manager.

The salary negotiation process is not only important for ensuring the best compensation package. A collaborative process helps get the relationship between employee and employer off to a good start. Eliminate aggressive and combative behavior and replace with harmonious ones to start the business partnership off on the right foot.

This article was originally published on Forbes Coaches Council.

The post Five Ways to Sink a Job Offer appeared first on Career Solvers.

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