Now is a good time to get a raise.

Call to Action: Use the Tough Job Market to Get a Raise

By Giana / July 20, 2016

An unpredictable job market can work to your advantage when you’re ready to get a raise. Here’s how. Let’s back up a moment to explain how the improved (but still tough) job market can help deserving workers get a raise. After employment numbers hit a record low during the downturn of 2008, our nation began a long, steady, tempered period of recovery. (As you know.) When aggregated, the data demonstrates that each year following the downturn experiences improvements for variety of metrics. These improvements include available positions, business growth, and market expansion. But on a granular level, our progress does contain few stops and starts. Back in spring of this year, available positions dropped by a significant margin. The June report showed a return to normal, but mysterious fluctuations like this can fluster hiring managers and stir anxieties among job seekers. Now, let’s return to the first point. You’re probably wondering how, as an employee with a steady job, you can use these unpredictable ups and downs to your advantage. How can you leverage an uncertain job market to negotiate a raise? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Unpredictability works both ways  

As it happens, a separate monthly report produced this spring by the Labor Department tells a different story. According to The Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, the demand for able workers is starting to exceed the supply. This means that employers are struggling to find new hires for a range of positions, specifically positions that require rare qualifications and are hard to staff. If your job falls into this category, your employer doesn’t want you to leave. Just to add more pressure, the study also revealed that the quit rate among employees has increased.  Asking for a salary increase may be easier than you think.

Low unemployment means higher turnover

Overall unemployment rates are now dropping as low as 5%. This means that most people who want to work are able to find a job (not always the exact job they want, but a job nonetheless). Remember when we mentioned the increased quit rate? The drop in unemployment, in turn, means that unhappy employees are more confident about their professional prospects; so, they are more willing to make the leap if they don’t get what they need. Your employers know this. If you make the case that you can do better elsewhere, they’re likely to believe you and make the changes necessary to keep you on board.

Approach your employer at the right time

You won't get a raise by following your boss down the hall and making your request on the move. Schedule an appointment instead. Sit down in a quiet office — free of distractions and competing appointments —  and present a prepared statement that clearly outlines the increase you want and why you should get it. Conduct market research to determine what others in your position make. Consider the value of the accomplishments you’ve made in this position. When the time comes, present each of your points in the proper order. Start with the idea that a raise for you brings a benefit to the company. Explain how your experience and training have increased your value, and explain how your contributions have outgrown your current salary.

Don’t use the marketplace as a threat

Don’t mention the job marketplace until after you’ve drawn a direct link between the value of your skills and the rising price of those skills. If your initial case doesn’t gain much traction, then you can feel free to bring job market statistics into the conversation. Exercise some caution when you address these statistics so that your argument does not sound like a threat. Be flexible with what your employer can offer you. It may not be the salary increase that you want, but perhaps you can compromise. For more on how to choose your target salary and make a successful case to get a raise, explore the career management resources at Livecareer
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The Office Holiday Party: A Survival Guide

By Giana / December 12, 2016

Every year in mid-December, employers like to show their appreciation, largesse, and respect for holiday traditions with a soiree as grand as the company budget allows. There’s no better way to celebrate corporate bounty and bring employees together than a fun, relaxed gathering with plenty of free-flowing booze. Sounds like a great time, right? There’s just one catch: As experienced employees know, the holiday party is not all about fun, it’s not the time guzzle drinks, and it’s certainly not time to let your hair down the way you might at a friend’s party. If you’re concerned about the growth of your career, don’t cut loose. You should treat this party as an opportunity, and consider it just another day (or night) at the office, even though you might be off-site. Here’s how to have a great time at this year’s holiday party while ensuring your boss and coworkers still respect you in the morning.

Commit

Don’t waffle. Just go. Clear your schedule and show up. Don’t wait until the last minute to RSVP, don’t respond with a “maybe,” and don’t plan to make it a quick stop and then head for the door. Make a night of it. This event is management’s gift to their employees and should be handled with respect. If you can’t make the party, respond promptly with your apologies.

Bring your best self

Eat food with substance (like almonds or a cheese sandwich) before the party so that you’re armed with energy and steady blood sugar. You don’t want to have to depend on champagne and canapés for sustenance. Approach clients and colleagues you don’t already know and mingle like it’s your job…because it is. Instead of thinking about the fun you’re going to have (or the misery you’re going to endure), focus on making sure others have a good time. To do this, you’ll need to put on your game face and bring a genuine positive attitude.

Stop at two drinks

Fill your glass at the beginning of the event, drain it slowly, then move onto a few rounds of water or soda. In an hour or two, you’ll be ready for your second drink. A few hours later, and you’ll be ready to leave. Pacing is everything. If you’re losing track of the drinks you’ve had, you’ve had too many and it’s time to cut yourself off. Remember: This isn’t really a party. It’s work, and drinking at work is usually not a good idea.

Be yourself

During the regular workday, you may not feel comfortable talking about your family life, your friends, your hobbies or your personal past. It’s wise to follow that instinct, for the most part. But the holiday party gives you an opportunity to share some of your real personality while staying within the bounds of professionalism. While you’re at it, ask others about themselves and employ your listening skills when they answer. This is a great time to connect with those you rarely get to interact with during the workday.

Don’t make it all business

If you really want a deadline extension, a raise, a promotion, a more flexible project budget, or a certain plumb assignment, lay the groundwork by schmoozing with those who can help you, but don’t ask directly at the holiday party. There’s a time and a place, and if you engage in non-work-related banter now, you can follow up and get what you need later, during regular business hours.

