Archive for April, 2008

There a few more questions that seldom get asked during the magic moment after you’ve been offered a new job, but before you’ve accepted. For people who have jobs that require travel, the most important one is about the company’s travel policy.

You may think that all travel policies are equal, but you’d be wrong. Some companies require employees take the lowest fare, regardless or the number of connections or time of flight. This often entails late night or weekend travel. Very cost conscious companies require employees stay in lost cost hotels and share rooms. I have even see companies take frequent flyer miles that are earned on business travel and use them for future travel.

On the other hand, some companies allow employees to take the most convenient flights, fly their favorite airlines and stay in Marriott’s and Sheraton hotels.

If you’re considering two job offers in sales, marketing, or service that entail frequent business travel, wouldn’t you like to know I little more about their travel policy before you accept the offer?

There are few other magic moment questions that are “good to know,” especially if you’re deciding between two offers:

          Where will I be sitting?

          What kind of computer will I have?

          Will I have administrative support for setting up meetings, travel, or running for overnight shipments?

I’ve seen new employees get hired without an office or cubicle and a then given a used underpowered laptop for a business computer.

Again, an offer may be so compelling that you’re willing to overlook all of these inconveniences, but wouldn’t it be nice to know?



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Okay, back to capitalizing on that magic moment that occurs between receiving your job offer and accepting it. Today I want to talk about money; specifically the questions you might ask during the magic moment to discover vital information about you future financial prospects.

First a word of caution; these questions are real squirmers, so be careful to ask them as diplomatically as possible. Keep in mind that you may be talking to your future boss and the last thing you want to do is to make him or her regret that they offered you a job before you even start!

The Real Story on Raises

·         How often do people who work here get a raise?

·         What is a typical raise for someone who does a good job?

Truth About Bonuses (assuming you have a bonus component in your compensation plan)

·         Are bonuses based on the objectives we mutually agreed upon, or do you assign them.

·         What happens if we disagree on setting them?

·         What happens if we disagree about how well I did?

·         Does company performance affect the size of a bonus?

·         What happens to my bonus if my objectives change during the period?

·         What is the average bonus earned?

·         Does anyone ever get 100% or more?

The questions about the percentage of bonus paid out is important, I’ve seen multiple companies who NEVER pay 100%, yet include the amount earned at 100% in everyone’s offer letter.


·         What’s the career path in this job?

·         How long until I’m eligible for a promotion?

·         What is the typical raise associated with a promotion?

·         How long do you plan to stay here?

·         Who is in line for your job if you leave?

You get the picture? These are real hard questions, but think about how much easier it will be to evaluate a job after you’ve asked them — especially if you’re changing jobs in the hopes of earning more money and/or getting promoted.

But remember, they’re also fire, so be delicate!

Next Post – Critical Magic Moment Questions You Never Thought to Ask

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A few weeks ago I spoke to two groups of students about their careers. The response was quite heartwarming as several students lined up at the end of my speech to ask private questions or simply say “thanks – that was great advice.”

This morning I read through the comments they made on the post-speech evaluations and decided to postpone my next post and get back to these gracious undergraduates with a little more instruction.

Although I covered a lot of ground, the section that really jumped out was when I asked them to use some tools on careersecretsauce.com to decide where they should work after they graduate.

A huge number of students wrote that they really appreciated this section and planned to spend more time on this type of research in the future.

While my advice is focused on college students, it is equally applicable for anyone who’s unhappy with where they live and/or work.

The truth is most students will move home and live with their parents after graduation; some will stay in their college town to find work. Those with the right internships will have a job offer in hand before they get their diploma that is located in their ideal place to live.

The first step to doing this is to figure out where the best location is for YOU, so I decided to create a post that describes these tools and provides instructions on how to use them.

Here goes:

Find Your Ideal Locationhttp://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2007/index.html

For this I recommend Money Magazine’s Best places to live web site. It has a rather simplistic list of the top 100 best places to live, which I wouldn’t waste much time with. The thing that I find useful is the application that allows you to set your own priorities and search for your ideal location.

