Negotiations Print E-mail

How good a negotiator are you? Do you push back or do you not try to counteroffer? Many people do not realize that most products and services are negotiable. When you buy a car it is expected to haggle with the salesperson over price but why is that not the case in other scenarios? In the workplace, how many accept the first compensation package that is provided or the standard raise rate and not think to question it?


Before one can start to negotiate, there are steps that need to be taken first. Many do not think about negotiations until they receive an offer – job, car, product, service, etc. The issue with this is that they do not spend the time researching and contemplating what the value is in the marketplace BEFORE they start the process. Instead many either accept what is offered and do not negotiate for more, or they use a simple formula like an increase of 10% on their cash compensation if in a job search or just accept free car mats. These individuals may miss out not only on more money in their pockets but also on perks. That is why negotiations are so tricky!


The first step in the process is to realize that there is a real value and a perceived value.  As an example, a person is being hired by a company because he/she possesses an expertise that is lacking in the organization so they need this person. Products that are fashionable or are attached to a famous celebrity or brand name command a higher price but may not necessarily be any better quality. For these reasons, it is imperative to make a list of all the attributes either you as a job seeker possess, or you as a consumer want in a product or a service.


The research phase is very critical and will take a lot of time to do.  Not only review various books and websites but also contact those who are experts in that particular field, position, owned that product, or have used that service. Do not ask basic questions like “do you like it?” but delve deeper. Ask them what research they conducted; what challenges they faced; and would they go through that experience again. In addition, question them on what kind of negotiator they are so that you can learn tips on what language to use, etc. If you do not have a robust network, use Linkedin for job seekers and ask for references from the companies you want to do business with.  Now develop the bottom line numbers that you would need to make a move or to make that purchase and make sure it aligns with your personal budget.  

Staying Put Print E-mail

Why It Makes Sense to Stay with Your Current Job


As the economy continues to improve, senior leaders are facing a major dilemma. It is anticipated by industry experts that the turnover rate in the U.S. for 2014 will be 23%.  That means close to a quarter of employees will walk out of their companies’ doors and will cost companies significant money in lost time and revenue.  Replacement costs can be as high as 50% to 60% of an employee's annual salary and some searches can take up to a year to complete.


Although it is interesting to explore all the avenues a company can take to retain their talent, let's look at it from an employee's perspective.  "Why should I stay with my current employer?"  Considering my role as an executive recruiter is to entice people to leave their positions and join my client, it is always fascinating to hear the multitude of reasons why people want to stay.


I am happy where I am – When pressed to explain this, you might say you've been with your company for a long time and feel a sense of community with your fellow workers and leaders.  While this is admirable, might you be unwilling to put in the time and effort to find new opportunities? Are you fearful that a new company and role is too much to handle?  Or are you not willing to admit that you see this only as income so you might as well stay?  If you realize that this describes you then it may be time to re-evaluate your career plan and either seek out new roles within your company to enhance your professional development or start looking at online job postings.


I have a great boss – Rarely does someone mention this but some of the retention studies indicate that having an engaging and supportive supervisor is as important to them as an increase in compensation.  A boss that challenges you to not only achieve your goals but go beyond is so important.  Unfortunately many managers and executives do not have the time to spend with their employees because they are completing their own objectives set by their superiors.  In other cases, leaders are only focused on themselves and their needs and do not see the true value of those that work for them; they set expectations for their staffs that are unrealistic i.e. assigning a project at 4:30 pm and want it done by the next morning.  When a subordinate really analyzes how little interaction they have with their boss, it is usually at the annual review; compensation increases and professional development are only discussed then and never again throughout the year.


My compensation plan is terrific – Money is one of the top motivators in deciding to look at new opportunities or not.  Companies who provide minimal increases and paltry bonuses (if any bonus at all) are setting themselves up for their key players to exit the company.  Compensation is not just about salary, bonus, and benefits.  It also consists of perks like gym memberships and equity.  Regardless of the overall package, compensation is an indicator to the employee on how much they are valued.


I work flexible hours or I can sometimes work from home – If employees feel empowered to manage their own schedules and be productive, why should companies not offer this?  I always find it interesting that certain companies have stated hours and they will not budge.  Of course certain positions require being on-site but many can be just as effectively conducted on a different schedule.  Some companies, or it could be some leaders within the organizations, do not want to treat employees as adults in the workplace.  It would be much more beneficial for employees to be able to structure their workdays taking into consideration family issues, traffic concerns, or even based on their daily energy levels.  Instead they have to make sacrifices that in the end can affect their families and their health.


My company provides training and coaching – Companies that recognize each employee's skills and aspirations and capitalizes on them by offering ways to continue to improve is very commendable.  Training is necessary for a new employee or one who is transitioning into a new role.


Coaching has come a long way and is now viewed as an effective addition for one's professional toolbox.  Companies that use coaching see the top three motivators as building self confidence, achieving work/life balance, and identifying career opportunities, according to a 2009 study conducted by the International Coach Federation.  Both coaching and training take time and money and when budgets or deadlines are tight, these areas tend to get limited for many or are simply not available anymore.


My company is growing/they are introducing new products and services – Employees who feel that the leadership team is on the right track and heading in a positive direction want to stay with their organization.  Many executive managers, however, fail to communicate regularly the strategic vision for the company.  Much confusion, unrealistic expectations, and even some drama can ensue when communication messaging is barely existent or does not happen at all.


