Monday, December 10, 2012

Staying Motivated...

Yesterday I received three job rejections…all at the same time.

I have been actively looking to start my career since my graduation a year and a half ago. The search has been arduous to say the least, and for the first time I cried. I cried because I was frustrated, because I felt stuck. But mostly I cried because I did not know how much more rejection I could take. ..A moment later I dried my tears and began looking again.

Upon my search, I came across a post for an event titled “Staying Motivated throughout the Job Search Process “by New York based speaker and career coach Kristina Leonardi. The event was scheduled for that same day at 6pm. I made a mad dash for the door hoping I would make it on time.

On my way over to the New York Science, Industry and Business Library, I prayed that the event would not be a waste of time. I was in no mood to hear the same old job search tips. You know, the ones you usually get from a talking head in a business suit telling you to put your best foot forward and “Network Network Network!“. Fortunately, it was nothing like that.

The first thing I noticed about Kristina, besides her awesome jewelry (an array of really cool rings all over her fingers) was her holistic approach. Her language was relatable to me. She talked about the universe, visualization, affirmations- terms that resonate with me, an individual who believes wholeheartedly in the power of the mind. Yet, she did not just tell a crowd of mostly unemployed individuals that if they believe that they will find a job, it would magically happen. That would be unrealistic. No, instead, she gave us a quick kick in the rear. She challenged us to reevaluate what we are looking for, to know what we want, then take the necessary steps to attain it. Put it out there and it will be yours and I for one, am up to that challenge.

Here are five things that I learned in that brief hour and a half:
  1. Identify your own definition of success:  Success differs from person to person. Sure, many define it as being famous and making lots of money, but that’s not the case for everyone. It is important to find the right combination of success for you. What does “making it” mean to you?  Kristina asked, "What did you picture yourself doing as a kid?".   Reevaluate what it is that you want and align it with your career.
  2. "Your time and energy are your most precious resources":  Your time and energy are yours and should be cherished as so. Being where you want to be requires that you put in work, so be mindful of what you spend your time and thoughts on. Your resources should be put to good use.
  3. It’s not all about credentials:  As someone with a master’s degree that in practicality has been pretty much useless, I know this to be true! Kristina’s resume is exemplary- she has taught, founded her own company, served as a career/life coach and several other magnificent feats, all with just a bachelor’s degree. Having the most diplomas does not mean you will accomplish the most- it takes much more than that.
  4. "Check your ego at the door":  Kristina told us of the time that she took a job as a smoothie maker. She did this, not as a teenager, but as an adult with several accomplishments already under her belt. She took that $10 an hour job in order to realign herself- what she got in return was a plethora of opportunities. She made connections with several of her customers and discovered a love for career/life coaching. It takes a lot to humble yourself and know that you are not “too good” to do something. The universe will reward you for it.
  5. "Patience- A grape does not become a vintage bottle of wine overnight":  Even if you’re not a big drinker you’ve got to admit that this is a great quote! In your career, as in life, patience is key. Sometimes the universe puts things in front of you not when you want it, but when you are ready to get it. So…don’t give up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This is a test...

One rainy (and particularly boring) afternoon, I decided to ask the internet what my career should be. Through my search, I came across a fun career test. After answering several multiple choice questions, I was delighted to find that the career path I have chosen for myself is actually pretty precise for someone like me.

Although informal, I found that the test above was accurate in devising my professional aptitudes. Nevertheless, the use of tests in the workforce is actually not uncommon and there are many formal ones used by organizations.

Below are a series of employment tests as outlined by the Society for Industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology – you can find the pros and cons of each test at

1. Assessment Centers:
What - Assesses interpersonal, communication, planning and organizing, and analytical skills.
How - Consists of exercises that reflect situations faced on the job. Uses raters who are trained to observe, classify, and evaluate behaviors. At the end, the raters judge the candidate’s overall performance.
Example- Asking a sales person candidate to make a sales presentation.

2. Biographical Data
What- Measures leadership, teamwork skills, job knowledge, interpersonal skills, extraversion and creativity among others.
How- Poses questions about education, training, work experience, and interests to predict success on the job. Asks about an individual’s attitudes, personal assessment of skills and personality.
Example- Background investigation forms/questionnaires

3. Cognitive Ability Tests
What- Measures ability to learn, logic, reasoning, reading comprehension, aptitude, potential to solve job-related problems and other mental abilities as fundamental to job success.
How- Uses questions or problems that provide information about the subject’s mental abilities, such as verbal or mathematical reasoning and perceptual abilities.
Example- Analyzing the job candidate’s speed in recognizing letters of the alphabet.

