Advice

What's your “personal communication strategy” for your career?

It’s a way of thinking of your own personal image, and how to protect it and promote it...
...just as companies like Apple and Starbucks have corporate images that they work hard to protect and promote.

And here’s how you do it:

STRATEGY TIP #1:

TURN EVERY EMAIL YOU SEND INTO A POWERFUL AD FOR YOURSELF

Have you ever noticed that when people with iPhones send emails from their phones...
...the email almost always says “Sent from my iPhone”?

And when people with an Android phone send emails from their phones...
...the email almost always says “Sent from my Android”?

This little signature lines are a very powerful part of a “communication strategy”...
...and you should be putting the power of a signature line to work for yourself, at the end of every email you send.

And here’s why this is important:
  • A signature line at the end of every email you send makes it super easy for people to be able to call or email you
  • A signature line at the end of every email you send makes it super easy for people to introduce you by email to others
    because people can just cut and paste your signature from your email, any email, into another email to introduce you to others.
  • In fact, as you make your email signature
    you should be thinking about how it will often be cut and paste by others into emails of introduction that will be beneficial for you.
    In other words, make sure your signature presents you in the greatest possible light
    because your signature will be the first impression many people get of you.
STRATEGY TIP #2:

MAKE YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE LOOK PERFECT AND THEN INCLUDE IT AS PART OF YOUR EMAIL SIGNATURE

What better way to communicate all of the great things about yourself over and over again...
...without looking like you’re bragging?

Your LinkedIn profile is the one place on the Web where you have complete control over what is said about you...
...so you should make sure you immodestly look like the King or Queen of the Universe in your LinkedIn profile, and then include it at the end of every email you send.

STRATEGY TIP #3:

DON’T EVER UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF TIMING

Timing matters.
For instance, when Apple sends out ads as email blasts...
...they take all kinds of factors into account about exactly WHEN they should hit the send button.
when it comes to key communications about yourself and your career...
...you too should care to get the timing right.

For instance:
  • When is the best time to send a prospective employer a resume?
    Not until the company asks for it...
    ...otherwise it feels like spam.
  • When is the best time to send a prospective employer your references?
    Not until you're asked, or on the verge of getting an offer.

"You Don't Get What You're Worth--You Get What You Negotiate"

We've been getting more questions lately about negotiating offers (a great trend for the job market!) and it's important to remember: "You don't get what you're worth--you get what you negotiate." The critical factor in negotiating a higher offer is to focus on your skills, your experience & how much value that’ll bring to the company.

Why negotiate? "You only get if you ask"

The answer to the question "why negotiate?" probably sounds obvious, right? We want more money! But it's more complicated than that. It turns out there are multiple reasons why it's critical to negotiate--reasons a lot of people overlook because they're so excited to have the job offer. When you get your offer you need to make your own decision as to whether you're going to negotiate. I've had friends before who were having financial problems and didn't want to risk losing the offer, so they accepted it on the spot and that was the right answer for them. But if you're not in that situation or another extenuating circumstance, here are the reasons why you want to negotiate: (a) you'll make a higher base salary, (b) if your company does bonuses, your bonus will be higher because they're typically based off of your base salary, (c) it sets a higher base for your future raises, (d) it sets a higher base for future companies you work at, (e) it’s good practice for future negotiations, (f) it builds respect from your manager, (g) in some functions (sales, business development, banking etc.) it’s expected you'll negotiate. (h) it's an indication of your worth to the company.

I remember one time I was negotiating my fee for a consulting project with a large company and I had an awesome call with the hiring manager. She asked me for my hourly rate and I hadn't done my homework re: what was the latest market rate, so I gave her a lowball rate to be safe. The moment she heard my rate I could feel the air go out of our conversation. I didn't get the project because I asked for too little.

You only get if you ask!
Mark

"Who should I negotiate with?": Negotiating your job offer

So, you're about to receive your job offer. Congratulations! You're also prepared to negotiate, but before you do remember to do this first: thank the person who gives you the offer and express your excitement about joining the company. Too often people will skip this important step, go straight into negotiating and turn off the company as a result.

