Giving Notice – The Right Way

You are beside yourself with glee.  You have just accepted a fantastic new job.  It checks all the boxes: people, scope, location and money.  Yippee!

What to do next?

It is important to plan your next steps with care and respect.  Leaving a job nicely is a pretty big part of managing your career and your reputation.

Think about how much notice you need to provide to your current employer.  Check your employment agreement.  Many stipulate two or three weeks.  You may think you are being magnanimous by offering four weeks but in most cases, it is not necessary.

Then, write a letter of resignation.  Make it formal but friendly.  Thank your manager for providing such a great opportunity to learn and grow.  Lay out the details of your last day and offer to do anything they need for a smooth transition.

Be prepared for anything and everything when you sit down and hand over the letter.  Managers do not like it when someone resigns.  It catches them by surprise and then they look bad to their bosses.  That’s where counter offers come in to play.

When faced with an unplanned gap in the team, suddenly there is more money to give you.  Maybe they really were thinking of promoting you but the fact is, they didn’t and you have chosen to go somewhere else.

Be firm and resolute.  Think about (but don’t share) all the reasons you are going to a new and better place.

Once the initial shock wears off, they will figure out who will take over your tasks and life will go on.  That’s why a couple of weeks is almost always fine. It’s not like you can get involved in long term planning.  You also get left out of a lot of conversations that might be proprietary.  No one wants to feel like their secrets might be walking out the door.

So you go.  Your colleagues and managers will wish you well and hopefully, some of them will buy you a beer and some nachos and wish you the best.

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Need to Refresh? Take a Course

It’s spring and even though things seem almost out-of-control busy, I am going to sign up for a course.  I have not decided what the topic will be but I am going to do it.

I am doing it for three reasons. 

  • One of my new year’s resolutions was to learn more.
  • Fitting something in to my schedule will force me to use my time better.
  • I will meet new people.

Pretty powerful stuff right?

There are so many options for learning.  I can go to my local YMCA or community college.  I can talk with friends and colleagues.  I can also check out LinkedIn Learning.  The site offers a ton of different choices.  You don’t have to take a course on the site; you can just use it for ideas and then find the material delivered in person in your community.

I have not decided if I will learn something for my business life or my personal life.  In the end, I don’t think it will matter.  The act of doing something new will impact both parts of my routine.

Say I learn to make a soufflé.  I will invite friends over and they will be really impressed with my new culinary skills.  I will come to work the next day with a new found confidence and generally feeling pretty good about myself.  That will make me more effective in my job.

But if I learn how to ask better interview questions, that will be good too.  I will be able to put forward better quality candidates and my clients will be happier.  I will go home feeling positive and that will make dinner with my family more fun.

So, it doesn’t really matter what I decide to learn.  The important thing is to sign up and see it through.  What will you learn this spring?

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How to Talk Salary with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It seems to be steeped in mystery.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you were way below the salary range in your last job, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious haircut to have it on your resume. This can work where you are taking a right hand turn on your career path. If you had been a corporate lawyer and you wanted to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will be ripe for the picking by people like me.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle it if one of their team members made more than they did in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It’s the only way they can be counted.

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You want to be a what?

Spring is just around the corner and whether you are about to graduate or just itchy for change, there are many new and emerging roles and even, industries to explore. 

Gone are the days where a job with IBM or a bank or the government meant you were set for life. Those institutions may have good pensions but that’s about it. The concept of a “job for life” no longer exists. Even if you have been with.a company for a long time, there are no guarantees.

So, let’s put that idea aside. For good. That gives us the freedom to explore all kinds of different options. And there are lots of options. We just have to throw away the blinders that cause us to ignore or dismiss jobs seem unfamiliar or could be short lived.

I toured a bread factory this week. It was fascinating. The company has invested $10 million in new equipment. There are new mixers and a flour transport line and five kilometers of conveyors. Think of how many people were involved in designing, manufacturing and installing all that equipment. Not to mention the number of people it takes to develop recipes for clients and actually make the bread. (Turns out those pretzels buns we love are quite the challenge to make!)

