Posted on: July 18th, 2017 by
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If the annual budget shows that pay increases are to be an average of 3% for the year, it means that the spread of individual pay raises can be from 0% to 6% or more. Where you are within that spread will depend on a number of factors, some of which are:


  • What has been your performance during the year? Are you a high performer? How is your performance measured? Do you and your boss agree?
  • Where you are within the range? If you’re at the lower end of the range and a high performer, your raise should be higher than if you are at the upper end of the range and a low performer.
  • Do you directly affect the performance of the unit? Those that directly add to revenue or reduce costs are more likely to receive higher raises than others.
  • Is your organization’s philosophy “pay for performance” or are you on a “pay for length of service” program. If pay is indexed to your years of service and you receive pay increases at a predetermined rate each year, performance is less of a factor.
  • Some organizations provide for reduced compensation but have above average benefits, like company paid health insurance, a high 401k match by the company, and so on.
  • Other companies are just the opposite, where compensation has both high pay and terrific incentive compensation, but just adequate benefits. These are mostly high growth companies.
  • There are other factors but we’ll stop here.


So, back to how your pay raise works.


One of the ways to gain insight into how your organization manages pay raises is to do your own research: “What is the percent target point that your organization pays, relative to the industries in which you compete?” In other words, each company competes against others in their industry but may have a target of paying as low as the 25th percentile or as high as the 75th percentile. This information will tell you if you have an aggressive pay program to attain and retain the best talent.


With all things being equal, lower paying companies within a competitive industry may find a higher turnover rate, as high performers leave for greener pastures. Some companies feel that people can be replaced easily. Higher paying companies on the other hand, may seek out higher performers, pay them better and attract, then retain them at a higher rate.


Implication to you? The success of your organization will affect your compensation. In a turnaround situation, you may be hired and paid extremely well, however the risk is also high.

Stable companies with slower incremental growth tend to have stable employment.


Implication to you? People in general tend to gravitate to the organization that more closely parallels their own philosophy and are comfortable with the pay practices.


Implication to you?   Your company’s pay practice and management philosophy will directly and dramatically impact your total compensation over time.


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Posted on: July 11th, 2017 by
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Ask yourself, “What ‘s the purpose of a reference?” If you think that a reference is for someone to say great things about you, think again.


There are two fundamental reasons for a reference:


First, to validate the basic information you provided about your work history: Title, length of service, compensation, job responsibilities and function, reporting relationship, reason for leaving and other essential job related facts. Almost no company will provide performance or personal data. There is little you can do to influence this factual information. Information on your resume, in LinkedIn, social media and the company data must be the same. Any differences and your resume will be tossed in the trash. It’s too much trouble for companies to problem solve the discrepancies while there are other candidates who don’t have an issue.


Second, to provide information about the content and value of your prior work. This reference takes the form of professional or supervisory managers that you usually are asked to provide. These are managers who are most knowledgeable about your work/performance. Past bosses are the most requested. Here are some ways to optimize the value of these references:


  • The higher the boss, the greater the value in the eyes of the hiring organization. Officers are the best since they have a wider view of your contribution. If you had a problem with your direct boss, see if you can move up the organizational ladder for a better review.
  • Check with your references to make sure they are willing to provide a positive reference for you. Some managers are reluctant or can’t, for whatever reason.
  • Of those managers that agree, provide them with an outline of the job you are pursuing and the key responsibilities you are to assume. That will give them a good idea of the key questions they may get.


  • MAJOR POINT: Refresh their memories about the performance and results you achieved in their organization. Most managers will remember some but not all of your contributions
  • MAJOR POINT: Suggest that you send them an outline of the key items of the new job in parallel with the key items of past results from their organization that supports your candidacy
  • MAJOR POINT: Send them the key talking points you want them to give. Thank them for their help and support. Tell them that you appreciate their efforts on your behalf and you’ll let them know how it turns out.


Try not to give the same references to several organizations at the same time. Hold back your references until after you interview. You’ll want to save your references for the opportunities you really want to pursue, after you have interviewed with the new organization. Don’t overuse important references with jobs you later decide you’re not interested in.


References are the last step in the job search process. Use them wisely and effectively.


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Posted on: July 4th, 2017 by
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Want to be a billionaire? Easy. Just create an app (application) that everyone wants or needs. On the other hand, if you don’t know how to turn a computer on, it will be much more difficult. Somewhere between these two points is a rational way to move up the job ladder.


Here’s some information that may help to understand the impact of technology:

  • From 1900 until now, those working on farms dropped to 2% from 42%
  • In her lifetime, my mother saw the first automobile, then saw men land on the moon
  • Almost 50% of all American jobs will be affected by automation over the next 20 years
  • 35% of most Americans believe they have been displaced by technology


So, what does this tell us? The answer: Technology has created winners and losers. The question is, which side of the equation will you be as time moves on? Technology has been a net job creator, but only if you learn to use it for your own benefit.


Who will be the losers?

  • Those who don’t have a up to date computer or access to one
  • Those who don’t know how to use a computer in their functional area
  • Those who haven’t kept up to date in their filed of expertise


Who will be the winners?

