No. 96 - How to Handle A Headhunter's Call

First, you want to check if they are retainer or contingency. You want to work with retainer only.Next, tell them you will call them back.Do call them back when you are at a comfortable place to talk to them. Let them tell you enough about the job so you can be sure it’s not for you BUT so you know enough to be able to refer a name or a source for a name. They like that a lot and they will remember you.Something like, “I receive these calls frequently, as you can imagine ….I will always listen to your opportunity to see where I can be of help….I’m very happy here, working on ____ and ___…. As you explained the job specification, I’d suggest you talk to Jill Jones as she could be a candidate or know someone who would be. I’ve already done that job. My next move inside or outside of an organization will be (next level up) so that is where I’m headed….for now, I’m being rewarded for my contributions and very happy where I am….”You always want to listen, be pleasant, be helpful. Then you remain in touch every six months of so with an update of new things you are doing and the offer to help by giving them other names in your network. (And that’s why you keep building your network or connections so that you do have people to suggest!)~DebraP.S.  If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 93 - Job Security or Job Insecurity?

Unfortunately, as much as we’d like to think that our careers are entirely in our hands, there are many factors over which we have no control. Keeping your current job may be one of them.Of course, there are things you can do to increase your job security. Working hard, continually learning, and taking responsibility are all critically important. So are people skills, such as getting along with colleagues above, below, and alongside you; being a positive, encouraging presence; and dealing with others honestly and tactfully. Also important is professional self-promotion – that is, making sure that your talents and accomplishments are recognized appropriately, without being boastful or pushy.But even when you do everything right, your job may still be in jeopardy. Cynics say, “Your job is only as secure as the emotions of your immediate supervisor,” and while this is an exaggeration, it’s true that bosses sometimes let employees go for reasons that are more related to their own managerial or psychological shortcomings than to the failures of the worker. Further, you may be doing superb work in a company or an industry that is floundering, or you may be caught in a numbers game where in order to meet Wall Street’s profit expectations, the company decides it has to cut costs by 10 percent across the board, which means that somebody has to walk the plank – it hardly matters who.So you can do everything right, and things can still go splat. As John Elway, two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback, says, “Not only do you have to be good, but you have to be lucky.”~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 92 - Self-Reflection Helps Your Personal Brand

A business friend of mine – Garret – once played a mischievous trick on his employees. He pulled out their resumes from his file and made a few changes to them. He altered the employees’ names, the names of the companies they’d worked for, and other details that would identify each employee. At the next staff meeting, Garrett passed out copies of the resumes. “These are some folks were thinking of hiring,” he said, “What do you think?”The results were startling. The team members didn’t even recognize their own backgrounds. To make matters worse, they all agreed that they’d never hire any of these people!“Know thyself” is a traditional bit of philosophical wisdom. It may sound simple, but as Garrett’s story illustrates, it’s not so easy to do.Knowing yourself is especially important when you’re about to launch a new stage in your career. To help you know yourself and therefore explain the value you can add to a company, I recommend an exercise of taking inventory, of examining your past experiences in work, in school, and in life, as well as the interests, skills, knowledge, talents, dreams, goals, and preferences that these experiences reveal — every year. The objective is to see your own background as others do, and to objectively review yourself – as Garrett’s team did, without realizing it – to see if and why you’d hire yourself.~DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

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. 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.

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.

No. 65 - Real Personal Branding: Tattoos

The good news is tattoos aren’t reserved for sailors, warriors, or rock stars anymore. For these reasons and many others, 1 in 3 people under forty has at least one tattoo. (They are actually an ancient art form dating back to the Egyptians who used them to control the supernatural.)In the future, younger executives will replace older ones and the young ones will sport tattoos so it will become increasingly less of an issue in dress codes and social reaction. But today, a general rule of thumb is: If your boss’s boss is showing his, you can too; if not, cover it.A professor said to me, “A tattoo is akin to wearing the same hairstyle for rest of your life.” That being said, if you have your reasons for getting one—to feel sexy, be rebellious, for sentiment, or because you belong to the Church of Body Modification, then put thought into the following:

-Try a temporary tattoo on as a test for awhile.

-Select the spot on your body very carefully; make sure people can’t see them unless you want them to. Avoid locations that can’t be concealed by normal dress; stay away from your neck, fingers, or hands. One CEO put it flatly, “Don’t bring generously tattooed arms to the office.”

