Let’s Talk Money

It’s that uncomfortable part of every job seeker’s journey to a better opportunity—the salary discussion. Part of my job is to negotiate salaries, so I know it can be touchy subject. But without a recruiter to have the “money talk” for you, how do you ensure you’re paid what you’re worth? Here are some tactics I’ve seen work over the years:

Speak up
Ask and you shall receive…something, at least. Don’t expect to get what you want right out the gate. You will need to be direct in communicating your wants. If it’s more money, say it. If it’s a relocation package, say it. If it’s stock options, say it. Now’s the time to negotiate the terms of your employment, not after you’ve already been hired.

Be realistic
Not all companies have the cash flow to offer up huge monetary incentives right out the gate. If this is the case, you may want to negotiate incremental pay increases based on performance, bigger commission percentages or bonuses. Remember that cash is not the only pawn you have to play. Incentives can come in the form of more time off, flexible work schedules and benefits. Just make sure all that’s promised is written down in your offer letter and/or contract.

Be bold
Be resolute if the offer given to you is less than you deserve—lean in! You don’t have to be combative and make heavy-handed demands, but you may have to be willing walk away if the answer is no. Above all, stand up for yourself and do what feels right for you and fits your career goals. It’s better to turn down a job offer that you don’t want than be stuck in position that you hate.

What negotiation tactics have worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you’re looking for a new high-tech sales position that fits your bill, contact me.


Career Advice To My Younger Self

Wisdom comes from living.
Anthony Douglas Williams

I’m a corporate war dog. I’ve seen it all over the course of my long career and my life experiences have shaped me into the kind of professional I am today. While I have to vantage of hindsight, as a novice, you don’t. If I could roll back the clock and mentor my younger self, this is what I would say:

“Take your education seriously.”
While I received a great undergraduate education (I’m a Temple alum), it’s going to take a bit more than that in today’s business landscape. I’m seeing more and more employers requiring a higher level of education these days. And while it may sound elitist, companies (especially the most prestigious ones) care about where you went to school, especially when you’re just starting out. Gaining acceptance into a top MBA program will pave the way for a long and prosperous career. These programs have an amazing network you can tap into and give you an edge when competing for internships and jobs.

“Make that first real job count.”
While it may sound exciting to join a startup right out of business school, getting your feet wet within a Fortune 500 firm will shape you into a more well-rounded professional. I would look at companies with a strong management trainee program that will allow you to experience operations within multiple departments. After you’ve gotten a grasp of the way big business works, feel free to venture out into alternative career paths—especially if you know climbing the corporate ladder isn’t right for you.

“Learn how to play the game.”
Whether it’s at a large corporation or within a small team, you will need to learn how to navigate office politics. Corporate culture varies from place to place—even from department to department—so know what you need to do to build alliances that will keep you doing your best work.

“Be comfortable with getting uncomfortable.”
Early in your career, you will likely be asked to do a lot of “grunt” work. And later in your career, you may need to diversify in order to keep moving forward with your career. You need to get over the anxiety associated with stepping out of your comfort zone if you want to succeed. Understand that fear can be an asset if you handle it correctly.

Hopefully, you’ve learned something from my experiences and incorporate my advice into your own career path. What advice would you give your younger self? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Drowning in Work

Is your to-do list turning into a to-do document? Are your unchecked voicemails and emails amounting to an all-day task? Does it seem like you’re being pulled in a million different directions? Relax. You are not alone. Many of us get overwhelmed from time to time. So, how do you knock that mountain of work down to a manageable size? Here are some tips that always help me cope:

Get organized
Start by prioritizing what tasks need immediate attention. It may seem daunting, but making a task list is key. If you have access to scheduling or project management software—like Podio—you can use that to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. Once you’ve got all your tasks in a row, you can start tackling them one by one.

Be realistic
You are only human. Be honest with yourself and don’t over promise. Most clients and colleagues can relate to having a lot on their plates, so be upfront with what they can expect from you. If you are already spread thin, minimize your commitments or scale back on the ones you already have. This may mean turning down lunch meetings or opting out of employee committees until you are able to handle the additional responsibility.  

Ask for help
Before you burn out, get some help. If deadlines are quickly approaching and inflexible, ask your colleagues and/or supervisor to help out. This may mean hiring some temporary help or shifting some of your responsibilities to others. Find ways to get the job done without dropping the ball.

Now that you know what to do, get to work and pull yourself out of the trenches. I’ll see you on the other side!

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? I’d love to hear your tips.


