Category Archives: Promotions

Get a promotion by stacking the odds in your favor

In The Millionaire Mind the success of many German aces is credited to a flyer who had a weak arm, “Paule” Rossmann. In the days before modern airplanes, brute strength often determined whether fighter pilots stayed in the air or were shot down. Rossmann had a weak arm and decided he preferred life to a glorious death. He decided to carefully pick his targets and opportunities instead of going into testosterone charged death matches. That pilot had over 80 kills because he only attacked when all the odds were in his favor. 

The plan is simple. Study things out. Get above your target. Make sure the odds are in your favor. Wait a little bit if you have to. Then commit everything you have to win the day. 

You need to do the same thing as Rossman. Become a student of success in your field. If you want to be a great technician, salesman, manager or CEO you need to study people who are performing better than you. Why were they given opportunities or promoted? 

I am often told, “I can’t get promoted because I refuse to play politics.” 

If that is how you feel, you are welcome to your injured pride. You may NOT be able to succeed where you are. So quit and get a new job. If you have had 3 or 4 jobs and you always have the same problem, look at yourself. In all likelihood you are the problem in that situation.

Take some time to honestly evaluate why you don’t succeed. Are you playing to a weakness? Do other people REALLY outperform you? Are you guilty of taking on yourself ALL the jobs no one else wants? Have you positioned yourself to lose?

If you are not sure what the problem is, time to swallow your pride. Call up some of your old bosses. Now that time has passed, ask for their help. Tell them you have come to realize that you have some problems. Humbly ask them, “You were my boss. What keeps me from succeeding the way I could?” Then just listen. Take notes. Swallow your pride. 

Asking your old bosses for help even works for wildly successful people.

The idea is simple. Study things out. Get above your problems. Make sure you know what you do well and compensate for what you do poorly. Wait a little bit as you get prepared. Then re-commit everything you have to win the day.

 Something to do today

Only do this if you recover quickly from sharp criticism!

Do you have a boss that hated you years ago? How about one that loved you? Call them both and humbly ask for their help. Tell them you need perspective. Write down what they say. Meekly say thank you at the end of the conversation. 

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.

You’ll only get what you ask for

I was working in the oilfield for a year and a half and was laid off. I talked with a co-worker who was also laid off. He started the same time I did and was earning over twice as much. I was flabbergasted. I was better educated and had worked just as hard. He confided his secret, “Every time I saw my supervisor I asked when I was going to get my next raise.” We only saw our supervisor every month or three. He got the raises. I didn’t.

I didn’t learn.

My next job at EDS they told us that we weren’t allowed to share salary information with others. I was intimidated. Luckily they did give me some nice raises. After a few years those raises slowed down. I waited for my annual reviews and hoped for a raise. Once, I got ready to quit. The boss found out and gave me a raise. Hmmm. I still didn’t learn.

I am now paid based on how well AGI does. My wife owns the company. If I were going back to an hourly or salaried job, I’d talk to my boss about a raise every 3 months. 

Every 3 months is often enough that you can set goals and meet them between reminders. It is often enough to get some more education and finish some more projects. You have time to turn in 13 good weekly reports to your boss, even if they don’t ask for them.

I would NOT be upset about NOT getting a raise. I would expect to get a better raise than if I kept quiet. Think about it. If I discuss my job performance and a raise every 3 months with my boss, I will be much more likely to focus on what will get me a raise. Also, at the end of the year my boss really knows how much I deserve. 

Something to do today

Want a raise? A promotion? Time to start reviewing your desires with your boss often. More often.

How to know your company might be in danger

Some signs of trouble in your company are easy to ignore. They aren’t obvious signs of trouble. They can even look like progress.

In the great Indian Ocean tsunami some people survived because they knew the signs of a tidal wave of disaster waiting to happen. They learned, “When the sea retreats far past the beach, run for the high ground. It will soon come roaring back.” It is a natural occurrence before a tsunami.

