Why Asking This 1 Question Could Dramatically Shorten Your Job Search

Hillary spent seven months in 2017 looking for a job. She didn't get any interviews. She was convinced there was something wrong with her. Her career confidence dwindled. I don't blame her for feeling this way. The unemployment rate last year was at a record-low (and continues to be). Employers are complaining they can't find enough talent. Which means, getting hired in a good economy should be easy, right? But, the truth is, even if you're a rockstar at what you do, failing to do one thing prior to embarking on a job search can result in it taking much longer. Hillary didn't complete a critical activity before she started looking for work and it resulted in months of wasted job search efforts.

Brand or BE Branded.

The most common mistake people make when starting a job search is failing to take time to properly explore the answers to the question: "What makes me worth hiring?" All too often, I see people skip the process of defining their value proposition. The result is a resume and LinkedIn profile that make no sense. And, a job search that is all over the board and very unproductive. Understanding your value so you can brand yourself is the most effective way to send a clear and convincing message to companies you are the one they need.

How are you the aspirin to a company's pain?

There is a famous quote by Henry Ford, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do." This is especially true in job search. If you don't know how to assess and quantify your value to employers, then you won't be able to convince them you're worth hiring. The key is to know what problems you solve and what skills you use to solve them. Once you identify that, you can articulate it properly on your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Not sure how to do this?

Let's say you are a project manager. I often see this type of description:

Accomplished project manager with proven track record of success. Innovative and resourceful in my approach, I am adept at time-management and excel in the art of coordinating operations.

What's wrong with the above? Well, for starters, it doesn't really prove anything. You say you are these things, but where are the facts to validate your lofty claims? Furthermore, you sound like every other project manager i.e. overconfident and unintentionally selling yourself too hard.

If you want to develop a better brand, start by asking yourself these three questions:

  • What are my top transferable skill sets?
  • How many years of experience do I have in each one?
  • What examples of past success can I give to prove I excel at each skill?

Based on the answers, you can develop a branding statement that proves you are successful. For example, you might say, 

I have 10+ years experience as a project manager. I've been in charge of more than 15 multi-phase projects with budgets ranging in size of $20,000 to $1.2M, and have a 97% on time and under budget delivery rate.

Can you see the difference? The second branding statement is factual and impressive. No need to sell yourself, the numbers do it for you. 

Don't let your job search drag on because you didn't brand yourself properly.

Assessing and revealing your unique brand to companies is vital to an effective job search. Why waste time marketing yourself with a resume or LinkedIn profile that fail to properly convey your value? Take time to articulate your brand so you can stand out and attract the attention (and respect!) of employers.

4 Tips for Investing in a Volatile Market

After nearly a decade of steady growth and soaring stock values, the marketplace has finally entered correction territory. For those who have grown accustomed to a bull market, knowing how to invest in a volatile market can be challenging.

Smart Investing Tips for Up and Down Markets

If you've paid attention to the stock market over the past few weeks, you've probably had a bit of an uneasy feeling in your stomach. After years of steady gains, we've experienced some pretty incredible volatility.

Between February 1 and February 12, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced two single-day trading losses of 4-plus percent, as well as one 2.54 percent loss. Each of these losses was followed by steady swings in the opposite direction, with a 2.33 percent gain on February 5.

If you zoom in, there's even more instability. The markets have been violently swinging up and down on what seems like an hourly basis. While day traders may find this fun, the rest of us are a little uncomfortable.

This, folks, is what you call an extremely volatile market. However, it's nothing new and you shouldn't be alarmed. It can, however, be challenging to interpret and tough to stomach.

Here are a few suggestions for smart investing in choppy waters:

1. Keep Perspective

It's important that you maintain a positive outlook and avoid letting a few days (or even months) of losses lead you to panic. If you study the trajectory of the market over the years, it's always improving. Sure, there may be brief ups and downs (2008-2009 is a prime example of a down period) but the market always recovers.

While major SPDR ETF funds have been bearish over the past few weeks, the long-term outlook is still quite bullish. When you take a step back and give yourself a little room to breathe, you'll realize that everything is going to be just fine.

