Just Another Bad Situation

So, let’s pretend your work/life situation is not to your liking. It happens. There might be a coworker, a customer, or even a manager that you just absolutely despise. In some businesses, you might see that problem customer, over and over again, month after month. If it is a supervisor or manager, then you might be faced with making a difficult decision. Do you make that conscious decision to actively start looking for a new job, secretly, or do you suck it up and make the best of a shitty situation? Well, it really depends on how much you really hate that individual.

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Like I said before, people don’t leave jobs because of the nature of work, they leave because of conflicts with managers. That “manager” might be the owner of the company so there may not BE any workable solution other than leaving. I worked for the owner of a 3 person company and he said to me “My company. My rules.” He was a financial planner and unethically told all his clients to sell a particular fund against his own prior advisement. Then he insinuated he had “secret” insider information (hush hush don’t tell your friends). Also illegal. He is long dead now, so no repercussions to him.  Well, if you didn’t know, there is a fee associated with selling and when you have hundreds of clients all selling and then buying, that broker gets paid. It’s a really shitty way to rip off your customers so you can make more money off of them. Most people pay a professional to make smart decisions for them so they make money, not so they can keep paying stupid fees.

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So with any relationship situation, it is best to start the list. You know, the pros and cons of that relationship. This applies to dating as well as work. What do you like? Why is it beneficial for you? Are you paying your dues? Is the person who is making life difficult really a secret mentor in disguise? Are you supposed to learn something from this person or teach something to this person? In many years to come you will look back and understand the “why” behind your reason for being there.  Now ask yourself, do you REALLY want to start all over in a new environment? Bottom guy on the totem pole? Starting all over again sucks. Making new friends (if applicable). For some people the thought and idea of getting out is a fresh of breath air. Others are in their comfort zone and will continue to tolerate the shit. When you tell your employer all your life stories, they got you. You’re trapped. You just bought a new car. You have kids. You have a mortgage. You aren’t going anywhere. They will work you to death and you are just an employee number to them. Seriously at the end of the day, unless you are married to the owner or his/her kid, they don’t really give a hoot about you. If you leave, so what. There are a dozen struggling, unemployed people out there someone will happily take your job and laugh at why you quit. Your new job might be worse off than the one you are in now. So you hate ____ about your job. Everyone hates something about their job.

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Artists who become self employed realize they have to collect on accounts and those types of conversations might not be so fun for them. Most small business owners find themselves in a boatload of administrative HR stuff, along with accounting. Hate it, but have to do it. So think carefully before you leave that cushy job in the nice cool air conditioning. What if that problem person just went away instead? Now there is an idea. Can you outlast that person? I worked retail for a really, really long time. I know that most hourly retail workers don’t have more than a year in them before they burn out. Sometimes you can just wait until they leave on their own, … or get enough bad surveys. Hmm, could your friends be that person’s customer and then they give him a shitty survey score constantly to get him/her fired? Yes. It’s a dog eat dog world out there and the only one who is looking out for you (other than me) is YOU. At the end of the day, you got bills to pay and responsibilities.

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So I know that some of my readers are EXACTLY is this situation right now. My advice, if you are going to start looking for a job, tell your network. Let one of your contacts be your champion and get you that interview. Did you know you have been considered for positions before, but the hiring manager thought you were happy and would never leave your job? Oops. Always open to new opportunities and challenges. Actively seeking new projects/clients/1099’s. We never know what tomorrow holds, unless we are dealing the cards. So deal a wild card today. Did you write your items for your dream job? Who knows, it might be in your near future.