 Research Future Job Growth http://www.projectionscentral.com

The next step is to look at the geographies you like and figure out what the employment prospects are for that region. Projectionscentral.com is tremendous tool that aggregates state employment projections under a search engine to help you see where the most jobs openings will be in your field and what the growth rates look like for the next ten years.

I am not recommending moving to somewhere you don’t like because they have a lot of job openings, but rather make a short list of places you’d like to live and then see which one has the best job outlook for your vocation.

Discover The Best Companieshttp://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/bestcompanies/2007/

Fortune magazine has a web site that ranks employers by region and gives you there rationale. It also has a personal selection tool that you can use to find your ideal employer.

Identify Who’s Hiring Todayhttp://www.getthejob.com

Once you have an even shorter list of possible places to start your career, you can go to getthejob.com and see what the current openings look like and who’s hiring. I like this site, but careerbuilder.com and monster.com work equally well.

Investigate Salary and Cost of Livinghttp://www.salary.com/

The final step is to research the prevailing salary for your job class in the locations you’re considering moving to. I think salary.com does a great job at this, but again there are other sites that do equally as well.

Once you’ve gotten this far, you can go back to the locations you’re interested and research the cost of living by going through the real estate and living sections of the local newspapers.

This is an Iterative Process

The decision on where to live after graduation is very important, but very personal. I recommend that you access these tools and run a number of scenarios to identify the best location for you personally.

Next Post – Money Questions for The Magic Moment

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The Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland said:

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” 

I say:

“If you don’t know the objectives in your new job you’ll probably fail.”

Why are your objectives so important?

Quite simply, getting your objectives accomplished is the only reason they hired you, it’s the only reason they’re paying you, and it’s the only thing they’re keeping you on board to do!

You better understand your objectives.

Okay, but how can you not know your objectives?

It’s not that difficult. If you’re being hired to replace someone who’s left, the person who’s hiring you may not even know what the person you’re replacing was doing.

Inexperienced managers may not fully grasp the concept of objectives and may not have thought them through.

Perhaps the hiring manager discussed objectives during the interview, but you were too busy selling yourself to catch them.

The most common problem is that the manager told you his objectives, but they’re different than those of his boss, and your coworkers. You may be blindly walking into oblivion following someone’s misguided objectives.

Use the Magic Moment to Understand Objectives

 Let’s start some post job offer questions for the hiring manager:

·         Is this a new position or am I replacing someone?

·         What happened to the person I replaced?

o   If it sounds like they were successful – What did they do that made them successful?

o   If it sounds like they failed – What did they do to fail?

·         How will I be measured?

o   What do you expect me to accomplish in the first month, six months, or year?

·         Do you use written objectives?

o   How often do they change

o   Do we discuss them or do you simply assign them?

·         What happens if we disagree?

·         Do you think everyone around here agrees with these objectives?

Imagine how much you just learned about the job offer you have in your hand just by asking these questions and listening to your potential new boss answer them. He may not give you a straight answer, but you’ll learn a lot about him in the process.


Now take the same list of questions and ask his boss and anyone else you may have met during the interview cycle. Try and expand the list and talk to potential coworkers.

At this point you’ll have a very clear understanding of what it will take to succeed. You can decide if it sounds like something you want to take on. You will also have impressed everyone that you’ve talked to with your insight and wisdom.

Next Post – Money Questions for The Magic Moment

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Most folks think that a job interview is all about making a sales pitch on your qualifications and landing a job offer. Hundreds of books have been written about how to perform during an interview and win the job of your dreams. But they miss the point.

While it’s true that offers are the ultimate outcome of any interview, it’s seldom the most important aspect. Job interviews are a means to an end – to help you find a better job. But if all you do is sell yourself, how do you know the job you’re seeking will actually turn out to be an improvement over your current one?

You don’t.

