Feeling Frazzled by Your Job Search? Here’s Why You Need to Get Organized

The snow is finally gone, the flowers are poking out and aside from cleaning out your closet, it may be time to do some spring cleaning in our day-to-day work as well. In honor of the new spring season, we decided to look at how to maximize your job search success by using simple organization systems.

I remember standing in front of one of my job search groups discussing the importance of keeping organized in your job search. In my hand was a restaurant napkin with a note written: Follow-up with Bob Craser about my job interview.

Recently I asked a career coaching client how she keeps organized in her job search – a question I always ask my clients when I work with them. Barbara* replied rather sheepishly that she wrote notes on napkins, post-its and scraps of paper. Sound familiar?

I’ve been known to write on multiple pieces of paper (and even paper napkins!) just like my example above. Yet, I try hard (and recommend to my clients) that this is NOT the way to go.

Why do I need a system?

An organized system that tracks all your job search activity and dates also helps you with your goal of getting your dream job faster and more efficiently.

My cell phone has taken the place of my post-it notes and napkins. Now I enter contact info as soon as I meet someone, along with any meeting information and follow-up dates. And when I’m home I can link my phone to my computer and upload the info into my files.

A tracking system allows you to record when you have sent a resume to ABC Company. You can make a note of when to follow up to ensure they’ve received your resume and to ask for an interview. After that interview? You will know when to send a thank you card out. Phone notifications/alerts can be your guide here. My Secret Sauce article goes into further detail on how to use follow-up as a tool for career success.

What about after that interview? If you don’t follow up – keeping control of your job search – you may miss a great opportunity. Scott* a past client, heard back about a job opportunity TWO MONTHS after he had interviewed with the company. Why so long? Well, the company had hired someone else who didn’t work out and Scott was next on the list. Fortunately Scott had kept records of the previous interview and his follow-up, as well as the company and decision-maker’s contact information, so he was prepared when the company called him. And he got the job!

Keep all your job-search activity in one place

The key to being organized is having all the information in one place. I always tell my clients that the system that is best for them is the one that they are most comfortable using – be it electronic or good old paper. Either is fine, as long as you keep all the information together. That’s the key. Some people prefer a file folder to keep copies of all their applications and job postings. That’s fine too, as long as, in addition to that, you have a way to track your actions.

Other clients use a notebook and record all their job search activities there. And some use an excel spreadsheet. Customize the process to fit your needs.

You will also need a way to track your meetings, interviews and networking. Again, you can go digital/electronic or use a diary/agenda/daytimer. My daughter Leah, who juggles a full-time job, with contract work and her own website business, swears by the Harvard Business Planner to keep her on track. Others like me love their phone calendars and some folks like the old-fashioned big desk calendars. Use what works for you.

Here’s a checklist of the important information to document:

  • Date of contact
  • How you contacted the company (phone call, referral, email, LinkedIn, recruiter, dropped in)
  • Company name
  • Decision-maker name(s)
  • Company contact information (email address, address and phone number)
  • Action taken (sent a resume; attended an interview etc.)
  • Job posting (if applicable)
  • Resume and cover letter version sent (both resumes and cover letters should be customized for every application)
  • Follow-up actions (phone calls, thank you cards)

Dust off your system!

No matter what method you use to keep organized in your job search, now is the time to dust it off and improve it.

1. If you are like Barbara, first gather all your job search notes and materials together into one place

2. Select a system that will work for you (paper or electronic)

3. Go through your files, lists, notebooks, spreadsheets – whatever you use – and archive old applications that are from more than six months ago.

(HINT: Before archiving you might want to reach out to these contacts again – one never knows where opportunities lie.)

4. Look at what needs your attention now – whether it is a follow up call to an employer, or a thank you to a network contact – make it happen.

5. Take action needed based on your information

So now that you have the tools for an organized system, set aside time each day to review your information and take action. Here’s to spring cleaning your job search and becoming more efficient and effective. Your dream job awaits!

*Name changed to protect client confidentiality

(Originally posted on Noomii Career Blog)

5 Essential Steps for Successful Salary Negotiation

Congratulations, you got the job! Now that you’ve secured the position, it’s time to have the salary talk with your new boss. Not sure how to go about negotiating a fair salary? You’re not alone.

Salary negotiation requires planning your approach, researching the compensation and communicating it clearly. When it comes to salary negotiation, it is important to consider the whole compensation package. This includes both tangible and non-tangible benefits.

