Monthly Archive for May, 2006

Is Your Raise Higher Than Inflation?

Here are the hard pocketbook facts you are dealing with in 2006:

Fact 1: Salaries in the USA for 2006 are forecast to increase by 3.6 percent. (That’s a bare two-tenths of a percentage point above a 28-year low.)

Fact 2: The rate of inflation is forecast to hover between 3.5 and 4.0 percent this year. (The rate was 3.55 percent in April.)

Fact 3: You are going to work for less real money (your salary adjusted for inflation) unless you get a raise of more than 4.0 percent.

What about the environment for salary increases?

Despite strong growth in the U.S. economy in recent times, “Companies are still planning to be very conservative on base salaries,” according to Ken Abosch, lead compensation consultant with Hewitt Associates.

More companies are setting their pay to employees by way of bonuses based on performance against stated goals. This variation on the traditional base pay scale means you really have to earn an increase to top inflation.

The bonuses go to the “10 to 20 percent of workers (i.e. top performers) that a company is doing everything possible to retain,” says Joe Vocino, a senior consultant at Mercer Human Resources Consulting.

(Just a footnote on all of this: The average CEO of American companies received at 30 percent increase in pay last year.)
What Are You Going To Do About It?

I’ve laid out some sobering facts and opinions that should provoke you to take a hard look at your situation.

If salary is of primary importance to you and if you are losing the race to earn more than a cost-of-living increase, as I see it, you have three alternatives:

1. Learn what others in your line of work are being paid by your employer and are being paid by the industry in which you are employed. If you’re below the scale, prove to your employer that you should be paid at least up to scale.

2. Improve your performance and convince your employer that you deserve a total compensation package that is higher than inflation.

3. If you can’t get a raise above the rate of inflation with your current employer, look for another job.

What’s your opinion of this situation?

I am sure the readers of Re: Your Career would benefit from hearing your opinion and your advice on the salary issues.

• Was your last raise higher, even or lower than rate of inflation?

• Where does “salary” rate in your priority of satisfaction from your work?

• Are you paid what you think you are worth?

• What has been your experience in getting a raise?

• What advice do you have for those who want to get a raise?

• What do you think of the gap between salaries for the average careerist and the pay CEOs are taking home?

I Can Help You

I have help many people deal with the salary issue with my E-Book, HOW TO GET A RAISE And Not Shoot Yourself In The Foot (c).

I will be glad to send you a copy f*ee of charge if you will

• Recommend at least three of your friends as subscribers to my newsletter, The Career Accelerator (c), which provides access to this blog. All you have to do is send me their names and E-mail addresses to me at:

ramon@commonsenseatwork.com>

• Enclose your comments about this blog. (It’s not necessary, but it sure would be helpful to others and me.)

Again, Your Comments Are Most Welcomed.

I wish you big bucks!

Ramon Greenwood, Senior Career Counselor
Common Sense At Work

Time’s Perishable; Use It Or Lose It

During a poignant scene in Tennessee Williams’ play, “Sweet Bird of Youth,” the leading character faces with dread the fact that his life is passing by rapidly. He sees all the opportunities he has let slip by and realizes they will never return. “Time is the enemy of us all,” he declares.

Failure to recognize that time is inescapably a limited, fixed resource constitutes an ever-present threat to career achievements. This a reality that must be dealt with if success is to be won.

In his book, “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life,” Alan Lakein puts it on the line: “Time is life. It is your life, but to master time is to master your life and make the most of it.”

Each of us has exactly 168 hours a week – 8,736 a year – to accomplish all we will ever get done.

The more acute the careerist’s sense of the passage of time, the greater his chances of success. It is rare to find a successful careerist who is not driven by a sense of urgency.

Urgency Is Essential To Your Success

Urgency is an essential ingredient, but it has to be controlled. It can drive us to run about in a frenzy, working away at one project for a few minutes only to drop it and dash off to another. That’s a sure way to burn up a lot of energy and accomplish very little.

Urgency can be a focused force, compelling us to organize our work, to set deadlines and meet them, to be energized and to keep pushing to achieve the next step up the ladder for more responsibility and greater use of our abilities.

Controlled, healthy urgency requires us to account for the way we use this limited resource. Alibis not accepted.

It is helpful to think of each day as being made up of 48 chips, each worth 30 minutes. We can bet them on life as we see fit. We can place them on work, study, family, play, self-pity, confidence, or time wasted. At the end of each day, we have to take an inventory of our wins and losses. If we have not made more good bets than bad on how we use our time, sooner or later we break our personal life bank.

Time experts have produced scores of books and videos on time management. Selected ones ought to be in the library of every ambitious careerist. But if we are not careful, we can get mired down in a swamp of how-to-do-it advice that becomes a great waste of time and an easy excuse to replace urgency with procrastination.

The idea of time is truly awesome, but the concept of what to do about it is simple, if we discipline ourselves to act.

In reality, the use of time does not require a few big, dramatic, earth-shattering, fork-of-the-road decisions.

How To Maximize Your Use Of Time

The way we use our time is determined by hundreds of choices – most of them little decisions – we make each day, week, month and year about what to do and when to do it.
The key for meaningful action to maximize our utilization of time (i.e., success) is to live by a simple formula.

DO

DO IT

DO IT NOW

“Do” means be active, always moving to accomplish the next step toward one of our goals.

“Do it” means act on specifics that relate to the goal on which we are working.

“Do it now” means act now on a specific step. If common sense calls for a delay on one project, move on immediately to act on another goal.

Time can be an alluring seductress. It seems to offer a bed of comfort to be enjoyed at one’s own pace with no due-bill to be paid sooner or later. Know time for what it is, a perishable resource with a finite shelf life. Every day, in every way, each of us uses up some of our potential.