After you've done that the big question is "who should I negotiate with?" Of course that varies from company to company. Normally offers are negotiated with the hiring manager or HR department, but I've also successfully negotiated offers with co-founders I didn't report to. At another company I even negotiated the basic parameters of my compensation with an executive recruiter and then the final details with the hiring manager.

In most cases you want to negotiate with the hiring manager because they can be your biggest advocate, they have more power and control their own budget. If you need to push, though, remember that you'll have an ongoing relationship with the hiring manager. You need to read the hiring manager's reactions to make sure you're not pushing too far. One executive told me how after joining a company and becoming a rock star there she got feedback that they almost pulled her offer because she negotiated so aggressively.

If you need to push it’s best to push the HR manager because in most cases you won't have an ongoing relationship with them. But the potential drawback is they may not know exactly how far they can go as the hiring manager.

The other important person you may have to deal with is the recruiter who will typically ask you your compensation expectations up front to make sure you're in the compensation range of what the company wants to pay. Keep in mind that the recruiter works for the company, not you. Of course the higher your salary the higher the commission the recruiter makes. But, ultimately, the recruiter's loyalties lie with the company because the company is paying them and recruiters want to build long-term relationships with companies.

So, in most cases you'll want to negotiate with your hiring manager. But remember that as soon as you receive your offer to express excitement about working for the company. Then it's time to negotiate to make sure you get what you're worth.

Good luck!
Mark

"When should I negotiate?": Negotiating offers

You're about to get an offer (congratulations!), you're planning on negotiating, and you've decided with whom you're going to negotiate. But when should you negotiate? When you have the most power!

You normally have the most power when you get the offer and know you're their first choice (good feeling, isn't it?) So, try to delay the compensation discussion until the end.

If it's early in the interviewing process and the hiring or HR manager asks you what your expectations are try a response like this: "I’m more focused on job fit. I’m sure this job will have a competitive package and I’d prefer to talk about that when we know each other better.”

Some companies will persist and if I can't dodge the question anymore I give a range of what my expectations are (always higher than what I'm currently making) instead of stating exactly what my base salary is or was at my last company.

I should mention that with recruiters it's typically a different situation. They need to know you're at least in the ball park of what their client can pay, so expect that question. Most of the executive recruiters I've dealt with before accepted my range of base salary expectations and I can only think of one who let me dodge the question entirely before passing me to the company for the next round of interviewing.

I've hired hundreds of employees over the years and in most cases so long as an applicant is within the range of what my company can pay I don't care if one applicant is asking more than another. All I care about is finding the best employee who can add the most value to my company.

In my career I've only had one interview not move forward because of compensation. I was a Director of Marketing at the time and I was interviewing with an Internet startup. It turned out they didn't have much money and about half way through the interview as I kept giving the hiring manager one good idea after another she asked "Did our HR manager ask you what your salary expectations are and what our ability to pay is?" I said no (I had had an initial interview with the HR manager and I intentionally didn't bring up compensation). I told the hiring manager my base salary expectations and they were over $40,000 higher than their ability to pay (I was asking for a base salary that was market rate). We might have been able to bridge a gap of $5,000-$10,000, but not $40,000, so we ended the interview in a very friendly way. The lesson here is if a company isn't going to pay market rate it's incumbent upon them to let you know that upfront and in this case it was the HR manager who should have told me that.

Lastly, I've coached people over the years who almost took themselves out of the running early on because they found out the base salary was on the low end of what they expected. If you think the company, position, team and culture could be a good opportunity for you, please continue the dialogue. I've seen it time and time again where the company fell in love with a candidate through the interviewing process and raised the base salary significantly to get the candidate. But that can only happen to you if you negotiate when you have the most power, which is at the end of the process.

Good luck!
Mark

(Thanks to the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University for part of the content in this entire series)

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