 

 

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We Need To Talk

Those scary 4 words. You hear them from your spouse, teacher, supervisor and you cringe. From an HR perspective, I usually have to close the door as it usually means that employee is in trouble for … something.  Attendance, no call no show, customer complaint, … or the dreaded “survey results” conversation. As a consumer, you can use an internal “anonymous” review of employees. We call this “Mystery Shopper”. Of course, this doesn’t work in every industry or field, but it is something that can actually get an employee fired if they get enough bad survey results. Every Fortune 500 company that has customers have surveys. They also have reviews. They also have to fear angry customers exploding on their social media pages. If management or someone in the company wants to get rid of you, they are going to find a way. Sometimes they are assholes and get you on a “technicality” like a survey result that you can’t prove or disprove or defend yourself. If you didn’t know, your “5 star” review of your Uber/Lyft driver is super important. You can use that as a weapon. However, they can rate you too, and if you get too many 1 star reviews, no driver will pick you up, regardless what level of car you select.

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So if you are the employee being rated, and you establish rapport with your new customer/client/friend, you can coerce them into giving you 5 stars. How? Ask them is there anything you can do for them before they leave the store to improve their 5 star experience. Maybe they wanted you to pair their phone to their car and you didn’t offer or ask? You are not a mind reader so ask before they rate you. When you are interacting let them know your goal is to provide a 5 star experience, and anything less is not acceptable for you. You can also let them know your job security and likelihood of helping them in the future depends on it. So, bad score, no employee. Got it. They get it. If they like you, they will use your name and say how amazing and awesome you are, and they are bringing all their friends and colleagues as new customers. Seriously, management loves hearing actual comments like that. I would tell my wireless customers I would give them free rollover minutes. <wink> Cost me nothing, but meant the world to them. It is also kind of important to know what you are being scored on so you meet or exceed those expectations. Like, did you offer financing? Join the membership rewards club? Ask for referrals?

 

So if you are working on your career plan, you should also track it. If you are collecting unemployment this is required. Use Microsoft Excel or some spreadsheet and copy and paste the job description, company information/history, in a way you can follow up and remember what you applied for. What if you apply for 25 jobs, all the same, and 10 call back and you have no clue what it is you applied. You want to sound smart and intelligent. Keep it in the cloud so you can update/review it on the go, or when you are about to walk into your in person interview. Having zero clue about the job or company shows you are unprepared and not a good fit. Use Glassdoor.com for additional company research. It is also a good idea to know who the owners/leadership are in the company.

 

 

 

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90 Day Probation Period

So before you get all excited about your W-2 permanent position, you need to know a few little things so you don’t screw up and lose your job. What? Yep, it happens. A lot of employees are actually “temp” with no benefits until their 90 day probationary period is over. That also includes your employee discount. We don’t want to hire someone who robs us blind with discounts and then quits. Yes it happens. Technically it is considered theft. Using your employee discount for someone who isn’t entitled is also theft, and also punishable by termination. Crazy right? It happens. Do people really get fired for employee discount situations? Yep, when I worked at the jewelry store my first week, 2 people got fired for giving the discount to a former employee. Yeah, diamonds have a high mark up so we are talking significant money. Personally I would have just made the current employee pay back the difference and not lose a good salesperson. HR is not always so black and white and managers do have discretion. Some people might say playing favorites, others … discrimination. Why did that white chick just get a slap on the wrist for the same offense when the _____ guy got fired? Manager discretion.

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So the reason for the probation period is a lot of employees simply don’t work out and within a short amount of time, 3 months, it can be determined that a hiring mistake was made and that employee needs to go. Hooray, unemployment! Nope. Wrong. You gotta work there for like, 18 months or longer to get anything from unemployment. AND you are employee at will, so you are screwed. You have no recourse. You can’t sue. You can’t get severance. You can get your box of “things” and be walked out the door never to enter again. Yeah it is kind of a sucky situation for the employee, but it is costly and expensive to hire employees, have them take advantage of resources and then end up leaving. It also is a way for companies to churn through employees with the “they are a dime a dozen” mentality. Companies like, … apple, Google, and Microsoft will always have thousands and thousands of people who WANT to work there. They don’t have a labor shortage crisis.

