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How To Negotiate Your Starting Salary

You’ve done it! You’ve made it through all of the interviews and have finally received a verbal job offer! You are now in the strongest position you are likely to have to negotiate the salary you deserve.

The time between the verbal offer and the signing of an official offer letter is one of the most important times in the employment process, where you have the unique opportunity to establish a strong starting compensation package that fits your needs, possibly setting you up for increased overall earnings throughout your career. Many employers are eager to see whether their job candidates will showcase their negotiation skills – a highly valuable skill set in many industries.

Unfortunately, nearly 50% of job applicants fail to take advantage of this important opportunity, and accept their employer’s first offer without question. Women are particularly prone to this mistake, which may play a role in the persistence of the gender pay gap.

Unless your future employer has explicitly stated that the starting salary for your position is non-negotiable, you should be negotiating your salary. As awkward as it may be, these seven tips could earn you thousands of dollars in the future.

1. Do Your Research

Gather all of the information you can on common salary ranges for your industry, position, company, and geographic location. Many websites – such as salary.com, payscale.com, indeed.com, careeronestop.org, glassdoor.com, and jobsearchintelligence.com – have company- and industry-specific salary information on-hand, providing you with an excellent idea of how your potential employers value your position. Some companies even publish this information online, if you’re willing to dig hard enough.

2. Know Your Worth

Now that you understand how the skills required in your position are valued by your industry, work toward a full understanding of your own skills. All of them, not just those explicitly relevant to your position. What soft skills do you posses that raise your value as an employee? Do you have other work experiences that make you unique? Reach out to your mentors and ask them for their input. Then write them down. Use this information to identify what you’re worth based on your salary range research, and pick a number that you feel accurately describes your skill sets and fits your financial needs.

3. Do Not Give the First Number

Many employers will ask about previous salaries, or request that you make your salary request first. If this happens, politely demure, keeping the focus on your enthusiasm for the position and a desire to fully understand how its responsibilities are valued by the company. If your employer continues to push, simply state that your responsibilities and role within this company will be different, therefore you would like to discuss their salary expectations.

4. Assume The Best

Do not assume that your future employer is trying to stiff you with a low salary. It’s likely they are simply trying to offer you a number slightly lower than the full amount they are willing to pay in an attempt to save money for the company. Do not assume that your attempts to negotiate will be met with annoyance. Many employers expect to negotiate a salary, which is why they offer a lower number at the outset. Approaching the negotiation as an opportunity to secure your true value will not be seen as greedy or selfish, but as further proof of your abilities.

5. Don’t Make It Personal

Do not ask for a higher salary because you have recently purchased a new house or are concerned with the cost of living in a new location. These are not your employer’s concerns. Keep your negotiations focused on your skills and what value you bring to your new company.

6. Practice

As with any skill, practice makes perfect. Find a friend or trusted mentor (preferably one who has experience in salary negotiation) to practice with. Have them walk you through different scenarios so that you can practice what you are going to say and how you can keep the interaction positive. Then, reverse roles. This will allow you to put yourself in your hiring managers position and experience, in a small way, what their perspective and responses may stem from.

7. Don’t Be Afraid

Regardless of how it feels, those 20 minutes of salary negotiations with your future employer could set you up for a lifetime of success. So, buckle down, do your homework, and just take the plunge. You may be surprised at what you accomplish.

The 5 Small Résumé Mistakes That Are Keeping You from Getting Hired

Even as the finance and accounting industry comes to rely more heavily on technology, the old-fashioned paper résumé remains a central component of the hiring process. We all know what to avoid – the obvious résumé mistakes such typos, glaring grammatical errors, incorrect contact information, etc. have long been revised out of our final product. You have even included keywords and highlighted your soft skills.

So why are you still not getting hired?

There are many small, often-overlooked errors that stand out to hiring managers, who routinely go through hundreds of résumés in one sitting. We’ve compiled a list of these insidious little oversights that may be keeping you from landing the job you deserve.

1. Abbreviations

Your résumé is a showcase of your professional writing skills, and should be considered a formal business document. While you may think you are avoiding long sentences and saving valuable space by using shortcuts like “etc.,” “asst.,” and “assoc.,” you are in fact conveying laziness and a lack of professionalism to your potential employers. So leave the abbreviations for your notes, and remove them from your résumé.

