3 Salary Negotiation Rules You Should Never Break

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Getting and acing the interview feels like a homerun, but it’s really a third-base play. Stepping on the home plate happens after the offer, salary negotiations and your signature is signed on the dotted line.

Some job seekers are so eager about closing in on the finish line that they may not carefully evaluate and counter the compensation offer. It’s an important final job search stage, so protect yourself and don’t break any of these rules.

You get paid what the job is worth
It’s not breaking the rules for a company to ask what you were paid in your last job. But it’s also okay for you not provide this information. Most recruiters or hiring managers want to know your current or previous salary to make sure the compensation is within a range you will consider. However, that may not be the best approach.

Asking about a candidate’s earning history can also be a way to low ball an offer. A better approach is to ask for an applicant’s salary expectations. That is a fair approach. If you are asked the salary question, it’s definitely appropriate to turn the question around and ask for the salary range for the position. That gives you a chance to decide upfront if that range fits your experience and anticipated comp. You should be paid for what the job is worth in terms of scope of responsibility and experience required, not for your past or present earning power in a jobs that may not be apples to apples.

Consider the complete compensation package
Don’t focus so much on the annual salary number. There are other variables that add up to the total bottom line. Fully paid healthcare benefits, although rare, do happen, and that’s a big chunk of change of over $5,000 for single coverage or double that for family coverage. Get the details of the company’s insurance coverage, including the percent of employee responsibility and deductibles. Life insurance, disability insurance, etc., as well as 401k contributions impact the total compensation. If a company matches 30% of your 401k, that’s a nice deal.

Look at all benefits, such as daycare, free or discounted meals, and stock options before making your decision. Carefully review the stock program, the number of diluted shares and their actual worth. A large number of options can be enticing, but it’s their actual or potential worth per share that matters.

Don’t accept less because it’s a remote job
It’s an error and red flag is a company offers a lower salary in exchange for a remote role. There are some benefits a home-based gig, but you should be paid for the work that you are doing, not where you are doing it. If a company hires the right talent, most employees will tend to work longer and harder at home than in an office where many distractions exist. The company wins. Plus, the company saves on expensive office space that you’re not using, which could be thousands of dollars per month. Be prepared to address that in your salary negotiations.

Coming to an agreement on your value to a company isn’t a fun part of the job search process, but with insights on how to approach the offer stage, you can command the salary you deserve.

Be Prepared for Video Interviews

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It feels great to clear the first hurdle of the job search process and land an interview. It’s your chance to really sell yourself, have an open conversation with the hiring manager and get one step closer to closing the deal on a new opportunity.

Except not all interviews happen in-person or with a chance for a live exchange of information. Some companies are relying more on recorded video interviews to weed through contenders.

There are pros and cons of video interviewing, but don’t let the camera scare you. If a company extends an invitation to interview via a recorded interview, seize the offer and prepare just like you would for any interview.

Advantages
Some of the benefits of video recorded interviews include a more efficient way to conduct numerous interviews and expedited time to hire. Those advantages may seem to fall on the side of the hiring company, but they can be pluses for you as well. You won’t have to wait as long for an interview. Coordinating phone or face-to-face meetings can take days if not weeks at times. Video recorded interviews can shorten that time drastically and don’t require scheduling time on multiple calendars.

You can generally also find a time that works best for you, day or night; choose your own setting; and not have to travel any distance to an on-site meeting. Some platforms also can be accessed on a tablet or mobile phone.

The Downside
Some people may have performance anxiety and worry about how they look on camera. There is generally only one shot to answer a question on some video platforms, and there is not a way to clarify questions or ask for additional information. You also can’t read the interviewer’s non-verbal cues since questions are pre-recorded or in written form. A Skype interview, for instance, is different. That medium does afford a two-way visual and verbal exchange.

