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Transform Your Age into an Asset

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2018

If you’re an experienced professional above 50, you’ve likely had a few concerns about age discrimination in the workplace. Going out into the job market at any point in your career increases anxiety levels and adding age discrimination just makes the task even more daunting.

Age discrimination is illegal, but we all know it happens, so how can you counter it and land an interview where you can show them what you can do?

It starts with a powerful, compelling resume that gets you the interview. It is imperative that your resume is targeted to the job and the company – the content must be meaningful and relevant to the employer. It must demonstrate your knowledge and skills. Pack your resume with keywords and display accomplishments that are powerful, quantified, and state the benefit the company derived.

Don’t go back to the beginning of time with your resume, 10-15 years should do it. It’s not a history of your career, but rather a marketing brochure demonstrating the value you were to previous employers while predicting your future value to employers. An earlier experience that is relevant can be included on the resume, but it does not need to be dated. It can be mentioned in a profile, summary, or an early career section.

If you are job hunting, you are going to be googled. It is an absolute must that you have a LinkedIn profile today that aligns with your resume. Just because LinkedIn will always ask for more information, does not mean you have to fill in earlier and earlier jobs. Use a flattering picture that judiciously shaves off a few years, but don’t get extreme here by using a picture that shows you 20 years younger.

We live in a social media world and while millennials may be finding jobs with Twitter, Facebook, and even Instagram, if you are not comfortable doing so, don’t. But certainly, educate yourself on these social media platforms and get comfortable talking about them.

Keep yourself technologically savvy — up to date with technology in general, but most importantly the technology and trends in your profession and industry. Stay current, get necessary certifications, or take refreshers if your certifications or any of your training is dated.

Don’t forget about current software and applications. Consider enrolling in local classes or take the online classes (LinkedIn Learning), look at the software’s demonstrations, take their tutorials, or download free trials to boost your knowledge.

If you demonstrate that you are continuing to learn and getting better every day on your resume, in phone screenings, and during the interview, your extensive experience can become an asset.

How To Negotiate A Raise

 

Most Finance and Accounting professionals are well versed in the technical side of their jobs but are not as skilled at the behavioral and interpersonal side of business. Many employers assume technical skills are a given, so employee skills can quickly become an overlooked commodity. In this culture, Finance and Accounting professionals must develop effective communication and negotiation skills in order to receive performance-based pay increases.

“In business you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

Negotiating your salary with your employer is a good test of your negotiation and communication skills. Many people dread this often-intimidating process. However, it is important develop these skills for two key reasons:

  1. You would like more money and;
  2. You will be judged by your employer based on how you handle yourself during the negotiations. Most savvy employers are able to make quick, accurate judgments about your value to the company based on how you negotiate.

So how do you negotiate your salary? Consider these tips to demonstrate your masterful negotiation skills and improve your chances of getting an increase:

