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