4. Integrity Tests
What- Assesses attitudes and experiences related to the candidate’s honesty, dependability, trustworthiness, reliability, and pro-social behavior.
How- Asks direct questions about previous experiences related to ethics and integrity or about preferences and interests from which inferences are drawn about future behavior in these areas.
Example- A retail store asking what you would do if you found a co-worker shoplifting.

5. Interviews
What- Assesses interpersonal, communication, teamwork skills and job knowledge.
How- Questions to evaluate knowledge, skills, abilities, and other qualities required for the job. Most commonly used type of test.
Examples- Group interviews, Phone interviews etc.

6. Job Knowledge Tests
What- Evaluates technical or professional expertise and knowledge required for specific jobs or professions.
How- Through multiple choice questions or essay type items
Example- A+/Net+ programming, and blueprint reading tests for Accountant candidates

7. Personality Tests
What- Measures extraversion, conscientiousness, openness to new experiences, optimism, agreeableness, service orientation, stress tolerance, emotional stability, and initiative, among others.
How- Questions that measure traits related to behavior at work, interpersonal interactions, and satisfaction with different aspects of work.
Example- The DISC test (more about this particular test bellow).

8. Physical Ability Tests
What- Measures physical attributes and capabilities, such as strength, balance, and speed.
How- Uses tasks or exercises that require physical ability to perform.
Example- Asking a construction work candidate to lift 50lbs.

9. Work Samples and Simulations
What- Measures specific job skills or job knowledge, organizational skills, analytic skills, and interpersonal skills.
How- Requires performance of tasks that are the same or similar to those performed on the job.
Example- Asking an administrative assistant candidate to create a document in Microsoft Word.

All of these tests are used by organizations as decision making tools. When used preliminarily, they can help an organization choose the right candidate for the job and thus in turn decrease turnover. However, employment tests can be particularly helpful to employees as well. They can help you increase your self-knowledge, develop more skills and become an overall stronger professional.

A couple of years ago I took a DISC assessment test. The DISC assessment is a type of personality test based on the theory of psychologist William Marston, developed by Industrial Psychologist Walter Vernon Clarke and then simplified by psychologist John Geier. The test evaluates employees across four different personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

Those with a DOMINANT personality trait put major emphasis on accomplishing results. They prioritize getting immediate results, taking action and challenging themselves and others .
Individuals with an INFLUENCE personality trait put emphasis on persuading others. They are motivated by social recognition, disapproval, loss of influence and being ignored.
Individuals with a STEADINESS personality trait put emphasis on cooperating with others to carry out the task, they are characterized by patience, being a team person, having a calm approach, being a good listener and having humility.
Individuals with a CONSCIENTIOUS personality trait put emphasis on working to ensure quality and accuracy; they fear social criticism, careless methods and being wrong.

An individual may possess one or more of these specific personality traits. My DISC score found that I have two of these personality types and I found them both to be extremely accurate. Knowing my DISC score allowed me to learn how to optimize my specific work styles and how to work along with the styles of others. If your job offers the test I encourage you to take it. If not, a quick Google search can generate versions of the test online.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stay Ahead of the Curve

The best professional advice I have ever received is to always keep learning.  Always stay ahead of the trend when it comes to your career.  Always know more than the person sitting next to you.  Know your craft and know it well.

I believe that even if you are at the bottom of the totem pole of your company, it is still important to keep up to date on your industry.  Otherwise, how else would you get to the top?

