Volunteering to Get a Job – Guest Post

Volunteering to Get a Job

VolunteeringThe advice to “volunteer to get a job” when you’re looking for employment shows up everywhere. It’s one of those pieces of advice that sounds easy when it’s on paper, but job seekers who have actually tried to follow the advice discover that it’s anything but. Often, the non-profits you’d like to volunteer for, don’t have volunteer positions. Even if they do, they’re often for low level jobs like envelope stuffing that wouldn’t help you even if you did put it on your resume.

In this post, I’d like to show you what those other books and articles simply don’t talk about: The nitty-gritty of how to actually get resume relevant work through volunteering, using a process I call the skill-bridge technique.

Step 1: Decide What Skills You’d like to Develop

The first step to getting resume relevant work is to figure out what skills you’d like on your resume. Make a list of all the skills needed for your desired job title, and find the weak points on your resume. What skills are critical for the job but for which you don’t have much (if any) experience?

Step 2: Figure out what the organization needs

The next step is to do a bit of networking. This can be through volunteering at the organization in the low level jobs mentioned earlier, or through going to events that people from the non-profit will be at in high attendance. The goal is to have conversations with people who work there, and figure out two or three issues that are on everybody’s mind. What are the top problems, challenges, and opportunities that the organization is facing?

Step 3: Show the organization how your skills can solve their problems.

The final step takes a little bit of creativity. The goal is to figure out how you can use your desired skills to tangibly effect the problems, challenges, and opportunities that you identified. Then, ask one of your contacts at the company for the email address of a decision maker. Send them a short email saying that your contact gave you their information, and create a crisp, clear proposal showing how you can help solve their problem using your skill (for free).

Conclusion

If all goes well, you’ll take on a relevant project that will not only fill in the gaps on your resume, but also give you passionate advocates and connections who know you can solve problems, and will assist you in your job search.

Interested in seeing how a real life job-seeker used this strategy to go from administrative assistant to business analyst? Listen to the original interview here!

About The Author:

Matt Goldenberg is the creator of the Skill Bridge Technique and the founder of Self-Made Renegade, a website for liberal arts grads and career changers who’d like to get their dream jobs.

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Are You Defined by Your Job?

Defined by Your Job?

definedFor many of us, our own self image is defined by our jobs. When someone loses their job, they may feel they no longer have value or purpose.

This topic was brought about by Dustin McKissen, who wrote a post called If You Lose Your Job, Remember This. Dustin wrote about his father after losing his job:

My dad is also good at more than just building things—he is a good guy, with a good heart, and people love him. I love him. He is a great Grandpa.

But when he lost his job, he lost part of himself.

When you feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself, the search to find that missing piece can take you to some very dark places. It did for my dad, and much of the last 15 years have been hard on him, and the people that care about him.

My Own Father

My father was an economist for the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). In 1978, my father was handed a retirement package and was asked to leave. He was in his late 50s and was not ready to retire. Financially, my father and mother were fine. The retirement package kept my mother living well into her 80s.

However, the retirement package killed my father. It took another 15 years, but it killed him.  His entire self image was defined by his job. Dad had twice pursued a PhD in economics, but each time a child came along, he put it aside. When he pursued University teaching positions, he was always turned down. He did not have the paper credentials.

He eventually landed a teaching position at York College, but by that time, he was pretty beat up. His mental health declined and that is what eventually killed him. He was defined by his job.

IBM Meltdown

During the holiday season of 1992, I ruptured the L4/L5 disc in my back. I decided to take three months of disability and let my back heal rather than be operated on. I do not like doctors with sharp implements.

While I was gone, IBM nearly went bankrupt. IBM discontinued the famous full employment pledge. Thousands of employees were given generous retirement packages to leave. Just like my father, who would pass away a few months later, this was a death sentence for many. They viewed themselves as IBMers. It was who they were.

When I returned to work in early April of 1993, I was clear. I had had a moment of clarity while I was out on disability. I saw what was important to me and it was not my job. I was not defined by my job.

My definition of myself was further reenforced by what I saw when I returned to IBM.

How We Forget!

