Can You Get Paid What You’re Worth?

Salary is often a touchy and contentious subject in a job search, as well as after you land a new job. Like many job seekers, you’ve probably struggled with how to get a reasonable idea about what salary you should be targeting for the position you’re after. This is especially aggravating since employers seem to consider it a closely held secret on their end but something you should freely communicate on yours!

A warped double-standard, if there ever was one.

So what about sources that purport to provide you with worthwhile information to help you determine what the going rate might be, such as Glassdoor.com?

Unverifiable Salary Information Worse Than Nothing

According to Nick Corcodillos (Ask The Headhunter), Glassdoor.com provides information that’s basically worthless, and he doesn’t expect you to take his word for that. Here’s what he recently shared on his blog, including a direct quote from Glassdoor:

“Glassdoor itself is clear in its Terms of Use that it doesn’t stand by anything posted by users or employers — that is, all its salary and company reviews:

“Because we do not control such Content, you understand and agree that: (1) we are not responsible for, and do not endorse, any such Content, including advertising and information about third-party products and services, job ads, or the employer, interview and salary-related information provided by other users; (2) we make no guarantees about the accuracy, currency, suitability, reliability or quality of the information in such Content; and (3) we assume no responsibility for unintended, objectionable, inaccurate, misleading, or unlawful Content made available by users, advertisers, and third parties.”

Wow! And yet job seekers continue to check this unreliable source for data they can base their job search and salary negotiations on!

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How Much Time Should Your Job Search Take?

Sometimes prospective clients ask me how long their job search should take? That is, how long do I think it will be before they get calls, interviews, and job offers? If I knew the answer to that, I’d be independently wealthy and gainfully unemployed!

Seriously, as the saying goes, “There’s no easy answer.” What you really need to do is figure out what your employment goal is, identify the essential steps to reach it (if all goes well), and then dive in.

Note: This might be one of my all-time-short blog posts, because I’m not going to “gild the lily”–even if you’re a senior executive or candidate for that level, certain basic elements remain the same.

Free Yourself from Time-Limited Job Search Thinking!

Unless you have a can’t-change deadline for concluding a successful job search, start by stopping. In other words, stop thinking in terms of “how long” and instead “how little” time you can spend on the search productively.

A week’s worth of time that focuses on essentials beats a month or more of time wasted on actions that don’t produce desirable results–because they couldn’t from the outset.

Minimize Your Job Search Time with Careful Planning & Execution

  1. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: Know where you want to go before you begin–and make sure you have your ducks all in a row (resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, and so on).
  2. Check out the job possibilities you’re interested in and do your homework on the ones that look most promising, desirable, etc. This is not a random process. Use carefully selected criteria to decide which positions are appealing enough to be worth spending extra time on if needed.
  3. Determine what your most productive times might be to work intensively on the job search and block out chunks of that time as much as possible before you launch your job search.
  4. Head off potential distractions as much as you can–anticipate and manage those you can and try to postpone those you can’t prepare for. Don’t let yourself get stuck.
  5. Weigh each action you’re considering by asking yourself, “Is this critical for my job search or is it something I can put off?”
  6. Evaluate your progress periodically to see if you’re drifting off course without realizing it and make course corrections as promptly as possible if you find you are.

Whether your job search ends up “short” or “long” might be impossible to know at the start, but if you approach it wisely, it will almost certainly be more productive–with the kind of results you need–and isn’t that what really matters?

Does Your Career Success Depend on Education?

Does lack of a degree get in the way of your career success? What if you earned your degree 15-20 years ago? If you have a bachelor’s degree, do you need an MBA or other advanced degree?

One or more of these questions might hold significance for you. Let me break it down into chunks.

Does a nonexistent degree hinder your career success?

As with many things, the answer is, “It depends.” Your career goal often influences how far you can progress without a four-year college or university degree. For instance, if your chosen career field is flooded with competitors who have a degree, companies can pick and choose. That makes it tough for you to compete.

Notice I said “tough,” not “impossible.” If you’re motivated to acquire expertise and skills that are in high demand, you can significantly boost your professional qualifications and “must-have” factor in the eyes of potential employers.

You need to put your value message on a strong foundation and work assertively to get it out to employers. And you need to work hard not to let a feeling of inferiority undermine the confidence you project to those employers.

“Old” degrees–how much do they matter?

One reason I don’t list dates for degrees in the 1980s and early 1990s these days is that I don’t want employers to zero-in on my clients’ age or how long ago they earned the degree. The experience they’ve acquired since then can and should tell their story in the most compelling way. Read More

Don’t Let Workplace Stress “Do You In”!

You worked hard to get where you are, but now you’re drowning in a hectic sea of work that threatens to overwhelm you completely. In fact, the stress you’re experiencing on a regular basis could actually, at some point “do you in.” Ever hear someone say, “The stress is killing me!”? Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.

How Did Your Workplace Stress Get So Bad?