Guide on the side

Be a Guide on the Side in Corporate America

The way we communicate and the way we conduct business has changed drastically over the course of my career. So it’s no surprise the way young people are learning nowadays has evolved too. To adapt, the role of the educator has largely shifted from lecturer to “guide on the side.” Teachers are no longer the source of information, they are facilitators and curators of information—empowering students to think for themselves. So how can we apply this model to a professional setting? Here are some tips on how to adopt this methodology and reap the results in the corporate world:

Ask, Don’t Tell
A cornerstone of guided instruction is the notion of student-centered learning. With this approach, students are encouraged to contribute ideas and even help plan curriculum. Lessons are initiated with questions, not long, drawn-out lectures.

Similarly, many innovative companies have adopted an employee-centered work environment. Google allows its engineers to construct their own work spaces. Zappos has weaved in team building activities into its company culture. At Apple, your work isn’t only evaluated by your superiors but by your peers as well.

Companies such as these have realized that good ideas don’t necessarily come from the top down. And just like educators have observed in student-centered classrooms, employee-centered workplaces offer better opportunities for internal motivation, goal setting and perseverance.

Change the Game
What works for some, may not work for all. It’s up to the educator or manager to recognize this and change their approach when needed. National educational consultant and author, Rick Wormeli has said, “I might teach the way that’s uncomfortable for me, but that’s fine. My success comes from my students’ success.” Same goes for managers. Their team’s success is a reflection of how well they lead.

Teaching strategies like think-ask-tell and KWL foster collaboration and critical thinking that can be implemented in department meetings and performance reviews. Using the KWL technique as an example, employees would be prompted to state what they know about their current role and what they would like to learn as they progress. Then, when the next performance period rolls around, that supervisor can review that employee’s initial thoughts and ask him or her to reflect on what he or she has learned.

Certainly, applying new managerial strategies are not easy and require effort from all levels of employees. But, fostering a collaborative, engaged team that is passionate about the work they do will only generate positive results.

Do you work for an employee-centered organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the effectiveness of this environment.

Hello? How well do you phone interview?

As more hiring managers are pressed for time, phone interviews have become commonplace as an initial screening for candidates. While not fighting traffic and interviewing from the comforts of home sound amazing, there are some downsides to the phone interview. You won’t be able to rely on visual cues or exude professionalism with your appearance. So, how do you prepare? Here are some tips to make sure your phone interview leads to a face-to-face:

Can you hear me now?

There’s nothing more annoying than dropped calls. If you’re planning to use your cell phone, make sure that your battery is fully charged and you are in an area with good reception. Even moving from one room to another in the same house can make all the difference. If you have a smartphone, make sure you turn off your notifications for the duration of the interview. You don’t want to get distracted with personal text messages or email notifications. Additionally, turning on your “do not disturb” setting will avoid interruptions by incoming calls.

Be serious, yet, positive

Don’t underestimate the phone interview, it might be your only shot at the job. Some candidates find standing to be empowering. But if that makes you feel uncomfortable in any way, just sit up straight. Regardless of which technique works for you, be confident. Go beyond the traditional “hello” when greet your interviewer. Business guru Brent Peterson suggests you start the call by saying “Hello, this is [your name]” or “Hi [interviewer]. It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.” By stating your name or the interviewer’s name, you put the interviewer at ease that they have reached the right person and that you are ready to talk. Keep this positive momentum going: unclench your fists, relax your facial muscles and put on a natural smile.

Say it like to you mean it

During an in person interview, tripping over your words or speaking over the interviewer may not be as noticeable. You don’t have this luxury over the phone. Answer questions directly and elaborate when necessary without being long-winded. A good rule of thumb is keeping responses to under two minutes. Don’t “confuse the interviewer’s silence…as an invitation to keep talking,” advises UNC-Chapel Hill career services director Jeff Sackaroff, “wait for the interviewer to respond.” Keep in mind that how you speak is just as important as what you say.

Avoid distractions or being a distraction

Just because you are conducting an interview from home, remember that you are working. Your full attention must be on what the interviewer is saying. Now is not the time to fold laundry, update your Facebook status or tidy up. Block off up to an hour for the interview, ensuring your interview space is quiet. Likewise, don’t be a distraction. Avoid nervous ticks such as tapping your pen, rocking back and forth on a squeaky chair or breathing heavily are sounds that can be very distracting for the interviewer. Another tip: Stay hydrated. You will likely be talking—a lot. So, avoid an uncontrollable cough or incessant throat clearing with a glass of water at your side.

Want to talk more about phone interviews? Leave me a comment or give me a call.