  • Those who at a minimum can navigate the web and applications in their function
  • Those who take on-line courses or programs that sharpen the skill sets in their field
  • Those who can continually apply new technology to their functional expertise


Until and unless there is an educational upgrade that teaches courses and studies using computers, a large segment of the population will be unprepared for the future. Other countries are much more advanced than we. It’s embarrassing to learn that multiple U.S. government agencies are using a 20-year-old technology.


So what can we do about it? I have three solutions. Please add your own:

  • Find out what the for-profit, non-profit and government sectors need, not what the schools want to teach
  • Increase workforce training, from the bottom up rather from the top down
  • Involve companies to help train students at the elementary and high school levels
  • Emphasize efficiency, performance improvement and reward innovation, especially in the government sector


Since we know where the future is headed, we should prepare ourselves to meet it. And technology is one of the answers.


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Posted on: June 27th, 2017 by
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What do you do when you get a “Thanks for your application, but… no thanks”, for a job for which you are highly qualified? Do you scream at the gods of bad luck? Do you try to find out what you did wrong or why you weren’t the “chosen one”? Well good luck with that! My experience is that you’ll get a standard response, “The search was very competitive, and while your background is strong, we had to chose a finalist candidates that came the closest to fulfilling our needs”. Sound familiar?


Experience has shown that there are four basic ways to respond to a turndown: Forget it, resubmit a stronger resume, search for an internal connection, or go directly to the hiring manager. Let’s discuss each one.


  • Forget it! If they’re not smart enough to see your value, that’s their problem!   Of course, that assumes you have clearly articulated your value through measurable and definitive results. Sometimes a computer screens your resume looking for multiple key words. Other times a screening individual may not understand your experiences that parallel the hiring manager’s needs. If you have other strong opportunities to pursue or you don’t meet the minimum requirements, it’s probably best to move on.


  • Go back and fine-tune your resume to make it compelling. Most resumes that I work with have undervalued the achievements of the candidate. Resumes must be compelling in order to get a screening telephone call. What should you do? Carefully match your experiences with the words in the position description: Word for word when possible. Make sure you have inserted key measurable results that are required by the hiring organization. Numbers speak much louder then words.


  • Research the company through Google or LinkedIn to see if you know someone already in the organization. Check out associations, like College Alumni, trade or professional groups. Once you find a connection, send an email to introduce yourself in a positive way and ask if you can meet with them. Example: “As a fellow alumni of XXX College, I’d like to find out more about your industry…” A well-developed and tailored email can usually get you a meeting or phone call. Of course this step should have been done beforehand.


  • Contact the hiring manager directly. This option may be more difficult, but not impossible. Simply call the company and ask for the department head of your function to get a name. Usually you’ll get the department secretary or administrative assistant who will say, “Mr. Smith’s office, or Ms. Jones’ telephone”. Be ready with your introduction, saying that you want to send a communications to Mr. Smith but need his office or email address.


Finding your way back into contention needs to be a bold and strong move on your part and it starts with a bold and strong resume that compels the hiring manager to reconsider.


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Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by
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Separating from an organization causes all kinds of personal and professional problems Most issues can be overcome. There are two kinds of terminations: Those that are easily explained away and others that can ruin your reputation or career if not handled well.


All dissolutions from an employee/employer relationship need a special kind of job search strategy. Rather than walking away to a better job, your employer is walking away from you, for a reason. That reason is critical to your career. Here are some solutions.


Ruinous termination. When an employee is terminated “for cause”, it means they have violated a company policy or legal issue. Examples are: Theft, sexual harassment, behaviors that negative actions toward the organization, a felony, or a number of other serious actions. Your income stops and forces you into the job market with no resources.

Suggestion. Attempt to resign rather than be terminated. You might be able to talk your way through a resignation rather than a termination with a new employer. However, you’ll still need to answer the question, “why”?


Situational termination. While the statement, “We’re reorganizing” is scary to most employees; it’s not as crushing as a termination “for cause”. This situation can easily be explained away while seeking another job. Most hiring managers have been involved in a similar situation themselves over the past 10 or 15 years. They know the cause of the termination was out of your control. Your objective is to show that performance was not the issue, but rather the company decided on a strategic redirection of its resources.

Suggestion: Be prepared to document your current performance, from your entry to your exit.   If you can’t validate your contributions you’ll have a more difficult job search. You have to convince any potential employer that you weren’t let go because of your lack of performance.


Requested termination. Even though a voluntary termination is unusual, your job search strategy can be strengthen because of it. An advantage is that you get into the marketplace early, before hundreds more flood the market. Sometimes you’ll be asked to stay through the reorganization, or better yet because of your performance, to stay on at a higher-level position. If you resign early, ask for an early severance allowance to carry you over the transition. Another alternative is to ask that you continue to contribute as an employee while looking for another job. Suggestion. Deciding on the best alternative is dependent upon your relationship with the boss and the considerate nature of the organization. Some organization will be receptive to the idea (less hassle later) while others may not (less caring about their employees).


Terminating a relationship with your employer is not a pleasant experience, no matter what the reason. However, it’s a time to reevaluate your career and develop a strategy to come out ahead. The key to the transition is: Sound planning, documented performance, alternative strategies and perseverance.


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