The following is a transcript of the SelfPerspective podcast for Wednesday, March 15, 2o17.
Hello, I am John Self.
Today on SelfPerspective, we answer some questions from our listeners covering career management, strategies for your job search and the value of outplacement transition coaches if you are fired or laid off.
That’s next on SelfPerspective.
Welcome. We begin with a frequently asked question:
QUESTION: I am not happy in my current position. Should I resign before I begin my job search? How can I protect myself from my boss’s suspicious eyes?
First, I am a believer that it is a lot easier to find a job if you have a job. In a competitive job market you do not want to have your skills or you performance called into question. Recruiters, those working internally as well as search firm consultants, are naturally risk-averse. So my advice is to not resign. That said, you cannot allow your performance to slip because of the distractions of a job search.
Second, do not use your company email address to contact potential employers. Some companies have tracking software that looks for certain inappropriate words or phrasing to monitor certain types of employee emails. The important thing to remember is that the courts have ruled that as an employee, you have no expectation of privacy when it comes to your company computer. If you are going to look for a job, create a Hotmail or Google email account with a professional email address. And suffice it to say, do NOT use your company telephone for job search communications.
Third, do not store your resume on your company computer. That is a recipe for disaster if you are suddenly terminated and not permitted to download personal documents.
Fourth, if your boss is suspicious then you should arrange telephone interviews on your lunch break or after work. If a recruiter wants to meet you, then request a weekend meeting. They should be able to accommodate you. In fact, I will be spending the upcoming weekend in Philadelphia interviewing candidates.
Our next question concerns the appropriate time to disclose your current salary. Actually, we have had several questions on this subject.
The first one deals with disclosing salary information.
QUESTION: In my initial interview with the recruiter, they asked me for my current salary. I was a little taken back since I was not sure I was really interested. How should I respond?
I am a recruiter who is probably an outlier on this issue. When I provide a candidate with the Position Prospectus, which is a comprehensive disclosure document that includes the selection criteria, a detailed review of the position, the performance deliverables and a corporate profile, we specifically state the salary range. I do not want to waste a candidate’s time, or my own, if there is no alignment on the salary.
If you are a candidate for an executive position, you have a right to know the salary range before you provide your compensation information. I know there are many recruiters who disagree but that is what I believe.
If the recruiter does not want to divulge that information, or does not know, that is a yellow light of caution. If you are a passive candidate, that is to say someone who has a job and who wasn’t looking for a new one until the recruiter called you, then you have nothing to lose by asking the recruiter that information before you are prepared to move forward.
If you already know the prospective employer’s range, then be prepared to divulge your salary in the initial screening interview because that is an important element in the screening process. Just as you do not want to waste time on a job that is below your current compensation, recruiters do not want to waste their time either.
Whatever you do, DO NOT get to the end of the recruitment process and ask for considerably more than the salary range stipulates. When you try to play salary hardball at the end of process you can make the recruiter look bad. Moreover, you damage your own brand: it is very unprofessional. If you need to make more than the published salary range, ask the recruiter if the company can be flexible. If the answer is no then you should either decide whether you can take the position for less money based on the geographic location, for example, or whether you should withdraw. Not burning bridges is a smart practice to follow.
QUESTION: I am a manager for a manufacturing company. Recently a recruiter called me about a new position. Within the first two or three minutes, the recruiter, who I do not know, asked me how much I was current making. I was uncomfortable disclosing that information regarding a job that I knew very little about.
As a manager or director, your strategy for dealing with compensation issues will probably be different than if you are at the VP level. At manager or director levels many contingency recruiters may not know the salary range, or they have been instructed not to disclose that information.
You may want to ask for more information about the position to determine your level of interest before disclosing your salary. If you are interested, then you should state your current base salary. If you have a nice benefits package, then stipulate that as well. Then you should make it clear what you expect to earn in your next career position. The rule of thumb is a 10 to 15 percent increase to make a job change. You have to consider whether this position represents a promotion, either in title or scope of responsibility, the cost of living, and the value of their benefits plan.
Do not allow your ego to get involved. Just because you have been contacted by a recruiter does not necessarily qualify you as a performance rock entitling you to unreasonable demands.
As you navigate through this process, remember that the recruiters, whether employees of the prospective employer or search consultants represent the client, so be thoughtful in terms of your communications when it comes to compensation. I encourage you to consult with your mentor or career coach for advice when dealing with these types of issues.
If the potential employer is a direct competitor you should keep in mind that the salary information you disclose will probably be used by that company’s wage and salary analysts to ensure their plan is competitive.
In the end, recruiters are trying to qualify you for additional consideration. You should qualify the position to determine your own level of interest.
Next on SelfPerspective, the challenges for executives who are in the last phase of their careers when they suddenly lose their jobs. Stay with us.
Henry is in his early 60’s. He’s done well in his career but he needs to work until he is 67 to ensure that his financial reserves and Social Security will carry him through retirement. But then one Friday afternoon he’s told that the company where he worked for 15 years was restructuring because of some financial challenges and that his position has been eliminated.