Below are five tips on how to stay ahead of the curve:
  1. Know your company:  Make it your business to know all about the organization you work for.  Review the organizational chart, know the history of the company, learn who the top officials are etc.  Most of all, you should know the mission and vision of your company, then ask yourself how you fit in with it.  Do you stand for the same things that your company does?  Knowing this will allow you to better discern your company and the role you play in it.
  2. Know your industry: You should be well acquainted with the ins and outs of your field.  Focus on specifics: what works, what does not, what are the average salaries, the educational requirements, how the field came about etc.  Know the rules, know the policies.  By doing this you will be more apt to recognize trends and thus identify where your industry is headed. 
  3. Stay challenged:  Even if your work is mundane, even when it no longer challenges you, find a way to make it challenging again. Take on new responsibilities, explore new departments, approach your daily tasks in a different manner- do whatever it takes to keep yourself excited about it.
  4. Move with the times:  The workforce is different now than it was even five years ago.  There are new job titles, some positions are now outdated, new positions have taken their place.  Technology is more important now than ever- do not be afraid to use it.  Do not cling to old-fashioned views that can infringe on the advancement of your career. 
  5. Use your resources:  Pay attention to what is offered or made available to you.  Attend trainings, meetings, fairs etc.  Go to the library and read about your field.  Go online and read blogs about it.  Never quit learning.
Read the article bellow:


Monday, November 5, 2012

Temporarily Coping With a Job You Hate

Have you ever worked at a job that you simply hated? You know, the job that makes you dread just waking up in the morning to go there? The job that puts you in a sour mood as soon as you walk in? The job that literally makes you cry the moment you think about it?
The obvious answer would be to just quit. Although, when one thinks about the current state of our economy, this is clearly a bad idea, such is not always the case. Some people cannot handle one more day in their current position- so they just leave. Interestingly enough, if financed correctly and with the right plan, their decision may work out for the best.
You can read one man’s success story here.
Nevertheless, this is just too much of a risk for many. Thankfully, there are ways that one can temporarily cope with a job that they hate. I say temporarily, because I personally believe that one should always continue to evolve as a professional- and that is impossible to do when you hate your job. Therefore if you are not pleased with your current position you should do whatever it takes to move on to one that makes you happy.
Bellow are three steps that are essential to getting by at a job you dislike:
  1. Think positive: Sounds cliche, however, this is the most important step to take. Changing your mind set will not make your job better but it will make your reaction to your job better- and this is just as important. As Greek philosopher Epictetus said, It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.  There are several things one can do to improve his or her attitude while at work:
    • Do not engage in negative thoughts or behavior: If a group of your co-workers are bashing your boss, walk away. Participating in such behavior will just make you more restless and make you hate your job even more.
    • Continue to be a professional: Smile, be polite, say "Good Morning" to your co-workers. Giving attitude and being rude will not get you anywhere at work.
    • More here.
  2. Use your work resources: Every job, no matter how mundane, has resources. Use them to make yourself a better professional. 
    • Participate in trainingsTrainings allow you to gain new skills.  These skills that can help you obtain your next job. 
    • Learn from your co-workers & superiors:  For example, you may not like your boss but you must admit he/she gives great presentations.  Study him/her. Emulate his/her behavior.  What can you learn from him/her that will make you a better presenter?
    • Study your company:  If you are interested in the industry that you are in, study your company in relation to it. What makes your company successful in your field? In what areas can it improve? What can you learn from your company that you can take with you elsewhere in order to be a better a more knowledgeable employee?
  3. Do not take your work home with you: Keep the job at the job.  Do not let it consume your outside life.  Your time at home should be used for building- building relationships and building yourself.  Do not let the stress of the office cloud your personal growth. 
 Read more tips.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Helping: Post- Sandy

Superstorm Sandy furiously swept over the East coast earlier this week.

From the minor, power outages, to the major, those who lost lives.  It's wrath was definitely felt.

As many find themselves temporarily out of work, there is the opportunity to go out there and lend a helping hand.

This article at Gothamist offers several options for those who want to volunteer:  Click here


*UPDATE* December 2, 2012

It's been a little over a month since the storm, and the east coast is still recovering. Many jobs, for example, have yet to resume to normal. Several businesses still remain closed and many others are still displaced. Time Magazine reported that according to the financial analysis firm IHS Global Insight, there was an estimated $25,000,000,000 lost in business activity due to Hurricane Sandy. (Read more)

On the bright side, however, the aftereffects of the storm have created a surplus of rebuilding jobs. If you are looking for work, Gothamist offers several options: Click Here

For those who just want to help, there are still ways to donate! In the season for giving and sharing, an awesome new website gives you the opportunity to purchase or donate a gift to a child affected by the storm. Check out

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tips to Better Communications

While in graduate school, I took a class on Human Relations. I expected it to be like any other class: compromised of a sizeable amount of students and an instructor dictating information. The reality of the class was very different. There were only about eight students and an instructor who said very little. The first day he directed us to talk, after that, he remained silent. His role was to sit back and watch as we talked.