Fast forward a few years later. I left IBM on my terms in January of 2000. I went to work for a successful high-tech startup, Agere, which was acquired by Lucent. Then, in July of 2002 I had another moment of clarity: I had a near fatal bicycle accident.  I had a head on collision with a Toyota Corolla, where our combined speeds exceeded 50 miles per hour. By the way, I lived!

The following year, I pursued getting my Texas High School Math teaching certificate. I taught high school math at an inner city school for almost two years. I was very successful. It tore me up emotionally and physically.

When I left teaching, I was lost. I wrote a post on this called Dealing with that Directionless Feeling, which is found daily on Google search.

Ten years earlier, I became determined not to be defined by my job, but I was struggling…just like my father! The difference now was I wanted to be defined by my life purpose and not my job.

Job Club

I have served on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club since 2006. I have seen many who have been laid off who struggle with the lose of self image. Whether the job loss was involuntary like my father and fellow IBMers or voluntary like my departure from teaching. It still stinks!

I have to go back to the time when I returned to IBM and remind myself it is my choice on how I define myself.

I am not defined by my job! I desire to be defined by my life’s purpose!

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Probing for Pain Points in an Interview

Probing for Pain Points?

Probing for Pain PointsProbing for pain points should be one of your first steps in an interview. Every business has problems. Your first job is to ask probing questions to uncover those pain points.

Initial Phone Screen

Most of the time in the interview process, there will be an initial phone screen with either a recruiter or HR professional. Your first questions should include:

  • Is this a newly created position?
  • What are the responsibilities of the position?
  • Are these responsibilities new to the department, organization, or company?
  • What are the new business requirements that are causing you to fill this position?

What you are looking for is insight into whether this is a newly created position and whether these are new responsibilities. If it is new, then they are likely working on solving an existing problem. If it an existing position, why is the position currently vacant?

You want to be a detective. Ask probing questions to look for problems. You are looking for problems that you know how to solve!

Post Phone Screen

Now you need to do your research. Check on LinkedIn to see who currently or in the near past had the title for this job. Did this person leave the company or move to a different department? Connect with this person on LinkedIn and ask for 15 minutes on the phone to ask for AIR,  advice, insights and recommendations.

If they left the company, ask them why. You may find that you do not want to work there!

If they moved to a new department, ask them whether it was a lateral move or a promotion. If it was a promotion, make sure to congratulate them. If it was a lateral move, ask about the business reasons for the move.

Carefully read anything and everything about the company, looking for pain points. It may be that the company is growing fast or moving into new markets, or that sales have stalled. What are the potential problems?

Interview Questions

Bring a minimum of five pain point questions with you to the interview. They should be open-ended questions to uncover problems that you have already thought about—know how you would solve them!

  • Are you satisfied with current growth of the business?
  • Are you meeting service level agreement targets with all of you important clients?
  • What are the areas where you are having problems meeting deadlines?

Notice that all of these are open-ended questions. Your goal is to get the interviewer to give you insight into the pain points that you know how to solve.

Pain Points Uncovered

Once the pain points have been uncovered, you can explain how you have solved these problems in the past.

The best way to do this is to tell stories how you previously solved the same or similar problems for your employer.

Let me tell you about the time when I encountered …..

This demonstrates that you have the skills to do the job.

So plan on being a detective. By asking good probing questions looking for pain points shows that you have done your homework about their business. The more you uncover the better you can demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

What is Your Current Salary?

What is your current salary?

salaryI’m sure you have been asked early in the interview process, “What is your current salary?”

If it was up to me, I would have everyone respond indignantly—None of your %^%#(& business!

However, that does not work in our current work environment.

So, how should you answer the question, “What is your current salary?”

I have a client who, just the other day, was asked this by a recruiter. It was the beginning of a series of interviews or, as I call it, she was going to run the gauntlet.

My client very politely said it was early in the process and that she would discuss salary later. It was all about total compensation, benefits, yada, yada, yada. Pretty standard response.

The recruiter persisted in wanting to know. She finally said, we need to know whether we can afford you. What is your current salary?

My client broke down and told her, but added twenty thousand. It turns out that this was in her range.

I told my client I would have turned it around.

Oh, you want to know whether you can afford me. What have you budgeted for this position and I can tell you whether you are within my range?