He is offered a modest severance plan, six months of salary with benefits and a small allocation for transition coaching.
Over the weekend, Henry and his wife review their savings and conclude that he needs to continue working for three to five more years to ensure they have adequate financial security.
Henry never thought he would have another job so he has not invested much time with social media — frankly, he thought it was a little silly — and many of the people he did know in his industry were retired or nearing retirement.
Henry did not have to spend his $5,000 outplacement severance benefit — the company said he could keep it if he did not feel it was necessary or if he planned to retire.
He decided to speak to a friend, a recruiter he knew, and asked him what he thought. During the course of the call he found himself mentally grasping for names he once could recall at the drop of the hat. His friend the recruiter asked Henry if he had the necessary energy to impress recruiters, many who were 30 years his junior. He asked Henry if he was up to date on the latest smart phone technology and various apps that these recruiters might use to communicate with their candidates?
By the time the call ended, Henry had a sinking feeling in his stomach. The next morning he began his search for a career transition coach in hopes of achieving the fashion equivalent of a job candidate makeover.
I am a big believer in transition coaching. Let’s be honest, even the most accomplished of leaders is not necessarily a leader in the field of interviewing. It is not something they do every day. Most executives lack top-of-mind awareness of all the changes that occurring in our technologically driven job interview process.
I have received several questions that were similar. I picked the most representative:
QUESTION: I was recently terminated by my employer, a retail company in the midwest. My new boss and I did not see eye to eye. I have been successful in this role for a long time and I did not feel like I should change. I am 63 but I need to work for five more years. I have been with my company 17 years. They gave me outplacement support but I am not sure I need that because I have never had a problem finding a job before. Do I really need to spend that money? What should I do to get ready for that next position?
Henry and Bob here have something in common. They are looking for work in a tough market, competing with a pool of energetic, smart and technologically proficient candidates.
Neither has been in the job market for more than 17 years and, frankly, they have no idea how much the job search process has changed in that time.
Yes, Bob, you need to invest that $5,000 in outplacement coaching. Henry figured it out with the help of his friend the recruiter but both of these candidates are facing a tough hill to climb.
Technically it is against to law to discriminate against a candidate based on age but companies have clever ways to skirt that law, and do all the time.
When older candidates are not selected they are provided explanative phrases such as “they felt it wasn’t a good cultural fit.” That phrase is usually wrapped around some nice compliments about the candidate’s experience and performance in the interviews. So, there you go.
Outplacement coaches can help you prepare for that possibility by constructing a strategy to mitigate any concerns with age.
Develop a list of colleagues, current or past, who you can refer to in interviews. You cannot play the memory recall game in an interview because, if the recruiter is 35 years your junior, you just provided a reason for them to question whether you are up to rigors of the job.
If you are overweight then head to the gym, get on a diet and get back to your fighting weight. Right or wrong, if you are overweight, that is going to shape a recruiter’s important first impression. Of equal importance, candidates who are physically fit typically demonstrate a higher level of energy and confidence in the interview process.
The top outplacement consultants are going to start their coaching plan by helping you determine your value proposition — those four or five competences/strengths, with quantifiable proof, for why an employer should hire you. Only then will they help you write your resume.
The value proposition is integral to the job search process. Not only will it help you prepare a resume but it will define the types of jobs you should pursue and clarifies your message for interviews.
You also need to get up to speed with social media and develop a strategy for that part of your job search. Recruiters use platforms like LinkedIn to help them identify candidates. As a candidate, if you are not proficient with social media, then ask the outplacement consultant to give you help, from creating your profile to executing your contact network development plan. Social media is very important to the job search process today.
Finally, work with your coach to get prepared for telephone, video and face-to-face interviews. Preparation is critical to your success. It encompasses your strengths and weaknesses as well as the process of researching potential employers.
Poor preparation is a primary reason why many candidates are eliminated. In a competitive market that is tilted away from older candidates like Henry and Bob, you cannot afford to conduct an interview without excellent preparation.
Looking for a job in today’s market is no easy task but if you understand the changes, you have a good strategy, a winning resume and you can make a good first and last impression, you can be competitive and successful.
In the end, your years of experience and the knowledge you have accumulated can help you eliminate the less experienced candidates.
As Ronald Reagan famously quipped in a presidential debate with his younger opponent, Walter Mondale, I am not going to let his lack of experience become an issue in this campaign.
I hope this information is helpful. If you have questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and plan to attend the annual Congress March 27 through the 30th in Chicago, I invite you to join Nancy Swain and me on Wednesday afternoon when we will be teaching the course on interviewing skills for senior executives.
Finally, remember that trust is the foundation of leadership. Truth is the foundation on which trust is built. Once lost, trust is a hard quality to regain.
Thanks for listening. I am John Self
© 2017 John Gregory Self