Ask yourself these questions when deciding if you should move for a job

A job offer in a new city, state, or country can be a hugely tempting opportunity. Change of scenery! New job! New people! Excitement! But before you make this huge life decision, there are some questions to ask yourself first. Is this really what I want? A job may look like the total right fit […]

A job offer in a new city, state, or country can be a hugely tempting opportunity. Change of scenery! New job! New people! Excitement! But before you make this huge life decision, there are some questions to ask yourself first.

Is this really what I want?

A job may look like the total right fit on paper—it’s in your field, it’s more pay, it’s in a city you’ve always wanted to live in. But before you say yes, think about what this job means for your goals. Will you be able to grow in the job? How does it align with your career goals? What is your next step after this job? It can seem premature to start thinking about your next job, but if this isn’t a role where you’re going to be able to grow and evolve in your career, you’re changing an awful lot in your life to take it.

How stable is this job offer?

This is also a chance to do a little extra digging on your potential company’s future. If it seems like it’s on shaky ground, your awesome opportunity may turn quickly into sudden unemployment. If you can, seek out feedback from others who’ve worked there before. If you start seeing patterns like high turnover or major disgruntlement from former employees, then you might want to give some second thought to whether this is the job and the company you hope and expect it will be.

How will this affect my personal life?

Let’s put the career move aside for a second—what about outside of work? If you’re moving alone to this new place, are you ready for the challenges of doing a new city or town all on your own? What are your resources going to be? If you’re moving as part of a couple or a family, it’s time to consider their needs as well. Will you be happy while your spouse is miserable and unable to find a job? Will your kids need to be uprooted from friends/school/activities? Work-life balance is essential in any career, so you need to think about how your home life will be changed by this work move.

What are the costs and the logistics of moving?

If you’re accepting a new job in a new city or town, your new company may cover moving expenses, like moving trucks, car rental, temporary housing, or realtor fees. But the company might not. Before you accept and commit to moving for this new gig, be sure you’re aware of what your new company will—and won’t—cover to get you there. And it’s not just the obvious moving costs as well. Will you need to buy new furniture? What are average housing and living costs in your new place?

If a move is going to cost you thousands of dollars, and this isn’t reflected in your new salary, then you’re making a huge financial commitment as well.

Grabbing a new job and moving to a new place can be exhilarating, and a great jump-start to your career. But before you sign that offer letter and start packing the U-Haul, it’s important to think long and hard about whether it’s truly the right choice for you.

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How to get the best severance package

So…it happened. You’ve gotten the bad news that you’re fired, or laid off. It may feel like the world is ending—or you may just feel shock. Whatever you’re feeling, the fact remains the same: you’re leaving your job, and not by your own choice. While you do need to embrace that reality, you don’t necessarily […]

So…it happened. You’ve gotten the bad news that you’re fired, or laid off. It may feel like the world is ending—or you may just feel shock. Whatever you’re feeling, the fact remains the same: you’re leaving your job, and not by your own choice. While you do need to embrace that reality, you don’t necessarily have to take the severance package that was initially offered to you.

When the worst happens, take these considerations into account to see if you can improve your severance.

Talk to a lawyer.

An employment attorney can help you navigate the waters after you’ve been terminated, particularly if you feel like you weren’t fired for proper cause or you were marched out of the office quickly without the chance to take stock of the situation. This doesn’t mean “sue the bastards,” but it does mean you should get a professional’s advice on whether you do have grounds for a potential suit. An attorney can also help you figure out if you have any wiggle room for negotiation.

Negotiate yourself.

Even if you do have an attorney, it’s usually the best course to do the negotiating yourself (unless you are likely to file a lawsuit—then it’s best to have your attorney either present or speaking on your behalf). Having someone negotiate for you can escalate the tension, so be careful to keep the tone civil if you’re hoping to get a better deal.

Ask for more.

At this point, you have little to lose, so you should request a higher severance payment. You should definitely be realistic—the payment is unlikely to double or triple from an initial offer, but you may be able to negotiate a lump sum payment vs. continued salary or an increase in the total payment.

Nail down insurance information.

One of the trickiest parts of unemployment can be insurance coverage, especially if you’re used to having solid coverage through your job. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1995 (a.k.a. COBRA) means you can likely continue your insurance coverage for up to 18 months, but at your own expense. If coverage is a concern, this is a point to raise with the company. You may be able to get the company to keep paying for your insurance for a period of time after you leave.

Ask about unused benefits.

Some companies may offer a check in exchange for unused vacation or personal time, so be sure to see what’s on the table and fully understand what your company’s policies are on that front.