2. Generic Lines and Language

To include an objective statement, or not to include an objective statement? For that is the question that everyone seems to be debating. The consensus from most hiring managers, however, is that it simply isn’t necessary when the purpose of your résumé is clear and focused. Furthermore, everyone knows you will provide references upon request. You don’t need to include this in your résumé. Using generic, unnecessary language simply because everyone else is doing so will only distract from your more meaningful content, and take up valuable space on your résumé.

3. Be Consistent in Your Formatting

One of the most insidious résumé mistakes is not your writing, but your formatting. It doesn’t matter what you bold, so long as you bold it consistently. If you are bolding your job titles, bold all of your job titles. If you are italicizing your place of work, italicize all of your places of work. Take the extra time to ensure that your spacing is even and consistent. Your hiring managers will thank you. Maybe not verbally, but you get the idea.

4. Avoid Periods if You’re Not Writing Complete Sentences

If your bullet points are short statements and not complete sentences, do not end them with a period. Period.

Example:

  • At the end of each quarter, I assist the department director in writing, formatting, and presenting the quarterly report. [PERIOD]
  • Assisted in the writing, formatting, and presentation of quarterly reports [NO PERIOD]

Notice the difference? Good. Please do not commit this cardinal sin of résumé writing again.

5. Watch Your Tenses

This seems simple, but you may be surprised at how often you find yourself committing this seemingly-small grammatical mistake. Here’s a test – go through your most recent résumé and see how often your verbs for past positions are in the present tense, for example “managing the office budget” versus “managed the office budget” (and, while your at it, check for any punctuation mistakes like those mentioned above). If all of your tenses are completely correct, congratulations! You are a résumé writing rock star! If not, now is a great time to address those little quirks.

A second, and equally important grammatical consideration is consistency in your subject verb agreement and your past and present tenses. For example, if you begin a sentence in the past tense, make sure all of your subsequent verbs are also in the past tense. The same goes for the present tense.

But enough of grammar school! Your résumé is one of the most powerful tools you have in your job search. We hope these tips will help you write a strong, error-free résumé that engages and impresses your future supervisors.

The Social Media Mistakes that Could Keep You from Getting Hired

A 2014 study showed that 93% of hiring managers review an applicant’s social media profile before making a hiring decision, and that 55% of them had reconsidered a candidate based on what they found. In 61% of these instances, the candidates’ social media blunders lost them the job offer.

But what are candidates doing to scare away hiring managers in droves?

1. Keep It Clean

Let’s start with the obvious. References to illegal drugs scare away 83% of surveyed recruiters (although 2% do say it’s a positive, if you want to chance it), sexually explicit posts are a turn off for 70% of recruiters, profanity is a deterrent to two thirds of recruiters, guns are a negative to over half of them, and alcohol is “concerning” to a further 44%.

The simple solution is to leave common vices off your social media account, whether it be a status update, a profile picture, or a post by a friend. If you are unable or unwilling to do so on your personal social media accounts, you may want to consider creating and curating separate accounts for your professional self.

2. Keep It Professional

Aggressive, politicized posts can be a turn off to recruiters, and just over 1 in 6 said that any indication of your political affiliations could be a potential negative. So can posts about bad work behaviors – whether yours or another’s – as they showcase questionable business ethics. Furthermore, posts that bash current or previous employers and clients are a huge turn off, and can even get you fired.

Our advice – for finding a new job and keeping your current one – is to ensure that anything you post on social media could double as break-room conversation fodder. If you can say it around the water cooler, you can (probably) say it on social media.

3. Grammar, Spelling, and Grammar

We all hated spelling tests in school, and diagramming sentences was a special sort of punishment. The anarchy of the digital world was an excellent opportunity to escape the tyrannies of our jr. high English class. Comma splices, ebonics, acronyms, and a complete disregard for punctuation flourished in this untamed land!

Alas, this hasn’t stopped 66% of recruiters from holding bad grammar and poor spelling on social media profiles against many hapless job candidates. So if you’ve been hiding from your ancient language arts enemies, Revising and Editing (you know who you are), it may be time to call a truce.

4. Use Those Privacy Controls

Whether or not your social media persona squeaky clean, you should always employe carefully chosen privacy controls to protect your content from unwanted eyes. Some platforms, like Facebook, allow for extreme levels of specificity, making any post visible or invisible to select groups you can choose and customize each time you post. Take the time to explore the levels of privacy control available to you on your social media profiles so that you can customize your posts accordingly.

