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How to Stay on the Same Side when Negotiating Salary

Everyone’s only out for themselves.  It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Maybe that’s what you have been taught. And if you bought it, you will see evidence reinforcing it everywhere. You believe it, and so it is your reality.

If so, the techniques I share in this blog are not for you. If you struggle to give people the benefit of the doubt, you will use negotiation tactics that are defensive. And, if you feel like you are struggling for power and losing, your approach may even border on adversarial.

If you struggle to trust a company even though it seems to be on the up and up, you will assume they are hiding something, and it will reveal itself in due time. In the meantime, you cover all your bases and feel compelled to constantly cover your … butt. In your professional work, if you feel the need to be competitive with others for attention, credit, prominence, and pay, you will assume others go to great lengths to win and that justifies you doing the same.

You are the last person my clients want work with, work for, or hire.

Why? You will most likely insist on being the last one to reveal your ask, even when pressed. You will try to circumvent the people in the company who are expected to ensure policy is followed for fairness and consistency. You may not even realize your bias against human resources.

You won’t believe what I am about to advise, so you might as well stop reading here.

If you consider yourself to be a moral, ethical person who believes that people are generally good and fair, you have found yourself disgusted by some things you have experienced in cut-throat corporate America. Even if you know there are good people out there, you may not have a lot of faith they can stay good in a system that promotes gaining profit (corporate and personal) over all else.

That being said, you want and deserve to be paid fairly. And there are so many great things you want to do with excess income that would enhance your life, help your family, and perhaps serve many others.

I have a deep compulsion to help you earn as much as possible within your market value range.  The truth is everyone wants a fair deal. I want that for you. You want that for you. And I want that for your employer, too. Why? Because when a company gets ROI on its talent, and it is a conscious corporation, it will reinvest profits in its people. And that is what we are all about.

A lot of companies say their people are their number one asset, but how many of them demonstrate it consistently? Finding out if a company really means it is getting easier (and we are working in making it even easier). And these companies will do the right thing by their people – and that’s when everyone wins.

If you want to stay on the same side with your employer during compensation negotiations, the first thing to do is due diligence: qualify that employer as a conscious company. Glassdoor, Top Places To Work lists, and the tenure and growth of its people historically (information you may be able to assess on LinkedIn) are resources you can use to do this. Then, of course, reach out directly to people on the inside to see if what you gather is substantiated.

The second thing you must do is understand what the market pays for your skills, experiences and talents. You can do this through online research on bls.gov, the salary estimates on Indeed (in the left column), reports on salary.com, and Glassdoor data. I recommend that you always ask a local recruiter who niches in your field to validate what you find. Make sure your data is based on local positions, or you adjust them based on your local cost of living.

Next, determine how you uniquely add value to this. In the nearly 12 years I have been a career coach, I have always been able to identify unique qualifiers for my clients, which is the essence of branding. Often there are monetary values attributed to those unique qualifiers, which can be qualities or hard skills. These can either push you into the upper ranges of market value, or move you above market value. Either way, you must be prepared to justify these clearly in a business case for your employer.

Whether you want to make a fair ask that enables the company to get ROI on you, or you are a top performer and the company knows how to leverage and develop you, they will aim to make 1.75x your salary. You may have a role traditionally considered to be in a “cost center” for a company, such as customer or technical support, but make no mistake – each and every role in a company was designed to contribute to the balance sheet in some way. If you’re not directly generating revenue directly, you are making it more possible, or you are helping to reduce costs or avoid shut-down/fines.  When you understand how your role contributes in this way, you can ensure that your ask is fair and that your reasons for believing this can be clearly articulated.

If your research indicates that the market value for your current position won’t meet your quality of life standards, it’s time to re-evaluate your career. And if you are unsure if the market value will support your needed standard quality of life and also provide a retirement you desire with the future quality of life you want, it’s time to get with a financial advisor. I am happy to make a referral. Just private message me.

Notice I haven’t said anything about your prior compensation. In spite of some companies’ and recruiting firms’ practices of determining your future value by your current value, your past or current compensation is not an accurate determination of your future value at all. It may be a reflection, however, of your self-worth. The branding journey we take our clients on helps them feel in alignment with their true market value and overcome the mental mindset that can develop from being underpaid and undervalued.

Lastly, what do you ask for and how do you come to an agreement with your employer while still keeping things friendly? After all, this is the first big decision you will make together. How you come to an agreement sets the tone for the commencement of the partnership, and it will influence your impression of each other from that point forward. Don’t you want to feel like you’re on the same team?  You each have an agenda, but the negotiation is really about finding the overlap and understanding the other party.

I am not one to advise people to refuse to answer questions about desired or expected salary.  Some of my peers, and even mentors, would.  If you feel like you might be taken advantage of by divulging your ask too soon, then you don’t trust this company. Maybe you wouldn’t trust any company? Or perhaps you didn’t qualify them as a company worthy of your trust? If you are the former, you probably should have stopped reading very early on. If you are the latter, do NOT enter into negotiations until you learn that the company is trustworthy, conscious, and invests in its people.

Instead of “holding your cards close to your chest,” I recommend boldly coming out with a reasonable range, data to back it up, and a business case to explain if you are asking for more than what the position usually pays. Keep in mind, ethical or not, when a person hears a range, they focus on what they are inclined to focus on in order to achieve their agenda. An unconscious company will want to get talent for as little money as possible. And a conscious company will not want to overpay for talent, because it hurts the company and inhibits their ability to re-invest in their talent.