  • Understand the macro financial constrains that exist: How is your organization doing vs. the overall plan? How is your department perceived? Is your organization’s market growing? How is the organization’s performance vs. its peer group?
  • Remember that there is always budget for salary increases for great employees: Just keep in mind that there is seldom a reason to mention this to your employer!
  • Be able to quantify the value have you added to the company over the last year: What real, tangible cost savings or revenue enhancements can be directly attributed to your performance? It only counts if it has a real dollar impact, not if it “made us more efficient.”
  • Know how your boss is perceived in the organization and how much authority they have: Can they approve a raise without anyone else’s input or do they need to get approval? Are they going to go to bat for you? Why would they?
  • Consider your relationship with your boss: If it’s not great, it needs to be rebuilt before you request an increase. If there is no trust between you and your employer, odds are that you aren’t going to get anywhere in a salary negotiation.
  • Step into the shoes of your boss as you prepare for your negotiation: If you were them how would you respond to such a request? Your chances of success are greatly enhanced if your employer agrees that an increase is fair.
  • Be yourself in discussions: Prepare what you are going to say but make sure it’s in your own words and comes from the heart. If you are new to negotiating, tell your boss that you are nervous. Your honesty will melt all but the most hardened hearts. In certain situations, you could improve your bargaining position by asking for help. Getting your boss on your side of the table when negotiating with the organization can improve your chances of being heard.
  • Keep the negotiations face to face: Don’t use email or text, as these means are useless when trying to convince people to do anything for you. Using text or email will simply demonstrate that you’re not being direct; you’re actually avoiding face to face interaction.
  • Pay attention to non-verbal signals you are giving: Eye contact and hand movements are the most common means of non-verbal communication. Take a pen and notepad into the meeting and take notes if you need to keep your hands busy. Be sure to make eye contact.
  • Talk slowly and ask questions: Be prepared for questions that your boss might ask about why you think you deserve an increase. Answer the specific question that’s asked and listen well to responses that indicate you need to improve (or more clearly demonstrate!) your performance.
  • Plan the timing of your request: What day of the week and time of the day is best for your boss? Drop hints before your request to let your boss know what’s coming. Mention that you would “like to find a convenient time to discuss your compensation” so they can take time to think about it before you meet.
  • Prepare for your scheduled meeting: Do some industry comparisons as a guide or get some coaching from Aclivity or another trusted resource. Talk to colleagues and find out what tactics have worked for them. Write down your thoughts in advance and practice your negotiation with your trusted advisor. Be brief. Make your points and stress that you are seeking fair compensation for the value you provide to the company. If possible, don’t rely too heavily on your notes in the meeting. If you are trying to make more than 5 points, it’s too many.
  • Own your perspective: Truth is a matter of perspective. If you are going to make a point in the discussion that is subjective, be clear that you’re conveying “how you feel.” No one can argue about how you feel and it sounds less threatening than telling your boss what’s “true.”
  • Don’t compare your salary with others’: Don’t use comparisons of your compensation vs. other internal employees as a bargaining tactic. This argument will make you look petty since it attempts to justify your increase by comparing yourself with other people. It also reveals that you have had conversations about confidential topics with other employees, suggesting that you may not be trustworthy. Focus on the value that you bring to the table.
  • Don’t make threats: Don’t threaten to quit or say you will be forced to start looking for another job; your boss will know that’s a possible outcome if they turn you down. Listen and take feedback. Being told “No” this time will make it easier to get a “Yes” next time. If your negotiation is trending negative you could ask to defer the conversation and request their agreement to bring the topic back up again at a specified time. Ask your boss what behaviors, skills or contributions would necessary for them to consider giving you an increase in the future.
  • Don’t justify the raise by talking about your personal expenses: Bringing up your personal finances will be interpreted as a request for your company to compensate for the fact that you cannot manage your own affairs. Focus the negotiation on your tangible value to the company (how you personally make or save them money).
  • Remember that there are other types of “increases: There are a number of other things that you can ask for other than a pay increase which may be easier for your boss to grant. Consider asking for an increase in bonus potential, an extra week of paid vacation, tuition assistance, expense reimbursements like cell phone or home office, a spot bonus for specific tasks well done, or a 401(k) match.
  • Do your research: Communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills can be learned. We all have weaknesses in these areas, but we can compensate for them with a little effort. Learning about effective communication and negotiation methods will also help you “read” your boss—and adapt to limitations in their communication skills!

Negotiating a raise is a process, not an event. Introduce the topic and plan on having a number of discussions. Be patient and demonstrate your value without getting defensive. Let the other party warm to your point of view. Rarely will you go in, ask for a raise, and get it without a bit of negotiation. And, remember that we’re here for you if you’d like advice (or practice!) before your negotiation!

Good luck!

Why Working With Aclivity Is A “Smart” Way To Jump Start Your New Career

Negotiating a Raise

The Aclivity interviewing and placement process streamlines the challenging task of finding the right career or candidate. When you join up with Aclivity, you’ll have our national recruiters working together on your behalf—connecting you with the right people and the right opportunities at the right time!

