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Monday, June 30, 2014

What Are You Really Worth?

Compensation is a big factor in deciding to stay where you are or make a move to another organization.  Most people, most of the time, do whatever they have to do to avoid change.  That reluctance may be costing them dearly.

The conventional wisdom of the generations that came of age in the mid 1900's through the end of the last century was that the key to success was to get a good job, stay with the organization until you retired, then ride off into the sunset with a nice watch that they gave you at your retirement party.

Things have changed considerably since the turn of the century.  The main driving force behind these changes has been the rapid and unrelenting impact of technology.  No longer is it an unwritten rule that you have to "pay your dues" and work your way up slowly to a comfortable level of income...and "comfortable" can be defined in many ways.

Today, there are young people in their 20's and 30's who are starting and running companies without having paid any dues, anywhere.  If you have a "value proposition"...a particular skill that is in demand in the have the power and the freedom to market that skill in your own business, or to go wherever someone will pay you for it in excess of what someone is paying you now.

If you prefer stability and choose to stay where you are, you can expect, on average, salary bumps of 3% to 5% annually.  If you are open to change, you may find that someone else will pay you for your skills at a rate that can be 15% to 25% higher than where you are now.

Businesses are not interested in paying someone the same as the value they bring to the organization. They want the value to exceed the compensation.  So consider that if you are getting paid a salary of $60,000...the business will expect, on average, a 40% return on investment they are making in you.  They will expect that you will provide at least $100,000 in value for the $60,000 they pay you for your services ($60,000/.6...divide the compensation by the reciprocal of the desired return on the investment).

So next time you're thinking, "I'm worth more than what I'm getting paid here," you're probably right.  You are much more likely to realize and get paid your extra value by moving to another organization than you are by staying where you are.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Cost of Staying Where You Are

Check out the article that this link will provide.  It makes several good points about how it costs you dearly to stay in a job too long.

As a recruiter, one of the "red flags" that I deal with quite often is my clients' concerns about "job-hoppers," which is loosely defined as anyone who has had more than three jobs in ten years.  Companies spend a lot of money in the search process and even more in training, so they certainly want to get as many years as possible out of the people they hire. However, since the recession that started in 2008, I have seen a relaxation toward that norm from many of my clients because many excellent employees, through no fault of their own, have been downsized or let go in mergers, acquisitions, and/or companies that have gone out of business.  So, on the one hand, employers are more willing to look at those who have had several jobs, but once they hire someone, they want to keep them as long as possible.

What the employee has to understand, however, is that he/she is the CEO of their career.  If money is a prime factor in where you work, it's less and less likely that you can make as much of it by staying where you are as you can by moving to another organization where your value is more recognized.  In today's job market, it's not uncommon to get increases of 15% to 25% over your previous salary.  When you go to a new organization, you do not battle the anchor of the starting salary at the old organization.

Companies obviously want to get the most "bang for the buck" and prefer to hire new employees at salaries on the low end of the range of compensation for the position.  Often these companies will offer a signing bonus or a year-end performance bonus, but these bonuses are usually a percentage of the salary.  If your salary is $50K and your bonus is 10%, it costs the organization less to pay 10% of $50K than 10% of a higher number.  Additionally, raises are generally awarded as a percentage of salary, and lately the norm for salary increases is about 3%.  If you start out at a low number, you will forever pay the price of accepting that low salary because your percentage increases each year will be tied to that original number...and it will follow you throughout your career at that organization.

It's easy to see that a salary of $60K is much preferred to a salary of $50K with a $10K signing bonus.  The greater the value for your skills and experience, the more important it is to start at the high end of the compensation range for that position.

It's a simple law of supply and demand that your value in the market is based on how easy it is to replace you with someone else.  If you want to maximize that value, don't get stale in one place.  It pays to move around.

by Ken Murdock

Monday, June 23, 2014

Do You Want to Do Something Completely Different?

