Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Balance Yourself First

The one downside to having a job you really, truly and passionately love is that you want to do it a lot- like- all the time a lot. We call it an occupational hazard around our offices but it's sort of not the whole point of our business, the whole work-life balance piece.

But we've discovered over the last nearly 5 years is that everyone has a very different definition of balance. And because kids and life change so darned fast, what you need this year in terms of balance and schedule flexibility is not likely what you'll need next year. Your work and your life should fit your personal goals for balance.

Knowing that there really never is a perfect "balance," a moment in time where you have just the right amount of work and just the right amount of life, how the heck do you get off the hamster wheel and start enjoying more of both?

A good place to start is Annie McKee's article in today's Huffington Post, Balance Yourself, Not Work and Life. Although Ms. McKee cites a lot of grim statistics about the effects of "power stress" on our economy and lives, she gives a lot of great examples on bringing a little more balance inward. She acknowledges that it's not realistic to hit a yoga class before work, but that you can create mindfulness by taking just a few moments every day to breathe, take in nature and focus on hopefulness and gratitude.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stand Out With a GREAT Thank You Note

I'm a huge advocate of all things technology-related and my OCD compulsion to rid the world of paper products is strong, but there's one place in the world for good old fashioned card stock: the thank you note.

We always encourage our candidates to email a thank you note the day of the interview with a paper thank you the day after. After all, it's the best way to stand out in a very, very crowded labor market.

But yesterday I received a spot-on thank you note for a candidate in our process and wanted to share why it was so terrific:
  • Stood out: The bright pink envelope matched our corporate graphic scheme, something maybe only a designer like this candidate would've noticed. But it certainly brightened up my desk today and stood out in the mailbox. Obviously you need to match your communication to the audience and most investment banks or corporate law firms won't appreciate a polka-dotted card, but this was just right for us.
  • Message: Short, sweet and sincere, 3 great attributes of a great thank you note. This candidate wrote a brief expression of gratitude that also demonstrated she "got" us, our business model and what we do.
  • Business Cards: Smart job-seeker move of the week! This job-seeker is a freelancer so she already had cards, but she included not one but two in her thank you note. What a clever way to make sure you stay top of mind! If you don't already have cards, march your fingers on over to VistaPrint and get some cheap cards today.

Interviewing? Don't Forget to Look Inward

There's one thing we know for sure: if we can get our people in front of our clients, they're likely to get the job. Momentum Resources has a very high success rate with our candidates receiving strong offers after the interview process.

Why is this the case? Because we coach our candidates through the interview process to not only conduct the standard external research (website, industry news, LinkedIn bios and connections) but also to look inward.

We advise our candidates to do a little:
  • Inward Analysis: What does the candidate bring to the organization? How does that align with the organizations' mission statement?
  • Problem Solving: How do our candidate's skills and strengths help solve the organization's short-, intermediate- and long-term problems? Address industry challenges?
  • Muster Sincere Enthusiasm: How can you clearly convey that you are excited about the potential opportunity to work with this client? Don't be aggressive, but demonstrate passion and commitment to the role and make it clearly that, if offered, you'd jump at this opportunity.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rate Expectations, Part 2

Employers, ever wonder why you can’t snag the best talent in a “flush” job market? We understand where you are coming from – budgets are still limited and economic uncertainty looms, impacting your ability to lure potential employees with top dollar compensation packages.

If you try to capture top talent with a low rate – you are not likely to get the talent that you are looking for and quite frankly your company deserves. Yes, we have had companies come to us asking for a bookkeeper at $13/hr because the “market bears it”. Not really. Quality talent doesn’t come at that rate. And in the off chance that someone says yes, they are likely to move on to another job next month for $20/hr.

But if you want to attract a super star, you have to be financially competitive. NO, this doesn’t mean that you have to get into the bidding wars and signing bonuses of the late 90’s, but it does mean that you have to be fair and thoughtful.

So, be realistic and creative in your offers. Offer non-financial compensation to get the best talent for your limited budget. Flexible hours and partial telecommuting don't cost you a dime and have a real economic benefit to job-seekers. Uncertain about your economic outlook? Consider a contract or contract-to-permanent arrangement to minimize your hiring risk and match your employment expense to an anticipated grant, contract or revenue stream.

Rate Expectations

A funny thing has happened over the last six months or so: hiring has picked up and pay rates have leveled out. People are getting paid fairly, very fairly in fact - but just not as high as pre-recession rates. This is causing a fundamental disconnect between job seekers and the people that want to employ them, making for a very inefficient- perhaps even stalled- hiring market.

Job seekers, it's time to really think about what you can reasonably expect in this market. Is your company downsizing and eliminating your high six figure salary role? You may be worth it, but that salary level isn’t sustainable. So, as you begin your job search, be prepared for a bit of sticker shock – it will be hard to match six figures no matter how good you are. So, be reasonable – don’t sell yourself short, but don’t say NO to a job because it is not six figures. And you may find a great job is right under your nose.

And if you're returning to work after a hiatus (child rearing, unemployment, you name it) your last salary level is almost irrelevant. Compensation is determined by supply and demand. That's why there are lawyers working for $30/hr and app developers making $130/hr. Don't take a salary offer as a personal affront, it's the job, not you.

What can you do to correct this disconnect?

  • Use your tools: Check resources like Salary.com and your industry professional associations to determine market and role specific compensation information. If you're really confused or in a niche industry, it might be time to bring on a compensation consultant to point you in the right direction.
  • Job Seekers: Do your homework. Know your value, research comparable salary levels and be flexible in your expectations. Let potential employers know if you won't be using certain benefits or if you're open to a lower salary now for a performance and salary review 6 months down the road.
  • Consider contract roles. If you don't need corporate benefits, consider a contract position that can sometimes (but not always!) offer you a higher hourly rate. If the rate is really unattractive, negotiate for an intermediate contract length: not so long that you're locked into an unappealing rate forever but long enough to knock their socks off so that you're in a better position to negotiate a higher rate at contract renewal time. That contract opportunity might just be your foot-in-the-door to your perfect next job.