Tag Archives: Job coach

There Are Two Types of Americans: Employed and Unemployed

9imagesThe title of this blog is of course oversimplified but I wanted to emphasize the vast difference between the two sides. As a career coach, I spend a lot of time with people who are not employed, whether they’re my private clients or attendees at the various job-search networking groups I support and frequent.

On one hand, I certainly understand the self-imposed pressure or the family pressure or friends’ pressure on these people. It can be debilitating, devastating, and, as time goes by, more and more depressing. On the other hand, many of those who are currently employed simply don’t understand those on the other side. While the unemployed have to succumb to the reality that the money that used to come in has stopped and while they have to make very painful and unprecedented lifestyle changes, those who are employed and therefore unaffected by the 8 percent rate of unemployment live their lives as well as ever they did. The restaurants in my area are always very busy, and my neighborhood’s Lotus dealer is selling those $75,000 cars; I can tell by the dealer’s parking lot.

So, what’s the solution for those in transition?! NETWORKING is the solution. Having an excellent résumé is a must, of course, but a good résumé is not good enough in today’s competitive marketplace. Most important of all, finding someone to hand carry your résumé to a hiring manager is certainly a huge plus. How do you make that happen? By sliding into the company through networking via, say, LinkedIn, other social media, and networking meetings–and finding the right person to help you.

A recent executive client of mine had been a stellar performer throughout his career but was out of work for five weeks through no fault of his own. Similar to the pattern of all of those in transition, he was down and upset and frustrated about his new situation. I implored him to increase his networking activities, and he did. Last week, I bumped into him at a networking meeting. Later, he told me that while there he was asked by one of the other networkers for a copy of his résumé. The next day, the wife of that other networker called him to invite him to interview. The way it looks now and with a little bit of luck, this job seeker will be extended a job offer. What a wonderful story, hopefully having a happy ending that will prove my point. Networking is the answer.


While in transition you must stay informed

Photo by Stuart Miles

Photo by Stuart Miles

Your status while in transition is that of a consultant, especially when you’re interviewing for a job. The would-be employer needs you because you might be able to solve certain company problems. To prove that you can, you must stay on top of things and demonstrate that you’re knowledgeable about the employer’s industry in general, about the sector the company is in in particular, and even about the most current issues and developments in the hiring manager’s field. So, how do you do that?

I’m a career coach helping people in transition every day. I, too, must demonstrate to clients that I’m on top of my industry. To achieve that, at least one hour a day seven days a week I read about general subjects in daily papers (mostly online), about business subjects in several business magazines I subscribe to, and about current events via the Internet when such news flashes onto my screen. Naturally, I focus more on issues that pertain to jobs and the like by reading articles by people I follow on Twitter.

I find an equally important source of information at various networking forums by meeting and chatting with people in attendance. For example, the other day I was the presenter at a job search networking group, but because of the inclement weather, the turnout was significantly smaller than expected. The situation allowed the presentation to turn into more of a focus group chat, which was even more appropriate because the presentation was called How to Be Effective When Networking. Most of the attendees had basic familiarity with job search networking, but they had special interest in the comparison between classical, or traditional, networking and social networking.

People in transition should learn, embrace, and actively participate in social networking. This is admittedly a totally new, up-and-coming element in the job search armamentarium, and those who master it benefit the most.

On another subject during that meeting—but an especially pertinent part of the group’s learning—a participant recounted an interview situation he’d recently experienced. The interview was with a human resources representative half his age, who blatantly and repeatedly violated the age discrimination law. Frustrated and furious, the job seeker ended the interview, later reporting the experience to higher-ups in the company. The interviewer was fired three days later and dared to call the candidate on the phone to complain to him. For me, this certainly sounded like a learning experience.

Why Don’t You Understand Your Compensation?

dollar_hookIndeed, most people don’t understand their compensation. That’s amazing, since after all, compensation is the main purpose for having a job. Don’t misunderstand me: most people know their salary, but salary is only a part of total compensation. There’s a lot more that you should know about this subject so that when you’re in the compensation negotiation stage of your interview, you’ll be equipped with the ammo necessary to win. There are two major parts to compensation: the money you make (income) and the money you save (assets). The two parts are analogous to a checking account and a savings account, respectively, at the bank.

The Money You Make

The money you make typically falls into a range based on historical data. But how does your potential employer determine what you should be paid?

In large companies, the process is complex and involved, and certain people in the human resources department work full-time—and exclusively—on determinations of pay ranges. They gather information from a wide variety of external and internal sources to ensure that the company stays competitive. The overall, company-wide compensation policy is determined by a compensation committee, which is a team made up of members of the board of directors.
In small companies, of which there are about 7 million with 25 employees or fewer in the United States, compensation packages are derived simplistically and by whatever the market bears.

In both cases, though, whether a large or small company, two components make up the bottom line: (1) market pricing, or the going rate, and (2) job content evaluation, which is a correlation with other, similar, internal jobs. On top of salary there might be other sources of income in the form of bonuses such as cash payouts, profit sharing, commissions, stock purchases, and stock options. Job candidates are advised to research compensation via a variety of Web-based sources before negotiations start. If relocation is involved, it’s always advisable to think of the cliché “It’s not the money you make but the money you keep.” The cost of living varies widely of course in different parts of the country.

The Money You Save

By means of tax-sheltered plans, many employers encourage their employees to save a portion of their income for retirement. Some employers contribute to such savings by matching employees’ contributions at various percentage ratios. Tax-sheltered plans fall into two categories: before-tax (pretax) savings and after-tax (posttax) savings, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. For example, the 401(k), which went into effect on January 1, 1980, is a before-tax plan. Some employers also give employees the option to contribute very favorably with after-tax dollars. In that case, too, employers sometimes contribute, and employees become vested, which means that an employee is entitled to the employer’s contribution at a progressive rate within a stipulated period of time. In some cases, vesting could begin immediately. Delayed full vesting has the purpose of incentivizing employees to stay with the company.

In addition, both an executive and a rank-and-file employee may be offered a deferred compensation plan, a stock bonus plan, a stock options plan, a stock purchase plan, and/or an employee stock ownership plan.

Additional Types of Compensation

Beyond the benefit that employees see in their paychecks, employers offer additional benefits. Some of them are mandated by federal or state laws, and others involve voluntary participation. In either case, employees may or may not have to contribute. Examples are workers’ compensation, disability income, unemployment insurance, and accident insurance. There are many others. And some employers offer a variety of insurance plans at reduced premium rates. Some such plans are medical insurance, dependent care plans, long-term-care plans, life insurance, and accidental death insurance. At times an employer might pay for an employee’s relocation and offer other kinds of perquisites.

The best thing a candidate can do in order to achieve a successful compensation negotiation is to learn about this complex subject, perform due diligence, and above all, acquire the skills of the art of compensation negotiation. Working on this subject with a career coach and role playing in mock negotiations most often make up severalfold for the fee paid for such coaching.