There are a myriad of other reasons why a person should not contemplate a move so it is imperative to map out one's career path and ensure that ALL their needs are being met, not only today but in the future.

To Use Assessments in Recruiting or Not? Print E-mail

Although it is easier now to screen candidates even before the first phone call is placed to a prospective candidate, it also makes it more challenging to decipher if the information on LinkedIn, etc. is accurate and depicts the person well. Companies have also downsized their recruiting staffs so the amount of time that a recruiter can focus on one particular assignment may be less than in years past. Executive search firms have come under pressure to not only deliver good candidates but ones that surpass even what the client initially thought they wanted.

So how does one evaluate a candidate quickly and effectively? Assessments are being utilized more than ever as part of the recruitment process. Some of these assessments are basic "tests" that determine one's analytical skills. Others are geared to certain functional areas like sales where the questions are focused on identifying the person's selling and marketing skills. Still others delve deep into how a person behaves and what motivates them.

To determine if the use of assessments makes sense for your organization consider the following:

1. What is it that you want to learn about the candidate?

Some assessments like DISC explain "how" a candidate behaves. In other words, the report details if the person is more of an introvert or an extrovert. It also identifies if they tend to be more people oriented versus task oriented. This works well for management roles because ideally you want a balanced team and a leader who knows how to capitalize on each team member's strengths.

I personally like the two graph DISC especially when I am coaching a client. One graph is labeled the Natural Graph which shows how a person behaves in their "home state". The Adapted Graph (also known as the Masked Graph) depicts the person in their work setting.  The reason it is also referred to as the Masked Graph is because some people "wear a mask" at work and act in a manner they feel the company wants them to operate in. Of course, by doing this they create undue stress for themselves. Some companies, however, choose to use only the one DISC graph because they are interested only in how a person behaves on the job and not at home.

2.  How qualified is the hiring manager and/or recruiting team in understanding the results
of the assessment(s)?

I have been certified in the DISC and Motivators assessments for several years and have taught classes on this topic as well. It is important to understand all the intricacies of the report to fully understand an individual. However in most cases the ones reading the report have never been educated so truly do not have a full grasp of what they are       reviewing. If the company is going to use assessments, it is imperative to train all those who will review the report. In addition, they have to fully understand that assessments are only one part of the overall candidate evaluation.

I knew a hiring manager, a SVP in a major financial services firm, who would only at the look at the "negative items" on the assessment report. That would not be the worst thing if they then probed the candidate in an interview to learn more. However, this person would just discard the candidate even if they had been highly recommended or had a stellar career history.

It is just like when you applied for college. You did not just submit your academic grades. You also supplied your SAT and ACT scores, recommendations from your guidance counselor and certain teachers, and an essay or two. The college admissions office then looked at your "entire profile" to determine if they wanted to admit you as a student there or not.

3.  Are the results easy to understand?

I have reviewed assessments that my clients have administered and I find some are very difficult to understand. Some assessments have too many components and/or they use their own phrasing that no lay person could comprehend. The reason to use an assessment is to have another way to evaluate a candidate. It is not meant to be an exhaustive and confusing analysis for hiring managers and recruiting staffs.

Regardless of which assessments are utilized, it is imperative to review their effectiveness periodically. I would also highly recommend that as part of the on-boarding process, the human resources department ask new employees what they thought of the assessments. These people could be a wealth of information especially if they were interviewing at other companies. They may be able to recommend other assessments that could be much more effective for your organization. In addition, they may provide valuable insight including how they felt about some of the questions or even the whole assessment. More importantly, they may have felt the assessment was too invasive which made them question if they wanted to continue going through the recruitment process. For this reason, make sure these assessments are considered selection assessments. If ones are used that are not, a potential lawsuit could occur so be careful.

I Spy…Social Media and Recruiting

Having been in the executive search business since 1986, I am very familiar with methods for vetting candidates. Besides the usual reference checking, credit and criminal investigative reports are being conducted by outside agencies mostly for executive level candidates but even more junior rank potentials are now being checked.


In this world of technology we live in, other methods are being utilized now including reviewing social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The New York Times recently posted an article about this called "Social Media History Becomes a New Job Hurdle". The article discusses one start-up company that scans the Internet looking for information on potential candidates going as far back as 7 years! They review the more popular sites like LinkedIn but also try to find comments, videos, and photos on more obscure sites like Tumblr, Yahoo groups, and Craigslist.


This practice is widely used. According to this article, about "75 percent of recruiters are required by their companies to do online research of candidates. And 70 percent of recruiters in the United States report that they have rejected candidates because of information online."


So what can you do especially when it is considered almost necessary to have a LinkedIn profile and a Facebook page? LinkedIn is a business networking site so the only area that could be a problem is the recommendations section. Make sure you edit any recommendations and also have another person read it so nothing will be misconstrued. In other words, what you think sounds fine may be to an objective person very troublesome. In addition, be careful who you link with. One recruiter I know will scan the connections list to ascertain what types of people the candidate interacts with.


Facebook is more tricky and needs to be monitored even more carefully. Although many people have their settings for only friends and family, many companies are now asking for candidates to show their Facebook page during their interview. I checked with two employment attorneys regarding this and they say it is not legal to do that but most candidates will comply or face not being considered for the position. Carefully review what your contacts are saying and "unfriend" or "block" them if they are posting anything that is not acceptable. Stress with your children that their postings can reflect badly on you and that they need to watch not only what they say but how they say it.


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