Book Pick Giveaway!

Book Pick of the Week.

One out of the first 50 people to follow The Advantage Of You Blog will receive this book as a gift on a Kindle device. Simply fill out the form below with your information and you will be added to the raffle. Drawing is on January 01, 2014. Happy New Year!!!

WHAT MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO BEFORE BREAKFAST

December Book Pick of the Month!

WHAT MOST SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO BEFORE BREAKFAST

Available on Amazon

Laura Vanderkam helps the reader to identify how to get the most out of a hectic work day by re-organizing, prioritizing, and visualizing things from a different perspective. I know you will enjoy this book and find it useful; I did!

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” -Benjamin Franklin

Want to Get Ahead? Boost Your Networking Skills

There is a saying: “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

While there is truth in the benefit of knowing someone to land a job, your connection does not necessarily guarantee your position at a company forever. Ultimately, it is what you know that will become the reason you continue to progress at a company and also within your career. Many networking relationships greatly influence hiring decisions and as a result employee referrals are often chosen above other applicants. Before available positions become public knowledge, management will often ask employees if they can recommend someone they may know. You could be one of 100 applicants and your networking relationship may be the very reason your application is moved to the top of the stack.

While pursuing my Master’s Degree, I conducted a study on the talent management practices of one of Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for; Balfour Beatty Construction (BBC) where I interviewed the Human Resource Manager, Mila Smith. During the interview I learned a great deal about the organization, its recruitment practices, retention efforts and its succession planning strategies. When specifically asked what the primary source of new talent was for BBC, Smith informed me most of their hires are either employee referrals or through their college recruitment internship program. Through Smith’s experience, she found that “good people generally know good people”.

Now to be clear, the value of networking surely reaches beyond job seekers. Networking is also a significant benefit for many other reasons such as; professional relationship building, new client opportunities and grant support for non-profit organizations. Networking can be intimidating to those branching out for the first time; however, I believe it is absolutely worth the investment of risking possible embarrassment or overcoming insecurities (both of which I am a victim of) because it is essential to career success. I recognize personal and professional growth is an ongoing process and in an effort to share my accumulated knowledge, here are some suggestions to get you started:

GOAL

Step 1: Form a goal. What do you expect to get out of networking? Is it a new job, a new client or maybe even a mentor or coach to help guide you towards career success? Whatever your choice may be, remember it when you are in a room full of people there for a variety of reasons.

Step 2: Put yourself out there; networking opportunities are everywhere. You can network with someone in an elevator, a grocery store, the train, subway, airplane…you get it! Take your pick, but always seize the opportunity to network with others through small conversation. Start with a compliment to help break the ice and always look directly into the eyes of the person you are speaking to. It shows you are engaged and interested in the conversation which leaves a great impression and will be helpful when you follow-up with a phone call or email later. Please remember: no cell phone checking or texting when you are at a networking function See my blog on Social Networking.

Step 3: Go to local events. Everything we need to know about the events in our neighborhood is at the tip of our fingers. I could find at least 25 networking events in my area right now simply by typing a quick Google Search or signing up for a social website specializing in connecting locals groups for events. You’d be surprised how many people in your neighborhood or within your professional or personal circle attend networking events. Show up to the next event and bring a friend if you can. It can be very intimidating to go to a new place not knowing anyone and just start mingling. Don’t worry! You can do this. Just think of it this way, your future depends on it.

Step 4: Share what you know, otherwise smile and nod. Most of these meetings are all about networking, so it’s not unusual to enter into a conversation and introduce yourself or just listen to what is being said and jump in if you have something valuable to add. Now, be sure to use wisdom when interjecting. If you are not confident about what 122613_2224_WanttoGetAh5.jpgyou are about to say, the best thing to do is stay silent! There may be follow up questions from the group and you don’t want to look clueless because you didn’t think that far ahead. Always bring a business card with you and always exchange cards before you leave the conversation.