The professor had formed a T- Group. A T-Group is a type of sensibility training, introduced by social psychologist Kurt Lewin, in which participants learn about themselves through their interactions with others. The first lesson of the group was that although people talk they do not always communicate (1). People struggle with communication because even though they may know what they want to say in their minds, when they speak, it does not always translate in the way that they intended it to.

Having proper communication is a very important aspect of being a successful employee. Being a good communicator makes all the difference between leaving a meeting feeling accomplished versus leaving a meeting feeling defeated. If you do not communicate well verbally, your ideas may be ignored and your career can suffer. 

In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey strongly argues that a person’s rhetoric is obsolete if their character is flawed. He quotes philosopher, essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What you are shouts so loudly in my ear I cannot hear what you say”. Fundamentally, if your character is weak then what you say is not important. However, even Covey had to agree that although one may possess character strength, if he or she lacks communication skills, the quality of his or her personal and professional relationships is negatively affected (2).

Communication is not only limited to speech. At work, employees communicate in various ways. With the role of technology in everyday work transactions for example, writing a proper email or presenting a successful PowerPoint are just as vital to business success.

A good guide to help improve the way you communicate at work is 50 One-Minute Tips to Better Communication by Dr. Phil Bozek (3). The book offers several tips to improve communications in various settings, primarily meetings, business writings, presentations and PowerPoint. The tips are quite simple and highly applicable to any business environment. For example, Bozek encourages employees to evaluate their meetings after having them by writing out what worked
 and what may need improvement in order to ensure that future meetings are more productive. In terms of e-mails, he notes that organizing them in a certain way, with proper spaces and margins for instance, makes the content easier to read; therefore allows you to get your point across more efficiently. As far as presentations, Dr. Bozek suggests that making eye contact with the right audience members and in turn retaining their attention is just as important as the information that you are providing.

The book provides several other helpful tips & is available for purchase on Amazon.

1. Francisco, R. P. Five Levels of Interpersonal Communication: A Model That Works Across Cultures. In M. B. A. L. Cooke, Reading Book for Human Relations 8th edition.
2. Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon and Schuster
3. Phillip E. Bozek, Ph.D (2009). 50 One-Minute Tips to Better Communication, Third Edition. Axzo Press

Thursday, October 18, 2012

National Boss Day

This past Tuesday October 16th, was National Boss Day.  The "holiday" was created in 1958 by Patricia Bays Haroski , then an employee at State Farm Insurance.  It is a day for employees to commend their bosses on their great leadership.  However, as recent studies show, although most employees have a lot to say to their superiors, none of those things involve the word thanks.

There is no such thing as a perfect employee and thus no such thing as a perfect boss.  Yet, let’s face it; as far as leadership goes many bosses leave much to be desired.  An article written by Ruth Mantell for outlines five types of bad bosses.  From the boss that has no personal life, to the one with poor communication skills, to the micro manager and the one who avoids risks at all costs to finally, the one who is an emotional wreck-  chances are we have all had one or more of these bosses before.

So what exactly is the problem?  Why are so many of our bosses lacking?  Experts offer several reasons.  Mantell, for example, sites specific organizational issues such as budget cuts that have resulted in decreased management training.  In addition, she discusses the shift to “flat” organizations in which the lines that separate managers and subordinates have become less clear.

Others focus on the traits of the individuals themselves.  An article written by Eric Jaffe for Psychology Today (The Reasons Your Boss Sucks), sites research indicating that some bosses become bullies due to a mix of power and self-perceived feelings of incompetence.  Many  people with organizational power, i.e bosses, supervisors, managers etc., put pressure on themselves to be competent yet lack self confidence and thus become defensive when their own performance is not up to par.

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey takes a different approach by distinguishing between leadership and management.  As per Covey, one cannot be a good manager without being a good leader.   Whereas management is about accomplishing things, leadership poses the question:  “What are the things I want to accomplish?”.   In other words, a manager focuses on control, efficiency and rules but a leader focuses on direction and purpose.   Management is about climbing the ladder of success- leadership makes sure that that ladder is leaned in the right place.  Thus for a boss to be successful, leadership must come first, management second.