Clients, we save you time and money:

  • We free you from the work of posting and renewing employment ads, reviewing resumes, setting up and conducting interviews
  • We bring resources right to you; offering well-screened, position-appropriate candidates
  • We build your team and meeting your project deadlines – without the hassle of finding the right help
  • We adapt our placement services based on your specific needs. Need help locating qualified candidates, but want to handle the interviews yourself? No problem! Need a short-term consultant? We’ve got one! Our recruiters are flexible experts and will take on the parts of the hiring process that you don’t have the time, or resources, to manage.
  • We get clear on your needs up front! Our recruiters are great at helping you to define your needs, outline your goals, and clarify requirements and prerequisites of the role you need to fill.
  • We understand that sometimes skills aren’t everything! We get to know your company culture—and our candidates’ behaviors and proclivities—to find the right fit for your team. Our candidates are interested in actively developing their skills, and in the right environment, they—and you—thrive!

Candidates, we make your job search easier:

  • We get to know who you are and what you bring to the table before trying to fit you into an available position. It’s important to us that you find a job that fits to ensure that you’re happy and that you’re offering our clients the expertise and professional attitude that meets their specific needs.
  • We represent your interests and needs in a market that can often be impersonal and difficult to navigate without the right personal connections.
  • We leverage our well-developed professional network to market your expertise to a trusted community of successful clients.
  • We offer support throughout your career! Our Career Services include educating you on the ever-changing job marketplace, mentoring you on career development goals and coaching you on creating a resume that highlights your unique experience and skill set.

At Aclivity, we believe in building relationships that endure. That’s why we consistently offer well-targeted connections between candidates and clients. We succeed by helping candidates put their unique skills to work and by offering our clients stable, qualified talent. And, we stay connected over the long term, so you know that when you need us, we’re here to help! Contact us when you are looking for a new job opportunity or star-candidate. Our placement and consulting expertise will help you succeed!

Get the Most Out of Your Career

Get the Most Out of Your Career

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2017

Do you enjoy your job? Are you living up to your potential? Can you answer yes to these questions on most days? You’re going to have good days and bad days at work. Every job has some elements that are less pleasing than others; the goal is to have many more enjoyable than disagreeable days. Here are 8 steps you can take to maximize your career potential.

  1. Make sure you are in the right job. Do you enjoy what you do? If yes, great, if no, then determine what you’d rather be doing and what it takes to get that job. Perhaps you took this job under financial pressures or as a stop gap. Then don’t lose sight of your dreams and values. Get back on track and go for your dreams.
  2. Always have an up-to-date resume and an exit strategy. Be prepared to make a move when an opportunity presents itself or if a change in business jeopardizes or eliminates your job.
  3. Continue to learn new skills and technologies. Explore educational opportunities that will make you more valuable and attractive to employers.
  4. Take on new challenges. Volunteer for the projects that your peers avoid.
  5. Become a valuable resource. Be the subject matter expert that everyone goes to. Mentor and coach new hires and struggling associates.
  6. Continue to challenge yourself. Always have a goal you are striving for and a plan to achieve it. Once you achieve that goal, set another goal and begin working toward it.
  7. Invest in yourself. Attend conferences. Meet new people. Expand your influence.
  8. Always give a little more than what’s expected. Go the extra mile in all that you do.

Get the Most Out of Your Career

Get the Most Out of Your Career

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2017

 

Do you enjoy your job? Are you living up to your potential? Can you answer yes to these questions on most days? You’re going to have good days and bad days at work. Every job has some elements that are less pleasing than others; the goal is to have many more enjoyable than disagreeable days. Here are 8 steps you can take to maximize your career potential.

