New Year, New Career!

NOW is the time to take charge of your career! What career goals do you want to accomplish this year? Do you want to change companies, change job roles within your current company, ask for a raise or land that promotion? Maybe you are just looking to expand your sphere of influence. Figuring out WHAT you want to accomplish is the first step in making it happen!


What are some of your career goals for 2010?

Salary negotiation research tools

In my previous post I started discussing how to know if you’re getting paid what you are worth. Today I will give you some tools to use in your research and some tips to help in your salary negotiations.


Find out what the position is currently paying for similar work in similar environments (including positions inside and outside the company) through —

    * On-line job search engines (e.g.,,, etc.)

    * Company websites (your company and others in the same industry)

    * Business Journals

    * Specialized Trade Publications

    * Personal networking contacts

    * Newspapers/Classified ads

    * Published salary surveys

Below are five excellent reference websites that offer salary calculators and reference guides. You may be required to subscribe to the service in order to obtain accurate, high quality information:

Once you have the salary data, the best indicator of the market place is to combine a number of different salary ranges set for the same job by at least a half-dozen employers rather than just relying on one company’s salary range. Ideally, the more salary ranges for the same job in the same geographical area that you can compare, the better.


Then, add all the minimums together and divide by the number of salaries you’re comparing. Do the same for the midpoints (the average of the minimum and maximum), and maximums. This will give you the range of the job’s the market value.


Now you can determine where in the range your current salary is. The norm is that the midpoint (the average dollars of the minimum and maximum of the range) is ideally where you should be after 5 or so years in that position. This is not an absolute but more of a goal to assess your value.


And finally…


The second thing you need to understand (and this is more difficult) to determine whether you are at the high end or low end of the pay scale is that various companies may offer different salary ranges due to the company’s internal salary policies and practices. There may be hiring policies stating that no matter how much experience you have, the best starting salary offer would be no more than a small percentage above the minimum starting point.


Of course, this is to help avoid internal salary issues. Also, despite your position and responsibilities, if the company has not kept up with the market movement for its current employees then they are not very likely to pay more to a new hire than they do for current employees. So even though a company may recognize and value your experience and skill-set, the salary offer may be minimal to avoid any potential internal salary issues.


After you have done your research and are more educated about your worth in the marketplace, it may be a good time to schedule a meeting with your manager to inquire about a potential pay raise! Now, go forth and prosper… and know your worth in the marketplace.

Why Should You Try Career Sampling?

Everyone has bad days at work, but if your bad day stretches to a hundred bad days(!) then you may want to start shaking things up a bit.


Twice during my own career I found myself in a frustrating and unchallenging job and stayed longer than I should have. Mostly because I was delusional and thought that if I proved my loyalty and stayed with the company long enough they’d reward me with a “new and improved” job, (did I mention the delusional part?), but also because I was afraid of trying something new, and potentially failing.


If you’re in a similar situation and the thought of charting into unknown career territory makes you want to curl up under your office cube, then you may want to try career sampling – the art of dipping your toe into a pool of new career opportunities, before diving in head first.


One idea on how to try career sampling is work part-time. It’s a great way to test drive transitioning in a new job role, company or industry is to start out part time. Investing a little time up front to take on a part-time position is a much better strategy than investing all your time and realizing you’ve made a bad career choice.


If you think you don’t have the right experience, a great attitude and eagerness to learn can help get your foot in the door. And once you start proving yourself and showing results, a promotion to a full time position could be just around the corner!

Getting a Raise in a Tough Economy

For those professionals employed right now, you may be wondering if getting a promotion, pay raise, or increased perks are even possible given this tough economy. The answer is “yes!” If you’ve added value and achieved results for the company in the past 12 months, then follow these five key strategies to help beef up your paycheck –


1. Focus on results. Many professionals make the mistake of focusing on how hard they’ve worked during the past year. Instead, you need to focus on results. State what you’ve accomplished to help the company save money, or generate new revenue.


For example, you may be able to say that you helped launch a new product that resulted in a 2-percent increase in market share. Or, that you implemented a new technology that saved the company $20-thousand a year.


Those are REAL results that prove you’re adding value to the company’s bottom line. When you’re able to build a strong business case and prove that you’re adding value to a company, you’re much more likely to be financially rewarded.


2. Work with your manager. Many times, people see their manager as someone who stops them from getting a raise, when realistically your boss is your greatest ally.


The key is to get as much face time with your manager as possible, preferably weekly one-on-one meetings. Focus on the results your achieving, as well as making sure that expectations are aligned and that you’re providing value on the right kinds of initiatives.


Also, when you meet for your year-end performance review, you can focus on what you’ve accomplished over the past 12 months (which is what most people do), but you should also set a vision of what you will be accomplishing in the next six months. This shows that you’re a forward thinker, committed to the company, and that you’re going to continue adding value to help the company be successful.


3. Clearly identify what you want. If you’re working for a company that’s doing well, then by all means you should ask for a raise! But if you’re like most professionals working for a company that’s struggling to stay afloat, then a pay raise may not be realistic.


Think outside the box of other perks that you could negotiate for yourself such as a few more vacation days, one day a week to work from home, or access to the company’s box seats at the next sporting event. There are always perks you can negotiate.


Identify what you really want, clearly ask for it, and then make sure you walk away from the conversation with at least one great win for yourself!


4. Keep a good attitude. Right now it’s a pretty tough environment to get a raise so don’t get discouraged if your manager tells you “no”. Keep a good attitude and respond positively no matter what.


A good friend of mine Laura Browne, author of “Raise Rules for Women” states, “The goal is to position yourself favorably so that when the economy turns around and the company starts making money, you’ll be the first in line to get a raise.”


5. Set yourself up for success. If your manager turns down your request for a raise, a smart response is to simply say, “Help me understand what I would need to do to get a raise.” Try to get a clear action plan of next steps including priorities, goals, and milestones that will set you up for success. Then, make sure you follow-up by meeting with your manager every week, or at minimum every other week, to get feedback and help you stay on track.


All companies want to keep great employees. So no matter what the economy is doing, you should always prove how you’re adding value to the company and at least ask for a pay increase. When you demonstrate that you consistently add to a company’s bottom line, more than likely they’ll do everything in their power to keep you on board.