Another strategy to consider is changing or altering your first or last name so that you are not easily searchable. Using a nickname, middle name, or even a silly character name could deter unwanted cyber stalking and leave your social media accounts untouched.

And, if all else fails, you can simply deactivate your existing social media accounts while searching for a new job.

For tips on how to add value to your social media accounts and actually increase your chances of getting hired using social networks, click here.

Whatever you choose, be sure to stay smart with your social media choices to land the job of your dreams!

softs kills you need to succeed

The Soft Skills You Need to Succeed

We spend most of our time and energy focusing on the development of “hard skills” – degrees, accomplishments, certifications – never realizing that we’ve been developing an entirely different set of essential skills throughout our entire lives. While we were sharing swings on the playground, standing up to a bully in high school, and negotiating a chore chart with our college roommate, we were in fact developing “soft skills.”

Soft skills are the qualities we often take for granted while we are applying for a job or squirming in an interview. They are, however, the skills that allow us to communicate effectively, work well with others, and build professional relationships. As such, they are immensely important assets that we should be sharing with potential employers. In some cases, they may even be more influential in getting us hired than our work history and past accomplishments.

Here are some of the top soft skills employers look for:

1. Communication Skills

Communications skills are not limited to your ability to captivate a room or write the perfect email. Even more essential is your ability to exchange thoughts, ideas, and information with your team members and customers. Effective communication keeps office operations running smoothly, minimizes conflict among team members, and ensures that the customer is both satisfied and well-informed. All of which are great for business. This quality will likely be on full display during the interview process, so be sure to let this skill speak for itself through your actions and words.

2. Teamwork and Collaboration

The ability to play well with others is even more important once you leave the playground. Employers want to know that their employees can get along well, as this allows them to generate creative ideas and collaborate for the efficient and effective completion of tasks. Whether leading, following, or monitoring progress, a valuable employee will be sensitive to the needs of their colleagues and willing to contribute in a variety of ways. Be sure to emphasize the quality of your professional relationships in previous and current positions, and include examples of effective teamwork in your answers to interview questions.

3. Adaptability 

Employers want to know that you are committed to the longterm success of your business and industry, and that you are willing and able to keep pace with important changes that may come your way. A passion for learning, an interest in expanding your skills and testing your wings are all important qualities that bode well for your career and your employer’s bottom line. Your résumé should tell the story of your continued growth, and you should highlight your interest in continuing this trajectory when in discussions with your potential employers.

4. Problem Solving

This one is a no-brainer. Employers are always on the lookout for employees who can think on their feet and resolve the many unanticipated problems that arise in a fast-paced work environment. When issues arise that could delay or hinder a project – just before the hard deadline, no doubt – an employer wants to be confident in their staff’s ability to rise to the challenge and handle obstacles effectively. Be sure to share your own experiences with a potential employer by clearly describing how you identified a problem, your approach to resolving that problem, and the colleagues you either included or supported through its resolution.

5. Sense of Humor

No, your employer is not interested in your extensive collection of knock-knock jokes. But they are looking for employees who can bring some levity to tough situations. One person’s light-hearted take on a setback can be extraordinarily valuable for the entire work atmosphere, and bring some much-needed positivity to otherwise negative situations. Whenever possible, showcase a lighthearted attitude in your application, cover letter, or during your interview with a bit of strategic silliness or self-deprecation. You may be surprised at how well it’s received.

When it comes to your soft skills, it’s best to show, rather than tell. Start by making sure there are no typos on your résumé or cover letter, and that your language is clear and concise. Call attention to your soft skills by demonstrating how you have used them effectively in your career. For example, instead of stating that you are a great problem solver, describe how you helped identify inefficiencies in business processes and the process by which you and your colleagues improved them, being sure to include the results of your endeavors.

Finally, be sure you’re always improving on your existing soft skills or challenging yourself to learn more. Work with a mentor, take a course, or volunteer your time to continuously improve your most essential tools for success.

How to Harness the Power of Social Media in Your Job Search

How to Harness the Power of Social Media in Your Job Search

Getting noticed in today’s job market is becoming significantly more difficult: competition is fierce, and the sheer number of applicants makes it increasingly difficult to stand out. While there are many important components of your job search, such as the perfect resume and the first interview, many candidates overlook one key component.