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So once you make it past the 90 days, you should get your healthcare, vision, dental, 401(k), bus pass, company credit card … AND now that you are in the system, if they want to get rid of you, they have to have a PIP, performance improvement plan, which, from my experience can take up to TWO years to successfully terminate an employee. Most companies have a 3 strike rule, but you are employee at will so keep that with a grain of salt. It starts with a verbal warning, a written warning, final written warning, termination. If you don’t show signs of improvement, they can terminate you and you get no unemployment. Just so you know, the 2 things that are easiest for the employer to prove and win is …. attendance and theft. Fuck up either one or both of those and you are gone. No call, no show, is also terminable offense. But if you have an arrest or jail time proof you might get out of it. Although I don’t recommend sharing any personal information with the employer. Need to know basis.

Moral of the story: This is your dream job. Put your best foot forward. Show everyone you are a great hiring choice/decision and not something they are going to regret. Don’t screw it up in your 90 days is all I have to say. Good luck and have fun making new friends and lunch buddies!

 

 

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401(k) or 403(b) Advice

Okay now that you are hired and you have made it through orientation, you will hopefully get a benefits package. If you are fortunate it will start immediately. If it is for profit, is it a 401(k), nonprofit is 403(b). Most normal people don’t know much about either of these, and the HR people flat out tell you – I aint telling you shit. I know, how rude. Well, if they give bad advice, that is like, called malpractice, and they aren’t insured, so they really don’t have any business telling you how to invest your hard earned cash. I have worked for a financial planner and know a few things about those cool HR benefits. I don’t have malpractice insurance, and it is ultimately up to YOU how you spend your salary, before and after taxes. You might be in a different stage in your life than your new friend from orientation. You might NEED all of your paycheck instead of getting it 50 years later. You need to do what is best for you. So, think of these “funds” this way. If it is aggressive growth and income, it is like the horse races. You will win big fast, but can also lose it fast. Moderate growth is like, federal bonds, city bonds, much safer. And low to no growth but super safe, is like a money market account at a bank. Only invest what you can afford to lose. No one is forcing you to invest or take advantage of that benefit. Chances are you’ll end up cashing it out when you have a life situation/crisis. And that is okay too. If they match 3%, and you an afford it, donate 3% to your rainy day fund. Congrats on that new job. And of course, seek out your inner circle for that investment advice. Or pay someone, that is always an option.

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Employee Referrals

Have you ever gotten a job interview/offer because someone you knew, recommended you? A friend, relative, prior co-worker, classmate, … someone who likes you, and wants to put their reputation out on the line for you? Having that employee recommendation, even if they don’t know your work performance, is key to getting great jobs. I am sure you have heard the phrase “It’s all who you know.” And this is true in any situation. An employer would rather hire someone with a little bit of background history that can be verified, rather than none at all. As I have mentioned in the past, some of those letters of reference or actual phone calls, might not be as truthful as employers would like them to be. Some of them all sound the same.  ______ (insert name) is hard working, loyal, dedicated, trustworthy, oh and an Eagle Scout! He coaches little league and is an outstanding choir member in the church. <rolls eyes> Gosh, that sounds just perfect. When can you start? No. Those letters are so fake it’s not even funny. I think it is expected that every employee act like a boy/girl scout. Strong work ethics, team player, gets along well with others. And if you’re not, then you need to start acting like it. We all know, not all employees are model employees. I can think of a few I’d fire in a heartbeat. IF you are giving that recommendation, please do not tell anyone that candidate is going through a divorce, a bankruptcy, or anything that might accidentally hurt his/her chances. Employers hear those things and they cringe.

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As a recruiter, we are looking for “talent”. There is a show called “America’s Got Talent”. If you haven’t seen an episode, you should check it out. Look at what those people can do and compare your own skill/talent. See there difference? Some things like typing super fast is a skill. Gotta say, going through hundreds and hundreds of resumes for ONE position, and you quickly start screening candidates out very quickly. Impressive skills and talent is what we are looking for in these marketing brochures of candidates. HOWEVER if just one of those resumes comes from a well liked employee, say manager or above, that resume will get more than a 10-20 second review. If there are gaps, or questions, those are sometimes overlooked. Why? Employee referral. And as I have mentioned in the past, when you get someone hired, you are the current employee, will get a monetary bonus added to your check, usually after 90 days. I can attest that I have received thousands in employee referrals. I would find an candidate at Best Buy and then I would tell them to put my name on the application, and I would spell it correctly, and tell them they would have a much better chance of getting hired if they say they knew me. Okay. Cool. So they just met me. They still knew me. 😉 And when they were asked HOW they met/knew me, they always said, “Mutual friends”. I could always say, “He seemed like a good guy.” You can’t place negligent hiring practices on someone who just said “He seemed like a good guy”. If HR didn’t ask the right questions, or do a drug test, that’s on them, not you. So, do you have a buddy or friend who you just LOVED working with daily? Yeah, me too. Go find him/her and see if he/she can get you a better job.