Make them give you a number!

What are you worth?

Recently, I wrote in a post called Managing Your Career is Like Selling a Vintage Fiat that a car is worth what someone else is willing to pay. Plus, you only need one buyer!

You are worth what a company is willing to pay you. That amount has nothing to do with your currently salary. This is particularly true if you have worked for the same company for 5 or more years.

Relocating

Salaries can vary a lot based on location. Living in Austin, Texas I have had many discussions with Californians moving to Austin. They needed to understand that, if you move from San Jose to Austin, the salaries and cost of living will both be a lot lower.

Check out sites like Glassdoor.com and Salary.com for salaries in the area where you plan to relocate.

Ask Around

In today’s work environment, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what someone makes. This is a big departure from when I started working in the 1970s where it was both taboo and could be a fire-able offense to disclose your salary. In fact, a few companies are making all of their salaries public.

Determine a fair salary range that you would be willing to accept.

Salary is not everything!

What else do you want? You will need to determine how much Paid Time Off (PTO) you want. How much are you paying for health insurance and is your spouse currently covered on your plan? He/she may not be when you change jobs. Many businesses are dumping insurance coverage for your spouse.
Read my recent post called Evaluating the Job Offer – What is Missing?

So what is your current salary?

If they insist on knowing your current salary, you can say,

“I am looking for $xxxx in salary, but I will be evaluating the entire compensation package, which includes, salary, bonus, and benefits.

Do not tell them your current salary, but what you want to be paid!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Battling Age Discrimination – Young and Old

Battling Age Discrimination

Age discriminationAge discrimination is a reality in the current job market. It affects two vastly different groups:

Notice both groups battle age discrimination due to issues in employers’ perceptions of their skills and experience.

What is interesting is that both groups can use the same strategies to combat age discrimination.

It is all about demonstrating and not telling what you can do to solve your future employer’s problems.

Who you know and who knows you is critical!

The days of waiting for a position to be posted and then applying for it are over. More than any time in history, personal relationships are paramount to your employment.

The issue is these two groups have different definitions of what constitutes a relationship.

If you are under 30, you likely define relationships in online terms. If you follow someone on Twitter, friend someone on Facebook, or are connected to someone on LinkedIn, you will likely say you have a relationship.

If you are over 50, you likely define relations in offline terms. If you have met someone in person (or at least talked to someone on the phone), you will likely say you have a relationship.

The problem is that today’s world requires both!

I serve an Austin based non-profit, Launch Pad Job Club, where I was asked recently by an over 50 job seeker if they need to be on Twitter. My answer was YES! They asked why. My response was that, if I hope to get a response from a recruiter, I will tweet to them. I will adapt to the communication medium that they are most comfortable with.

I was recently giving a workshop on the Multi-Generational Workplace and was asked by a millennial participant about the problems she gets into with her mother. She always texts her mother. I had explained that different generations need to adapt to each other. If she wants to develop relationships with someone over 50, she will likely need to talk to them.

Each group needs to adapt. You need to build relationships both online and offline.

Create a Platform

Creating a social media platform is key to demonstrating that you know your stuff and, therefore, battles age discrimination. You can now:

  • Attach work product to your LinkedIn profile. This could be presentations on SlideShare, PowerPoint slide decks, videos, sample documents of your work, links to code you have written, and just about anything that can be found on the Internet.
  • LinkedIn Publisher is now a platform that will be available for you to publish to anyone. This is an excellent way to demonstrate that you know your stuff.

Once you have established a platform , showing that you know your stuff, you need to promote, promote, and promote some more. You do this by connecting effectively on social media.

Each group has issues.

The younger you are, the less likely you will have work samples to demonstrate what you know. In that case, create them!

The older you are, the less likely you will want to promote and connect. It is not how we were raised. Get over it.

Overcoming Age Discrimination

If you want to overcome age discrimination, it is about targeting key employers and developing key relationships using both online and offline methods. Once the relationship is established, you need to be able to show them that you know your stuff.

Whether you are experiencing age discrimination at the beginning or at the end of your career, it is all about relationships!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

 

The Purple Cow Job Description – Should I Apply?

Purple Cow Job Description?