Be clear on what’s in the severance agreement.

Always, always, always read the fine print. Some severance agreements contain “non-compete” language, which limits your ability to go work for a competitive company. Others contain a non-disparagement clause, which means you may have to forfeit your total severance package if you’re busted saying anything negative about the company after you leave (even if it’s true). Make sure you understand what the conditions are if you accept the severance package.

Once you get the bad news, the important thing is…don’t panic. Or if you do panic, try to get it out of your system and then settle in for the next phase of talking through the logistics of your leaving. Just like negotiating a salary, you may have the chance to improve your package—if you ask for it.

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Avoiding age discrimination on the job

The truth is, we’re sometimes judged by things that are beyond our control—this is true in all facets of life, including the world of work. One of the biggest workplace reversals in recent decades is the perception of age. At one time, age was looked at as a valuable commodity among employees—an indication of experience, […]

The truth is, we’re sometimes judged by things that are beyond our control—this is true in all facets of life, including the world of work. One of the biggest workplace reversals in recent decades is the perception of age. At one time, age was looked at as a valuable commodity among employees—an indication of experience, wisdom, and know-how. While this is still true in some industries and companies, in many others age has become a perceived weakness of sorts—an indication of decreasing relevance, energy, and understanding of how the modern world (including current business needs and consumer demands) works.

In years past, companies felt the need to have older, experienced employees in positions of power and decision-making; now, they’re increasingly allowing fresh young minds and perspectives at their helms to steer them towards success in our rapidly evolving, techno-centric world.

So, where does this leave aging and older employees? The truth is, the general outlook isn’t black and white—many older employees will figure out how to avoid age discrimination and find professional success, while others will struggle and face a variety of challenges along the way. Ladders discussed the issue of age discrimination in a recent article that included some helpful advice on how to face this tricky topic.

Which side of the fence will you be on? While it may be impossible to completely control how the professional world perceives you as you get older, there are things you can do to hopefully avoid age discrimination—whether you’ve been on the job for years or are job hunting for your next position. Use the following strategies to avoid age discrimination in your professional life.

Stay relevant.

The world of work is quickly evolving, and those of us who work to stay relevant are much more likely to have a place in it—those who chose to endlessly bemoan these changes and remain stuck in the past will have a much harder road ahead of them.

Regardless of your age, fight to stay relevant—master the current technology used by your office and industry (take classes if need be), get flexible and comfortable with a new agile and lean workplace environment (this may mean working remotely at a work share facility instead of having your own office), and even follow current styles of professional behavior and dress so that you fit in (get casual and ditch the tie or blazer if you’re the only one wearing them). Bottom line—if you want to seem relevant, make sure that you don’t stand out for the wrong reasons and show that you’re more than ready for whatever changes are on the horizon.

Embrace change.

Simply put, everything is changing—the old rules and ways of doing things are being tossed out the window and replaced by new approaches and innovations. By not only staying on top of these changes but embracing them, you’ll continually reassert your professional relevance and value and increase your chances of being viewed as an asset, not an outdated fossil waiting to be put out to pasture.

Demonstrate that you’re not only the kind of employee who can handle change, but can also thrive when change happens, and can even lead the charge forward. For example, think of ways your company can take advantage of current and emerging innovation and show the powers that be that you can help steer your company to future success. It’ll be hard to deny your value as an employee if you’re constantly offering bold new ideas for how your company can face the future.

When all else fails—assert your rights.

If you’re doing all you can to remain a current and valuable part of the modern workplace but are still facing seemingly insurmountable hurdles, the truth is that age discrimination is illegal. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers over the age of 40 from discrimination on the basis of age. If you feel that you’re being unfairly discriminated against on the basis of age, know your rights and options and don’t be afraid to take action.

The bottom line

While getting older does present new challenges for navigating the work world, you don’t have to let your age wholly define you as an employee or job candidate, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to be a victim of age discrimination. Use the strategies and advice presented here to avoid age discrimination and remain a valuable professional commodity. When the wave of change hits your industry or company (and there’s a good chance it already has), will you sink or swim? Take charge of your professional future.

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What to do if your year starts off terribly

Most of us have high hopes every time we ring in a new year—we imagine that new opportunities, better luck, and greater fortune are just waiting for us as we end one year and start fresh in a new one. However, for many of us these high hopes are quickly met by a different reality […]

Most of us have high hopes every time we ring in a new year—we imagine that new opportunities, better luck, and greater fortune are just waiting for us as we end one year and start fresh in a new one.