Job disasters have signs of impending doom like the tsunami causing water to retreat from the shore. Think about it. What happens before a car plant closes down entirely? Work is cut back. Minor layoffs occur. Sales are obviously dropping. Cars stay on dealer lots for longer and longer. Rebates and special incentives are used to sell cars. Managers, supervisors and foreman are laid off. Finally the plant closing is announced.

An old Thai proverb says, 

At high tide fish eat ants. At low tide ants eat fish.

A healthy company succeeds by doing effectively what a dying company struggles to do over and over without success. 

Signs of doom I have seen where I worked included: 

  • A new quality program annually 
  • No more flowers sent to funerals of workers and their family members 
  • Business travel is cut back 
  • On-the-job training is cut back to “just in time” training 
  • Payments for outside tuition is cut back 
  • Technology innovation specialists moved back into production jobs 
  • Promised bonuses cut back or not paid 
  • Refusal to let employees transfer to other areas in the company 
  • Relocation expense reimbursement eliminated 
  • Sudden personal interest in the workers by the company president and chairman. 
  • Empowerment training during declining markets. 
  • Not replacing people who quit. 
  • Reorganizing more and more often. 
  • Stock price dropping. 
  • Replacement of salespeople at a quick clip. 
  • A frenzy of competitor acquisitions.
  • A sudden focus on getting “good press” or being in trade publications.

When you see the signs of impending problems, you may still have years to prepare. Or you may have days. The important thing is to start preparing without being part of the problem. Take positive steps in your own sphere of influence.

When the water retreats from the shoreline, it may look like a great time to go out and pick up the fish left behind. When your boss is sacked, it may seem like the perfect time to get into management. And it may be true. But be careful and look for signs that a tsunami is coming to wash your whole company away.

Later I will talk about how businessmen in India cope with far worse problems than Americans can even begin to understand, and do it with a smile.

Something to do today

Draw a line down the middle of a sheet of paper. On the left side write signs of company strength, reasons for optimism. On the right put a list of troubling signs of decline. Now pick how you can help accentuate the positive or eliminate the negative. Not only will your actions help your company, they will insulate you from layoffs and prepare you for a new job if disaster strikes.

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.

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.

How to be persistent with your job hunt

Kids can be a practically irresistible force. I have 10 children. Usually I can resist them. Not always. Sometimes they have to admit defeat, but with kids they don’t admit defeat till they have exhausted every avenue towards success. Here’s how they win.

  1. Be totally, irresistibly, and eternally committed to a world changing idea
  2. Jump up and down with enthusiasm
  3. “No” means not now
  4. “Not now” means try again in 5 minutes
  5. Laugh, smile and tickle your dad
  6. Run around and get all the other kids excited out of their minds
  7. Ask dad for help to figure out how to do it
  8. Cry if dad is not listening
  9. See if you can turn it into a school project
  10. Ask mom to talk to dad about it
  11. Bring a partially completed task to dad to be fixed
  12. Change your plans and try again in an hour
  13. A small explosion in the yard will get dad’s attention
  14. Make it a game

Kids win because they are too excited to accept defeat. They are willing to try every possible way around an obstacle. When I am the obstacle and they are really really determined, they know they can win.

Is there a job you really really want? Why not job hunt like a kid?

Something to do today

Take a pen and paper and translate each of those 14 things into something you can use for job hunting or working for a promotion in real life.

How to get tire tracks up your back

“I want to find a place where I don’t have to work so hard anymore. I’m 6 years from retirement. With my experience, I should be able to get top dollar for my next job.”

Do you see the absolute logical disaster in that statement? He wants to work less, slow down preparing for retirement, and be paid as much as ever. I hear these words at least once a week. They are the prelude to disaster. This guy may get another job, but he will be fired if he “doesn’t work so hard anymore”.

No one wants to pay you to relax and take it easy. They want your best effort. They want miracles. If you decide it is time to slow down, then step down to do that. If not, someone who wants to work hard is going to leave tire tracks up your back. He will run right over you to climb his career ladder. Your boss will cheer him on and give him your chair. 

