Are you being paid fairly? What to do when you're not

The New York Times columnist, Maureen Franks wrote,

"The minute you settle for less that you deserve, you get even less than you settled for"

As someone who once experienced the 'joy' of finding out I was being paid less than my peers - I agree!

It not only impacted my pay packet but my perceived 'ranking' in the hierarchy, perceptions about my negotiating ability and once I was aware of the situation, my sense of being undervalued.

There are lots of reasons why we work. But unless you are independently wealthy or have significant 'expectations' - money is one of them!

It may not be your only motivation but it is one of them. Often we want to do something worthwhile, make a contribution, be challenged and be paid fairly.

It's when you find out that you are being underpaid compared to your peers who have the same role, skills and experience that resentment sets in.

The Capuchin monkey in this experiment literally showed his feelings quite plainly when he realized he was being ripped off and paid in cucumber rather than grapes like his friend next door. (This video was showcased by Frans de Waal during a TED presentation...view the whole video here

Or just see the monkey's reaction...


Personally I am not a big fan of cucumber so if it was socially acceptable I would happily throw it across the room...however tempting I find it - social convention dictates this is not an option that I have. I can't see a waiter being all that thrilled with cucumber missiles ending up in their hair.

The same way that your manager may feel ambushed if you confront them about pay inequity. 

They might not realize this is the case or they may not be be responsible for the situation. (In large companies that have restructures and reorganizations this may well be the case.) 

They may not be empowered to deal with the situation immediately (larger organizations = multiple approvals, varying delegation levels and human resources teams). 

Or the jungle drums that you have picked up on that lead you to believe you're being paid in cucumbers rather than grapes might not be accurate - or there might be more to the situation than you know.

Now this may seem to be being extremely empathetic to the managers position - and they may just be trying to get away with whatever they can - but this is often not so. So a measured approach would be my recommendation.

If you do find yourself in this situation here's some ideas I would consider:

1. Take a deep breath and work out your plan of action. Flying off the handle with an emotional reaction is unlikely to resolve the issue in your favor. Tempting may be but others will just become defensive. 

2. Confirm your facts if you can without breaching anyone's privacy or upsetting them.

3. Meet with your manager to discuss the issue. Let them know in advance that you would like to discuss your salary/bonus (whatever the issue relates to) as the meeting may be much more effective if they are not caught by surprise.

4. Raise the issue - calmly and factually.

5. Listen to the response and take notes if that helps you stay focused. 

6. Have the data available that supports the value that you are contributing. This might be the results of your last performance review, current sales numbers, productivity figures or cost savings you have made. Know your numbers. Ultimately the issue is if you are being paid what you are worth not what others are receiving.

7. Be prepared to negotiate as the issue may need to be rectified in line with the company salary review cycle or there may be performance achievements that you can tie to a commitment for a future salary increase.

8. Don't let it fester and build up resentment against your manager, colleagues or organization. The only person that will feel bad is you. As long as you approach the issue in a professional manner in line with your own operating style raising the issue will enhance not distract from your credibility. 

If the situation can't be resolved and you need to appeal to a higher manager or hr this is something you will need to do on a case by case basis. Talk with a mentor or trusted adviser (not the person in the next cubicle) if you need to make decisions about taking the situation further or voting with your feet and leaving the organization. This can often help to provide unbiased and helpful input to your decision making.

Go for the grape - don't just throw the cucumber! 

Karen Adamedes is a career strategist & mentor, author, speaker and experienced business executive. These tips are from Karen's forthcoming book "What to do when... ideas for everyday career dilemmas" (2013) For more articles and tips:

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5 great quotes about success at work



“The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”                          
                            
                                             - Norman Vincent Peale


“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

                                          
                                            - Vidal Sassoon


“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
                                                   
                                            - Maya Angelou


"I can not do everything, but I can do something. I must not fail to do the something that I can do."
                                                   
                                            - Helen Keller


"There are three rules of success. The first: Go on. The second: Go on. And the third: Go on."
                                                     
                                           - Frank Cane

When you prioritize what's important...



Prioritization means making choices about what's important.

It's not about what you have the capability to do - but the capacity.

There are just so many hours in a day!

It's unrealistic to think you can do everything.