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If you have started your LinkedIn.com profile, you can start connecting with those professionals you have met in past positions and see what they are up to now. Whom have you kept in touch with from college or grad school? All the people I kept in touch with are in very different fields/industries. Terrific, if you got a job there you wouldn’t be in the same department, but you’d be great lunch buddies. I will do another article/blog on LinkedIn.com. Until that time, do NOT use that profile to apply for jobs … yet. Your employment profile is like building a house. You achievements and skills are the foundation, since that is what is important. Can you do the job and how fast can you do it? If you are still working on them, think to yourself, “Is that impressive?” Fluent in 4 languages. Yes, impressive. You have a social media following already? Impressive.

 

For those of you who are students, I always loved asking what the candidate’s G.P.A. was in high school and college if applicable. And then I would ask WHY. Verifiable. Don’t lie. If you are a nerdy brainy bookworm like me, … now is the time to brag about it. If they ask you to sell something, think about the strategy you are using, and don’t use price. I can sell it cheaper. No. It might be a luxury item they want you to sell, like cruises or diamonds. “I have a large network of professionals who are friends who I know will support my endeavors with a new company.”  You’re hired.

 

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Tell Me About A Time …

Okay boys and girls, it is story time, and I am not talking your magical fairy tale. I am talking about the interview question that forces you to find a concrete example to demonstrate whatever skills they are seeking. Your answers should detail your thought process, perhaps your decision making abilities, and of course, the actual question is looking at how fast you problem solve. Now if it something they are seeking that you don’t have, then it is going to be hard to fake. Okay for some old timers, like me, there was a movie back in the 80’s, called “Working Girl”. Loved it. Melanie and Sigourney Weaver starred in it, and one of the characters stole the idea/concept from the other. So, when confronted, the “idea” needed to be outlined, just to prove that it was HER idea. Oops.

If you headed up a project, an event, or something really big, you can easily talk about the process, the project time line, the critical path, the point of no return, … all those fun little challenges you were faced and overcame. If you had control over money, like say a budget, or fundraising, you should also bring this up in your answer. Why? You are there to prove what you did was beneficial for the company, and you can easily do it again. So if I can get $5k in sponsorships from local businesses for an event, chances are I can do even more for the next event.

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Many times you can outline your thoughts and ideas in an effective manner so they produce profits, simply by implementing a program awareness event. Okay back to my Walmart days, when I was a lowly hourly cashier I wanted to be part of the management team. When I applied someone else always got it. My store director said in order to be a manager, you need to be a leader. Not all managers are leaders, but I ONLY promote leaders to managers. I felt like I was sitting at the sphinx with some unsolvable riddle. I happened to be in a management course in college at the time, and using some of the things I learned, I started a stakeholders committee and recruited a few managers and friends to join. We/I found ways to save money, make money and increase store traffic with a meager $100 monthly budget. Eventually I did get promoted.

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Here is another secret in your interviewing arsenal. The more stories and examples you tell in your interview, the more likely you are going to be remembered. Some people try to use humor in the interview. Don’t. You are not applying to be a stand up comedian. Your sense of humor may mistakenly be misinterpreted. Impress that person with what you have done, can do, and will do. If that person is impressed, he/she will move you forward in the interviewing process quickly. Mostly likely there are dozens if not hundreds of jobs/interviews to complete. Think how many positions are open at Amazon. Wow. Hundreds, if not thousands worldwide. I always tell candidates that they need to tell the employer “Hire me. I want to work here. I see myself growing with this company. I want this job.”

