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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.”

Social Media: The New Job Search Frontier

Recently I did some presentations and a webinar on social media for my clients and a couple of community organizations, including the Kiwanis Club of Brampton.  These presentations offered simple strategies to build a LinkedIn Profile, how job seekers can use social media to market themselves to employers, and how professionals and entrepreneurs can benefit from having an online presence.

Many people are nervous at the mere mention of social media. They are afraid people might misuse their information; they want to guard their privacy, or they are just plain overwhelmed with so many of these tools from which to choose. One webinar participant wrote me to say, “I am scared of a free service that takes my data to make money and promises not to share my information.” She then asked if I thought she was paranoid. Privacy is a legitimate concern, of course, especially since we know, or have heard of many online horror stories, but one does not have to become paranoid.

At one point, I was hesitant to use Facebook, for example. Although I have had an account since 2008, I did not start actively using it until 2010, when I began to see additional benefits other than getting updates from my nieces and nephews. So, social media is scary, and it might look like a time-waster sometimes, but is that enough not to test the waters? From a job seeker’s perspective, is it worth missing out on potential job opportunities, or connecting with a couple of influential decision makers? Wouldn’t it be nice to address someone by name at one of your target companies instead of “Dear Sir/Madam”?

There are many advantages to using social media. During a LinkedIn conference in Toronto last week, the keynoter said, “If you have hired more than 10 people through LinkedIn, stand.” Over 600 HR professionals and recruiters stood up. In other sessions, presenters spoke about how companies can build their employer brands on LinkedIn by reaching out and engaging potential employees through Career Hub Pages and Groups. The overall message from my perspective as a career coach is that job seekers need a LinkedIn presence, for starters.

I also learned that Canada is the 5th largest country on LinkedIn, and that IBM is one of the most active companies on LinkedIn, with over 280,000 employees and 650,000 followers. Want to join IBM? There are lots of people with whom you could connect!

Here’s a summary of some major social media tools:

  • LinkedIn – known as the number one social media tool for business, it has over 150 million members. Not only can profiles be created, but resumes can be uploaded, and by following Company Pages, one is able to keep track of new hires, promotions and the overall health of specific companies.
  • Twitter – a free micro-blogging platform that sends short messages using 140 characters. Recruiters, employers and HR professionals are quite active on Twitter and quite often use it to announce  job vacancies.
  • Facebook – permits businesses to establish a presence and allows people to “Like” and follow those businesses.
  • Pinterest – a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to pinboards. At first glance, one may wonder how effective this is as a job search tool, and the jury is still out on this. However, if you are the creative/artistic type, you can certainly market yourself or your business with it, so, join Pinterest and ‘get ‘Pinspired’!
  •  Google+ – another content sharing service, with an added feature called ‘Hangouts’. It’s a new video service where one can hold meetings, arrange study sessions, family meetings, or social gatherings with up to 10 people. Some companies have already started to conduct interviews with Hangouts.
  • About.me – serves like a parking garage for your online presence. It is a personal page that points people to everything you do around the web. It can be useful as a link in an email instead of uploading your resume and your other documents.

I believe the new job search or business frontier is through social media, and job seekers and entrepreneurs need to leverage its use. None of us can afford to be left out, especially as online interactions are becoming as meaningful as in real life. Does this mean social media is the ‘be all’ of your job search or business? No! What it does is help you build relationships, engage in conversations, and demonstrate your expertise. This will (over time), lead to opportunities, value and profitability.

Still scared? It’s time to jump on the social media bandwagon. Experiment and see which ones resonate with you, because these tools have become major players in how we conduct a job search, how and where we do business, what we purchase, and who we connect with.

Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

5 Questions a Candidate Should Ask in an Interview

Are you one of those candidates whose eyes turn to the ceiling, or who say “No” when asked if you have any questions? As a job seeker, professional or senior executive, you are smarter than that. You have already researched the company and have a list of questions to ask. After all, the interviewer(s) may have been so busy taking notes that they missed some of your key points, and you welcome another opportunity to emphasize those points.

One way of making sure that your key points were not missed and that you have demonstrated your value in the interview, is to be ready for this inevitable question – “Do you have any questions?” Here are some questions to ask:

What do you see as the priorities for this job in the first three months?

Their answer will give you more clarity and allow you to zero in on how your background closely matches those priorities.

Is there anything you’d like me to explain in more detail?

This question gives you a chance to delve deeper into your successes and illustrate your ability to exceed their expectations.

Do you have any doubts about my ability to do this job?

You may or may not get an answer to this question but if you do, it will help you to address any weaknesses or shortcomings they may have picked up during the interview.

Why did this vacancy occur?

You will want to know if it’s a newly-created position; if the person was let go, or if it’s a hot seat where no one stays for too long.

If I am the successful candidate, which duties would you like me to accomplish first?

This will go to the heart of where they are hurting, and you will have to be prepared to focus your energies in those areas first.

Since you are also interviewing the company, the responses to these questions will also help you determine if the company will be a good fit for you. Go ahead and boldly ask those questions. It’s another opportunity to tell your stories and get hired!

 

Image: Courtesy of Lifehack.org

Monday Rx: Value Has a Value Only if its Value is Valued

The headline for this post is really a tongue-twister, so read it again for clarity.

Today is Labour / Labor Day in Canada and the US, but am still sending  my message, albeit a shortened version. It’s a 30-second speech from Bryan Dyson, the former CEO of Coca Cola.

