Archive for employment tips

Women must learn to negotiate

In Australia, women earn on average 84 cents for every dollar earned by men.  This figure has remained unchanged for the entire decade.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that the average weekly ordinary time earnings for full-time adult women was less than for men in all industries. The largest difference between the earnings of full-time adult males and females occurred in the finance and insurance industry, with female earnings approximately two-thirds of male earnings (66 per cent). The difference in earnings was smallest in government administration and defence (the average earnings of full-time adult females were 91 per cent of full-time adult males).

So, it seems that negotiating pay packages is something that women, regardless of level, fail to do as successfully as men.

One way to overcome this is to approach the task armed with the relevant research.  Know all the statistics about pay scales in your industry by skill or functional level.  Most importantly, find out all the possible components of the package that you might be offered.  My experience is that women do not understand what they might ask for during a pay negotiation.  It is important to use your research information to argue logically for a greater pay increase.

A female friend of mine worked in a large multi-national organisation that was undergoing restructuring due to an economic downturn (yes, it’s happened before!).  The CEO of the organisation had addressed all the senior executives and explained this situation and that salary increases would be small for the next year.

All the participants agreed to this approach while they were in the meeting.  However, the women later found out that all of the men had negotiated a salary increase equal to that of the previous year, while they had accepted the lower level of increase.

If you are taking a new job, remember, you get one chance to negotiate your starting package.  All other salary reviews will commence from there – so it is worthwhile getting it right.

This process is also applicable to people who work part-time, on contract or on a casual basis.  Often people, particularly women who work part-time, are unjustly perceived to be less serious about their careers.  Unfortunately, many organisations still maintain the thinking that performance is to be measured in ‘face hours’, rather than in terms of outcomes and outputs.  Don’t let that stop you getting what you’re worth!

In my book, SelfScape: Success through balance, I provide many tips and techniques for determining your personal value proposition and then getting what you’re worth.

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Job application tips

Here’s an interesting tip for job seekers: hiring managers often use electronic scanners to rank candidates based on a keyword search of applications.

So, to maximise your chances of success, incorporate keywords from the job posting into your resume as they apply to your experience.

According to CareerBuilder.com, the terms employers search for most often are:

  • problem-solving and decision-making skills (50 per cent)
  • oral and written communications (44 per cent)
  • customer service or retention (34 per cent)
  • performance and productivity improvement (32 per cent)
  • leadership (30 per cent)
  • technology (27 per cent)
  • team-building (26 per cent)
  • project management (20 per cent)

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Have you been caught out on a resume lie?

Is your resume more fiction than fact?

Bending the truth can cost you the job. Although only 8 percent of workers admitted to stretching the truth on their resumes, nearly half (49 per cent) of hiring managers reported they caught a candidate lying on their resume. Of these employers, 57 per cent said they automatically dismissed the applicant. This is according to CareerBuilder.com’s latest survey of more than 3,100 hiring managers and over 8,700 workers in the US.

Thirty-six per cent of employers who received falsified applications said they still considered the candidate, but did not hire him/her. A small percentage (6 per cent) ended up hiring the applicant.

The most common lies discovered on a resume, according to the survey, include:

  • Embellished responsibilities – 38 percent
  • Skill set – 18 percent
  • Dates of employment – 12 percent
  • Academic degree – 10 percent
  • Companies worked for – 7 percent
  • Job title – 5 percent

CareerBuilder.com asked hiring managers to share the most memorable or outrageous lies they came across on resumes. Examples include:

  • Claimed to be a member of the Kennedy family
  • Invented a school that did not exist
  • Submitted a resume with someone else’s photo inserted into the document
  • Claimed to be a member of Mensa
  • Claimed to have worked for the hiring manager before, but never had
  • Claimed to be the CEO of a company when the candidate was an hourly employee
  • Listed military experience dating back to before he was born
  • Included samples of work, which the interviewer actually did
  • Claimed to be Hispanic when he was 100 percent Caucasian
  • Claimed to have been a professional baseball player
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Salary negotiation tips

When economic times get tough, many candidates mistakenly believe that negotiating a higher starting salary is out of the question.

