Are you bragging, or stating your worth?

Want to get hired? Prove you are the best option.

Employers look at resumes for three things to do the initial screening for greatness: 

  • Basic job skills
  • What you have accomplished
  • What you caused others to accomplish

Basic job skills have to be easy to find on your resume. Prove you can type, program in VB.Net, sell, do accounting or design widgets. Make it so those skills will not be missed by a receptionist who has hundreds of resumes to dig through.

What you have accomplished is often harder to come up with. 

What you caused others to accomplish is even harder to remember and very hard to prove.

Figure out the effect you had on others. Keep track of people you have trained, processes you speeded up and money you saved. It will set you apart. Most people won’t track those things because they are taught to be “humble”. There is a difference between bragging and stating how good you are at something. There is nothing wrong with reporting how well you do your job. Correctly convincing an employer to hire you because you will make him more money is a great idea. Don’t shy away from proving what you are worth. 

The people, teams and companies you have helped are a great indicator of just how great you are. Accept it and take advantage of it.

Something to do today

If you have not started a job journal, today is a good day to do it. Start tracking all the people you help. Keep a tally sheet with the number of people who drop by and ask for help each day. Figure out how you make the workplace better. Track it and report it.

Do you push people down, or do you lift them up?

John enters the room and smiles a second. Then the weary look of trench warfare, mustard gas, and too many days huddled in muddy water take over his face. Listening to one conversation he closes his eyes and barely moves his head side to side. He adds one point of gloom to another conversation. By the time the meeting starts everyone feels a little hopeless. Then the manager comes in and gives an upbeat presentation about success, profits, goals and objectives. Somehow it doesn’t quite take off. Everyone has a vague feeling of unease. Only a few trace it to John.

John enters a room and the energy of the team gets worse and worse. He has been warned about his negative attitude, so he is subtle. John never comes close to committing a firing offense. He should be fired anyway. Immediately.

You can teach a dog to do brain surgery with less effort and damage than trying to teach a John to be happy. Hopefully some cosmic shift will happen and John will take charge of his life. Once he really starts making progress in the areas that bother him, the rest of the world will shift. His outlook will shift. 

The trouble is that change has to come from within. Bosses, coworkers, spouses and children have tried to change John for years now. No one else can change John but himself. When that happens, he will add life to other people instead of sucking all the joy out of living.

Something to do today

Are you John? Are you the whiner, moaner and complainer? No? Prove it. Count how many positive things you say for every negative thing. What is the ratio? What is the effect?

What does the internet say about you?

You can ruin your career and job opportunities at the speed of light.  It can take anywhere from a few months to years to clear up the problem.  Google is the problem.

More bosses and companies Google their employees and candidates now. Before they give someone a promotion, raise in salary or a brand new job, they Google them.   It is an instant reference check. Your boss may Google himself to find out what the world knows about him. He will try to figure out who is slandering  him behind the online name “maddog231”.  If he figures out it was you, that can be a problem.

Worse, go to Google and you’ll notice a little link by every entry that says “cached.”   Cached means stored.  Even if your comment is pulled off the internet, Google is going to keep it for a while. If someone cuts and pastes your comment onto their website, that comment could be around for 20 years.  There may be no quick fix for the havoc you wreak on yourself by being sharp-tongued online.

If you don’t google yourself or be careful on the internet it’s time to start worrying about how you portray yourself in blogs, emails, resumes, comments and anything else you do online.  Google is a powerful tool.  Make sure what you put on the internet helps you instead of hurting you.

Something to do today

Google yourself, your bosses and your company.  Did you find anything interesting?

How to become an expert and get paid like one

Getting a raise or getting promoted is hard if no one notices what you do. Guerilla tactics for quick advancements have to get you noticed in a nice way. First a story, then the tactics.

Bill was one of the original guerilla advertisers. Decades ago, he had a product that no one had in a PC. Now every PC has one. His company went from obscurity to a major buyout. A lot of that happened because Bill and his partner figured out how to take the spotlight and become the talk of the town. They also had very good technology. 

We have been in contact for several years now. His fortunes changed dramatically. The buyout is over. The money went into investments that didn’t work out. He spent the last couple few years learning new skills. He started over at entry level and rose to team lead quickly. Now he has broken into the big time. Again. When he was broke. Again.

