Category Archives: Finding jobs

How to get more money in your job

Some people need a new job to get more money. Others just need a new attitude. For more money, often you just have to ask.

I get calls from people with golden handcuffs occasionally. They are paid so well or have such great bonuses that all they can get by switching jobs is a drop in pay. Often they don’t appreciate it. I have to honestly tell them what the job market is like and ask them if they want to earn less at a new job. Only one in twenty says, “Yes, I’ll take a drop in pay.” The others get a quick lesson on either growing where they are at or being content at being overpaid.

Others are underpaid or paid their market value and want to earn more. Changing jobs for a 3% raise usually makes no sense. You could easily get that in the next year just by being patient. Often you could get a raise like that in a few weeks by presenting your case to your boss and their boss. So try that first. Present your accomplishments and a list of things you have done in the last few years. Prove you are worth more and give them 3 months to react.

If you really can get a 10% raise or more by leaving the job, the problem is different. You still need to present your case to your bosses. They may give you the raise and solve the problem. Give them 3 months to work on it after you present an air tight case that includes your specific contributions, not just your responsibilities.

During those 3 months keep your eyes open for a new job. Check out what the market really is like. After 3 months go back to your bosses and ask if you are going to get a raise. This is an important step so that they know you are serious. If they say, “No,” then start looking for a new job.

Some people really do need a new job to get more money.

Something to do today

Thinking about getting a new job? Call a recruiter who specializes in your field or in your geographical area. Ask them what the going rates for someone like you are.

Create your own luck

IQ experts say that Thomas Jefferson was one of the smartest men ever born. I don’t doubt he was brilliant. However he once said “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” He harnessed his brilliance to the ox of hard work. Without his hard work, that incredible brain would have been wasted. 

I am sure there have been many others born who were smarter than Jefferson, no matter what the experts say. Those who were smarter were never recognized because they either worked in obscurity or didn’t work much at all. They used their brilliance to just get by.

Even the best poker players need luck. However, they also spend time practicing and perfecting their art. Learning to be the best at what you do and figuring out what the right moves are will be your best chances of having that luck with you. 

Two things you can do to be doing better than just getting by:

  1. You have to work hard
  2. You have to be recognized

I constantly talk to job seekers who have managed to get themselves into a great position. They work hard, have a great attitude and are willing to take chances. Interestingly, they commit with all their heart even though they may change jobs or positions frequently. They commit, work hard and make sure their accomplishments are recognized.

These superstars often hit bumps in the road. I know one that went from COO, to $24,000 per year junior associate, then back up to senior associate at $70,000 per year in 24 months. A year later he was CTO. He makes commitments, works hard and gets recognized.

Something to do today

It is time to look at your habits. Are you performing at the level you want to be recognized at? In other words, work hard and get recognized. 

Using every opportunity to network

When Bill Gates was trying to sell a PC operating system to IBM, his mother was on a charity board. The president of IBM was on the same board. Was there a possible connection? Maybe. I doubt Bill Gates’ mother got the deal for him, but I’m sure it helped.

An unemployed salesman asked me, “Can you help me find a job? You know I’ve been looking for months. What can I do?” 

I didn’t have a job for him, so I asked him about his job search. We talked about networking. It turns out he already was in touch with some very influential people. They even offered to introduce him to other leaders, but he was afraid to take their help.

This salesman had convinced himself that, despite what these leaders thought, he just wasn’t worth their time. He didn’t feel comfortable networking at that level. He couldn’t see a reason why they would help him. Here is why they would help him: That is what President’s do. They help people succeed. They are focused on it. They spend all day thinking about helping others succeed. I put that salesman in a verbal headlock and got him to promise he would use the help he had already been offered.

Remember Bill Gates? He sold a PC operating system to IBM that he did not create or own. Bill Gates had gotten the right to sell it from the creator. He outsold a guy who owned a demonstrably better operating system. Bill Gates did it by using every string, every avenue and every potential aid he could find. Lots of people wanted him to succeed, not just his mother. He got everyone’s help he could.

Don’t be afraid to use every bit of help you can find to get your new job. Others wouldn’t help you if they didn’t believe in you. Now, believe in yourself.

Something to do today

Make a list of the most powerful and influential people you know. Ask for help. If they are in your current company, ask for help growing where you are. If they are out of your company, ask for help finding a new job. Go to the most powerful and influential first. 

You are worth it.

Are you sowing seeds of success in your job?