Mantell sites a poll which states that more than six out of 10 employees would be happier at work if they had a better boss.  That is more employees than those who would be happier with a pay raise (four out of 10).  Yet as per Covey, it takes a lot of skill to be a boss- and even more so to be a good boss.   So for all the good bosses out there Happy belated boss day!  For the bad ones, well, there's always room for improvement.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marissa Mayer's Career Advice

As a professional, Yahoo CEO and President Marissa Mayer, is someone to definitely look up to.  Among other accomplishments, she has been listed in Fortune Magazine's annual 50 Most Powerful Women in Business for five consecutive years.  In addition, She holds the title of the youngest CEO, Male or Female, to ever be named in the Fortune 500.

Bellow is a very brief but powerful article on Mayer's best career advice:

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Quest for Meaning

I recently got the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank Museum in the Netherlands.  While navigating through the secret annex where the Franks hid for two years during the holocaust, I felt a plethora of emotions:  sadness for the victims and their fate, horror at how far hate can go and surprisingly pride.  I was proud of the girl, because at the end of it all she accomplished what she set out for from the beginning of her persecution- for her story to be heard.

Later, while reflecting, I thought of Viktor Frankl.  Frankl was a neurologist, psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor.  He is credited with founding Logotherapy, a branch of psychotherapy that focuses on finding meaning in life as the main driving force of humans.  The basic principles of logotherapy are as follows (About Logotherapy):
  • Life has meaning under all circumstances, even the most miserable ones
  • Our main motivation for living is finding meaning in life
  • We have the freedom to find meaning in what we do and experience because of our freedom to choose how we respond to circumstances

Frankl tested these principles during his time in the holocaust.  In fact, he credited this exact theory with helping him survive at Auschwitz Concentration camp (more on this can be read in Frankl’s book “Man’s search for Meaning”).

At the Anne Frank museum, Anne Frank’s childhood friend can be heard recalling a conversation she had with Anne before she perished.  Anne had just found out that her mother and sister were dead and since she did not know the fate of her father she felt completely desolate. She confided in her friend that she had no one left.  Anne’s friend recalled that Anne died from Typhus just a month before liberation; she then suggested that if Anne knew that her father was alive, she might not have died.   Therefore, it can be argued that since Anne felt alone, with no reason to live, she regarded her life as no longer having meaning- thus she saw no reason to keep fighting for life.

The search for meaning, as per Frankl, is not necessarily synonymous with the search for a higher/supernatural being.  He lists’ three different ways in which one can discover the meaning of life:
  • By experiencing something or encountering someone
  • By the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering- everything  can be taken from a man except the freedom to choose his/her attitude in any given set of circumstances
    • Disclaimer  It must be noted that although one can find meaning in life through suffering, this should only be the case when the suffering is inevitable, i.e. the other two options are not available.  One should not allow oneself to suffer unnecessarily.
  • By creating a work or doing a deed

As a student of Industrial/Organizational psychology, I cannot help but resonate with Frankl’s idea that meaning of life can be found by creating work.  I do not mean work in the conventional sense that is routine for most of us, and I do not believe that this is what Frankl meant either.   I mean work as in the kind that allows you to leave your mark behind.   This work may or may not be your career, but I believe that it is very possible for it to be.

It has been argued time and time again that your career should not be the sole purpose of your life (Article published on Psychology Today about why your career should not be your identity).  However, even so, you can find meaning in it.  Frankl chronicled that everybody has his or her own specific vocation in life and everybody must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment.   This specific vocation can be found anywhere and today, it is more possible than ever to find it through your career.

Whether you are a social worker who is genuinely driven by helping others, a business person whose innovations contribute to the betterment of the community or someone in the fashion industry whose creative eye inspires generations- your work can have meaning.  Furthermore, this meaning is not just limited to the work desk; it can transcend above and beyond to every aspect of your life.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Organizational PC


 If you have yet to read Stephen F. Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, I suggest you pick up a copy today. Self help books, I realize, may not be for everyone. However, the concepts outlined in this particular book, in my opinion, are definitely worth a read.

The book has sold over 25 million copies worldwide since it was first published in 1989 and has been cited by many acclaimed leaders.  At the book’s core is the idea that there should be more of a focus on character ethic, what you are, rather than on personality ethic, what you portray to be.  According to Covey, character ethic is the real foundation for success.

