The One Most Often Overlooked Interview Question

shutterstock_175330532

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.

 

 

 

 

What You Should Know Before Signing a Severance Agreement

Man signing contract

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

shutterstock_115174897

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

shutterstock_516407650

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.

shutterstock_636250157

Break Free From The Job Search Grind This Independence Day

LinkedIn-4th-of-Job-Special

Take your life back, have more time and free yourself from the monotonous work of trying to land your dream job.

Let it go. We’ve got this.

Fridayd will not only find the most relevant job opportunities for you. We’ll complete and submit applications on your behalf, discover networking connections for targeted companies, track all of your processes and keep your job search moving.

No one wants to be shackled with the tedium of finding a new job. And you don’t have to be.

Register now to let Fridayd manage your search and take advantage of our Independence Day special rate of $39 for our standard plan or $69 for our premium plan.

And, hey, you’re not bound to stay with us. If you don’t like the results you get with Fridayd, you are free to cancel at any time.

*Offer ends Saturday, July 8.

 

Tips on Sidestepping the Salary History Question: New Legislation Helps

shutterstock_331290413

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slick Way to Fly Your Job Search Under the Radar

shutterstock_526494241

When you already have a job but are looking for another one, there is some good advice on how to keep you search under the radar and not send any red flags to an existing employer. Many tips, such as those offered by Forbes in “How To Conduct A Successful Stealth Job Search (Without Getting Fired),” may seem like common sense, yet those seeking new employment may not take them into consideration in their haste to move their job search along.

Another way to keep a job search on the QT and not risk its intrusion into your current job is to allow experts to manage your job search for you. With over 40 million passive, white-collar job seekers looking for new opportunities every month in the US, there is stiff competition for available jobs. In addition to adding hours to your day before or after work for your search, it can be tempting to try to stay on top of your search during work hours.

The reality is, you don’t have to, and there is every good reason not to, including a more efficient and less stressful job search experience.

Fridayd emerged as a way to primarily help passive job seekers by using technology combined with human support to take away the burden of searching for a new job while already employed. Using its unique approach, Fridayd:

  • conducts your search for you, while you stay focused on the job at hand
  • follows companies of interest for you
  • submits resumes and completes applications on your behalf
  • finds the appropriate networking connections for targeted companies
  • reduces online job search time to 30 minutes or less per week

You can keep your job search moving full steam ahead effectively and without drawing attraction to your planned exit ahead. While your sitting in a meeting with colleagues, you can secretly smile, knowing your job search is taking place behind the scenes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The No-nonsense Guide to Networking Anyone Can Follow

shutterstock_524301343

Networking is tops in business – and especially in searching for a new job. Yet, the very thought of cold introductions and engaging with a crowd of strangers isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. For all but the most extroverted professional, assertive initiatives, shaking hands and striking up conversations feels like work, especially when there is an agenda attached.

Networking doesn’t have to be so hard, though, advises Carlos Paz, CEO of Fridayd. For most people, one-on-one interactions are easier and more gratifying. To that end, think of your connections as individual touch points to start and nurture relationships because relationship-building is what networking in all about.

“Most people view networking as attending large-scale or formal events designed just for that purpose. Those events are great, but you may be able to make more headway with a more targeted approach when it comes to searching for a new job,” said Paz.

You can network anytime and anywhere with people you connect with in your daily life. Just mentioning your interest in landing a new position in casual conversations can be a great opener to discover new opportunities. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. You can be more deliberate in your approach, though, by connecting with people you think may have greater insights into available jobs.

Follow these easy steps to build targeted networking into your daily job search activities:

  • Reach out to one existing contact everyday by phone or email to stay in touch and ask about job openings they may be aware of. Ask if you can share your resume and if the connection will forward it on if he/she learns of a suitable opening. Email is a less-threating way to connect that even the most introverted job seeker can undertake. However, nothing beats an actual conversation by phone or in person. Continually rotate through your list of contacts so you stay top of mind with your friends, former colleagues and business associates.
  • Schedule lunch or coffee two times a week with existing contacts to nurture the relationships and discuss your search.
  • Find one activity of interest a week to get you out and mingling. It doesn’t have to be a business networking event. You can meet people pursuing any passion or interest. What’s key is weaving in the right job search questions in your conversations.
  • Strike up conversations with neighbors about positions you are seeking.
  • Directly email a recruiter at companies you apply to. Don’t just apply and think you’ve done all that you can do. Get your foot in the door, introduce yourself and start a relationship through email or even by phone. Note, however, that most recruiters may screen incoming calls. You may have a better chance grabbing attention with email.
  • Work your LinkedIn contacts like a honey badger. Don’t just reach out once. Check back often to see if your contacts know of any emerging positions. Ask for introductions to second and third connections who may be helpful in your search. Most professionals are willing to help, and you may get a chance to return the favor down the road. Don’t be shy about asking for assistance.
  • Research and discover recruiters at targeted companies that don’t currently have an open position. Introduce yourself and share your resume. Many positions don’t make it to the job posting stage. You can raise awareness of your interest and credentials in the event that a position does become available.