Choose what you truly need and want to do.

This will give you the confidence that your time is being spent on what is most important.

And make sure that's what you do!


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To present with panache...know your audience...



What do they want to know?

What problem are they trying to solve?

How can you help them?

Answer these questions, address them in your presentation and your audience will truly value your presentation!

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A crucial career skill is to keep across what's going on...



Times of change can bring opportunity.

Or have a significant impact on you.

Whether you want to take advantage of an opportunity or be prepared to enact your Career Plan B if things do not look favorable - it helps if you have some idea about what might be happening. So that you can have an impact on your future, not have it just happen to you.

Make sure your 'radar' is on so that you are aware and can see the signs of change.

Look for clues such as:
      • Organizational change
      • Restructures
      • Management changes
      • Major new customer contracts
      • Industry developments
      • Activity by your competitors
      • Bad tempers or behaviors by management (or a spring in their step)
If you actively keep across what is going on you'll learn to recognize times of change.

A good reason to ramp up your networking, make some calls and meet a few people for coffee (as if you need an excuse!)

I think this is an essential skill to be in control of your career!

- Karen

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What to do when...you're caught in an email war

The opportunities for misunderstandings, misinterpretations and conflict over email are many. Without meaning too - it's not hard to end up in the middle of a conflict on email that you have to work your way out of - even if you're not sure how it started in the first place!

With most people receiving at least 100 emails a day at work - it's easy to understand how quick messages, sent when you're in a hurry, stressed or thinking about something else, may not be your (or someone else's) best literary effort.

But an email war does not do anybody any good.

For a start it's not an efficient way to resolve an issue or seek a resolution to a business problem. And nobody comes out of a written email conflict with an enhanced business reputation - especially if it's a public battle and there are lots of people copied or included on the email.

You could be caught in an email battle (or be caught in an ambush) in a variety of ways.

You've sent off a quick email and it's been misinterpreted and elicited an angry response. There are more than enough challenges ensuring that what you mean is what people actually understand you to mean when you are talking to them. And that's when you have the benefit of your body language, pitch and tone of voice to help convey what you mean. In writing it's even harder! Something you write sounding one way in your head can be taken quite another on email.

Alternatively someone is frustrated by a situation and fires off a message with half the world (well, it seems like it) included or cc'd on the message. Their reason may have been fine (these are all the people involved in the issue, they think) but what they actually do is create a messy situation that results in multiple emails and often confusion about who is doing what. (The saying about too many cooks in a kitchen applies to email as well!) Someone gets upset, a little bit terse and before you know it the emails are flying back and forth and a proverbial mountain has been made out of the molehill.

Or even worse (I think) is the person who sends emails and copies their manager or other 'important' people in order to get a response. I think this is a very heavy handed approach and akin to bullying. It certainly  demonstrates that the person the email has been sent to isn't trusted to do what has been asked. (There's a lot to this topic of email cc'ing that I'll tackle in my next post!) Or that the person sending it is too lazy to negotiate!

What it often comes down to is that the person who has been copied often feels the need to weigh in on the issue, be directive or want explanations and you have more email havoc!

Whoever starts it or however you got involved (your fault or not) the trick is how to get out of the conflict, resolve the issue and ensure that relationships and reputations (particularly yours!) are not damaged.

Consider these options:

Get off email

The best way I've found to diffuse the situation is to take the issue off email and call or go to see the key person involved.

You'll have the advantage of being able to ask questions, get immediate answers and be able to respond appropriately in a very short time frame. You'll also be able to use body language and voice tones and intonations (both yours and theirs) to support the communication. This will help you understand where they are coming from and assist you reinforce or position what you are saying. A little bit of gentle humor can work wonders in a conversation. On email it often doesn't work at all.

An actual conversation can really help take the heat out of a situation that is about to implode on email.

Making contact offline also shows that you have prioritized the issue and are concerned about their position by taking the time, interest and energy to make a call. It is usually well worth the effort. And if a 5 minute phone call saves 5 emails back and forth in all probability it's going to be a lot faster!

Talk to the key person 

The situation is going to dictate who is the best person for you to talk to about the issue. If an email is only between you and one other person - then they're the one you call!