Both examples will hear the low end of your range. So right after giving the range, discuss what conditions would have to be met in order for you to accept the low end, then swiftly explain how the company will benefit from investing in you on the high end.  Your low end must still support your current standard of living. Don’t give a low end that will leave you feeling slighted if offered, even though a conscious corporation would offer you good reasons for doing so.

Collegial negotiations are not just dependent what you say, though. It’s really more about how you are being – are you expecting the company will find your ask reasonable and do what they can to bring about the best possible outcome for both parties? If not, you probably should have stopped reading much earlier. This method will not work if you are suspicious. Authenticity is key here.

Lastly, leave the door open for them to ask questions and counter-offer. If a counter-offer seems way off your ask, ask them to help you understand, while giving them the benefit of the doubt that they have their reasons.

True story: I was trained in negotiating with candidates and employers as a recruiter. In my annual review shortly after that I was expecting a raise since I had been promoted in title. As trained, I did my research. In this annual review situation, it’s not customary to make an ask, as you’ve probably experienced. I anticipated my raise to be 50% above what I was making and instead it was a 10% raise. I had been underpaid my whole career prior to that, and armed with this new training, I was ready to earn fair compensation.  My boss, the VP of Sales – a master negotiator, had trained us to engage clients and candidates in further discussion when agendas didn’t align with the request, “Help me understand.” It became an inside joke, but in all fairness, it works, and it worked on him, too. I don’t have a poker face and I’m sure my disappointment in the offer was all over my face, so I took a deep breath and earnestly said, “Help me understand. I did research and based on the data, my compensation should be X.” I pointed to recent successes and things I had done outside of the scope of my role. He wanted to take a closer look at the data himself, and discuss it with the finance department and CEO.  They came back with a raise that was in my range, and a bit above the median. I, thankfully, had a conscious boss and CEO who wanted to pay talent fairly. 

The training I had was not the same as what I see other negotiation coaches promoting. It was designed to help three parties get on the same page, the employer, the candidate and the recruiting firm.  Our agenda was to keep strong relations with the employer to supply future talent needs, and to help our candidates earn as much as possible so that they stick and so that our share increased.  I used this training to increase my own salary by 50% and finally earn market value, and now I’m sharing it with you so that you can earn your fair share too.

 

If you would like to have guidance and support in qualifying conscious employers, understanding your unique market value, formulating and making your ask at the right time, reverse-engineering your career to align with your desired quality of life, and/or crafting counter-offers, e-mail Karen@epiccareering.com with the subject line: Make My Career Epic.

 

The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth 1965

The Searchers – Take Me For What I’m Worth 1965

Step 2 to Career Happiness

Happiness by Goutier Rodrigues of Flickr

 

Some people grow up believing that they can do anything. Some people have parents that reinforce this belief. When you grow up under these conditions, you develop a very friendly perception of the world. You perceive very few limits and are attuned to identifying and leveraging resources to achieve goals. You are apt to try things that other people would never attempt, simply because you have an ingrown faith that success is inevitable.

Many would consider you blessed, even charmed, and they may be resentful. Just as it is hard for them to understand why you are so lucky, it can be more difficult for you to empathize with people who suffer from career and financial shortcomings. To you, it looks like a choice.

You are not wrong, however the choice is not a conscious one.

We all run on programming that we developed at critical, impressionable stages growing up. Even two people growing up in the same household can develop very different beliefs with a different meaning they ascribe to the same event.

Last week, my challenge to those who identify a recurring, automatic belief that success is for others was to imagine yourself in your current circumstances, but in the flow. The flow is a state of being in which you feel that just by being your fabulous, highest self, things are working out perfectly.

Perhaps your commute to work has green lights all the way. There is a parking spot right up close. Nobody comes to talk to you for 15 minutes while you evaluate and plan out your day. The meeting you dreaded has been rescheduled. That person you’ve been trying to reach has returned your message. The challenge that you were working through last week has a viable solution. The week you requested off has been approved. The project you and your team successfully completed has received high accolades and has been noticed by key players in your organization. Your boss now wants to talk to you about growth opportunities. Everyone you speak with is picking up on your positive vibes and returning them with friendly gestures and offers to help. You end your day having satisfied your list of tasks, and even made headway on some strategic initiatives that will help you gain even more visibility and credibility. On your commute home, your favorite song comes on the radio, and you sing like no one is watching, even though they are. You get home to a peaceful, clean house or apartment and your favorite meal, courtesy of someone you love. After spending some time engaging in a favorite pastime, you excitedly take a look at your day ahead, and rest easy knowing everything is as it should be.

Have you ever had a day like this?

If not, or if it has been a while, the first step is visualizing your day to go exactly as you want it to.

Practice it every night and or morning for a week, and then start this new exercise:

Visualize your ideal day with the circumstances you perceive to be ideal.

Perhaps you no longer commute, and instead work from home or from anywhere. Perhaps instead of speaking with grumpy customers all day who complain about a poor product your company makes, you are onboard and supporting clients who love what your company has helped them do. Perhaps instead of having a boss who rarely offers support and guidance, you are working underneath one of the most brilliant minds in business and she invests an hour or two each week to coach you on how to get to the next level. Maybe instead of following someone else’s rules that do not make any sense, you are architecting the best practices and standard operating procedures that are helping your organization run über efficiently and effectively.

Sometimes we think that we envy someone else’s situation, and then we put ourselves in it and realize there are things about their situation that we would not want.

I have a client who thought his ideal employers were in the city, which would have been an hour or longer commute every day, after running a company from home for many years. He took a job in the interim that was still a significant commute, but much shorter than the city. He realized in the first week of having that job, and not having seen his three-year-old for several days in a row, that working for those employers in the city would not have made him happy.

