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I Got a Counter-Offer! Woo-Hoo???

image Congratulations… you got a new job offer that you like! Then, when you went back to give notice to your current employer they said: “Hey wait! We don’t want to lose you, we’ll beat your new offer!”

Great news… right?

Maybe… but probably not!

More money always sounds nice… but here are some things to consider before accepting that counter-offer and staying at your current company…

 

Why were you willing to interview in the first place? Although it’s not necessarily a bad thing to consider other opportunities that may be available to you, people that are fulfilled in their current job rarely take the time to interview for something else. The prospect of more money can be attractive, however, overall job satisfaction is rarely a function of someone’s salary. Getting a significant raise in your current job is not likely to address the other reasons you were open to interviewing for a new position in the first place. The culture hasn’t changed, your boss hasn’t changed, the job responsibilities haven’t changed, your co-workers haven’t changed, the commute hasn’t changed, the stress, hours, and expectations haven’t changed… so will the extra money really improve your situation? Not likely!

Statistically, you’re doomed! Depending on which research you believe, somewhere between 50% and 80% of people that accept a counter-offer from their current employer, are no longer employed at that company within 6 months! There are a number of reasons for this, including:

  • Un-kept promises by the employer made in the counter-offer
  • Career growth is hampered because the employer now questions your loyalty
  • Greater frustration at things that haven’t changed
  • Increased rivalry with peers due to them seeing you getting a better deal
  • New projects or opportunities are withheld because your commitment is in question
  • …and many others

Your employer made a counter-offer only to buy time to create a better transition. When an employee submits an unexpected resignation, an employer often panics, wondering how they will get projects and deadlines met while they are short a person. Finding, hiring, and training a new employee takes time and things can fall behind in the meantime. The quickest, easiest, and usually most cost-effective solution is to offer more money for the existing person to stay until a smoother transition can be made.

Employers know the statistics of people that accept counter-offers as well, and know it’s not likely the person will stay long. However, by making the offer, and keeping the person for a while longer, they can plan a transition that will keep things from falling behind. No matter how much they value you as an employee, they now know you are dissatisfied in your job and a great flight risk in the near term. They no longer view you as a long-term employee, but as someone they need to keep only until they can figure out their “Plan B”.

Although a counter-offer may feel flattering, and look attractive on paper, it virtually never makes sense to accept it. Once you’ve come to a point that you decide to accept another job, the best path for your career is to follow through regardless of what your current employer may offer. Ultimately, your career will benefit.


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A LinkedIn Profile That Works!

image As I’ve said many times before, LinkedIn is a game changer when it comes to an effective job search in today’s online world. There has never been a resource that made it as easy to find the critical information you need when you’re looking for a new job… Companies, Contacts, Interview Prep information, Comparative Job Histories, and venues to discuss topics and challenges related to any job, field, or industry. It’s incredible… and that’s no overstatement.

As much as LinkedIn can be used proactively to gain the information needed, it sure is nice to be “found” once in awhile and pursued for potential opportunities as well. The key to being found, is having a profile that works!

What gets attention, what gets read, what improves your chances of getting a call or an email?

As a recruiter, I look at hundreds of LinkedIn profiles. It’s one of the most powerful and effective tools I have in finding qualified candidates for positions I’m trying to fill. What makes me move on and what gets me to reach out? Here are some key points…

Keywords – Keywords – Keywords!!! The only way anyone is found is by someone entering some keywords in the search box for what they are looking for. Generally, it’s not practical to “browse” 80 MILLION profiles in the hopes of stumbling across the right person. They will enter some words to find people with that specific background. Here’s the tough part… there is no dictionary of terms used to find certain skills. Anyone running a search has to figure it out for themselves.

So… take the time to think about “what are all the possible search terms someone might use to find someone like me?” Then make sure all those words are somewhere in your profile. If someone is looking for a “Payroll Manager”, and you were a “Payroll Supervisor”, they may not find you if you don’t have the word “Manager” in your profile. Incorporate the different terms in your job descriptions if you can. Otherwise, it’s perfectly fine to simply have a list of additional keywords somewhere at the bottom of your profile. Be honest about your background, but make sure you turn up in the appropriate searches!

Short Substantive Sound-bites! Like a resume, a LinkedIn profile will typically only get scanned for a few seconds before the reader decides whether you are worth pursuing further or not. In that quick scan, short phrases will get read and long sentences and paragraphs will not. A paragraph may make a powerful argument why you’re a dynamite prospect, but if it never gets read, it has no impact at all.