Under Pressure: How to Not Suck at Sales

Q1 has come and gone and you didn’t meet your quota. You’re feeling the heat; What to do? Do you reestablish existing customer relationships? Do you hit the phones, placing cold call after cold call? Or, do you need to find a new job stat? Before you jump into the shark tank without a plan, consider these tips from leading industry experts:

Evaluate your priorities
According to Rain Group, a leading sales training company, what separates the winners from the losers is approach. Rain claims the most important takeaway for a prospect is learning something they didn’t know before the pitch. In contrast, unsuccessful sales reps ranked that same factor at the bottom of their list of priorities. It’s no longer just a numbers game. Customers want to see the value of what you’re selling, not necessarily the cheapest price tag. This is especially true in regards to high-tech sales. Customers want to be assured they are getting the most out of their investment.

Evaluate your process
Rain Group has also crafted a successful sales formula, called RAIN SellingSM, that breaks down the art of closing the deal in three steps: Connect, Convince and Collaborate. The first two steps are obvious, however, the last step is interesting and overlooked by many numbers-driven sales people. Over the years, I’ve seen a shift from lone wolf-style selling to an inclusive approach. The latter makes customers feel like they have a stake in the success of the product and/or service you’re selling. And, with a younger generation of workers rising the ranks and becoming decision-makers, transparency is more important than ever. In an October 2014 article about millennial marketing, AdWeek writes that young professionals have a “low tolerance for hype and hard sells…They can spot a phony a mile away.” Discard the slick used car sales pitch. It doesn’t work.

Set personal goals   
Sure, you have sales goals mandated by your employer, but what about your own professional goals? Finding the answer will take a bit of introspection. Evaluate your strengths and use them to overcome your weaknesses. “Agile Selling” author Jill Konrath talks about achieving your personal best, or PB. She suggests setting goals to enhance your current closing ratio, the time it takes to close a deal and your prospect conversation rate. It’s quality over quantity—optimizing your efforts to maximize results. You should also be strategic and realistic. Your short-term goals should help you realize your long-term goals. Write down your weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly goals for motivation. Then, at the end of each period, review and revise your goals as needed.

Above all else, you need to believe in what you’re selling. Being authentic goes a long way when cultivating customer relationships and closing the deal. I’d love to know your thoughts on what makes a successful salesperson. Please share your comments with me below.

Are you looking for a great sales position? Check out our current opportunities.


Should I Stay or Should I Go?

We’ve all been there, that moment in your career when you must make the decision whether to stay or go. It may be a decision based on circumstances: The need for a job closer to home, relocating or wanting to stay home with your new baby. The decision may be based on ego: There is no upward mobility at your current job or maybe you simply don’t like your current role. But if it is that proverbial itch, that feeling that there may be something else out there that’s better for you, take a moment to see if the glass door is truly shinier on the other side.

  1. What’s Ahead – Looking ahead and planning helps in any situation—especially when your career and your future are at stake. Is there room for advancement at your current company? What does your position look like in five years, 10 years? How stable is your company? Is there a sound strategic plan in place for the business? If there is amazing opportunity for growth, flexibility in your position and a stable outlook for your company, staying put may yield better results than starting over again. However, if the future looks bleak, I would turn the passive job search into an active one.

  2. Good Compensation, Great Benefits – Enough said, right?  If your benefits are good or even decent, you may want to keep your job. If you are lucky enough to be employed by one of the top 25 companies with the best compensation and benefits, I would never leave! But, if you are lacking in the benefits and compensation department, then finding a firm that takes good care of you will definitely make you a happier employee. Even small firms who can’t offer massive salaries or 100% health care coverage, but instead provide free yoga during lunch and flexible work hours may be the perfect fit for you.

  1. Can’t Do it Anymore – So it’s not an itch, it is a full blown rash. You dread going to work, you pray for extreme weather or, even worse, you have started calling in sick when you are perfectly healthy. If that’s how your days look, do yourself a favor and start looking for a new job. And if you feel terribly stuck, there are coaches, recruiters such as myself and friends/family who can help provide some clarity during this trying time.

I wholeheartedly believe in the saying that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. We all know that every day isn’t a bed of roses but, if you love your job, those hard days won’t seem so difficult. So if you have that perfect job but just need a reminder of how awesome it is, hopefully we helped. And if you realized you are done—completely done—give us a call. We’ll help you find your dream job.


Spring Cleaning

A Clean Sweep

This week, I decided to “spring forward” my spring cleaning by organizing my work space. I was surprised by how therapeutic the process was. From filing away loose papers to cleaning up my desktop – decluttering gave me a sense of relief and pride, which actually made me more productive. Here’s how I cleaned up my act:

1. As someone with a home office, separating my work and personal life is difficult. So, I started my spring cleaning by removing any personal items – like bills, books and even exercise equipment – from my office.