Now that he knows this, he has a greater peace and empowerment around his choices. He can more confidently invest his time and energy into a next step that will make him happy at home and at work.

His homework is the same as yours – once you have spent a week visualizing yourself in your current circumstances in the flow, spend a week visualizing ideal circumstances, from wake up time to sleep time.

The best time to do this is in the morning when your conscious and subconscious mind are still closely connected. You may also choose to do this as you go to bed, though sometimes I can get myself so excited that I do not sleep as well.

This exercise alone does not stop those recurring beliefs that success is for other people. You will still want to notice them, and when you do, go back into your visualization, but affirm for yourself that this is possible for you.

 

If that feat is very challenging, ask yourself why it isn’t possible for you.

Are these answers truth, or story?

 

Dear Soon-To-Be Graduates: The Last 2 of 7 Things You May Not Want to Know, But Need To

Graduation Day by MD Saad Andalib of Flickr

The big day is arriving soon, dear graduates.  You will be a full-fledged member of the “real world.”

Some of you are ready, while others are scared to death. The difference between the two groups is outlook. The ones who are ready perceive the real world will be able to offer them more than childhood or college life, such as independence and self-reliance.

I considered myself in the other group – the scared group. I perceived that the real world was harsh, and success was not necessarily dependent on my effort and talent, but on my aggressiveness, competitiveness, and self-preservation.

This was so unappealing to me, and I did not feel very powerful or self-reliant. As the youngest child and only girl, I was taught to be afraid of the world, that there are situations and places I should avoid, like the city. At nearly 40-years-old, my father still worries about me going to the city. He thinks I’m naïve. I’m not – I receive alerts of assaults where I go to work in the city every week. I grew in my awareness of a self-limiting belief that was formed by this conditioning and decided it was not truthful. I did not have to let other people take opportunities that the city offered so that I could stay safe in my suburb – which is equally untruthful.

There were a number of things I perceived about the real world that limited my early career growth, and one that I did not realize, but got lucky and unlucky in how things worked out.  Here are two things that I want to share with you that might have made a big difference to me, had I known them.

  1. The demands of life will become greater; enjoy yourself, but put in the effort to be a reliable performer.

It is very hard to help you form a realistic expectation of how limited your freedom will be once you settle in to family life, if that is the life you choose. Some may express resentment, in fact, for how free you are. As long as your personal activities do not interfere with your professional obligations, take advantage of this time in your life – travel, socialize, be civically engaged, volunteer, delve into your passions – whatever they are.

Attend conferences and make great new contacts. Maintaining relationships will become more challenging, even if you do not choose a family life, because OTHER people will, and that will limit their availability and freedom to connect. The more you connect and engage with people now, the stronger your bonds will be, and the easier it will be to reconnect with people after some time passes. You may not see some of your best friends more than once a year. This is okay, but do not give up on people because they become busy. In fact, it will take more effort as you age, but it is just as necessary, maybe even more so, to maintain these relationships.

Keep your word – it is your key to long-term success. If you say you are going to do something, deliver. Last week I shared how as you grow older it will seem harder to procure the help of others, because people generally grow more skeptical, if not cynical. However, if you have impressed people as a person of your word, and you come through for people (if they are given proper direction and inspiration), they will be more apt to come through for you, too. Making an extra effort on someone else’s behalf requires time. Many perceive time as a resource they already lack. To make it an effort they are willing to make, you have to be WORTH the effort. Use your youth to establish yourself as a person worthy of the effort of others. Remember to express gratitude to those who invest their time helping you grow and develop. Look for ways to give that value back and pay it forward.

  1. It will become less acceptable for you to not know what you want as years pass.

As you gain professional experience, it is expected that you will discover what you like and do not like in terms of role, culture, boss, structure, and environment. As you gain valuable skills and experience, the investment of hiring you increases, and the stakes for your employer become higher. Retention and engagement determine if a company receives a return on their investment in talent, so they will want to ensure that your intended career path coincide with the current AND future opportunities that they can offer you.

Though it was relatively early in my career when I discovered a field that lit my proverbial fire (coaching), I was also too early to have enough experience to be credible and effective. I had to spend several years learning more about how to make success more likely and failure less likely. Because I knew my ultimate goal and my reasons for staying in recruiting, I was able to ask for greater opportunities to interface with the clients (employers), and ask questions that helped me do my job better, but also learn more about how hiring managers in diverse organizations qualified top contenders and chose which one received the offer.

Then, when I started coaching at age 28, it was challenging to convey that I was senior, mature, experienced, knowledgeable, and credible enough to attract the volume of clients I expected. If I had not been so sure, however, that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, that I had found the career where I could make an optimal contribution, I would have struggled (even more) to survive, and would likely NOT have survived to be celebrating 11 years in business in a couple of weeks.  By the way – I had a coach that helped me maintain my “true north” when challenges threatened to sway me wayward.

I had a nephew that died at 28. I have lost over a dozen classmates. You may feel like you have your whole career to figure out what you want to do, but I urge you to invest time EARLY and OFTEN assessing where you can be the most successful, happy, and effective.

 

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is NOW.  If you are NOT a soon-to-be graduate and you are just now learning these lessons, there is still time to have them make a difference for you.

What lessons would you share with future business rock stars?

 

Good News or Bad: Longer life > Longer career?

group of happy business people clapping by Tec Estromberg of Flickr

 

Trend alert: Employment for workers 55-74 is rising faster than any other age group.