2. Invest for the Long-Term

Your age should be more of a determining factor in your investing strategy than the current state of the market. If you're 60 years old and getting ready to retire in the next couple of years, then yes, volatility is scary, and you need to think about moving your nest egg into more stable investments (like bonds or real estate). However, if you're 30 years old, you still have a few decades to ride things out.

Traders focus on the day-to-day swings of the market. Investing is about the long-term. Again, the more you shift your perspective to align with reality, the less likely it is that you'll be emotionally impacted by the ups and downs of the market.

3. Use Dollar Cost Averaging

There are two basic investing strategies: dollar-cost averaging and lump sum investing. With dollar-cost averaging, you're not trying to time the market, per se. Your goal is to simply invest consistent sums of money at regular intervals. You expect to invest at both peaks and valleys; the assumption is that everything will eventually even out.

While it's tempting to try and time the market when markets spike and fall, don't do it. This is the time when you really need to be implementing dollar-cost averaging to hedge yourself against risk.

4. Stop Checking the Tickers

Psychologically, there's nothing healthy about constantly checking stock tickers and watching the charts. It becomes addicting and leads to constant anxiety and a rollercoaster of emotions.

You aren't a day trader, so the ups and downs have no real effect on you. Check in every couple of days, so that you know what your portfolio is doing, but don't let it consume you.

Play the Long Game

Investing is a long game. You have years to make up for short-term losses, so there's no need to fret over the volatility of the market. Smart investing principles take periods of volatility into account and the best thing you can do is remain calm, steady, and pragmatic.

This Is the No. 1 Reason Why People Fail at Switching Jobs (and What to Do About It)

In my last 15+ years as a career coach, I've worked with many professionals who feel "rusted out" in their current career. They want to make a shift. They talk dreamily about how much greater their personal and professional lives will be if they can just go where the grass is greener a/k/a a different industry or profession. 

Sadly, most never make it to these greener pastures.

Changing careers is like driving down the highway at 200 miles per hour and wanting to get off at the next exit. You need to slow down, signal, and move yourself towards the ramp with plenty of time or you'll miss it. Failing to do the proper steps could also lead to you crashing. You might even hurt others in the process. In short, changing careers is A) not something to take lightly. And B) takes planning and patience.

Caution: Don't jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Choosing a new career path should be done with care. Spending time with people who do the work you want to do is vital, along with extensive research. I've seen many people hastily leave one career, only to end up in a worse one. You've got to be sure this is right next career move for you so you can fully commit to the process. Otherwise, you could set your career back.

Once you've identified a new direction, here's the single most important thing you should keep in mind...

Employers don't see you the way you see yourself.

Just because you have realized you want to go from being a business analyst to a marketing manager doesn't mean hiring managers will too. The No.1 roadblock to changing careers is the ability to market yourself successfully without a track record of success in the career you want to pursue. Employers like to hire proven professionals. For them, it's always safer to hire someone with existing industry experience. In order for you to convince them you can do the job, you have to connect the dots for employers. This begins with a full assessment of your transferable skills, followed by the proper branding of your career tools. Your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter will all need to tell a clear and compelling story of how your past work experience has prepared you for this new career path. 

For example...

A business analyst has project management, data analysis, and researching skills that would be highly relevant to the marketing manager role as well. Showcasing the right skill sets will make it easier for the employer to see how you could successfully make the transition. 

P.S. - Let your passion show!

While the method above can help you prove to an employer you're a fit for the new career path you desire, nothing beats a compelling story as to why you're drawn to this new profession. Sharing how your interests, values, and beliefs will be better served by this role can sway employers in your direction. A heartfelt disruptive cover letter that gets them at "hello" and holds their attention could be the deciding factor that makes the employer say, "Okay, let's give her a shot." 

In the end, successful career changers will tell you they never gave up and they gave it all they had. You've got to be prepared for rejection and failure - and still keep going. In my experience, those that can't stand the idea of not changing careers are the ones that eventually make it.

This 1 Personality Trait Makes You More Likely to Miss Your Shot at a Raise or Promotion

While we'd like to believe that people with the best experience and track record get the raises and promotions they want and deserve, anyone who has worked knows this isn't always the case. Some call it office politics. Others say managers have favorites. The hard truth is personality plays a bigger role than experience in the success of many professionals. 