But if there are multiple people involved - have a quick think what is the cleverest way to get to the best resolution. If it's your manager or senior stakeholder you will want to talk to them.

Depending on the situation it may be that another quick call to one of the others involved to find out the information you need or agree on the resolution is needed before you make the call to your manager.

If there are delays in getting a response or the answer you need I would make a call to the senior person and let them know why you're calling, what you are doing to resolve the issue and exactly when you will be back to them with more information.

If you do need to reply by email:

Be clear

There are some circumstances (time zones, availability etc.) where the issue has to stay on email.

Be really clear in what you write; don't say anything that can be subject to misinterpretation. Ask someone to proof read your response to make sure that your meaning is obvious.

Take the emotion out

Don't reply to an email when you are angry or emotional. Go for a walk, do something else and it at all possible, leave it until the next day before you respond. Angry exchanges back and forth will ignite, not resolve, a situation.

Remove the cc's

If you do need to respond by email it's better if you can do it without an audience. Whoever has been copied is likely to have opinions or want to become involved - which will just add complexity to the resolution of the issue.

Communicate with the other party involved directly. Once you have achieved the outcome you can then go back to the cc's and let them know the outcome. Most will be relieved that the problem is solved and that they haven't had to be subject to multiple emails.

Manage expectations

If there's going to be a time lag before there is a conclusion you might want to send just one email and let people know what is happening and that you will let them know the outcome. You'll be seen as professional, the emails will be reduced and most importantly everyone can get on with business.

A follow up note

Every time I suggest that calling or going to see the person involved might be an effective way of resolving an issue I get comments like "but I need an email trail" or "there won't be a record of who said what". 

Which is true.

But I think it's often used as an excuse to stay behind the safety of a keyboard rather than have to have a tough conversation. And unfortunately some organizational cultures require that you cover your back by having proof of everything that happens (the business equivalent of a Kevlar vest?)

The way around this is to send a follow up email after any offline conversations or agreements. For example,  "Just a quick note to confirm our agreement on .... to ...." or " A short note to thank you for helping to resolve..." 

This provides another chance to confirm the outcome, reinforce your professionalism and gives you a record of what was discussed or agreed.

George Clemenceau once said, It’s far easier to make war than peace. When it comes to email I reckon, It’s far easier to take the time to resolve a conflict than deal with the consequences!

Thanks for the chat! - Karen

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When career opportunities emerge...


Be prepared when career opportunities emerge.

Do some quick thinking.

Compare with your career plan.

Talk to your mentor or trusted advisers in your network.

If it's right for you...do something about it.

Formally apply. Tell someone who matters that you are interested.

You must be in it to have a chance!

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Networking: It's not meant to be like speed dating

Well this is my first experiment with a video blog!

My hair had just been 'done', face made up and back in the office from a client meeting - so I thought I would give it a go (I must confess it took more than one take to get the video masterpiece you see before you <sarcasm alert>)!

In the video I talk about networking and the 5 reasons why I think it's an important investment of your time. And not at all like speed dating where the objective is to collect as many business cards as you can and then move on to someone better.

So, here goes...


The reasons I think networking is a worthwhile use of your time and not a discretionary activity is because you can:
  • Learn new information or knowledge from others
  • Get ideas and be energized by what other people are doing
  • Meet new people with whom you can build mutually beneficial business relationships 
  • Educate yourself on 'who's who in the zoo' in your company or industry, who knows who and how they fit together
  • Let other people get to know you and about you; your knowledge, skills, experience and what you have to offer.
All good reasons to step away from your desk and go spend some time with people.
Let me know what you think!

- Karen

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What to do when...you're offered a coffee in a business meeting

If you are a coffee aficionado or in any way fussy about your hot beverages - you might want to stop reading this now. Because I see the acceptance of an offered coffee in a business meeting as an opportunity. Not only an opportunity for the a nice hot cuppa but an opportunity to guide the tone and pace of the meeting.
And if that means sipping through the last cold dregs in the bottom of your cup to buy you a little extra time…that’s something I am prepared to do.

In an earlier post Why i drink cold coffee in business meetings I talked about how accepting a coffee can help with a meeting. The question I then got asked was "how does it all work when I get offered a coffee?