It is easy to break into the big time if you have a lot of money. People come to you. Bill wasn’t in that position. So what could he do?

We ended up talking about his original guerilla marketing. At that time they had no budget for marketing. He had to get the spotlight to shine on their product without paying for it. So they did talk shows, magazine articles, press releases, trade association presentations, and keynote addresses. They even put together almost complete reviews of their products so that magazine writers wouldn’t have to work hard.

Bill did that same type of thing again. He attracts the change he wants to see in his life. He isn’t chasing change, he puts on pheromones and lets change chase him.

All successful employers are stalking men who will do the unusual, men who think, men who attract attention by performing more than is expected of them. (Charles M. Schwab)

You can do the same type of guerilla self-promotion. You can attract change. Here’s how:

  1. Write your own reviews
  2. Become an expert
  3. Become KNOWN as an expert
  4. Get published

First off, be sure and write your own reviews for your boss. On a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis you need to give your boss a glowing review. A simple report stating the wonderful things you did each week will help him. He can’t pay attention to everything you do. That weekly report and more summaries will make sure that he knows how much you are worth. Write your own reviews.

You can become an expert. Start studying the area you want to be an expert in. One hour a day will make you a reference source in a month. In 3 months you will be an expert. 

Find out how you can become known as the expert. Offer to teach a class, write a memo or attend a planning meeting. Brief the managers above you in your area of expertise. You can do it informally. Talk to them before a meeting starts. The others coming to the meeting will hear some of it. Catch him in the hall and give him a one minute tidbit. 

You can also write articles about what you have learned. Offer them to the office newsletter editor. Don’t be afraid, offer them to the local newspaper, online magazines and trade magazines. Publishers desperately need interesting articles. When you get published make sure and give all your bosses a copy of the article.

My son was published in online programming magazines before he left for college. They needed good articles and didn’t care about his youth and lack of experience.

Figure out how to become an expert and you will be surprised how quickly your prospects change. You can become a technical consultant or a manager. 

Put on the pheromones of knowledge and the aura of expertise. Attract change in your career. 

Something to do today

Figure out what is worth becoming an expert about. Ask your bosses and other experts in your field where they see it going. You’ll be surprised how many people you are in awe of will talk with you about where they see the brightest future.

Are you underpaid?

I got a call from three business analysts from one international company in the same month. Each of them wanted to leave. The first thing cited was their low salary. When I said, “You can get a different job, but you will have to take at least a $10,000 per year pay cut,” they backed off. It was the awful truth. Each one of them had golden handcuffs. They were earning at least 15% more than any other local business would pay them. Of course the problem wasn’t their low pay, the problem was the unpaid overtime they were putting in. At least they thought it was unpaid overtime until they found out the pay cut they would have to take to move elsewhere.

Contract employees often tell me, “I want a salaried job, but I’m not going to accept less than I’m earning now.” They want to stop traveling, have health insurance, a generous training allowance, and get into a secure job with a future in one company. Yet, they want to be paid the same as when they had none of those things. Contract employees often earn twice what a salaried employee earns. It is for the simple fact that contractors have to take care of themselves.

Certainly some are vastly underpaid. I had one friend, Joe, who went from $35,000 per year to $50,000 per year in one salary jump because he was underpaid. Yes, it happens. More often employees are within 5% of the market rate for their job. If an employer pays less, they start losing people. Either they raise salaries or I come in and steal all of their best people. Then they are left with a bunch of really poor employees and maybe one great person who hasn’t found out yet. When that great employee leaves, the company may go out of business. 

To find out if you are really underpaid, first look at your performance. Only superstars get superstar salaries. If you are just average, you should expect average wages. If you are below average, your wages will be lower. 

Now do what Joe did, ask your coworkers how much they are paid, if you can. Joe didn’t do it for 5 years. When he finally asked, he asked workers he knew were lower rated than he was. When he found they were all earning more than he was, he had a right to get mad and get it fixed.

You can also look in the employment ads. Just remember that ads lie. A range of $50,000 to $60,000 does not mean you magically qualify for the high end. It means if you are a superstar you may hit the high end. It means an average worker will get the bottom number. A poor worker will not get hired.