What's your preferred Interaction Style?
The way you interact with others on the job creates your workplace persona. It's how others perceive you. People get to know your style and make assumptions about what you can or can't do. It's called your Interaction Style. There are four main styles: Commander, Contemplator, Empathizer, and Energizer. All it takes is a short quiz to help you determine your dominant style at work. Each style has strengths and weaknesses. There is no one better style to be. That said, one of these is more likely to get passed over for a raise or promotion.

"Every time I open my mouth, it's a window to my soul."

Of the four styles, the Contemplator is the one that suffers the most in career advancement. They are the patient, calm, quiet thinkers. The are careful with words. A Contemplator client of mine shared the quote above when I asked him why he was so tactful in his speech. The problem lies in how the other styles perceive the Contemplator's demeanor. They don't play office politics. They don't gossip. They don't look for praise and recognition. They just keep their heads down and do great work with consistency. As a result, I've heard more than one manager of a Contemplator say,

"He doesn't want a bigger job, he's happy. He would have spoken up if he did."

Or, "She's likes her job. I don't think she can handle more work or she would have said something."

The assumption is Contemplators are "just fine" with where they're at because they haven't said otherwise. And yet, Contemplators are very sensitive people, who on the inside fume about not getting rewarded. But, they also don't like confrontation or anger. So, they keep it inside. Meanwhile, they get passed over for a promotion or raise in the process.

If you're a Contemplator, here's how to get what you deserve.

For those who are realizing they fall in this category, fear not. Here's how to put a raise or promotion in your future.

1. Make a list of all the ways you save or make your employer money. The goal is to justify not only the current cost of employing you, but also how much extra value you provide above and beyond. Quantifying your experience is part of establishing your value. This will make you feel more confident and give you valid data to work with.

2. Set a one-on-one meeting with your boss. Give her plenty of advance notice and let her know you want to talk strategy on how you can take your career to the next level. This literally may be the first time she's ever considered it because you are stepping up and expressing interest.

3. Be prepared to propose a salary goal. Do some research on the going rate for your skill set and experience level. If it's lower than what you are currently making, present it towards the end and let your boss know you'd like to eventually earn $___ and wondered how you can work together on a plan to get you there. This allows your boss to consider what additional skills and abilities you'll need justify the pay raise and can articulate how you can gain them so you can earn an increase.

Don't let your Interaction Style dictate your financial success at work. Once you know the strengths and weaknesses of your style, you can start to use techniques to help you get what you want!

Why a Bonus Isn’t as Good as a Raise (Even Though It Seems Awesome)

It seems that everyone is getting bonuses due to the new tax breaks. Walmart, Disney, Home Depot, and Best Buy are among the many giving out bonuses up to $1000 to employees. There's nothing better than a nice lump sum of money. 

Is there?

With a lump sum (albeit a good portion is taken out for taxes) you can pay down--or maybe even off--a loan, start an emergency fund (my personal recommendation if you don't have one), buy something you've needed or wanted, or simply have some breathing room. It's a fantastic thing, and everyone who got one should be thrilled.

But, they would have been better off, in the long run, with a $0.50 an hour raise, even though the bump in a weekly paycheck for a full-time employee would end up being less than $20. Multiply that out and you get approximately $1000 more per year, just like you did with the bonus.

But, the key is that you'll also get that same $1000 next year, and the year after that, and when you get future bonuses and raises that are based on your current salary, those raises will be bigger.

Now, of course, with a lump sum of $1000 you can do all those things and an extra $20 a week gets frittered away. If you're not paying attention and you don't save it, it hardly makes a difference. But, if you are paying attention and save it, or use it to pay down debt, then you end up ahead.

Companies give out bonuses rather than raises precisely because it's a one-shot deal. While it's legal to lower a salary (with advanced notice, and in writing in some states), smart companies don't want to do that. It's demoralizing for employees to take a pay cut, even if it is simply bringing them back to the level they were at a year ago. A bonus, on the other hand, gets celebrated and if another one doesn't happen, it's not the end of the world.