So here's some quick guidelines...When offered a coffee in a business meeting:

Say yes

It can help with the pace of the meeting as I’ve described. It’s also polite to say yes as the person making the offer is extending their hospitality and it sets a more relaxed tone for the discussion ahead. It could be that it’s just the other person’s first chance to have a coffee that they have been hanging out for. Don’t deny them the opportunity!

Request an alternative

If you are not a coffee drinker it’s perfectly okay to ask for a replacement. “Would a tea be okay?” or “I’ll take a water, thank you” are more than reasonable requests. ‘Coffee’ has become an euphemism for any type of drink on offer. So don’t feel compelled to accept something you just wouldn't

 drink. There are only so many sacrifices you can make for your career!

Or decline politely

What? “I thought you said to say yes?” you are probably thinking about now? Well I did. But there are always exceptions and sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. You might pick up from the mood of the room or the body language of the other person that the offer has only been made out of politeness and that they really want to get straight down to business.

If you're not sure ask "Are you having one?" and if they're not I would decline. You don't want to slow a meeting down because everyone is waiting on you. 

If the offer is made by a third party and the most senior person in the room looks impatient to get on with stuff, if that’s the case, thank them for the offer and say no (nicely!)

The thank you

Even though you have said thanks when the coffee is served and regardless of what has been achieved or not during the meeting make sure you include a “thanks for the coffee” acknowledgement in your meeting wrap up. It’s a nice acknowledgement, it’s respectful and it also widens the meeting wrap up from just purely business issues. (And your mother would probably be proud of you too!) 

Thanks for your time..I'm going to grab a coffee!

- Karen


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Forget Julia Gillard, the speech and the double standards of politics. Sexism is not funny (or clever)

Height ...career success? Really?
It is 2012? Right?

I'm confused because I just read an 'opinion' piece in an Australian newspaper that has me outraged and thinking that I have traveled in some sort of time machine backwards about 40 years. Or more.

You may have heard that Australia's Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, had her say in parliament this week and called out the leader of the Opposition for his sexist behavior, labeling him a misogynist. That this speech was made in the context of a messy political environment (that I don't think anyone in politics comes out from looking good) - has divided Australians on the speech. Internationally, however, without the political context, it has been met with a number of favorable comments.

But forget Julia Gillard, the speech and the double standards of politics.

It is the commentary on the issue of sexism that I find scary. And outrageous that things like this (that I read in this mornings paper) could be said,

"Playing the gender card is the pathetic last refuge of incompetents and everyone in the real world knows it. It offends the Australian notion of the fair go"

No one has the right to stand up for themselves because of gender or any other bias? You only do it when you are incompetent and have no other card to play? Really? 

It's not okay to say something when you are being paid less than your male counterpart with equal experience or are excluded from discussions? The appropriate response to ribald jokes and sexist comments is to grit your teeth with a smile and keep working? Turn the other cheek?

The article then went on to to provide some discussion about whether men actually have an innate advantage when it comes to opportunities for powerful jobs, 

"For instance, voice is important to demonstrate authority. Men with a booming baritone command attention.
Height is another issue. Men are usually taller than women, and height generally correlates with high office."
Really?

Apparently because I am only about 5 ft. 2 inches (1.58 m) I missed this measure of success. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor or Germany who is spearheading economic recovery efforts in Europe, didn't get the memo either given she is reported to be 5 ft 4 in. (1.65 m). Nor did Hilary Clinton at 5 ft 6 (1.73)! And these chicks don't hold powerful positions at all (yes that is sarcasm!)

But wait there's more,

"The dearth of women in high places is not because of sexism any more than it is because they lack talent."

Excuse me?

The empirical evidence is overwhelmingly that women perform equally well in business. And in fact Catalyst has published reports that companies with higher female representation on boards outperform on the measures of return on equity, return on sales and return on invested capital.

A Mckinsey study "Women Matter" found that of the 89 European companies with the highest level of gender diversity in their top management positions - they outperformed their sector on return on equity, operating result and stock price growth.

Lack talent? Bah humbug! I would continue but I want to get this off my chest and go back to enjoying my Sunday!

Look there has been a lot of balanced commentary, and the same newspaper that ran this piece also had an article "Evidence sexism is rife in Australian workplaces is the small number of female CEOs" which included a quote by Helen Conway, the director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency that "The focus should be on gender equality and making it normal for men and women." Hurrah!

