Career Chick Hot Tip: Choose Words ...

5 Fast Tips for the Office Xmas Party

The annual office Christmas party season us is well and truly upon us! It can be anticipated with much excitement or stomach-churning dread. 

It's alternatively a chance to have some fun time-out with colleagues and co-workers.

Or it can be the last place you want to spend your free time - you might prefer to be with family and friends or not have to worry about the potent combination of co-workers, managers and alcohol.

However you feel about it - there's no doubt the annual office shinding can be a minefield that needs to be navigated so that you use the chance, if not to enhance your professional credibility, to at least ensure that you do no damage to your reputation.

Here are 5 Fast Tips to help navigate the Office Christmas/Holiday party:

1. Go - even if you're not fussed on the idea of a progressive dinner party, listen to your co-workers who (reluctantly) give into their urges to join in the the karaoke or don't fancy  finger food - if you possibly can - it's important to (at least) make an appearance. You don't even have to stay for the whole event - but turning up shows that you are part of the team.

2. Watch what you drink - and I don't mean count until you get to 15 glasses of wine! Rather, limit the amount of alcohol so that you can stay on your best behavior. There are plenty of other opportunities to go out with co-workers - without doing it in front of senior management.

(Many of whom also dread inebriated staff telling them what they have done throughout the year or alternatively how great they are. One very senior manager once told me he always knows it's time to leave a party when one of his team tells him they love him. Eeewww!)

3. Use the relaxed atmosphere of a party as an opportunity to say hello to people you don't always see on a daily basis. Acknowledge something they have done and say thank you. Ask them about their holiday plans. It's a great opportunity to get to know people a little better and deepen the relationships in your network.

On the other hand DO NOT use it as a chance to stalk senior management to advise them how to do their job or tell them how great you are. If you do have something you need to discuss with them - ask if it's okay to contact to set up a time.

4. Remember you are still on the clock - I once walked into a Christmas party and the first thing I was asked was, "How are this week's numbers?". I didn't even have a glass of bubbles in my hand! It pays to be prepared and be able (not to mention sober as per tip 2!) to be able to answer questions about work.

And you don't want to do anything at an office party that will make you cringe in the morning or that you need to erase from the memory of the person who has the power to promote you or who will be completing your performance review. I was interviewed about Christmas parties by Cosmopolitan Magazine a few years ago and they asked about the 'party pash' (it was Cosmo after all). My reply:-  "I don't think so!"

5. Send a thank you email to (or even better call) whoever has organized the party the next business day. Getting a work party together often involves navigating office politics, lots of work and very little recognition. Acknowledging the effort that goes into the event is the nice and the right thing to do.

And finally, (a bonus tip for Christmas ☺) Enjoy yourself- it is the holiday time of year and it's nice to get to know people in a relaxed atmosphere, have a few laughs and acknowledge what's been achieved during the year.

Happy Christmas!
- Karen

Career Development: 5 Fast Tips ...what to include in your salary negotiations

Being prepared to negotiate for your salary and developing the skills to do so are absolutely vital to ensure that you earn what you're worth. 

As one of my mentors once said to me "If you're going to work X hours a day - it may as well be for as much money as you can make. There's only finite hours in a day". So true. And an area where Career Chicks can really help each other in sharing experiences, learnings and success stories.

One aspect of this is to understand what is negotiable. There are numerous items and benefits that can be part of remuneration negotiations and you will be in a stronger position when you understand all of the areas which you can bring in to the discussion. And where you can make trade-offs or negotiate for future benefits.

Here are 5 Fast Tips of what to include in your salary negotiations:

1. Base Salary - this is crucial to your standard of living and the regular financial commitments you can make. It is also important to your future earning potential as your annual salary review is likely to be a percentage of your base salary and the amount of your % increase on your base salary is determined by how much your base salary actually is.

There are two approaches to your base salary - one is to be negotiable on this amount and make gains on the other areas of your package such as your annual bonus and benefits. Alternatively you could sacrifice some of these in order to secure the higher salary.

2. Performance Bonus - this is becoming more and more a part of business remuneration packages. It is definitely a  great point for negotiating on - as you are able to create the linkage between what you will deliver and how much the company will pay you. It is very low risk for the employer because if you don't deliver they don't pay - but when you do, they do. Win. Win.

3. Shares, stock options, car parking, health cover - you may need to be a reasonably senior Career Chick for these to be options - but if they are, know what their value is and ensure that these are calculated in your discussions. I know a few stories  of people who have been caught out by negotiation a total remuneration amount, being told that car parking was part of their benefits and THEN finding out that they were expected to pay for it out of their package. Too late when you get to that stage.

4. Tools of trade - lap tops, smart phones, Internet access - these may all be included as part of your package. Make sure that you negotiate for what you need to do your role and understand if these are being included in the financial calculation.

5. Flexibility - although working hours or remote working arrangements may not add directly to your pay packet - they can make a HUGE difference to your quality of life.  Moving into a new role or organization is the perfect time to put your request / preferences / needs on the able and include them as part of this negotiation.

This list is certainly not exhaustive and there may be other benefits up for negotiation such as club or association memberships, study assistance and extra leave. On the other hand, not all of these  may be of interest to you or available from your organization.

Know what is applicable for your role and organization, and most importantly  what you want to negotiate for.

Have you negotiated for any other benefits as part of your package? Let the rest of us Chicks know!

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

Career Development: 5 Fast Tips be prepared for new opportunities

Preparation can help you jump into new opportunities
By Karen Adamedes

Sometimes opportunities come to us that we were not expecting.

