Archives for how do I determine what I want in a career

Advance Your Career by Making Demands to Your Boss

Photo courtesy of sean dreilinger of flickr creative commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)(http://bit.ly/requestforhappiness).

Photo courtesy of sean dreilinger of flickr creative commons – Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)(http://bit.ly/requestforhappiness).

A number of years ago I had a co-worker who was unsatisfied with her position at our company. We worked in close proximity, and she had a habit of complaining to me about other employees. She lamented bitterly about workers who were allowed to leave early on light workflow days. They essentially only worked a few days a week and they were always guaranteed their same workstation. Meanwhile, she showed up to work nearly every day, but had to wander the work floor unsure of what her task would be for that day. In her eyes, the managers had their favorites, while everyone else had to suffer. Finally, I asked her, “Why not tell the boss how unhappy you are, and request a more permanent spot?” She stood silent for a moment, and then muttered an excuse about how her opinion wouldn’t matter.

In my past job, I noted that those who were bold enough to make demands from the boss often moved up in the company. To clarify, making demands doesn’t mean storming into your boss’s office and pounding your fist on the desk. It means making requests that will better your life and the company. Those who stayed silent often languished until their dissatisfaction either lead them to quit, or to remain unhappy and stagnant. Those who are really dissatisfied with their jobs can earn a reputation for being a toxic influence, which may lead to getting fired. This means not getting a good recommendation, which prevents you from landing anywhere new.

The thought of talking to the boss and making demands can be enough to paralyze some of us. A sense of dread and foreboding wraps itself around you and threatens to suffocate. Nervous thoughts and feelings of self-doubt swirl around in your mind. Silence rarely dispels dissatisfaction. You push back against the anxiety and summon your courage. You want to advance your career. Well, commanding the attention of your boss is the key to getting ahead. You no longer want to be the employee that goes unnoticed by your higher-ups. You have ambitions that need to be fulfilled, and you’re eager to take your career to the next level.

It may be tempting to keep your head down, work hard, avoid making waves, and hope you get noticed in the future. These actions constitute a good work ethic, but they may not capture the attention of your boss. That is, you may be a great worker, but not making noticeable waves only contributes to the status quo of your professional life. I always say, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, who cares?” In other words, the impact is isolated. Furthermore, if you want to take your career to the next level and secure financial freedom, your boss and the relationships of your workplace has a role to play. In terms of promoting yourself, integrating and building relationships with other departments can also raise your visibility level. The requests you can make of your boss can run the gamut. Your requests can range from the relatively minor, like asking for a more comfortable chair, to the life-changing events, such as a promotion or a higher salary.

Don’t leave your compensation on the table

When there’s a discussion of compensation, salary is the first thing to come to mind. Compensation is important in the work place, because our time and effort have value. In the hiring process, salary negotiations may make or break a job offer. While you’re employed at a company, your pay can also make or break your position. Your salary may not increase as quickly as you like, so at some point you’ll have to ask your boss for a raise. Consider it in personal terms: not asking for a raise is simply leaving money on the table, especially if you’ve been at your current position for a number of years. There are long term losses to consider. Once you leave money on the table, you are decreasing your salary for years to come. This can add up to millions of dollars that are earned, but are uncollected. You CAN make up for lost time by mastering the negotiation process, but the challenge and skills needed increase with every year you are paid less than you are worth. You may ask yourself, “What should my salary be?” Plug your numbers into the Unlimited Abundance income calculator to discover the answer.

Personal time is critical to your well-being

Time off is critical to your personal and professional well-being. You can make all of the money in the world and your job may give you immense pleasure, but what good is it to you if you never relax or see your family? If you work constantly without being able to take a vacation, or critical time off when you need it, it won’t be long before the burnout sets in. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2012 revealed that long working hours can result in a combination of stress, raised blood pressure, and other serious health problems. In some cases, working more than an average of 11 hours per day raised the risk of heart disease by 67%. In short, overworking can be detrimental to your hearth. The job you once loved slowly begins to turn sour. Instead of joy, the thought of work only brings you misery and dread. Additionally, you may forget how to derive joy from personal things— even when you are doing personal things, you can feel guilty about not working. That is a huge warning sign that priorities need to shift, or else time off will add to your stress. Personal time is vital to maintaining a healthy life.

Flexible Time

You may consider requesting the ability to telecommute or even flex-time from your boss. If you’re in the middle of unexpected life changes, such as a new child, a sickly family member, or the sudden need to move, working away from the office can be a huge benefit. Your boss won’t know you may need a more flexible schedule, unless you actually take the time to ask them. Some corporate policies are perceived to be inflexible, but many companies are seeing that competition for talent is increasing and are offering flex-time. Remote reporting is becoming more and more necessary to be a competitive employer, especially for hiring millennials. In my article, “Enticing Exclusive Millennials,” I wrote about effective ways for employers to attract new and recent college grads.

