How to Think Like an Entrepreneur and Add More Value at Work

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No everyone will start a business, lead teams or rise to CEO, but all employees can create a big impact where they work by thinking like an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They generally start businesses to solve an existing problem, provide an improvement or innovate for new ways of doing things. That means they are paying attention with sharp awareness to their environment, the way work is done or how to make life better or easier.

Thinking like an entrepreneur, even for the entry-level employee, means looking for methods of doing your own work in an innovative and efficient manner as if you were the CEO, but it also means understanding the bigger picture and not just the role you play defined by your job description. It’s easy to get heads down in an isolated silo and take responsibility for only what you need to get done within your own department. Yet, to add the most value and be seen as a strategic asset, you have to step beyond what you do in the day-to-day. Apply the following seven tips to help:

Seek knowledge about cross-departmental roles and objectives
Ask employees in other departments about their jobs and comprehend what each department’s role is in the organization. How can you work together better or collaborate on issues that impact the entire organization?

Know your product or service
You should get a thorough briefing on your company’s products or services when you join a company. If not, make it your goal to educate yourself and stay abreast of any product enhancements. Think like a product manager yourself. What can be done to improve products or services over time? Always accepting the status quo is no-no for the entrepreneurial mind.

Understand the market you serve
Think outside the organization to recognize the market your company serves and constantly look for economic or social trends that could impact that market. Also, tune in to the customer mindset.

Acquire knowledge about company financials and revenue goals
Just because you don’t have a seat at the C-level table, doesn’t mean you should not be as deeply concerned about the bottom line as company leaders. You’ll feel more engaged and eager to contribute if you take just as much responsibility as those at the top for achieving revenue goals.

Stand in the shoes of your CEO
What is it like to be the CEO? How does he or she have to look at the business to meet revenue expectations and improve the company from both financial and cultural perspectives? See a problem. Present a solution.

Envision the future
Always have an eye on the future and what might be. Imagine the impossible now that could be possible tomorrow. Dream big, about your own role and the company’s growth potential.

Thinking like an entrepreneur with fill you with more passion for the work that you do and make you feel more involved in the success of the company. You will be thinking like a leader, constantly growing and challenging yourself, and increasing your value to the company.

Mobile Job Search Apps for Millennials on the Move

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Image: Pixabay

One of the coolest things about millennials is that they embrace technology to get things done – faster. We could all take a page from their book when it comes to using apps and mobile solutions to help with job searching.

Searching for a job can be like a full-time job itself. It’s no surprise that anything that helps make search processes easier and that can be done on the move appeals to Generation Y. But these awesome tools should be in everyone’s back pocket, regardless of age.

From start to end, there is an app for almost every stage of your search.

Grammarly should be in anyone’s toolkit. Quick and easy to use, it can help catch spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes on resumes, cover letters, thank you messages and follow-ups. Hiring managers will often toss out any candidate who can’t communicate properly and error-free.

For the more adventuresome, creative job seeker, Visualize.me enables users to turn text resumes into infographics in order to express their professional accomplishments in a simple, yet compelling, personal visualization. The jury is still out on recruiters’ preferences for visual resumes, and they aren’t always applicant- tracking-system friendly. But they’re cool to look at and can grab attention.

Have both job search and applications done for you with Fridayd, and keep your search organized in one place. On a mobile device, it’s just tap, touch and you’re done. You can decrease online job search time to 30 minutes or less per week.

Get help connecting to the right recruiter or hiring manager using Mentat. One of the best ways to get noticed is to send an email to the right contact after applying online. Mentat can help identify the best person to reach out to.

The go-to for checking out company reviews and ratings is Glassdoor. It’s especially useful for interview research and understanding how happy employees are with CEOs and the company’s culture. Glassdoor also lists job opportunities. Check it out.

There really is an app for everything. You can prepare for interviews and practice responses to interview questions with the Interview Prep Questions app.

And when it’s all said and done and you’ve landed your dream job, there is the Spafinder Wellness 365 app to help you find a massage and take a deep breath, or an app to treat yourself to almost anything.

App up your job search!

