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10 Steps to Being the ONE Who Gets the Offer: Avoid “Bland Brand”

Day 102/365 by markgranitz on Flickr

Most people don’t get the job. Only one. How do you set yourself up to be that one from the get-go?

It’s your brand. This isn’t just a buzzword, and it’s not something created out of thin air. In fact, you have one whether you are intentional about it or not. Only, if you haven’t been intentional (which is the “I” in EPIC,) it may not be a brand that positions you for what you want, and it might not be noticed by people in a position to give it to you.

Getting it noticed is a step ahead, step 3, though. Let’s just focus now on what you need to ask in order to assess your current brand, which is really how people think of you. Then you can bridge the gaps to include what people really need to understand in order to see that you are special, deserving, and ready for the next step.

[To go back a bit, Step 1 is Focus – I covered that in a video I shared recently, but it’s no longer available.]

Step 2 to landing your dream job is Branding. For job seekers, this means taking that focus on what you want to do most and who you want to do it for, and understanding what your ideal employer needs to know about you to help them quickly determine that you are a person of extreme interest and unique value.

A powerful brand creates a sense of urgency, because if a hiring manager sees your value, so will someone else, and that means that you could be an asset to the competition any day now. That’s a double loss to a company!

The average résumé and LinkedIn profile describe functional duties – what you were responsible for or in charge of doing and what your day-to-day, weekly and monthly duties were.

Do you think presenting yourself as average will attract the attention of your dream employer?

For that matter, will you attract the attention of any employer? Only if that employer is okay with average employees. What kind of job security can a company with average employees offer you? Will you be satisfied working with average people who produce average results? You may, and to each his or her own. My clients would not be, but that’s why they choose to work with Epic Careering. If you aren’t striving for Epic, you aren’t a potential client. This post could still help you, because even if you want an average job, you still need to land it, and you still need to be slightly better than average – otherwise, how is an employer to choose? I can just see them doing eenie meenie minie moe with résumés now.

(By the way, and this may seem obvious, so forgive me, but in order to be seen as an attractive candidate, you first have to be seen. Don’t depend on online applications for this, but again, that’s step 3.)

A. In order to assess your current brand, it’s best to ask others who know you well: What kind of reputation do you think I have?

When people give you generic answers, such as, “You’re a team player,” or “you are results-focused,” get them to be more specific. For example, when it comes to results, ask them to define the kinds of results that you generate, or how they can tell you are focused on results. If they praise you on your ability to work with a team, ask them what they think makes you good at working with a team. These are a couple examples of where and how to dig deeper, but the kinds of responses you might get are limitless. The key is to keep honing in on your UNIQUE way of being valuable in ways that many, many people are valuable. Don’t settle for answers that most people give, or you will wind up sounding like everyone else. That’s a kind of brand, but not the kind that gets the offer – that’s a bland brand.

B. Now you have to take a look at the kind of people that your ideal company wants to hire. Find a company that meets 80% of your criteria (which were developed in Step 1 – Focus.) How? Pick the most critical of those criteria and determine where companies who meet that criteria can be found.

For instance, if you want your company to offer excellent health benefits, Google “companies that pay 100% health benefits.” This worked for me. You may want to put in your state or city, but even if a company is headquartered in a different location, they still may have subsidiaries or locations near you, or they could have remote positions.

C. Visit their employer page to see what they say about the kinds of talent they attract. The better ones will have employee testimonial videos. You’ll still want to rely on other sources. Go to LinkedIn, search for the company, opt to see the employees on LinkedIn. You can sort by titles that resemble the ones you would want. Check out various profiles to see where else people worked, where they went to school, and what they have achieved at work and in their community. You may even see if those same people are on other social media, like Facebook or Twitter where they may share more candidly and you can find out more about the kinds of personalities the company attracts.

D. Look for trends. Write down what you find. What are the common backgrounds, personalities, and achievements that have enticed this company to hire in the past? Do you feel like you fit in?

That’s a loaded question, since most of us suffer from “imposter syndrome.” Let’s assume that these are people that you think you would like to work with, and therefore you would fit in. It’s generally true that traits we admire in other people are those we possess or strive to possess, and therefore are authentically us. We just need some evidence.