However, for many of us these high hopes are quickly met by a different reality when our year gets off to a bad start and we start to get the sinking feeling that maybe things haven’t changed all that much. Perhaps it’s a resolution that you set up for yourself that you’ve already dropped the ball on, or maybe it’s a goal that’s already starting to seem more and more unattainable as the days wear on, or maybe you’ve just hit a wall of plain bad luck.

If any of this sounds familiar and you’re feeling as if your year is already off to a bad start, that doesn’t mean you have to give up or accept the grim fate that you’re inevitably going to have a bad year. There are effective strategies for turning things around if your new year has gotten off to a bad start. The Muse published an article about what to do if your year gets off to a bad start, and the following tips can help you make your next move a smart one!

Regroup and start over.

One unfortunate side effect of having a bad start to a new year is that it can set you up with a negative mindset for the rest of the year, which can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. You assume things are going to go bad, so you approach new opportunities and goals with the expectation that they won’t pan out. And guess what? You’re setting yourself up for failure to happen. Not a great way to face a new year!

Instead of letting early failures or unfortunate occurrences derail you completely, take a moment to stop, regroup, and reset your head to a more positive, focused, and optimistic mindset. This way, you’re setting yourself up for a healthy pivot—away from bad luck and misfortune and towards ensuring that you approach each opportunity in a positive and productive manner, which will help set you up for future success.

Learn from mistakes.

More often than not, we’re the architects of our own misfortune. This means that when our year gets off to a bad start, there’s likely a reason behind it—and it’s one that stares us right in the face whenever we look in the mirror. Rather than accept defeat when our year gets off to a bad start, try and turn unfortunate events into learning experiences and figure out what we did wrong.

Take time for some serious self-reflection when you hit a bad patch and determine what happened. Could you have done something differently to improve an outcome? Are there lessons that you can take with you as you encounter new experiences and opportunities throughout the year? If so, then turn these experiences into something valuable that can help set you up for a reversal of fortune as the year unfolds.

Create a new path.

The simple truth is that sometimes the grand plans we set for ourselves don’t work out—whether it’s due to something we did wrong or something completely out of our control, life happens and sometimes our goals simply fall out of reach. Also, sometimes the things we want simply change. A goal you set for yourself at the end of last year may no longer reflect what you want in the new year as time goes on. That’s okay! The key takeaway here is to allow yourself to move away from a goal you set for yourself and embrace a new one, provided it makes sense to do so and it’s not just the result of you giving up.

There you have it—some proven strategies for getting your year back on track if it starts off on the wrong foot. Use these tips to help ensure that you’re setting yourself up for a happy and successful year!

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8 signs your coworker is toxic

There’s nothing quite as uniquely stressful as a toxic coworker—and if you’ve been a victim of one you know precisely how difficult a situation he or she can be. They can be toxic for a wide variety of reasons, from a negative energy that they give off to a detrimental effect they have on your […]

There’s nothing quite as uniquely stressful as a toxic coworker—and if you’ve been a victim of one you know precisely how difficult a situation he or she can be. They can be toxic for a wide variety of reasons, from a negative energy that they give off to a detrimental effect they have on your team, department, or entire workplace. The effects can be wide ranging—from making your work environment uncomfortable to seriously impacting productivity and workplace satisfaction.

While in other parts of your life you can usually avoid a person who’s toxic, it’s not quite as easy to do so at work. And given that we typically spend a minimum of 40 hours at our jobs per week—a significant part of our waking lives—it can be a real problem, and often one without an easy solution.

Are you wondering if a coworker of yours is toxic? There are signs that you can look for to know for sure, and once you know you can set up a plan for dealing with the situation. Inc. recently published an article that covers 8 signs you should look for to determine if your coworker is toxic. Use this information to help you navigate this tricky situation!

1. They’re “secret” know-it-alls.

Do you have a coworker who’s perfectly pleasant and agreeable—even a team player—when the boss is paying attention but quickly reverts to an annoying know-it-all who can’t seem to allow room for any other opinion but they’re own? This sort of toxic coworker can be impossible to work collaboratively with and can make it really hard to function comfortably at work.

2. They act as if they’ve already paid their dues.

Most of us have experience with this sort of toxic coworker—they think that the sheer fact that they’ve been at the workplace longer gives them some level of superiority or special pass to behave in any way they wish (and often it’s in a terrible way). Often, they get by doing as little as possible and expect newer employees who are currently “paying their dues” to shoulder a greater amount of the work. It’s never fun to be around this sort of coworker, and it’s certainly not a recipe for workplace efficiency.