You might start by blaming the modern trend toward trying to do more and more while seemingly having less and less time to do it in. Many companies (or their management) bear a sizable portion of the guilt on this score. They demand that you base your hopes for career progress on dedicating a huge percentage of your time and energy to the company that pays your salary.

While a fair amount of dedicated effort is reasonable to expect, it’s not reasonable for your employer to require slavish devotion to the company and expect you to always put it first in your life (at least, in my not-so-humble opinion!). If you go along with that unreasonable demand, you need to accept your share of the responsibility for the workplace stress you’re getting hammered by.

On the other hand, if the stress-load sneaked up on you over the years–that is, didn’t clearly announce its arrival and growth to you–you might feel it was understandable that you didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. And you’d be right, but that doesn’t mitigate the severity of the professional crisis you’re now in. You need to do something, but what?

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How You Can Overcome Barriers to Career Success

You might know someone who has seemingly coasted to career success while encountering few, if any, barriers. Maybe you’ve envied them for having it come so easily.

Don’t! First, it might not have been as easy for them as it looked to you. The barriers to career success they encountered might not have been visible or easy to identify. Second, their situation isn’t yours. You probably bring different qualities, experiences, and expectations to the mix. A host of factors could influence what you run up against.

Women’s Barriers to Career Success–What’s Different

This is not intended as a tirade against men in business! It does, however, recognize the need to acknowledge that women have had–and continue to have–added levels of difficulty in their pursuit of career success…because they are female.

Add to the gender-related issue by including ethnic differences, and you’ve just compounded the difficulty.

In such cases, no career path is likely to be easy.

If you want to read an eye-opening article on this subject, try “4 Ways Women Can Break Barriers by Breaking the Rules,” by Francesca Gino, published by Harvard Business Review. What I particularly liked about Gino’s article–beyond the great real-life examples–was the short list of no-nonsense actions women can take. Briefly, these are:

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Is Your Resume a Scam Victim?

Predators come in all shapes and sizes. One of the types that aggravates me and many of my professional resume-writing colleagues is online services that tell job seekers something flatly untrue about their resume. The impression those services are after? “Your resume sucks, and you need our help ASAP to fix it!”

In case you’re ever approached with this gambit, you should know that, almost invariably, it’s a scam. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or a senior executive, this scam can target you. If you’re not alert, you might be taken in by it. The perpetrators have zero integrity and will take advantage of you if you let them convince you. (Hint: You want to deal with people who have integrity!)

Your Resume and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

One version of the scam involves the company telling you your resume can’t be opened by their ATS because it doesn’t have the right keywords (or some variation of this theme). Often, they will tell you all you need to do is let them “fix” it for you–for a nice fee, of course.

Yes, you could run into problems if your resume doesn’t include appropriate keywords, but that’s a different animal from being unable to open the file. The ATS might score you lower than you’d like, which could keep your resume from being seen by hiring managers or recruiters. However, the “solution” offered by scammers does nothing to help you with that, so why would you want to pay your hard-earned money for it?

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Job Search – Where Do I Start?

Highly organized individuals might have no problem at all managing their job search, from start to finish. If you’re not lucky enough to be one of them, you might consider the whole idea of a job search to be a major pain–almost worse than going to the dentist for a root canal!

The challenge begins with the “where do I start” question. You know you’re going to have to take several actions to reach the job search goal you have in mind–such as a particular job you’ve identified or a company you really want to work for, which is currently hiring. However, that only describes your situation in general terms, and “general” won’t cut it in the long run.

You can do a free-thought brainstorming session (by yourself or with a knowledgeable supporter) to flesh-out the key points for your job search. Let’s break down how that process might look.

Where Do I Start?

Logically, you’ll want to clarify what your near-term goal is: specific job or something else. If you have more than one possibility in mind, determine whether the alternatives are mutually exclusive (meaning that realistically you can only choose one) or could be combined in some way.

That near-term goal could also be part of your overall, longer-range career management plan. For now, though, the main objective is to identify your next, potentially reachable career destination.

Avoid getting bogged down in excessive detail–you can’t map out absolutely everything that might come up. Settle for a good grasp of the essentials, such as:

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Career Progress: Giving, Not Just Getting

It’s probably safe to assume that you want to progress in your career, and you’ve heard from experts that you need to focus significant time and energy on that goal if you expect to achieve it. Is there anything wrong with that approach?

Not if you don’t concentrate so hard on what you can get from others that you forget about the opposite side of the coin: giving. When you focus too intensely on what you hope to gain, you can become so self-absorbed that other people feel put off, distanced from you and not inclined to pursue what could otherwise be a mutually beneficial relationship.

Giving Support and Encouragement

A mountain climber often needs support from a buddy to reach the peak during a tough climb. Similarly, even a smart, career-focused professional occasionally needs support from others. You’re more likely to receive that support–sometimes without having to ask for it–if you make a habit of giving support when you become aware that it’s needed or useful.

What kind of support could you give as well as receive?

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