 

 

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The One Most Often Overlooked Interview Question

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Job seekers prepare for every interview question imaginable and have their own long list of questions to ask in return, omitting one that they frequently fail to address: “What is the office space like for this position; where will I sit?”

Most job seekers are concerned about job requirements, salary and benefits, not taking into account how the physical environment can impact job satisfaction and success. And, then there is the eagerness to simply land the offer and not wanting to appear too particular or pushy in the interview by asking about office details.

If you are not offered a tour of the facility before the offer phase, ask for one. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the full picture of your potential work experience before deciding to join a company. Ask if the person filling the role will have a private office, a cubicle or sit in today’s more trendy open shared space. There are pros and cons for each, but it can be a shock going from an office with a door to a large, wide-open room with no dividers.

Rare is the employee who wouldn’t opt for a private office, but there can be advantages to working in cool, Silicon Valley-style office without barriers, including increased transparency, collaboration and team cohesion. Truth be known, however, the greatest advantage for companies that build open-plan offices can be cost. Fewer walls and cubicle dividers mean less expensive construction.

But the true costs can be the exact opposite of the intended benefits: more distraction, lower productivity, increased illness spread through close contact, conflict among employees and decreased morale.

If you love the new opportunity but the workspace isn’t ideal, you may be able to use it as an additional bargaining chip. It could help you negotiate more remote work time, for instance, as a tradeoff.

Take your new work environment into serious consideration before signing on with a company. It can impact more than your ability to produce optimally and succeed, including taking a toll on your emotional and physical health.

 

 

 

 

Tips on Sidestepping the Salary History Question: New Legislation Helps

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In the recent past, some cities and states have already passed legislation to prevent employers from asking job candidates their salary history. It’s a great move for a couple of reasons.

Originally designed to promote equal pay for equal work, such legal measures go beyond attempts to narrow the pay gap for women in the workplace. All job seekers, regardless of gender, should understand how unfair the salary question is and know how to avoid it, especially in cities and states yet to prohibit it.

Your current or past salary has no bearing on what you should be paid in a new position. Period.

What should determine your salary?

The scope of responsibilities in the new position combined with the fair market value for the geographical region in which you will work should be the first factors in deciding salary. Next, levels of experience and expertise weigh in to setting compensation for a role.

Don’t go into an interview without knowing your worth based on market research. There are plenty of online tools, such as PayScale and Glassdoor, to help you calculate your value. But better yet, if your region doesn’t have legislation banning salary history questions, employ some sidestepping strategies.

Many companies request current and past salaries in their online applications. Leave that section blank if it is not a required field. If it is mandatory, you won’t be able to leave that field incomplete, but you can try using all zeros to bypass the system, leaving that question for later in the interview stage.

It’s true that some companies like to have your salary history to make sure your salary expectations don’t exceed their set range for a position and that time isn’t wasted interviewing non-viable candidates. The assumption is that a candidate with a higher salary won’t be satisfied receiving less. That’s not always accurate, however. Many employees find job satisfaction in the work that they do, not just the compensation they receive. An employer can avoid this altogether by being upfront about the salary range for the position. You can then indicate if that range is acceptable to you.

Your first interview with a company will most likely be a screening call with a recruiter, who in most cases will inquire about your salary. You’re in the hot seat. How do you respond without angering the recruiter by withholding information? You can kindly answer the question with some variation of the following:

  • Don’t provide your current salary, but rather provide the recruiter with your salary requirements. What you require and what the hiring company is willing to pay are the only aspects that need to be considered in ascertaining if your salary expectations are a fit for moving forward.
  • Ask for the salary range, or provide a range in which you are willing to consider for the role.
  • Provide a range for your current salary just like the hiring company does for the position they are trying to fill. There is nothing wrong with stating that your existing salary is in the fair market value range for the scope of your responsibilities and that your salary expectations are based on the job requirements and your level of experience. A company worth joining will compensate its employees accordingly.

No one likes the salary question or the salary negotiation stages of job searching. Companies in the know and those that compensate fairly will avoid asking for salary history and instead pay for the value of the job and the experience of the person filling it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Your Storytelling Could Impact Your Job Search

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If you’re sad on the inside, don’t expect to show up happy on the outside.