There are lots of good reasons to update and improve your  résumé       If you have acquired new skills that were not part of your package in the past, certainly you should put those new skills into your résumé.  If you have earned a new certification that is recognized as a key validation of competency in your profession, that's another reason.

However, there is one particular circumstance that will always justify creating a new, outstanding resume.  If you are switching careers from one type of profession to another one in an entirely different field, you must create a new document that can bring this "new you" to the attention of people in the new field who have never heard of you.

There are two keys to a successful  transition to an entirely different profession.  The first is to identify and document the  transferable skills that not only served you well in the old job, but can be valuable in the new job as well.  The second is to learn all you can about the personality and culture of the new organization that you want to join, and then to identify and list the qualities about you that will ensure that you are a great culture fit for this organization.  

In all my years in recruiting, having placed hundreds of candidates with dozens of organizations, the single most crucial quality that I have seen that makes the difference between success and failure is whether an individual is a good culture fit with the group that he/she is joining.  Given that a person has the basic skills necessary to perform the job functions and meets the requirements of the job (licenses, citizenship, background check, etc...), organizations can teach someone what they need to know to do the job well.  What they cannot teach is personality and attitude.

In today's economy and job market, more and more people are seeing the need to learn new skills and to go down a completely different career path than what they had envisioned earlier in life.  To do that successfully, to put yourself in a position where you can pursue the job you really want instead of just any job, you must have a résumé that can tell the reader why, even though you do not have experience in this particular profession, you still have what it takes to be successful in it.

A large part of our business is involved with helping people who are going through that type of change.  We work with former military personnel who are transitioning to civilian life, people who are retired from one type of position and still have a lot of good working years left and want to do something different, and stay-at-home moms and dads who want to re-enter the work force.

We can help you as well.  Contact us and we can show you how we can do it.

by Ken Murdock

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How to Know if You Need a New Resume

First, let's understand the purpose of a resume.  It's sole purpose is to get you an interview!  That's it.

If you are seeking a job in a field where you are already known and where you have significant experience, the absolute best way to get that interview is knowing someone who can help you get in front of a hiring manager.  The second best way to get the interview is to know someone who knows someone.  If you have either of those scenarios working for you, any document that has your contact information and a brief history of your employment, skills, and education will do.  The reason is simple...the basis of someone agreeing to meet with you is not because of your's because of someone who created the connection between you and the person who can influence the hiring decision.

However, if you don't know anyone in the organization, and if you don't know anyone who knows anyone in the organization, you're relegated to the third best option for getting the interview, and that's to have a great (not good, but great) resume.  The reason that you need a great one is that most people have good ones, which puts you on equal footing with hundreds, perhaps thousands of other candidates.  How do you like those odds?

When I use the term "good resume," it's generic at best.  What I mean is that a "good" resume is one that has your contact information, tells the reader something about what you have done in the past, what type/level of education you have, and some kind of statement that gives them an idea of what you want to do.  What you have to understand is that in this very strong buyer's market there are an unlimited number of people who fit that criteria, and the hiring managers have nothing to separate you from everyone else when they decide which candidates they will interview.

If you want to increase your odds, your resume has to meet certain criteria.  Everyone has heard about "SEO," which means "search engine optimization."  If you have a website of any kind, it doesn't matter what the site has in it or on it if no one can find it on the Internet.  There are a lot of companies and individuals who offer these SEO services that can help your website go up in the Google rankings as well as local rankings by making a few tweaks and adjustments to the site so that you can increase your site visitation.  A good resume needs the same treatment.  I call it "RAO," which is the acronym for "Resume Awareness Optimization."

If what you have to say about yourself on a resume does not attract anyone to read it, it's worthless.

We specialize in RAO.

by Ken Murdock

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

So, You Think Your Job is Safe?