Next, put together your resume and send it to a recruiter who specializes in placing folks like you. Ask for an honest opinion, “Can I expect a raise going to my next job?” Follow that up with, “How is my current pay compared to others doing the same job?” If the recruiter gasps and says, “I will have you three interviews tomorrow,” you are drastically underpaid. If he says, “It will take a while, but I may be able to find you a job,” your pay is within 5% of the norm or possibly high.

The ways to find out if you REALLY are underpaid are:

  • Ask coworkers rated lower than you are, “What do they pay you?”
  • Look at job ads.
  • Get a great resume to a recruiter and see how he reacts.

Find out where you stand, but be prepared for the “bad news” that you are paid about what you should be paid. If you get the “bad news”, fix it. Do the better work that will get you a raise, or get a job with a brighter future.

Folks who never do any more than they are paid for, never get paid more than they do. (Elbert Hubbard)

Something to do today

Do you have the guts to find out if you are being paid fairly? Then do it.

How to make sure you are picked for a promotion

Julie called my office. She wants a promotion. I’m a recruiter, it’s my job to help her find that promotion in a new company. I hate to have someone turn down a job because their boss makes them a counter offer they can’t refuse. I asked her, “How often do you tell your boss you want a promotion?” 

“I told him at my last performance review.”

“How long ago was that?”

“It has been over a year. We’re so busy the managers just can’t find time to do them.”

She’s a superstar performer going nowhere. When the office is jumping with activity for months at a time, no one counts her performance as exceptional. They just know she isn’t any trouble.

So, I suggested she declare her candidacy in a way that makes her an obvious choice for that promotion. It will also make it easier to find a new job with a promotion. First Julie needs to invite a few of her bosses out to lunch. She needs to let them know she wants the promotion. She needs to find a mentor. Then she needs to get a plan put together with her mentor’s help. She needs to prepare for a promotion. 

Deciding who to promote in an office of heads-down hard workers is tough. There is no standout leader. No one has already taken the helm. However, in an office with a bunch of hard workers, one of whom has been working with the boss to develop leadership skills for a year, which will get promoted? Obviously the boss’s protégé. The person who has declared themselves for the job. 

Julie may need to take a bookkeeping course, sales training, management classes and take the lead in 5 or 10 projects. What she needs can be determined with her mentor. As she does these things, she will be seen as the obvious choice for a promotion. Her bosses and her coworkers will both see she is the obvious choice for promotion.

If you want to be promoted, ask one of your bosses to help you prepare now. Find a mentor.

Something to do today

Invite your boss or his boss to lunch. Ask him to mentor you and help you get ready for a promotion.

Will your company move your position offshore?

IBM consolidated all of the development work for one of its major initiatives in Bangalore. I can’t even find Bangalore on a map without taking a few minutes. 

In my business, recruiting, some parts are being offshored. Sales companies are sending telemarketing offshore. Engineering is going to cheaper climes. Data entry is sent to other countries through our great telecommunications system. And many companies no longer have permanent offices or cubicles for large numbers of their “thought” workers. They work from home or on the road. This was true even before the pandemic.

It is a fact of life. Manufacturers had to face the music decades ago. Now it is everyone else’s turn. The economics of a world economy are not going away. You need to assess your skills and job starkly. Can your job be sent to Vietnam or Indonesia? What do you offer that is superior to their college-educated workforce?

David Foote defined three categories of “offshore-resistant” jobs in the computer field. They are enabler jobs, customer-facing jobs, and infrastructure jobs. I think he has the right idea, but he is an optimist. Some of the jobs he thinks are offshore resistant will go overseas. 

In your field, what are the offshoring resistant jobs? Which jobs cannot even be moved to California or Alabama? A recent study showed that half of the outsourced jobs are outsourced within the USA. The jobs leave your company and stay in the country.

There is a larger reason than potential unemployment to figure it out. The jobs that are most difficult to offshore are the most likely to be stable. They are more likely to have constantly increasing salaries. As the older generations retire, those jobs cannot be filled by unskilled labor. While the workforce shrinks, competition for people who can do those critical jobs will increase. Compared to today’s wages, some people are going to be paid outrageously well.

