Job Journey: Resigning with Respect

You are beside yourself with glee.  You have just accepted an offer for 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.  How you leave a job can play a big role in 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 what’s needed 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 or that you will enjoy getting left out of conversations that might be proprietary.  It’s all part of the transition.

So you go.  Your colleagues and managers will wish you well and hopefully, some of them will take you a beer and some nachos and raise a glass to your success.


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Job Journey: How to Talk about Money

When you are looking at a new opportunities, money should come up early and often.

I know everyone likes to look really cool with a “money isn’t everything” attitude and it is true, money isn’t everything but it is important. Really important.

It is a key factor in your financial health and household contribution but it also plays a part in your psychological health and sense of accomplishment. Getting paid at the end of a long and difficult week should feel satisfying. (If it doesn’t, consider going back to the first chapter of the Job Journey!)

Money is a tough subject and should be treated with respect and not too much innuendo. Being cagey is not the best approach.

People tell me that they don’t want to give away the farm. They think if they give an answer that is too low, they will ultimately get hired at a rate that is lower than it should be.

Here is what really happens: you tell me you are looking for $50,000 and I know that my client wants to pay around $75,000. You are not leaving money on the table by saying $50k, you are saying that you are not working at the level that my client needs. There are almost certainly other factors in your experience and responsibility that will not line up either.

You could tell me you are at $50,000 and you would need a salary of $60,000 to consider moving from your comfortable office and friendly colleagues. That’s constructive and helpful. I still would not put you forward for the other job, but I would have a good sense of your objectives.

People also tell me that they are used to making X but they are willing to be “very flexible” for their next role. They mention this on the first call. Before they have heard about the job. This is a good illustration of giving away the farm. You don’t want to tell a recruiter that you are willing to work for cheap right off the bat. We are liable to take advantage of that down the road.

When you are interviewing for a role and it has great people, is close to home and the work sounds amazing, then you can offer to work for less. You can do that when there is a really good reason, not before.

Before every interview, write down two numbers: your annual compensation now and the annual compensation you would like. You can throw out whichever makes more sense when you are asked the dreaded money question. Sounding confident will go a long way to getting you want you want.


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Job Journey: Taking a Break

People always assume that hiring stops for the summer.  It’s not actually true.  Lots of hiring managers want to have their new team members ready to start after Labour Day.  That means interviews are going on now.

Summer is definitely a good time to keep an eye out for good job postings and network (ie cocktails, golf and concerts) like crazy.

But it’s also a good time to take a break.  Put it all alway for a couple of weeks.  Take some time to let your mind wander and live without a list for a few days.

So……taking my own advice….I’ll be out for the next two weeks living my life and not thinking about jobs (much).



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Job Journey: Negotiating Vacation

As you get higher on the food chain, compensation packages have more and more elements: vacation, bonus, education, work from home, pension plans, parking and more.

One of the first things to consider is vacation.  It should be pretty straightforward but it is not always so.

If you have been with a company for a long time, you may be entitled to four, five or six weeks of vacation per year and maybe you can even carry it over into the next year.

You might be able to secure that in a new role if you are moving to a very similar organization ie hospital to hospital or between divisions of a global entity.

If you are starting from scratch in a company, you will be looking at something between two and four weeks to start.

Yes, there are still companies that start everyone at two weeks. That can be tough pill to swallow when you are negotiating an offer and you are already quite smitten with the opportunity and the people.

In these cases, there may be no flexibility, even if they really, really want you.  If the supervisor has been with the company for ten years and just earned a third week of vacation and then you show up with three weeks in your first year, it can make for a pretty tense environment.

The other piece of vacation is understanding when you are actually able to take the vacation you fought for.  One of my clients has a policy that you have to accrue all of your vacation before you can take any of it.  This means no paid vacation for a year.  That’s a long time.

Other companies are quick to provide four weeks but require that one of the weeks be used between Christmas and the New Year.  In reality, you have only three weeks where you can actually choose to be off.

It’s important to keep these things in mind in the early stages of interviewing.  Asking about vacation policies and practices can be easily dealt with towards the end of a first interview and should definitely be covered in a second interview.

You don’t want to discover that a company has tiny, rigid vacations after that all-important last interview.  It can be heartbreaking and stressful.  Get it on the table early and respectfully.

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Job Journey: How to Talk about Compensation

At some point, in most interviews, you will be asked the “money” question.  You might be asked what you are looking for in terms of salary or what you are making now as your total compensation.

Sometimes people are nervous about providing these details for fear of pricing themselves out of the role or not wanting to give away details they can leverage later.

Compensation is a very important part of working and it’s one of the things you need to be very clear about as you start looking at new opportunities.  

It’s worth taking a few minutes to sit down and look what you are actually being paid today.  It’s surprising how many people really don’t know how much they are making.

Take a look at your pay stub.  What are you getting from your employer besides your actual wage?  Do you have overtime, bonuses, awards or perks?  How about benefits?  Are those premiums paid by you or your employer?  How about retirement?  Does your company match what you put in?

While you are looking at pay stubs, you might also want to think back at your earning history over the years as well.  It can helpful to see where your raises happened and when you had greater financial success.  Where you more successful because of  your manager at the time or what was happening in the company overall?  Was it the economy in general that bolstered your uptick in earnings?

Taking some time out to examine your compensation elements and history can provide strong insight into the types of roles you should be looking at next.  You will be totally ready the next time a recruiter calls!

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Job Journey: The Reference Game

References have been one of the final steps of the hiring process for years. Managers are looking for verification that the person they want to hire is as good as they think they are.

And who better to hear from than other managers?

Problems started to arise when managers were a bit loose with the material they shared such as inadvertently giving confidential information about the business or inappropriate details about the candidate.

Also, if a candidate did not get a role because of a bad reference, disputes arose and lawyers got involved. It was ugly.

At that point, HR departments in many companies created policies that prevented managers from providing references. Only HR could. And because HR did not always know the person, they would only verify title and employment dates.

Not helpful.

As always, a workaround developed. Candidates would provide the contact info for a former manager who was no longer at the company and therefore, not bound by reference policies.

Smart, career minded people stay in touch with corporate friends and allies for this reason.

Be nice to people when they leave the organization, regardless of the reason for their departure. Set up at least one coffee date per month with a former manager or colleague. You never know when you are going to need someone who can authentically vouch for your performance at work and verify the stuff that’s on your resume.

There can be an unexpected bonus in all this networking: coffee dates often lead to opportunities in the form of introductions and job leads.

Smile and bring on the double double!

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Job Journey: Nail the Interview with One Question

Picture this: you are at a job interview and things are going really well. The hiring manager leans back in her chair and asks if you have any questions. Bang! Here is your opportunity to cement everything and nail the job.

So, what do you ask?

Hint: Do not begin by asking about the start date. If they really want you, they will have already asked that question.

There are a couple of ways to go. One is to focus on the hiring manager. When did they start with the company? What do they like about the organization? What is the most meaningful part of their work?

You can also dig deeper into the company and it’s culture. What challenges does it face? What sets them apart from their competitors? What is the style of the senior leadership team?

Or you can ask about the role itself. You can ask about the compensation. Careful though. Sometimes employers don’t want to talk about that until quite late in the process. You could ask about whether there is variable compensation and how it’s tied to your performance. The answer to that could be quite insightful. You could also ask for more detail about other other
perks such as savings plans, company discount programs or tuition reimbursement. This one is nice because you could get a follow up question about your future goals around learning.
(so be ready for that).

There are lots of choices. The important thing is to think about it before you get there so that they are ready at hand. You don’t want to end an interview with a blank look and a shrug.

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