Everything is negotiable.

Your best raise comes from when you sign the employment agreement. Spending time assessing your total compensation goal and your worth – what you bring to the company – could bring you an additional $5,000 – $10,000. And you can negotiate pretty much anything.

“The worst thing that can happen when you push for more [salary] is that they say no. But if you do it with grace, they will respect your courage and persistence – and if you don’t ask, you will never know what could have been.” – Anne Devereux, Chief Strategy Officer, Lantern  & Founder of Parlay House.

When negotiating there is a small risk that the employer will renege on their offer – but the risk is very small.

Here are the steps to a successful negotiation:

Step 1 – Preparation

1. Do your research

Research industry trends, the current labor market and what the role might pay. Informational interviews and websites like Salary.com, Payscale, Glassdoor and Indeed can be a great help.

2. Determine the wage you want

Determine your bottom line first. Prepare a range that starts at your bottom line up. The range should be approximately 15-20%.

For example, if your bottom line is $50,000 then your range might be $50,000-$65,000.

3. Determine what tangible and non-tangible benefits you want

Tangible benefits

These are benefits that contribute to your bottom line and may include:

  • Basic compensation
    • Commissions
    • Performance or company-wide bonuses
    • Profit-sharing
  • Equity participation
    • Employee shares
    • Stock options
    • Stock bonuses
  • Standard benefits

Consider what percentage you pay and what portion the employer contributes to:

    • Disability or long-term illness insurance
    • Medical, dental, optical, massage therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture
    • Maternity and paternity benefits – does the company have a top-up program?
    • Vacation time – know your state/provincial employment standards
    • Life insurance
  • Relocation

Companies will often pay for you to relocate and may cover the following:

    • Moving expenses
    • Living expenses while you find a new home
    • Trips to find a new home
    • Temporary dual residency and meals until you move into your new home
    • Loss of money selling present home
    • Mortgage fees and closing costs
    • Immigration fees- visa’s etc (if relocation is to another country)
    • Outplacement services for partner/spouse
  • Professional development
    • Tuition reimbursement (may be a $ amount per year – average $1,000)
    • Paid courses that would benefit your role (could include travel expenses to these courses, if out of province/state)
  • Other benefits
    • Subsidized medical clinic on site (IDEXX provides this)
    • Paid parking spot
    • Vehicle allowance (can include: vehicle, gas, maintenance, insurance)
    • Cell phone
    • Frequent flier mileage – you get to keep the miles when traveling
    • Professional memberships
    • Gym memberships
    • Financial and legal advice access
    • Free food or subsidized cafeterias
    • Free coffee/tea
    • Expense accounts

Non-tangible benefits

These are the other benefits you want that are not necessarily tied to money – but impact your lifestyle:

  • Flexible hours – For example: The ability to go to your child’s concert in the middle of the workday or flex time (work an extra hour per day and get every other Friday off)
  • Working from home
  • Office environment (consider noise, natural light, open concept)
  • Short commute
  • Job satisfaction – is there room for growth and change; is it the level you want (and are qualified for)
  • Job responsibilities – know what the job entails and ask for clarity if needed
  • Job title – important to some people, and not to others
  • Company name – important to some– they want “Apple” on their resume
  • Job security (not a lot of that now – but is it a permanent, temporary or contract role)

Step 2 – Know your worth

This can be impacted by what author Maryanne L. Wegerbauer describes as relative power in her book, “Job Offer! A How-to Negotiation Guide.

Relative power considers the following:

Business climate factors:

  • Overall economy and labour market in your industry
  • Overall unemployment rate
  • Demand for your skills and specific knowledge in your role

Company factors:

  • How profitable the company is
  • Where the company is in the business cycle. For instance, a start-up doesn’t have the same capital available as a seasoned business. Consider if it’s a startup, in a growth or expansion phase, turnaround or well-established and stable

Hiring manager factors:

  • How long there has been an opening
  • If the position is urgent to fill (one company I know had a position open for more than a year)
  • Payroll budget
  • Decision-making authority

Other factors:

  • Technical expertise
  • Level of competition
  • Availability of other candidates

Step 3 – Negotiation

Now that you know your worth and what benefits you want (or know the company can offer) – it’s time to negotiate!

