Career Emergency First Aid Kit

Life is hectic. Careers are hectic. And it takes a few tricks to manage both successfully.
I have a close friend and client, Tracey, who’s now been in the successful role of Communications Manager for the American Red Cross in Phoenix for the past two years. One of the many things she does besides helping drive relief efforts for Haiti, is publicizing the Red Cross’ emergency First Aid Kit.
It made me think how much we all need our own “Career Emergency First Aid Kit.” A box of tools including an escape plan to help us stay afloat should our career take an unexpected turn.
Earlier in my career, I experienced a few setbacks that caught me off-guard. After I landed back on my feet, I became smarter about anticipating and preparing for change.
Planning and preparation are critical to surviving any disaster. Can your career weather any storm, and rebound quickly? One tool that is must be in your kit is a polished and professional resume. If you’re unsure about how your resume measures up, you may want to work with a professional resume writer.

Take Control of Your Career

If I asked you, “Who is controlling your career?” what would you say? You? Someone else? Nobody?


My biggest source of frustration in my own career came about ten years ago, when I’d been laid off because the company I was working for wasn’t doing well financially. I felt that I was at the height of my career, yet the company just laid me off. There wasn’t any notice, just a meeting with my manager, a handshake goodbye, and a check for two weeks pay.


My mind was swirling. My world had just been turned upside down. I felt poor.


After spending about 3 days in my bath robe sobbing into my bowl of corn flakes (apparently I don’t cook when I’m depressed!), I realized that I couldn’t leave my career (my career!) in the hands of someone else. Like a manager. Or a company.


So I began taking more control over my career. I seeked out only those companies that I admired. When I interviewed for a job, I interviewed them. I said things like, “in my next job, I’m looking for a company that…”, and “I’m very goal driven and need to work in a culture…” It wasn’t so much the words I was saying, but a mixture of having career goals, a vision, and assurance that I can do their job that often got me the job offer.


If your world has been turned upside down, and you need a little help getting back on your feet – then I’m here to help you.


You can get all of my great career strategies to reinvent your career in my upcoming Career Change Bootcamp. Right now I’m sharing a special holiday savings of 25-percent off when you sign up before December 31st!

Are you getting paid what you’re worth?

Let’s face it, your paycheck has a direct impact on your quality of life. Yes, having a good boss, challenging work, and clients who pay on time are critical factors in your overall job satisfaction, but your salary, health benefits, 401k plan, and bonuses can tip your overall job satisfaction scale from being “very satisfied” in your current work situation to “I really got to get a new job RIGHT NOW!!”


So how can you know if you’re getting paid what you are worth, and how can you negotiate a better salary?


Your salary is determined by three factors.


First, the company you work for. There are some companies who are known for paying their employees a beefy salary and benefits package. Fortune Magazine recently compiled a list of top paying companies.


If the company you work for is not on the list, don’t worry. You might still be making a healthy salary based on your peers within the company, and even the industry. I recently spoke with Fred Cooper, compensation expert for a Fortune 100 company who gave some great strategies for determining your value in today’s marketplace. So the question is —
How do you know if you’re on the high end or low end of the market’s going rate?


Cooper said that there are two key factors that determine your salary. One is what the market is currently paying for your skills, experience and areas of expertise. The other is the company’s internal salary policies and practices.


“Research is key,” says Cooper. “You must determine the value of the job that you currently have or want. There are a number of salary surveys where jobs are priced that can give you a salary range for the work as identified in the job summary or job description. Make sure that when you start your salary survey that you have a good job description and understanding of the job you are comparing. Do not use job titles for comparisons but get in to the duties and responsibilities of the work being performed.”


“For example,” Cooper explained, “an ‘accountant’ for one company may be a true accountant while for another, the title may be applied to accounting clerks, financial assistants or others performing ‘accounting support’ work. Combining salary ranges in this instance would not provide a true sense of the market value.”


Before you go in to negotiate your salary with your new employer, be sure to schedule a career coaching session with me to help ensure you receive the best salary & benefits package possible! It’s a small investment to make compared to what you could be losing out on if you aren’t properly prepared.


In my next blog post I will share some of the best tools and web sites to help you with your research.

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview?

How can you stand out and stand ABOVE your competition in an interview? And how can you remain calm and confident especially if you really want or NEED THE JOB? Do you know what your interviewer really wants to know?


Here are a few things your Interviewer REALLY wants to know about you:


* Where are you a risk? Every new employee is a risk to a company. Whether it’s a specific requirement that you don’t meet, or a skill you don’t have, or potentially being overqualified for the position, or a potential risk for relocating, or potentially being sick or pregnant and at risk for taking a medical leave of absence, etc. So, spend some time thinking about where YOU are a risk.


During the interview, beat the interviewer to the punch by stating where you a risk and reassuring him why it won’t be a problem. For example, when I was interviewing with my current company, I had six rounds of interviews. During the final interview with the VP of the division and my future manager, the VP asked where I was a risk. My future manager responded that my brother worked in the same division. The VP then asked if I would be reporting to my brother, which of course, the answer was no. You could immediately see relief across the VP’s face when he realized that the risk was identified, and that it really wasn’t a risk at all.


Most interviewers are not as direct as the VP, but the concern is still there. The point is that you need to be able to discuss the area(s) where you are a risk and then immediately follow-up with why it shouldn’t be a problem.


Addressing your risks is also the reasoning behind the question, “Tell me about any weaknesses you have.” When you are asked this question, I recommend that you respond by bringing up an area for improvement, but quickly add what you are already doing to strengthen that skill.


For example, let’s say that you are interviewing for a position for a Sales VP and the position advertises that the applicant should know a specialized software application. If you are not familiar with this tool, you could say that you do not have a lot of experience with it but that you are taking an on-line training class to sharpen your skills (but only say this if it’s true!)


This approach shows that you are serious about your professional development and take the initiative to grow and improve your skills.


* Does the interviewer like you? Will you fit in with the corporate culture?


This is an area that you really cannot take personally. Either the culture and the team are a good fit for you, or they aren’t. Again, it is better to know up front during the interview, than to have a pit in your stomach every day as you walk into your new office.


I was once interviewing with the VP of Sales at a TV station. After 1 ½ hours of interviewing, I really couldn’t tell if he wanted me or not for the position. So, I simply asked, “Do you think I would be a good fit with your team?” He told me that he didn’t think so because he allows his team to vent, kick the garbage can and curse like sailors in the office since they get beaten up outside of the office so much. I appreciated his candor because the reality is that I would not be happy or successful in an environment like that.


During your next interview, be prepared to discuss your professional style and work ethics. Your interviewer is trying to get a clear picture on whether you would be a good “fit” for her team. Also, be sure that the ways you dress, speak and act align to the company and the position for which you are seeking. Is the company formal (think Wall Street, a top law firm, or a hospital), or is it more informal (think Google, Starbucks or the YMCA)? Perhaps the company is informal, but the position is formal (think sales, human resources or executive management.)


* Will you be able to work out the compensation/benefits package? This is usually the final and perhaps one of the easiest areas to determine if you are a good match for the job role. Be prepared to talk about the SALARY RANGE that you are expecting. I do not recommend giving an exact salary since the benefits package almost always includes room for negotiating vacation days, stock allowance, bonus payouts and starting salary. But you should be able to give a salary range that is acceptable.


Since you have one shot to make a great connection with the interviewer, it’s always a smart idea to visit with an interviewing coach to get customized strategies and MORE INSIDER TIPS to strengthen your interviewing skills.