Of course, if you make bonuses a regular occurrence (like many professional level jobs have), then employees come to expect it. But, they also expect variability in it. Which gives the company more wiggle room. A raise gives no wiggle room.

And while many companies no longer ask what your current salary is before offering you a new job, your decision to take a new job or not is based on your current salary. Unless you truly hate your current job, you are unlikely to leave for less. So, regardless of laws prohibiting inquiries into your salary history, your current salary will influence your future salaries forever.

If you got a bonus instead of a raise, use it wisely to make your life better in the long run. If you got a raise instead of a bonus, use it wisely to make your life better in the long run. Either way, you're better off than you were before.

Here Are 3 Video Interview Tips That Will Get You the Job, According to Hiring Managers

Video job interviews are becoming more and more common. Thanks to technologies like Skype and Zoom, companies now have a way to set up face-to-face meetings without having to bring you into the office. This saves both you and them time and money. You don't have to take time off from work or pay for parking, and they don't have to coordinate multiple people's schedules in the office. That said, most job seekers haven't had any formal training on how to prepare and nail a video job interview.

"People hear what they see." - Doris Day

While there is much to consider when getting ready for a video job interview, one of the most important thing you can do is assess what the employer will see when talking to you. The following three tips will help to make sure the employer likes what they're viewing:

1. Neutral, uncluttered backdrop. You want the focus to be on you and what you're saying. A busy background filled with personal items is distracting and can even create bias. If the person interviewing you sees something they don't like, it might cost you the job.

2. Camera at eye-height. Many rookie video job interviewers make the mistake of conducting the interview on a laptop. They push the camera back. In doing so, it makes them look like they are staring down at the interviewer. This creates and uncomfortable, dominating stance on your part. You need to make the camera eye-level so you feel like equals. Prop that laptop up on some books if you have to!

3. Brightly lit. If you look like you're hiding out in a cave, the employer will find it hard to take your seriously. It also sends a secretive vibe that can feel negative. Take a few lamps and put them on the other side of the camera, facing your face. This will create a more uniform light and make you look better too!

Taking time to fully prepare for a video interview is worth the time and energy. The more you know about the right way to conduct a video interview, the easier it will be to make a great first impression. Hopefully, resulting in a second interview!

Want a Huge Salary Increase? Do the 2 Things Jimmy Garoppolo Did to Get $137.5M

In a record-setting deal, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has just signed a 5-year contract worth $137.5 million. While he has his agents to thank for the intense negotiations, there are two things about Garoppolo that make him capable of demanding so much money. If you want to earn the big bucks in your career like him, consider these two factors:

1. He was groomed by a well-known professional. Seen as the protege of Tom Brady, Garoppolo was mentored by the best - and it was a well-publicized fact. This put all eyeballs on him as the person that could be as good (if not, better some day) than Brady himself. 

2. He put up the numbers when it mattered. All you have to do is look at the numbers before Garoppolo joined the San Francisco 49ers, and then after. His impact was immediate and large. Giving validation to the idea that he was more than capable of following in his mentor's footsteps.

If you want to earn a big salary increase, here's what to do:

There are two steps you can take to increase the chances of a Garoppolo-like payday:

A) Get a high-profile mentor. Having a well-known industry professional work with you to improve your skills and abilities will not only make you better, it will make you better-known. As I always tell my clients, "Coaching isn't a sign of weakness, but a path to greatness." Just ask any pro athlete or executive and they'll tell you their mentors and coaches were key in helping them get to the top in their careers. It's not just the skills, but the introductions they can make on your behalf that will help you climb the ladder and earn more pay.

B) Focus on exceeding the expectations of those that sign the checks. As they say, "Actions speak louder than words." When you're consistent in your ability to deliver more than is asked, you're creating immense value in the eyes of those that can reward you. Mark Cuban is known as saying, "Anyone that can reduce my pain is invaluable to me." This is true for all companies and the executives who run them. The people they perceive as adding the most value to the success of the business are the ones that get paid more. It's up to you to figure out what they value you most and how to deliver it.

Being paid what you are worth is no joke. It takes solid negotiation skills. But, you can't even begin to get that big pay increase until you position yourself to be worthy of it. The above tips can help you set yourself up for success.