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And as always, the job you are applying for RIGHT NOW, as you talk to that interviewer, IS your dream job. For now, all you can do is dream about being employed, and this might be it. So act like it, show enthusiasm, and ask for the job. And remember, 20k more boomers retired this weekend. Go get their job!

 

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Background & Educational Credentials

Have you ever noticed that some of the big talk show hosts/opinionators have absolutely no authority in the field that they are talking about? What? A lot of news reporters/journalists simply are repeating stuff they hear from someone else, like the Associated Press. Did you know that there are millions of Americans who went to college and then later in life found themselves in a totally different occupation? Look at me, I have an MBA in HR and a bachelors in marketing and here I am a “writer”. Although technically I am writing about HR, so that counts. Did I go to school to be a writer? No. Why? Because my high school guidance counselor said being a writer was stupid and I would never be successful. So I said okay and went into marketing instead. Little did I know that later in life I would fulfill that dream that she stomped on, crushing what little bit of hope I had. My guidance counselor wasn’t successful. SHE never wrote a book. In fact, she hated her job and did a sucky job at it. If “I” was the career coach, working with high school students I would encourage them to pursue their dreams, as long as they have a financial plan to go along with it.

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Everyone should have a back up plan. Mentor someone who HAS that degree you want to pursue, and like in your information interviews, find out how they make a living, without asking how much they make. As I stated before, if you know your worth, what you should/could be paid by the hour, then you can determine if that career is good for you. So, if you are going into social work, a public teacher, then you can probably expect you won’t be paid a lot. Non-profit, charities, are also jobs that people accept knowing there is no money attached. Sometimes people use this as stepping stone, with the hopes of internal promotions.

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As a reminder, education is THE easiest thing to verify on a resume, and if you fudge any details you just got thrown to the NO pile. That information data sheet that you just added references should also have exact dates of enrollment, your GPA and also any groups you were a member/leadership. Sometimes, those little pesky details don’t get accomplished until you have actually started working, and then the HR department has to be the bad guy and terminate you. I’ve had to terminate employees for failing drug tests. Management has a problem when junkies are working in their company. Why do people lie? Because they are taking the risk/chance/hope that they won’t be verified and they can slip into the company. I personally know of an HR “guy” (not a friend) who was a compulsive liar, forged everything and somehow managed to get hired … in an HR job. I know, crazy. Because if he is going to lie before he even starts, what “else” is he going to do? The first thing that comes to mind is …embezzlement, theft, abuse of company assets.

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So I want you to think about WHO it is you are taking your advice and wisdom from daily. Who is teaching/preaching/guiding you on your right path? IDK, maybe it is me. Or your coworker, your neighbor, your church friend, the woman standing in line at Walmart. It might be CNN, Fox News, or the local television news station. My goal is simply helping people find a better tomorrow. What are your other sources intention? Are you on your right path to joy and happiness? You create your own reality.

 

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Leaving the Job Market

So if you are are IN the job market, meaning you are actively working, you get a paycheck and you probably report to someone. As I was talking with a client yesterday I had to remind him that in addition to the thousands of people dying from COVID there is also that nasty little fact that every day over 10,000+ boomers are retiring and leaving the job market forever. That is a fact that has been happening for quite awhile, and you are already starting to feel the impact of that. PLUS there are a TON of “housewives” who are done working and want to go home and stay home. Thousands of nurses, cops, teachers, first responders who all said enough is enough. And as strange as it sounds, there is an entire generation that just wants a sugar daddy or sugar mommy. Who would have imagined that would be someone’s “career plan”? I personally can attest to the corporate bullshit you have to deal with on a daily basis. I left big business to work for a small company, of 4 employees, and sure decisions were made quickly, but laws were broken ALL THE TIME. Just so you know, it is ILLEGAL to pay someone in cash and not report it on your taxes. You may think you are doing your employee a favor, but it’s illegal. Oh sure I LOVED getting envelopes stuffed with cash. Who wouldn’t? Sometimes, many times it is a “I won’t tell if you won’t tell” situation. HR knows ALL the dirty secrets. Sometimes they play along, sometimes they act like the good cop.

