Career Transitions in
We are committed to continuous learning and helping jobseekers succeed.
Here's the top 5 things you need to do first!
If you have never been laid off before, right now can be especially stressful and confusing as more and more people are being laid off or furloughed from their jobs.
There are so many factors that come into play when companies process reductions in force (RIF’s) and it can be overwhelming to understand how all this may apply to you if fall into this category during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently companies are trying to send the message that “jobs matter” by implementing alternatives to layoffs including cutting wages, reducing indirect benefits, suspending salary increases/bonuses/pensions, reducing hours, offering sabbaticals or unpaid leave, etc.
We all need to understand how this process may look for us given the nature of the pandemic as well as federal and state laws so we are prepared and not caught off guard.
For most organizations, layoffs are planned to happen quickly by design and I’ve handled many employees who are caught off guard and don’t even think of what to ask until after they are out the door and it’s too late.
Based on my HR experience of processing multiple RIFs, layoffs, terminations, etc., I have developed this article to help you focus on the top 5 essential areas you will need to address first so you can avoid the most common pitfalls I’ve seen others take after being let go.
1. File for unemployment.
If you are let go because of the pandemic odds are strong that you qualify for unemployment. In fact, the federal government has recently changed unemployment regulations so states have more flexibility on who is eligible. However, you will still want to check with your state since each one is a bit different.
2. Know what will be in your last paycheck.
It’s important to have clarity on your financial situation until you can make other arrangements or secure another job. HR is very careful with final paychecks to ensure they are compliant with state law and company policy to avoid penalties so they will easily have this information on hand.
3. Understand how long you will have benefits.
Most companies will keep your health benefits active for the remainder of the month due to invoicing schedules when you are let go.
4. Get clear on any additional pay or services.
Many ask about severance pay which is not likely if you are furloughed and doesn’t typically apply in a RIF unless the employer is simply trying to help. A common mistake is to misunderstand the purpose of a typical severance and try to negotiate one that is offered during a crisis.
5. Develop a job search and networking plan.
Make sure your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile are updated and tailored for your next target job.
There is obviously so much more to getting laid off than what this article addresses. It can look very different depending on a variety circumstances and your personal situation. However, these are the 5 essentials areas everyone needs to consider first should they find themselves laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Have questions? Feel free to grab time on my calendar. Happy to help!
Earlier in my HR career, I was interviewing for my first leadership position and it was down to me and one other candidate. In the last round we presented to a panel, which included the CFO (my prospective future boss).
As a former instructor, I was sure I had this one in the bag! My presentation was highly visual and full of relatable anecdotes guaranteed to hold their attention.
After a few minutes into the presentation, I noticed that the CFO was “less than charmed” by my creative attempts to engage the panel. He later asked questions about my research and lack of quantified data.
I lacked the ability adjust my delivery for all members in the panel, especially the CFO who was focused on facts and results. As a result, I was unable to earn his respect, much less prove my value in his organization.
I was the perfect example of being highly qualified, experienced and prepared. Yet, I ultimately failed to communicate my value by not speaking the same “language” of my interviewer.
Here’s how to learn the language of your interviewer and leverage it to your advantage!
There are 4 primary behavioral languages.
We are a mix of all four behavioral styles, however we each have one that stands out above the others. That is called our primary behavioral style.
There are many assessments out there to measure the behavioral analytics of a person. However, the one I prefer for this approach is DISC. It’s simple, easy to use and perfect in a quick assessment situation.
The key is to quickly assess your interviewer and determine which style is primary for them. Then adjust your communication responses to their style so you can deepen their understanding and connection.
The following is a breakdown of the general population and how they fall into the four behavioral styles.
As you read through consider which one also describes you!
D | Dominance –
10% of the population are drivers who like to take charge, have power, are bold and focused on the bottom line.
The “D” Personal Motto:
“Some people want things to happen, others wish they would happen, but I make things happen.”
How to pick them out in an interview:
I | Influencing –
25% of the population are expressive, good talkers, outgoing, entertaining and impulsive.
The “I” Personal Motto:
“Live like someone left the gate open.”
How to pick them out in an interview:
S | Stable –
40% of the population are amiable, steady, loyal, calm and understanding.
The “S” Personal Motto:
“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
How to pick them out in an interview:
C | Compliance –
25% of the population are analytical, detailed, logical and factual.
“If anything can go wrong, it will."
How to pick them out in an interview:
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Steven Covey
True communication occurs when you know your audience and can adapt to meet them where they are first.
A great way to do this before an interview is to use the personality tool Crystal. It can identify the behavioral style of a person from their LinkedIn profile by using a Chrome Extension.
Just look up the LinkedIn profiles of those on the interview panel using Crystal. Then prepare answers to potential questions so they align with their behavioral style by using this article as a quick guide.
This is also a great strategy in preparing specific questions to ask each interviewer to ensure you are discussing the areas that matter the most to them!