Are you alarmed or encouraged by this news?

You might be alarmed if you were thinking that retirement was on the horizon. On the other hand, you could be encouraged if you already realized that retirement is years away and were concerned that you could face age discrimination.

I say, either way, if you are in either camp and no matter what age you are, it is time to decide. You are going to live a longer life. Are you going to live it led by passion or are you going to continue on with a career that pays your bills, but leaves you wanting more?

There are many great examples of people who have reinvented themselves late in life to achieve greatness.

Here are just a few:

Colonel Sanders, 65, was motivated to hone his recipe and franchise his restaurant by a new highway that had drawn customers away from his single store.

Laura Ingles Wilder, 65, put pen to paper and published Little House on the Prairie.

Grandma Moses, 76, created her first canvas painting when her arthritis prevented her from enjoying embroidery.

 

Consider this:

  • A majority of people dedicate their youth to careers that offer financial security.
  • 70% of these workers are disengaged in their work.
  • Having had dedicated decades to building a life and supposedly saving for retirement, they are finding that the lifestyle they imagined when they signed up for “corporate servitude” is not actually attainable with what they were able to save, if anything.

Or we could imagine a different scenario.

After retiring from the career that they dedicated decades and their youth to, they find they are still able-bodied and able-minded and want to spend the rest of those years, with kids grown and hopefully living life well for themselves, delving into their passions and finding new ways to make money pursuing those passions.

Some of them are finding more passion driven careers than they did as a corporate servant. That makes them wonder, “Why did I spend so many years consumed by consumerism?”

I’m not suggesting that having a corporate career is a waste of your life. I have many clients who feel completely fulfilled, are at the top of their game, enjoy going to work and get to enjoy their lives outside of work as well.

What I am saying is, if you are biding your time in a corporate career that you do not feel fully engaged in, why aren’t you reaching for something better? Better is possible.

In fact, my experience teaches me that so many do not reach for something better because there is so much doubt that something better is possible, or if something better is possible for THEM.

Before you can go from impossible to actual, you have to realize that what you suspect is impossible is possible. So, I am providing evidence to you that it is possible. If it was possible for some, than why would it not be possible for you?

Are you thinking it could be possible yet?

Okay. The next step is to make what is possible probable.  That is where we come in. This takes more than just influential content and a pragmatic plan of action. You may be in the “possible zone” now, but you have been in the “impossible” zone for quite some time, if not all your life.

You need tools, tricks and techniques, aka HACKS, to shift yourself to where you are in the possible/probable zone MORE of the time, and then MOST of the time. This is why our coaching, group coaching, and one-on-one programs are so much more than how-to-job-search programs. If you have been reading up on the best ways to find a job, attending seminars, watching videos, etc., and still have not been able to see a big difference in what you do and/or what results you get, or you have not been able to sustain those results, we know exactly how to help you!

You may inquire as to one-on-one coaching programs at any time, but why wait? Fill out a Needs Assessment form and have a free 30-minute consultation with us.

Or, RIGHT NOW you can still get into our six-week Epic Career Fast Track group coaching program. We’re getting started soon, though, so don’t wait!

 

For Every [Job Search] Problem, There is a Solution

Roots by Tim Green of Flickr

 

…and root cause.

 

The problems show up as symptoms that cause frustration or pain, however, what’s not so easy to identify is the root cause. It is not for lack of trying, and it is not a lack of intelligence either.

When you struggle to find a new job, your insecurities tend to manifest in the strongest ways. They lead you to believe that you are the problem, and make you question if you are deserving of something better, or if something better even exists for you.

Sometimes insecurities manifest as cynicism about people and opportunity. You may start to feel like other people are just too shortsighted to understand how great you could be, or you could feel like business leaders are too focused on numbers to appreciate the person that you are. While that can be true, and you may have seen evidence in your past, I can assure you:

  1. You are not the problem.
  2. You deserve an opportunity that enables you to use your talents, apply your passion, and earn a great living.
  3. That opportunity does indeed exist.
  4. There are people out there who would appreciate the value that you offer, and would enable your success.
  5. Plenty of great business leaders understand that their greatest asset is their people.

When your mindset is dominated by your insecurities, it is naturally challenging to see things the way they really are; you cannot be objective.

The good news is that the problems can be solved, and the symptoms can be relieved, but first we have to identify and “treat” the correct root cause(s).

On January 27th I will be holding a free webinar to divulge the top symptoms people experience that cause pain and frustration during their job search, as well as the most likely root causes. Furthermore, I will be sharing how we “treat” those root causes to alleviate the symptoms and fortify your job search to produce great momentum.

Momentum is the symptom that occurs when you have a healthy job search, and the result of momentum is a sense of empowerment and control over your career destiny. When you have JoMo (Job Momentum), you emanate confidence, attract even MORE opportunities, inspire even MORE job offers, and then the problem becomes choosing which opportunity represents your best chance at fulfillment in your career AND your life. (We also have solutions for that!)

Join us Friday, January 27th and we will help you identify the root cause of your job search pain and present the solution that enables you to land your dream job.

 

Registration is now open and seats are limited to 200.

 

3 Formulas for Powerful Achievement Stories

Day 102-365 by Markgranitz of Flickr

Day 102-365 by Markgranitz of Flickr

 

After you have defined your distinct brand and clarified your target audience, you are tasked with creating content and messaging that will resonate with your target employer and position you as a competitive candidate for jobs of your choice.