For instance, there may be a new project in your organisation that you're asked to join, an unexpected vacancy that you're asked to apply for, or a recruiter or another company ring you out of the blue to sound you out about a role.

Even when you are totally happy in your current job these kind of opportunities can throw you into a tail spin. Should I do it? Shouldn't I? I like what I'm doing but this seems a good opportunity. Arrgghhh! Help!- these are all pretty common reactions.

To help you decide if you should take advantage of an opportunity when it comes up - you need to be prepared.

Ready for action.

Here are 5 Fast Tips of how to prepare so that you can act when opportunities present themselves:

1. Have a career plan - written down - it helps if you have already thought through what you are trying to achieve and where you want to go. When an opportunity arises you will be able to reference back to your career plan and see if it is line with your plan.

It may not be the exact move you were planning on next - but you'll know if it's heading down the right (or even same path). As Seth Godin says in his new book, Poke the Box, when discussing the evolution of Starbucks, "One led to the other by the usual route, which is never a straight line".

Careers don't follow straight paths anymore but when you have a career plan to refer back to - you'll know if you are even in the same strata sphere!

2.  Know what you like - the environment you want to work in, the type of people you want to work with and for, and the sort of work you want to do. If you have this clarity you will be able to ask the right questions to assess if the new opportunity measures up to your requirements.

3. Have a mentor - when you have a big decision to make if you have been working with a mentor you will be able to call on them for an emergency discussion. Most importantly, you will have someone who you trust, who understands you and who has no vested interest in your decision that you can have an open and honest discussion with.

4. Use your network - to find out more about the opportunity, the company, the people - your network is an excellent source of information to help you make your decision.

5. Say yes - if the opportunity is right for you. Don't miss out because it doesn't align with the scheduled number of steps in your career plan or because you don't think you are ready.

Whether your career moves are planned or reactive being prepared so that you can recognise opportunities when they come along is a skill to develop and manage your career.

Have you had an opportunity come along that you weren't expecting? Please share how you made your decision.

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

Career Skills: 5 Fast Tips ...for handling negative feedback

Don't hide from negative feedback
by Karen Adamedes

Despite all our best efforts sometimes we get negative feedback at work.

It may or may not be deserved. It may be that you did what you thought was required and there was a miscommunication issue. It may be because what you did wasn't understood or that requirements changed during a task or project. Or it may be that your work wasn't as good as it needed to be.

Whatever the reason - knowing how to respond to negative feedback is a valuable skill that needs to form part of your personal Operating Style.

Here are 5 Fast Tips if (when) you do receive negative feedback at work:

1. Acknowledge and clarify what has been said - it's good to clarify what you have just heard. It's easy when you hear something negative to stop listening and start thinking about the reasons why and your response. Or to think that the other person is being more critical than they are. Acknowledging and clarifying what has been said will ensure you have understood the issue/feedback.

2. Thank the person for their feedback - often it is very difficult to give negative feedback and they may be as nervous as you. A "thanks for mentioning this" type comment can show that you are taking this as a business not a personal issue.

3. Ask for time - if you need it to think about what has been said. Be honest if you need the time and tell them this has caught you off-guard and you would like some time to think about it. Reschedule another meeting time so it does not look like you are avoiding the issue.

4. Ask questions - clarify your understanding so that you know exactly what the issue is, why and what is required.

5. Take action - work with your manager/customer/supplier to develop a solution and resolve the specific issue. This could be anything from solving an immediate requirement to enrolling in a course to develop your knowledge or skills in a particular area.

This approach can help you be seen as professional and solution-oriented and positively impact on your credibility. It's like the old adage - turning a negative into a positive - as how you handle things is often at least as important as the work you do.

Have you had any experiences you could share with other Career Chicks?

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

Career Skill: 5 Fast Tips have your good work noticed!

The strategy of working away, tucked into the corner of the office, waiting for diligence, results and talent to be recognized is a strategy that often just does not work.

A preference to 'keep your head down' and 'get on with it' may be more appealing to you than running around telling people how good you are - but it probably won't help you get ahead. If you've ever seen someone who you think has not contributed as much as you or is not as talented as you be recognized or promoted above you - you no doubt understand why.

The trick is to get the balance between looking like you are more interested in being seen as good rather than doing good and to get enough positive publicity out there so that the people who will make decisions about the opportunities you may be given know enough about your contributions.

Managers are often busy, stressed and stretched (or all three) and don't necessarily have the bandwidth (time, interest, attention) to find out exactly how good you are at what you do.

Which means you need to make it easy for them and make your accomplishments known. Here are 5 Fast Tips how:

1. Know what your contributions are in numbers - X% increase in this, Y% expense reduction in that. Numbers are a powerful way to communicate what you have done.

2. Respond to "the" question - you get asked twenty times a day "How are you?" (unlikely to be Wassup in a business setting ☺) with a quick response that tells a positive story about you. Like "I'm good, I'm just writing up the report on the new IT system, it looks like we've reduced expenses by about 15%". Easy to do (if you you know what you've done, shares the credit AND gets it on the map that you are being successful.

3. Speak up at Meetings - have something to say that demonstrates what you know or what you have been achieving. The questions you ask can be a comfortable way of demonstrating this - and you don't have to worry about being seen as a-know-it-all!

4. Contribute to your company intranet site or newsletter - commenting on internal blogs or contributing an article on your latest project help give you visibility in your company.