The first winter in Plymouth Colony killed a third of the Pilgrims. During that winter one of my ancestors was caught eating the seed corn. He knew the whole colony would fail if the seed corn disappeared, but he talked himself into eating it anyway. I’m glad he was caught. I’m glad he learned.

Every job is the seed of your next job, even if you are changing fields entirely. Your future boss will be looking back at your accomplishments, drive, leadership and enthusiasm for your current job.

When you decide to sit back and relax at your job, you eat your seed corn. No one wants to hire an “average” person. They want to hire a superstar, or at least a hard worker.

Figure out how to make a difference. How can YOU make the company more profitable? Is there some way you can prove you are above average? 

When I was doing janitorial work at 4 a.m. every morning, I excelled. I only missed 2 days in a school year and I called in advance for those. I did my entire job no matter how tired I was. That work got me promoted to the afternoon shift. It was a lot nicer. The early morning job was the seed of my next job, and that was the seed of the next.

Don’t relax. Be at least above average. It will be the seed corn for your next job.

Invest some of the money you earn to get training. Use it as seed corn.

Something to do today

Be honest. Are you sliding by? 

List what makes you above average. Put it on your resume.

List what makes you below average. Eliminate it.

Using a mirror to find your problems

Most people have no clue what happened in a job interview. Did you do well?  Did they hate you? Is there a big mistake you keep making? You lose sleep, hope, talk to yourself, and relive the interview, praying to find a clue.

It is like when you want to see the back of your head or you want to see the middle of your back. It takes at least two mirrors and a lot of luck, twisting, and patience.

A friend’s eye is a good mirror.

Find a couple of job interview mirrors, like the ones you use to see the middle of your back. You need a friend who won’t just parrot back what you say. Someone who listens and will feel comfortable telling you what they really think is critical. They need to walk you through three questions. Not just ask them, but make you stay on track. They need to pull you back to reality and away from your emotional state. Have them explore these three questions:

  1. Walk me through the interview like a movie. What exactly happened without any emotional coloring?
  2. In the interview, what were their hiring priorities? What did they explore and worry about the most?
  3. In your gut, how do you really feel about it?

You can go through those questions yourself and it will help. But, there is something about having to answer to someone else that often clarifies the situation. That’s one reason that a recruiter earns his keep. He becomes a sounding board after an interview for both the candidate and the client, helping them stay in sync with each other.

Having someone who can point out your mistakes and help you find where you need to work on to get a job is important. A friend or a family member is helpful but only if they know saying the bad things not just the good things is good for you. A recruiter is a great choice too, because it’s their job to help you find a job.

Something to do today

Find that mirror. Who will be honest with you? Who will YOU be honest with?

Six things you can learn from South Africa that will improve your job search

have recently worked with someone from South Africa and they have told me how difficult business there can be. Basic utilities like electricity and water are very unreliable; they can go out for hours during the day. The legal system is subject to corruption. Government regulation depends on your relationship with the bureaucrats, not the rules. Business partners don’t want to offend you or lose face, so they agree to do things they can’t get done. Bringing you bad news is avoided at all cost. Labor costs are low, but people will switch jobs for the slightest increase in pay. The problem goes on and on depending on the city, industry, neighborhood, and your ancestors.

South African business people do incredibly well in the US because they have practice overcoming complex problems. You can learn how to prosper in your job search and job by applying the few basic principles they live by. 

These job security, success, and business principles are applicable to accountants, help desk techs, managers, and CEO’s. They especially matter if you are in a job search. They will give you an incredible advantage in every company you apply at.

  1. Trust others but make sure they are actually accomplishing what they say they will do. Even experienced partners occasionally screw up. Have an alternative plan in case things don’t get done on time. Get commitments from recruiters, managers, friends, and anyone you talk to. Follow up.
  2. Don’t rely on your relationship with one person, like the HR department. Establish relationships three or four people deep. If one leaves or fails, you need the others to keep going forward.
  3. Spend time cultivating people. Get to know them. Find out about them personally as well as from business. It is amazing how often this will give you the leverage you need to succeed. Some of our greatest success as recruiters comes from being friendly, open and honest with the receptionist, as well as with HR and the hiring manager.
  4. Help others constantly. Go out of your way to encourage, help, and promote others who are growing. That help will often come back to save you in a crisis. Helping someone else get a job will improve your abilities and give you a strong supporter on the inside of their new company.
  5. Constantly focus on doing things quicker, cheaper, better, and with less people. This alone is the greatest job security guarantor in the USA. When you prove you can do it in your resume, you will always be a hot commodity on the job market.
  6. Take time to read, plan, and think. Americans are terrible at this. Sit down with a sheet of paper and write for 15 minutes or an hour each day. Brainstorm things you can do for your job or job search.