3. They like to say, “Yeah, but that’s not my job.”

This type of coworker can be a real nightmare to be around. They have a very narrow and rigid view of what their jobs entail and leave little or no room for flexibility or taking one for the team. They treat everything that they don’t want to do like a “hot potato” that they quickly pass along to others. Being around this sort of person never feels good—they never truly gel with the rest of the team.

4. They think experience is a tangible commodity.

Some people wrap themselves in the vague notion of their perceived “experience,” without it pointing to any clearly defined skill set or measurable contribution to the team. These people often fail or refuse to learn new skills, grow, and adapt. The truth is, experience is great—but in a fast-paced, constantly evolving workplace, experience is not the sole commodity that some toxic coworkers make it out to be, and it can create clear weak links in the employee chain.

5. They love gossip.

Who hasn’t had a coworker who seems to spend more time gossiping than getting actual work done? They can talk endlessly about a wide range of useless subjects to any coworker who’ll listen—as long as they don’t involve actual work-related topics. Not only is their work output minimal as a result, they’re often a drain on others around them as well—a real lose-lose situation.

6. They use peer pressure to hold other people back.

To these sorts of toxic coworkers, the workplace is like a reality TV show in which they create alliances and enemies and manipulate others around them to achieve their selfish goals. Often peer pressure is their tool of choice, and they use their perceived influence with their coworkers to manipulate and hold other people back while propping themselves up.

7. They’re quick to grab the glory.

Rather than view successes as the result of teamwork and collaborative effort, these coworkers like to hog the spotlight and pretend that every success is the sole result of their own influence and contributions. These toxic people somehow manage to tarnish every workplace win with their selfish behavior.

8. They’re even quicker to throw others under the bus.

Consider this the flip side to the previous point—as quick as these people are to grab the glory after a big win, they’ll just as quickly point the finger at others and assign blame when things go sour. These toxic coworkers keep everyone on edge and on their toes at work—and not in a good way.

If you recognize any of the signs mentioned above, you might just have a toxic coworker. If so, recognizing it is the first step. Consider your options for following up—sometimes a simple talk with the coworker can make a world of difference. Be patient, be kind, and stand up for yourself in a professional manner. Aim to be the coworker you wish you had.

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4 questions to ask when negotiating a job offer

You have a job offer—awesome! Your work is done, right? After all, you’ve made it through the resume pile/interview/second interview gauntlet and emerged as the winner. Not so fast, champ…you still have some work to do. The job offer is just the start of the next phase: negotiating. This is your chance to get as […]

You have a job offer—awesome! Your work is done, right? After all, you’ve made it through the resume pile/interview/second interview gauntlet and emerged as the winner. Not so fast, champ…you still have some work to do. The job offer is just the start of the next phase: negotiating. This is your chance to get as much compensation as you can as you prepare to start this new phase of your career.

Let’s review the most important questions to ask as you start to negotiate salary and/or benefits with your new employer.

1. How are employees reviewed, and how is this tied to salary increases?

This question lets you know what you can expect down the line and what you should negotiate up front. If the salary seems low up front and the company is unlikely to budge very much during this first phase, you can start making your plan—and your case—for an increase later on. If raises at this company are tied to good performance reviews, you can go in to the job on day one with the goal of achieving an “excellent” (or whatever the metric is), and can talk with your manager to set specific goals so you’ll be in good shape when it comes time to talk about a pay bump.

2. Besides the base pay, are any benefits negotiable?

This gives you a sense of the playing field. If you can’t negotiate time off, insurance coverage, or other benefits, there’s no point in spending your time and energy on those points. It also lets you push a bit on the salary, if nothing else is up for discussion. Knowing what’s flexible and what’s not will help you target your negotiation.

3. What is the fiscal year for this company?

This question is a good one to ask because it’ll tell you when your next window for negotiation or a raise will be. If you’re starting at the beginning of a year and the company’s fiscal year starts in January, then you’ll have a straightforward year before an increase. But if you’re starting in January and their fiscal year ends after the first quarter (April), you’ll be waiting significantly longer than a year for a potential salary increase. That gives you a bit of leverage to say, “Since it will be more than a year until I’m eligible for a salary review, I’m hoping we can start with a slightly higher initial salary.”

4. Can you send me employee benefit costs?

The company should be able to send you a one-pager or a packet outlining the basic benefits offered by the company (insurance, vacation time, etc.) and any related employee contributions/costs. Benefits aren’t usually highly negotiable, but you can use this cost information as part of your proposed salary.