5. Volunteer to present what you have been working on at team meetings. It gets your good work out there and it's great presentation practise!

There's lots more but that's 5 to get you thinking (and started).

Would love to hear from you - do you have other tips to share?

Thanks for the chat!


Do you practise what you need to be good at?

Usain Bolt ...Practise Gets Results
I just watched a video of Robert Kiyosaki, best-selling-author of "Rich Dad Poor Dad" talking with Valerie Khoo of the Sydney Writers Centre.

(Given the millions of book sales he has under his belt I thought I might get a few ideas that would help get my book flying off the shelf or downloading at the speed of light.)

What I did get was something to think about. In the interview Kiyosaki says, "the average person doesn't practise enough." And he refers to how the Beatles played for very limited money for the time they were based in Hamburg for just over two years. It's widely accepted that the practise they got and how often they played helped build their reputation and ultimately contributed to their success.

Usain Bolt, 5 times world and 3 times Olympic Gold Medallist Sprinter, has a mix of good genetics and raw talent and a well-known loathing for training. But he does it. As do every one of the athletes who are serious about success. Because Practice Gets Results.

Yet for those of us in business we expect to be at our peak performance all the time, every time. Rushing from meeting to meeting, presentation to presentation, report to report. With no practise in between.

The reality is you do need to practise to be good at something.

The habit we need to develop is to build it into how we do what we do.

I like to write. So this blog certainly gives me some practise (well it would if I posted more often!). But there is always more I can do.

How can you build practise into what you do?

Love to know your thoughts. Let's chat...

- Karen

Beyonce: "Sometimes we don't reach for the stars"

This clip from Beyonce is about the making of her album 4 but there were a couple of things she said related to her career that I really want to share with you.

Talking about her decision to run her own business she says,

"Sometimes we don't reach for the stars. Sometimes we are satisfied with what people tell us we are supposed to be satisfied with. And I'm not going for that."

Go Beyonce!

And when she was talking about what she does, the line that leaped out at me was,

"You should be doing it just because you love it"

Guess that's why I blog about career stuff...

She certainly seems to know a thing or two about achieving career success - thought you might like to watch the the video if you haven't seen it already.

I'm going star gazing. Chat later!

- Karen

Carol Bartz: Perhaps not a role model for how to leave a job?

Carol Bartz in 2009
Carol Bartz, the (now) former CEO of Yahoo! was apparently fired over the phone this week. Harsh.

Respectful? No.

Appropriate way to fire anyone? Never.

A good idea to call the Chairman and the board "doofuses" (as reported by the LA Times) or say that the board "f***d me over" in an interview recounted on after it happens? Probably not.

From all the news articles you can tell it was probably a pretty bad situation before the firing. And I certainly don't know if it was deserved or not.

Ranked 91st on the Forbes Executive Pay Ranking and running an organization valued at around $16b, Bartz was clearly in a role very different from many of ours with different challenges. But does that make how you should leave a job different?

When we leave roles most of us try to do so with some dignity, no matter what the circumstances, to cement contacts for your network and to sure up the referees we may need in the future. Maybe when you're in the media and the market already has an opinion of how you performed, the CEO of such a visible organization as Yahoo! doesn't need to be worried about such things.

But apart from venting some anger in public name, is name calling a good idea?

Personally, whatever the circumstance I don't see what Bartz had to gain.

And I don't think it's being a very good role model.

Let's chat

- Karen

Looking for a Job? Tips to Stay Positive

I'm guest blogging throughout 30 Days to a Great Career over at herBusiness. Click through to read more

Would love to know any other tips that you have. Please leave a comment and share them with the Career Chick Chat community.

- Karen

A Plan Can Help You Realise A Dream

Once upon a time when I was thinking about changing jobs I was advised to approach the process "as you would any project you would do at work".

I applied this to achieving my dream of writing, "Hot Tips For Career Chicks".  I wrote a plan, followed it through, reviewed it as I went and achieved what I set out to do!

Don't know what was cooler when I recently got my new iPad - the new iPad itself or downloading my book on iBooks (just to check it worked okay, of course!).

Okay, milestone achieved.

Dream realised.

Now back to the career planning - and fill up this book shelf!

Happy Days!

30 Days to a Great Career

I'm delighted to have been invited to a contribute as a guest blogger to an online event "30 Days to a Great Career" which is happening throughout September on the herBusiness the blog of the Australian Business Women's Network.

Looking forward to being part of the event and getting some great tips from the other chicks!

Pinch and a punch for the first of the month!


If you are going to work, shouldn't you be paid what you're worth?

My philosophy about remuneration is simple. If you are going to work - you should be paid what you are worth.

That is not to say that women have to work in organisations and know how to negotiate for their salary and play the 'corporate game'. Many people (male and female) choose to work in a variety of ways to provide themselves with flexibility and different life options.

(Although even if you are working for yourself knowing your value and what you should charge is still important).

Nor do I think that the 'salary gap' between men and women that we all hear about is because the guys doing exactly the same job are being paid more than women.

A report just published in Australia by CommSec reported that the gender pay difference is the widest it has been for 28 years - with female wages at 82.5% of male wages.

There's no doubt the reasons are complex - Helen Conway, Director of the Australian Equal Opportunity in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) is reported as saying,

"While the causes of the gap are many and complex, she cited “feminised” industries such as child care and aged care as examples of industries women dominate and which often pay poor wages because women’s skills are undervalued by both society and employers. Many women also work part-time, which further depresses their wages. Even in large enterprises, however, women often receive lower wages than male counterparts.