A job interview is the only place you can determine if the job you’re applying for is the right job for you. If you ignore this critical activity and simply focus on “getting the offer,” you may actually end up in a job that you don’t want; or even hate! And it’s virtually impossible to be successful in a job you hate.  

This Magic Moment

Don’t misunderstand, your first objective is to land an offer, but that’s just the beginning, not the end. Most people take an offer and start negotiating. They may want more money, vacation time, or simply an extended start date. That’s fine, but if that’s all you do after you get the offer you’re missing a rare career Magic Moment.

Once you have an offer in hand and before you accept it is one of the few moments in your career when you hold all the cards. The employer cannot arbitrarily withdraw the offer; they must wait for you to accept or reject it.

Rather than squander your Magic Moment, use it to drive your career success by asking the tough questions that you were afraid to ask before you had the offer in hand; questions that will allow you to determine your ability to succeed and whether or not you’ll be happy.

Next Post – Key Questions Regarding Objectives

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When the time comes to seek greener pastures, there is a lot more going on than simply starting a new job. The following article from Business Week’s Liz Ryan covers three of the key tactics you’ll need to pursue to land that new big job.

Her big 3 are Streamline That Résumé, Friends in High Places, and Get Out There and Sell Yourself. All good advice, but the critical one is “Friends in High Places.” We’re talking about the BIG LEAP here and that means skipping a step or actually going further than you might think is naturally in order.

First of all, only people who know you well, trust you, and have the authority to help you skip a wrung in the corporate ladder can make this happen – your friends in high places.

Second, when you follow influential friends as a way of moving up the ladder, your odds of success skyrocket. All of Liz’s tips are sound, but the one that carries the most weight is where I’d begin. Seek out future winners early in your career and never let them out of your sight.


The New Rules for Making the Big Leap

It’s a brave new networking world. If you’re thinking of making the jump to more power, prestige, and pay, be sure to take advantage of it

You never know what the impetus will be—a random conversation with a friend, an article you read online, or a snippet of a radio interview overheard in a cab—when it hits you that you’re ready to make the Big Leap—that you’re hungry for more power, pay, and prestige.

You may have been thinking Big Leap thoughts for some time, or this recognition of the need for a major change in your career may have come out of the blue. Either way, once the gong sounds in your head, you need to seize the moment and get going.

But how to do that? After all, a Big Leap isn’t the same as a lateral move, nor it is about incremental progress on your career path. It’s about taking a chance, stepping up, and being willing to be recognized and rewarded. Before you rush to action, you’d be well advised to incorporate the newest career- and job-change imperatives, which we’ve labeled the New Rules for Making the Big Leap.

Streamline That Résumé

Why new rules? Because professionals looking to make major changes in their career situations can’t play by the job search and career management rules set up a generation—or even a decade—ago. In many ways, the workplace has changed more in the past five years than it had in the 20 before that. Influences including social networking, employer and profession research, and networking burnout are factors not to be overlooked in a Big Leap adventure. There’s no sense in attacking a new-millennium career move with an old-millennium approach, and that’s why we’ve compiled our list of 10 New Rules for Making the Big Leap.

Take your résumé, for starters. You’ve got one, of course. That should help you sail across your Big Leap waves, right? Not necessarily. A traditional business résumé may be the last dying member of a family of business communication tools that is all but extinct. We don’t use carbon paper or Telex machines anymore—and face it, when was the last time you actually faxed something?—but the stodgy, cliché-ridden traditional résumé keeps on ticking. That won’t do for a 2008 Big Leap career move, and that’s why New Rule No. 1 on our list is “rid your résumé of stodgy, overwrought jargon.”

Take out a red pen (yes, this is an old-fashioned approach, but still effective), and excise any “results-oriented business professional,” “meets or exceeds expectations,” “deals effectively with all levels of staff” and every other corporate-speak phrase you find. A Big Leap résumé has to read as if a human being wrote it. You can start by talking about yourself the way you would in normal conversation, and writing what you’ve said. If you don’t trust your ability to rid your résumé of stodgy filler, ask a friend to do it, and tell him to be ruthless.

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