Use it or lose it!

I wish you great success in the world of work.

Ramon Greenwood
Senior Career Counselor, Common Sense At Work

YOU’RE FIRED! Get Over it.

Anyone can get the axe at any time. It happens to good people and bad ones…hard workers as well as slackers along the career path.

“We feel you would be happier working for another company.”

“Sorry, business is falling off. We no longer need your services.”

“Operations are being consolidated in Mexico. The Bedrock Plant will be closed Feb. 1.”

Sugar-coated or not, the message is the same: You’re fired! You’ve been sacked. You are out of a job!

13 Career Tips To Survive and Prosper

Therefore, it makes common sense to know what to do to survive and prosper should you ever get the dreaded “pink slip”. Here are 15 job tips that will help you survive and prosper despite a pink slip.

1. Keep in mind that in the current environment the idea of womb to tomb job security is as dead as a hammer. Be loyal to your present employer, but never develop a romance with the organization. Look out for yourself first.

2. Be alert and well informed at all times about the outlook for your employer and your job. If you know things are going down the drain, begin a below-the-radar search for other opportunities. If the axe falls, you’ll have a head start on finding another job.

3. Stay prepared financially. Always try to have enough cash in reserve to cover at least three months living expenses.

4. Keep your skills up to date with the needs of the job market. Capitalize on opportunities for additional training. Read the literature of your field.

5. Maintain an up-to-date record of your accomplishments so you can produce a resume in 24 hours.

6. Nurture contacts with people in your line of work and with those likely to employ your type of qualifications. Be visible through outside activities and positive publicity.

7. Help others who lose their jobs. Also, be of assistance to those who are looking to recruit employees. They may help you some day.

8. Understand your emotions.

Psychologist Bill Weber says getting fired is very much like dealing with the death of a loved one.

“The first reaction is denial, or wishful thinking. There’s been a mistake. This can’t be true,” Dr. Weber says. “Then the shock sets in, followed by anger, depression, frustration and fear. Worst of all is the loss of self-esteem.”

9. If you get fired, allow some time for grieving; but not too much. Don’t just sit there feeling sorry for yourself. It’s natural to be angry with your employer, but don’t let your feelings show. You still need him. Negotiate the best possible severance package possible for continuing pay and benefits, particularly insurance coverage. Don’t forget good references, too.

10. Start immediately to search for another, better job. Use this time to reassess the goals you have set for the rest of your life. Define the job that will enable you to achieve these objectives.

11. Prepare a plan to market yourself. Let it be known you are available; “advertise” what you have to offer. Involve your network of friends and family in the job search.

12. Be patient. Recognize it will take time to find another acceptable position.

13. Don’t panic. If you possibly can afford to wait, don’t jump on the first opportunity that comes down the pike, unless, of course, it really matches up with your objectives.

Two final job tips try to remember two things.

1. It can happen to anyone.

2. A high percentage of people end up with better jobs than the ones from which they were fired.

Win ‘em All

YOU CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL, NOR SHOULD YOU

The idea of winning is at the very heart of the American work ethic. The gospel of our culture tells us winning is not just the best thing, it is the only thing.

But real winners know you can’t win them all, nor should you.

If you insist on winning every single point, you set up unnecessary opposition. Let’s face it; nobody likes anyone who always seems to win.

Fact is, it’s not necessary to win every point. It’s a very rare situation that has only one right answer. One instance would be in disarming a live bomb. Another might be brain surgery. Otherwise, several acceptable options usually exist.

Unless you are absolutely sure you have the only correct answer, or that your organization will be materially damaged if you don’t prevail, you should let associates win a few. Their abilities as well as their morale will be improved. This strategy of losing deliberately is especially desirable if your boss or your subordinates are involved.

But when common sense says you must win it’s time to fight with tooth and claw.

Winning is not a zero sum matter. There does not have to be a loser for every winner. When you win, it is just common sense to make sure others feel they won, too. When you lose, accept responsibility, no ifs, ands or buts.

You must take risks to make progress. If you take risks you will lose some of the time. You just need to be sure you win enough of the big ones to be a winner at the end of the run.

Thomas Edison recorded some 25,000 failures in his attempt to invent a storage battery. “Those were not failures,” he said. “I learned 24,999 ways not to make a battery.” R. H. Macy failed seven times before his first store caught on. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.

Dr. Harry Levenson, noted psychologist and adviser to management, declared that a key characteristic of successful managers is the willingness to take big risks. “Not crazy risks, but big risks. They are willing to endure the distress of fear and uncertainty until the results are known. They stick with their decisions even when there are some downers before their ideas begin to pay off. They envision outcomes that others, without the same range of perception cannot see, and then act on that basis.”

Perfect Is Not Normal

If you truly want to build a successful career, and you work in an organization that demands that you always be right, you are in trouble. You will either be suffocated or you will frequently be in trouble for trying new ideas and for making the inevitable mistakes that go with them. You should get out as fast as you can, unless you want to live in a restrictive bureaucracy.

You need to be particularly wary of the organization that loudly calls for risks taking, while expecting a hit every time you come to bat. Perfect is not normal.

David Ogilvy, a superstar in the advertising business, told the story of a toy buyer at Sears who made a mistake that cost his company $10 million. When Ogilvy asked the man’s boss if he planned to fire the erring buyer, he replied, “Hell, no. I fire people who never make mistakes, because they never take chances.”

Another business leader told his associates, “Make sure you generate a reasonable number of mistakes, otherwise I won’t know that you trying.”

Bottom line: Be willing to take common sense risks. Be ready to lose some in order to be a big winner in the end.