  • Have your salary rage ready and the reasons why you deserve the compensation you request
  • Be specific with what money you want. Avoid vague statements like, “I am looking for a little more money.” Or “Can you move on this salary?” Instead say something like, “I would be more comfortable with an initial salary of $55,000.”
  • Express your interest and enthusiasm for the role and company before you talk money – even in the negotiation stage
  • Speak confidently – practice ahead of time with a friend or family member
  • Be clear about what you want – don’t be deceptive – employers appreciate assertiveness, honesty and clarity
  • Focus on the positive – rather than, “No, that won’t work for me,” try “I would be comfortable with…”
  • Avoid the word “Sorry” – apologizing by saying “Sorry” could signal that you are willing to accept the company’s initial offer or back down
  • State what you bring to the company – speak in terms of results in the past, if possible. It’s what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you!
  • Focus on the company’s needs
  • Remember to create a win-win situation. Negotiating is a two-way process, meaning you and the employer may both need to make compromises. The employer should not feel like they are leaving everything on the table, nor should you
  • Be flexible. Counteroffers are often made. Depending on the company, some areas may be negotiable and others may not. For example, unionized companies may not have a lot of room for negotiating and small companies may not have a lot of extra cash – consider these factors when negotiating
  • What are the alternatives? If a company cannot meet your wage requirements, you can ask for a wage review at probation – when the wage would then raise to what you originally wanted (provided you meet your probation requirements)
  • Remember the tangible and non-tangible benefits when negotiating. For example, there may be room to negotiating working from home (a benefit to you, but not a cost to the employer. In fact, the employer can save on not needing to provide you a work space). Non-tangibles might help make up for salary gaps.

Step 4: The offer is made

  • Thank the employer for the offer
  • Stress your interest in the company and role again
  • Request time to think about the offer and discuss with your partner/family etc. Asking for 24 to 48 hours is not unreasonable
  • Decide if you want to counteroffer again

Step 5: Wrapping it up

Once an offer has been accepted…

  • Ask for everything in writing

Whether your offer is for a contract, temporary work or a permanent position – get it in writing. Ask for all the terms to be sent in a letter of intent, employment contract or offer letter. This includes: length of contract (if applicable), wages, benefits and any other compensation (bonuses).

With preparation, knowing your worth and communicating clearly, salary negotiating could bring you more than you ever hoped for. Give it a try!

Still waiting for that dream job offer to come along? A career coach can help you get there. 

(Originaly posted on Noomii Career Blog)

Opening the Door with Informational Interviews

An informational interview is a totally different breed than an employment interview. How? Well, when asking for an informational interview you are doing so from a place of research. Conducting an informational interview isn’t about getting a job; it is about gathering information.

Informational interviews provide valuable information about potential industries, companies and their culture, the type of work they do, potential positions where your skill set might fit and the education and qualifications that various positions require. It is your opportunity to ask the questions!

Conducting informational interviews is a great way to transition into another career. When I decided I wanted to make a change from employment counseling to learning and development I did all kinds of informational interviews. How was this helpful? I learned what qualifications companies were looking for, how they did their hiring and what the company structure was like, among other things.

Even more useful, I was able to meet face-to-face with people in my desired field. Making these connections and adding to my network was incredibly valuable and I also got a feel for the company environment. By conducting in-person informational interviews at the company location, I had the opportunity to see employees at work. By going in, I was able to check out their faces and the environment and see if people are generally happy at their jobs, bored out of their minds or couldn’t wait until the end of the day. This is insight that can’t be found on a company website, from a job boards or job websites.

Why would someone be open to doing an info interview with you? Check out for more on why most people will give you their time and how to get started.

How to land informational interviews

Use your network

One of the keys to obtaining an informational interview is to contact someone who does the type of work you might want to do. Having their name so you can address them directly will help. LinkedIn is also a great way to get an introduction and so is cold calling. Use your personal network as well to get to the contacts you need.

Develop a phone or email script

The script should contain:

  1. A short sentence or two about your background and experience
  2. A request for a meeting
  3. The amount of time you require. Fifteen minutes is a good amount of time to ask for. The time is key because when people get requests for meetings they may say they don’t have the time, thinking it is going to take an hour. By clearly stating you want 15 minutes – the same amount as a coffee break, folks are more open to meeting with you.

Here’s an example of a cold calling script my client Debbie* used. “Hi, my name is Debbie Clover. I am a recent graduate from UBC and am doing some research into where my skills and qualifications might fit. Would you have 15 minutes to meet with me and discuss your company and role? When might be better this week or next”

Each time Debbie used this script she was granted an informational interview.

