How To Develop Your Career Like A CHAMP
Considering starting a job search? Wondering what else is out there? Not really looking, but kinda looking?
Define your ideal objective first. What kind of opportunity would be worth pursuing? What are the parameters? Commute, management, growth opportunity, compensation, schedule, travel, projects, stress…
Then define your knowledge of the market. List the companies you respect and those you would not work for. Most markets have at least one hundred possible companies. Ambassador Search Group knows its target markets well and will assist you.
If your goal is to enhance your career you will likely need to stay in the same type of work. You are most valuable where you are most knowledgeable, with a few exceptions.
You will be represented by Ambassador Search Group directly to the decision maker to the companies we agree are worth investigating. Most jobs are not publicly posted and are developed through relationships.
You will have a quick preparation call with your recruiter before the interview to discuss the interviewers, their style, questions you should expect, and interviewing strategies, your questions, etc.
Interviews are not all about getting the job. It is about building relationships to see if you want to work with this person/team for the long-run. You do not want to 'win' every single interview because your values may not be aligned. Working for a company with different values than you is not fun. You want great mutual understanding and trust, even if that means they screen you out or you screen them out. It's not personal. These are huge decisions for you and prospective employers. Be honest, vulnerable, concise, thoughtful, and get to know your interviewers well. These meetings should arm you to make a decisive decision should they make you an offer.
1. Get great sleep the night before your interview. Being well rested will give you excellent mental agility and emotional bandwidth. You will be highly capable of careful active listening and relate closely to your interviewers. You will be observant to notice details which resonate with your values or warn you of a poor fit.
2. Arrive early enough to be calm and focused. Consider travel methods which are not prone to delays. Showing up slightly before your interview is step one of succeeding in the interview. Canceling or being late is a common warning sign that the relationship will not work out.
3. Review the website of the company to understand as much as you can.
4. Bring several copies of your resume. This is rarely necessary but always an impressive display of preparation and commitment.
5. Dress sharp one level above the normal business attire for the prospective business. For example, in a business casual office, you might wear slacks and a blazer where a suit may be overdoing it and tone-deaf to the office culture. Ties are uncommon on the west coast and common on the east coast.
6. Develop a list of questions about the ethos of the company and hiring authority to understand their perspective on management and vision for the company. A helpful tool for remembering your questions without referring to a large notepad of questions and interrupting the momentum of the conversation is to write concise prompts on a small piece of paper.
7. Ask questions with genuine curiosity to understand their needs. “What problem will I be focused on solving?” Listen to understand and not to respond. Take your time thoughtfully responding to questions.
9. Greet with a firm handshake, a friendly smile, and an enthusiastic hello. Be excited, but not too excited. Pay attention to the energy in the room.
10. Avoid engaging in early compensation negotiation. The appropriate time for the negotiation is after the opportunity and your candidacy have been fully explored and the value is exciting to both parties. Negotiating too early causes uneducated value statements to be made about the relationship which is probably not true or healthy. Share your compensation information freely with the company and disarmingly tell them that "Right now I am really focused on understanding your company's needs, the opportunity, and how I might benefit the team here. I am sure any offer you make will be competitive."
11. Consider how you will answer the question "Tell me about yourself". This is a common opening question and its intent is to understand what you think is important. Share some details about your past and smoothly transition into storytelling your career in broad strokes, being mindful to highlight accomplishments. Conclude your career story by explaining what you found intriguing in their opportunity. A great followup question for you to ask after concluding your answer is "What else would you like to know?"
12. Consider how you will answer the question "Why are you looking to make a change?". This question seeks to understand your motivations and how those motivations will affect your future performance. Be positive. Explain all that you have learned in your role and where you want your career to go from here, hence your exploration of this opportunity. Help the interviewer see how your current role has prepared you to grow and how they can benefit from your skills and desire to grow more.
13. Ask what their ideal candidate needs to do to earn an excellent review. This will inform you of their expectations and signal to your interviewer that you care about your performance. Work to understand their expectations for a success in this role.
14. If you enjoyed the meeting, tell the interviewers so and let them know you are looking forward to learning more in the next step. Ask them what they would like to do for the next step. Being proactive at this point greatly increases your chances of another interview because companies like to see people enthusiastic about their opportunities.
15. Note the names and emails of the interviewers so you can send a post-interview thank you letter or email. This is a classy step which shows simple gratitude and care.
16. Call your recruiter after the interviewer to debrief. This is important.
We recommend being candid about your compensation package and expectations. If you are underpaid, share that with your analysis of proper compensation. If you do not share your compensation and expectations then do not be surprised if the offer does not meet your expectations.