Or consider the nuclear industry. Ontario Power Generation is refurbishing the four reactors at the Darlington station and the mega project is expected to take 112 months. That’s a long time and will involve not just engineers and trades people (although there are millions of hours of those skills needed). They will need analysts, and accountants and public relations folks and they might even need a sandwich or two as well.

Which brings us back to bread……

Don’t be afraid to explore opportunities that you have not considered. There are so many things happening so quickly that it really is up to each of us to explore, discover and research the big possibilities for our careers.    

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See a Great Job? Don’t Apply.

Picture this:  it’s Sunday morning and you are sipping coffee while sifting through the job postings on LinkedIn.  One of them catches your eye.  You read it again.  It looks like it could be just the thing to jazz up your career and your life.

LinkedIn has made it pretty easy to apply for jobs.  In many cases, you can apply with just your profile. You just click apply and boom, it’s done.

If you fit the hiring criteria perfectly, you might even get a response.  Or you might get lost in the pile with all the other folks who think they too, are perfect candidates.lettuce

Can I suggest taking a step back?  If it is something that really does look right for you, take a moment and put some thought into the process.

Would you go to a networking event without checking for lettuce in your teeth?  Of course not.

Follow the links around the posting.  Is there someone you know who works there? How well do you know them?  Would they talk with you about the company?  Would they be open to passing your resume along with their endorsement?

Do you know something special about the industry or the company that would set you apart from other candidates?  That sort of thing can be put into a brief email and sent directly to the job poster or right to the President.

There is nothing wrong with just applying for the job but if you really want it, you might want spend some time thinking about how to make the best impression.

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LinkedIn has a new look – this is not about that

Over the last few weeks, LinkedIn has rolled out their new “look”. I have read lots of good and bad things about but I am still experimenting with it so this is not about that. 

There is a feature that is often ignored but is quite brilliant for keeping in touch when you really don’t have anything to particular to share or ask.

When you go to the Notifications tab and scroll through the boxes, you will see the notes that let you say happy birthday or congratulations on a new job. I used to dismiss this as kitschy and not really of value.

Today, I was the recipient of a zillion birthday wishes and I can tell you it is not kitchy. I smiled with each and every incoming ping.

True, I don’t know everyone who took the time to message me but most of their names did ring a bell. As a sidebar, I also got two lunch dates out of it!

If you really do know the person, take a moment to personalize it, even if just a little. It will make it that much more meaningful.

This may not lead you to your next dream job but it will remind people of how thoughtful you are and that’s becoming a high value trait in many organizations. 

Best wishes for a great day whether it’s your birthday or not!

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Cover Letters – Eagle or Albatross?

People offer to send me cover letters all the time.  I tell them not to bother.  My job is to provide notes to my client about each candidate so in effect, I am writing the cover letter for them.

But what about when you are applying to jobs directly?

It can be tricky to decide but whatever you do, cover letters need to be written individually.

You can have a standard paragraph in the middle but the rest of it needs to be customized every time.envelope

If you are applying to a position online and there is no mention of a cover letter, then you can probably get away with just your resume.  Many application systems have questionnaires as part of the application process.  That is the company’s way of getting most of what would be in a cover letter.

If you see a posting that asks specifically for a cover letter, then pay attention to what it’s asking for.  A lot of times, an employer wants you to lay out your goals, achievements or maybe why you think you are right for them/the role.

Take a look at the tone of the ad and also look at their website.  Try to get a feel for the culture and use this to decide the tone and format of your note.  If the company is really creative or casual, use that style but if it seems corporate and formal, then go with that.

If you are referred by someone, you definitely need a cover letter that explains who referred you, their relationship with you and why the role matters to you.

Two points to remember:

Keep your cover letter short and to the point.  It is not your life story.  It should talk about who you are, what you are good at and how to get in touch.  All those other details are in your resume.

Double and triple check the spelling – especially the name and title of the person you are addressing.  Nothing gets your letter in the trash faster than misspelling someone’s name.

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