In your field, what are the offshoring resistant jobs? Just knowing will change your career.

Something to do today

Invite your boss or his boss to lunch. Take the chance to ask him what jobs are most and least likely to be offshored. It is worth paying for his lunch to find out.

Turning bad into good when life hits hard

Many of the happiest people I know were ruined at one point. Some depressed people were also ruined, but they stayed that way. It can be layoffs, bankruptcy, divorce, a major health problem or a terrorist act that is your personal disaster. Often it is a combination of them, a major kick in the teeth.

One friend of mine was climbing the career ladder. There was a disaster and he, his wife and kids all had to come and live in the basement of his parent’s house. He took a dock worker job at a trucking company. He had no future. He learned that dock worker job and got promoted several times in only a couple of years. Then he quit and formed a local company that expanded to several states. He still loaded trucks when he had to… as the CEO helping out. He won’t tell you he liked getting kicked in the teeth. Instead, he’ll tell you it was a turning point. It was the start of a new and exciting phase of his life. 

Ginger, Hot Lemon, Tea, Lemon, Snow, Juice, Cold

He got kicked in the teeth again and had the courts liquidate his company three years later. Now he’s back at it. He didn’t enjoy it, but he just kept moving forward.

Happy or depressed, which will it be? That depends on how long it takes you to put yourself in charge. Being in charge is the subject of the next series of articles. Positive steps you can take to prepare for or recover from disaster.

Something to do today

Talk to the 3 happiest people you know. Get them alone. Ask them if they were ever kicked in the teeth. You may have to push them to find out. Ask them about the list: layoffs, bankruptcy, divorce, health and terrorist acts. I’ll bet you are surprised at what they call, “A blessing in disguise.”

79% of people leave their jobs for THIS reason

A manager is frequently a deciding factor on whether or not you like or hate your job. A study by the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM) concluded that 79% of people who leave their jobs say that lack of appreciation is a key reason. Happiness at work is, therefore, the manager’s fault. People quit because of their managers. In the end, your managers will make or break your work experience.

The average person who changes jobs only gets a 5% raise according to another study. That is not a lot of money. Quite often the next raise would have met or exceeded that. So money is not a major factor 

Recognition, praise, rewards and awards are part of a manager’s duty. Yet many managers get so caught up in projects and budgets that they never say, “Well done!”

So, when you are looking for a job or a promotion, you know the most important thing to look for. Find a good manager.

How do you decide who is a good manager? 

Find a chance to ask people who have been working for that person how they like it. Listen carefully for hints of happiness or unhappiness. Follow through on any hints with more questions.  

Think about the managers you have liked. Haven’t they been the ones who knew how well you did, and recognized you for it?

Something to do today

List your last 4 managers. First rank them by how well they appreciated your accomplishments. Then rank them by how you liked them overall as managers. Is there something to this? What kind of a manager or team leader are you?

Learn for success

GM and Ford are laying off workers.  The layoffs include production line, engineering and management workers. IBM has layoffs every year, even when they are expanding.  State and federal governments have layoffs. The military has layoffs.

You are only safe if you train your brain. 

One of my candidates got tired of having to upgrade his computer skills every 3 or 4 years so he studied massage therapy.  Several candidates are getting their MBA’s.  I push everyone to get certifications in their field.  I once had a client who was a soldier in Iraq, and even he was able to continue his training.

Many people think their brain can stop when they graduate from high school or college.  These people have totally missed the meaning of the “Commencement Ceremony.”  Commencement means the beginning, not the end.  It is the time to really start learning.  It is the opening of broad new vistas of opportunities.

Oprah Winfrey said that the most important decision she ever made was to read two books each week.  She could stop working today and retire with the 100’s of millions of dollars she has earned.  Instead, she keeps on learning.  Because she keeps on learning, she keeps on being interesting to watch on TV.

I knew a rodeo cowboy, a pro bull rider, who always impressed me.  She kept learning new skills, and even got into law school. 

Are you still feeding your brain or did it stop working as soon as you left school?

Something to do today

Decide on a plan to learn something fun and something useful.  They may be the same thing.  Get started.