Negotiating in good faith SHOULD be reciprocated by good faith negotiating from the company. Trust is the foundation of any relationship. If you are negotiating like you don’t trust them then how well did you really interview them? If you sense the other party is not negotiating in good faith, walk away. Do not fixate on the offer over the right foundation for your relationship.
Smooth resignations are gentle affairs. Write a thoughtful, thankful, and resolute letter of resignation to deliver with your verbal resignation. Avoid explaining all the reasons you are leaving. It’s too late for everyone. They will use that information to manipulate you or be offended at your criticism.
Depending on their culture, the company may walk you out the door when you share your resignation. This can be a shocking and humiliating experience. Brace yourself for the possibility and accord yourself well, regardless.
Here’s a sample letter:
I am sorry to inform you that I am leaving [Company] effective immediately or in two weeks, whichever is your preference. This was a difficult decision, as working for [Company] has been a positive experience and one for which I am thankful. I have learned a lot here, and have enjoyed working with you. There is no doubt my experience with [Company] has prepared me for greater responsibility. However, I have accepted a position that will provide me with accelerated career growth and is in the best interest of my family and myself. This final decision was reached only after thorough consideration.
In order to insure a smooth transition, I will return all [Company] proprietary information to your office.
I wish continued success to [Company] and to you. Please feel free to contact me after I leave if I can be of further assistance.
Do you want to leave on your timing or your employers? Counteroffers exist because the inconvenience of losing an employee suddenly exceeds the cost of countering their offer. Counter offers are often accompanied by flattery and group pressure.
While not every counter-offer results in a career damaging termination at a convenient time for the company, trust is always damaged. Industry relationships will also be hurt if the prospective hiring company feels their investment was leveraged selfishly for the candidate’s benefit.
Short term; counter offers can work out myopically great with more money.
Long term; it’s an unfriendly bad faith negotiating method which burns bridges and may leave you stranded when the company figures out how to replace you with someone more loyal. Play dangerous games, win painful prizes.
Two weeks is the standard notice to give an employer. Some will ask for more. It’s your call but your new employer should be your priority. Best to figure out how to transition in those two weeks.
If your new employer does not need you urgently then the transition time may be a great time to take a vacation.
Hopefully your shiny new job comes with a great onboarding process. However, some don’t. You may have to administer it yourself.
Ask your manager what you need to bring for the first day.
Be on time. First impressions are important. Walk in on a full night’s sleep.
Learn everyone’s name in the department or company.
Ask your manager to share their expectations for your initial onboarding and also when you are settled in.
Focus on listening and learning to understand the culture nuances. Two ears, one mouth.
Find out if reviews are on a 90, 180, or 365 day schedule. Ask what are the elements of the review and incorporate those into your daily practices. Keep track of your weekly performance relative to the standards on a spreadsheet you can bring to your review.
Amongst other things, reviews are a way to proactively discover dissatisfaction. While you should be entirely honest, temper your criticism with a healthy bucket of personal responsibility. The book “Extreme Ownership” has much to say on being successful by taking personal responsibility for results.
Raises should be a function of measurable increased value to the organization. To effectively lobby for a promotion or raise you must simply exemplify how your skill set and consequent contribution has risen since your hire or last raise.
Track your key performances indicators. If the company has not developed them for you, create them. Track your performance metrics on a spreadsheet weekly to make your increased contribution simple to demonstrate.
Some people wait for employers to give them raises. There is nothing inherently wrong with this but they have nothing to complain about if they do not advocate for themselves.
Do not acquire an employment offer from another firm for leverage. It’s like threatening your spouse with a new relationship. Settle your differences with savvy communication skills. If the differences are irreconcilable or you find a better opportunity, move on without rancor.
You should seek promotion. A good employer will expect you to acquire new skills and productively employ them. Translating your commitment to excellence and their investment into handling more responsibility is critical for a growing company.
Before you expect a promotion, you need to earn it. Prove to them and yourself you are capable of taking on more by proving yourself reliable in everything you are given. Faithfulness and initiative are the largest ingredients to promotion.
Succeeding at work depends on getting along with people, especially your superiors. Learning to ‘manage up’ is an absolutely critical skill. Much can be written about it but in essence it is seeking to understand how your manager works, communicates, and expects and tailoring your work to fit their style. Managers have their own responsibility to understand subordinates but that is not your concern. Concern yourself with ‘managing up’ and the process of managing you will be easy.
Peter Drucker, that famed management guru, penned the excellent booklet “On Managing Oneself” which is an excellent read on career development.