I might not have a booming baritone - but I do have a voice. And I just want to say that I don't think anyone being sexist is funny (or clever).

It's ironic as just this morning (before my coffee and astonished newspaper reading) I was considering whether I should move my career blogging to a more 'gender-neutral' site. Because I am passionate that everyone who wants to pursue a career should have access to information to develop their skills to be able realize their potential. And it takes a brave guy to hang around a site called Career Chick Chat for information!

But this article changed my mind. Women need a voice. A place to learn the skills. I'm staying here and everyone is welcome to visit.

Really!

- Karen

P.S. You can read the article I refer to here...but spoiler alert...it might make you cross!

P.S. 2 - I am now getting off my soap box and back to my Sunday...





Why I drink cold coffee in business meetings


I know coffee purists would be aghast but I must admit I quite enjoy the last few drops of the ice cold coffee that lie in wait at the bottom of a cup (that started out hot!) at the end of a business meeting. 

They have an “I’m-ready-to-leave-and-be-on-my-way” taste about them. An acquired flavor for sure and one I discovered quite by accident.

My weekend coffee is another matter; piping hot, brewed perfectly and preferably grown on an ecologically sustainable plantation by fairly paid workers (have I missed anything?). But in a work setting my coffee standards are rather different.

The first time I accepted a hot drink (to be honest I can’t remember if it was tea or coffee) at a business meeting it was in response to “I’m having a coffee, would you like one too?” offer from the customer I was meeting about his office phones. “Great,” I thought, “a cuppa will be lovely”.  And as the meeting progressed I realized that the mood was quite relaxed as we sipped away whilst discussing the relative merits of two different telephone systems.

This was the start of the “great coffee experiment” I conducted over the next few years of my sales career. Where I found that not only did accepting a refreshment make the meeting more relaxed it also gave some natural structure to it’s pace. Small talk (relationship building!) until the coffee arrived, a segue into the business discussion as the coffee is stirred and then down to business.

The great accidental discovery that I made (a bit like Penicillin but without the Nobel prize) was that I could influence how long I got to spend with a customer based on how slowly I drank. Most people are generally polite. Particularly those who offer you a coffee in the first place. And they don’t tend to kick you out if they know that you’re still drinking. (I’ve found that it does help to hold the cup in your hand if you don’t want there to be any doubt that you are still enjoying their hospitality).

This discovery gave me the opportunity to gain a few extra precious minutes of discussion that were so important to ensure that I built as much rapport as possible. And that I had the time at the end of the meeting that I like to confirm the participants understanding of where we had got to and to clarify next steps. Items that all so often get sacrificed as people are rushing off to their next back-to-back appointment.

In many years of field testing I can report that it works with all types of beverages but hot ones are best as you can work in the “wow, this coffee is taking a while to cool down” into the conversation. And it works in reverse. A meeting not going as well as expected can be hurried along (a little bit) by drinking up nice and quickly.

The cold coffee technique can also be applied in internal meetings, networking catch-ups and with most anyone. I’ve broadened my acceptance criteria from the ‘I’ll-have-one-if-you-have one’ response  to a yes to any tea, coffee or water that is offered; and whether it’s offered by the person I’m actually meeting with or the assistant who is setting up the meeting.

This is not for the purpose of outstaying your welcome, being disrespectful of others time or wasting it. You need to use the extra time you buy for good (business discussion, asking questions, building rapport) and not evil (talking drivel, being repetitive, delving into detail that others don’t need to hear about).

It’s a bit like the law of gravity - once the apple leaves the tree there’s nothing stopping it headed downwards, once the coffee’s on the table it might go cold but I can control how fast it goes.

And that tastes good!

- Karen

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The key to a successful business presentation



No matter how experienced you are as a presenter it is essential to plan, rehearse and prepare!

There is no substitute.

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5 Tips for managing your work and your career


With the multitude of tasks that we fully expect to be able to juggle, the relentless requests for us to do more and the desire to always perform at our best (and this is just at work!) learning the skills of how to work and manage your career are more important than ever.