Purple CowI guarantee you have read a purple cow job description. It’s one of those that, when you finished reading it, you said to yourself:

I am not qualified for this job but…is anyone?

They are looking for the purple cow. The ideal candidate does not exist!

I am going out on a limb to say that most job descriptions are badly written.

In my last corporate job, I had an open position to fill. I had to write a job description.

Did I know how to write a job description? NO!

I went onto Indeed.com and searched for openings with the same job title. When I found one I liked, I copied it!

I was expanding my team for a training and certification program. I wanted a technical trainer who was familiar with the program and was already certified. We had certified less than a thousand people worldwide.

The candidate needed to have five years of technical training experience.

I wanted someone who was already located in Austin, Texas.

The odds of finding someone who was certified in the topic, had five years experience as a technical trainer, AND lived in Austin was close to ZERO!

I was looking for the Purple Cow!

Did I write the job description saying I wanted everything? YES!

Dissecting the Job Description

We will want to look at:

  • High level job description
  • Responsibilities
  • Requirements/Qualifications
  • Education

(More: Is the Resume Still Relevant? )

High Level Job Description

Can you honestly see yourself with this title? One of the problems with high level job descriptions is they have become so vague. Do not write yourself off even if it does not look like a fit just yet.

Responsibilities/Description

Read through this section carefully. Have you actually performed more than half of the responsibilities described?

Requirements/Qualifications

Check out each item in the requirements/qualifications section of the job description:

  • How many of the requirements/qualifications do you have? Make sure you meet at least half of the requirements/qualifications.
  • Do you have equivalent requirements/qualifications? Do you have existing skills that you can map to what is in the job description? How long would it take, given your current experience, to attain what is needed?

Education

  • Do you have all of the required educational credentials?
  • Do you have the preferred educational credentials?
  • Do you have experience that can be substituted for any of the credentials?

One way to get around having all of the educational credentials is to put in your resume a statement like the following:

20 years of experience in xxxxxx…in lieu of an MBA.

This will often get you past the applicant tracking systems and at least get you a phone interview for your to prove your worth.

(More: What Does Your Resume Say About Your Age? )

Do Not Be Afraid of the Purple Cow

Lastly, if you are following a targeted job search strategy, you will have an internal contact within the company. Ask your contact to find out what the hiring manager is really looking for!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Understanding the Hiring Manager Prior to the Interview

Who is the hiring manager? Who are they really?

hiring managerYou are scheduled for an interview with the hiring manager. Who is this person? What do you have in common?

The more you know about the hiring manager before the interview, the more you can do to work on building a relationship during the interview.

Remember — People hire people they like!

It is time to do some investigative work!

LinkedIn

Check the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile for the following:

  • Education – What schools did they attend and where? Did you attend a same school or a school from the same conference or even the same area? Do you have the same or similar degrees?
  • Work History – Did you work for the same company at any point in the past?
  • Check the LinkedIn groups that the hiring manager belongs to. If you have none in common, join some of the groups and check out their participation. What have they shared? Have they commented on posts?
  • Volunteering – What non-profit organizations are listed and how did the hiring manager participate?
  • Recommendations – Who has the hiring manager recommended and who has recommended the hiring manager? Have they written recommendations for current or former employees who worked for them?

Copy the entire LinkedIn profile, including the recommendations, and paste it into a Word Cloud tool like Wordle.net or TagCrowd.

You can then harvest the profile for keywords. You can read and view a video on how to do this on my Career Pivot blog post called Finding Keywords to Manage Your Career.

Look for keyword phrases that the hiring manager used. Create a list of these phrases and bring that list with you to the interview.

Facebook

Check out their Facebook page. Look for the following:

  • Marital status
  • Children
  • Hobbies
  • Vacation photos

Look for anything that you might have in common.

The more you know about the hiring manager before the interview, the more you can do to work on building a relationship during the interview.

Remember — People hire people they like!

Twitter

Take a look at their Twitter profile. What do they tweet? What do they retweet?

Have they tweeted out any pictures?

Who do they follow and who follows them?

Check out the Twitter lists that they subscribe to. Check out the Twitter lists that they belong to.

Look for patterns.

What do you have in common?