This misconception and job seekers’ unwillingness to negotiate can end up costing them even after the economy recovers, says Dick Gaither, co-author of the recently released book, Next-Day Job Interview.

“In today’s economy, passive acceptance can cost us more than we can afford to lose,” he writes. “As a new employee, you should try for a higher starting salary, because it is a gift that keeps on giving. All future raises are tied to that starting salary.”

Next-Day Job Interview offers several strategies for enhancing a job offer, including:

  • Don’t assume pay and benefits aren’t negotiable. More than 80 percent of employers expect some form of negotiation for pay, benefits, perks, work schedules, work locations and so on.
  • Do know your worth. Walking into an interview and not knowing what the high, low and average salary and compensation levels are for a person with your skills, experience and education is like gambling in Vegas without knowing the rules: You’ll always lose.
  • Don’t negotiate for just more money. Sometimes a company can’t give you more money. In that case, negotiate for things that translate into money or make your life easier, such as extra vacation time, educational reimbursements or travel allowances.
  • Do time the negotiation right. Negotiating before you’ve found out enough about the job and before the interviewer knows your real value won’t work. Delay, delay, delay.
  • Don’t give up too quickly. Salespeople know that the first no is just the start of the sale. Patience and persistence are the paths to success.
  • Do know how to support your request for higher pay. Present concrete and measurable examples of how you will increase your value by doing more than just your job, making the company money, saving the company money and time, or solving problems on the job.
  • Don’t say yes too quickly. The longer that an interviewer talks to you, the more likely you’ll be to negotiate better compensation.

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Quick tips on CV success

There’s nothing more annoying to a hiring manager than a bad resume.  In fact, 30 percent of hiring managers say that resumes not tailored to a specific position are the most frequent mistakes they see when reviewing resumes, according to a Careerbuilder.com survey.

“One of the worst things you can do with your resume is to try to make it work for ‘any’ job. Although it’s acceptable for you to consider a broad range of jobs, applicants who don’t show a clear idea of what they want to do impress very few employers,” says Michael Farr, author of The Quick Resume & Cover Letter Book.

In his book, Farr provides four quick tips for writing an effective job objective. These tips include:

  • Avoid job titles. Job titles can involve very different activities in different organisations. Using a title could limit job seekers from consideration for jobs they may be perfectly suited for.
  • Define a “bracket of responsibility” to include the possibility of upward mobility. In this bracket, job seekers should include the lower range of jobs they would consider as well as those requiring higher levels of responsibility. Even if the job seeker has not handled higher levels in the past, many employers might consider them for such positions if they have the skills to support the objective.
  • Include important skills. If a job seeker were looking for a job that requires “organisational skills,” then they should demonstrate that they have those skills. Later, the resume content should support these skills with specific examples.
  • Include specifics if these are important. It’s okay to state in a resume that a job seeker has substantial experience in a specific industry or that they have a narrow objective for a job that they really want. However, job seekers who do this run the risk of not being considered for other jobs in which they’re qualified.

“Regardless of whether you choose to include an actual ‘Job Objective’ statement near the top of your resume, you should always have a clear job objective in mind. This helps you select details from your resume that best support what you want to do,” says Farr.