The worst part: a video recorded interview can feel a bit de-humanizing and like one more use of technology to remove the real sense of connection and rapport between two people. There is also the chance that video recordings can increase discrimination, giving the hiring company a means of judging appearance rather than qualifications.

How to Prepare
You still don’t want to miss getting your foot in the door, even if that first introductory interview is through a video recording. How can you ace a video interview?

Just like you conduct any interview. Prepare.

  • Find the most comfortable place for to record your interview, preferably a professional, office-like setting.
  • Try out a practice recording of yourself in which you check for lighting, distance from the screen, microphone reception and noise levels
  • Dress like you would for an on-site interview (at least from your torso up)
  • Smile; you’ll look and sound more upbeat if you smile throughout the recording
  • Research the company and prepare for potential questions like you would for any interview
  • Set a time for your recorded interview when you know you will look and feel your best
  • Be natural and use hand gestures just like you would if you were sitting in front of the interviewer

A video recorded interview can feel a bit like creating a video for a dating site, but it’s all about putting your best foot forward. You’ll need to do that if it’s in-person or on camera. Rehearse, set the stage and…and break a leg!

What? Interviews Can Be Fun?

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If you dread interviewing for a new job, you are not alone. Interviews may seem like just another annoying and stressful part of conducting a job search, depending on how you think about them. Can you actually turn them into a fun experience?

Yes. And here is how.

Be fully prepared
It’s good common sense to prepare for interviews, but it’s not about just knowing as much as you can to impress your interviewer and strategize how to position yourself for the role and fit with the company. It’s also a way to have done your homework so that you can relax during the meeting time and have an easy, informed conversation. The more relaxed you are, the better impression you will make.

The majority of interview prep time shouldn’t be spent on determining what you will wear. Your interview attire should already be selected and ready to go if you are in the market for a new job. Don’t over prepare, but spend enough time to understand the business and its products/services, its position in the market, the job requirements, and your strengths and qualifications that match up.

Relax
Not to be redundant since this was already mentioned, but being relaxed (but not too much so that you slump in your chair and put your feet on the desk) really helps you focus more on the interviewer, the questions and how to respond, rather than on yourself. Your interviewer will be more at ease too.

Not everyone likes meeting new people, but if you can see the interview as another networking opportunity and chance to get to know the interviewer and the company better, it can be fun. The conversation will flow more smoothly, and you will get a better feel for the company and whether you really want to work there.

Interview like your life is not on the line
No matter how badly you need the job don’t interview like it’s the last opportunity on earth. Desperation is not appealing. It will make you try too hard and prevent you from being your best self. And being desperate is not fun. Hello, sweaty palms, underarm stains and perspiration on your upper lip!

Focus your attention on the interviewer
You don’t have to read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” to know that people appreciate it when you listen attentively, show respect and act with sincere kindness. It’s just good etiquette. Apply it in every interview. Making people feel more appreciated and comfortable will make you more comfortable as well. Leave your ego at the door. You’ll have plenty to say about yourself when asked. Do it humbly.

See every interaction as a gift and opportunity to learn and grow. When you look for the good in all circumstances, your attitude shifts and so does the perception people have of you.

Do the pre-interview work. Show up, and have fun. Be the person you would want to work with.

When Taking a Step Back is a Step Forward in Your Job Search

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If you’ve been consistently building your career and rising in rank over the course of a few years, you will most likely have your mind set on obtaining an equal or higher level job title when faced with searching for a new job. Without question, most everyone wants to keep growing, reaching new career pinnacles and earning more money. But is holding steadfastly to a desired title or increased level of responsibility your best approach?

Not always.

Of course you want to be recognized for the experience you bring to the table, and it’s tempting to hold out for the job status that rewards you for your hard work and level of expertise. However, it doesn’t always pay to keep waiting and let other opportunities pass you by. It may be more important to your ego goals to accept only a role or title that you believe you are worthy of.

Multiple factors impact your choice to bide your time for the right title or step back into a lower-level role. How do you decide?

