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14 November 2011
Posted by Vicki Yoder | Topic: Resumes

In Pursuit of the Perfect Resume?

Resume Writing

Some excellent advice on how the words you use in your resume matter.

Final Cut: Words to Strike from Your Resume
22 August 2011
Posted by | Topic: Job Offers

Getting To The Acceptance - Negotiation Strategies

What is negotiation? Isn't it simply the discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement? Then why does the word seem so intimidating and powerful? Possibly, it's because the term often represents situations where much is gained or lost? Or perhaps it is all the fancy books inside the local Borders that outline the newest negotiation tips and tricks? How can one digest all that info?

Here at Career Solutions, we think of negotiating as a simple process that should bring out excitement, not fear, not frustration…negotiation is the result of a successful interview process!

There is no book you can read to perfect the art of giving and taking the key to good negotiation is in having the proper perspective. Your perspective is always based on your intentions. If you are motivated to work for the company, you will find a way to reach an agreement and vice versa. Sometimes one party is more dedicated to reaching terms than the other and things won't work out, but the majority of the time when both parties are committed, the deal gets done and both parties are satisfied. Begin with the end in mind and don't go through the negotiations if you are not serious about accepting the job.

With this in mind, here are a couple of key points to remember on negotiating:

  • No two job negotiation experiences will be alike
  • There are many forces that impact your negotiating power
  • Unless this is an upper level position, there is usually only one opportunity to negotiate.
  • Face to face meetings are always the best format for nailing down the details
  • Make sure to know the 3 or 4 things you bring to the table why they need to hire you
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions this gives you information, information is critical to good communication
  • Honesty is critical… be up front with your needs, there is no need to be embarrassed about what you are worth
  • Don't be unreasonable in what you ask and check the ego at the door, ego's will always cost you money.
  • Always seek win/win…..if one side loses, nobody wins. Utilize a collaborative attitude.
  • Remember, how your counterpart handles the process speaks volumes about who they are.
  • Keep notes on the discussion and get the final agreement in writing.
  • If no agreement is reached, keep the door open should the other party reconsider.

17 August 2011
Posted by | Topic: Job Offers

Evaluating Job Offers

Evaluating Job Offers - What Path To Take?

The computer beeps, the screen flashes, an email pops up, and your heart jumps as you see
"job offer" in the subject line. As you read through this email, one of two emotions register; "yes, this is the greatest offer ever" or "aahhh, what the @#$% are these folks thinking - I canʼt work for this". At this point, do me a favor, do your spouse a favor, do yourself a favor - pause and donʼt reply right matter what you are thinking.

In his book on Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey discusses the principle of seeking first to understand, then be understood. This is a good time to invoke this principle by beginning to formulate questions and seeking to understand the details. Youʼve heard about the six Pʼs right? - "prior preparation prevents piss poor performance". Piss poor performance, I will assume, is not something you want to achieve in the new job, so seeking to understand what you are getting into is a very important component of preparation. Remember, there is much more to an offer than the offer itself. Let me give you three items to evaluate when considering offers:

I. Financial

There are three primary categories to evaluate in the finance section - base
compensation "(expressed in a yearly salary or hourly rate), incentives
(commissions/"bonuses), and benefits (vacation, holidays, insurance, etc...). Most
of these items are cut and dried, meaning it is either there or it isnʼt. However, this
section has the most flexibility for change, so if it isnʼt there, donʼt close the door
completely. One word of advice, unless you have an extremely unusual situation that
dictates, donʼt base your decision to accept or decline off of the benefit package. This is
very shortsighted, as benefit packages change regularly and constitute only a small
portion of the total package.

II. Functional

More important than the financial is the functional. Yes, I said it and I mean it. Donʼt
believe me, then think of it this way. If you hate your boss and hate your coworkers, how
much money will it take you to stay there for five years......your right, there probably isnʼt
a reasonable amount!!! The functional is about exploring how you fit with the
company, culturally, operationally, and directionally. We all have that job that if we had it
to do over again, we wouldnʼt have jumped at the money. Therefore, it is ultra-critical to
gather as many facts on why the position is being filled - companies only add people to
solve problems, so knowing the problem ahead of time sure helps."Additional questions
that have relevance include: who is my boss (ie: could I work for them), who will I work
closely with, where is the position located, how much travel, how much commute, is
relocation needed, what are the goals of the position, what am I responsible for, and
what is the companies vision/mission. It is in these questions that you want to base the
majority of your decision, not the pay.

III. Futuristic

In this section, you are posing long-term thoughts to the prior two sections aimed at
understanding where this new position will take you. For example, an engineer who wants to become an engineer manager, might consider a senior engineer level position
as a means to be positioned for management down the road. Individuals who evaluate
from this perspective, understand the importance of sacrificing the short-term for "
long-term gains. Often, it isnʼt about the current pay structure, but more about earning
potential and opportunities to increase pay. There is nothing worse than wanting to take
your career upward and ending up in a dead-end job. Often the hiring company, if asked,
will lay out a potential path for you, however, at the end of the day, you decide this based
on a "gut" feeling.

Webster defines evaluation as "an act of appraising a situation as to form an idea". A good
method for appraising offers is to use a weighted pro/con sheet, weighting the items that have the most importance to you. Remember an evaluation is not about always about reaching a conclusion, but more about forming an opinion on the options at hand. Often individuals arenʼt able to make a decision until after some more discussion takes place, which brings us to the topic of my next blog......negotiating.
6 August 2011
Posted by | Topic: Job Tips

Good Ole Resigning, The Professional Way To Do It.