As you get started with the job offer negotiation process, the most important part is having as much information as possible at your disposal. That way, you can make realistic requests and have a good idea of how far you can push with your negotiation—or when you should retreat and live to negotiate another day.

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How to handle work when you’re depressed

Work can be challenging in even the best of circumstances—but when you’re depressed and not feeling your absolute best, getting through each workday can be a real struggle. Many folks grapple with depression in both their personal and professional lives, and it can make getting through each day and handling daily responsibilities difficult. According to […]

Work can be challenging in even the best of circumstances—but when you’re depressed and not feeling your absolute best, getting through each workday can be a real struggle.

Many folks grapple with depression in both their personal and professional lives, and it can make getting through each day and handling daily responsibilities difficult. According to a recent study by The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults.” The NIMH defines a major depressive episode as “a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image.”

Depression in the workplace is a significant issue—both for employees and employers. Mental Health America recently reported that “Clinical depression has become one of America’s most costly illnesses. Left untreated, depression is as costly as heart disease or AIDS to the U.S. economy, costing over $51 billion in absenteeism from work and lost productivity and $26 billion in direct treatment costs. Depression tends to affect people in their prime working years and may last a lifetime if untreated.”

Furthermore, a significantly higher percentage of adults suffer from minor or moderate depressive episodes. Although they typically include less pervasive symptoms, it can nonetheless make it hard to handle work and a spiraling effect can result—you feel depressed, which effects your ability to work, which makes you more depressed, and so on.

Are you among the millions of Americans who suffer from depression? If so, then you’re not alone and there is a way forward—use the following strategies to help you learn to handle work when you’re depressed.

Don’t ignore the signs.

If you’re struggling at work, try your best to recognize the signs that it might be due to depression.

  • Are you feeling tired and lethargic throughout the day for no reason?
  • Are everyday tasks—things that you used to do before with ease—becoming increasingly more difficult for you to handle and complete, or have become completely overwhelming for you?
  • Is interacting with others at your workplace, or working collaboratively on team-based projects, becoming so uncomfortable or unappealing to you that you avoid contact or social interactions with colleagues at all costs?
  • Do you find that your self-care routine is falling by the wayside?
  • Are you noticing negative changes in your overall mood and attitude throughout the day?
  • Has your productivity at work dipped?
  • Do you find yourself missing work, coming in late, or leaving early more often?

The truth is, any one or combination of these signs could be an indication that you’re suffering from depression. If you answered yes to any of these questions, the first step is to acknowledge that depression might currently be an issue for you.

Assess your needs.

As previously mentioned, there are varying degrees of depression that an individual can experience, and every person has their own unique symptoms, coping mechanisms, and needs. If you’ve made the determination that you’re suffering from depression—whether its mild or more profound—a good idea is to try and take an honest self-assessment and mental inventory regarding how it’s affecting your life. The last thing you want to have happen is to have your depression take complete control of your life and adversely affect your job situation—which can make your condition worse.

Once you’ve determined how your depression is affecting you at work, try to assess your needs. Do you need to simply recalibrate, get organized, and wrap your head around your work responsibilities in a new and fresh way? Do you need to make some behavioral and lifestyle changes in an effort to enact positive change? Or do you need additional outside help? Once you’re able to make a determination about what you need in order to effect change in your life and make the struggle a bit easier, you’ll be in a better position to choose the right steps for you.

Seek help if needed.

Do you think that you may need some guidance from others—perhaps friends or family, trusted colleagues, or professional help? The first thing to realize is that this isn’t a personal failure on your part. Many competent and functional adults suffer from depression, and there’s no shame or stigma in reaching out for help. Depression is a heavy weight to carry around on your own—seeking help from others can help ease the burden and allow you to focus on working towards an effective life solution.

Explore workplace options.

Many progressive workplaces offer benefits packages that include mental health services—from finding the right professional help to meet your needs to financial coverage for associated costs. You may also be eligible to take paid time off from work to focus on getting help and getting better. Contact your HR representative to learn all of your options, which will help you formulate the best strategy for dealing with your depression.

You are under no obligation to disclose a private health concern like depression to your colleagues and coworkers. That said, many people chose to be honest and up front about their depression and are met with sensitivity, guidance, and understanding, which can be an incredibly supportive and encouraging thing to have at a time when you need it most. The choice on how to handle disclosure is completely yours.

Don’t just ignore your depression.

