There was a powerful scene in the fifth season of AMC’s award winning show, “Breaking Bad”. In it, Walter White (a.k.a. Heisenberg, a high school chemistry teacher turned master meth cook and drug lord) offers a potential drug distributor a percent of his risky business. What unfolds is a highly unconventional business dialogue, with far more tension than your typical distribution agreement or salary negotiation.

The episode is entitled “Say My Name”. It’s worth taking the two minutes to watch the scene included above but for our purposes, I’ll summarize. After offering to cut the drug distributor in for a mere 35% of Walter’s growing enterprise, the scene unfolds as follows:

Drug distributor: “Who the hell are you?”
Walter White: “You know… you all know exactly who I am.”
Drug distributor: “Do what… I, I don’t have a damn clue who the hell you are.”
Walter gives the distributor some background of his nefarious activities and the distributor realizes who he’s dealing with.
Walter White: “That’s right… now, say my name. “

I thought of this episode when I was speaking with a client who had texted a former colleague and received a curt text reply along the lines of, “Who the hell are you?” The former colleague went on to say “I’m not in the habit of memorizing phone numbers.”

We’ve all done this before. I know I have, texted someone forgetting that you might not be in their contact list and the recipient had no clue who you were. In fact, this just happened to me this past week with a dear friend, my name wasn’t listed among his contacts and he didn’t recognize my phone number. Once he knew who I was, our communication improved dramatically.

This is important to remember as you’re reaching out to people and networking in your efforts to make a career transition or build relationships. Remember to identify yourself in the text, in other words, “Say your name!”

~Linda

HiredThere are several factors to take into account when entering into the job market. These include internal considerations that require introspection, things like whether you are being challenged at work; whether there is room for growth in the future; and how your organization is performing.

There are also external elements that come into play. One significant factor, especially in recent years, is the economy. So far, the economic news has been improving: the stock market has been surging, the housing market is also on the rise, and unemployment figures are on the decline, so too are gas prices. An improved economy generally means more movement on the hiring front.

But another significant trend to take into consideration is the season. Traditionally hiring increases in the spring of each year. Companies flush with their new budgets and ready to grow, particularly after stagnating during our recent tumultuous times, are looking to bring on new talent to make a fresh start or to jump start their performance.

Now that you’ve had time to relax, refresh and revitalize over the holiday season, this could be the perfect time for you to resolve to take on that new challenge and pursue a more prosperous 2014.

~Linda

blogYou’re an executive, a visionary leader who develops big picture operating plans and strategic roadmaps then delegates different roles to your teams to carryout as you spearhead the implementation. That’s been your M.O. for success throughout your career, so why not do the same with your job search?

First, let me say that no one likes looking for a job. Even executives who voluntarily elect to change positions in an effort to find a new, more challenging role or to advance their careers. Why? Because it takes time, commitment and some hard work. It actually goes against human nature, which is to take the path of least resistance. But these are people who consistently push themselves out of the box, who are not satisfied with the status quo and have the drive to excel.

Even so, there are times when these high fliers and hard workers believe they can delegate a job search or career transition to someone else. I’m here to tell you that while you should work with coaches and experts who will absolutely make your job search more effective and successful, you still have to do some heavy lifting.

For an apt analogy, let’s take a look at fitness and weight loss.  Here’s a multi-billion dollar industry, capitalizing on human nature and our desire to find the path of least resistance. Instead of putting in the hours at the gym and/or the self-restraint and discipline of dieting, people want an easy alternative, the magic fad diet, the revolutionary weight loss pill, or the weight loss without working out; this when we all know what it takes, diet and exercise.

For a specific example of someone willing to put in the time, let’s take a look at quarterback great Peyton Manning. The future hall of famer had to sit out the entire 2011 season enduring numerous neck surgeries. He was written off by many for lack of arm strength due to the surgeries and time off, yet Peyton put in the work and came back in a big way. It took time, effort, thousands of throws, drive and determination. And yes, work with some great coaches.

As is often quoted, “anything worth having is worth fighting for.” People who are successful put in the time. You can’t delegate someone to run, cycle or workout for you, but you can hire a trainer that will make you more effective and help you achieve outstanding results. The same is true of a job search. A great resume writer and career transition coach can make you more marketable and a far better competitor in the challenging job market, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to take the field in order to be a winner.