A lack of education and training is another factor that keeps women’s wages low, often because women who return to the workforce after caring for children find themselves lagging in terms of professional development compared to men who enjoy unbroken careers. Fewer women tend to work in industries that offer discretionary pay or bonuses, another factor that contributes to lower earnings."

She's right about one thing. The reason for the pay gap are complex.

The issue for each of us is learning the skills to make sure that individually we are paid what we are worth.

Whether you are male or female, one of the best ways to do this is to learn the skills to negotiate and then apply these skills to the negotiations we have on our own behalf. I don't think it's necessarily about learning how to work in a man's world. (I know plenty of guys who are just as perplexed as Chicks about to negotiate to be paid what they're worth). I think it's about understanding the environment where you work, being skilled and applying those skills for yourself.

Be interested in your thoughts?

Thanks for the Chat

- Karen

P.S. You might be interested in this extract from the chapter of "Hot Tips for Career Chicks" on the subject of 'Earn What You're Worth'.

The Two Most Powerful Words in Business

Imagine my delight when I received this delicious thank you card in the mail this morning.

A lovely reminder that the two most powerful words in business are "Thank" and "You" (actually they work pretty well in most situations!) gives the definition of 'thank' as "to express gratitude, appreciation or acknowledgment" and 'you' as "the person/s being addressed."

Which is why (apart from this being a chocolate version ) it is so nice to receive a thank you.

It is reinforcement that what you have done has been valued, acknowledged and is appreciated.

Nice to receive.

And easy to give.

Thank you for reading my blog!

- Karen

P.S. Thank you Julia for my chocolate!

Carrie Underwood: A Career Chick Who Loves Her Work

I love it when you see someone who really loves their work!

Check out this video of Carrie Underwood's duet with Steven Tyler at the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards - at 5 min 24 seconds Carrie is having such a great time that she's singing along when it's not her turn.

Most of us are not as famous as Carrie Underwood (nor likely to get the chance to sing with Steven Tyler) but it's something to celebrate if you have parts of your work that make you feel good and want to join in - even when it's not your bit.

Hoping you have something to sing about today!

P.S. Don't just watch 5:24 - the whole performance is great - I just love it! - Karen

5 Motivating Quotes

Sometimes the right quote strikes a chord. Gives you some inspiration. Something to think about. A fresh perspective. Reinforces that you are on the right track.

Here are 5 quotes that I really like:

1. "Today, knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement"

- Peter Drucker

2. "The future depends on what we do in the present"

- Mahatma Gandi

3. "The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook."

- William James

4. "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom"

- Aristotle

And my personal favorite at the moment,

5. "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree, it will live it's whole life believing that it is stupid"

- Albert Einstein

Hope they give you something to chat or think about...

Are you an Effective Communicator? Free online Webinar.

Communication is how we exchange information.

We use words, gestures and expressions to convey facts and ask questions. Whether face-to-face, on the phone or in writing by text, email or reports every communication we have with someone shapes their opinion about us.

These many communication events add up to influence our credibility, impact our ability to 'get things done' and ultimately form our professional reputation.

This week I am conducting a free online webinar for Network Central in their Business Masterclass series. The topic: "Are you an effective communicator?"

It's on this Thursday August 18 at 13:00 Australian Eastern Standard Time, which is 20:00 Pacific Time on Wednesday August 17 for folks in the United States.

You don't need to be a member and it would be great to have a chat!

Click here to register.

Chat with you soon!


The work conversations not to have in a cafe...

Who is listening to your conservations?

include the one that I overheard this morning.

It started with a discussion of colleagues who were known to keep prizes that were meant to be given away to customers and then progressed to a detailed criticism of their Human Resources department and how 'unfair' it was that they had imposed a process where they had to 'share' the free gifts and goodies they were given as part of their job. Where was the incentive to do their job and cultivate contacts they complained?

I didn't know the people they talked about. But I might have. Pretty careless conversation for a couple of journalists.

A good reminder to me - that as great as casual coffee networking is for your career - there are just some subjects that shouldn't be discussed in front of strangers!

Where men learn how to manage their careers

I saw this magazine on the airport news stand as I was flying back into Sydney earlier in the week.

In amongst the how to "Fast Track Your 6 Pack" and "The Big Arms Workout" was the standout headline, "Turbocharge Your Career!"

Meanwhile in the women's magazine's section the headlines were babies, weddings, gossip, fashion and diets. All topics I love to read about. But there was nothing I could see about career advice...

Where do men learn about managing their careers?


They talk, read, watch and learn.

Learning career management skills is not cheating. It's what we need to do. And it makes sense if we want to do well we need to chat about this stuff too...

Chat soon!

- Karen

Careers bloom with the right care

My nieces Lily (aged 8) and Arabella (almost 6) are in charge of keeping these flowers not only alive but looking beautiful whilst they are on holidays in Australia.

This requires daily watering, caterpillar removal and the disposal of any dead flowers.

But they're pretty busy girls. There are bikes to ride, a dog to play with and cookies to be eaten.

So they keep the tools they need to tend their flowers close at hand.

Clever really.

They're ready to flick a caterpillar away or sprinkle a can of water as they walk past.

No time out of their busy schedule and the flowers are blooming!

It made me think about looking after a career. We can get so busy doing what we have to that we don't have the time to ensure that it stays not only alive - but healthy.

