Monthly Archives: December 2016

Reasons To Leave Your Current Employe

We all know that it is very unlikely that anyone is going to stay with the same company for 40 years, collect a watch and a pension, and then go off into a blissful, stress-free retirement. Those days are over, and in the new era of work, it is incumbent upon the individual to take responsibility for managing her own career. Hopefully, you are evaluating your current role and company on an ongoing basis, and are thinking about what you would like to do in the immediate future, and in the longer term. But how do you know when it’s time to make a move? Here are five factors that can make that decision crystal clear:

No room for advancement/lack of growth. You’ve been in the same role for the past three years, and as you look around, you realize that there is nowhere for you to go within your current organization. Many times, the only way to advance in your career is to take your skills and experiences to a new employer.

Current role is not using your marketable skills. You are a great writer who happens to be fluent in French. In your current role, you’re conducting a lot of financial analyses, and you’re working with an offshore team in Russia. You begin to feel that your skills and intellect are being squandered, and you become bored. This is a clear indication that it is time to seek a new role.

You want to realign your career path. You have worked extensively with global teams in the past, and are especially adept at cross-border negotiations. In your current role, you’ve been managing a portfolio of products that are sold exclusively into the US market. You decide that you want to go back to working with a global team, but your current employer only does business in the US.

Commute/work-life issues. I am always surprised at how many managers discount the impact that lengthy commutes can have on employees. Most employees care more about the time it takes to get to work than the distance. Traveling 20 miles in the Boston or Los Angeles areas can be untenable, but 20 miles in Omaha is not that bad. If your commute is taking a toll on other areas of your life, and your employer is unwilling or unable to offer anything in terms of workplace flexibility, it might be time to look for a position closer to home, or one with policies to help employees deal with lengthy commutes, such as telecommuting options or staggered start times.

You are underpaid. This is an absolutely valid reason for leaving your employer and an incredibly common one. Let us dispense with the notion that wanting to be paid more, or to be paid a market rate, is somehow crass. People go to work in to earn money. That’s why it’s called “compensation,” and not “cocktail hour.” Although it is possible to increase your pay by negotiating a raise or taking a promotion, it usually takes a move outside of your current employer to affect a meaningful change in your wallet.

Take a professional inventory. If any of these five issues applies to you, it might be time to start looking around for your next role.

Great Cover Letter

Rumors of the death of the cover letter are premature. Cover letters often do make a difference – especially if they have all 10 of the following advantages.

1: The name of the hiring manager,
if at all possible, even if you’re sending it to Human Resources. And do send it directly to the hiring manager as well! Finding the name and email address of that person may take a little web research – the company website and LinkedIn are the first places to try – or it may be as simple as calling the main number and asking.

2: An attention-getting opening.
What do you think is the #1 most interesting or impressive thing about you, from the point of view of the employer you’re writing to? Start with that. Or figure out what their pain points are, and start by presenting yourself as the solution to their problems. Either of these approaches would be much more effective than “I am writing to express my interest in the blah blah position. My resume is attached.”

3: Your Key Selling Points.
Emphasis on what you most want employers to notice – the top three to five reasons why they should hire you instead of someone else.

4: Evidence that you are especially motivated to work for them:
Do some research and mention what you discovered that makes you a good fit.

5: Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Even professional writers have their work proofread before publication. You can get good professional proofreading for around $5 per page.

6: Brevity. Keep it to one page or less for mailing, or one email screen (without scrolling).

7: The right format.
Email: Your cover letter should be the email itself, not an attachment. Include the job title in the subject line, plus if possible a few words emphasizing a key selling point. For example: ” MBA w/ Global Experience – Region Director Opening.” If you’re starting from a template, make your changes before pasting the content into the email. Content inserted after that point may appear to the recipient in a different font than the surrounding text.
Hardcopy: Use standard business letter format. Include a “re:” line referring to the job opening. Example: “Re: Region Director role”

8: Keywords.
Cover letters often end up in the human resources department’s applicant tracking system (ATS) along with their resumes. An ATS is like a database that stores applicant information. HR personnel do keyword searches of these materials to determine whose resumes they want to read, and whose to ignore. Your cover letter and resume have more chance of being read if they contain crucial keywords such as the job title being applied for and words describing the most important skills and qualifications for the job.

9: Your phone number.
Even though you phone number is presumably on the resume, include it here as well.

Holiday Networking Events

Holiday season is upon us which means you’ll likely be attending a lot of events.

Not just your family events, but events at your job and any associations you may be a part of.

While advancing your career may not be the point of these events, they do present the perfect opportunity to get a little networking in. Simply put, no one is expecting you to vie for a job at a holiday party like you would in a more professional context.

Holiday parties also typically aren’t forced social situations – which is what can make professional networking events so uncomfortable.

Use our tips below to break the ice at holiday parties so you can get some networking done and grow your list of contacts.

1. Find the person standing alone.

A tactic I use is to strike up a conversation with someone else that looks alone at the event. I literally walk up to those people, introduce myself and say, “I hate standing alone at these events, and assume others prefer to not stand alone either, so I figured we can chat!” and then go into some openers.

Some examples of openers include:

  • What brought you here?
  • Do you know anyone? How did you meet?
  • What are you working on?
  • Were you hoping to find some resources at the event to move your project along?

They key here is to gently ask good questions that will get them talking. Chances are the other person will appreciate that you’re including them, and as a result be more willing to open up and have a conversation.

2. Come from a place of service.

There is nothing more irritating than someone at a networking event who immediately starts pitching themselves upon meeting someone.

Rather than going to the networking event thinking about how many people you need to talk to, how many business cards you need to collect or what deal you need to close, consider going with the intention of being helpful to someone else. Even setting out to help just one person can be more effective than handing out business cards.

Get in the spirit of the holidays and attend these events with service in mind. It takes the pressure of “networking” off of you and can open the doors to building relationships that may very well lead to opportunity later on.

3. Take advantage of the holiday small talk.

The holidays present us with a ton of conversation starters that we can’t call upon the rest of the year. According to Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk, you can ask questions like “What are some your family holiday traditions?” or “What is your favorite thing about the holiday season? Why?”

This opens the door for conversation instead of forcing one to occur. Eventually the conversation will lead to everyone’s favorite small talk question “So, what do you do?” This is when you can bring up career goals or the fact that you are looking for a job.