Figure out what things in your background are the most important, most marketable, and most in demand in your field, and make those experiences pop out in your profile. Take long descriptions and figure out what are the most important points to get across from each sentence. Make those points in a few words in separate bullet points. Each bullet does not have to be a complete sentence, and will have more impact in a few well chosen words.

  • 4 consecutive years of 15% or greater sales growth

will more likely get read, and has more impact than…

  • Sales production increased by 15% or more in year-over-year growth in each of the last four fiscal years due to increased efforts and new strategies.

The first example has more impact and gets more results, however, the second example is the norm because it seems more complete. In your LinkedIn profile as in your resume, it’s better to be effective than it is to have complete explanations!

“Call me!” Unless you are directly connected as a first level connection in LinkedIn, your contact information is not visible to the reader. If you are hoping to be contacted, make it easy for them to contact you! Put your phone number and email address in the Summary section at the top of your profile. Don’t make them have to send an introduction through another user, or use up one of their “In Mails”, or have to scroll to the bottom of your profile, or try to look you up in some other way. The easier it is, the more likely they will connect.

When I’m hunting for a good candidate for a position I’m working on, and find someone that seems like they might be qualified, but can’t tell for sure from their profile… I will likely call if their contact information is easy to find. If it’s not in their profile and I can’t easily find it otherwise, I will generally simply move on to another candidate… there are plenty to look at. If your profile is on the bubble in their mind, you’d rather get a chance to make your case rather than just have them move on… make it easy to for them to connect!

Make yourself real! Pictures have an interesting effect on LinkedIn. While I would not recommend that anyone put a picture on their resume, having a picture on LinkedIn often sways me to make a call rather than move on. When someone’s profile looks like they might have relevant experience for the position I’m working on, but it’s not crystal clear… I will often connect with them to find out more if they have a professional looking picture displayed. It personalizes it, and makes them more of a real person than a faceless listing.

The picture must be a professional headshot. A vacation picture, or a picture of your boat, or pet, or kids tells me that they don’t understand that LinkedIn is a Professional networking site, not equivalent to Facebook or MySpace. The profile pictures are tiny, a full body shot or even a half body shot will not allow anyone to see your face well enough to make it personal. Get up-close, wear professional clothing (at least on the neck), and smile!

They LIKE me!” Get recommended! When looking at a profile, I usually look to see if anyone had recommended them. Since LinkedIn allows you to choose which recommendations are visible on your profile and which aren’t, I always assume they are positive so I almost never take the time to read what the recommendations actually say. However, the fact that someone was willing to write something positive about them creates a good impression.

The easiest way to get recommendations… is to give them. Write recommendations on LinkedIn for previous managers, co-workers, customers, or vendors. Usually, at least half the time, they will return the favor. Three or four are good, it’s not necessary or even particular helpful to have 10 or more.

 

LinkedIn is a great place to have more information than your resume. It’s not necessary to limit yourself to two pages as you should in your resume. However, although you can have more overall length, each line should be shorter. Include all the appropriate keywords you can, include your contact information, include a professional picture, and get recommendations. You will greatly improve your chances of getting found.


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Your Elevator Speech: Keep It Simple Silly

image So often, when job seekers give their Elevator Speech at a networking event or when asked in a formal environment, they give an overly “slick” or a too detailed recitation.

A key to success in networking with others, is for them to clearly understand what you do and what you are looking for. If you come across as if you’re trying to impress them too much, or if they don’t “get” what you do, you won’t get results. Furthermore, if your Elevator Speech is too complex, you’re not likely to use it in situations where it might be most useful… like when you meet an old friend, neighbor, or co-worker on the street, at the grocery store, or at the mall.

When crafting, practicing, and using your Elevator Speech… it’s most effective when you remember to KISS (Keep It Simple Silly)!

Although an Elevator Speech is often used in various formal networking events, the most effective use is when you run into someone informally, and you get into a conversation about what you do. When you mention that you are looking for a job, the logical question in response is: What do you do? or What are you looking for?

How you respond to those questions will make all the difference in the world as to whether you get helpful referrals or a blank stare. Even in the formal networking environment, simpler explanations get better responses than complicated ones.

Often, people give too much detail about their experience or the specific type of job they are looking for. They use too much corporate lingo or acronyms. If the listener is in the same field, they may understand all that. However, in most cases, the listener isn’t in the same industry or field and most of it goes over their heads. They may nod in agreement because they may think they ought to know what you’re talking about, but they won’t be able to give any help.