It’s an amazing phenomenon how our inside world gets projected outwardly. We seemingly communicate the way we think and feel not just in words and non-verbals by the way we carry ourselves, facial expressions and overall body language, but also in the confidence, energy and well-being we exude without our knowledge. What’s even more interesting is that it’s hard to mask a negative self-perception with external appearances. What’s buried inside leaks out subtly in expressions we may be unaware of and that others pick up on.

It’s almost as if there is an invisible communication and energy field that operates of its own accord and relays the context of our inner dialogue – the story we inwardly tell about ourselves.

Most people can relate to the following experience. You’re miffed at a friend, colleague or spouse, without his/her knowing that you’re angry. You camouflage what you are thinking with a smile and pleasantries and act as if nothing is wrong. Yet, tension builds. You can feel it, almost cut it with a knife. You can’t swim out of the undercurrent of your thoughts and feelings. They can pull you under even if the surface looks calm.

Our self-narrative is especially important when we seek a new career opportunity. It says more about us than we can say with words.

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This is more than just self talk, though. The inner ongoing story of success or failure we choose to feed ourselves creates the way we feel, and those feelings turn into an identity we relay to others, despite what our words, credentials and crisp new suit might say to the contrary.

Get yourself in the right frame of mind by adjusting your vision of yourself for your job search. Keeping a positive self-image when a job search goes on and on can be challenging, but job seekers need to be vigilant about how they interpret, judge and speak to themselves about the circumstances surrounding their search.

If you have to tell yourself a story about yourself, tell a good one!

It’s the one everyone else will hear too when they look at you.

5 Tips for Measuring a Company’s Engagement…Before You Take the Job

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Fifty-one percent of employees in the U.S. are actively looking for a new job. That’s more than half, according to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report. And that’s huge.

The biggest cause: employee engagement, or lack thereof. Seventy percent of U.S. employees are not engaged at work.

Disengagement can be an individual employee’s problem, for a number of reasons, such as personal challenges outside of work that serve as distractions, lack of interest in the work performed, ability to perform job functions, etc., but more often than not, employee engagement is a companywide issue related to culture, a mission employees can embrace, communication, management style, workplace recognition, opportunities for growth and simply having the right tools and resources to perform tasks optimally.

As a job seeker, a hiring company’s track record on engagement is an important element to consider in choosing to team up. You are more apt to work to your full potential at a company with a high level of engagement. But how do you measure employee engagement before you accept the offer?

Pose the Question

Ask the recruiter, the hiring manager and anyone who interviews you specifically about engagement and what the company does to promote it. Gallup has twelve questions companies can ask employees to help measure engagement:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.

You won’t ask these questions, but they give you a good idea of what you want in an engaged workplace. You can ask related questions, such as how the employees are recognized, how performance and progress are measured, how employees feel about and embrace the company’s mission, what the company does to create a shared vision, and how employees are mentored or developed.

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Turnover Rate

It’s an old, but not outdated, question to ask. It can be an indicator of troubled waters within. Don’t stop at asking for the rate alone. Ask about underlying causes.

What’s a good turnover rate? It’s not one-size-fits-all and depends on the industry. The hospitality and restaurant industries have higher turnover rates in general as a result of the transient nature of the workforce. For example, high school and college students may fill hourly, unskilled labor positions. Turnover rates may be 16-17 percent for all industries as an average, but hospitality may have as much as 37 percent. If you are considering a professional role in such an industry, you can drill down and ask about turnover rates for their management workforce instead.

Employee Reviews

People talk, and in the age of social media, they have a platform to be heard. Glassdoor gives employees the opportunity to rate an organization. Keep in mind, however, that a disgruntled employee or even a job candidate may give a skewed review. Look for a repeated theme of negativity. Additionally, a small number of reviews won’t give you an accurate picture. Five reviews won’t tell you as much as 150 will. Look for other clues too on other social media platforms. A search on Twitter with a hash tag in front of a company name may reveal some surprising insights.

Ask Insiders

Ask existing contacts at the hiring company about their personal experiences, and more specifically ask about their sense of engagement. Do your networking homework and find other contacts working for the organization who may be willing to have a conversation with you.

