No. 90 - 18 Questions You Can Ask Prospective Employers to Determine if You Want the Job

Here are some questions to help you determine, “Is this the type of company I would want to work for?” This list of questions is in no particular order, but you can select the ones most appropriate for your conversation and situation:

1. What do you believe someone must know to do this job well?2. Could you describe the people I would be working with?3. How is the company organized? Would you draw me an organization chart?4. What makes you different from your competition?5. What are the biggest problems confronting your company, and the industry?6. In what ways do you expect the company to change?7. How do you market, and how do you sell your product or service?8. How are employees trained? Who trains them?9. Where does this job take me if I do an outstanding job?10. Where does your job take you?11. How do you recruit people? Within the company or outside the company?12. If one does an outstanding job, how are they rewarded?13. What do you expect from this person?14. Who are your biggest competitors?15. Do you personally make the final hiring decision? Do you consult with others? Who else do you consult with?16. What do you like or dislike about some of the people who have worked for you in the past?17. What is your management style?18. What kind of boss are you? Could you give me an example?

They evaluate you as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give. Weave these into the conversation while still answering theirs.You are a valuable commodity, and you have a right and obligation to interview them as they do you.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 89 - How to Evaluate Your Job Offers Objectively, Not Emotionally

Before you start getting job offers, write a list of all the factors about a job that are important to you. List them down the left side of the page. Things like:

-title-money-commute-potential for advancement-number of people to manage-budget size-flexibility of schedule-outside learning opportunities-dress code-culture-global reach-foreign assignment potential-etc., etc.

Then rank each factor from 1-10 in terms of importance to you (with 10 being the most important) to create a template.Then you are in a position to compare each job offer against your list. For example one offer may have the best “9” money but a “3” in culture when culture is a “10’ in your original ranking.Before you get emotionally involved in accepting an offer, compare it against your template.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 88 - Anything They Ask You, You Can Ask Them in a Job Interview

A good rule of thumb to remember in a job interview is that anything they ask you, you can ask them. Now you have to reword so as not to sound like a parrot nor should you avoid answering, but later in the conversation you can use their question to you as a question to them. For example :If they’ve asked, “Tell me about yourself,” later on in the conversation you can as, “I’ve read about your company, talked with people, know you have a great reputation…but you’re on the inside, tell me about the company from your experience?”If they’ve asked, “What are your strengths and weaknesses,” later on you can ask, “What are you proudest of in the organization now….and what are the biggest areas you want to see change in?”If they’ve asked, “What do you see yourself doing two-three years from now,” later on you can ask, “Where do you see the company (or this department, division) in two to three years?”The thing to remember is that whatever they asked you about they are interested in so you should be interested in the same about them to better understand what situation you are getting into.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 87 - Find Out About the Company's Culture Early

One of the most important jobs of management is to make the organization a decent, enjoyable, productive, and creative place to work – in other words, to foster and nurture a positive corporate culture.If your most important work values aren’t shared by a company you’re considering, think twice before signing on. This issue is so important that you shouldn’t rely on the accuracy of what you’re told by the hiring executive or recruiter. You need to speak to your own business contacts, present and past employees, and company vendors and customers.Try to find out:· How do the company’s leaders describe the company’s culture (in recruiting materials or the annual report, for example)? How does this compare with the way rank-and-file employees, former employees, competitors, customers, and suppliers describe the culture? (A major difference here may forecast trouble.)· Are employees treated like partners, with respect for their individuality, creativity, and personal needs? Or are they treated like interchangeable parts, “troublemakers,” or wayward children?· What is the working environment like? What kinds of working spaces do most employees occupy? How great a gap is there between the accommodations of the top executives and those of lower-level employees? How well are shared spaces (meeting rooms, lounges, cafeteria) maintained and supplied?· What is the mood of the offices like? Does a visitor notice joking, laughing, music, conversation? Or is the atmosphere tense and hostile?· How do the employees dress? How do they decorate their offices, desks, cubicles, and other working areas? Is there an atmosphere of personal expression or one of regimentation and corporate control?· How does the company help employees develop professionally? What investments are made in training and education? How are mistakes viewed?· How do employees at various levels describe their work and the company’s mission? Do most employees regard their work as “just a job?” Do they view themselves as “changing the world?” Or is the prevailing attitude something in between or altogether different?Compare the company’s self-image with its outside reputation. (The latter is often more accurate.) Both you and the company benefit if the cultural fit works and your values are aligned.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 86 - When to Ask for a Raise?