How urgent is your need to find a new job? If you’re existing job is causing undue stress or conflicts, it may be important to consider roles you may not have otherwise pursued. A bad boss, a toxic environment, an overwhelming work load, and not being compensated fairly are all reasons that may affect your need to secure new employment sooner rather than later.

Financial circumstances are another reason to abandon a search for a better title and settle for another role. If you are unemployed and running out of financial fuel, you may need to expand your job search criteria to multiple levels in your field, but that’s not all bad. Stepping back also has advantages:

  • You will know how to do the work easily, giving you a chance to shine immediately and rise again in a new organization.
  • You can focus on simply doing good work rather than feeding your ego, which might be a surprisingly welcome relief.
  • Less pressure, means more time to continue your job search on the side and keep looking for jobs that meet your job responsibility and title objectives.

There may be other times you want to consider a drop in the organizational hierarchy. For example, a targeted company may have such a stellar culture or reputation that stepping into a position at a lesser level may be your best bet for the long term.

You may have to work a little harder to convince recruiters that you will be happy working at a different level. There seems to be a perception that high-level leaders won’t be satisfied if that can’t retain their ability to lead a pack, which is not always true. You will need to sell your desire to contribute, regardless of the title, over your need for status. And isn’t that a great quality for any leader? Less ego, more team collaboration and credit.

The most pressing question anyone has when making such a career pivot is: Will is hurt my career? Not if you position it the right way. If, for instance, you are unemployed, it is far better to have a job, even if it’s not your dream job, than it is to have an extensive period without employment. Recruiters are not keen on long stretches of career gaps.

 

Get Moving. Summer Is Over and Hiring Is Ramping Up

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Companies generally ramp up hiring after Labor Day. The holiday signals the end of summer and the close of the heaviest vacation season. During summer, there tends to be a slack off of both hiring and job searching, but “game on” when summer is in the rear view mirror and year-end goals are looming ahead.

This is the time to prioritize your job search efforts so you can ring in the new year with a new job. If you already have a job, it’s easy to put your job search on the back burner and limp along in your existing role. Stop procrastinating. Move your job search up on your to-do list. It will energize you to take action. And if you do it now while recruiters and hiring managers are just as eager to get positions filled, you’ll increase your chances of reaching your goal.

Rev up your networking
Reach out online and in person at events where you are bound to run into both old and new connections. Many networking and organizations slow activities in the summer months, too. Chances are, they will be kicking off post Labor Day with a new line up of meetings and networking opportunities.

Revive your resume and cover letters
If you’ve been conducting a search with the same resume and cover letters and nothing is happening, it may be time for a refresh. Ask a mentor to review them and provide honest feedback, or hire a career coach or resume writer to help.

Resist wasting time online
You do need to search for jobs and submit resumes. Yes, networking is a big help in finding your next adventure, but to think that it is the only way is poppycock. You need to search, apply, and network to be most effective and not miss all the possible opportunities available to you. But what you don’t have to do is all the work online yourself.

Check out how Fridayd can make a difference and reduce your online time to 30 minutes or less per week, giving you more time for networking while upping your chances of finding jobs that are most relevant for you.

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Staying Put Can Hurt Your Lifetime Earnings

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It wasn’t uncommon for members of previous generations to start and end their careers at the same place, never once switching employers. We’ve all heard the stories of employees who started in the mailroom or the factory floor and worked their way up to CEO. Upward mobility of that nature is rare today. Most people find they need to change employers to substantially advance their careers.

But career growth isn’t the only reason to keep moving. Compensation is a major motivator for switching jobs. In fact, cumulative earnings can be negatively impacted by staying put with the same employer.

Forbes estimates that employees who stay at a company for longer than two years will make 50% less over the lifetime of their career. Most companies give compensation increases of only 2-3% each year. Switching companies provides an opportunity for you to negotiate a higher salary and to be appreciated for the skills you have acquired over time.