How many problems in your life get better by simply ignoring them? If you feel that you’re experiencing depression at work and it’s affecting your ability to do your job, your best bet is to not ignore it and to use the steps outlined above to try and make some positive changes. Don’t forget—you’re not alone and your situation is not insurmountable. With a little proactive effort and the courage to effect positive changes in your life, you can go beyond learning how to handle depression at work. Instead, you can truly thrive.

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Your 2018 guide to asking for a promotion 

New year…new job title? Many of us look upon a new year as a time for new opportunities, from setting and achieving new personal goals to exploring new passions and hobbies and reaching new professional milestones—including moving up the career ladder. Most of us have an ultimate professional goal that we one day wish to […]

New year…new job title? Many of us look upon a new year as a time for new opportunities, from setting and achieving new personal goals to exploring new passions and hobbies and reaching new professional milestones—including moving up the career ladder.

Most of us have an ultimate professional goal that we one day wish to fully achieve, and many of us have plotted out a series of steps on our career ladder that will hopefully get us there. With the ushering in of a new year, we often hope that we’ll be able to take a bold step forward toward our goal—which means getting a promotion at work.

Of course, in a perfect world, we’d never have to actually ask for a promotion—our bosses would simply recognize our undeniable talents and contributions over and over, resulting in a series of promotions. But for most of us, this is more of a pleasant dream than a tangible reality, and waiting for this to happen is like waiting for a sack of money to drop out of the sky and into your lap—not the most efficient use of your productive work years.

The truth is, most of us who want a promotion are going to have to ask for one, which can be among the most stressful, anxiety-inducing, and nerve-wracking experiences we subject ourselves to. Asking for a promotion is no simple task, especially if you’re relatively new to your company or industry and may still be proving yourself. According to a recent article published by Forbes, “Asking for a promotion can be one of the most stressful experiences in your career—especially in today’s uncertain economy. Why? Because you know you’re putting yourself at some level of risk…It should be no surprise that, in comparison to only a few decades ago, today’s average employee has larger workloads—and more (and better) competition to contend with. Add to this the highly evolved social and political networks one needs to master, and you have one tough road to travel…to move from employment offer to promotion without a single misstep is unlikely, and mistakes happen often enough.”

Yes, the mere thought of asking for a promotion may send you into a panic and have you reconsidering the entire idea, but fear not! In the professional world fortune often favors the bold, and if you attack the “promotion situation” smartly and with a solid game plan, you can really increase your chances that things will go your way when you pop the big question!

Use the following strategies to help you stack the deck in your favor, and to avoid the biggest mistakes most people make when gearing up to asking for a promotion.

Read the signs.

The first crucial step to determining if now is a good time to ask for a promotion or if you’re better off waiting is to “take the temperature” of the company. Was 2017 a good year, or were there lots of struggles and challenges? Did your company meet or exceed its annual goals, or did it fall short? Have there been a great deal of layoffs or employee turnover recently, or do things feel relatively stable. Or better yet, are signs of growth and new innovation in the air? It isn’t difficult to envision which of these scenarios are more conducive to asking for a promotion, so try to figure out if now is the right time for you to make the big ask.

Also, be sure to take your own workplace temperature. Was 2017 a “hot” or “cold” year for you as an employee? Did you achieve or surpass your goals? Many of us have clearly defined performance metrics, which are often reviewed regularly with our bosses (often annually), so determining if 2017 was a good year for you shouldn’t be too difficult. If you had a banner year in 2017, then perhaps now is the perfect time to go after that promotion. If you struggled a bit over the year, perhaps it’s wiser to wait a few months and really work hard to establish yourself as a valuable employee before taking the plunge.

Build a good case.

In many instances, asking for a promotion is like interviewing for a new job, and you’ll likely have to “make a case” for yourself—not just for why you deserve a promotion, but also, and perhaps more importantly, for how your company will benefit from promoting you. This is your opportunity to resell yourself to your company—this time in a new role with greater responsibility.

So, approach the situation like you did when you first interviewed with the company. Convince them that you’re the perfect person for this new position and that your background, experience, and skill set are the perfect mix to handle the job effectively. You want them to think that promoting you will ultimately benefit the company’s bottom line.

Choose your moment.

Pop quiz: Do you think your chances for getting a promotion will be better when you ask your boss after a particularly tense and stressful morning or in the middle of a terrible workplace crisis, or when your boss is in a good mood, relaxed, and hopefully open to new ideas? Not the most difficult quiz, right? Well, you’d be surprised by how many unfortunate employees, who are so nervous and desperate to get the promotion question over with, just blindly jump in and ask their bosses for a promotion without determining if the timing is right. Not a good move. Don’t make this easily avoidable mistake.

