Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tips for Successful Employment Negotiations

In the job offer context, negotiation is a non-confrontational, business focused discussion aimed at resolving differences between two parties with the same goal. In order to be an effective negotiator, job seekers need to understand the dynamics behind the conversation and use this information to create a give and take dialogue with potential employers. What often gets in the way of rewarding win-win conversations is our fear of rejection or potential conflict. Successful negotiators view the process as one of collaboration. They listen to the employer’s needs and recommend outcomes that benefit both parties. They recognize that savvy negotiators build relationships and never give ultimatums. Strategic job seekers understand that the negotiation is hopefully the first of many relationship building conversations they will have with their future employer. Here's tip #1 in this series.

Everyone is capable of negotiating. Nobody is born knowing how to be an effective negotiator. It is a learned skill that is developed with experience. We can all learn to negotiate effectively for what we need and want. Keep in mind you wouldn’t be receiving the offer in the first place if you weren’t the person selected as the best candidate for the job. This gives you leverage. Once an employer decides you are the person for the job, the primary concern will not be to negotiate the least expensive compensation package the company can get away with. The focus will be on getting you to accept the job. Most employers invest a great deal of time and energy in the interview process, and are very reluctant to settle for second best when their number one candidate makes an attempt in good faith to negotiate for more money.

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is it Time to Find a New Job?

Career Builder ran a piece today about deciding when it's time to leave your current job. While the right time is different for everyone, here are the signs I recommend you look for when considering a job change or career move.

Job change...
  1. You are no longer challenged by or interested in the tasks that you perform.
  2. You are not being paid competitively and attempts to negotiate your salary have not changed your situation.
Career change....

  1. You consistently question the value of what you do.
  2. You spend a significant amount of time thinking about pursuing another line of work.
  3. Your industry is shrinking and you have witnessed significant downsizing in your company or industry.
  4. You have consistently received poor performance reviews or you are on corrective action.
What has triggered you to make a job or career change? What benefits did you derive from doing so?

To read more about warning signs that signal it's time to leave a job and advice on general job search strategy, check out my interview on the They Tell You How blog.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why I Like Facebook

A colleague of mine recently emailed me this post from about Facebook and how this popular social networking tool can distract people and sap productivity. While the blogger makes some valid points about the questionable usefulness of certain Facebook applications and people's tendency to get lost on-line, I have to say I still think that Facebook is a great business and social networking tool. Here's why.

  1. Facebook makes it easy for me to let my friends, colleagues, and clients know that I am thinking of them. It reminds me when my contacts' birthdays are, lets me share interesting articles, photos, and videos to groups of friends, and helps me get to know the personal side of my contacts, not just the business side.
  2. Facebook is "sticky" and I have a reason to go there everyday. Facebook updates me on what everyone in my network is doing on a daily basis...sure a lot of the information is useless or silly, but sometimes there's a golden nugget about a friend or colleague's success, an upcoming industry event, a reunion, a book recommendation, or an interesting product or service.
  3. Facebook is fun. Sometimes after I've just completed a project or when I'm stuck on how to tackle a new project, I jump on Facebook. Distraction? Maybe...But sometimes a distraction is just what I need to get the creative juices flowing for the next project. If I'm stuck on a project that my contacts may be able to help me with, I pose a question to the group and get invaluable advice that helps propel me forward.
  4. Facebook lets people get to know me better. People build relationships based on frequency of encounters and trust. Facebook simply expedites this process and helps people get to know me faster. Once an authentic relationship is established we can begin to share information that will help each other.
If you want to learn more about Facebook and how to get the most out of it, check out Jason Alba and Jesse Stay's new book, I'm on Facebook...Now What??? here.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Recession-Proof Your Career

According to an article in The New York Times, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that the unemployment rate as of December 2007 is 13.2% higher than it was in December 2006. Historically, a year-to-year difference of 13% or more has led to a recession. While these statistics don't offer proof that a recession is underway, now is certainly a good time to look at your job, company, and industry and think through strategies for recession proofing your career. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to get you started.