Additional on the job learning

Continuing your professional development is essential to your long term career. You can exponentially increase your value and promotability, thereby increasing your income. A good place to start is to know more about your industry and how to improve your performance. The fastest way to improve is to request feedback and constructive criticism from your boss, if he or she doesn’t already give it to you. Take that constructive criticism and focus on building your strengths and finding new ways to apply them, versus focusing on filling in your gaps. Marcus Buckingham, a business consultant and best-selling author, has written numerous articles highlighting the important of promoting your strengths instead of simply improving your weaknesses.

Education doesn’t end with your university degree; it’s only the start of your journey. You can consider attending industry conferences, tuition or certification reimbursement, or even bringing in training on-site for all employees to further your education. Your job is your passion, as well as a source of income, and it is a continual process to strive to become an expert.

You can also ask your boss what industry related books he or she is reading, and ask for sources of industry related news. Not only will this demonstrate your personal initiative, you will also have the opportunity to become more knowledgeable in your field. Having a goal to climb the advancement ladder is great, but not knowing what’s at the top of the ladder makes grabbing that first rung more difficult. If a boss doesn’t “get it,” you can also be the one to point out that if your boss can train you to replace him or her, they can move up. This only works in cultures where everyone isn’t always worried about their job security. If you’re in that situation, contact us and get unstuck!

Getting to know the boss

There are times when you need to get personal, and ask the boss what type of manager he or she is. Sure, you can take the “wait and see” approach and learn what type of person you’ll be working for. Or, you can take the intitive and ask. Some managers are, well, micromanagers. They have to oversee and have a hand in every aspect of the job. All decisions must go through them, and this approach can lead to learning valuable expertise on the job. Other managers prefer a hands-off approach. You’ll get the information you need to do your job correctly, and little else beyond that. Some managers are a mixture of the two approaches. The more you know about your boss, the easier it is to adjust your work style in order to avoid personal clashes. Better yet, when you know what style enables you to thrive and even what management style you would employ, you will want to qualify your employer before you accept a position. That way, you set yourself up for success from the get-go during the interview process.

You can ask your boss about their personal aspirations. What does the job mean to them? Where do they see themselves in five years? What does he or she think of the company? These questions may be difficult to ask at first, but knowing more about your boss can give you a nice snapshot into the company, especially if you’re new. Or, getting to know more about your boss could ease friction and tension at work (if it exists). Moreover, if you have a lot in common with you boss it could make promotions or job transitions easier. After all, personal relationships are vital to advancing your professional life.

Raising influence at work

Influence is another important aspect of your career. You can ask your boss for ways to become a team player for the benefit of your company. If there are critical projects, find a way to participate in them. Take your achievements and highlight them for higher-ups to see. If there’s a critical need that’s not being fulfilled, ask your boss how you can fill this gap. If there’s an issue or a need of expertise, you want to be the “go to” guy or gal at the company. Many of my clients have realized tremendous professional success by making themselves indispensable across the organization. This can come with some conflict, but the better you become at navigating and/or defusing that conflict, the more influence and responsibility you can anticipate.

If you’re ready to advance to the next level ask your boss for a promotion. If you’ve been turned down for a promotion, ask what you can do to succeed. If there’s a gap in your skills, discover how to close the gap. The problem could be as simple as needing more education in one area. Going into management is not always the most appropriate way to move up—not everyone is a natural manager and some are better off building their skills as a senior individual contributor. In this performance based economy, the length of time at a company is no longer the sole factor in terms of getting promoted. A promotion is something that has to be actively sought out. Again, if a manager doesn’t know you’re interested in moving up, he or she may not even consider you for a promotion.

Don’t forget the other perks!

There are little perks you can request from your boss to make your life easier to manage, especially when pure salary, vacation time or educational resources can’t be negotiated. A few examples include, having your dry cleaning reimbursed if you have a business formal dress code, reimbursement for a long commute, or having to pay a city wage tax. You can also consider healthcare flex spending accounts, college tuition savings accounts, and even childcare stipends. Sometimes these perks fall under different tax deduction categories, so it is more than worth it for an employer to make them a perk that they cover, versus giving you that straight compensation to pay for these things yourself. The ability to not use vacation time or lunch hours for doctor’s appointments is something else to consider. The big question to ask is, “What am I paying for out of pocket that my company can pay for where there is some kind of benefit for them, too?”

Your professional brand is your personal brand, and your brand is directly correlated to your market value and worth. What kind of value do you bring to your company, and your boss? If you had a great product, it would be insane not to advertise it, and to leave value compensation and perks on the table. In the same way, raising your personal status can pave the way for career advancement.  As I said earlier, silence rarely solves problems. If you’re feeling ambitious at work, or ready for a change, you have to voice your opinions to your boss. Sometimes getting to the next level in your professional life is as simple making a few requests.

The Who – You Better You Bet (Album Version Video)

The Who – You Better You Bet Full Length Version video. I love the second verse in the long version that I thought I would edit a video for it! Which has helped me to deal with my heartbreak! *sniffs* Well at least a little…..

Should I Even Bother Negotiating?

Photo courtesy of nick@ on Flickr creative commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) "Arm Wrestling" https://www.flickr.com/photos/nic1/3498727510/sizes/m/.