Try looking at it this way -
How long do you think it should take to transition into that next level position? It actually depends on many variables. However, on the average it typically takes 1 month to find a job for every $10K you earn annually.
The best way to understand how to navigate the executive recruiting landscape is to get a clear vision on how and why companies hire their top talent.
In other words, you need to look through the lens of your prospective employer first.
There are typically only two ways companies recruit their executive talent; internally and externally. When you understand the drivers for each, it will help you know which companies to target and when.
Statistically, HR knows that -
Executives hired externally will be lower performing over time compared to those promoted within.
For example, in 2006 alone - 55% of the executives externally recruited outside of an organization in North America, and 70% in Europe, were forced to resign due to poor performance.
Here’s how to determine if a hiring company is recruiting their leadership internally or externally.
You will need to ask the following 5 questions.
1. Are they currently a high performing organization?
2. Are there a high number of inside executives on the board of directors?
3. Does the company have a strong leadership succession or development program in place?
4. Are they looking to change their strategic direction?
A new CEO may be looking to make significant changes or chart a new direction. Look for major events like layoffs, mergers, buyouts, etc. as a sign that they might be looking to shake things up.
5. What is the size of the organization?
Companies that are doing well, have a large pooling of internal leadership, and are not positioned to make any big changes will typically not hire externally.
The opposite is true for companies who are not performing well, have poor leadership and need a new direction. They are the ones positioned to bring in external executive talent.
In an ideal world, all executives have updated and perfected resumes, clearly defined branding, a robust and warm network and ample opportunities knocking down their door.
Everyone should get paid what they are worth. So, it only makes sense to ask for what you want and give employers the opportunity to meet your expectations. Right?
Before you dive too deep into this mindset, you will want to look at this from the other side of the table first. Otherwise, you might lose the offer altogether or leave a poor impression with your prospective employer.
How do you ensure that the offer negotiation process is a win/win and leaves everyone excited for the future? Easy, know the limits on both sides and meet them at the top of their offerings with justified concrete data.
What are you really worth?
First you need to understand your market value.
You might be truly exceptional in many areas, but those personal differentiators won’t impact the local market and how you compare with the average compensation for similar roles.
Once you know how you stack up to the competition you can see how your worth aligns to the position in question. It’s crucial to understand where your personalized range sits in comparison to the market. Here’s why:
HR knows your value in the market and if you counter too far out of range it may send the wrong message.
For example, let’s say the compensation range for similar jobs in that area is $95,000 - $142,000 and your personalized estimate is $103,000.
Even though the market range goes up to $142,000, that doesn’t mean you should adopt that range for yourself since your experience, education, etc. will differ.
If their offer is within this range then you will be limited in your negotiation options and may need to exercise some creativity if you decide to counter so you don’t come across uninformed or too cocky.
What will the employer pay for the role?
Once you understand your market value then you need to research the pay grade or banding for the role with that employer. Most large companies are restricted by these ranges to maintain compliance with employment law and avoid litigation.
Let’s face it, people talk and that includes co-workers and the topic of salary. Disgruntled employees are often created when they are not being compensated fairly in comparison to others performing similar work. See Adam’s Equity Theory
HR is very sensitive to unequal pay and will not approve an offer creating high levels of pay disparity.
How do you find out a position’s pay range for a specific employer? There are a lot of great tools out there to compare salaries with specific companies, but the one I like best is Paysa. Within a few clicks you can clearly see all the direct compensation metrics for each company along with other indirect benefits.
After all, it’s not all about the base pay. Often there are other benefits that you can negotiate which becomes a valuable strategy if your personal market worth is sitting below the 25thor above the 75thpercentiles.
What else can you negotiate?
Once you have vetted out the direct compensation piece then you will want to consider all the other areas that will bring you value in your work-life balance and career development.
For those who are wanting to continue their education, negotiating University Tuition Reimbursement can be highly appealing. Or, you might have your eye on a specific training, a professional development course or certification that you can factor into the negotiation.
Childcare is another huge expense for many and often companies can be more flexible to better working arrangements regarding travel and remote offices. In addition, certain health or fitness stipends can bring additional value to your bottom line.
Perhaps a sign on bonus or relocation package would be enough to bridge the gap financially?
Get creative on what is most important to you, but remember that if it involves going against company policy it will likely not be considered to avoid discrimination.
Because of this paid leave, vacation time, medical insurance, 401(k) contributions, etc. can be a bit trickier to negotiate as opposed to education, training, moving expenses, contingency bonuses etc.
The next time you ask yourself, “Should I counter?”
Think first about the data. Do your research and approach the negotiation process without opinion or emotion. Be fully prepared to justify your response!
Express gratitude for the offer and be gracious in your communication. You can come to the table with all the right information but present it in an unprofessional way and loose an offer just as fast.
In a nutshell, always counter when it makes sense. Employers will expect you to not leave anything on the table and will respect you when you go through the process, especially when you keep the above in mind.