I know that résumé writing doesn’t come naturally to most people, even writers and marketers. In fact, a lot of us go to work feeling like we are merely fulfilling our functions and collecting a paycheck for our efforts. We are completely unaware and unawakened to the value we bring to an organization and the greater purpose and impact of our work. Yet, identifying and articulating this is what will enable you to inspire your next employer to offer you the job.

At a minimum, you must set up some context for what you did, and prove that you did it well or better than someone else who might have filled that role.

At a maximum, to excite the employer, you want them to be able to easily visualize you succeeding in the role by using an approach and being a personality that meshes with their culture. The impact is the extra step most formulas are missing. Distinct from a result, the impact is what occurs after a job has been done well.

For instance, writing a résumé that my clients completely love is a result. The impact of the résumé done well is that it produces interviews. The impact of an increase in interviews is an increase in confidence and hope. This leads my clients to feel a greater sense of empowerment and control over their professional destiny. I may not include all of these impacts in the résumé, but I would most certainly start with the most immediate impact on my client, and then in my LinkedIn profile go into greater details about the most fulfilling part of doing a job well, which is the trickle down impact and cascade of further positive outcomes.

To just get started with the basics, here are some formulas that can help you build the bullets of your résumé and prepare anecdotes that will validate you have the skills to do the job throughout the interview process.

Most achievement story templates tend to be two to three paragraphs that fit on one page. They may be included in a portfolio or binder that you bring with you to interviews. However, most people do not easily recollect details buried in paragraphs, and you will not want to read your achievement stories in an interview. At the end of the last formula, we will tell you how to remedy this.

 

Beginner formulas:

 

  1. PAR/CAR – Problem/Challenge > Action > Result

Problem/Challenge – This becomes difficult for someone who, say, closes the monthly financial books.  Ask yourself, what are the consequences to the business if this job is done poorly? Within the answer you will be able to find the value. It is what you may prevent from happening.

Action – What you did, specifically, to resolve the problem or overcome the challenge.

Result – The proof that what was done was effective.

 

  1. STAR – Situation > Task > Action > Result

Situation – Includes Who, What, When, Where and How

Task – What had to be done and what the challenges of doing so were

Action – What YOU did, specifically, your individual contributions

Result – What was the measurable outcome? How do you know you took the right actions?

 

Advanced formula:

  1. SCPDASTRI – The EPIC formula

My formula is not as simple an acronym, and you would not necessarily use all of these components in a bullet in your résumé. Use this formula to lay the foundation of a cohesive story that your résumé, LinkedIn profile, interview and other venues compliment and supplement, building greater and greater excitement.

Situation – the conditions that existed that necessitated a change or some kind of action

Challenge(s) – what made this an impressive feat

People impacted and the impact – who was experiencing the conditions AND who was engaged to address it

Decision made – and who made it/them

Actions taken – and by whom (“we” is not specific enough.)

Skills, talents applied – “hard” and “soft” skills

Tools used – technical tools, as well as approaches and methodologies

Results – what outcomes did the actions produce in as many measurable terms as possible. Think about showing PROOF that the action was taken or that it was successful

Impact – how that trickled down to other people

 

For a résumé intended to be concise, you would pick out the most impressive components, and start to build bullets from the bottom of the formula and work upward.

For a LinkedIn profile, you would include more of the backstory and use natural language, versus concise résumé speak.

In an interview, you would actually want to break the story out into bullets, and, depending on how you best recollect details, associate these bullets with something memorable to you. (More in a future blog on this.)

It can be quite a leap from thinking of your job as fulfilling your daily, weekly, monthly duties to seeing clearly the impact that you had on an organization by doing your job well. I recommend that you start with the basic formula. Build it into your résumé to have something effective that will help you present your skills, knowledge and experience. Make sure your LinkedIn profile converts your bullets into a compelling story, and then convert your story into even shorter bullets that will be easy to remember when you network and interview.

Then, as you master that, start to expand your awareness of your value and impact. Look past your duties to the reasons you were chosen to do the job, and why your bosses and co-workers should be grateful that you were the one in the position (whether they were actually grateful or not).

Fill in the additional details from the advanced formula. Re-craft your bullets and LinkedIn profile. Enhance the achievement story bullets that you have already been recalling with ease with additional details that paint an even more vivid picture of what it looks like to have you in the job.

 

The better your interviewer/future boss can visualize this, the harder it will be for someone else to come in and make a stronger impression.

 

Did Your Job Break You?

Hands and Head by Timothy Actwell of Flickr

Hands and Head by Timothy Actwell of Flickr

When you are in an airplane far above the ground, you often consider that if anything were to go wrong you would most likely plummet to your death. It is very easy to see the risk. It is also easy to understand why some fear traveling by air and yet we know statistically we are far more likely to be hurt or die in a car accident. However, this is everyday life. We do not think about the risks as much, even though they are there all of the time.

Similarly, when we are faced with an offer for a less-than-ideal job while confronting mounting bills and not knowing where the money will come from, the decision seems obvious. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the risk of accepting a bad job. Therefore we do not mitigate the risk of having a job that breaks us.

What do we mean by this? There are two ways a job can break you and often times these ways coincide. One break is spiritual and the other is pragmatic.

If you have been working for a while, you might have had one of those days where you feel broken, where you have had a bad day. A bad day is not the same as having a job that breaks you down bit by bit psychologically and spiritually every day. It is much harder to notice when this happens because it usually happens gradually. Sadly, most people do not recognize how they have changed until they have reached a point of resignation.

Another way a job can break you is by breaking your path to prosperity. I understand that when faced with no income, accepting a lower income seems like a better choice, but please recognize that a setback in your income usually is not temporary; it impacts your trajectory for the rest of your life unless you know how to recover.