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True story, I was hired once as a “temp”, meaning no benefits. I was told I was exempt, so they worked me to death. Until they found out I had kept track of every hour worked overtime, and was planning on using it as my own comp time for vacation since I had no benefits. OMG, do you KNOW how much trouble they would have been in if the DOL found out what was going on? Being “exempt” has special rules, and you can’t use a temp as exempt. They paid me the actual overtime rate, and then later terminated me as a “corporate downsizing”. Hey it wasn’t my fault. They lied to me and told me I was exempt. I wasn’t. I was an hourly employee, lied to, and ultimately lost. If I knew back then, all the HR laws that I know today, I would have sued them, AND Walmart, and I would have won. But I didn’t because I didn’t know my rights were violated. Being part of a “group”, in my case Asian American, I also have rights that potentially could hinder/help an employer. If you are not being “fair” and only hiring, say, Caucasian male workers, and have no colored people, you could find yourself in an affirmative action lawsuit. So, point of the story, chances are you are being abused by your employer and you don’t even know it. If you are clocked out then you can’t take back a return to your department on your way out, help a customer or answer a phone. Only the manager can work off the clock.

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It is a known fact that people leave jobs because of bad managers. Some of them leave and never come back. Some get early retirement. Others marry rich or find a sugar daddy/mommy. If you are unemployed, looking for a better tomorrow, there is hope. Millions of people don’t want to work, prove that you aren’t one of them. Millions are in retirement, so can you find an opportunity that will cater to that market? Travel and entertainment will always be an area of opportunity, if you can find a product/service in that market. Did you see AMC stock shot back up? It has a low of a $1.91 a share and then went as high as $72. Can you imagine if you bought say, 5000 shares when they tanked? You’d be well off now. Car rentals and hotel rooms are at a premium, so can you rent your car or extra spare room? Turo and air b&b have a booming business model. As a writer I always teach that people, with some skill, can write something; an article, a review, a blog, a book, a speech/presentation. If you write it, they will read it. You can publish your autobiography and publish it as an eBook and people will buy it if it is somewhat interesting and inexpensive. Your family and relation might be interested in your life from your perspective.

 

If you are working on your career plan, you actually have almost all the things you need to be successful. Be sure you check out LinkedIn.com and create a profile for recruiters to view. Sell your skills. Sell your talents. Join groups on LinkedIn that are relevant to your career. Remember that job data sheet you were supposed to create?

You now need to add 3-5 good references with their information so it will be ready when you are offered that dream job. Those references can be former supervisors, committee members, coworkers, customers/clients, vendors, owner of the company, … the list can go on and on. People who can speak to your work ethic, personality, attendance, are going to be advantageous. If you are a reference, do not lie for that person. Tell the truth. I had a “friend” ask me to be a reference and I said, “Well, I have never worked with you, but I can say you are always late, you never pay the bill, you sometimes call in sick when you aren’t and you stole a laptop from your past employer.” He said “Thanks, no thanks.” So, moral of the story, your “friend” might not be willing to lie for you. I adhere to the SHRM (Society Human Resource Management) code of ethics, so I will always tell the truth.

 

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Money Talks …

Alrighty, let’s talk about money. We ALL want it. That is what drives us to get up every day and do the same boring/challenging tasks in our “career”. Is it satisfying? Sometimes. But at the end of the day it all comes down to money. You are there to make it, earn it, save it, spend it. Money is the one thing that you are always told not to talk about in the interview, UNTIL it is the right time. Now I do understand that there are HR people/hiring managers that do not always follow this protocol. Sometimes the employer just wants to screen OUT anyone who shouldn’t be there and they do that by asking your current salary and your requirements. If you are applying for a job that pays $80k a year but you only made $40k, then you might not be quite ready for job of such magnitude. Some might say, you are in over your head.