Step 5: Be aware of your surroundings. This may go without saying to some so bear with me while I reiterate the importance of considering the environment before you engage with others about anything personal while at a professional function. People are always watching and listening. You will not know everyone that is around you when you are in a networking environment, which is all the more reason you should be careful to not speak ill of others. For example, if you are there to connect with potential employers and you are having a light conversation, there is no need to turn it into a bashing session about your current workplace. Negative comments are not memorable in positive ways. The goal is to leave a positive impression with those you connect with so they think positive thoughts when you connect with them again.

Step 6: Stay connected! After the event, be sure to go through the business cards you’ve received and connect with each person through LinkedIn, facebook or any other social media networks. If there is someone you feel you had a great connection with, send them a note via the social networking site or through email to let them know it was a pleasure meeting them and you hope to stay connected in the future. Stay in touch with them in an effort to build a professional relationship and keep in mind that just knowing someone may be all you need to get to that next level.

Now, you are ready to go! See you at the next event!!

How to Redeem Yourself After you’ve Messed Up at Work

We have all done it; messed up on an important project, made a huge mistake by assuming or simply using bad judgment on the job. The aftermath is horrible. You feel like your job is in jeopardy and you are not sure what your next step should be to redeem yourself, your credibility, and your image. Don’t fear my fellow colleagues; there is a way to get back in the game! So pull yourself up, come out of hiding behind your desk and face the situation head on. 

Step 1: Admit to the mistake. Yes, believe it or not, it is very hard for people to admit they played a significant role in the error. Often timesSORRY they are busy playing the blame game because they are so scared of losing their job if they were to admit they were actually the one with the bright idea that went left. Don’t bring other people into the mix when it was your project. Own your part in this. It’s not the end of the world; it is just a hiccup in the process.

WRENCH CARTOON

Step 2: Offer your help in correcting the mess. Oh yes, you are not done until the mess is fixed. Sure, you may feel like you shouldn’t be a part of it because you are the reason why everyone is scrambling to fix the catastrophe, but the truth is you are actually the best one to help. Do not forget that you have been involved in the project and know the major and minor details about it. Remember, everyone that is rushing to help still has to build their knowledge, the knowledge you already have. You will be a great resource to the team in this area. Ask your boss if you can help to fix what went wrong because you do have that prior hands-on experience and knowledge. It takes a lot of courage and humility to be involved in a project where you contributed to the set back. Even if your boss does not want you involved, at least you have shown him or her that you are willing to clean up the mess you’ve made.

Step 3: Ask for feedback from your manager. Take this approach only after the dust has settled and the project is complete. You know you have messed up, you know what had to be done to fix it, but you may not be 100% sure on what decisions you could have madeFEEDBACK that would have avoided the mistake in the first place. Correcting a mistake may not reveal where you went wrong. The clean-up routine can be very different from the initial decision making process during the project. For example, should you have asked for some help and guidance before you made a change? Did the project require a larger budget approval? Was there a protocol that you overlooked? Believe me; your employer will appreciate your willingness to learn from your mistake before you move on to your next project. Your boss wants to feel confident that you will be able to successfully complete the next project and I am sure you would want to have that confidence too. To accomplish this, you will need to have an open line of communication.

I know it can be very awkward after you have messed up. You don’t want to make eye contact and you want to stay hidden because you may feel that being out of sight will keep you under the radar. The one thing I have learned in my career is that being bold and courageous demands respect from your colleagues. This is a great leadership quality. There will always be mistakes and hurdles during your career; however, how you handle those challenges can make all the difference. 

BACK IN THE BOARDROOMStay positive, stay focused, and always view your experiences as learning opportunities that contribute to your success. You’ll be back in the boardroom before you know it! 

 

Six Reasons Why Your Two Week Notice is Important

Yes, I know you are fed up with your workplace. You are tired and can’t take it anymore. Your mood changes for the worst when you step foot in the door and you can’t stand the sight of your co-workers or boss, but I encourage you to wait!

DO NOT leave without giving a proper notice of resignation that includes a two week time frame.