Do you have to switch jobs to get a significant compensation increase? Not always. Some companies are good at making sure they not only develop their employees, but also compensate them fairly for their increased knowledge and responsibilities. But those companies are rare and that might be the slower path to advancement.

If it takes you five years to advance from coordinator to manager at a company you joined right out of college, you may be able to make that jump in three years by changing companies and command a higher salary at the same time.

If a starting salary is $40,000 and you are fortunate enough to get the high-end increase of 3%, you will still be earning under $44,000 three years later. Ask anyone who has sat across from a manager at performance review time receiving a measly jump in salary year after year. The heart-sinking news can be upsetting and also demotivating.

One problem lies outside of the restrictions companies place on the allotment of annual increase percentages. Managers often fail to see the level of growth an employee has achieved or won’t go to bat to secure a higher bump in salary for top talent. High performers won’t stay in one place for long. They’re smart. That’s one of the reasons they’re high performers to begin with. They’re astute enough to know their value and keep moving.

Job hopping on a resume isn’t always advisable when changing jobs happens every year, but it’s more the norm and not the exception to see two-year stints on the resumes of high potential talent.

 

 

 

Mobile Job Search Apps for Millennials on the Move

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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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What You Should Know Before Signing a Severance Agreement

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More than 2 million Americans voluntarily leave their jobs every month in the US, with millions more leaving involuntarily through termination. Rare is the case of an employee collecting a cushy severance package when exiting of their own volition. Unless, of course, it pays for a company to help transition an employee who resigns and, for example, may be a holder of critical company information. A nice monetary send-off may help tighten potential loose lips or ensure continued good relationships.

Of the millions and millions of other employees who are off boarded involuntarily, most generally walk away with very little or nothing, unless they hold upper-middle or senior-level positions with significant years of service to warrant a severance pay out or they are part of a larger layoff or downsizing and a company wants to prevent bad press that could result form sending off employees without assistance. In the latter instance, assistance may not be monetary in nature, but rather career counseling, resume writing or cover letter preparation.

In the devastating moment of job loss, a monetary severance can help ease the pain and provide a cushion while finding new employment. It can be a great benefit, making you eager to sign on the dotted line, but it’s also not without risks.

Most severance agreements include terms legally binding you to abide by them after you’ve signed the agreement, and most of those terms favor the employer, not you. For instance, you may be forbidden to take legal action against the employer or defame the company in any way. If you are fired for age discrimination or retaliation, you can’t bring suit against the company after you sign a severance agreement. Think twice and take your time before signing. Most agreements have a deadline and provide time for you to fully consider the terms.

If you also signed a non-compete agreement at the onset of your employment, you will most likely be unable to immediately find work in the same field. Signing a severance agreement may make it impossible to legally appeal the non-compete agreement even in cases of hardship in which you can’t find employment outside of your field.

If you are offered a severance package, heed the following advice:

  • Don’t sign a severance agreement unless you have to. If you have a nest egg, as most people should, to protect you in the event of losing a job, rely on that instead. You won’t be legally bound to the stringent restrictions built into most agreements and will be able to walk away with a greater degree of freedom.
  • Find a reputable labor attorney who can review the agreement and advise you before signing. A legal professional can walk you through all of the terms and make sure you understand the extent of the restrictions.
  • If you do need to sign an agreement, you may also be able to negotiate the terms before signing. You could secure more compensation or benefits for a greater period of time, instead of what is originally stated in the agreement.
  • Understand the consequences of what could happen if you do sign and then break your agreement. The penalties could be severe.

Whether or not you accept a severance agreement and the terms, walk away, move forward and commit to not disparaging the company. You want to heal from the experience. Speak favorably about the positives of your work experience and those you worked with. Protect yourself from potential libel and from having any negativity backfire on you with the company speaking unfavorably about you and your work.

Beware of Online Job Search Scammers

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Should You Provide Your Social Security Number on a Job Application?