~Linda

Phone InterviewCountless times, I’ve heard clients say to me “It’s just a phone interview.” Just a phone interview! Like it’s no big deal. Well it is a big deal, because if you don’t make it through what’s also known as the phone screen, you don’t get the face to face interview, which means  you also don’t get the job.

The phone screen has become a rite of passage for someone making a career transition. Before a recruiter decides to advance your resume to his or her client, before an HR professional sends you to the hiring manager, before a hiring manager takes the time to meet with you in person, there has to be a phone interview.

In today’s competitive market, the phone screen is necessary to whittle down the pool of candidates. Without some sort of screening mechanism, no work would be done, there would just be interviewing. That means the phone screen is not to be taken lightly.

A common mistake made by job seekers is not taking the phone interview seriously enough. How do you prep for a phone interview? The same way you would get ready for a face to face encounter. Research the company, prepare to answer questions about your background complete with anecdotes, and have questions ready for the interviewer.

The disadvantage of a phone interview is you don’t have the visual cues like body language, to see how your answers are going over. But there are some benefits. You can have notes in front of you that highlight your successes and why you’re a perfect fit for the position. In addition you can have your own questions written out so you don’t forget to cover everything.

Another thing you can do on a phone interview that you can’t do in person, without looking mildly insane, is to smile and stand up while your speaking. Smiling and standing dramatically improve your delivery. Smiling adds a positive energy to your voice while standing adds more power. They’re two simple tricks, but if you’re doing them and your competition isn’t you’ll be the stand out candidate.

~Linda

Money On The TableYou’ve gone the distance, made it through multiple rounds of interviews, met with peer level executives, perhaps people who will be reporting to you and, depending on your level in the organization, sat down with some board members. This is the time where the rubber meets the road . . . the negotiation.

I’ve worked with hundreds of seasoned executives, many of whom are hardball negotiators when it comes to negotiating on behalf of their companies, but when the deal is about their own compensation, that’s when things really get personal. Surprisingly, I’ve had to encourage some of my clients to counter the offer instead of accepting the initial package, which brings me to the number one rule in negotiation:

1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Many of the decision makers I’ve spoken with say they expect an executive to counter the offer, especially if that executive will be representing the company in future deals. The thing to remember is that asking is very different from demanding. It doesn’t hurt to ask for an increased base, incentive or performance bonus, or more vacation time; but when you demand these things, the tone of the negotiation changes. If you ask and the company can’t comply with your requests, the worst case scenario is they say “this is the best we can do, take it or leave it.” However, if you make demands you risk having the offer pulled.

2. Negotiating a compensation package should be an amicable discussion. Remember you’re going down the road with these people. In the future you will be working side by side toward a common goal. The last thing you want to do is to alienate your prospective employer. Again, that doesn’t mean just rolling over and accepting the initial offer. You should always express your enthusiasm for the position and then take some time to study the offer.

3. Get the offer in writing. It’s best to get the offer in writing, especially as they get more complicated with items like bonuses and equity stakes. For most companies, a written offer is standard operating procedure, however, there are companies that prefer to get some sort of verbal commitment before they memorialize the deal. In that case, it’s a good idea to jot down your own notes, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

4. Combination verbal and written negotiation. Whether you’re working from an offer memorandum or your own notes, it’s a great technique to develop your own written talking points, email them to the decision maker with whom you’re negotiating and then discuss your requests, either in person or on the phone. Having something in writing gives both parties a foundation from which to work, keeping the negotiation focused and professional.

5. One wish list. Your compensation is a total package. When analyzing the strengths of the offer you need to focus on all of the elements. Your response should be comprehensive, listing each of the items you’d like to improve. This gives the decision maker, who may have more flexibility in some areas than others, room to operate. For instance, if they can’t come up with a higher base, perhaps they can enhance the bonus or equity. Say you ask for and receive some concessions but neglected other items you’d like to improve, going back to the well multiple times could make it appear that you’re not that enthusiastic about the offer and potentially poison the budding relationship.

A successful negotiation can be incredibly enriching with rewards reflected not only in your compensation package but also in intangibles such as the earned esteem and respect of your future employers.

~Linda

 

 

 

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