Spotting an employer who contributes to breaking you is not easy, even with sites like Glassdoor.com. It requires you to have the confidence to qualify them.

Furthermore, if you have not acquired the life skill of career transitioning, then you also lack the confidence to know that you can make something better happen. In turn, this makes you susceptible to being a victim of a bad employer.

If you do not think looking for a job sounds like fun or is something you would enjoy, I understand. It is like budgeting, not everyone enjoys it or finds it fun, but if you want to reach your financial goals it is worth doing. Additionally, there are many teachers and products to make the process less painful.

The same applies to your job search. Most people struggle to make something happen in their job search because they are unaware of the best ways to produce results. They make decisions based on fear and wind up in jobs that break them. However, everyone has the ability to learn and the capacity to apply better tools and techniques to produce greater momentum and better job offers. In fact, that is why we are here.

 

If you have found yourself broken by your job, or you balk at the process of job searching, check out our do-it-yourself tools or fill out a needs assessment form to have a free consultation and to explore one-on-one branding and coaching.

 

9 Soft Skills Every Employee Needs, Regardless of Technical Skill

Business Team by Penn State on Flickr

Business Team by Penn State on Flickr

A brilliant scientist was hired at a pharmaceutical company and was let go six months after landing. He was challenging throughout the qualification process, and I thoroughly coached him during the interview process. He ultimately lost the position because no one could work with him. His brilliance could not be properly leveraged to create value for the organization. Because of his failure to succeed, I was unable to place him anywhere else. Unfortunately, there are a lot of brilliant technically skilled people whose potential for creating value in this world is inhibited by their lack of ability to integrate and collaborate with others.

Soft skills such as time management, relationship building, and communication allow employees to effectively leverage their technical skills and knowledge. These skills are the unsung heroes of the working world and can make or break a job search. A lack of soft skills can cause an otherwise talented employee to lose a job. A good grasp of soft skills separates an above-average employee who constantly brings value to their company from an average employee who only performs their day-to-day tasks. There are numerous soft skills, but I’ve narrowed down the list to nine of the most important skills employers demand:

 

1. Time Management

Effectively managing time allows you to take other people’s busy schedules into consideration.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give answers that stay within a reasonable limit of time for the details asked.

Demonstrating in your past experience: Promote your ability to deliver assignments or projects on time, even in challenging circumstances.

 

2. Communication

Communicating effectively allows you to connect interpersonally with others via written and verbal means.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Plan and practice what you will say before the interview. Speak clearly and concisely, and listen to your interviewer.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Provide examples of written material you created, such as a memo.

 

3. Relationship Building

Good relationships are built on trust, positivity, and communication.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Listen and be respectful of your interviewer, and ask questions in order to build rapport.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Talk positively about your previous employers and provide examples of teamwork.

 

4. Attitude

Your attitude consists of a positive frame of mind that exudes hopeful optimism, and is focused on creating solutions.

Demonstrating it in the interview: You are positive and upbeat throughout the interview.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how your positive attitude raised morale, allowed you to easily participate in teamwork, and helped provide solutions.

 

5. Confidence

Confidence is the belief in your own skills and the ability to take on new tasks.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give your interviewer a firm handshake, make eye contact, and maintain good posture.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Promote your achievements, especially the successful completion of tasks that were new or difficult.

 

6. Leadership

A good leader is constantly motivated to improve and acts decisively, even if you are not managing others.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Provide examples of how you faced a challenge and acted decisively to create a resolution.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Quantitatively speak about your accomplishments. How much money did you save the company with your actions?

 

7. Flexibility

Being flexible allows you to adapt to a variety of circumstances and people, and work through unexpected events.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Give your interviewer examples on how you quickly adapted to changing circumstances in the workplace.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how you used your flexibility to step out of your comfort zone and to take on new tasks.

 

8. Creativity

A creative employee offers suggestions or ideas on how to improve workflow, or increase work value.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Explain how you solved a productivity problem and how your solution benefited the company.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Promote the value you added to a company by introducing a more efficient work method.

 

9. Problem-solving

Effective problem-solving takes into account how you encountered a problem, and how you persisted until the solution was found.

Demonstrating it in the interview: Walk an interviewer through your problem solving processes.

Demonstrating it in your past experience: Discuss how you solved a particularly difficult problem and how it positively impacted your employer.

 

Why soft skills matter

Employers use hard skills as criteria to ensure a candidate meets a job’s technical requirements. The interview determines a candidate’s soft skills. I spoke to Guy Fardone about how Evolve IP, a cloud services company, primarily hires candidates based on their emotional intelligence and aptitude. Questions the employer asks are “Do they look me in the eyes, and are they able to listen and then respond appropriately?” “Can they build rapport?” People who come in the door already having a baseline understanding of how to build relationships with people are going to be that much more successful in their career.

 

Many employers rate the importance of soft skills just as highly as technical skills. Your technical skills may open the door to interviews, but your ability to manage time, problem-solve, build relationships, and your creativity are what enable you to land and keep the job. Emphasize how your use of soft skills has to led success in the workplace, and how they can help you bring value to a potential employer. Successfully leveraging your soft skills and your technical skills can set you apart from other job seekers, and enable you to land faster.

