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Ask for What You Are Worth!

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“In business and in life, you don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.” – Anonymous

In archiving some of my workshop files this past week, I discovered a presentation I gave to a group of mostly International Trained Professionals (IEPs) at University of Toronto’s Rotman’s School way back in 2008. The title: A 30-Day Plan to Put Your Career on the Fast Track. Part of the discussion was about how to speak up and ask for what you want. During the presentation I introduced this Brian Tracy quote:

“The Future Belongs to the Askers: The future does not belong to those people who sit back, wishing and hoping that things will improve. The future belongs to those people who step up and ask for what they want. And if they don’t get it right away, they ask, again and again, until they do get it.”

It was a spirited discussion, particularly around how to advance on the job. I confessed to them that early in my career, I was one of those individuals who believed that working hard would get me noticed and rewarded with a promotion. That was not the case. I discovered I needed to become an advocate for myself and ask for what I wanted. Things changed once I convinced myself of my worth.

Mika Brzezinski, co-host of NBC’s Morning Joe, and author of Knowing Your VALUE – Women, Money, and Getting What You’re Worth, talks about how difficult it is for women to ask for what they want, including asking for a raise or a promotion. “Women”, she said, “prefer to work, work, work, hoping the boss will notice”. If you are such an individual, it’s time to lift up your head from all this work, survey the landscape, and devise a plan to ask for what you want.

Valerie Jarrett, then senior advisor to President Obama, and who was quoted in Brzezinksi’s book, said at a point in her career, she felt if she was working so hard, her boss should recognize that she deserved a promotion. It wasn’t until one of her mentors said, “You can’t sit around waiting for people to recognize your work, you have to ask for it”, that she gathered her courage and went to her boss. Soon after that discussion, she got the promotion and the front office. “If you’re not asking for a promotion…you’re not going to get the gold ring”, said Jarrett.

What if it’s not a promotion? What if you have been offered a new job and you want to negotiate your salary but you are getting cold feet? That’s what happened to one of my clients last week and he nearly gave up an opportunity to negotiate. The salary was not what he had expected, but he was afraid to ask for more in case the offer was withdrawn. I reminded him that most employers expect candidates to negotiate, and as long as he didn’t appear unreasonable, he shouldn’t worry.

Before returning the call to HR, I asked him to explore some ‘what ifs’: What would he do IF he didn’t get what he asked for? What would he do IF they withdrew the offer? After contemplating his options, he decided to ask for two things: a $5,000 addition to the salary, and reimbursement for his professional membership fee. The initial offer represented a $17k increase, but it was not the $110k he was looking for. We discussed how he would frame the ‘ask’ in one sentence: “Would you consider paying for my professional membership, and could you add $5,000 to my salary?” I suggested that once he asked the question, he should remain quiet; don’t utter another word. Bingo! He received what he asked for. What if he hadn’t asked? He would’ve left $22,000 on the table.

Most people want to advance in their career; be it a better pay, increased responsibility, or more meaningful work, but they are afraid of the ‘ask’ word. They don’t want to topple the apple cart. But, think about this, even high profile individuals like Valerie Jarrett and Mika Brzezinski found it difficult to ask for what they wanted, but when they asked, they got it.

Reflect on your situation:?

  • Are you afraid to ask for the job during the interview?
  • Are you hesitant to ask for a raise?
  • Are you waiting on your boss to give you a promotion?
  • Do you feel uncomfortable asking clients to pay for your services?

To help you overcome the ‘afraid to ask syndrome’, ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen? Then prepare to get to the point, being very clear about what you want.

Never doubt yourself when you are sitting at the negotiation table. Know your worth then ask for what you want. Remember, “You don’t get paid what you deserve; you get paid what you negotiate.”

Why Dumbing Down Your Resume is a Dumb Idea

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If you are dumbing down your resume and downplaying your achievements, you are playing small. You are cowering under the pressure of other people’s opinions. You are undervaluing your capabilities.