If you can put some actions in place so that you can look after your career as you go about your life it can make things so much easier.

Have regular meetings with your mentors and favourite people in your network booked into your diary.

Conversations with these people who support you are like a sprinkle of water to your career. They're also helpful if you have any nasty caterpillars or bugs come your way that need to be flicked away.

Subscribe to relevant blogs, newsletters and magazines so that you have a flow of relevant information passing by you. It will be there when you have time to peruse and sometimes a relevant headline will make you take the time.

Put the next three actions in your career plan as a note in your smart phone with a daily alarm or stuck to the fridge under a magnet - have them close at hand to think (or even better do) something about when you see them!

Just a couple of ideas to help you give your career the right care so it will bloom!

Thanks for the chat. Lily and Arabella have some cookies and milk waiting for me.

- Karen

P.S. If you are looking for a relevant blog to subscribe to there's always this one!!

Career Skill:5 Fast Tips for after a networking event (the so what)

Well done you! You've been to a networking event.

Met some great people.

Swapped some business cards.

Heard some new ideas.

And got a little bit inspired.

So what do you do now?

You've been there. Done that. Networking ticked off on the career to do list?

Afraid not.

Because unless you actually do something just going to a networking event is kind of an academic exercise.

Here are 5 Fast Tips for follow up after a networking event to make it mean something for your career development:

1. Connect with people you met - if there were people you found areas of common interest with and swapped contact details with - connect with them. Preferably in 48 hours. Send them a request to connect on Linked In - which will make sure you have correct contact details for them in the future. Make sure you personalize the Linked In invitation reminding them of where you met and something you discussed. If you don't use Linked In (why I wonder?) - send then an email to follow through on the connection.

2. Follow up commitments - if you made any commitments like "I'll send you a link to ..." or "We must catch up for coffee" - jump on the email and send the link, propose a coffee time and follow through on what you said you will do. Great for your personal credibility and significantly increases the chances that the person you met moves from a connection to a contact.

3. Write down your ideas - maybe it's just me but when I hear speakers I get a ton of ideas. People I should contact, information that they talk about that I want to look up and read about myself. All sorts of things. Write them down as soon as you can so that you don't lose those precious ideas.

4. Act on your ideas or the something you learned. It's inspiring to get ideas, it's powerful to act on them. If someone makes a suggestion, you hear a tip that you think you can use or you get a brilliant idea - act on them. Not everything that works for someone else will work for you but when you do try something new and it works - it feels like magic!

5. Book in your next networking event - and keep those connections, contacts, tips and ideas coming. Career development is a continual process and there are always new things we can learn!

Must go - I have some Linked In invitations to send to people I met this week.

Thanks for the chat!


Break out of your mold at work this week.

Don't dread the 'same-old' routine.

Make a coffee appointment with someone in your network.

Start on your favourite part of your job and do something you really enjoy.

Break out of your mold.

Do something new.

Try something different.

Be brave.

And have a great week.


5 Fast Tips for after you resign

How you leave a job is important
The decision to leave a job often takes some soul searching. Even if you are leaving for a fabulous new opportunity or a new stage of your life, there has usually been some thought go into the decision.

Once you have made the decision and actually resign you are not finished the process of "leaving". More often than not there will be a notice period that you need to work out and it's in these times that many perceptions about your entire performance in the role that you are leaving are made.

There's lots of research that says that how things end forms our opinion of what we have experienced. In "Stumbling Upon Happiness", author Daniel Gilbert talks about this and gives an example of how a good end to an average movie makes us think that the movie was much better than it was. Or on the other hand, how a disappointing end to a movie we thought was quite good up until that point can leave us let down by the whole film.

So to with leaving a job. Leave with style and grace and 'doing the right thing' by the company, customers and people you work with - and you will leave a positive lasting impression. Flick things to others, leave thing undone or slack off in those final weeks and these too will be remembered. Not in a good way. It can damage your credibility and professional reputation. Just because you have your next role lined up doesn't mean that you won't ever need to call on the people you are leaving now in the future.

Here are 5 Fast Tips to follow after you resign:

1. Communicate your decision appropriately - once you have formalised your resignation and have agreement that it's okay to communicate that you are leaving - make sure you are the one to tell your colleagues, friends and key stakeholders that you are leaving. No one like to hear things on the grapevine. And if possible do it face to face or at least by phone. There's nothing personal about a group email.

2. Develop a plan - work with your manager &/or colleagues to develop a handover plan of your work to allow for a smooth transition.

3. Stay focused on your day job - performing at your 'usual' level up until your last day will be appreciated by those around you. We've all worked with someone who mentally 'checks out' the minute they decide they are leaving. It's quite unfair on others and doesn't allow your manager any time to put a handover plan in place.

4. Sure up your network - approach the people you want to stay in contact with and set the expectations that you will do so. Arrange a coffee catch up for after you leave, swap new email and phone contact details and let these people know that you would like to stay in touch. If you're headed off on a career break or for other reasons and may want to call on someone as a referee in the future - ask them now to secure their support.

5. Say 'Thank You' - to your manager, your team, people who have worked with you. Let them know specifically how they have helped you or positively impacted your time in the job. Send a thank you card if it's appropriate.

On the way out the door - smile.

Thanks for the chat

- Karen

Career Chicks Need to Reward Themselves

This is my reward for a big week...(and they were on sale!)

How To Ask For A Pay Rise

Woody Allen once said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." He was referring to playwrights who complete something having much more chance of having something published or produced rather than those who just talk about it. The same theory applies to asking for a pay rise.