Create a list of items that you have in common, both personally and professionally. From that list, create questions that you can ask to start the conversation.

Remember — People hire people they like!

When you show an interest in the hiring manager and who they are, you are more likely to be perceived as likeable.

Remember — People hire people they like!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

Like what you just read? Share it with your friends using the buttons below?

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When you subscribe to this blog you get full access to Career Pivot’s Whitepaper Library

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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You can also download my latest white paperThe Multi-Generational WorkplaceMaking Generational Diversity Work

Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Applicant Tracking Systems – The Hidden Peril – Guest Post

Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking SystemsHow to overcome the most invisible obstacle job seekers face today.

There’s a secret trap that stops great and highly qualified people getting hired. It’s the rise and rise of Applicant Tracking Systems. If you don’t know how these work, you are at serious risk of becoming a victim.

Here’s what you need to know.

You may have an excellent and relevant background, an impressive resume and be completely charged about working for a particular firm.

You may be by a country mile the best qualified person for the job.

But you still won’t get hired. Or even selected for interview.

And increasingly the reason is because an applicant tracking system (ATS) filtered you out.

Some sources quote that as many as 75% of applicants are eliminated by ATS systems, as soon as they submit their resume, despite being qualified for the job!

In this post, I’ll explain all you need to know about ATS and what you can do to not get caught out by one. I’m sure you’ll be happy to leave those traps for your rivals!

(More: Is the resume still relevant)

So what is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Applicant tracking systems are increasingly used by many employers to process job applications and to manage the hiring process. They are also sometimes known as talent management systems or job applicant tracking systems.

Applicant tracking systems automate the way companies manage the recruiting process. They extract key data from resumes and applications and store this in a database.

This information is then used for screening candidates, applicant testing, scheduling interviews, checking references, and documenting the end to end process.

Sounds good so far doesn’t it? Instead of relying on the inconsistency of human screening, a machine will give everyone a fair and equal assessment.

If only that were true…

Why companies use Applicant Tracking Systems

The sheer volume of applications received for most positions today means that human reading of dozens or hundreds of applications and resumes is time consuming, expensive and prone to human error.

Applicant tracking systems are more than just administrative tools though. They are also used to provide a record of regulatory compliance and to track sources of candidates, for example where the candidate found the job posting.

How Applicant Tracking Systems work

Applicants upload their information, including their relevant experience, educational background and resume into the database. This information is transferred from one part of the system to another as the candidates move through the selection process.

(More: What does your resume say about your age?)

So where’s the problem?

The problem with applicant tracking systems, is that they are just that. Systems. They lack human intelligence. And that’s a big problem for candidates.

If your resume isn’t formatted how the system expects it to be and doesn’t contain the right keywords and phrases, the applicant tracking system may well misread it and rank it as a bad match with the job, regardless of your qualifications.

And there’re no fail safe checks. That’s it. You’re out.

This weakness has been proven by research

In a test last year, Bersin & Associates created a resume for an ideal candidate for a clinical scientist position. The research firm perfectly matched the resume to the job description and submitted the resume to an applicant tracking system from Taleo, the leading maker of these systems.

When the researchers then studied how the resume apppeared in the applicant tracking system, they found that one of the candidate’s job positions was ignored completely simply because the resume had the dates of employment typed in before the name of the employer.

The applicant tracking system also failed to pick up several key educational qualifications the candidate held, giving a recruiter the impression that the candidate lacked the educational experience required for the job.

This perfect resume only scored a 43% relevance ranking to the job because the applicant tracking system misread it.

So your only hope for passing through an ATS successfully is to understand exactly how these systems work and to make sure you don’t get caught out.

How Applicant Tracking Systems rank your resume

Many think that applicant tracking systems rely simply on keywords to score the fit between a candidate’s resume and a specific job. So they search to identify keywords in the job description and insert these keywords into their resumes.

In fact, what matters most to an ATS isn’t the number of word matches found. It’s the uniqueness or “rarity” of the keyword or the keyword phrase, i.e. those keywords and phrases specific to that particular job.

The ATS then calculates a ranking based on how closely each applicant’s resume matches each keyword and phrase and only then how many of the keyword phrases each resume contains.

