Let’s Talk Money

It’s that uncomfortable part of every job seeker’s journey to a better opportunity—the salary discussion. Part of my job is to negotiate salaries, so I know it can be touchy subject. But without a recruiter to have the “money talk” for you, how do you ensure you’re paid what you’re worth? Here are some tactics I’ve seen work over the years:

Speak up
Ask and you shall receive…something, at least. Don’t expect to get what you want right out the gate. You will need to be direct in communicating your wants. If it’s more money, say it. If it’s a relocation package, say it. If it’s stock options, say it. Now’s the time to negotiate the terms of your employment, not after you’ve already been hired.

Be realistic
Not all companies have the cash flow to offer up huge monetary incentives right out the gate. If this is the case, you may want to negotiate incremental pay increases based on performance, bigger commission percentages or bonuses. Remember that cash is not the only pawn you have to play. Incentives can come in the form of more time off, flexible work schedules and benefits. Just make sure all that’s promised is written down in your offer letter and/or contract.

Be bold
Be resolute if the offer given to you is less than you deserve—lean in! You don’t have to be combative and make heavy-handed demands, but you may have to be willing walk away if the answer is no. Above all, stand up for yourself and do what feels right for you and fits your career goals. It’s better to turn down a job offer that you don’t want than be stuck in position that you hate.

What negotiation tactics have worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re looking for a new high-tech sales position that fits your bill, contact me.


Career Advice To My Younger Self

Wisdom comes from living.
Anthony Douglas Williams

I’m a corporate war dog. I’ve seen it all over the course of my long career and my life experiences have shaped me into the kind of professional I am today. While I have to vantage of hindsight, as a novice, you don’t. If I could roll back the clock and mentor my younger self, this is what I would say:

“Take your education seriously.”
While I received a great undergraduate education (I’m a Temple alum), it’s going to take a bit more than that in today’s business landscape. I’m seeing more and more employers requiring a higher level of education these days. And while it may sound elitist, companies (especially the most prestigious ones) care about where you went to school, especially when you’re just starting out. Gaining acceptance into a top MBA program will pave the way for a long and prosperous career. These programs have an amazing network you can tap into and give you an edge when competing for internships and jobs.

“Make that first real job count.”
While it may sound exciting to join a startup right out of business school, getting your feet wet within a Fortune 500 firm will shape you into a more well-rounded professional. I would look at companies with a strong management trainee program that will allow you to experience operations within multiple departments. After you’ve gotten a grasp of the way big business works, feel free to venture out into alternative career paths—especially if you know climbing the corporate ladder isn’t right for you.

“Learn how to play the game.”
Whether it’s at a large corporation or within a small team, you will need to learn how to navigate office politics. Corporate culture varies from place to place—even from department to department—so know what you need to do to build alliances that will keep you doing your best work.

“Be comfortable with getting uncomfortable.”
Early in your career, you will likely be asked to do a lot of “grunt” work. And later in your career, you may need to diversify in order to keep moving forward with your career. You need to get over the anxiety associated with stepping out of your comfort zone if you want to succeed. Understand that fear can be an asset if you handle it correctly.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something from my experiences and incorporate my advice into your own career path. What advice would you give your younger self? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Guide on the side

Be a Guide on the Side in Corporate America

The way we communicate and the way we conduct business has changed drastically over the course of my career. So it’s no surprise the way young people are learning nowadays has evolved too. To adapt, the role of the educator has largely shifted from lecturer to “guide on the side.” Teachers are no longer the source of information, they are facilitators and curators of information—empowering students to think for themselves. So how can we apply this model to a professional setting? Here are some tips on how to adopt this methodology and reap the results in the corporate world:

Ask, Don’t Tell
A cornerstone of guided instruction is the notion of student-centered learning. With this approach, students are encouraged to contribute ideas and even help plan curriculum. Lessons are initiated with questions, not long, drawn-out lectures.

Similarly, many innovative companies have adopted an employee-centered work environment. Google allows its engineers to construct their own work spaces. Zappos has weaved in team building activities into its company culture. At Apple, your work isn’t only evaluated by your superiors but by your peers as well.

Companies such as these have realized that good ideas don’t necessarily come from the top down. And just like educators have observed in student-centered classrooms, employee-centered workplaces offer better opportunities for internal motivation, goal setting and perseverance.

Change the Game
What works for some, may not work for all. It’s up to the educator or manager to recognize this and change their approach when needed. National educational consultant and author, Rick Wormeli has said, “I might teach the way that’s uncomfortable for me, but that’s fine. My success comes from my students’ success.” Same goes for managers. Their team’s success is a reflection of how well they lead.