-Think about where you see yourself in ten years and ask yourself if the tattoo fits in the picture. Consider that it will likely limit you in some jobs if visible. You may not as quickly get on the corporate fast track or be nominated for Supreme Court judge.

-Consider who you’ll be with. A friend had his girlfriend’s name ‘Pat’ tattooed on his forearm. When he ended up married to Teresa he changed ‘Pat’ to ‘Bad’ because that was the best he and his artist could come up with!

-Ask yourself, “Is this a piece of art I’d like on my walls; if not, do I want it on my body?”

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No. 56 - A 360 Degree Point of View Will Help Your Self Awareness

You need to learn how you’re viewed by others so you can take action to change the view if necessary. So ask. Many companies provide some sort of 360-degree interview exercises to senior people — but don’t wait until it’s offered to you. Initiate your own version. When you do, be open to the results. Be careful not to become defensive.Here is a list of questions to work with: How well do I look for ways to meet or exceed customer needs? How well do I look for ways to meet or exceed manager’s needs? How well do I take a positive approach to business? How well do I work effectively with people in a wide variety of circumstances? How well do I analyze complex situations accurately and in a timely manner? How well do I minimize activities that do not add value to the organization? How well do I value others’ thinking; champion others’ thoughts? How well do I understand how to get things done in the organization? How well do I have in-depth industry knowledge? How well do I overcome obstacles? How well do I quickly act when I see an opportunity? How well do I demonstrate intellectual curiosity? How well do I make sure I can be counted on? How well do I remain in control when stressed or pressed? How well do I gain trust? How well do I admit responsibility for failures or mistakes? How well do I help others? How well do I follow through to get results? How well do I set a good example? How well do I see and understand the broad view of business?You don’t want to ask in an anxious, aggressive, or intimidated manner. Just straight out seek the person’s opinion with genuine interest and inquisitiveness. Pick one or two questions to try with one person, ask others, and continue over time. If the person says something you don’t quite understand, ask for an example. Sometimes you have to ask the same question 3-4 different ways to help someone answer.Take note if any pattern emerges that is not productive for your career advancement and decide to do something about it. Thank the person for their candor and later report back to him and her as to what you’ve done following up on the feedback and the results you’ve experienced.~ DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.
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No. 32 - Are You Ready to Earn More Money?

I suspect most people feel they need more money—not just to support their current lifestyle, but to provide for the one they aspire to.Despite the risk of sounding politically incorrect or money grubbing: You want to make the big bucks. You don’t have to aspire to being a 1%’er, but you should be okay with making lots of money.There is a spiritual snobbery some people take on about money. But really, to say you don’t like money would be to not like nearly anything—because money supplies nearly everything.Think back to your own first awareness of money.  One executive told me, “As a kid I lived in California, and my dad and I would drive around Beverly Hills. He would point out wealthy peoples’ homes and tell me, ‘Thieves live there.’  That’s how I viewed people with money.”We all have attitudes formed in our childhood about relationships about almost everything in life: the opposite sex, food, beauty, religion, money. Regardless of the subject,  it’s an outlook you can change with your own free will.So let’s debunk some myths and mistruths we were taught while growing up that need to be corrected now that we’re adults:…money is an acceptable topic of conversation…money can buy some forms of happiness…money does make the world go around…money is not the root of all evil…do what you love and money will follow only if others love it too…if you do have health, kindness, balance, and money, you do have everything…both smart and dumb people can make money…rich people are not bad people…people who say they don’t care about money either don’t have enough or have too muchI believe man was born to grow rich by using God-given abilities: intelligence, thoroughness, right-reasoning, promptness, tenacity, patience, labor. (When Moses came down from the mountain he did not bring a commandment, “Thou shalt not make money.”)By using your abilities and making money, you give yourself power, leisure, solitude, and liberty.It is true that money carries an assortment of distinct and powerful emotions for people, both good and bad. But that does not negate its role as a basic, important, and understandable system. For better or worse, money is the resource—now and in the future—that ties society together.You can choose to spend it, save it, or share it—but first you have to make it.-DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.

No. 15 - Speaking Highlights and a New Video

As a professional speaker, I need to have a video demonstrating my style and sampling my content.  Videographer Ben Westdorp put together this new, 18-minute short for me.If you know someone planning an event and looking for a speaker please forward this link or direct them to my website's Speaking page. Thank you in advance!- DebraP.S. If you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me.