Your goal is to make the complex simple. Make it easy to understand regardless of who’s listening, and don’t narrow down what you’re asking of them to the point that they can’t think of anyone for you.

When your job is simple, don’t make it complex! The vast majority of people have a basic understanding of what an accountant does. There’s no need to give too much detail. Your goal from the person is for them to refer anyone they know in your field, industry, or that might be a good connector. Don’t limit who they may refer to you. The more people you connect to, the better your odds of finding one with the best targeted referral for you.

Compare two descriptions, which is likely to be more easily understood by a “layman” and elicit more referrals?…

For the past 6 years I’ve been in Internal Auditing with 5 years prior to that in Cost Accounting. Most of my experience has been in a consumer goods manufacturing environment with an additional few years in food manufacturing.

Or…

For the past 11 years I’ve built a career in various aspects of Accounting. I’ve primarily worked in manufacturing environments, however, my skills are transferable to other industries as well.

If your career background is not as easily understood (i.e. a UNIX Systems Engineer), it’s important to make it easy to get an idea of what you’re targeting. Compare these two descriptions…

I’m a UNIX Systems Engineer specializing in Kernel development and PERL scripting. I’m also responsible for load balancing and capacity planning of Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX servers.

Or…

I’m a Computer Engineer specializing in UNIX operating systems. I make sure that the back-office systems always run smoothly and I prevent downtime.

Your follow up questions should always be something like…

Who else do you know that may work in corporate technology departments?

Who else do you know that might work for a manufacturing company?

Who else do you know in Accounting at any company, as they may know of other good referrals?

Who do you know that seems to be well connected into a number of companies?

Who do you know that seems to be a good connector to other people?

If you were in my situation, who would you talk to?

Who else do you know that might be worthwhile for me to talk to?

 

Brevity is a virtue. Generally, you’ll have someone’s full attention for a few seconds. Convey the vital information as briefly as you can or you will lose them. Shorter is always better.

An “Elevator Speech” is also often referred to as a “30-second Resume”. I don’t care for that term, because it doesn’t have to be 30 seconds and certainly shouldn’t be more than 30 seconds. If you can say it effectively in 10 seconds, there’s no reason to make it longer. Your description and follow up questions will have greater impact when they’re shorter rather than longer.

 

If your Elevator Speech is simple and short, you are MUCH more likely to use it when you get into a conversation with someone randomly, and you will dramatically improve your chances of getting meaningful results. Keep it Simple!


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Being “Assertive” in Job Interviews

image I received a note from someone that said:

“I was told I was not assertive enough in an interview I just had.  How do you do that?”

Good question, and one that I think affects a number of job seekers. How do you express assertiveness without being over-bearing or offensive? And what does being “assertive” really mean?

One nice result of this encounter, is that the employer gave an honest critique that most people are not likely to give. It gives you a chance to do something about it for the next time around.

Here are some things to consider…

Being assertive does not mean being aggressive. It does, however, mean that you can tactfully and effectively get your point across without allowing others to take you completely off course.

When someone is told they were not assertive enough, it can be for a number of reasons, like:

  • Sounding unsure of yourself when answering questions
  • Creating an impression of being afraid to ask questions
  • Mumbling or being too quiet
  • Qualifying too many answers (i.e. “I think maybe this, but can go along with that”)
  • Showing a lack of confidence in achievements and abilities
  • Being overly agreeable to everything said by the interviewer
  • Taking too long of pauses to think of answers before responding to questions
  • Trailing off when speaking sentences instead of clearly completing a thought
  • Not having examples of taking initiative in previous jobs
  • Creating an impression of someone that waits to be told what to do

Any of these things and more can leave the interviewer with the idea that you are not assertive enough. So how do you overcome that?

Be prepared! Knowing what you will say to various questions and having specific stories of your previous accomplishments will help you express yourself with confidence when asked. Practice will make you more assured as you go. A saying in sports goes: “An amateur practices until they get it right. A professional practices until they can’t get it wrong!” Be a professional and be the best prepared candidate they are likely to interview.

Express your honest opinions… judiciously! Certainly a job interview is not the place to express opinions about politics. However, if a job related question arises where you may have constructive input, it can enhance your credibility to share it in a tactful way. This must be handled well, however, if you consistently shy away from giving your opinion when asked, it certainly will create a negative impression.