Rather than just talk about it - one of the most important parts of asking for a pay rise is to actually... ask for a pay rise! I recently spoke about this, the importance of knowing the value you have delivered to an organisation and how to handle the answer you receive with CareerOne.

Here's the video with some practical perspectives and tips from Kate Southam, Editor, Sharmini Thomas from Michael Page International, and me...

It's the end of financial year here in Australia (when salaries traditionally get reviewed) but these tips are relevant everywhere at anytime.

Chat later!

- Karen

5 Fast Tips to clear your Inbox

If you've ever been away from the office for a couple of days, or even left your desk to go to a meeting for a few hours - you know what it's like to return to an email inbox that is overflowing. Daunting!

I suspect that very few of us actually have "answer emails" in our job description but it is this, sometimes overwhelming, quantity of correspondence that can dictate our days (and nights!) and get in the way of us doing our jobs.

How much more productive it is (not to mention nicer) to come back to the office after a couple of days or a long meeting and talk to our colleagues or team about what has occurred - rather than rush straight back to the computer, dreading the number of unread emails that are likely to be there.

Unfortunately the reality is that our managers, teams, colleagues and our customers, do communicate important information to us via email - so a check is necessary to make sure we don't miss something important.

Here's 5 Fast Tip to clear your inbox when the bold number in the brackets (unread mail) is out of control:

1. Sort by name - don't just start reading and replying to the last email that came in. You could miss something really important. Sort by name - and review in the order that is most urgent - your manager, your customers, a key supplier or a colleague who is working on something important with you. Check these emails first.

2. Sort by subject - check for any emails that start with 'Urgent" then by subject areas that are important to your job. You'll know what they are.

3. Delete multiple copies of the same email - if you have been away from the email for a while - chances are that there has been a whole email conversation going on under the same email. Delete all the earlier versions and then read back through the last version. It's likely the issue has been resolved before you even get to read it. If you read the emails in the order they came in - you might very well respond to something that has already been sorted out.

4. Delete (or move) all your newsletters and other 'regular' emails. Facebook updates, Linkedin conversations, blogs and newsletters all create 'noise' in your inbox that can be distracting. If you are truly busy you probably don't have the time for these - so get rid of them - or move them to a 'read later' folder that you can go back to when you have time.

5. Review - is there something else you should be doing? Someone you should be talking to? Or are the emails that are left the most important thing you need to do now? If the answer is yes - you can get on with answering, actioning or filing the emails that are left. Otherwise, shut down your email (or at least turn off the alert that tells you every time something comes into your inbox) and get on with your job. IT malfunction aside - they will still be there when you get back to them (Radical approach I know - but it works if you actually want to get some stuff done!)

Must go, I have 111 emails I need to deal with (I knew they weren't urgent so I chose to write this blog first...)

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

5 Fast Tips to be 'seen' and raise your career visibility

5 Fast Tips... when a 'chat' turns into a job interview

Sometimes you'll know that an invitation for a casual coffee is a job interview in disguise.

It may be that you are conducting some pre-interview research and have asked the hiring manager or someone from the team for a catch up to find out more about the job. Or that someone has approached you about an opportunity and would like to chat to you about it.

The reality is that even where a catch up is positioned as casual - if it's about a job opportunity - it's not. It's part of the selection process and needs to be treated that way.

Even when you have been approached - it may be to sound you out about something or they want to sell the job to you - your responses, your reaction and your approach, even at this early stage, will all go into the final decision about whether you are, in fact, the right person for the role.

But forewarned is forearmed. If you know that a meeting is about a job you can be prepared, treat it as a job interview, still gather the information you need and impress the heck out of them.

The trouble begins if you genuinely don't know the agenda of the 'catch-up' and haven't had any time to think through your approach. This can happen in a number of ways like "Thanks for the catch up about xyz, but what I really wanted to talk to you about was..." or "Hey, do you know anyone who might be interested in..." and your radar goes up and you respond, "Well, actually I would be quite interested in that, please tell me more..."

Here are 5 Fast Tips for when you realise that a chat has (or has the potential) to turn into a job interview:

1. Change gears slowly - don't suddenly change your body language, put on a different tone of voice or start talking like an encyclopedia to go into 'impress' mode. It will look fake. Transition slowly.

2. Ask questions - use the old how, what, why and when as prompts to help you think about what you need to know. Asking questions will let you uncover information about the opportunity and also give you some thinking time. The quality of the questions you ask is also an indicator of you capability and knowledge.

3. Treat the chat as 'on-the-record' - there is really no such thing as an 'off-the-record' chat in business. Anything you say is likely to be repeated. So even if you are in a casual environment like a cafe, be appropriate and only discuss what you would talk about if you were in a meeting room. For instance, don't share any doubts you might have about whether you would be suitable for the role. Sometimes a more relaxed atmosphere can make you feel you can share your thoughts or confide. You might want to do that with a trusted advisor, not with someone who could influence whether you get the job.

4. Be specific - if you are asked questions, answer them as you would in an interview. Be specific and give examples of how you have demonstrated the behaviour or delivered the results they are asking about in the past.

5. Establish the next steps - at the end of the 'chat' make sure you have asked or established what the next steps will be that will move the casual discuss to a more formal business footing. For example, will they come back to you with more information? Do you need to provide them with more information or set up a time for a formal meeting? When you leave make sure that you know exactly what the next step will be and when it will happen.

And then you can go into full preparation mode and get the job you want!