It’s rare, but occasionally a job seeker may be asked to provide a social security number on a job application for background checks that could occur if a job offer is extended. Should you provide it?

No. Never. Definitely not.

An employer shouldn’t be conducting any background screening until the formal job offer stage, at which time references are contacted and credit checks sand criminal reports are conducted.

Giving out your social security number in advance of an offer may result in discrimination on the part of the employer, giving them the ability to gather data on everything from financial information, divorce records, traffic violations, etc.

Recent news reports also indicate that giving out personal information, a social security number or bank account data may also put you at significant risk with online job search scammers preying on job seekers in order to commit identity theft.

Protect yourself. Follow a few safety guidelines:

  • Be leery of any offers for interviews that happen quickly after posting or submitting a resume.
  • Check out the interviewee in advance on LinkedIn and company websites.
  • Make sure the company is legit.
  • Don’t participate in a text message interview.
  • Never provide your personal details, such as social security number or bank account information until a bona fide offer from a reputable company is in hand.

Trick Your Brain to Get Started on a Dreaded Job or Project

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Humans procrastinate tasks and projects for a variety of reasons. Most people have conditioned themselves to postpone or ignore any number of activities because they:

  • have become conditioned to heightened arousal stemming from completing a task at the last minute,
  • have issues with fear, perceived failure, or
  • they avoid decision-making because they don’t want to make a mistake or take responsibility for their outcomes.

Whichever is the case, you can recondition yourself to tackle work without delay.

When it comes to work you are paid to perform, it doesn’t pay to put it off. It can cost you your productivity, your sense of accomplishment, your reputation and even your continued employment. Top talent employees are admired not only for their expertise, but also for their ability to get things done in a timely manner.

Recognizing your tendency to procrastinate is a first step to changing the maladaptive behavior. See it and admit it. Understanding why you do it – arousal response, fear/failure reaction or decision immobilization – gets you to the root cause. Finally, realizing the fallacy behind each can help deflate the power they have over you.

Deferring work until the last minute because you think you work better under pressure is an untruth. You may have more incentive to get busy because you are under the gun to meet a deadline, but it doesn’t result in improved work product. In fact, more errors are made under stress and little time is left for adequate review and correction. And procrastinating to the last minute never wins you team praise. Coworkers are more apt to be irritated by eleventh-hour deliverables.

Fear of not knowing how to tackle a job or worry about potential failure isn’t cause to hold off starting a project. The fear is a result of the story you tell yourself about a future event. Anxiety subsides once you dive in. And, it’s true; you learn by doing. Trust that you’ll have what you need, including knowledge, as you begin and progress through an assignment.

Postponement because of indecision creates approach-avoidance angst. The best way to beat it is to decide and move forward full speed ahead. Yes, you might make a wrong choice; no one gets it right 100 percent of the time. You’re human. Plus, once you take a stab in one direction, you can autocorrect and go in the opposite direction with time to spare. Just do it.

If procrastination is your Achilles’ heel, you can employee some techniques to kick your habit and shift into high gear.

  1. Disregard how you “feel.” Use your rational, intellectual barometer instead and get started anyway. Once you start a project, it’s never as bad as preconceived notions you had about it. Actually, it usually is far easier and brings great satisfaction to get on top of and complete. As far as feelings go, you’ll feel far better working on a job than shelving it. Using depression as an example, depressed individuals often state that they don’t feel like partaking in activities, but the very activities make them feel less depressed.
  2. Break your project into mini bits. It’s easier to tackle a smaller task than one gigantic one. You’ll feel better and better with each completed step. Even an outline of what you need to do is a small action that you can complete and celebrate. Schedule time on your calendar for each little stage of the project.
  3. Challenge your assumptions. You’ll find that you can disprove most of them when it comes to procrastination. Oddly enough, creativity begets more creativity. Magically, it’s as if just jumping in gets the wheels turning.

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