Photo courtesy of nick@ on Flickr creative commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) “Arm Wrestling” https://www.flickr.com/photos/nic1/3498727510/sizes/m/.

You can always negotiate. However, your chances of getting a desirable result depend on how prepared and educated you are. The point of negotiating is not to battle for power or the upper hand and it is not to squeeze the employer for every last ounce of compensation from their budget. The point of negotiating is to come to a win-win solution where each party gets equal value.

If you have not tracked your accomplishments in measurable terms, consult with an expert (like me) who can ask you the right questions to help draw out these details. Your accomplishments act as justification of your value both with the hiring manager and their finance department or executive leadership. Either or both may ultimately have to approve the budget.

Salary is a price at which an employer purchases you and your abilities. In a “buyer’s market”, employers drive prices. As the economy recovers, so do rates and salaries. We are heading toward a “seller’s market.” (This will not be true of all jobs/industries, but will be true generally.) As with all financial cycles, prices correct themselves and there are opportunities to re-negotiate salaries.

Regardless of the market, settling for the first offer can be perceived as naïve or passive. You are essentially training your employer for future negotiations, so it is worth practicing some advanced negotiating skills, even they don’t result in a higher offer now, but instead set you up for a better offer in the future.

You need to understand your market value so that you can identify a fair offer. If you are wondering what a general range for an acceptable offer would be in this market, niche recruiters are usually the most knowledgeable on current market value. If you have built relationships with a niche recruiter it can be much easier to have them make the time to share this information with you. Keep in mind that this will usually be general information and may not account for the unique value that you have to offer, which an expert can help you understand better. Other resources, such as salary websites (salary.com and government websites) are useful to gather some data as well.

A troubling trend that I see building momentum today is candidates undervaluing themselves. They believe employers will not be able to see their value or pay them for their value, even if they do demonstrate it. In the end, instead of trying, many candidates give up and allow themselves to be undervalued. Until you execute an optimized career campaign, which means executing all 7 steps of a career transition with complete integrity (both structurally and morally), you can’t truly determine if you need to settle for less or be more flexible.
The seven steps of a career transition are:

1. Discovery – determining what you want
2. Marketing materials preparation – resume, profiles, cover letters, biographies, etc.
3. Prospecting – determining criteria and identifying target companies
4. Distribution and follow-up – usually outside of an online portal
5. Networking – nurturing your network while you train them to generate qualified leads
6. Interviewing – is more about who you are not what you say
7. Offer negotiation – start out as partners

Too many people are skipping the career steps or falling short of mastering them. Rather than building momentum so that they can choose from multiple attractive opportunities, they feel forced to accept what they can get, thereby passing up great opportunities for success.

Employers know that candidates tend to get desperate. They can see this as an opportunity to take advantage of those desperate candidates and get cheap talent. Beware – these employers usually foster an environment where they teach you that you are fortunate just to be employed. They use the economy and mental abuse to keep people retained in awful jobs and morale is generally very poor. Over time, some employees may accept the situation and it becomes a bigger challenge for them to get back on track. Once you undervalue yourself, even good employers will start to do the same.

Progressive and attractive employers seek out the candidates that are clear with their motivations and who know their value. They want to offer these candidates an opportunity that matches their qualifications, career goals, and salary requirements. Employers do this so they can retain these valuable candidates even in an up economy, and these companies eliminate candidates that pursue “anything and everything” and who undervalue or overvalue their experience.

On the other end, overpricing yourself puts you at great risk. Layoffs are determined by various factors including utilization versus overhead costs, so negotiating the highest number possible is not the best long-term strategy. Though it may make you feel financially secure, you can put yourself on the chopping block if you do this. The only true job security that you can have in this cyber age is your ability to successfully transition.

As in any time, you will need to know your current market value for both your general skills and your unique value and offer justification, which has little to do with your circumstances and everything to do with the value that the company will realize from hiring you. If you prove you are indispensable and ask for a fair amount, you will get a raise, even if it is not what you originally requested. If the employer does not keep up with market prices, then they risk turnover and increased difficulty filling vacant positions, which costs them money.

Almost always, they expect that what you ask for is negotiable just as they expect you to negotiate their offers, even if they tell you it’s non-negotiable! There may be budgetary limits, and you can consider what benefits and perks would have monetary value to you to make it a win-win situation, which is the END GOAL. Negotiation at its best is not about power or sacrifice. You do not have to settle for less than MARKET VALUE, which is a constantly changing number, or concede what is important to you just to have a job. Success in negotiation is reached in the middle, where you and the company get equal value.

Alabama Shakes – Gimme All Your Love (Official Audio)

iTunes: http://smarturl.it/shakes-scitunes Amazon (CD, VINYL, MP3): http://smarturl.it/shakes-scamazon Alabama Shakes store: http://smarturl.it/shakes-webstore ATO Records store: http://smarturl.it/SandC_ATOStore Available on CD / Digital / 2 x LP (180-Gram Black and Clear Colored Vinyl)