The majority of my clients are aspiring managers, managers and emerging executives. Some are also senior leaders or presidents of their own companies but are considering corporate opportunities. Many are faced with challenges from being told they are overqualified, they don’t have Canadian experience, or that they are too old.

I had a conversation with a senior leader (someone in his late fifties) this past week where he said that headhunters have told him that he is too old. I asked him how old is his intellectual capital – that mass of knowledge, ideas and experience housed in his cranium that some 30- or 40-somethings wouldn’t have. This man is an executive within the energy industry, and prior to that worked in the investment and bond markets. Will his age prevent him from adding value to a company?

My colleague Sharon Graham, wrote a blog post recently on this topic. The link is posted below. In it she exposed some of the myths about dumbing down one’s resume. She discussed the fact that there is currently a leadership vacuum, and that new industries are emerging, while others are here to stay. For those reasons, one should highlight one’s achievements instead of dumbing them down.

We live in a real world where these things happen, and I know you hear it quite often. Employers, hiring managers and recruiters telling you overtly or covertly that you are overqualified or you are too old. This is a dumb approach and only serves to exclude potentially good candidates. By the same token it  puts you on the defensive. There are strategies that you, a potentially good candidate, can use to overcome these barriers:

  1. Research the potential employer thoroughly then focus on areas where you know you can solve their problems and add value. Don’t apologize for your accomplishments and successes.
  2. Seek to connect with decision makers, or other people who know these decision makers. This proactive approach might be uncomfortable for some of you but it’s better than constantly uploading  resumes that may end up in the resume black hole.
  3. Be prepared to begin your conversation with something like: “I want you, just for a moment, to suspend your belief that I am overqualified, too old, don’t have Canadian experience [or whatever your specific circumstance is]. If you would like your company to remain where it is, then I might not be a good fit. But, if you would like to see explosive growth within the next X months/years, then we should be having a discussion.” Of course, you have to back up this blatant claim with your proven success stories.

It is the responsibility of managers, emerging executives, or any job seeker for that matter, to focus on what they have to offer their next employer. The next step is to determine how they can package this offer in a way that will have employers reaching out to them. This is not the time to leave your career up to job boards, applicant tracking systems, or junior staff who sometimes screen you out because their perception is that you are overqualified or too old.

If you find yourself downplaying your achievements, it’s time to stop. You are someone with a whole lot of things to offer. Stand tall, pull your shoulders back and be prepared to articulate your stories in ways that produce conversations. If you are meeting too much resistance, then ask yourself if this particular organization would be a good place for your to work.

Have you been told to dumb down your resume? If so, share your story in the comments section below, reach out to a career coach, or contact me. We just might be able to help you overcome these job search obstacles.

Related resources

Dumbing Down a Resume is Not a Great Idea (Sharon Graham)

10 Resume Tips to Beat Online Applicant Tracking Systems

 

Embarrassing Moments at Work: Offer Letter Sent to the Wrong Candidate

OfficeTeam recently conducted a survey asking executives to recount their most embarrassing moments. One fell asleep while interviewing a candidate, another sent the offer letter to the wrong candidate, and yet another answered the phone using the wrong company name. One even went to work with two different shoes on. I can relate to that as it happened to me years ago one dark winter morning.

These moments can happen to just about anyone, and while the executive may be forgiven, as a candidate vying for that coveted position, you might not be so fortunate. That embarrassing mistake could cost you the job of your dreams.

Here are four tips from OfficeTeam to help you rebound from embarrassing mishaps:

1. Remain calm. It’s easy to lose your nerves after a slipup, but try to keep your composure. Take a deep breath and collect yourself.

2. Own up. Acknowledging a blunder before someone else does can alleviate any awkward tension that may arise. If appropriate, address the situation in a humorous way to make everyone feel more at ease.

3. Make amends. If your accident affected another person, immediately apologize and take steps to ensure a similar mistake does not happen again.

4. Move on. Rather than dwell on a misstep, focus on getting back on track. The faster you recover, the less memorable the incident will be.

What has been an embarrassing moment for you? Share it here.

*Post courtesy of OfficeTeam