E. Take the list of common backgrounds, personality traits, and achievements and put them in a T-table so you can compare with what you possess. Keep in mind that you may have to look outside your previous work experience to find evidence, since we don’t always get the chance to express or apply our innate strengths on the job, or we do and it’s not appreciated. If we’re going for EPIC, we’re assuming that your strengths, talents, and personality will be embraced and leveraged. That’s what makes you feel ALIVE at work. [Let’s also assume that you’re well compensated for them.]

F. Here is where we get more specific and start to build your brand case. The achievements, education, and skills are the more tactile to compare. However, when it comes to personality traits, it may be more challenging. Asking for assistance from those who know you well can really help speed this process along, as vulnerable as it might make you feel. You need to discern what your unique way of demonstrating these qualities has been.

G. Once you have all of the data, synthesize it, and distill it into 4-6 branding points – no more/no less. You need a solid foundation on which to build your content, and you want to make sure you can be clear and consistent across your résumé, LinkedIn profile, biography or any other media you might use to share your brand.

H. Put them into priority based on for what you want to be appreciated most.

I. Each branding point needs a story to prove it. The higher priority branding points need to be proven more frequently, and more recently.

J. Use the following formula to flesh out all the details of your story

> Situation (the conditions that existed that necessitated a change)

> Challenge(s)

> People impacted and the impact (pre-solution)

> Decision made

> Action taken

> Skills, talents applied

> tools used

> people involved

> results (in measurable terms whenever possible)

> impact (how that trickled down to other people)

K. Take the most impressive components of each story and build a bullet, starting with an action verb, that highlights them for your résumé. You may not accommodate each part of the story for résumé bullets, but you can save that back-story for your LinkedIn profile, helping you create a completely complimentary brand story between the media.

If these steps have already overwhelmed you, and you feel that in the time that you would take to complete all of these steps you could have made good money, do what highly successful people do and leverage other people’s expertise and time.

Engage us and we will:

  • Ask all the pertinent questions
  • Understand your target employer’s hiring criteria
  • Ensure that your new brand resonates with them and creates a sense of urgency
  • Get granular and specific about which makes you unique
  • Synthesize and distill all of your qualities and experience into 4-6 branding points
  • Write your summary to distinguish you among any other equally or more qualified candidates
  • Compose branded bullets that PROVE you are a MUST-CALL candidate
  • Craft complimentary content that presents a clear, consistent and compelling story that inspires action

 

If you like these steps, consider yourself a talented writer, and love the do-it-yourself model, I recommend investing in our very fun bullet builder, summary builder, LinkedIn profile builder and our proven template: http://epiccareering.com/diy-content-builder/. These put all the creation in your hands without the guesswork that can lead to costly (time and $$) trial and error.

The Smiths How Soon Is Now?

Album: Hatful of Hollow / Year: 1984 / Written by Morrisey and Johnny Marr / Produced by John Porter Lyrics: I am the son and the heir Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar I am the son and heir Of nothing in particular You shut your mouth How can you say I go about things the wrong way?

3 Ways to Overcome Having Been Overpaid

All in a Day's Work by Damian Gadal of Flickr.jpg

All in a Day’s Work by Damian Gadal of Flickr.jpg

 

While research shows and some politicians feel that most workers, particularly women and federal employees, have been underpaid for far too long, some have been blessed to be very well paid. If this is you, I hope that you are taking full advantage of it and, rather than increasing your standard of living, are using the money to pay off debts and saving for the future. Experience has proven that being paid above market value puts you on the chopping block if your company ever decides that the money is better spent elsewhere.

To boot, if you are separated from your company it can be that much harder to find a job above market pay or even to convince employers that you are willing to take a pay cut.

Employers have justifiable concerns hiring somebody above market range. You could be asking for more than your boss is earning, which usually does not produce strong rapport to build a good relationship.

As with most situations, this poses a challenge, but is not necessarily an obstacle. There are ways that you can conduct your search and mitigate any potential perceived risk you pose by being someone paid above market.