What recruiters see when they look at your resume on an Applicant Tracking System

But scoring shortcomings are not the end of it. An ATS also restricts what recruiters and HR people see when viewing candidates’ information on the system.

When a recruiter views a candidate whom the applicant tracking system has ranked as a good match for the job, the recruiter doesn’t see the resume the candidate submitted. The recruiter sees only the information the applicant tracking system pulled from the candidate’s resume into the database.

The ATS will try to identify this information on a job seeker’s resume, but if a resume isn’t formatted in the way the system expects it to be, it won’t pull this information into the proper fields.

Sometimes, whole sections can be ignored, such as a key skills profile or an executive summary.

(More: Social Media Strategy – My Resume)

How to optimize your resume for an Applicant Tracking System

So if you are job seeking, ATS systems can potentially ruin your chances of getting hired. Fortunately there are some simple tips that can help ensure that the other applicants rather than you get tripped up.

Never send your resume as a PDF

ATS cannot readily structure PDF documents, so they’re easily misread, or worse fail completely.

Don’t include images, tables or graphs

An ATS can’t read graphics and they misread tables. Instead of reading tables left to right, as a person would, applicant tracking systems read them top to bottom and consequently the information can get jumbled or missed altogether. So don’t be tempted to use images, boxes, tables or graphs anywhere in your resume.

You may choose to submit a longer resume

The length of your resume doesn’t matter to an applicant tracking system. It will scan your whole resume regardless of its length. Because a longer resume allows you to include more of your relevant experience this may enable you to improve your ranking in the system.

However do not overdo this. If you get through the ATS screening, real people will still be reading your resume, so you still need to keep it concise and present it in a way which communicates your main strengths as clearly as possible.

Label your work experience, “Work Experience”:

You may have chosen to refer to your work experience on your resume under headings such as “Professional Experience” or “Key Achievements”. Don’t. Some people get very creative with their resumes because they think it will help them stand out, but in fact it damages your prospects once an ATS gets involved. Don’t run the risk of letting the computer miss your work experience just because you didn’t label it as such.

Don’t start your work experience with dates
To ensure applicant tracking systems read and import your work experience properly, always start it with your employer’s name, followed by your title. Finally add the dates you held that title. It’s wise to give each of these pieces of information its own line. Applicant tracking systems look for company names first. By the same token, you should never start an entry about your work experience with the dates you held the position.

Follow these tips and at the very least an ATS should give your resume a fair assessment. And with luck your biggest rivals won’t know how to dodge these traps!

This post originally appeared on the 40PlusCareerGuru Blog!

About the Author:

Neil Patrick is the Editor of 40pluscareerguru, a blog which deals with the career issues facing mature professionals. He is also on Twitter at @NewCareerGuru

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Evaluating the Job Offer – What is Missing?

job offerEvaluating the Job Offer

When you get a job offer what the first thing you look at?

The Money!

If all you are looking at is the money in the job offer, you may end up very disappointed a few months down the road.

I wrote about determining what you want in non-financial terms in a previous postI wrote about the need to determine what you really care about before evaluating the job offer.

What is Missing or Hidden in the Job Offer?

There are two areas of compensation that are changing in the workplace—Paid Time Off (PTO) and health insurance.

When I went to work for IBM in 1978, I was given two weeks vacation that was allotted to me at the beginning of the year, and I had virtually an unlimited amount of sick leave. Pretty generous! At five years, I was allotted three weeks of vacation, and we could carry any unused vacation forward.

Most companies have moved to a Paid Time Off (PTO) model where you earn a certain number of hours of PTO with each paycheck. This way, companies do not have to track whether it is sick or vacation time.

What you should be looking for in the job offer as it relates to PTO:

  • Holidays – Some businesses have cut the number of paid holidays back to a minimum and expect the employee to use PTO for the rest.
  • Beginning PTO balance – Is the PTO balance zero when you start? If you have a planned vacation within the next six months, you will probably not have enough PTO time. You can negotiate for PTO time to be added at your hire date.
  • When does the accrual rate of PTO time increase? Do you have to wait one or three or five years to start accumulating PTO at a higher rate? You may be able to negotiate to start at a higher accrual rate.
  • Can you carry the PTO balance over from year to year?
  • Will the business pay out any remaining PTO balance when you leave? This was a huge issue for me when I left my last corporate gig. I had accrued over 5 weeks of PTO and I had to make sure I would get paid before I left.