The Golden Cup

Check a company’s awards and accolades for being a best pace to work and awards for engagement. Some awards and winners include:

Achievers Engaged Workplace Awards

Gallup Most Engaged Workplaces

Fortune Great Place to Work

Glassdoor Employee Choice Awards

Additionally, most local and regional business journals and newspapers host awards for best workplaces as do industry associations. Bear in mind that such awards are achieved through employee surveys and feedback. An award may measure many aspects of workplace, though, such as benefits, and may not measure true engagement, so use multiple channels to gather information on engagement to get an accurate account.

Moreover, just because a company is not on an award list, doesn’t mean it is not a great place to work or that it doesn’t have an engaged workforce. Companies apply to awards; they are not nominated by the award-granting entity.

Yep, You Should Still Complete a Job Application

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Over half a decade ago, it was predicted that résumés were dead and applying for jobs would be a waste of time. Instead, networking would win you a new job and social media profiles were the new résumés.

Today, résumés are still requested by most companies and the majority of those companies still require that job seekers complete an application, primarily online. Where was the forecasting miss?

Many hiring companies do enable applicants to apply and populate online application fields by applying with a LinkedIn profile. That has made the process easier in some respects, but it also means that applicants have to have a glowing LinkedIn profile that is complete and details work history and accomplishments. The assumption was that every professional would have a LinkedIn profile leading to the death of résumés. As it turns out, five years later, that is not the case.

According to LinkedIn at the time of this writing, a high number of professionals have a LinkedIn profile, but many profiles are still incomplete and lack summaries. That in itself makes it challenging to rely on LinkedIn solely as a résumé replacement.

Additionally, employers need to collect more information than what a LinkedIn profile provides for EEOC compliance and non-discriminatory hiring practices, permissions for background and credit checks, and data for their human capital management systems once an employee is hired. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) are necessary to streamline and ensure consistency in recruitment and data capture. Having candidates complete application also means that every applicant is fairly asked the same questions.

So résumés haven’t gone away, nor have applications. In fact, new ATS solutions have continued to emerge on the market. Changes will occur, but those changes will primarily be enhancements to improve the user experience in completing applications and to make solutions more mobile. The ATS, however, is still the mainstay for organizing recruitment data.

The truth is that job seekers can’t abandon application completion as a part of their job search. It is true that more and more job deals are created and sealed through networking, but in reality a job search needs to be a three-pronged approach to make it really effective. That means efforts need to parsed out to searching for opportunities, completing applications and networking.

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To really increase your odds of getting the interview, still apply to a position online, but then devote a significant portion of time to discovering who the hiring manager is for a role plus other contacts who work for the company and can facilitate an introduction or serve as a referral. Then reach out. Get your application noticed so that it doesn’t fall through the cracks in the ATS’s or résumé bot’s automatic sorting and ranking. Sell yourself. Don’t depend on your application alone to get you noticed.

Compensation Clues about a Company’s Culture

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What does compensation have to do with a company’s culture? A lot, according to Payscale, a leader in compensation management solutions. Payscale’s 2017 Compensation Best Practices Report states that “Compensation is one of the number one culture-definers for organizations.”

If you are looking for a new job or in the negotiation stages, the compensation on the table tells you how much a company values your talent, but also may hint at more, including how well the hiring company treats its employees overall.

Don’t just look at the compensation on the table, though. Go deeper. Ask about the company’s history of annual compensation increases. It’s okay to ask that question. Does the company pay for performance or is tenure a bigger indicator of substantial increases? This will be important to you in judging what your potential increase will be and how fast you can possibly grow your income.

Does the company pay a standard 3-5% annual increase, and what does it take to get a bigger jump in salary? Is promotion the only way to garner bigger compensation increases? Too many candidates are so focused on the initial offer that they fail to investigate what impacts their future earning potential.

As expected, high-performing and enterprise companies typically offer better compensation as opposed to non-profits or underperforming businesses. If you are offered a compensation package that doesn’t stack up at the former, it can be a clue about overall culture and how a company appreciates its people.

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Image: Payscale’s 2017 Compensation Best Practices Report

Some companies play the low-ball salary negotiation game and offer a lesser amount on the first offer, waiting for you to negotiate a higher income. Be leery of that too. A really great company with an award-winning culture knows the value of its talent and communicates it from the get go. They show respect to candidates by cutting to the chase and putting the very best offer on the table—the first time.