Persistence pays

Persistence pays off and so does timing. If you meet with resistance when asking for an informational interview ask if you can call again at a better time. Then ensure you record the time and date to follow up and do so!

Meeting in person is preferred, but in the event your contact cannot do this, be ready to conduct the interview over the phone.

Make sure to ask this question

Develop a list of questions to ask at the interview. One of the best questions to ask at the end of the interview is, “Can you recommend someone else I might talk to.” And when they do, “Can I use your name when I contact them.” This expands your network and provides another person to do an informational interview with. Plus you now have a warm call to make that will open the doors to more informational interviews!

So I got the informational interview…. Now what?

Although this isn’t an employment interview you want to treat it as an interview and take the meeting seriously. Here’s a checklist to follow:

  • Dress appropriately – that means professionally. When in doubt, dress one step above what people in this type of industry/work wear. Avoid too much cologne/perfume or make-up. Don’t chew gum!
  • Develop a list of questions to ask; Check the company website prior to developing your questions to avoid asking anything that is on the company website.
  • Bring a folder or briefcase, containing your questions, a notepad and pen and your resume (only bring out the resume if it is requested, as this is an information interview)
  • Check out where you are going ahead of time so you know how to get there and how long it will take to travel.
  • Arrive a few minutes early (not more than 10 minutes)
  • Avoid chewing gum and turn off your cell phone before the meeting
  • If you have business cards bring them as well and leave one with your contact
  • Remember to smile and be positive!
  • Thank the person for their time at the end of the interview
  • Beware of the time so at the 15 minute mark you mention you will wrap up; schedule yourself for extra time in case the person wants to have more discussion–which is often the case–or offers you a tour

Follow Up

Part of making a great impression is by doing a follow-up. Send a written thank you card after the interview and then check in on a regular basis with your new contact. That way if an opening becomes available down the road you will be one of the first people they will contact.

*Names have been changed to protect client confidentiality

(Originally posted to Noomii Career Blog)

Welcome to My Blog! Introducing My Family…

Wedding_KrugerFamily

Hello everyone, my name is Mary Kruger and my company is called MLK Coaching. This is my first effort at writing a blog, so don’t judge too harshly! Who am I? Well, first and foremost I’m a mother, a mom to the core. In the picture is one of my babies, Leah. Ok, Leah is a grown and married women now, but I will always think of her and her sister, Jessica as my babies. Leah lives in Maine, US with her husband, Jon, on a sailboat named Brio. You can check out Leah’s blog at www.withbrio.com to see what she is up to. Leah bought her sailboat in Mexico and she and Jon sailed Brio through the Panama Canal, up the Inter Coastal Waterway to Maine. Sailing is in Leah’s blood as she has been on a sailboat in one way or another since she was 18 months old.

Leah and Dave

Next to Leah is my husband of 33-1/2 years Dave. Would you believe Dave and I met “cruising”. For those of you who have seen American Grafitti – I know I’m dating myself, cruising is where people go up and down the main drag (road) of a town Fri/Sat nights, looking to connect with guys/gals. Yup that’s how I met Dave at the tender age of 16. We started dating soon after meeting in Vernon, and the rest well is history. Together we have shared a lot of ups and downs including sailing around the world in our 41′ sailboat Synchronicity, the death of our second child at birth, Julie, and the injury of our third child Jessica. Together we are stronger from life’s challenges and have learned to lean on each other when things get rough. I am very grateful for this man and his strength and commitment to our family and I.

Jess Playing Rugby AKA Murderball

Jessica is the baby of the family, though at 23 she is definitely her own woman. If you read my website you will know that Jess became a quadriplegic after a tragic accident two weeks after her 15th birthday. Jess has rose from this into an independent woman, an amazing athlete, and a baker. Jess is on the BC Wheelchair Rugby team and trains daily. She is one of only a handful of woman that play rugby in this mix-gender sport. Check out her cakes at www.alittlesomethingsweet.ca Jess now lives on her own and speaks for both WorkSafe BC and the Rick Hansen Foundation inspiring others. More on that transition for me later.

So on this Valentine’s Day I want to reach out to my family and say I love you, each and everyone one of you, and am proud and in awe of each of you and what you have accomplished in your lives so far. Family is everything to me and I wouldn’t have the life I do if it wasn’t for each of you.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hearts