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

5 Fast Tips ...for coffee meetings

In the blog  "Why Coffee is Good for your Career" we chatted about some of the reasons why taking business and networking meetings out of the office and into the more relaxed surrounds of a cafe can be a good idea.

This raised the question about whether there are any protocols or etiquette around these coffee meetings? The short answer is - yes. I'm not sure that you would find any documented "rules" anywhere - but there are certainly some 'common sense'  guidelines which I would recommend you consider. And there are some conversations that should not be held in a cafe!

Here's my 5 Fast Tips for coffee meetings:

1. Pick the appropriate venue - if you want to have a private conversation make sure you don't go to the same cafe as all your mates from work. Even if you're not overheard, word can still get around pretty quickly if you are meeting with someone that the grapevine considers 'interesting'.  Also, unless it's just a casual catch up - make sure you pick a cafe where the tables aren't too close together and it's quiet enough for you and your coffee companions to be able to hear each other.

2. Don't discuss confidential information - it doesn't matter how far away the tables are from each other you never know who can overhear you. Don't take the risk with company confidential information. That could be your competitor sipping on a latte at the next table.

3. Don't order food - unless a) you are in imminent danger of starving to death (in this case put off the meeting) OR b) it is a casual meeting where all your colleagues are eating. It's hard to be at your most articulate when you are asked a question and you're still munching through a muffin.

4. Keep the conversation casual until the coffee arrives (or at least until you have ordered) - this is a good time to get to know the other person a bit better. Have a couple of questions ready to ask that will help the conversation flow. Get down to business once the coffee has arrived. This achieves two things - it gives you time for the more casual chat and it means that when you start discussing a more serious business related topic you won't be stopped mid-sentence by the "Who ordered the Cappuccino?" interruption.

5. Pay -  if you have asked the other person for coffee, if you are the most senior person or if you are meeting with a mentor. It's pretty well polite to offer in most circumstances. If it's with someone you are likely to meet with regularly you can always suggest you take turns but pay for the first time.

If the other person has ignored rule number 3 and ordered food and offers to pay - I would let them in this circumstance!

If your companion is quite insistent that they pay - don't get into an arm wrestle with them - say 'thank you', accept graciously and let them know it's your turn pay next time. (My only exception to this if I am meeting with someone who is interested in a job opportunity with me - then I always pay so I don't have any obligation to them.)

The great thing about the "we'll take turns" scenario is it means you have a reason to contact them to catch up again!

So, until we catch up next time - thanks for the chat!

- Karen

5 Fast Tips... why coffee is good for your career!

It used to be that many of the valuable opportunities to network happened in a bar, on the golf course, or at other sporting events.

Which made it somewhat tricky for Career Chicks. Not impossible but tricky. I must admit to taking golf lessons when I was in a sales role. Just so that I could participate in corporate golf days without completely embarrassing myself.

Not that I was any good at all. But at least I knew how to hold a club and had a vague idea which one to select at the right time. It was when the club and ball connected that my lack of ability shone through. But I gave it a go and didn't get excluded from these valuable opportunities to get to know my clients better. (And I did once win a frozen chicken in a local competition!)

When it came to drinks in bars and going to the football - things were not quite so easy. This was an environment that was not comfortable for me and I chose not to participate (most of the time). Which no doubt meant that I missed out on opportunities to build rapport with clients and colleagues - and I am sure - meant that I missed out on finding out 'stuff'.

Which is why coffee so can be so good for your career - it can put men and women on an even kiel and provide you with networking opportunities where you can develop relationships that will help you achieve your business and career objectives.

A little while ago I was talking with someone who was not convinced that having coffee meetings with her colleagues was a good idea. "I'd rather just get on and do my work" and "It takes longer than a quick chat in the office" she said. Sentiments that I have been guilty of sharing in the past.

But coffee can provide plenty of benefits that outweigh the extra time at your desk.

Here are 5 Fast Tips to justify why having coffee meetings is good for your career:

1. It's a safe environment - a coffee house or coffee shop is usually very public, there's none of the risks that occur when alcohol is involved and there is no stigma associated with a woman asking a man our for a coffee.

2. It's quick - in comparison with attending an event or having a meal with someone. Which makes it a quite efficient use of time. On the other hand, if you want to buy a little extra time with someone you can drink your coffee really slow. Unless they have another appointment people won't usually rush away if they see your cup is still half full. (This technique has led me to get quite used to drinking quite cold tea and coffee - but it works!)

3. Provides a different or neutral environment. It you are having a meeting with people you work with it can create a more relaxed environment or just give everyone a break from the office. Both of which may be appreciated by your colleague and allow them to relax and be a little bit more forthcoming in their discussions with you. If your meeting someone you don't work with on a day to day basis - a coffee meeting can be held on 'neutral' ground.

4. Helps you get to know others better - you get a chance for a bit of chit chat (at least whilst you are waiting for your coffee) that allows you to ask some questions and get to know them. It's easier to connect with people when you understand them better and they will likely be more receptive to you if you have a genuine connection.

5. Gives you a chance to catch your breath and focus on the person you are meeting with. Your side of the communication will be much more effective if you are focused on the topic at hand and not distracted by incoming emails, an endless to-do list and interruptions from others. It's what we call "quality" time.

And you get a coffee (tea, water, whatever) as well!

My tip - book in a coffee meeting with someone now!

Thanks for the chat, I'm off for a coffee,

- Karen

I'm just saying...why does there have to be homework after work?