  1. Make sure you are in the right job. Do you enjoy what you do? If yes, great, if no, then determine what you’d rather be doing and what it takes to get that job. Perhaps you took this job under financial pressures or as a stop gap. Then don’t lose sight of your dreams and values. Get back on track and go for your dreams.
  2. Always have an up-to-date resume and an exit strategy. Be prepared to make a move when an opportunity presents itself or if a change in business jeopardizes or eliminates your job.
  3. Continue to learn new skills and technologies. Explore educational opportunities that will make you more valuable and attractive to employers.
  4. Take on new challenges. Volunteer for the projects that your peers avoid.
  5. Become a valuable resource. Be the subject matter expert that everyone goes to. Mentor and coach new hires and struggling associates in your career field.
  6. Continue to challenge yourself. Always have a goal you are striving for and a plan to achieve it. Once you achieve that goal, set another goal and begin working toward it.
  7. Invest in yourself. Attend conferences. Meet new people. Expand your influence.
  8. Always give a little more than what’s expected. Go the extra mile in all that you do.

Never Look for a Job Again

Never Look for a Job Again

Wouldn’t it be nice to never look for a job again? We’ve all known people who seem to get all the breaks. They often get offers for highly coveted positions the rest of us didn’t even know about. Ever wonder how they do it? Why is it that recruiters call them first?

The answer is simple, these people have become very attractive passive candidates, the recognized experts in their field, the people you go to for the answers, the ones you believe can solve your problems. These are the people companies want to hire and recruiters want in their prized database.

So how did they become so attractive? They capitalize on their strengths, are always authentic, outperform their job descriptions and peers, and build strong networks and enduring relationships they can call when needed. They provide extra value to the company; they plan and manage their business and career and don’t waste time, energy, or resources. They become so good at what they do that they don’t have to look for jobs, jobs find them. They may not be looking for work, but are open to the right opportunity when presented with it.

If you start with these 5 steps and continue them throughout your career, opportunities will come your way.

  1. Know your strengths and drivers and use them. If you match your abilities, natural aptitudes, and values with the right work environment, the result will be workplace success and satisfaction. When you work outside your strengths, you dread going to work. You are going to have more negative encounters at work and you will probably treat customers or co-workers poorly. You’re likely to complain about the company, achieve less, and have fewer creative ideas. When you work within your strengths, you’ll build energy and excitement, increase your productivity, and feel good about your work and yourself. You will do good work; success and satisfaction will naturally follow.
  2. Exhibit leadership qualities: initiative, influence, collaboration, and communication. Leaders volunteer and show initiative; they formulate and implement strategies; solve problems; respond to threats and adapt to change. Leaders support innovation and collaborate across boundaries. They engage and inspire employees, co-workers, and even customers. Leaders set or influence goals and readily accept responsibility for outcomes, good or bad.
  3. Find meaningful work that builds career value. Meaningful work is the intersection of your strengths, drivers, and values with company goals. When these things come together, there will be no stopping you. If you’re not experiencing career value, ask yourself why. Are you in the right position? Is something stopping you? Can you negotiate it into your job or do you need to find another job?
  4. Commit to lifelong learning and invest in your career. Change is the one constant we face. What is the minimum investment required to stay meaningful and relevant in your field? What is required to make you a thought leader? Join professional associations, read trade publications, attend conferences and online training. Find a mentor or adviser. If your employer doesn’t invest in your development, don’t let that stop you. It is your career; your investment will ultimately pay off in a better job with a better employer.
  5. Build powerful connections and communicate frequently with stakeholders who have a vested interest in your efforts. Having a robust network and connections builds professional credibility, keeps you relevant, can eliminate obstacles, and create opportunities. Make yourself visible, but not annoying. Communicate business benefits and results; be sure to share the spotlight and credit contributors.

Highly attractive passive candidates always practice these 5 steps; they are second nature to them. With a little practice, you can become an attractive passive candidate that hiring managers and recruiters seek out for their opportunities. Wouldn’t it be nice to never look for a job again?

Roberta Gamza, Career Ink (www.careerink.com) | © 2016
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