People often want to know how to get a raise. My first response is to 1) deserve it, and 2) find a good time. A potentially good time is:

· When you’ve just received great public kudos for your work.

· Headhunters are pursuing you with job offers.

· The company is doing well financially and getting a lot of positive press.

· The labor market in your specialty is tight, and your department is understaffed.

· Your boss is in a good mood because of recent success.

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No. 85 - When the Closed Door Meeting is About YOU

Here’s a sampling of some devastating comments I’ve heard in headhunters’ meetings – comments that broke the chances of particular candidates.· “Alan’s not an A player.”· “The reference said Ellie is an operator but has no vision.”· “The company Jose is with doesn’t have a reputation for being well managed.”· “Keith’s a good guy, but there’s no technology background in his career.”· “We’re looking for someone with more pull than Meg.”· “John is too slick; you never know what he’s thinking.”· “We want someone with broader industry experience.”· “Looks good, smells bad.”· “If you asked Jerry for a reference, you’d get twenty bad ones.”· “I’m a little hesitant about Todd. He’s heir apparent [at his current company], and he’s only had experience at one company. I’m afraid he won’t scale.”· “Ben’s wife is a decorator who was doing work for a board member. She told him he should hire her husband, and that’s how he got the job.”· “She’s not a leader.”· “She’s not a consensus builder.”· “He has trouble networking.”· “He was at the battle, but he sat behind the lines.”· “She’s a loose cannon; they call her Wacky Jacky.”· “He’s got one real flat spot on the wheel.”· “He’s solid, but not world class.”· “Lacks discipline”· “Can’t execute and pulls things together”· “A real plodder”· “Constantly churns from company to company”· “Treats people as if they are expendable”· “Shamelessly greedy”· “Spends more time worrying about who gets credit than getting the job done”· “An incessant complainer”· “Uses company time for private projects”· “Bad-mouths other people”· “Calls in sick every other Monday”Needless to say, you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of any of these or similar comments. On the other hand, comments like the following can push you to the head of the pack.· “We think he’s a good guy.”· “Makes the best presentation I’ve ever seen.”· “Runs a crisp organization.”· “Mark manages problems in a nondisruptive way.”· “Tim wants this job; he’s looking to hit one out of the park.”· “If you could get Karen on your board, that would be very smart.”· “You might as well forget Phil – you’ll never get him.”· “He’ll take the hill and hold it.”· “He’s totally jazzed and motivated, with no ego.”· “Janice builds trust.”· “He’s a go-getter and a real team player with a great personality.”· “Paula’s a water-walker.”· “Pete is world class.”It’s sobering to realize how one comment from the right person can change your life. One search consultant told me, “We’re right about 75 percent of the time.”~DebraP.S.    If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 84 - Sleep On the Offer — Not The Job!

Compensation negotiations are expected and are your responsibility. In a poll of a thousand human resource professionals, the Society for Human Resources Managers found the following:

· Ninety-two percent said salaries are generally negotiable.

· Eighty-two percent admitted that the first salary offer they make is just a starting point.

· Seventy percent of HR people said they are comfortable negotiating salary.

· Only twenty-one percent of job candidates are equally comfortable negotiating salary.