Teaching strategies like think-ask-tell and KWL foster collaboration and critical thinking that can be implemented in department meetings and performance reviews. Using the KWL technique as an example, employees would be prompted to state what they know about their current role and what they would like to learn as they progress. Then, when the next performance period rolls around, that supervisor can review that employee’s initial thoughts and ask him or her to reflect on what he or she has learned.

Certainly, applying new managerial strategies are not easy and require effort from all levels of employees. But, fostering a collaborative, engaged team that is passionate about the work they do will only generate positive results.

Do you work for an employee-centered organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the effectiveness of this environment.

Hello? How well do you phone interview?

As more hiring managers are pressed for time, phone interviews have become commonplace as an initial screening for candidates. While not fighting traffic and interviewing from the comforts of home sound amazing, there are some downsides to the phone interview. You won’t be able to rely on visual cues or exude professionalism with your appearance. So, how do you prepare? Here are some tips to make sure your phone interview leads to a face-to-face:

Can you hear me now?

There’s nothing more annoying than dropped calls. If you’re planning to use your cell phone, make sure that your battery is fully charged and you are in an area with good reception. Even moving from one room to another in the same house can make all the difference. If you have a smartphone, make sure you turn off your notifications for the duration of the interview. You don’t want to get distracted with personal text messages or email notifications. Additionally, turning on your “do not disturb” setting will avoid interruptions by incoming calls.

Be serious, yet, positive

Don’t underestimate the phone interview, it might be your only shot at the job. Some candidates find standing to be empowering. But if that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, just sit up straight. Regardless of which technique works for you, be confident. Go beyond the traditional “hello” when greet your interviewer. Business guru Brent Peterson suggests you start the call by saying “Hello, this is [your name]” or “Hi [interviewer]. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.” By stating your name or the interviewer’s name, you put the interviewer at ease that they have reached the right person and that you are ready to talk. Keep this positive momentum going: unclench your fists, relax your facial muscles and put on a natural smile.

Say it like to you mean it

During an in person interview, tripping over your words or speaking over the interviewer may not be as noticeable. You don’t have this luxury over the phone. Answer questions directly and elaborate when necessary without being long-winded. A good rule of thumb is keeping responses to under two minutes. Don’t “confuse the interviewer’s silence…as an invitation to keep talking,” advises UNC-Chapel Hill career services director Jeff Sackaroff, “wait for the interviewer to respond.” Keep in mind that how you speak is just as important as what you say.

Avoid distractions or being a distraction

Just because you are conducting an interview from home, remember that you are working. Your full attention must be on what the interviewer is saying. Now is not the time to fold laundry, update your Facebook status or tidy up. Block off up to an hour for the interview, ensuring your interview space is quiet. Likewise, don’t be a distraction. Avoid nervous ticks such as tapping your pen, rocking back and forth on a squeaky chair or breathing heavily are sounds that can be very distracting for the interviewer. Another tip: Stay hydrated. You will likely be talking—a lot. So, avoid an uncontrollable cough or incessant throat clearing with a glass of water at your side.

Want to talk more about phone interviews? Leave me a comment or give me a call.



Talk Like a Leader

I recently stumbled upon a wonderful little book that challenged me to take a look at the way I communicate. The Leader Phrase Book contains thousands of phrases and provides great communication tips, written in a way that is relatable and adaptable to any business situation. From what to say during a negotiation to how to ask for a raise, this book is a terrific resource for professionals. Here are the takeaways I found to be most insightful:

Use a professional, non-confrontational tone.
Be confident, but don’t let that confidence come across as arrogant, aggressive or dismissive. When you’ve made a decision, be resolute but be open to others’ opinions. Even when you don’t heed to your colleagues’ requests, you will remain a respectable figure if you are diplomatic and emotionally even-keeled. No one likes to feel threatened.

Speak clearly and briefly, but know when to keep quiet.
We’ve all been there. Stuck in a meeting with someone who seems to love the sound of his or her own voice. Don’t be that person. If you tend to be long-winded, recognize that you are engaged in a two-way conversation and allow your colleagues an opportunity to engage. Silence can work to your advantage. Don’t interrupt. Wait until after someone has completed their thought before interjecting with questions.

Be personable, not exclusive.
Everyone likes to feel like they have some decision-making power. Making sure everyone feels like they have a stake in the overall outcome builds alliances. This is especially important when working with cross-disciplinary teams. A true leader knows he or she can’t accomplish their goals alone.

What communication tactics do you find effective? What qualities do you look for in a leader? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below.