Face-to-face encounters are superior for connecting and creating new relationships in your job search, but you can still make an impression, form new alliances and nurture your contacts in other ways. “The most important thing,” said Paz, “is that you make networking a primary part of your job search activities and that you don’t slack in this area. There are so many communications channels to take advantage of; even super socially inhibited professionals can network easily.”

 

 

 

6 Tips to Prevent Burning Bridges When You Leave a Job

shutterstock_200625674

The best way to leave a job that’s not working out is a voluntary exit. You resign, serve out your final weeks and gracefully walk away with relationships intact and in good standing. That’s the ideal, but it frequently doesn’t work out that way.

Companies let employees go for myriad of reasons: poor performance, personality differences, incompatible work styles or goals, decreased budgets, downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, etc. Employees exiting a company for these reasons can still leave with poise and dignity while preserving relationships.

Understandably, losing a job for any reason causes hurt, anger and grief, but feelings can be put aside for your greater long-term good. The following tips will help you if you find yourself in the position of losing a job.

  1. Regardless of whether you think you deserve to lose your job or not, accept the company’s decision; don’t fight it. Ask questions to clarify the reasons for the decision and to determine if there is something you could have done differently, but don’t let anger lead your ego into a caustic exchange of words that you can never take back. By the time your manager or the company gives you notice, the decision is already set in stone.
  2. Keep negativity at bay. Just as if you were leaving by choice, thank the manager or human resources representative for the opportunity you had to contribute and work together.
  3. Ask if there are any options to continue working on a contract basis. Even when a company lets an employee go because of team fit or personality conflicts, the employee’s talent may still be valued. If you can negotiate such a deal, it enables you to state on your resume that you are still employed in some capacity.
  4. Companies don’t like to fire employees. Those who conduct the termination may experience their own guilt and bad feelings. Ask if they have any referrals that can help you in your job search. You could be surprised by their willingness to help.
  5. Say only good things about the company and the people you no longer will work with. Refrain from writing a damaging Glassdoor review or making any destructive comments on social media. You may feel better in the moment that you are venting, but such airing of emotions only hurts you in the long run.
  6. Once you leave, have a cooling-off period before you engage with people who were former employees. It’s tempting to speak poorly of the company or those who let you go. And it keeps you immersed in the event rather than focused on moving forward, learning from the experience and being better for it.

Vow to find the lessons and the good in losing your job. Business relationships don’t always work out, but you can retain the connections you made and leave a position on a more positive note than you might imagine possible.

 

29bff9b7f71b7447d6c75628bc58279b

 

The Secret to Finding Meaningful Work

shutterstock_385696891

For some job seekers, finding work or a career that is meaningful is a job search objective. However, gratifying work may have multiple meanings from person to person.

Doing work that helps others, improves the world or aids in a human-interest cause is purposeful for many. Saving the planet, healing the sick, or fighting for justice are such altruistic pursuits. Yet others find meaning in being highly challenged to grow a company or generate more wealth.

An artist, musician, actor or writer may find meaning in the creative process, akin to how many feel using their dominant traits or skills, e.g., math, science, construction, mechanical, communication skills, etc.

Work seems to be most meaningful when you can combine top interests, skills and natural talents. Time flies and there is a sense of “flow” in the activities of work. It’s an almost magical experience in which work doesn’t feel like work.

But not everyone has that experience of work, nor the opportunity to spend their days immersed in what interests them most and to collect a paycheck for it. As it turns out, though, all work can have meaning with the right approach to it.

What’s the secret to making all work purposeful?

Just doing good work can create a sense of meaning and increased gratification. Likewise, viewing interactions with coworkers, customers and business partners as acts of service and kindness can bring joy and purpose to any job. Knowing that your work is contributing to building a company that provides for the livelihood of all its employees has worth, and doing the job before you, whatever it is, to support loved ones can have great import.

Oddly enough, trying to discover true interests or passions as they relate to work can also cause added pressure when searching for a new job. It’s a luxury that wasn’t always afforded to past generations.

Everyone wants to find their dream job, but almost everyone will at times do work that is not their ideal gig. Meaningful work, like many things, often depends on the attitude and gusto brought to it.