Whenever you receive a compensation offer, slow down, take a deep breath, and ask for time to think about it. Sleeping on the offer before you accept, decline, or reopen negotiations will benefit you in several ways; it gives you the opportunity to think about the deal and consider each aspect of the package in relation to the whole; it gives you a chance to think of new and creative ways of bridging whatever gap may exist between you and your prospective employer; and it permits you to discuss the offer with your spouse, partner, best friend, or career mentor.In addition, acting a little hard to get rather than overly eager has a way of increasing your value in the company’s eyes, thereby enhancing whatever leverage you already enjoy. Don’t let anyone pressure you to decide immediately, but set a reasonable deadline for responding. Twenty-four hours is minimal; forty-eight hours to seventy-two hours is fairly common.~DebraP.S.   If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 83 - Self-saboteurs

Even if you’re a hard worker, you could be sabotaging your own career growth by the way you talk or present yourself.Employees should try to avoid four common types of self-defeating behavior:-Talking too fast, which makes what you say seem unimportant.-Talking too much — giving more detail than anyone needs or wants.-Being too critical or passing judgments on others.-Being too self-critical or too revealing about your own inadequacies.Most people don’t need to develop themselves, they just need to get out of their own way.~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 82 - Lavish Praise on Your People

Praise, or recognition, is a debt you owe to people who are making an effort and performing effectively. If you reinforce the actions that you want to see, you will likely get more of the same. If you don’t acknowledge them, people won’t know your degree of satisfaction.Naturally you praise what you admire the most, adding your reason for it. On occasion, give your people a little more praise than is their due. Mark Twain wrote, "I can live for two months on a good compliment.”More than one CEO admitted that he or she wasn’t skilled at giving recognition. “I personally don’t need it, so I’m not very good at giving it,” they profess. That’s no reason not to give positive feedback to those who deserve it.The following steps will help you to appreciate and praise people.1. Be honest and be specific.2. Be brief.3. “Note it” to others.4. Do it in a timely manner.5. Give kudos in a variety of ways.6. Back it up.A pay raise is one way a boss frequently thinks of as a way of providing recognition. But people need to be appreciated in different ways. One female executive told me, “I was ready to quit because I wasn’t receiving recognition. They just keep throwing more money at me. But that’s not what I work for alone.”~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 81 - How to Give Constructive Feedback

Just as you owe it to people praise them, you owe it to them to provide critique. Face it. People will disappoint you. Regardless of your great example, careful delegation, and optimistic blind hope, people will disappoint.The first rule is to not shoot the messenger when you learn about a problem. You shouldn’t punish the deliverer of bad news. He or she will clam up next time or sugarcoat information, and you’ll end up not hearing about a problem at a time when you could possibly do something about it.Before you find fault, double-check yourself: Are you responding to cronyism or favoritism? Are you looking at all sides? Do you have as many of the facts as possible? Are you being fair?The following steps will help you give constructive criticism in a way that will help the recipient hear and process it..1. Don’t attack.2. Give it in private.3. Avoid being repetitious or nagging.4. Be specific and be brief.5. Explain the consequences of their action.The goal is to present the idea that constructive criticism and feedback is the “breakfast of champions.” In reality it is, but in the heat of the moment, it can look like a personal attack if it’s not handled well.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 80 - What Your Boss Really Wants From You

CEOs tell me that they want people:

-Who are full of ambition and goals.

-Who sing—well, silently hum—at work.

-Who stretch themselves every day, and who always have new challenges they’re hankering to take on.

-Who get an emotional kick out of any accomplishment.

-Who are juiced (in the nonsteroid way) every morning to get out of bed and go for it.

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No. 79 - Be Yourself, Unless You're a Jerk

There WILL be stress in your business life. The heat of the moment can cause you to do something that un-does years of good work. So be really careful in the following areas when the going gets tough:

-Don’t be overly convinced of your own importance.-Don’t think you are the “exception to the rule” in doing whatever you want to.-Don’t act only to please yourself.-Don’t break your word.-Don’t be dishonest. (You can end up in jail for it.)-Don’t be mean or nasty.-Don’t kick people in the face anywhere along the way.-Don’t yell and scream.-Don’t embarrass others.-Don’t turn supporters into roadkill when the going gets rough.-Don’t be arrogant no matter how much of a right you think you have to be arrogant.-Don’t get good at being bad.