One of the delights of finishing school was saying goodbye to homework. No doubt it served it's educational purpose but for me it was the thing that stood between afternoon tea and other "stuff" - TV, reading, talking on the phone with friends. The stuff I wanted to do.

And now it seems that we are all expected to still do homework after work.

In Australia yesterday Sue Morphet, the CEO of one of country's largest companies, Pacific Brands, came out talking about the need for a go-home-for-dinner culture being one of the cultural changes that could help women keep on their pathway to executive roles and stay involved in their domestic lives and responsibilities.

The sentiment is excellent and cultural change is needed.

But is this treating the symptom not the cause?

Ms. Morphet was quoted in a number of articles as saying, "Many companies expect management to be there for such late hours. With all the technology we've got, they should go home and work on the dining room table afterwards..."


Why do we need to do homework?

Why are we expecting people to work such long hours that workplace flexibility means burning the midnight oil at the dining room table?

Technology is good. I love it. (I particularly love my Mac Air at the moment.)

But does technology mean that we can't explore the deeper issues that are impacting the lives of workers?

Can companies not afford to hire a few more people to spread the workload around? Or look at practices and processes that mean we get a hundred emails + a day?

Sue Morphett hit the nail on the head when she said companies expect management to be there such late hours.

Perhaps this is the cultural issue that needs to be reviewed?

You don't need to agree...I'm just sayin'

Thanks for the chat

- Karen

P.S. I think it's great that leaders like Sue Morphett are putting these issues on the table by raising them. It gives us something to think about and then hopefully, action will follow.

5 Fast Tips... to negotiate for what you need.

Negotiating is an essential business skill.

It determines the outcomes you achieve for your organization, your department, your team and yourself.

There's a popular perception that women aren't as 'tough' or as 'strong' at negotiations as men. I suspect anyone that has ever sat across the table from Hilary Clinton, Maggie Thatcher or many women who have led successful businesses would tend to dispute this common held view.

It's a skill. And a skill can be learnt.

You just have to be willing to do it, take some time to learn how and then, and this is the hardest part, actually be prepared to try what you learn and integrate it into what you do.

The thought of negotiating can be intimidating, conjuring up images of corporate mergers, industrial disputes and United Nations peace treaties. But it doesn't have to be scary. If you can get control of the TV remote control or influence the choice of restaurant with your friends - you can negotiate - you already are.

Once you recognize that negotiation is just the process by which you reach an agreement - you can develop and apply your skills in business too.

Here's 5 Fast Tips for negotiations at work:

1. Be willing to negotiate - whether it's for sufficient time to complete your work, budget or resources - you won't be successful if you don't get what you need. People aren't mind readers to know what you need or have the time to figure it out. You have to be prepared to ask. In the business world it is expected that you will do this - negotiating is a core career skill in business.

2. Consider the implications of not getting what you need - whether it be for yourself, your team or your customers there will be a cost if you aren't successful.  When you understand the implications it can provide inspiration. And it will provide you with a persuasive discussion point for your negotiation.

3. Negotiate for yourself as you would for someone else - if you don't get the time, resources or whatever YOU need - other people are going to be impacted eventually. If you don't get the time off you need to spend with your family or the money you need - eventually your work and other people will suffer anyway.

There is no reason why your own negotiations shouldn't be your priority. Or that you should need any other justification. But if you reticent to negotiate for yourself and it gives you inspiration to negotiate a little bit harder for someone else and this approach helps - use it!

4. Ask for what you need  - this is normal, expected and anticipated business behaviour. You are entitled and expected to negotiate - so do it! If you don't - others will wonder why.

5. Be confident - there's no need for your approach to be timid, apologetic or uncertain. Be clear, firm and true to your personal style. When you approach a communication confidently it promotes confidence that you know what you need and why. And that confidence is persuasive.

Think about what you need and why and ask for something this week. As they say, Practise Makes Perfect!

Thanks for the chat

- Karen

P.S. See Chapter 10 of "Hot Tips for Career Chicks" for more tips on negotiation including the infamous "pony principle".

Text is a language too ... LOL!

Last weekend I sent a text message to my great friend Heather who lives in London for her birthday (cunning way to hide the fact that I had not sent her birthday card from Australia in quite enough time to reach her by her birthday I thought!)

"Happy Birthday" I text. "You r so lovely...LOL" she replied. Mmmmm

You are lovely - Laugh Out Loud, I wondered?

Am I lovely or was that a joke? Or was it funny that it was her birthday?

Or was the game up and she realised over the magic of a text message that I had not in fact even posted a birthday card at all?

And then I remembered.

Whilst in Australia and the U.S. the abbreviation of LOL is "laugh out loud", in the U.K. it's "lots of love!"

Excellent. Relief. She's not laughing at me across the world but sending me good wishes.

Communication mix ups happen every day, particularly in business.

Choosing the 'right' words can make such a difference to make sure that what what we say is what we mean. I often talk about the importance of knowing the language of your organisation, profession and industry.

This text message exchange was a reminder to me that it's not only about choosing the words you use, it's about taking the time out to think about the words that others use - and making sure we understand the context of what others are saying to us. Even in text messages!

I wasn't really worried about the LOL message - Heather did once catch the train from London to Paris just to have lunch with me - but it was another simple, reminder about the traps of every day communication.

Must go - I need to actually go and buy a birthday card to send (shhh don't tell Heather...).

Thanks for the chat!

- Karen

P.S. Happy Birthday Heather, LOL (English meaning!)