Now I know you are thinking, “easy for you to say” or “why should I give any more of my precious time to this place?” Well I invite you to sit back, take a deep breath, count to ten and read on. There are many reasons you shouldn’t abruptly leave a job, so allow me to share my point of view with you in hopes that you will make the right choice.

Reason 1:
People talk! Oh yes, your boss talks to people in the industry and his or her boss talks to people in the industry also. You will be surprised who your co-workers and managers know that may be in your circle as well. The last thing you need is to be blacklisted by word of mouth.

Reason 2:
Your reputation is on the line. I always tell my friends and colleagues that people remember what you do more than what you say. You could have given your entire life to a company but if you leave without notice none of that will be remembered. What resonates with people is the impression you leave behind. Leaving abruptly leaves a bad taste in the mouth of your manager and your co-workers.

Reason 3:
Your co-workers will participate in the negative gossip about your departure. Why? Well they are the ones that have to now work late or work through lunch and pick up where you left off. Also, if they mess something up in the process, they have to have someone to blame! When you leave suddenly, no matter how great you were while you worked there, everything that is left hanging or any future errors that were your responsibility are all blamed on you. It’s easy to blame someone who can’t be there to defend themselves. This leads to more negative memories that hurt your reputation.

Reason 4:
You don’t know what your future holds. Yes, that’s right, you may actually need to go back to that place one day if you fall on hard times and your new job that looks so great right now is in reality 10 times worse than what you left. Let’s face it, unless you are a multi-millionaire that doesn’t need to work anymore then you can’t afford to burn your bridges with any employer.

Reason 5:
NEVER make a life changing decision while you are angry. This advice goes towards all facets of your life. Chances are that once you have made a rash emotional decision you will look back on it and find that you could have handled the situation better and avoided the bitter aftermath if you had taken a moment to think things through rationally.

Reason 6:
You want to show your new employer that you are a loyal and respectful employee. You know the saying, “the best way to know the future is to look at the past”. Well, the same thing goes for your career. Your new boss would likely respect your decision to give a two-week notice to your current employer. If they don’t then that may be a great opportunity for you to re-evaluate your transition.

IQUITIf you think you are hurting the company by leaving, then you’re wrong. Now granted, they may have to do some damage control and explain to clients/customers/co-workers why you left and overwork a few people in the midst, but they will survive without you. You are only hurting yourself if you fail to give proper notice.

Unless there is a life threatening or ethical reason for you to immediately leave then I encourage you to try and stick it out for another two weeks.

MDD-160Mary V. Davids is Principal Consultant at D&M Consulting Services, LLC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. Book Mary to speak at your next event or hire Mary for leadership & professional development consultation today. Follow Mary on twitter @MVDavids.


What Does the Term “Overqualified” mean Anyway?


Imagine, you get a call for a position you’ve applied for and during your interview you are told “you are overqualified”. Then you wonder, “What does that mean?” Well let me enlighten you. Being overqualified is code for the following reasons:

1.       They don’t want to pay you what you are worth.

It turns out that while your résumé may include all of your degrees and accomplishments, after speaking with you, the hiring managers have determined that you are above their pay grade. You may be intellectually gifted and may have more experience than most of their employees, maybe even the very ones that are conducting the interview. These types of employers are looking to hire someone that will fit right in, not “rock the boat” with their smart suggestions or challenge the way things are being handled in the organization. You simply bring too much experience and knowledge to the table and they want no part of it.

2.      They can’t pay you what you are worth.

Your résumé will not likely include your desired salary on it, but it looks like you have all the qualifications they are looking for. When you get to the part of the interview that tells them how much you are currently making or desire to make, the room gets silent. The employer does not want to tell you that they simply can’t afford you. They disguise it by saying you are overqualified when in reality they can’t pay you the salary you are asking because it’s not in the budget. They were hoping you had all this experience and knowledge and were desperate for the job and were willing to get paid much less than your accomplishments require.

3.     You seem like a know-it-all.

During the interview your responses include a lot of factual data. You are precise and certain as to your knowledge but you elaborate too much. You start going on and on about how things should be done or how you would do them. Instead of creating a connection with the employer you are more lecturing the employer. This is a turn off to the employer and will cause them to label you as “overqualified”.