Again, in the words of my mentor, Curt, “Be yourself, unless you’re a jerk.”~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 78 - Job Interviewing is a Two-Way Street

Often when job interviewing you focus on getting across your qualifications in technical expertise. From talking with hundreds of executives actually doing the interviewing, this is what they tell me they are really interested in:

-Is he lazy?-Does she have common sense?-Does he have fire in the belly?-Is she qualified?-Is he lying?-Will she fit in?-Will he embarrass me?

While they are trying to figure that out about you, you should be trying to figure out about the company and the job:

-Is the company worth joining?-Do they have good products or services?-Do they have workable plans for the future?-Will I have a qualified, competent boss?-Will they support my growth and development?-Will they reward my efforts?-Will I be proud to work for them?

When you get home from the interview, debrief yourself on what you learned and what you still need to find out.And ask yourself: Did people laugh and kid during your interview? Did people seem to like each other? Was there an air of secrecy or openness? Was anyone happily working late?Remember, you are there to check them out as much as you let them check you out.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 77 - Basic Life Advice That Matters

My grandniece is four, and she and I were talking about her future. (Just kidding. I was thinking about her future in her presence.) In case I’m not around to give her advice when she might be willing to listen, I decided to write it down now.With over thirty years as an executive coach which has enabled me to be around some highly successful-in-life people, I found some simple truths that will help in her personal life as well as work-life.1. It’s easier to make a living than find someone to do it for you. Do not partner up (or marry) anyone for money, power, or position in society. It’s easier, longer lasting, and more meaningful to you if you earn it for yourself.2. Marry only if the person makes you laugh every day and helps you get better in whatever you want to get better in. With that kind of supportive partner, you won’t need or look for approval from any other source. Give it back to your partner, similarly.3. Be wise to be happy. Foolish and dumb people aren’t happy. So get to know yourself. Know humanity. Understand basic human psychology. Appreciate that life is not always fair, clean, happy, or fun — but it beats the alternative.4. Find something you love to do, and then get really, really, really good at it. You can always find a way to make a living doing most anything if you work hard to truly excel in it.By the time she’s ready to hear it my list might be longer, but I think this will serve my grandniece — and your loved ones — well for now.~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 76 - The Real Reasons for Networking

The Wall Street Journal reports that 94 percent of successful job searches happen through networking.Networking with people in and around your industry is also the best way to: Gain perspective on yourself and your career. Learn about new or unpublished job opportunities. Keep up to date with industry trends. Meet and get to know your industry’s key players. Learn about the problems in your industry, and the solutions people are developing. Find out about the competition for the best job openings. Learn about the new training you may need. Discover ways to help others (who may someday be able to help you).Those are the the real reasons for networking, in addition to helping in your job hunt.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 75 - Choose Carefully, as Your Words Brand You

I’m really sorry to have to write this caution, but be very, very careful what you say. Anyone can be offended by absolutely anything today.You can present a six-hour workshop and say one word (and not even a bad word), and lose a portion of your audience because they disapprove of the word. You can have a fourteen-year friendship, and say one comment that causes the person to never speak to you again. I know, I’ve done both.Whose fault is this need to walk on eggshells with your words? Yours for saying it, or them for being overly-sensitive and judgmental. Both, I believe.I take full responsibility when the wrong thing slips out of my mouth. I try to immediately apologize and rectify the situation. And I try not to repeat my mistake. Still, I’ve made a mistake yesterday and I’ll likely make one today.But I also try to rein in judgment when someone says something I dislike or disapprove of. I try to balance out how many good and “right” things they’ve said and done against the few missteps. And if it really is egregious and bothers me, I ask about it.“Yesterday you said ______ and I’ve been wondering what was behind that comment?” is what I’d ask. I’d ask sooner rather than later. And if the person glosses over the answer unsatisfactorily or is unclear I’ll ask again. “Not sure if I fully understand, tell me more,” and a third time if necessary, “I just want to understand you’re thinking behind it.”By bringing up the elephant in the room you get it cleared up (hopefully). And without giving them some of their own medicine, you let them know something bothered you enough to bring up and clear up.The thing you should not do is keep it inside, gunny sack it, hold it against them, shut down your listening, or turn off the relationship. It’s a waste for both of you.~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 74 - How to Increase Your Value Today