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Now I am going to have the conversation with you that is totally going to blow your mind away. YOU think you are worth X amount of money per hour, or per year. How did you come up with that number? Someone told you. Probably a salary report or maybe Google, or maybe it was Glassdoors.com that actually gives you real salary information as employees can post that information. Oh how cool is THAT? So, before you even decide you want to work there you can determine if it is going to meet your salary expectations. If you didn’t know, there are 2080 working hours in the year. Take that times your hourly rate and you get your annual salary. Some people think weekly, others bi weekly, and some even monthly. i.e. I get paid $5000 a month, or roughly $60k a year. 5×12=60. $60k divided by 2080 = $28.85 an hour. Can you live on that amount of money? Employers will sometimes try to trick you into thinking your salary is more than it really is by using big numbers. Don’t be fooled. Also keep in mind that Uncle Sam is going to take a minimum of 28% for federal, state, and FICA (social security) and any local taxes. So your big salary all of the sudden isn’t so big. $5k a month, after taxes actually is only a little over $3k a month, and that really isn’t a huge amount. The more you make the more the government takes. Things like an IRA are ways that you can reduce your taxable income. Knowing your take home amount is also really important.

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So knowing your value is extremely important. So, you take a kid who is 18, making minimum wage flipping burgers, who by many employers isn’t worth a very high salary right? I take him under my wing and mentor him for 6 weeks and train him how to build a WordPress website in a day and create a Facebook business page using Ad Manager and all of the sudden this “kid” is also worth $60k a year. He doesn’t have a tech degree, and barely if at all, a high school diploma. Now, how do you justify this guy’s $60k salary? Because he can now go out, market himself as a designer, and charge the same hourly rates as the professionals, just like me. Boom. Mic drop. Just because you DIDN’T make that much before, does NOT mean you are not worth it now.

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So you’ve made it to the final interview. Flew past HR no problem, clicked with the hiring manager and now the key decision maker is in your face. He/she might be an executive, the owner, a managing director, … someone who has monetary authority for the company. If you get to this person right away, like at a picnic, bbq, wedding, you will have a lot more bargaining power. HR people and hiring managers usually do not have any power over salary. When the offer is presented, HR simply is the middle man. If the offer is not what is stated with the key, then you need to get him/her on the horn and start barking. Every job has a range. You are usually given/offered the bottom lower end of that range, UNLESS you can prove you are worth more. This is where your negotiation skills are instrumental in your higher paid salary. I have negotiated 90 day raises after performance has been evaluated and an increase in new business has been demonstrated. If I do ______, then you will reward me with compensation of _______. Yes, this really does happen. If you are THE final candidate, then they want you. They want you really bad. AND they are willing to pay for it. They will never retract the opening offer. You need to think of it as as an opening big on a house. They start, you counter. You come to a happy middle somewhere. This is where you get your extra personal day. Flexible schedule, working from home, company laptop/smartphone/iPad, expense account, … you get the idea. When I negotiated my low salary at the Bar Association, I managed to start my 403(b) retirement immediately, rather than waiting a year. Who knew you could bypass that rule? Me. It came to over 3k in “benefits” not paid by the payroll. The 2nd largest office next to the emergency exit was also a nice perk. If you have to pay for parking, will the company pick that up? Again, not paid from payroll, but a different expense account. Just like in the real estate industry, you can implement the “Is this your best and final offer?” and see what they say. Most of the time they will say “No, that is not the best and final, what did you have in mind?” Before you go into any interview negotiation, you need to practice. Sell something to a friend and start arguing/debating price. This is how it works. You have to be confident in your abilities and skills. Employees who make money or save money are going to get better salaries than those who can’t detail why they are worth more money.

Money is a huge motivator for everyone. As a client once told me, “I have the TMAI philosophy.” Throw money at it. The more you throw, the more likely the problem will just magically solve itself or go away. Sales are down? Throw cash bonuses as floor sales day prizes. People will respond positively. Ask if there are bonuses. No? Then let’s start one now.