Mind the details.

Perhaps just as important as the things you’ll say when asking for a promotion are the supporting details—the tone you use, the outfit you decide to wear when you ask, and your body language and facial expressions. You’ve already successfully interviewed with the company before, so you have a good idea of what works and what doesn’t. The key here is to take this opportunity seriously and to bring your “A game” when you do decide the time is right to ask for a promotion. Dress well, use a confident and positive tone, and make sure your body language reflects your best possible self.

If it goes your way…

If the stars align, things go your way, and fate looks favorably on you, then congratulations! Graciously and humbly accept your promotion and new role and be sure to use this as an opportunity to prove to your bosses that they made the right call—don’t forget, at some point in the future you might be facing the promotion question once again, and you want to make sure that you have a solid case for why it’s once again well deserved.

If it doesn’t go your way…

Putting yourself out there by asking for a promotion and meeting rejection can be incredibly difficult. If you don’t get the promotion you were looking for, you may leave the meeting with a wide range of conflicting emotions. The key here is to not do anything rash. Instead, listen carefully to the reasoning you were given for the decision. Was it based on something completely out of your control, or did it include things that you can work on? Were you given a timeline to make improvements and revisit the promotion question?

Take the information you were given during the discussion, consider it carefully, and weigh your options for moving forward. The key here is to not consider this the final step on your career ladder—you’ll have many more professional opportunities in the future!

Asking for a promotion can be a stressful experience—but it doesn’t have to be! Use the strategies provided here to ensure that when the time is right and you decide to ask for a promotion that you’re putting your best foot forward and setting yourself up for success.

The post Your 2018 guide to asking for a promotion  appeared first on TheJobNetwork.

How to job hunt without your boss finding out

The job search can be a bit weird if you already have a job—everyone does it, or no one would ever have a new job. But it has to be done in a top secret way, because you can’t let your boss know what’s going on. Even if he or she knows you’re unhappy, you don’t […]

The job search can be a bit weird if you already have a job—everyone does it, or no one would ever have a new job. But it has to be done in a top secret way, because you can’t let your boss know what’s going on. Even if he or she knows you’re unhappy, you don’t want this person knowing that you tried to leave—especially if you don’t get a new job right away. And even if you have a great, open relationship with your boss and she wants you to do what’s best for yourself, it’s still awkward. You don’t want to be marked as a flight risk…so how do you manage the process without tipping off the boss?

Don’t check out from your day-to-day work.

If you’re clearly not putting time and effort into your daily work, it’ll be a first sign that something is off. It’s not only bad practice in general to let your performance suffer, but it’s also a clear sign to your boss that you’re trying to get out the door, one way or another.

Don’t use your boss as a reference.

This one probably seems obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people think they have to use their current boss as a reference. I once had a friend who listed her current boss’s contact information on a (stealth) job application, then freaked out when the new company actually called the current boss. If you need a reference but don’t want to tip your hand with your current boss, use a trusted colleague who is familiar with your work and can vouch for you.

Don’t use your work computer.

At this point, it’s safe to assume that Big Brother is always watching—and in this case that could include your boss. Don’t use your work computer to search for new jobs, work on your resume, or reach out to potential employers. There’s a good chance this runs afoul of your company’s computer usage rules, for one, and if you’re applying to competitor companies, it could be a legal issue as well. So make sure you’re doing your job hunt stuff on your own time, on your own devices.

Don’t shout about your plans on social media.

If you’re not Facebook friends with your boss or connected on LinkedIn, you might think it’s safe to talk about your job search or send out a “hire me!” blast. Don’t count on that “friends only” post to stay private. There’s nothing stopping one of your other contacts from letting it slip that you’re hunting, or from sending your boss a screenshot of your “I hate this place, get me out of here” rant. If you really don’t want your boss to know you’re looking elsewhere, don’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want him or her to read.

Ideally, your boss won’t know about your job search until you have an offer in hand and a lovely resignation letter ready to go. But if you practice some basic discretion, it doesn’t have to feel like a Cold War spy mission, either.

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How to decide if college is the right choice for you

Get your degree if you want to succeed. This is pretty common advice for students who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives. And education is always a good solution if you want to build knowledge and skills. Plus, a degree is usually a baseline requirement for more and more jobs […]

Get your degree if you want to succeed. This is pretty common advice for students who are trying to figure out what comes next in their lives. And education is always a good solution if you want to build knowledge and skills. Plus, a degree is usually a baseline requirement for more and more jobs out there, as many people find when they hit the job market with a high school diploma (or equivalent certificate) in hand.