Here are 5 of my top tips to help you manage your work and your career:

1. Decide what's important to you. 

To be your best you need to decide what is the most important use of your time and energy. It’s unrealistic to try to deal with every one of the multitude of demands that come at you, this approach comes at the cost of not being able to do anything well.

Prioritize the three most important areas of focus for your job. Be honest with yourself about what is essential to meet the key deliverables of your job, the time-frames available and for you. Use the old "what's important versus urgent" test to help you separate the multiple tasks you have on your plate.
If you find it hard to make this decision, ask your manager, something like, “If you had to prioritize the three most important things I need to deliver what would they be?” This should give you enough information to know about what to focus on.

2. Simplify your expectations

And work out how much you can realistically do. Bear in mind that you may not be able to do everything that you want. It is crucial to understand that just because you have the capability to do everything (you might have the skills to write a business plan, negotiate with suppliers, answer emails, train the new person, redo the company website and wash all the dishes left in the kitchen) the chances are that you don't have the capacity (as in enough hours in the day) to do it all. Learning to live with this reality is something that many people find difficult to reconcile. But you have to.

3. Don't multi-task

No matter how much you have to do, ignore stereotypes and expectations that you do everything at the same time. Women are often seen as the ultimate multi-taskers. Scientific studies now suggest that this may not be the most efficient way of working due to the downtime and significant effort that is required to swap between tasks. Superheroes belong in comic books and movies, not in real life. You may feel that you need extraordinary powers just to juggle everything that is expected of you on a daily basis. But you don’t. Concentrate on one task and do it well.

4. Look after yourself

So that you are able operate at your best! This is absolutely essential to achieve and maintain career success. No matter how busy you are, you need to prioritize the things that help you look after yourself. This could be anything from maintaining your appearance to enjoying things that you would usually feel guilty about. Like having a manicure, spa treatment, a massage or attending a yoga class. While some people are more likely to notice the overall effect than little details like a good hair-cut make, others certainly will. It sends a message that you are well-organized and in control, so consider time for yourself as an investment in your career.

5. Be good at what you do 

This the foundation of your career and your potential success. One of the major differences between those who are good at what they do and those who really get ahead is that they don’t settle for less than their best and they are constantly looking for ways to improve. 
It is more important that you put effort into fewer tasks but they are done well, very well. Being prepared to do a little more than others will give you an edge over your competitors, both in a business and a career sense. This will positively influence not only for your career reputation, but also your own confidence and sense of achievement.

And isn't that a great definition of career success?

- Karen

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5 reasons you SHOULD apply for a job or promotion

There are good reasons to decide to apply
It's not that you're not ambitious. Or that you don't want a job.

But for many of us the decision to apply for a new role or promotion can leave us plagued with doubts. 

"I don't have every single thing they have asked for in the advertisement" to "I'm not the front runner - there will be too many other people applying" to (even worse) "if they wanted me to apply they would have asked..." 

Sound familiar? (Not from you, of course...other people...) 

Not applying for a job or roles that you are capable of performing holds you back in your career. And it's not just because you miss out on the role - you're also missing out on the chance to tell and sell who you are and the value you would bring to a role.



Here's 5 reasons why I think it's important to put up your hand and apply for the job you want:

1. You might actually get the job!

Changing jobs often provides a major leap forward for your career. It's the optimum time to increase the breadth of your accountabilities and to negotiate a higher salary.

Even if you are not the most obvious candidate (in your mind anyway) you may be the best fit and get the job. If you don't apply - you will never know!

2. The process to be recruited or promoted is an opportunity to quantify, reflect on and assess your career progress.

It takes preparation, time and effort to put a credible application together. The process of updating your resume, writing a cover letter and preparing for an interview is an ideal opportunity to think about what you have delivered, where you are in your career and where you want to go next. 

You'll need to be prepared for the "Why do you want this role?" question that is sure to be asked at an interview. Preparing that answer will help provide clarity about where you are headed and how the role fits into your overall plan. 

3. The opportunity for exposure 

Not the hypothermia / need to go to hospital type exposure - I mean it's an opportunity to have dedicated time with more senior people in your company (or a different organization) talking about you! 

Whether at a job interview or even through the process of having your resume evaluated - a job application is the ideal opportunity to tell who you are and outline (in quantifiable terms) exactly what you can do, have done and the value of what you have previously delivered. 

