Archive for September, 2011
When I tell my clients that most people (some say as many as 90%) will get their next job by networking, I’m usually met with silence on the other end of the phone line. Many people think of networking as either difficult or distasteful.
Young entrepreneur Andrew Horn has shared his secret for making networking enjoyable and productive, and it takes advantage of the age-old concept that one should be interested to be interesting.
So, how do you become genuinely interested, not just asking the classic questions like, “What do you do?” “Where do you live?” “Do you have a family?” and pretending that the answers are riveting? Here are the six magic words that will fast-forward a conversation to “the good part.”
“What gets you most excited?”
Here’s Andrew explaining how this phrase has made a big difference for him:
I’m working with an IT executive who was wondering whether she’d have to take a salary cut, just to get her foot back in the door after a fairly sizeable period of unemployment. I say no. Let me explain… and you happily employed readers, this is for you too! Your annual review (read raise negotiation) is coming up.
Every job opening has a salary range that the hiring company is willing to pay.
A company will go above their initial range if they think a candidate offers a uniquely high return on investment (ROI) and/or that they align with company culture in a way few others would.
A company will pay as little as possible if they are choosing between candidates they view as offering the same set of skills and experience. Sometimes they’ll even forego making a hiring decision rather than risk making a poor one.
Negotiating a starting salary near the top of the range can add tens of thousands of dollars a year to your compensation and approach a million dollars of additional lifetime earnings. (The total extra amount grows exponentially because future raises and starting salaries at new jobs are negotiated upwards from there.)
So how can you be the must-have hire who commands the big bucks? By painting a clear picture of your ability to solve your future employer’s most pressing problems. Do this by:
- Proving your monetary worth. Review your entire career and look for ways you’ve made money or saved money for your employers. Be sure those are prominent on your resume, individually and cumulatively. If a company knows that you’ve repeatedly added $800K to the bottom line, they’ll feel confident hiring you at $100K+.
- Being branded, not “blanded.” Make sure your communications and everything about you express your brand. That means your resume, the messages you leave on voicemails, and the clothes you wear to your interview are aligned with each other and painting a picture of who you are and how you work. The right company, which is genuinely aligned with who you are and vice-versa, will have to have you.
- Speaking to prospective employers’ specific needs. Yes, of course you’ve researched your field and industry and created your documents and job search plan accordingly. But are you personalizing your communications? Have you Googled the company you’re writing to or interviewing with to find out what their current hot-button issues might be and how you can contribute positively from day one of your hire? Do it! Yes, it takes more time, but a few strategic, meaningful communications will get you further than masses of form letters.
Get the picture? If your employer does, it’ll be worth a million.
“I want to get back into fashion, my first love.” The voicemail from a potential client thrilled me. She obviously had a bold, heart-led plan for her next career move, and I hoped I’d be able to help her.
By the time we spoke the next day, she was in panic mode. Afraid the fashion market was not robust in her new city, she was thinking of pursuing hospitality instead. After all, her recent experience as an event planner would be an asset, and she was facing a hefty mortgage payment for her new dream house.
Fortunately, this was a case where she could have her cake and eat it too. I love those!
I suggested that it wasn’t an either/or choice. She could pursue both. If the job in hospitality worked out first, she could look for an opportunity in fashion from the powerful position of an employed person.
If you have a dream, it’s there for a reason. In the process of pursuing it, good will happen to you and through you. You might not get where you first envisioned going, but you’ll arrive right where you’re meant to be.
Have a dream you haven’t realized yet?
The best way to pursue it is directly correlated to your risk tolerance. I know I took a lot more risks when I was single than I do now that I have a husband and two kids. My dreams now look more like a slow and steady evolution as my career takes shape and I discover more and more about how to best help my clients by expressing my joy for writing, marketing, and cheerleading.
– If your dream and your work don’t seem to be in alignment, make them more so. There’s a great example in Career Distinction by William Arruda and Kirsten Dixson, about a sales manager whose first love was sports. He challenged his team to come up with the best sales presentation using sports as an analogy. Sales went through the roof and he was re-engaged with his “day job.”
– Start a business that’s related to your dream while keeping your current job. Once the business gets big enough, quit. That’s exactly how Movin’ On Up Resumes got off the ground. A good family friend and playwright, Evan Blake, was a paralegal for years until he was able to make a full-time living writing plays.
– Set up some informational interviews with people who are doing what you would love to do. You’ll get the chance to learn more about next steps and start the process of creating new opportunities.
– Check out www.vocationvacations.com. They can help you with information, set you up with a mentor, and give you a real-life taste of your dream.
You can be pragmatic and true to your authentic self. It takes courage, but most worthwhile things do.
This newsletter is inspired by a client of mine who recently opted to use the interview coaching provided by her company’s outplacement service. She is excellent at what she does, but she hasn’t learned how to talk about it yet. I really hope that firm does a good job. This gal is the best and deserves the best!
Here at Movin’ On Up Resumes, we’re hard at work preparing to launch our own outplacement services division. Luckily, we’re virtual, so there are no cubicles to set up!
Of course, this has me researching the “competition.” I already had some idea of what’s out there because I get so many clients who ask me to redo the poor quality resumes they’ve gotten through their employers’ outplacement firms. This kind of client is common in the pro resume writing business.
For the most part, the big firms seem focused more on their corporate clients than on the individual end-clients, and they’re not current on career marketing best practices. I was given food for thought when I read this article in the archives of the Wall Street Journal.
There is much cause for concern in the article, most of it Keystone Cop-ish. But one anecdote stuck out. A candidate was coached after a mock lunch interview that she shouldn’t have ordered the cranberry juice because it could cause the interviewer to think she had a urinary tract infection. Another candidate was coached not to order Diet Coke.
John Challenger, CEO of the firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Inc.—which gave this feedback to discharged Pepsi employees—said that, though this advice may seem “silly,” it is part of an overall message to always think about the impressions you make on your interviewer. “Ordering ice tea, water or coffee, doesn’t stand out. Ordering cranberry juice might.”
Exactly. Ordering something other than coffee or tea stands out. That’s great! Standing out is the key to finding meaningful employment in this market. I’m not suggesting that you order the most exotic drink, wear the wackiest suit, or try the craziest resume font just for the heck of it. But if every detail of how you present yourself is in alignment with who you are, you are living and breathing your brand. That will attract opportunities that are a good fit.
Is it possible that your brand will turn off a potential employer? I hope it will. That means you have a brand, that you stand for something. Your message, and your hire-ability quotient, will be huge with the company you’re meant for, the one whose culture and values align with yours.
And yes, if your employer has offered you outplacement services, use the resources that work for you, and take their advice with a grain of salt.