 

  1. Know your numbers

If you are someone who excels at managing personal finances, you probably have strong accounts of what your monthly expenses are, and you also probably have very clear-cut savings goals for retirement. Evaluate whether there are areas of your living expenses or entertainment expenses that can be downsized.

If you have not been keeping very clear records of your monthly expenses and do not have clear-cut retirement, or other savings goals, now is the time to meet with a financial advisor.  (I know a few great ones, if you need a referral!)

If this task seems daunting to you, I can relate, and it can be tempting to guesstimate, but this is potentially very dangerous for you. If there is something you do not account for, like if you own a home and you are not accounting for an emergency fund for all the unexpected, very expensive repairs that come along with owning a home, you could be underinsured for some acts of God. Another example could be that you need to increase in your life insurance coverage if your standard of living has increased over the years. If you had a 401(k) with your previous company, a financial advisor will help you determine the best way to reinvest that to match your desired level of growth, risk, and future life needs. This is something you want to expert help on. Even if you are an expert at these things, it is wise to obtain a second opinion. Just make sure that, whatever decisions are made and whoever makes them, you are fully educated on the options and apprised of the ongoing status. Always maintain control and awareness.

If you genuinely are able to take a pay cut because you are earning above your means, coming in with specific substantiation of that will show an employer that you are fully prepared, and not guessing. Many employers have personal experience with this that they will trust over your word. You can convince them that you are not a flight risk by taking a salary cut if you write or say something specific, such as, “My house is paid off, my kids’ college is paid for, I have no debt, and I can afford to take a $43,000 pay cut.” You can do this from the get-go in an approach or cover letter, you can empower your recruiter to negotiate this on your behalf, or you can state it upfront in conversation when you have a chance to speak one-on-one with your next potential boss.

By the way, just because you are willing to take a pay cut does not mean you should not try to negotiate your package, especially if in your role you are expected to be a strong negotiator. Focus on some of the perks of a package, like a corporate car or car expenses. Perhaps you already have health care through your spouse. You can either negotiate for them to replace some of the perks they would have offered you with compensation, or where they cannot provide you with compensation, ask for perks. Come in knowing which perks have a monetary value to you.

 

  1. Know the market

Indeed, Glassdoor, and Salary.com are all places that will give you some good numbers around what the market is paying for particular roles in particular geographies. However, you may bring with you some niche skills or experience that has additional value in the market. A niche recruiter can be a very good resource in these situations. If you are going to ask for a higher salary than what the market seems to be paying generally, you need to bring with you some substantiation of your requests, and know that even if you are able to educate an employer on why you are worth more than the average candidate and are offered what you ask, ultimately if they have not budgeted for such things,  you risk the chance of being the first to go should the financial constraints of hiring you prohibit their strategic plans to invest or spend in other areas. You are also going to be held to a higher standard and had better not only deliver the goods, but continue your campaign to promote that you are delivering the goods; do not assume it will be acknowledged. People are usually very skeptical of an “overpaid suit.” You will have the stigma to combat until you earn people’s trust.

 

  1. Have a Plan B

If you really cannot afford to take a pay cut, or you really do not want to lower your standards of living, you can find other ways to make up the difference in your salary, such as investing in real estate, businesses or other financial products. You could do some consulting or coaching on the side, pending it will not be a conflict of interest with your employer. You could write a book or develop an online course. You could become a paid speaker. Let’s face it: you have managed to earn more than your professional counterparts, others will want to learn how you did it – you have something very valuable to teach.

 

You might not have thought being well-paid was such a detriment until you find yourself justifying it, defending it, or even wanting to hide your pay. (I do not recommend hiding your pay. People have their ways of finding out and you pose an even bigger risk as someone who is not forthcoming or even deceitful.) Keep in mind the employer’s perspective. Chances are if you have been on the hiring side you can completely empathize with their concerns, and, if this is so, definitely express that.

You may have to address your salary upfront, which is contrary to other negotiation advice, to get the chance to interview and establish your value, and then, once you have them interested in your value, you will have to address it again when it comes time to design a compensation package that works for all parties. Keep in mind that most employers want you to be a creative problem solver, so think of this as one of the things that you can creatively resolve in partnership with your employer to further demonstrate that you are exactly who they want.