Smile! …not constantly, or at obviously inappropriate times in a conversation. However, if you are overly serious throughout the interview it tends to express uneasiness or a lack of interest. A sincere smile can do much to warm up a business relationship and to show confidence.

Don’t try to be all things to all people. It’s OK, and usually adds to your credibility to admit you don’t know something or don’t have much experience in a certain area. When someone says they can do everything, no matter what they are asked about, it either seems like the person is “blowing smoke”, or that they’re too afraid to show any weakness at all… which, ironically, is an indications of a LACK of assertiveness. A confident, assertive person will be straight forward about what they can and can not do.

Don’t be intimidated. One trait employers look for is the ability of an individual to communicate effectively with all levels in an organization. If someone clams up, or becomes very tentative in their responses when speaking with more senior leaders in a company, it certainly creates communication problems. Realizing that people are people, at every level of a company, may help you speak with confidence when asked. Respect and professionalism are important, however, being self-assured when speaking with anyone is a positive attribute.

For someone that may naturally have a more introverted personality, it may be somewhat outside of their comfort zone to exude assertiveness. However, preparation, practice, and confidence in your own skin can help present you in the best light.


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Blue-Collar or White-Collar… Different Strategies???

image

As job seekers hear various job search tactics and strategies, they often think… “That doesn’t really apply to me. Those techniques are for different kinds of jobs.”

Is that true? Are there different “rules” for ‘Blue-Collar’ vs. ‘White-Collar’ jobs?

Well… Yes… and No!

Here are some things to consider…

Online tools. While LinkedIn and other online resources are “must-haves” for an effective white-collar job search in today’s market, they are rarely used among blue-collar or ‘hourly’ job seekers. Although there may not be the same expectation by employers for a Grocery Store Cashier to have a LinkedIn profile, it can be an exceptional way to be found and to stand out from the crowd.

Because, statistically, so few blue-collar professionals utilize online tools, it is a challenge for employers to find them easily. They are often reluctant to place an ad anywhere since that brings a flood of applicants that can be difficult to sort. If you are seeking a blue-collar position, posting your information on LinkedIn and other online venues makes you one of the few that are there, you are easier to find, and more likely to get a call. Are online resources only for white-collar professionals? Not at all, so give yourself an advantage and use the same advice.

Resumes. Similar to online tools, blue-collar professionals are more likely to show up and fill out an application than to have a prepared resume. Having a well prepared representation of your work history and accomplishments, however, can be an excellent way to set yourself above the crowd. Utilizing good advice on creating an effective resume can be a great way to give yourself an advantage over the competition.

NETWORKING! Whether blue-collar or white-collar, networking and pursuing companies whether there is an applicable position posted or not is THE most effective way to land a new position! Once a job is posted online, in the newspaper, or anywhere else, the floodgates open and everyone seeking that kind of position flows into the application process. At that point, your chance of getting singled out to be considered is extremely hit-or-miss. Ideally, you are able to connect with an employer before an opening is widely known. Your chances of landing a job increase dramatically when you are a lone candidate or one of a few, versus one of dozens or hundreds. Talk to everyone you know, let them know you’re looking for a position and would be grateful for any contacts they know that may be worthwhile for you to connect with. Not just hiring managers with jobs, but others in your field, or industry, or anyone at companies you are interested in pursuing. Especially in this job market, networking is the critical strategy in gaining new employment regardless of the type of job you are seeking.

Proactively contacting employers. In today’s job market, filling out an application in-person or online, and waiting for a call is a VERY poor performing strategy. You invariably are one of dozens, or hundreds of other candidates simply doing the same thing. Regardless of the type of position you are pursuing, it’s imperative that you contact someone / anyone in the organization to make your application more personal. Be professional, be prepared (write scripts), be upbeat, and be brief! However, make the call to anyone you can find from LinkedIn or other personal networking. Introduce yourself, let them know you are pursuing opportunities through the prescribed method, but also ask if they might be able to help you make a better impression than most, by pointing you to the hiring manager, or provide advice on how to best navigate the organization. You won’t always succeed, however, when you do the results will pay off nicely. Don’t wait for a call… take the initiative yourself!

Whether pursuing an “hourly” job or an executive level position, the basics of an effective job search apply equally. Don’t dismiss ideas and strategies because your field is “different”. You’re likely to find that there’s much more that works the same way than whatever differences there may be!


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