Analyze your industry
Is your industry growing or shrinking? Have certain job functions been eliminated, automated, outsourced, or off-shored? Could you easily do every aspect of your job from your pajamas? If your industry is shrinking, what skills do you have that are transferable to another, more robust industry?

Review your skills
Have you diversified your skills over the past 5 years? What competencies do you possess that your colleagues do not? Do you volunteer for new projects that require you to stretch and make you a little less replaceable?

Be a continuous learner
Have things changed in your industry within the past 5 years? If you had to look for a new job tomorrow, would there be something lacking in your skills that would raise a red flag with employers?

Be visible
Do people in your industry or profession know about you? Can they find out more about you by visiting Linked In, Zoom Info, or Ziggs or just plain Googling you? Is your online presence distinct or are you one of thousands of John Does?

Share information
When was the last time you offered career advice to a friend or colleague? Do people see you as the type of person they would like to help if you were seeking career advice or would they duck and cover?

Always have your resume ready
If the perfect opportunity presented itself tomorrow, would you be able to quickly shoot your resume off to the decision maker or would you be scrambling around to create a half-baked cut and paste document? Would you feel confident that your resume adequately represents your accomplishments and the value you can bring to an employer?

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

I just finished reading Confessions of a Resilient Entrepreneur by Frumi Rachel Barr which chronicles one entrepreneur's professional and personal life over several decades. After owning several businesses, Barr became a business coach and a lot of her advice for small business owners is relevant to people in a job search. Here are some of my favorite suggestions from her book and my take on how these concepts apply to a job search:

  • "Make a list of your core values. Which ones do you actively support? Which ones need your attention?" For the job seeker, core values should be examined to help them decide what type of company they want to work for. What are your priorities? Do you value money, great benefits, meaningful work, a relaxed dress code, flexibility, lots of vacation time...the more aligned the corporate culture is with your core values and life priorities the greater the likelihood that you will succeed in that organization.
  • "Make a list of all the people who fall into your different role categories. What actions should you spend energy on?" In the world of job search, job seekers need to develop a targeted networking strategy that gets them in front of the right people with the greatest possible frequency. All networking activities are not created equal. Take the time to examine your network and concentrate on the relationships and affinity groups that will optimize your visibility and keep you in front of the right audience.
  • "Start a journal. Make notes about your impressions of yourself and your decision making process. Did you get to where you are because you followed a plan or did things just happen?" Journaling during a job search can be a great way to relieve stress and it can also be an excellent strategy for reviewing past career successes and mistakes. The more introspective you can be about the past, the greater the chance of finding the right culture and fit at your next job.
  • "What are you afraid of? What fears are holding you back?" Have you resisted pursuing your dream job because you fear that you will fail or that people around you won't understand? How would you feel if you were selected for the job of your dreams and what would it look like? By visualizing your success you may overcome your fears and get one step closer to your perfect job.
  • "What trade offs are you making in your life right now and what are you willing to trade to get where you want to go?" Job search requires a significant commitment and a certain amount of risk. Job seekers need to stretch during a job search and take some calculated risks. What sacrifices have you made for current or past employers and what were the consequences? What sacrifices are you willing to make moving forward to find the right job?

Labels: ,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Build Authenticity During a Job Search With On-Line Personal Branding

I ran across a great post on personal branding over on the Shoestring Branding blog that advocates leveraging on-line technologies to achieve an authentic voice and become the candidate of choice for employers seeking talent. The blog's publisher, Mario Sanchez, discusses how many candidates in search turn their candidacy into a commodity by posting on multiple job boards rather than building a personal brand that showcases their unique value proposition and focuses on the key competencies that make them a real catch.

As Sanchez puts it, job seekers need to "come across as a real person in a low trust world." He recommends registering your name as a URL, setting up a personal website, and blogging on your brand or niche area of expertise.