But a college degree is also a significant investment of time, money, and personal resources, so it’s more important than ever to make sure it’s the right choice for your own life. Is it worthwhile for everyone? And more importantly, is it worthwhile for you? Let’s look at the most important factors to consider as you decide whether or not to go for that college degree.

Consider the debt…

Any conversation about college these days has to involve the specter of staggering debt. Per CollegeData.com, the average price tag for a college education is $25,290 per year for a state college or university, and $50,900 for a private college or university. And tuition isn’t the only cost to consider: housing, books, and living expenses all factor in as well.

Many students are able to make these ends meet with scholarships, grants, or working while they also attend colleges. But increasingly, students and their families are turning to student loans to cover college expenses. As of 2017, student loan debt is the second-highest consumer debt category, trailing only mortgage debt, per Forbes. The average student now carries $37,172 in student loan debt as they graduate and prepare to enter the workforce. Given that the average grad makes less than $50,000 per year to start, this can be a significant financial burden at the start of a career. And the default rate for student loans is 11.2%, suggesting that grads are not always able to cope with this debt as they move on after college.

…but also consider the earning potential

 While student load debt is becoming a significant national burden, it’s also seen as a kind of necessary evil when you look at how much college grads make vs. their counterparts who have a high school diploma or an incomplete college degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, college grads experience significantly lower unemployment the more advanced their degrees become. College grads also earn more, on average: the median weekly earnings for someone with a high school diploma jumps from $692 to $1,156 if the person has a bachelor’s degree. To put it in even more concrete terms, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, a bachelor’s degree (or higher) adds $15,000 per year in income.

So is college worth it?

If we’re going by the stats, then, frankly, yes. On paper, college graduates are likely to make more and experience a lower unemployment rate. But life is rarely so straightforward and easy checked off by “yes” or “no,” so let’s look at questions you need to ask yourself before you take this step.

What are my goals?

If you dream of becoming an accountant or a computer programmer, then these are fields that require specific expertise and academic credentials. If your ultimate goal is to work in retail management, then that’s a field where experience can trump an education credential on a resume. The first step in any “is college for me?” debate is figuring out what your ideal future holds.

Can I achieve those goals in a non-traditional way?

Here’s where alternative education programs become a crucial part of the dialogue. It may be that your target profession has specific education and certification programs that require less time and investment than a traditional college program, where you may be taking courses and meeting requirements that have nothing to do with your eventual profession. Allied health professions are a great example of this—many healthcare positions require a degree (like registered nursing or anesthesiologist), but there are plenty of jobs in the field that do not (like optician or surgical technologists) and instead require a job-specific certification and on-the-job training.

Trade schools can be a valid alternative to a four-year program, providing exactly the knowledge and expertise you’ll need for your career goals, and often for a more affordable price than you’d see at a traditional four-year school.

What’s my financial plan?

If you can afford to pay for college straight up, that’s fantastic! If you can’t, then you need to have a plan. Whether it’s Harvard or a trade school, you’ll have to account for the costs of your future educational path. Based on your eventual job goals, how much will you be able to afford to pay on the average starting salary for that job? Sites like Salary.com and PayScale.com are great for helping you play around with that kind of math and determining what people are realistically making in your potential field.

Can I find a less expensive way to build your college degree?

Many students opt to start off their college career at a community college, taking core classes and then transferring to a four-year college to finish the degree. This has a couple of benefits: it’s less expensive than four years at a traditional college or university, may cut down on extra expenses like room and board if you can live at home, and also gives you time to decide whether you’re on the right path, education-wise. If you get to the end of a four-year program only to discover that you’ve made a huge mistake in your major or concentration, then you’ve wasted both your time and (likely) a lot of money. If you take the community college route to study phlebotomy and discover in the process that maybe you’re not destined to be a doctor because you can’t stand the sight of blood after all, you’ve saved yourself a very expensive revelation later on.

The bottom line is that college is an asset for the average person, but it might not be worthwhile for you, the non-average person. It’s important to consider what your individual career goals are and whether you truly need the expertise and credentials that a four-year school can provide. You shouldn’t feel roped into getting an expensive degree just because everyone is telling you that you should. Instead, it should be a decision based on careful thought about what the college degree would mean for your professional life, your future finances, and your ability to commit to that four-year degree. After all, you’re unique, and your path to achieving your professional ambitions should be one that works for yourself—not anyone else.

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