Today's topic - resignation letters. The key to effective resignation letters is factual information in a short format. If this takes you longer than 30 minutes to write, then Houston we have a problem…..and if you copy the format below, a simple copy/paste with some editing will make it feel more like 30 seconds. Resigning as a process is about wrapping up old stuff and beginning to think/plan for new stuff, so don't allow the old stuff to take longer than it needs to take. Do it accurately and professionally, but do it quickly. Here is a sample letter for your consideration:

Name (this needs to be your direct supervisor)

Recently, I received an offer from xxx (company) to work as xxx (position), and after careful consideration, I realize that this opportunity is too exciting for me to decline. (the objective is to inform them of what has happened).
Therefore, please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from xxx (company) as xxx (position). My last day of employment will be MM/DD/YYYY. (the objective is to inform them of your intention).
During the last xxx years, it has been a pleasure working as an integral part of this team. I am thankful for this experience and wish nothing but continued success for xxx (current employer). Going forward please let me know if there is anything I can do to ensure this process is a smooth transition. (the objective is thank them and assure them you hold no ill will).
Best regards,
(this should be personal contact info that can be used to reach you after you leave)

Now that the writing phase is completed, consider the following notes before taking any action.
• Prior to submitting this letter make sure to have an accepted offer (preferably a signed offer letter) from the new employer in place
• Do not email the letter, instead schedule a face-to-face meeting with your direct supervisor, bring a copy of the letter to the meeting, and directly hand it to him/her
• Be prepared to be escorted out of the building immediately following the meeting (this is more common for sales people), but have your office emptied before going into the meeting
• Most importantly, no matter how mad you are, this process should be conducted in a positive manner, so not to burn a bridge get even with them by excelling in your new position
• Do not be swayed by counter-offers, they are short-term fixes to long-term problems, trust me the odds are against accepted counter-offers that end well
• Following the submission of the letter, you need to inform your network of your resignation

15 July 2011
Posted by | Topic: Job Offers

How To Properly Resign From Your Job

Is this a loaded topic or what? As a recruiter, I deal with this subject on a daily basis
and it isn't always as easy as it appears.....some people struggle heavily in this area.
What makes resignations so difficult is that there are many steps involved in the
process - making the decision, acceptance/rejection, writing the memo, counteroffers,
and exit interviews - the more steps equal more potential opportunities to screw up.
My goal is to take the next couple weeks and discuss not only the overall process, but
also some of the individual items, such as resignation letters, counteroffers, and exit

Prior to any announcement is the decision - do I stay or do I go? For me, I always go
back to why a candidate first contacted me or was willing to go through the interview
process. There is always a driving force (usually several) behind an individual seeking
new employment. So the determining question on whether to stay or go is "does this
new position solve my problem(s)". If the answer is no, then you will probably be
looking again real soon (ie: you would be better off waiting for another opportunity),
but if the answer is yes, well congratulations, you have just graduated from the
interview process to the resignation process.

It is important to note that there is no perfect procedure for resigning, but I will try to
do my best to outline the direction you want to steer the ship. One overall theme to
this journey, is that everything is done professionally (being professional is treating
others as you would like to be treated). Resignations are not about getting even or
retribution, they are about bettering you career. Remember, it takes few words or
actions to torch bridges......

That being said, let's back up a bit and not just jump head first into making the
announcement, as there are a few housekeeping items that need to be completed first.
After a "yes" decision has been reached and you are ready to move on with your career,
it is very critical to get everything sealed up with the new company prior to informing
current employer of your intentions. Most employers when making an offer will provide
you with an offer letter outlining compensation, benefits, start date, and other items. I
am a firm believer in obtaining a written acceptance. This presents an opportunity for
another face to face meeting, where both sides can discuss all the details and
expectations up front. Remember, how an employer handles this, tells you a lot about
how they work internally. If you decide to reject the offer, then you should not send
them an email, but instead call or meet with the hiring manager to inform them of your
decision. Again, making a positive impression by handling it in a professional manner
will go a long way.

Okay, let's assume that we have an accepted offer letter signed, now what? The next
step is to write a resignation letter - I will cover this in a future blog, so let's just
pretend that the letter is satisfactory. DO NOT EMAIL THIS LETTER TO YOUR BOSS. It is
not the professional thing to do. Instead, schedule a meeting with your supervisor (be

vague on the subject). At the meeting, politely inform your supervisor of your decision
and hand them the letter. Prior to this meeting, you should have cleaned out your
office (keep only what is yours), as some companies will walk you out of the building
following this meeting. Traditionally, unless there are extenuating circumstances, two
weeks notice is common practice. During this two weeks, you should focus on three
things - 1) alerting your professional network of your career change (only say good
things about the company you are leaving), 2) Finish up all tasks assigned to you (do
not slack off and have a cheerful attitude), and 3) be willing to train your replacement.
If you do these things, doors remain open.

Finally, some organizations will attempt counteroffers and/or exit interviews.
Previously, I wrote a blog on counteroffers (I may re-post this later) and I expect to
write the next article on exit interviews, but in short I will say, if you can avoid the exit
interview, avoid it, and if presented a counteroffer, there are very few scenario's where
accepting one is to your long-term advantage.

Hopefully, this has given a broad scope to the steps in the process. Check back later
for more detailed discussions.

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