5 Social Media Personalities that Attract Employers

Social Media Apps by Jason Howie of Flickr

Social Media Apps by Jason Howie of Flickr

 

Have you ever wondered if anyone outside of friends and family cared about your views and opinions on social media? In today’s job search, social media can make or break your chances of landing. According to a 2014 Jobvite survey, 55% of recruiters have reconsidered a candidate based on their social media profile. Maintaining a strong and attractive social media profile increases your visibility, and invites potential employers to learn more about you. Your online presence can even be the factor that seals the deal after an interview. Employers can use your social media profile to verify your qualifications, your personality, to see if you’re a cultural fit, and work out other details they were unable to glean from you during an interview. Making these little details easier for employers to find helps your marketing hit the target and inspires action when you know what is important to the recipient.

There have been countless articles written about how NOT to represent yourself on social media, but what are the best ways to present yourself? I’ve compiled a list directly inspired by Youtern’s article, “These 5 Social Media Personalities May Be Unemployable” and put an EPIC spin on them.

 

So what are the best types of social media personalities that increase your chances of landing a job?

 

  1. Complimentary Candice – Complimentary Candice is the type of employee who speaks positively about her experiences and her past employers. She highlights the good things her employers have done in the workplace, in the community, or how they positively impact the world. She comes off as enthusiastic about her work and her co-workers. She is the type of employee who comes to work with a smile and greets everyone with kind words. If the morale of the workplace is low, a Complimentary Candice will find a way to raise everyone’s spirits. In turn, she is the type of employee who people want to work with and her attitude can help positively impact productivity and profits.

 

  1. Showtime Samurai – The Showtime Samurai knows that social media and being online is important in this day and age. This type of employee uses social media as a part of their overall image and to capture the attention of potential employers. The Showtime Samurai knows if they are invisible online they won’t attract as many job opportunities. They know it is completely possible to network and to be found by potential employers without using social media, but social media is their sword. They use their weapon to connect with others and draw attention to themselves. The Showtime Samurai is also honorable and knows they must put their best self forward. They have a networking infographic because they know it will improve their visibility among the job-seeking crowd. They are transparent and they have a sizable number of followers. This type of social media personality is very attractive to employers who value a large social media following because those employers know a potential candidate with lots of followers can bring an instant expansion to a company’s visibility. The Showtime Samurai is also the type who uses their charisma to draw others closer. Their influence is constantly expanding by their numerous initiatives and projects in progress.

 

  1. Sociable Steve – Sociable Steve is similar to Showtime Samurai in that he knows the value of social media visibility. Where the Samurai is intense and loves a large following, Steve is laid back in his approach and doesn’t worry about large numbers of followers. He has an open social media profile and allows recruiters and hiring managers to not only follow him, but also accepts their friend requests. He knows that his passion and knowledge can be appealing to potential employers. His life is an open book that is warm and welcoming to anyone who comes across his profile. Sociable Steve’s other big strength is his ability to make clients and customers feel at ease. His easy-going personality and calm reasoning can diffuse a variety of difficult situations.

 

  1. Professional Perry – Professional Perry knows that people are looking at his social media profile and that it represents his online brand. He doesn’t post inappropriate content, make crude jokes, and never shows his wild weekends online. Instead, he posts about the volunteering work he does, about his positive family outings, and his hobbies. His value makes him trustworthy and a good spokesperson for a conservative company with strict social media policies.

 

  1. Transformative Tim – Transformative Tim is a change agent. He is bold and not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, engage in debate and to try and change public opinion TACTFULLY and RESPECTFULLY. He is a master at seeing both sides of an issue. He knows where he stands and does his best to win others to his side. Transformative Tim also knows where to draw the line and when to stop pressing if he can’t sway an opinion. This type of personality isn’t appropriate for all companies, but it is perfect for social impact organizations, non-profits, lobbying organizations, and public office officials.

There’s a counter-argument to the positive social media personalities: “If I only post about good things, I’m not being true to myself!” In his Slate article, Paul Heibert states numerous reasons why people tend to over-share content on social media that can make them un-hirable. One reason is the lack of inhibition and a sense of being invisible due to not having face-to-face communication with others when posting to social media. Like it or not, your presence online is your brand and employers are going to research you in order to lean more about you. The 2014 Jobvite survey noted that 93% of recruiters will review a candidate’s social media profile before making a hiring decision. Of the 93% of recruiters, 55% of those recruiters reconsidered a candidate based on their social media profile, and 61% of those reconsiderations were negative. Profanity, illegal drug references, alcohol references and spelling errors topped the negative reconsiderations on recruiters’ lists. On the flipside, over 60% of recruiters want to see positive content such as memberships in professional organizations and volunteering for charities. By using the knowledge that potential employers will search for you online and that you can make yourself more appealing through social media, you can increase your chances of landing the job.

 

If you have a social media profile and are searching for your next job, it is almost certain that a potential employer will view your social media profile. You can make their decision to consider you for the job easier by making your social media presence attractive. This means having a social media profile that will strengthen the best aspects of your personality and give employers a positive glimpse into the type of worker you will be at their companies. Your online presence also avoids the negative pitfalls that turn off potential employers. American entrepreneur Amy Jo Martin said it best: “Social media is changing the way we communicate and the way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to your own digital footprint and personal brand.” Just as you want to be perceived positively by employers in the real world, you want to be perceived the same way online.

 

The Weirdos Will Inherit the Earth

Sometimes-by-Keith-Davenport-of-Flickr

Sometimes… by Keith Davenport of Flickr

 

Mike Lazerow is an entrepreneur with a philosophy that grasps you by the chin and makes it impossible to look away. At least, that is how I felt when he stated his case about being a “weirdo.” In his words, “You do everything that authority says you have to do- get good grades, take the right subjects, make the team, wear the right clothes, comb your hair, go to the right college. You land your first big job interview and the first question they ask is, ‘Why should I hire you? What makes you so different?”’