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling five balls in the air. They are Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit, and you are keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you dropped one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family and friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”

Whatever you are doing right now, take a moment to reflect on the message and evaluate your priorities. I am doing just that today!

To your success,

 

Monday Rx: 7 Simple Steps to S.U.C.C.E.S.S.

What is success? Whatever answer you come up with will be correct, as success means different things to different people. I read a quote recently that said “If you fail and learn something from it, that’s success too.”  Isn’t that amazing?

These seven simple steps won’t tell you how to get a promotion or how to make more money. They are more basic than that. They will guide you into making simple changes to your thought processes and set you on the path to achieving your success. You see, there certain things we all have to get out of our way before we can begin to see success.

S

STOMP out all the ANTs – those Automatic Negative Talks that you engage in with yourself. Crush those negative self-talks. If you don’t you will be impeding your ability to succeed.

 

U

UNDERSTAND that no matter what you are going through, no matter how bad your circumstances appear, you are never alone. Someone else is going through the same or worse than you are at this moment.

 

C

Be open to CHANGE. When you become too rigid and develop this “it’s my way or the highway” mentality, you are stalling your growth, so be open to change. Be flexible!

 

C

Learn to COMMUNICATE your value to everyone with whom you associate. What is it that you do better than anyone else? Learn to answer that question and then communicate it in a way that it’s easy for people to understand.

 

E

Reach out to EXPERTS. If you are struggling with an issue, there is always someone who knows a little bit more than you do and is willing to offer assistance. Seek him or her out. It’s never a weakness to ask for help.

 

S

SURROUND yourself with positive people. Those who will engage, motivate and build you up rather than drag you down. They will inspire you to keep on going when the going gets rough.

 

S

STAY focussed on your goal. Don’t allow small setbacks to stop you from moving forward. The road may be winding but don’t deviate. If you stay focussed on where you are going you will be successful.

Do you have anything else to add here? Post your comments below, and have a succesful week!

Is the Résumé Really Dead?

Every so often I read a blog post or hear comments about the death of the ubiquitous résumé, and I am sometimes tempted to believe it. After all, it draws its competition from the overabundance of social media tools and, to a lesser degree, from individuals with the ‘gift of gab’ who can talk themselves into any job without a résumé.

But, let’s pause for a moment! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. A few days ago, one of my clients was interviewed for a Senior Vice President position by the top three honchos of a company. They were impressed with the content and structure of his résumé because after the interview, he sent me the following note:

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better résumé and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance. I said, “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”. He loved that.

Naturally, I was happy for him that things went well, and by the looks of  it, he may be getting an offer soon, but I also reflected on the CEO’s comment. This couldn’t have happened if it was a collaborative effort between the client and me. Before crafting the résumé, I put him to work by having him complete an assessment to uncover his strengths and the work environment in which he strives best. It was a worthwhile exercise for him as he wrote to say, “I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. He was stunned when he received the draft document and remarked, “To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

Before meeting with company officials, we also discussed interview strategies – what to say, when to say it, and what to hold back.  This brings me back to the question, “Is the résumé really dead as some would have us believe?” Not really! Hiring managers and recruiters usually request one; job postings ask to submit one, and CEOs sometimes want to see one before agreeing to meet a candidate. What is on its way out is the résumé as it used to be. The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs or buying motivators. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. On the other hand, the one that tells stories, focuses on major strengths, and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to interviews and then to a job offer.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

 

But, let’s pause for a minute! Probably, the résumé isn’t dead after all. One of my clients met the top three honchos of this particular company when he interviewed for a Senior VP position a few days ago. After that meeting, he sent me an email from which I quote:  

The Top Guy stated he had never seen a better resume and appreciated the time and effort I put into it.  I was straight up and told him I solicited assistance.  “No one stands alone but draws on other people’s expertise as required”, I told him. He loved that.

In order to come up with the client’s résumé, I had him complete an assessment. After he had reviewed the results, he said, I want to express how important this process has been for me to re-evaluate my worth and experience. I have a fire I have not had in a while!”

The next step was to delve into his background, unearth his success stories and formulate them into a cohesive value proposition that articulates what he is good at, what he consistently does well, and how he delivers tangible results. All this was necessary to craft the résumé that caught the attention of the CEO. Even the client was stunned when he received the résumé. He said, To say we are blown away (the wife and I) would be an understatement. This is GOLD!”

So, which résumé is dead? The one devoid of value-based scripts, filled with ‘responsible for…’ statements and does not address the employer’s needs. Such a résumé cannot stand up to the competition, and will certainly meet its demise if it hasn’t already. However, the résumé that tells stories; focuses on major strengths and promises value, that’s the résumé that will lead to success.

What are your thoughts? Have your say below.

The Tale of a Title Change

One of my lovely nieces emailed me last week to solicit my career coaching assistance. She wanted to approach her boss about changing her title to reflect the work she is currently doing.

I asked her to send me a list of her accomplishments. She sent me a list of her MAJOR RESPONSIBILITIES. I sent it back to her with a phrase at the end of each statement, “And so?” She understood what I meant, as the list I got back was filled with value-based scripts.

Two days later, she had the conversation with her boss and gave him the list of her achievements. Without any hesitation she had her title changed from Software QA Specialist to Senior QA Analyst. While she did not ask for a raise because she understands the company’s financial situation, she was told in a memo that “…You will also be considered for a salary increase if any funds become available later this year”.

All it takes is a short conversation. It’s as simple as that!