"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."
                                                                         Mike Tyson

Scenario : The year is 1995.  You are settled in for nice career at a leading newspaper in your area, confident that you will retire from there in 30 years with a nice pension.  However, about 10 years later, in 2005, you begin to hear the term "digital publishing" more and more often.  You also begin to read and hear that the millennial generation does not read the newspaper at all and something called "Facebook" is occupying more and more of their time.  By 2010, digital publishing and shifting demographic trends have cut your paper's circulation by a third, and the forecasts are for the paper versions of newspapers and books industries to continue to decline.

Your dream of "retiring" from the newspaper has come true...but it's about 10 years earlier than you had anticipated because technology and changes in how people receive and read information has eliminated your job.

Are you prepared to do anything else?  Do you know how to market yourself for a completely different type of job?

One version or another of the above scenario is taking place in just about every industry.  Things change, and they are changing faster now than most of us can imagine.  These changes have put a lot of very talented, experienced people out of work, most of them well before their "plan" allowed.  On more than one occasion I have heard from people who have been displaced from the labor market that  trying to get a new job today is like having to learn the dating game again after someone has been widowed or divorced after 25 years of marriage.  Things are so different now that many of those affected have no idea how to go about starting over.

Our business is about helping people start over.  Some need a little more guidance than others, but just about everyone who finds themselves suddenly and unexpectedly unemployed needs a little help to right the ship again.  While most of what we do is helping people create great resumes, we can also help you prepare for the interview process...and it is a process... and negotiate compensation packages once you get an offer.

Contact us at if you find yourself in one of those life changing circumstances.  We can help.

by Ken Murdock

Friday, June 13, 2014

Don't Restrict Your Search to Advertised Opportunities

One of the biggest roadblocks most jobseekers impose on themselves is thinking small.  By that I mean that they restrict their job search activities to those positions that are advertised by the prospective employer or that they see posted on the organization's website.  When jobseekers do this, they are really limiting their chances of being considered simply because of the law of large numbers.  In other words, if you are one of hundreds or thousands seeking an opportunity to interview for a position that is publicly posted, your chances are slim.

There are a few reasons for your minimal chances of getting the interview you want.  First, because the position is public knowledge, there are always large numbers of candidates who are not even close to meeting the requirements for the job who will submit their resumes anyway.  They will not be considered, but it takes just as much time to scan a resume for someone who is not qualified as it does to review one for a great candidate.  From the candidate's perspective, they have nothing to lose by making the attempt, but doing so really clogs up the pipeline.

I learned that lesson the hard way when I first started my recruiting business.  On the few occasions that I advertised a position in order to get qualified candidates, there were at least five resumes/inquiries from people who were not close to meeting the listed required qualifications for every one resume that reflected a qualified candidate.

The second reason is that by doing what everyone else does, you are going to be seen as a member of "everyone else."  You have made yourself blend into the crowd rather than standing out from it...and that is the last thing you need to do when seeking a new job.  We are in a very strong buyer's market now, and have been in it since late 2008.

One of the most basic rules of marketing is that when your demand conditions change, you have to change your promotional strategy.  The tools and strategies that were effective when we were in a strong seller's market (prior to the market crash of late 2008) are not even close to effective in this strong buyer's market.

The best positions are rarely advertised, and believe it or not, many companies don't know that they need someone until the right candidate appears.  Most of my clients in my recruiting business have long held the policy and attitude that if a person can show they how they can bring value to the organization, the organization will create a position for them.  It has not been at all uncommon for my clients in the recruiting industry to tell me, "If you see someone who you think would be a good fit here, let us know about that person."

Jack Welch, during his tenure at General Electric, was well known for always weeding out his bottom 20% performers and replacing them with others who were likely to produce better results.  Organizations that have that attitude will always have openings for top performers.

So what's the lesson here?  If you want to work in a particular organization, don't hesitate to contact them and let them know what you can do for them and why they should talk to you.  By doing so, you just might get an invitation to come in for an interview, and the crowd will certainly be much smaller.

by Ken Murdock