In South Africa it is essential to have multiple layers of preparation. In America, we frequently get by without them. Americans also often wonder why they got laid off and how they will survive when laid off. Preparation, getting to know more people, and fearless execution will do more for your earning potential than anything else.

Something to do today

List where you only have one layer of protection. Then list how you can improve that.

Keep learning, and you’ll never be out of a job

My grandfather was a modern farmer in 1930. The local farm bureau agent came by and said, “The government will pay you to rotate your crops.” Grandpa replied, “That is the stupidest thing I ever heard. I already rotate my crops because I can grow more that way. My land doesn’t get worn out. It gets renewed.”

Grandpa was stubborn and wouldn’t take the government’s money to do something he knew he should already be doing. The guys from the conservation bureau had problems with him. He always implemented the latest ideas without waiting for them to come up with a program to get him to do it. Crazy old coot? Really, he was a visionary farmer.

Do you have to be paid to prepare yourself to earn more money? 

Reading about your field, reading books, or even listening to audiobooks on your way to work is the best way to keep current in your field. College courses in the evening are a great way to build the basics you need for a foundation for growth. Enthusiasm will get you into seminars and conventions. Pay for it yourself if you have to. It is worth it.

Don’t wait for someone to come and tell you what you need to do and learn. Go out and learn it yourself before that happens. 

Something to do today

Find new articles, books, or audiobooks in your field and write down a few things that stand out or are new to you. How can you apply that to your work?

It’s easiest to become an expert in a NEW technology

If you focus on the innovations happening around you, it can change your career. When an idea, technology or procedure is new, it takes a week to become an expert. A year later it takes a year to become an expert.

Startup, Whiteboard, Room, Indoors, Adult, Office

I became a database expert in a week when Oracle 1.0 (yes, I’m that old) came out. I talked my boss into springing for $100 to get a copy. I parlayed that into becoming a DB2 guru by buying a book. One book. I became a data modeling expert because no one else had a clue what that was. One innovation led to another, and my bosses had no desire to stop me. All the industry magazines and experts were using the buzzwords I could implement. I was on the leading edge. I was riding the wave of innovation. Every career progression was caused by taking two weeks to prepare for an upcoming, essential, mystifying technology.

Do a little internal innovation and focus on using other’s ideas and new technology. It is always easier to become an expert when technology and techniques are new. What is new in your field?

Something to do today

Try it again. The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Figure out what the buzzwords are that people are barely starting to define in your field.

Picking up a hundred dollar bill can halt your career

Do you pick up money you see on the ground? Do you stop your career in order to do a menial project or take a job someone else should do?

Bending over to pick up a hundred dollar bill is a bad investment of your time if you are Bill Gates. He has averaged earning more than that every two seconds since Microsoft started. I did the math.

Imagine you’re the fastest pizza maker in the world and make the best pizzas ever. However, your name is also Tom Monaghan, and you founded Domino’s Pizza. Is the best use of your time to make pizzas and sell them? No. Not even close. No matter how good your pizzas are, or how many you can make, if you focus on making pizzas instead of making a corporate empire, you will be wasting your time. 

Just because you are the best person for the job, doesn’t mean the job is the best opportunity for you. 

Something to do today

What are you doing that keeps you from tackling more important projects? Who can you get to do that job for you?

Use raising technology and new techniques to get a great job

Fingerprint locks are used by tons of people on a daily basis, whether on computers or phones. People use them more often than the number or word locks because of convenience. They even have fingerprint locks for doors, and eventually I can see new locks like these being used more often than the everyday lock and key. The world changes a lot around us, and with that there are new ideas and new ways of life. 

Your job search should be like the world, always changing, always improving.

Every year thousands of people get great new jobs with massive pay raises because they have learned something new and exciting. I know average programmers who are earning $120,000 per year. They learned the latest technology and tools and have been riding the gravy train for 3 or 4 years. Accountants that can implement brand new systems are still worth their weight in gold. 

Adding a fingerprint lock helps sell thousands of new electronics to geeks like me. New technology, techniques, and skills can sell CEO’s and managers on your value.

What can you learn today? 

Something to do today

The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Try it today.