4.    You don’t fit in with the culture of the organization.

Your personality does not match with the behavioral characteristics of the employees. You may be a great match for the job description but these days employers are looking for employees that can get along with each other, work well together and are on the same page. For example, if the work environment includes a lot of creative thinking and open discussions and you seem reserved and shy then it’s too much work to pull those characteristics out of you and they don’t want to spend the time doing it.

These reasons may be difficult to digest; however, it is important to have an understanding so when you are faced with this situation you are not discouraged. Your accomplishments should be recognized and appreciated because you have worked hard to achieve them. The term “overqualified” shouldn’t dissuade you from seeking great opportunities; it should teach you that not every organization that seems like the right fit is the right fit.

All the best,

Mary V. Davids

It’s OKAY to Walk Away!

Recently a dear friend of mine decided to go job hunting. She posted her résumé on a few job sites, the calls roll in and before you know it, its interview time! One particular employer required my friend jump through all sorts of hoops ranging from a telephonic interview, an online application, an online assessment, an in-person timed assessment and another interview with “upper management” face-to-face. All the while, the recruiter is stirring the pot claiming she’s a shoe-in for the job.
One week later, finally the offer has come and then BOOM! That’s when the silver lining turns into a big dark thunder cloud of hail. Now during this journey my friend kept me updated regarding her progress for this job. When salary negotiation is discussed she tells me that they “low-balled” her and she asks for my advice on how to handle it. I like to consider all elements before recommending a counter offer or turning down a job so here are the circumstances:

  1. She didn’t apply for this job, a recruiter found her first
  2. The fact that she didn’t seek out the job is telling about the career path she desires.
  3. She is in no immediate danger of getting the pink slip from her current employer
  4. She is worth exactly if not more than what she’s asking for (based on industry standards)
  5. The new job is over an hour away from home
  6. She works from home now

What is a job-seeker to do? My recommendation: Walk Away.

Why did I give such advice when clearly she wants to leave her current employer? She must have thought this through enough to accept the possibility of having to now commute to an office every day of the week right? Well here it is:

  1. Bonus Enticement. Further in depth conversation revealed that the reasoning behind the offer (as so stated by the recruiter) was that a bonus is “guaranteed” to workers in her position and it is “always substantial” and would get her to the salary she desires. This is an absolute mistake to believe. An employer can decide at any time that they will not pay employees a bonus based on a number of reasons beyond the employee’s control. Never accept a job based on overtime or bonuses to supplement your minimum required salary necessary to meet your financial needs.
  2. Value. The value that she can add is worth the compensation she requires. Employment is a two-way street. Yes, you can benefit from an employer when you are looking for a job, but don’t forget that they also benefit from you! Now this is all certainly assuming you are willing to put in the work you say you can if you are getting the benefit of a great paycheck.
  3. Not worth it. Taking the job at the pay rate the employer wants to give is simply not worth it. What she is giving up is worth more than what she is getting. She will have to go into an office, over an hour commute (assuming no traffic—which never happens!), give up her flexible schedule, play office politics, not work in a field where she sees herself growing and above all, receive a paycheck she is not happy with. Chances are when you accept a job under the employers’ terms and not yours; you will regret it and beat yourself up over it a year from your start date or earlier.


Eventually as you grow to become familiar with the work environment, the systems used and the culture, the time will come when you have accumulated more responsibility because of the skills you bring to the table; and only then may it become clear that salary matters. Unfortunately it is too late to do anything about it. Even if you demand a raise due to your added responsibility and the value your employer now sees you have added to the company, the raise you get will likely match what you should have received before you took the job to begin with. When you start a new job within your financial comfort zone then a raise or a bonus is considered excess, not a dire need. You simply never know what you are walking into until you are in it. It is for this reason your salary requirements should, at minimum meet your needs and consider your future responsibility at the company.

You are your best advantage; act accordingly.

All the best,

Mary V. Davids