People who are intellectually curious and constantly learning have greater economic value to themselves and their organizations. So learn a little (at least) about everything that you can. Take advantage of every opportunity your supervisor offers (and ask for more). But most importantly, make learning your responsibility.Those who make a habit of learning things they need to know as well as things not directly related to them:· Tend to be more imaginative, creative, and innovative· Can do more things more quickly and effectively· Have more to offer their teammates and colleagues· Are able to make more of their productive abilities· Are likely flexible, versatile, and forward-looking· Can respond promptly to shifts in customer/superivor needs and preferencesConstantly learning new things isn’t just nice to do; it’s a must-do for anyone seeking lasting success. A good nighttime exercise is to jot down at least one thing new that you learned today. If you can’t, you have to come up with two tomorrow!~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me. Photo: Got Credit
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No. 73 - We All Matter

We all think we’re different, but there are more similarities than differences between us. What is most universal is most personal. Most everyone:

-feels not fully understood

-is the center of their own universe

-wants to see what they own go up in value all of the time

-wants to be appreciated, to feel powerful, to appear clever or smart

-wants to be happy

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No. 72 - Make Business Personal

People like to say business isn’t personal, but it is personal. All of life is people personally interacting with other people. Work is people interacting with people but with money and title attached to it. Personal doesn’t mean inappropriately intimate; you needn’t border on sexting.If you connect on a human level, you more quickly connect on a business one. How? Simply ask the person about his interests, goals, and objectives; listen and remember what she said; later, bring it up. Connect human to human, not role to role, or gadget to gadget, or mano to monitor.Who, what , when, why, and how are good words to use. Your tone must be one of honest interest and sincere inquisitiveness, not interrogation. Get to know the person behind the computer or the cell phone. Volunteer information about yourself as you ask about others. Every conversation, add a little bit more connection between you aside from the business purpose.Find out, make note, and remember names of spouses, children, hobbies, and things going on in the person’s life. Remembering a small thing like a company anniversary, promotion, birthday, child’s name or interest will put you miles ahead of others.Some hesitate to volunteer personal information or hang back when asked. They are not sure yet as to whether they can trust you. Over time they will learn they can. Even if they hesitate, inquire anyway. Give your own answer to the questions you ask of her, even if she doesn’t ask. Provide it nonetheless. You make it easy for her to get to know you and therefore be more open with you.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 71 - If You Don’t Have A Sense of Humor, Get One

You will not succeed without a sense of humor. Many CEOs have told me they see humor as a test to whether they want to work with and be around a person.A person with humor mainly takes the doubt level down a notch and the trust level up.Good leaders aggressively seek out an amusing angle in dealing with others, whether through light humor in a serious situation or the careful use of irony.Bringing appropriate fun to serious and not-so-serious situations also makes you a formidable force. In a recent study people under twenty-five and women of all ages were determined to be the least humorous in our society. Yes, I know there is a desire for both of those groups to be taken seriously; the irony is if you take yourself less seriously, people take you more seriously.The most important reason for being good-natured is that it allows you a gentle way to speak difficult truths. If you want to get away with saying what needs to be said, use fitting humor.One executive coaching client told me, “In my business a sense of humor is not a luxury – it’s a vital organ for survival."Seeing the funny side doesn’t mean you have to tell and forward jokes or add a smiley face to your e-mails. Nor is humor to grandstand and draw attention to yourself.Humor is being human and personal. It:

-shows insight into human nature

-makes life and work more pleasant for you and others

-creates a relaxed, friendly environment; encourages others to do the same

-is a great equalizer across barriers of title, position, and role

-increases your likeability and improves connections

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