If you're not ready to take these big steps yet, consider implementing one or more of these baby steps to create your on-line personal brand.

  1. Post comments on other people's blogs. By commenting on other people's blogs, you become a part of the discussion, build credibility, demonstrate your passion for your area of expertise, and create visibility. You can find blogs relevant to your profession, industry, and areas of knowledge by setting up Google Alerts on key words in your field.
  2. Set up some business networking profiles. On-line networking sites help you connect to a lot of people, 24/7, all over the world. They offer certain efficiencies that can't be duplicated in the non-virtual world, and while on-line networking should not be seen as a replacement to in-person networking, it is certainly an excellent add-on that every job seeker should take notice of. Linked In is great for business networking. Spoke, Ecademy, and Xing, are other sites that can add value to your business networking strategy.
  3. Build on-line identity through others. Zoom Info, Naymz, and Ziggs allow you to create professional profiles and bios and upload a photo. Ziggs even has a feature where you can answer certain interview-like questions and post your responses.
What have your experiences been with building your professional identity on-line? What works best for you and which groups or strategies give you the most personal satisfaction? Let us know.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Tales From the Networking Community

I just finished reading Tales From the Networking Community and really enjoyed Dan Williams' simple, yet powerful statements about networking. My favorites are:

  1. "Building trust is not an event, but rather comes with frequency" How true! Generally, introductions into another person's network don't happen after one encounter. The relationship must afford you consistent visibility and you must remain top of mind with your contacts in order to solidify the affinity, gain credibility, and eventually broaden your network.
  2. "Networking is like farming; it requires an ongoing process of activities to grow, it requires a leap of faith, and it cannot be done alone." Without proper nurturing, nothing can grow. Like children, your network requires a lot of attention in order to remain healthy and prosperous.
  3. "Networking has very little do do with personality. Networking is all about a learned set of skills and having a systematic process to exercise those skills." People are not born knowing how to network. Anyone can learn the strategies for creating successful relationships, but they have to be willing to do the work. And it is a lot of work!


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Networking Rx

I came across a great post on Liz Lynch's The Stealth Networker Blog about some of the issues active job seekers sometimes face when networking. Liz reminds us that the time to start networking is way before you are in a job search. People who only start networking when they are in need of contacts and help often lack the authenticity that is so critical to building a viable network. Job seekers often get frustrated with the concept of networking because as Dan Williams says in his book, Tales From the Networking Community, "networking is a process, not an event." Job seekers expect immediate results (often because they need to pay immediate bills) and may give up on networking if they don't quickly get some bites.

Every encounter with another person is a potential networking opportunity. Network to build relationships, not to get a job. Get in the mindset of giving more than you get, connecting people without being asked, actively seeking new affinity groups, exploring on line social networks, blogging, joining professional associations, volunteering, and reconnecting with old friends and colleagues. By doing so, you will build your network steadily over time and will be recognized as a trustworthy and credible connection who is genuinely interested in the well-being of the people in your network. Once this is accomplished, you will reap the benefits of being top of mind with others in your network when you are in need of advice, help, support, and yes, even a job lead.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Networking and Professional Development for HR Practitioners

There are a lot of great HR seminars going on in New York City this month through HRNY, one of the premier chapters of SHRM. Topics include managing change, getting a handle on corporate benefits costs, and workplace diversity. If you are an HR professional or if you are interested in "hob nobbing" with HR practitioners and entrepreneurs, this is the place to be. Check out the association and the seminars here.

Labels: , ,

Friday, January 04, 2008

Facebook and Your Job Search

While LinkedIn continues to be a valuable tool for sourcing job leads, more and more recruiters and hiring managers are also using Facebook as a tool for finding talent. Check out CM Russell's post over on Secrets of the Job Hunt to learn more about some interesting applications to help you get found online.

Labels: , , ,