New Year, New Career: The "Power Plan" to Achieve Career Success in the New Year
By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC
Do you hope to get your career on track in the new year, with more power and momentum than ever before? Even though we’re in a very challenging recession and a very bad job market, do you want to “buck the trend” and create breakthrough results? Are you prepared to create the focused and productive career that you know you are capable of having – one that will give you great satisfaction and financial reward?
More than 75% of adults who make “New Year’s resolutions” to improve their careers lose momentum and give up within only a few months. Many are waiting for their jobs to get better, passively hoping that circumstances will improve someday. But one thing we know for sure is that careers do not get better by themselves. We have many previous years of work experience to prove this!
So, the pressing question is: What will make this year’s transition different from previous attempts to enhance your career? The answer is: plan; then take action!
The “New Year, New Career Power Plan” provides five real-world, detailed strategies you can undertake to make this YOUR year to achieve real career satisfaction and success:
Step One: Internal Career Audit
It’s time to take an honest look at your career – where you’ve been, where you are today, and where you’d like to go. The following eight principles provide what you need to perform a candid and effective “internal audit” of your career situation.
1. Understand that success is not an accident, but a planned event.
2. Accept the fact that you are fully responsible for your career.
3. Create a detailed picture of your ideal career.
4. Identify clear goals based on your own definition of career success.
5. Know that in order to get results, you must take action.
6. Learn about the things that get in the way of your success (i.e., self-limiting beliefs, fears, negative self-talk.)
7. Associate with successful people.
8. Do an image makeover (i.e., hair, glasses, wardrobe, posture, speech, smile, etc.)
Step Two: The Job Seeker's "Tool Kit"
Most job seekers use only their résumé as the cornerstone of their search because their other "tools" are weak or nonexistent. But the résumé should actually be one of your least used job-seeking tools! This 10-point outline examines the specific tools that you'll need and how to use them – not just to land the next job – but also to master the job search process and maximize your long-term career success. Examples include:
1. Written accomplishments. Examples of when you went “above and beyond” your job responsibilities, and produced positive, tangible results.
2. Positioning statement. Prepare and practice a “15-second commercial” about who you are professionally.
3. Professional biography. Write a one-page narrative of your career in the “third person.”
4. Target company list. Research and identify the industries and companies you would most like to work for, and create a list.
5. Contact list. Compile a list of all the people you know personally and professionally, including name, phone and e-mail.
6. Professional references. List colleagues from any job you’ve had who would “sing your praises” if asked about you.
7. Letters of recommendation. Request letters from 4-5 respected business associates, printed on their company letterhead.
8. Networking agenda. Prepare a script for your networking discussions – how it flows, what to focus on, how to react to the other person’s comments, etc. (More about this item below!)
9. Tracking system. Keep a detailed record in hard copy of your job-search activities, conversations, follow-up steps, etc.
10. Résumé. Include not only your job responsibilities for each position, but also your most noteworthy accomplishments. Be succinct and carefully edit the document.
It may take some time to produce these documents and to learn how to use them effectively – but it will be worth it. Building a satisfying career is much easier when you have the right tools!
Step Three: Networking: The Core of Your Search
One of the keys to managing your career effectively is to build and maintain a strong and diverse network. This step provides the information you'll need to learn how to cultivate this often-overlooked and underdeveloped resource into a positive and dynamic tool. To make “first contact” with individuals in your network, you’ll need to know exactly what to say and how to manage the discussion – and this requires a pre-prepared agenda with the following structure:
1. Use your Contact List to focus on specific people to contact every day.
2. Build rapport.
3. State “where you’ve been” professionally, by using your oral “Positioning Statement.”
4. Share “what happened” to your last position, by using an oral “Departure Statement.”
5. Ask for help.
6. “Decompress” – take the pressure off – assure them that you are not asking for a job.
7. Ask again for help – i.e., expanding your contact network, and asking for guidance, advice, feedback.
8. E-mail or fax your Professional Biography and Target List, and set a time to meet with them.
Step Four: Interviewing for Success
Interviewing can best be described as two-way story telling. You need to provide the interviewer with accurate, relevant, and value-centered stories about your contributions. The interviewer needs to tell you the story of their company, describe the position in question, and explain specifically how they would want you to fit into this picture.
This step takes the mystery – and the anxiety – out of job interviewing, from first contact to job offer. Examples include:
1. Learning how to effectively answer the tough questions.
2. Maintaining a proper attitude.
3. Clearly expressing your relevant accomplishments.
4. Asking informed questions.
5. Deflecting the salary issue.
6. Demonstrating your value.
7. Managing the process.
8. Implementing appropriate follow-up strategies.
Step Five: Salary Negotiations: The Rules of the Game
Why is it that people have such a difficult time successfully negotiating their compensation? The reason we can't or won't negotiate is not because we're incapable of doing this, but because we just don't know how! This very practical, "real world" step focuses on mastering the rules of the negotiation game – a game that can actually be fun, as well as financially rewarding!
As with any other game, you have to know the rules in order to win! Here are 21 critical rules you must know to play “the game” of compensation negotiation successfully:
1. Do extensive salary research, preparation and practice beforehand.
2. Defer salary discussions until an offer seems imminent.
3. Discuss salary only with the person who has the authority to negotiate the salary and hire you.
4. Get the employer to state a salary figure or range first.
5. Wait until an actual offer is on the table before negotiating.
6. Discuss salary only after you have fully described your relevant accomplishments.
7. Know your strategy before attending the negotiation meeting.
8. Always negotiate the offer, no matter how good it seems initially.
9. Finalize the salary first, before negotiating other items such as benefits.
10. Never misrepresent your former salary.
11. Don’t confuse salary with the full compensation package.
12. Avoid tying your potential salary to your old salary.
13. Use silence as one of your most powerful negotiating tools.
14. “Fit” is more important than financial compensation.
15. Leverage one offer against other offers if possible.
16. Be patient and disciplined throughout the process.
17. You don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.
18. Never accept or reject an offer on the spot – do a thorough analysis.
19. You can only win at negotiation if you’re willing to “walk away.”
20. Be sure the compensation package you finally accept is a “win-win.”
21. Maintain a positive, upbeat attitude and enjoy the “game!”
When implemented in a unified and comprehensive manner, this 5-step “Power Plan” has been shown to produce outstanding results within a short period of time. If you can master these strategies and use them consistently over the long term, the bad economy and job market won’t be quite as challenging for you. This will ensure that you'll reach your full career potential this year – and for the rest of your working life!
Copyright © 2012, Career Potential, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2012, Career Potential, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Ford R. Myers, a nationally-known Career Expert and author of “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring.” For information about career services and products, visit www.careerpotential.com and www.fordmyers.com.