And my favorite quote from Jerry McGuire … “SHOW ME THE MONEY!”

 

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Ask. Questions.

For some people, the interview is a fun, exciting event. Why? Because it is ALL ABOUT YOU. I used to laugh with my friends and imitate some candidates. “So, enough about ME … what do YOU think of me? hahahaha”.  Yes, this really happened and sadly it is the truth. Sometimes that interviewer will flat out tell you what they think of you. Most of the time if it is something negative they won’t say anything but just move onto the next candidate. Once I had a really really, “nice” sweet lady, who just didn’t have the eye for detail. She couldn’t figure out why she never got any interviews. I told her I didn’t have a position for her, but on page 2 she spelled her own name wrong and never caught it. It was in the header as a page number and somehow missed it, and every chance of getting hired. I told her to fix it and to be happy I told her. Some people would just let her keep making the mistake. IF that person feels you are that perfect person for that position, you might get that second interview immediately, and possibly the 3rd interview with an offer that day. Yes it does happen. You could get lucky and all three of those interviews, are with the same person. Yep, it is happening this weekend. People are networking, making new friends, and getting job offers.

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One thing that I want to focus on – in your job search process, is it is imperative you ask questions with each person along the way. Do not ask the same questions, as many times those notes will all be kept together. If you don’t ask any questions, it will appear you aren’t really interested. There is NO way that the person you just talked with answered everything. Some “things” can only be answered by the hiring manager or the key decision maker. Things that can help YOU make an intelligent job choice decision are questions that prevent … negative future situations.  LIKE…why is the position open? Why did he/she quit/get fired? Oh, 4 people in a year? They all walked out. One left after lunch and never returned. Wow. That sounds like a lot of red flags to me. Probably a personality/management issue. Ask questions. How long is your training period? Who will you mentor? Even mid-level managers have to train/on-board before they are on their own. There are always computer/management information systems to learn, passwords, access rights, door keys, badges, that all need to be completed before you ever actually do any “work”. I have always found that asking questions about the corporate culture usually impresses the interviewer and also gives you a glimpse into the political red tape that might be hiding from you. As an HR person I like to throw out the “turnover rate” for employees, or rate of attrition. How many internal promotions versus external hires? What is the typical length of employment? Do employees stay a long time or do they quit after a year?

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Finding a job in a company that employees LOVE is where you want to be. Why do they love it so much? Are they treated fairly and compensated well? If you are talking to HR sometimes you can get them to tell you “how far along they are in the process”, how many qualified applicants, and maybe who was in the position before you and the promotable qualities he/she has. What does the company do for team building events? Softball? Bowling league? Anything? Nothing? Oh, they have a food court inside their giant space dome headquarters with anything you want for free. <sighs> Think of all you would save in lunches. One of the exercises for my students was to complete 3 information interviews. Their goal was to find out if they would really like/love their new career. Guess what, if you go talk to an angry _____ (insert your title) you will find all kinds of reasons not to go into that field. Aw, how sweet, you want to be a nurse so you can work with babies. Do you like changing diapers? Bedpans? Cleaning up after snotty nosed kids? Awesome, you’ve found your home.

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Ask people (in the interview) what they love most about their job, what they hate about their job, and what would they change if they had the power. This will give you an arsenal of information to help you decide if you want those same challenges. I loved the idea of traveling for trade shows. Until I found out I was getting no comp time, I had to work 18 hours days on the weekend and then show up to work Monday morning at 7 a.m. as if nothing unusual happened. Hmm, a 70 hour work week for the same pay as a 40 hour work week wasn’t so appetizing all of the sudden. Living out of a suitcase one weekend a month wasn’t a dream. You too, can prevent a bad hiring decision if you know in advance that the job expectations are not in line with your own. A happy work life balance needs to be taken into consideration if you want to make a career with that company.

 

As a job seeker you need to know your worth, what your minimum you can live on salary, and what is your dream job/salary.

Today is Memorial Day in the USA and we acknowledge those who died in military service for their country. I’ll be smoking those baby back ribs today. Mmmm. Ribs.

 

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