Bmw, Fast, Speed, Drift, Car, Tire, Burn, Smoke

A lot of people complain about age discrimination. There is a fair amount of it, but more often the problem is that the young guy is obviously determined to excel. He commits to hard work. His record shows 50, 60 and 70 hour weeks. The older person literally says in an interview, “I’ve learned how to work smart and not hard. I don’t need to put in more than 40 hours a week anymore.” The boss who is putting in 70 hours a week will not believe the old guy can do it. Even worse, often the older guy has a history of declining output. 

Who would you hire? The person whose output is increasing, or decreasing? 

Especially if you are over 40 (or 50, or 60) like me, you have to show in every second of your interview that you can outwork, outlast, and outperform any of those young guys. Your message is that they don’t know the meaning of accomplishment. If you prove you won’t relax and take it easy, you’ll get the job. It doesn’t matter who you are competing against. If you relax, you’ll get tire tracks up your back.

About the last two weeks

This series is about what makes or breaks a job hunt. Reality and the real world. My list of the reasons people get a new job or struggle includes:

  • Do you have a Helium II attitude?
  • Are you hurting?
  • Are you ruthlessly exploiting your advantages?
  • Are you measuring up to the competition?
  • Are you using outdated or overly niche skills?
  • Are you really worth 10x what you’re paid?
  • Do you carefully curate how people perceive you?
  • Are you continuing to polish your skills?
  • Will you work hard, or get run over?

Think about your job search. Just think. And then take notes about your conclusions.

Every candidate could use a bit of polish

Every few years a hiker in the United States finds a large raw diamond. Usually it was carried down by glaciers from Canada when sheet ice covered the north.  A raw diamond is interesting, but not exciting.  To reach its true value that stone must be turned over to an expert.  It will have scores of facets polished into it until it catches the light and sparkles with fire.  It is the expert polishing that makes people cherish diamonds.  Diamonds in the rough don’t stay that way for long after they are discovered.

My old partner got a Thank You note from a candidate she first placed 20 years ago.  She convinced a bank to take a chance on him.  He has worked his way up the corporate ladder and gotten promotion after promotion.  He was a diamond in the rough.

At the bank he first decided to stand out less while working more.  He watched closely how others dressed and acted.  How did they succeed with sales and politics?  Banks are calm on the outside, but full of opportunity and excitement behind the façade. Mentors appeared as he looked for them.  Some were his managers, some were higher up or lateral to him.  They gave him advice and helped him acquire polish.  Over the years he kept on polishing new shining facets into his skills and character. He learned management and leadership.  He figured out ways to fix problems instead of just enduring them.  Instead of being noticed for his rough exterior, he now stands out for his ability to make things happen and his polish.

If you get a job based on being a diamond in the rough you will only progress a little if you don’t acquire some polish.  You may have to get rid of the nose stud or the blue jeans you always wear.  It may be your technical skills that need work.  Effective management and leadership abilities need training and practice.  Look for mentors, people above you who can lift you up.  Move away from the group that is stuck in a rut.  Find the stars that are rising and do what they do.  Learn constantly.  

You can tell a human diamond in the rough from an average person.  If you truly are a diamond in the rough, you will embrace change.  You will actively seek polish and improvement.

 Something to do Today

Where can you polish up your skills? Write ideas down and think of ways to polish up on those skills.

How to survive a promotion that’s too high

Investment, Concept, Business, Finance A woman I know well was promoted to a level way above her comfort zone.  She had never failed in the past with her last position, but this new promotion was stressful and a big deal to her. One of her friends gave her this advice:

“Congratulations. 
Relax.
Cool it. 
Just do good work daily and before you know it, it will be a career.”

That is good advice any time you find yourself in a job, or interview for a job, that is way beyond where you expected to be.

Something To Do Today

Do your best every day, and you will quickly grow into the position.