Time off from work is valuable. You need to look at this carefully.

What you should be looking for in the job offer as it relates to health insurance:

  • Is you spouse covered? Are you planning to put your spouse on the health insurance plan? Check to see if that is allowed. Many businesses are dumping insurance coverage for your spouse.
  • Does the business contribute to coverage for your spouse and children? When I went to teach high school math for a couple of years, the school district allowed me to add my wife and child to the policy, but I had to foot the entire bill for the additional coverage. My out of pocket expense was double my COBRA payment from my last high-tech position. I stayed on COBRA until we could find alternative insurance for my wife and child.
  • If your spouse is covered, but the out of pocket expense is very high, consider going to the Healthcare Market Place. Due to the fact that your spouse is eligible for group healthcare coverage from the job offer, you will NOT be eligible for any tax credits. This can be a balancing act with thousands of dollars dependent on your decision.

Usually, the health insurance issue is not negotiable. What you do want is to be able to evaluate the offer with your eyes wide open.

PTO and health insurance benefits can be a large portion of your compensation. Look at these items in the job offer seriously!

This post is part of a weekly series on the Personal Branding Blog.

You can read the original post on the Personal Branding Blog.

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Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

Surviving a Resource Action – A Different Perspective

Surviving a Resource Action

Resource ActionI have two clients who are surviving a resource action from a major employer. One had her position eliminated, and one was moved to a new position within the organization. Lots of similar emotions for both of them!

They are both relieved that the long-awaited resource action has happened. Weeks ago, the company announced that the changes were coming, so it became like working in a intensive care ward. Everyone was waiting to see who would die…I mean, get laid off, and who would recover…keep their jobs.

Grief and Sorrow

There was grief and sorrow for both of them.

My client, who was adversely effected by the resource action, wondered “why was I laid off when there were others less worthy could have been?”

My client that survived the resource action wondered “why was I selected to stay when there were more worthy people who were laid off?”

Some of it was being in the wrong place at the wrong time and being in the right place at the right time.

(More: Resource Action – It is not about you)

Who is better off?

In this case, I believe it is my client who was adversely effected by the resource action – i.e. laid off!

WOW really?

This was the third resource action that she had experienced, and the second where she was actually laid off. After the first resource action she experienced, she found a new position at the last moment. She knows what to do!

  • Visited her financial adviser to get the facts. She discovered was she was in good shape and could go two years without working.
  • Visited an employment lawyer. She had a number concerns about how her retirement was being handled. It felt good that she was covering all of the bases.
  • Applied for another credit card. When you are out of work, cash is king. Having additional credit lines, even if you do not use or need them, is valuable.
  • Set up an L.L.C. or Limited Liability Corporation. I have told her I do not want her to work full time again this year. She needs to recover from the stress of working in a toxic work environment. Having an L.L.C. allows her to perform freelance work and write off equipment purchases (new computer) that she would have bought anyway. This also allows her to date companies where she might want to work.

(More: 7 Positive steps to take after being affect by a resource action)

Who is worse off?

In my humble opinion, those left behind are often the worse off. Workloads do not decrease, but are spread across fewer people.

Will this be the last resource action? NO!

In 2003, I worked for Agere Systems, a spin off from Lucent. We had small resource actions just about every month. I called this the Chinese Water Torture of resource actions—drip…drip…drip… I was on one of the teams that ranked employees. UGH! That is something I never want to experience again.

I volunteered for a resource action at the end of 2003. I have never regretted that decision.

She is now motivated not to wait for the next resource action. She knows that she is living on borrowed time and needs to move to her next position on her own schedule and not that of her employer.

Everyone is affected by a resource action. Some are more affected than others, and they may not realize it at the time.

Have you been affected by a resource action?

Who was worse off? Those who were laid off or those who stayed?

Marc Miller Career Design Specialist

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Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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Check out the BoomerJobTips Page for the latest curated content relating to baby boomers or join us on the BoomerJobTips LinkedIn Group