Early in the book, Covey introduces what he calls Organizational PC.  The premise of Organizational PC is basically that every organization should treat its employees in exactly the same way that they expect their employees to treat the organization’s best customers.
Go back and read that again:  Treat your employees as you want them to treat your best customer.
What a simple concept, huh?  Yet how often is this concept violated in organizations?
In order to explicate Organizational PC, Covey first defines the P.  The P symbolizes Production.  In the case of Organizations, P = good/ethical/desired work.
PC symbolizes Production Capacity, or in the case of organizations, the employees, as they are the ones capable of producing the desired work.

  An example, as used by Covey in the book, is the story of the Goose that laid the golden eggs.  You remember that fable don’t you?  There was once a farmer who owned a goose that magically laid golden eggs.   The farmer was content at first, but then became greedy and instead of waiting for the goose to naturally lay the eggs he killed the goose in an attempt to obtain all the eggs at once.  The plan backfired as the farmer found that there were no golden eggs inside the goose but even more now there was no goose at all.

In this story- the P is the golden eggs; the PC is of course, the goose.

Covey argues that there has to be a balance between the P and the PC.  In other words, the farmer’s focus should have been not just on the eggs but on the goose as well.  Effectiveness is the focus of both the P and the PC.  The only way to optimize the P is to optimize the PC: One cannot get the best of the P (the most golden of eggs) if one does not bring out the best of the PC (a happy live Goose) and vice versa.

Thus for an organization to get maximum productivity from their employee, they should not just focus on the wellbeing of the product but on the wellbeing of the people with the capability to produce - the employees.

Now think about how effective your organization would be if this simple rule was always put into effect…

References:  Covey, S.R. (1989). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon and Schuster

Monday, August 13, 2012

Undercover Boss

I came across an episode of “Undercover Boss” this past Friday and was completely taken aback:  How did I NOT know about this show??

The series is based on a British show of the same name.  Each episode follows an individual with an upper management or executive position at a prominent business, who goes undercover as an entry-level employee in order to assess the issues of the company.

The executive alters their appearance and assumes an alias as an entry level worker in need of training by a regular employee.  In order to account for the presence of the camera crews, The regular employees are told that the training session is being filmed as part of a documentary about entry-level workers. The boss, then, spends approximately one week undercover, working at a different area of the company each day.  This allows the executive to spend time with the employee in a way in which he or she never would have before.  At the end of the program, the "undercover boss" reveals his or her identity, rewards the hard working employees with incentives and offers training or better working conditions to those whose work was not up to par.

Now, I know that this is reality television, thus how much truth is actually shown is arbitrary. I am also aware that the show, just like any other, does play on the emotions of the viewer (think lots of tears and hugs, which many believe have no place in business, but more on that in a future post).

However, the series truly is fascinating. This is the first time that I have seen work displayed in such a manner on television.  The executive, in his or her quest to improve the company, seems real.  The employees, in their every day struggles as a defining part of the overall structure of the company, seem real.  Therefore, whether you are a CEO at the top of the ranks or a worker at the bottom of the chain, there is something that you can learn from this program.

The show airs on Fridays at 8pm on CBS.  Watch a clip bellow:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Negotiating Salary

A co-worker once told me that one should never accept the first salary offer.  His advice made sense, as even the experts at agree that no matter how good the salary is, one should always hesitate before accepting it  (See here).

However, when I got a job offer a few months later, I found that salary negotiation is easier said than done.  After all, a job is not really yours until all the papers are signed (just google “Job offered then withdrawn” to read all of the horror stories of this very plausible scenario).  Therefore at the end of the day, is it even worth it to negotiate your salary?

As per’s Finance Career Expert, Dona DeZube, some believe that you should take the first offer if you are happy with it.  One should not negotiate just for the sake of negotiation; individuals should have a justifiable reason for why they believe they should be paid more than what was offered.   Other experts go as far as saying that salary negotiation is a waste of time given that some employers will not budge from their initial offer.  Furthermore, as stated above, salary negotiation can even be a risk since it allows for the job offer that was once yours to be open to other candidates.

Alternatively, however, there are many reasons for why salaries should be negotiated.  According to DeZube, some experts believe that if you are at a stage where an employer is negotiating salary with you, then most likely that employer wants you as part of their organization.  Moreover, some employers even expect you to negotiate the salary with them!  For example, when it comes to positions such as sales and business development, where negotiation is key, it is to the candidate’s advantage to demonstrate his/her negotiation skills when talking money.