2. Next, I tackled my storage closet. It was only then that I realized how much I had actually accumulated over the years, and how this stuff was “stuffocating” me. I used the Kondo method to toss the things I really didn’t need or like anymore while neatly arranging my essential items in clearly labeled storage containers.

3. Once my closet was tidy, I dug in to my filing system. Again, using Kondo’s minimalist methodology, I kept physical copies of only the essential items – like tax documents and client information – and tossed the rest.

4. My digital files were next. For me, it was easiest to organize files by year so I created folders for each year, subfolders with the year and topic, and file names that were preceded by year and topic. This uniform, hierarchical taxonomy has made finding and storing files so much easier and quicker. Let me give you an example of how this would work:

5.  Finally, my desktop got wiped clean. Again, essential files were archived in appropriate folders while non-essentials got trashed. This LifeHacker article provides some good tips on how to simplify your desktop.

6.  I even managed to go through the dreaded task of cleaning up my email inbox. There are a variety of tools to help you do this if you don’t want to go at it alone. I was able to scrub about 100 emails per minute using Mailstrom. I admit, deleting emails in bulk felt good and was highly addicting. So much, in fact, that I may start and end each work day doing just that.

After the initial mental hurdle of combatting my clutter, it was really easy and I developed a rhythm. Once it was all said and done, I felt like a weight had been lifted that I didn’t even realize was there – freeing my mind and allowing me to sit down and get to work.

Do you have any tips that keep your workspace tidy? I’d love to hear them.


Are you an Intrapreneur?

I believe that most people have the desire to create; whether it’s a business, a nonprofit, a work of art, there’s an entrepreneurial spirit in many of us. Today, companies are tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of their employees by supporting and elevating intrapeneurs within their organizations. Are you an intraprenuer?

Intrapreneurship is known as the practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship. The term is not new, it’s been around since its first mention in a business paper in 1978, but today, the concept has morphed into something bigger. So big, in fact, that it is considered a movement. Check out the League of Intrapreneurs, where you will surely be inspired.

So where can you find intrapreneurs today? Most people envision the intrapreneur in a startup environment, where innovation and change move at warp speed with a pivot happening every day. True, there are many folks within those organizations who are risk takers and innovators but there is a growing army of intraprenuers within large corporations. And these folks are shifting the course of these companies from the inside. Let’s see if you fit the profile:

Do you dream of starting your own business one day?

Are you a problem solver who looks outside of your position/capabilities to find the best solution?

Are you comfortable failing?

Have you successfully built and led a team?

Is your desire for success infectious?

If you answered yes to the questions above, happily accept the badge of intraprenuership. Wear your new title with pride because we are certain you will excel within your organization and ultimately help lead and shape it.

How do you define intraprenuership? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Looking for a job that invests in intraprenuers? Lets talk.

Hiring? Hire a Recruiter!

This time last year, I talked about the costs associated with hiring and briefly touched on the benefits of going with an independent/3rd party recruiter. This year, I’d like to dig deeper into that topic and give you my take on the recruiter advantage.

While I already alluded to the cost savings associated with hiring a recruiter, it will also save you time and frustration – which are priceless. Many man-hours go into screening candidates – and it can be a very tedious process. If you’re main job is not to hire people, then you will likely find this process overwhelming.

The network I’ve built over the years is worth everything. If recruiting is not your job, placing the opportunity on your website and hoping that the perfect candidate is going to apply is like fishing without bait. You need know what will attract the right person and you need to know where to look. Chances are, they already have a job.

I’ve been doing this a long time. Placing talent effectively is a skill that is developed over time.  You want to work with someone who is knowledgeable about your industry, has a good rapport with clients and can navigate the nuances of recruiting. That’s my colleagues and me at Kaczmar.

Working with recruiters, especially good ones, come at a price – upwards of 20 percent of a candidate’s salary. There are usually upfront costs associated with finding and placing talent. However, I look at this as quality over quantity. Would you rather buy a high-end product that’s going to last you for years or settle for the generic that’s going to leave you high and dry after a few months? You absolutely get what you pay for. And while people are not products, they are assets. As a recruiting firm, the caliber of talent we place is directly linked to our reputation. And after 20 years in the business, our reputation equals my success.

What has been your experience with recruiters? Love them? Hate them? Fire away in a comment below.

Looking to place high-tech sales talent? Contact us.