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The high five of job seeking tips

Many people are now on the market looking for new roles. Good people, excellent and talented people. So it is a buyers market at the moment. In a competitive job environment it is important to ensure you put your best “foot” forward.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Do your homework.  Find out what opportunities are opening within our own company, where the jobs are arising in other companies, and which industries are hiring.  Read the careers sections of your local papers and surf online jobs boards, which will help with search strategies and salary calculators.  If you’re considering a leap into a new industry, speak to people who are already in this field (if you don’t know anyone, then consider networking online). 
  2. Promote your professional assets.  Don’t be afraid to let your boss know that you are looking for challenging projects.  Present your ideas, volunteer to take on new projects, and learn other people’s jobs and responsibilities so you can jump in and help out if needed.
  3. Dust off your resume.  Ensure your CV lists your latest responsibilities and accomplishments.  Use active language (‘generated’, ‘improved’, ‘created’ and ‘led’ are good words) and outline measurable results and achievements.  Keep your resume as short and sweet as possible, and customise it each time you apply for a position.
  4. Build a reputation.  Create a name for yourself by developing a specialty.  Identify your key talents and passions, and then make yourself an expert.  Ensure others know that this is your area of expertise.
  5. Maximise social networks.  Networking can provide the best job leads.  Tell everyone in your social circle that you are looking for new opportunities.  Visit job fairs, chamber of commerce networking nights and conferences.  Join LinkedIn; create a Facebook page and profile.  View social network sites as an advertisement and research tool.  Just make sure potential employees don’t stumble upon inappropriate content!

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Finding work in the Web 2.0 world

If this is your final year at university, then you probably hope to be working in a graduate position next year.  With the global economy spiralling downwards and unemployment on the rise, the competition for graduate positions this year will be the fiercest we’ve seen in years.  So, how do you secure the job of your dreams?  Start by harnessing the power of digital technologies. 

Do your homework
Be proactive.  Pinpoint a couple of industries or a handful of companies in which you’d like to work.  Keep your eye out for opportunities in newspapers, but don’t limit yourself to traditional media.  Register your details with career websites and set up Google alerts for news on those companies that interest you.  This will give you a head start at job interviews, as you’ll be able to demonstrate your knowledge of a company’s business activities, as well as broader industry trends.

Employers can Google!
Protecting your online footprint makes smart career sense, and Googling yourself is not so much ego surfing as research!  As many as four in five recruiters use search engines to find background data on candidates – and what they care about is your top ten search results on Google.  One recent survey of recruiters in the US found that 35 per cent have eliminated a candidate because of what they unearthed online.  Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.

Be the star in your own video CV
It’s no longer just budding film directors who are selling their skills on YouTube – everyone from sales managers to business analysts are shooting their own video CVs to give themselves the best shot at their dream job.  The challenge is to make your application stand out from the crowd.  Start by looking the part you wish to play.  What role are you pitching for?  Dress as you would for an interview, and present yourself and your CV the way you would to a prospective employer.  Rehearse your script, take care to look at the camera and speak slowly and clearly.  Be funny, lively, personable and professional – but keep it short (just one to three minutes).  Most importantly, focus on your professional endeavours, not personal ones.  A video CV won’t replace your written CV, but it can complement it by conveying aspects of your personality imperceptible on paper.

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
The old cliché holds true: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  Nearly half of all job hunters obtain their jobs through word of mouth.  Everyone has a network of between 250 to 3,000 contacts, so get them working for you!  Send everyone you know an email, or post a message on your MySpace of Facebook page, telling them you are looking for a job, and give them a clear idea of your skills and the type of work you’re after.  Remember, if you know 250 people and each of those people knows 250 people, then the second level of your network contains 62,500 people! 

Finding your job through Facebook
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become another avenue for companies to identify and recruit new employees.  A recent American survey revealed that 64 per cent of companies are making contact with potential employees through online social networks, predominantly LinkedIn (80%) and Facebook (36%).  So, search for your target companies on social networking sites.  Become a ‘fan’, look for information on how to apply for positions in their company and a scan their list of latest jobs.  Again, check who you know in those companies – you’ll be amazed by the connections you can make with a few simple clicks.

Above all, remain positive.  Some things remain the same, regardless of the rate of technological change, and perseverance and learning to accept rejection will always be important parts of job seeking.  Remember, employers hire people who are confident, enthusiastic and demonstrate a ‘can do’ attitude.  Good luck!

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