So, now that we have weighed the pros and cons of salary negotiation, how exactly would one go about negotiating salary? posted a video featuring personnel consultant Pat Goodwin of  She offers great tips.  Check out the video bellow:

In addition, keep in mind these three tips offered by

  1. Research your value: Find out what companies in your area are paying for the job you are considering.
  2. Don’t be the first to disclose a number: Get the employer to disclose the pay before you discuss your requirements.
  3. Prepare a counteroffer: Ask for what you want!

Just DON’T make these mistakes:

    1. Accept the first salary offer:  By doing so you may be leaving money on the table.  *Just be careful not to give an ultimatum unless you are willing to walk away without the job.*
    2. Not be prepared:  Know what is relevant to your labor market
    3. Neglect to negotiate things beyond base pay:  There’s more than just a base salary, such as variable pay, performance expectations, benefits, perquisites, schedule for salary increase, and minimum severance. Negotiate these as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Network! Network! Network!

It really can't be stressed enough.

Check out this article on fresh new tips on the one career strategy that never goes out of style:

Self Actualize It

 “What a man can be, he must be. This need we call self-actualization” Abraham Maslow
In his studies on motivation, Maslow indicates that all human beings have five different levels of needs.  He alleged that an individual must fulfill one need in order to move on to the next need in the hierarchy.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs outlines the following (AH):
  • Physiological needs: elements such as food, air and water.
  • Security needs: a stable environment where one can feel safe, i.e your home
  • Love needs: feelings of belongingness
  • Esteem needs- the need for achievement, the need for prestige.
  • And finally the need for Self Actualization

As privileged citizens of the Western world most of us are fortunate enough to have our basic needs fulfilled.  Like many around me I have food, shelter, loving relationships and have accomplished something in one way or another.  So if Maslow’s theory proves to be true, I am only seeking one thing.  And that thing is Self Actualization.

Self Actualization can be defined as one’s need to fulfill his or her maximum potential.  One’s maximum potential is of course subjective and varies from person to person.  Thus, keeping in mind that one’s self actualization needs change as one changes; self actualization for me at the moment would be commencing my career.

I completed my degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology exactly 14 months ago and as I continue on my search for a gratifying career in the field, I am starting to believe that self actualizing my career goals may not be as easy as I thought.

Feeling as if I am just about ready to give up and wondering why I am failing, I came across an article published by Forbes Magazine.  The article “The 10 Reasons Why We Fail” written by contributor David Disalvo lists ten reasons why people do not achieve all that they can (Click Here).  The reasons vary, but basically trickle down to the fact that most of us get in our own way.  Which brings me back to Abraham Maslow…

Completing graduate school was definitely an achievement.  In addition to part time classes and a full time job, I also worked a per diem position on weekends in order to pay for my degree.  With all this going on, including the stress of my enmeshed family, not to mention a troublesome boyfriend with a wandering eye, I still managed to graduate with a 3.98 GPA (It would have been a 4.0 if it wasn’t for one pesky A- that still bothers me to this day).  Yet at the end of the day, that was graduate school, not the “real” world. Thus, it can be said that although my esteem needs were met in school, they have not really been met outside of school.  What have I achieved in the workforce in order to be self actualized?  The way I see it…Nothing.

I am not exactly pleased with my current position.  My job is not one that motivates me, that makes me feel accomplished, that makes me want to be the best that I can be.  So the realization sets: until I reach my esteem needs, i.e. accomplish something at work that I can really stand behind, then I cannot possibly move on to self actualization. Or better yet, until I BELIEVE that what I have accomplished so far in the workforce is something that I can stand behind then I WILL be self actualized.

You see, Disalvo’s article is all about intrinsic motives for why we fail.  None of his reasons actually deal with outside factors.  Disalvo suggests that we must change our way of thinking in order to be all that we can be. And why not?  Everybody should aim for self actualization.  Everybody deserves and everybody SHOULD live up to their full potential.  So if there is something that you want but feel as if you cannot get, ask yourself this: Why am I failing?  Why can’t I move on to my next need? How am I getting in my own way?

So, I’ll leave you with one more Maslow quote:
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself”

And I challenge you this, find out what it is you want to do, and do it.

1. Maslow AH. “A Theory of Human Motivation,” in The Great Writings in Management and Organizational Behavior, Boone and Bowen, 2nd