Social media is a powerful tool for creating your personal brand, researching your potential employers, and interacting with industry leaders. Following the simple steps below will allow you to harness the power of social media during your next job search.

Clean Up Your Act

We’ve written extensively on social media mistakes, but it all boils down to this: before you begin making connections or interacting with others in your chosen industry, be sure your social media platforms are representative of your potential as a prospective employee. If your tweets are laden with profanity and your Facebook wall is plastered with photos from last week’s raging party, you may have some work cut out for you. Privacy controls exist for a reason, namely, to block certain viewers from content you’re not willing to share. Be sure yours are carefully administered, if necessary. Or, to be on the safe side, avoid posting compromising content to begin with.

If you would prefer to keep your personal life separate from your professional life (not an unusual approach), then consider maintaining separate profiles for each purpose. However, be aware that a simple Google search may turn up both accounts, depending on your privacy settings. 

Add Value

Now that your social media accounts are free of any questionable content, you’re ready to begin adding value. The most important platform in this step is your LinkedIn profile, which will serve as a landing page for potential connections and employers. Be sure your profile picture is up to date and professional, your job history is complete and current, and your relevant skills are a testament to your talents and competencies. Reconnect with prior employers and coworkers to request recommendations or endorsements, and don’t be afraid to post quality, industry-related content from time to time.

Posting quality content is especially important on Twitter, which lends itself to communication between industry influencers and thought leaders. Follow the influencers in your industry to stay informed of the latest trends, and don’t be afraid to tweet at them if you appreciated an article they wrote or found their advice valuable. You may just get a response or a retweet!

#Hashtag

We’ve said it before: hashtags are an excellent way to take your job search to a new level. Whether its on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Tumblr, hashtagging allows you to connect with larger topics and conversations. They are also easily searched by potential employers and industry leaders. For a complete list of relevant job search hashtags, check out our recent blog.

Pro Tip: Whatever you post on social media is public content, meaning current employers or coworkers will likely be able to see your profile as well. Be sure you aren’t tweeting and posting about your job search — without proper privacy controls — if you have not informed your current employer of your intentions.

Remember, hiring managers today have access to much more than your resume. Spending a few moments to ensure the quality of your social media presence may be the key to ensuring your job search success!

5 Tips to Show Your Interviewer That You ‘Fit’

We’ve all had that amazing interview for that perfect job. You wait and wait for the acceptance email only to be told, “you’re not the right fit.”

What happened?

While your résumé, credentials, and interview skills are all essential to landing the job, effectively standing out from other qualified applicants often boils down to “fit.” There are many nuances that define “fit” across roles and industries, but there are some steps you can take to nail down this elusive quality in your next interview.

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5 Résumé Hacks to Get the Interview

No one enjoys writing a résumé, but they are a necessary component of every job hunt. Make the most of the time you spend revising and editing your résumé by making smart, strategic decisions that allow you to hack the job search process. We’ve compiled a few of the best résumé hacks to make your application stand out.

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5 Reasons to Use an Executive Search Firm When Hiring Your CFO

Searching for the right CFO can be a lot like trying to find a needle in a haystack. While you as a CEO or search committee member may think you know what you’re looking for, how do you find the one tiny needle among all the straw?

The right CFO will seize opportunities that will add value to your company while simultaneously maintaining its integrity. And while many of your own professional connections may seem to fit the bill, are they truly the right fit for your company? Keep in mind that the wrong hire could cost you much more than the fees of a proper CFO search conducted by a firm. A thorough assessment of your company’s needs followed by a well-executed search and conducted by a professional, knowledgeable executive search firm will ensure that your company doesn’t make an unnecessary and costly hiring mistake.

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The 5 Biggest Interview Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them

We will all have an awful interview at some point in our lives. And that’s ok – trust me, they make excellent stories. On the other hand, the best interviews are more akin to a conversation than a simple question and answer. But how do you work past the butterflies in your stomach and the cold sweat on your palms to fully engage the person sitting across the desk?

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Mastering Productive Office Conversations

Let’s face it, we’ve all made mistakes when it comes to productive office communication. Communication skills are something we all must practice every day, since evidence shows that poor communication in the office can lead to stress and even drops in performance. Here are some expert communication tips to help you maximize productivity and create positive working relationships with your supervisors and peers.

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