Know your worth and know the company you are interviewing with. Look for red flags that can tell you more about the company’s culture and what it might be like to work there. Don’t be fooled by a great brand, mission or accolades that may merely amount to great marketing. Compensation may be a great indicator of what’s really under the hood.

Should You Give Away Your Secret Sauce in a Job Interview?

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You’ve made it through the round of phone interviews. Maybe you’ve even had your first on-site meeting. The next step? The hiring company wants you to complete a project or create a strategy as proof of your expertise. Do you do it?

Testing as part of an interview process isn’t new. Employers want to be sure you know your stuff and can perform job requirements. It’s also not uncommon for companies to not only conduct hiring assessments to gauge your abilities, but also to measure anything from specific skill strengths, communication preferences, leadership style and dominant personality traits as predictors of success in a role. Can pre-employment evaluations cross the line into hiring discrimination, and how much is too much work to offer up for free as part of an interview process?

Pre-employment screening and assessments can be prone to discriminatory practice if administered tests violate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission laws regarding race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability, or age (40 or older). That’s certainly a concern. However, most professionals have greater cause for unease when they are asked to complete an in-depth, pre-employment assignment that may take a lot of time and require giving away knowledge and strategies as proof of capabilities.

The Problem:

If you are asked to create a strategic plan for your area of expertise, come up with a creative campaign or deliverable, you may be giving a company great ideas, plans and work products free of charge, especially if you don’t get the job.

The Solution:

You want to wow a potential employer and show them your skills, smarts and superior ability to knock it out of the park, but protect yourself upfront.

Ask for details about how the end product will be used if you are not hired. Some companies with savvy legal council will tell you upfront that your deliverable can’t and won’t be used. They may even offer added assurance with a signed agreement to that effect. Other companies may not offer such a safeguard.

Still, you can protect yourself by defining the parameters of what you can provide without pay and you can present a deliverable that meets the requirements but lacks fine details. Otherwise, you may give away your secret sauce that you’ve worked long and hard to acquire through education and experience. It can be disheartening to give it your all and spend hours on a project to find that you didn’t get the job. It may feel even worse, like being swindled or conned, to realize that you literally gave away what would be worth hundreds of dollars in consulting fees.

You may consider creating a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before accepting the project to protect yourself and your work. Having such an agreement in place can keep your work product confidential and restrict how it may be used. If you don’t get the job and end up seeing your ideas in use by the company, you may have legal recourse.

You can find online resources to help you create a non-disclosure agreement.

If you really want the position for which you are applying, by all means take on the project with gusto, but don’t spend more than a few hours on it and show your business acumen, too, by seeking protection for the end product you provide.

Be Prepared for Creative Interview Approaches

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During an initial phone interview, the hiring manager throws out a random question that seemingly has nothing to do with your skills and qualifications: “Tell me all the ways you could use a brick?”

In all of your interview preparation, you didn’t plan for that one! Think fast, and that is one of the reasons for the question. The interviewer wants to gauge how quickly you think on your feet, in addition to how innovative and creative you can be.

Some hiring managers and recruiters are getting far more creative themselves in their approach to getting to know you. Why the veer away from typical interviews? New York Times writer Adam Bryant explains that taking a non-traditional approach can enable the interviewer to get to know the candidate better in a more relaxed setting. An interview doesn’t have to be an off-site excursion to be more inventive. The questions themselves can make it so.

Most people prepare for interviews with measured and canned responses to tough questions. Such answers don’t always reveal the true personality or strengths of a candidate. Whereas outside-the-box queries may help candidates open up and reveal more of their true selves.

What kind of novel questions does Bryant suggest you could encounter? A few examples include:

  1. What is your natural strength?
  2. What kind of animal would you be? And why?
  3. What qualities of your parents do you like the most?
  4. What is the biggest misperception people have about you?

You still need to prepare for traditional interview questions to highlight your experience and ability to meet job requirements, but you also need to expect the unexpected. And check out some imaginative uses for a brick in case you ever get that question!