At an early age we are dissuaded from pursuing our passions in order to settle for a “safe” and “normal” career. While this brings in income, 68.5% of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs. There IS an alternative to high employee dissatisfaction. Through what we have been able to achieve with our clients, we know that having a career that fulfills you and pays you what you’re worth is not just possible, but probable when you execute an EPIC job search.

“There’s a lot of mediocrity being celebrated, and a lot of wonderful stuff being ignored or discouraged.” -Sean Penn

 

Surviving, not thriving

The most recent Gallup poll revealed that nearly 70% of employees are actively disengaged from work. This cost companies $300 billion annually. If a lack of employee engagement cost companies hundreds of billions each year, what does it mean for workers? This disengagement can cause frustration and a deep sense of unhappiness. In turn, that frustration leads to stress and anxiety and/or depression. Disengagement can also teach future generations that work isn’t something you enjoy or that can be fun, but is something you HAVE to do to survive. I see people settling for jobs that offer what they think is security in exchange for their passion as a sacrifice for their family. This exchange is what they think they need to do, but how did they come to that conclusion? How and when did they decide that they couldn’t have a job they loved and that enabled them to take care of their bills, family and retirement? It is a fallacy that was learned from the examples of others, and the longer we perpetuate it by staying in jobs that don’t engage us, the more future generations will continue the same cycle.

In other words, work becomes merely a means of drawing a paycheck. Many people settle for jobs they tolerate or outright dislike because they start to believe nothing greater is possible in their careers. This disengagement is a symptom of a greater issue- people have been striving for survival rather than thriving. Great solutions, great leaders, and great innovations are being diminished and squashed by the social pressures to be “normal.” Going back to Mike Lazerow, he states his most unhappy friends are those who became lawyers and accountants because it was expected of them, not because they had a passion for the work.

 

Strive for engagement

The best cure for disengagement is to avoid taking a job you don’t enjoy. Some people may wonder how to tell if they’ll enjoy a job or not. Others believe they’ll eventually find enjoyment in a job if they try hard enough. There are questions you can ask yourself to ensure you accept a job you know you’ll love. Seek a job that leaves you fulfilled, adds value to your personal and professional life, and gives you a greater sense of purpose. Before you apply to your next job, figure out what you want from an employer by identifying your criteria.

If you’re disengaged you are either A) in the wrong job, or B) not taking full accountability for improving your situation. I believe the majority of people are in the wrong job and have yet to find work that is exciting and fulfilling. When people settle, they settle for way less money than they would be able to make if they were in jobs that enabled them to fully utilize all of their talents. A fulfilling and engaging job would allow people to thrive and perform at higher levels, because they would have an effervescent energy that would be hard not to notice. Putting in extra hours would be a natural inclination, because you love what you’re doing. Job fulfillment is something that gives you energy instead of draining you.

If I knew growing up that I would find work that I love so much, work that I would want to do all the time, that gave me a buzz, and that made me feel triumphant, I would have been looking for engaging work from the start.  I didn’t know such work was possible until I found it, and I’ve had jobs I liked before I discovered my passion. Passion-filled work is on another level! It literally calls to you and draws you closer. Or as Emmy Award-winning Fox 29 Producer Berlinda Garnett stated in our August Epic Career Tales interview, “A calling is that thing that’s been laid on you.” Esther Hicks nicely sums up why passion trumps motivation, “Motivation is the antithesis of inspiration.”  You don’t need to manufacture motivation when you do work that is inspiring.

Being fully engaged at work means finding satisfaction and pride in how you contribute to your company. You want to say you’re proud to work for your employer, you’re proud of what you do for a living, and how you and how your job contributes to society as a whole. An engaging job also presents challenges that aid in your growth. Tim Pash and his role at Microsoft are the epitome of an engaging job. Tim is definitely proud to work for Microsoft and loves the challenge the company provides. Tim admits Microsoft is a tough, but fulfilling place to work because the company really pushes employees’ abilities. The company also encourages employees to constantly create and share new ideas with co-workers and managers. Thanks to the challenges, mastering a job at Microsoft is one of the best feelings in the world. For more on Tim Pash’s role at Microsoft, make sure to sign-up for our newsletter so you can listen to and read about his Epic Career Tale.

Some people believe it doesn’t matter how you feel about a job as long as you’re able to pursue your passion outside of work. I disagree for many of the reasons I’ve already stated, but one really stands out to me: We don’t know how much time we have in life. Why bother to spend the time we do have stuck in an employment situation where survival is just good enough? The death of my nephew two springs ago really drove that point home. Working too hard, not spending more time with friends, and not living a life true to your dreams are some of the many regrets of the dying that Jane McGonigal highlights in her TED Talk. Just imagine how much pleasure and joy we can derive from life if we apply our talents to work and pursue what we love, rather than going after the jobs that we think will provide the most stability, even if it costs us our happiness.

 

Imagine waking up every morning and being excited to work, instead of dreading another 40-hour week. You may have had people who’ve constantly told you it is better play it safe with a career you might not like rather than risk failing by pursuing what you love. This attitude can bring unhappiness and disengagement. Many people also VASTLY underestimate who they could be and what they can do. It’s not too late to reconsider your career choice. The pursuit of work that engages and satisfies you can lead to a life where work is a joy and you spend your time doing what you really love.

We are proponents of letting your freak flag fly. Don’t fear not fitting in- there’s always a place you can feel welcomed and accepted. Fear never finding that place because you wanted to feel normal.