You'll be highly visible to people who are in the position to make decisions about your career, either now or in the future.

4. Signal that you are ready to move on or up

You might not get the job you apply for (sad, but sometimes true) but managers often remember the people they have interviewed previously and consider them for future roles. I have seen many instances where someone has applied for a role and their manager has said. "I didn't know they wanted to move / ready for a change" etc. Many times this has actually resulted in the person being offered additional training, a mentor or other development opportunities. If your manager is any good at all - it should at least lead to a discussion about your future plans and aspirations.

5. Increases your credibility

An application for a role that is aligned with your career plan allows you to be a credible applicant. It can reinforce that you have a aspirations and a plan and these can be persuasive indicators that you are a professional. 

If you think you have the credibility to apply for a role...there's lots of reasons why you should...it's up to you to decide to apply!

Thoughts?

- Karen 

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Even if you're not the front-runner or don't have 200% of the requirements of a job, as long as you are credible - an application can be a great way to let people know who you are, what you've achieved and that you are interested in moving forward in your career.

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How I found my business network

Networking can be as simple as a coffee catch up

Do you remember the scene in Shrek (the first movie) when Donkey was making an absolute pest of himself, jumping up and down behind all the fairy-tale creatures, repeatedly, until in the end he wore Shrek down and was picked to go on the quest to find Lord Farquaad?

Hilarious, but not so funny was that this was how I saw business networking for many years.

 I was at a sales conference many years ago, the dinner was over, the speeches were done and we were meant to be ‘networking’

I can still recall looking across the room and seeing a number of my colleagues gathered around the management team, and rather like Donkey, trying to be seen and impress how clever, witty or capable they thought they were.

I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t know how to do that (what on earth do you say, I wondered?) and frankly, I didn’t think that the end of a long day after a couple of red wines was the time for a best-impression. 

So I chatted for a while and made my excuses.

Which I also did on many a Friday night when the sales team I worked in was headed down the pub to ‘network'’ with the support staff and technicians who looked after our customers.

I don’t know about you but by Friday night I’m done.

I had friends to catch up with, grocery shopping to do, dinner to cook or even some stolen moments in front of the TV to fit in. I’d worked long and hard enough by Friday night and I wanted to go home.

“You need to network” I was told when I declined yet another Friday night invitation and headed off to my life – now feeling guilty that somehow I wasn’t fitting in everything I needed to do. I also felt incredibly uncomfortable going to ‘networking’ events where I’d go home with a pile of business cards and no idea what to do with them.

Everyone tells you that it’s important to network. 

And I truly believe it is. 

When you develop deep business relationships, they are an unbelievable and generous source of information, ideas, contacts and even support when things don’t go your way. I thought I was missing out big time.

And then one-day I woke up (it wasn't just one-day, but you get the gist!) and discovered that I had an enormous network. I just hadn’t realised it.

I had worked at the one organisation for many years and worked with and for many great people.

I’d had coffee and lunches with them, worked on exciting and successful projects and on others that were stressful and hard work; laughed with them, helped them and been helped by them. 

Along the way my connections with the ‘people I worked with’ and ‘people I met through work’ had developed into deep mutually beneficial business relationships (and some into friends – but that’s another story) – and hey, presto - I did have a network!

It took moving away from the day-to-day contact for me to realise that’s what they were. The clues about how to keep them in my network were in the past – a coffee here, a lunch there, an occasional email on topics of mutual interest and I was networking. It just took a bit more thought and organisation than when they were sitting in the same office.

The real surprise came when I moved to my next company and realised that it was expected that I would still be keeping up with past colleagues and the last industry I had worked in. Woo Hoo! 

Networking was a legitimate activity I was meant to be doing as part of working in business. I didn’t have to sneak out at lunch time, make excuses or feel guilty!

My network has changed as I, and the ‘people-I-know’ have progressed in our careers, I’ve met new people and my network now extends to people in all sorts of jobs and organisations and many are scattered all over the world.

I do attend a couple of formal networking organisations now because I met some new great people that I share interests with - and it's fun.

It’s my network – why shouldn’t it be?

And not a donkey in sight!

- Karen