Avoid oversharing

The holiday party may seem like a great time to tell people what you really think — about a client, about a political event, or about an annoying colleague — but it isn’t. Always think before you speak, party or no party, especially if you have been drinking.

Take in the spectacle

When will you have another chance to sit with your boss and nerd out over your favorite movie franchise? When will you get to see Doris from accounting drunk and tearing it up on the dance floor? Or to flirt with your office crush without raising an eyebrow? Never again! At least not until next year. So enjoy the side of your coworkers that you rarely get to see. Just make sure you’re part of the audience, not the show. For more on how to keep your career on an even keel as you navigate the drama of the holiday season, turn to the experts at LiveCareer.
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Women’s Equality Day: The Gender Pay Gap on the Big Screen

By Giana / August 24, 2016

The gender wage gap affects women and men in every industry, but when it happens in Hollywood, people take notice.   A gender-based wage gap undermines productivity and successful employer-employee relationships in every industry. As a society, we know a wage gap exists, but this issue rarely gets spotlight coverage. On average, women are paid approximately 72 percent of the salary men receive for identical or similar jobs. Unfortunately, a problem this widespread is difficult to address, especially in a workplace culture that prevents employees from discussing salary issues among themselves.

Gender Wage Gap Leaked

The gender wage gap reached national visibility after Sony Pictures was hacked and several confidential emails were released. A chain of emails was made public, outlining in detail the intentional huge difference in pay between female and male roles in the film American Hustle. In a recent op-ed, Jennifer Lawrence described her reaction when she discovered the deep impact of the Hollywood wage gap on her own compensation:
"I didn’t want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled.' At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn’t worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled,'" she continues. "This is an element of my personality that I’ve been working on for years, and based on the statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue."
Lawrence recognized her reluctance to negotiate for a higher wage, and realized that most women probably feel the same way. Like Lawrence, many women refrain from pushing too hard in salary negotiations. Even worse, when companies keep salaries for individual roles private, it’s difficult to negotiate beyond previous salary levels. The fact that this disparity took the national stage in a way that many people could relate to is a boon to closing the gender wage gap.

Big Screen, Bigger Issues

This Hollywood story broadened our horizons even further by demonstrating that this is not a women’s issue. The gender wage gap is an issue that affects both men and women. Gender pay equity contributes to workplace productivity and company stability. So, when Bradley Cooper famously stepped up and added his professional leverage to the discussion on Lawrence’s behalf, he set an example not only for men in Hollywood, but for every industry. In a way, the exposure of the Hollywood gender wage gap can better things for the rest of us normal people. National attention to the issue can only help stimulate change. In the meantime, both women and men can benefit from smart negotiation strategies. Knowing how to research the market value of a position, and how to handle discussions with future employers about salary history is one of many tactics you'll find on LiveCareer. If you are preparing for interviews, check out our suite of salary negotiation tools today! And if you're in the early stages of your job search, take a look at out free resume samples and cover letter examples; they'll help you create your own winning job application.
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Gender Wage Gap: Massachusetts Welcomes a Win for Women

By Giana / August 15, 2016

Gender-based wage gaps persist in every state, but a new law recently passed in Massachusetts will take aim at some of the underlying workplace policies that keep these gaps in place. True workplace gender equity benefits both men and women on both the employer and employee sides of the table. But even in the 21st century, this goal remains elusive. One of the stickiest areas of workplace equality is also the most fundamental, underlying all other aspects of advancement: salary. In most states, wage gaps between male and female employees persist, and some employers feel little motivation to alleviate them. But a recently signed law in Massachusetts indicates that changes are in the works, even if these changes are happening slowly. The new law, which will take effect in July of 2018, forbids employers from asking candidates to disclose their salary history before offering them a position. The law also forbids employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their salaries among themselves. Both moves protect employees and job applicants from exploitation by employers, and when workers are protected, pay gaps and salary inequities are harder to sustain.

What Does the New Law Mean for Women?

Gender-based wage gaps mean that a woman may receive a lower salary than a man while holding the same position for the same company. This can result in significant financial harm if a woman chooses to take time off to have children and then returns to the workforce. But the damage often becomes magnified when future employers make salary offers based on the candidate’s previous salary history rather than the value the company places on the position. Over the years, a small pay gap can become large and lasting, and in most cases, women who are underpaid from the minute they enter the workforce don’t catch up before retirement. This new law places the salary focus on the job itself – not on the candidate. Instead of basing a candidate’s salary on their salary history, employers are required to set a salary for what they think the position is worth before anyone is hired. This benefits women in that they are no longer paid based on what they made in the past, which is especially helpful if they were out of the workforce for a year a two.

General Salary Tactics

Even if you don’t live in Massachusetts, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from exploitation and pay inequity. Keep in mind that many employers don’t recognize that gender equality in the workplace benefits everyone—including the company and its bottom line-- and some employers defend the status quo even when it works against their own interests. As you search for work and engage in salary negotiations, be ready to take a stand and fight for the rate and benefits that you deserve.

Don’t share all of your cards.

Outside of Massachusetts, your employers are not forbidden from asking you about your salary history, but by no means are you obligated to answer. This question is sketchy, to say the least, and answering with the truth can harm your standing during a negotiation. Instead of divulging your most recent salary (which is your own business and yours alone), provide your preferred range.

Conduct research beforehand.

Long before your interview session, go online and determine the average market value of this position. Use the LiveCareer Salary Calculator to understand your worth. Review salary data for your industry overall, your specific position across various industries (if relevant), and the averages in your geographic area.

Remember that you’re the buyer.

Keep in mind that you have nothing to lose by walking away from a weak offer. If these employers don’t value your talents, skills, and experience enough to pay a fair rate for them, the next ones will. Be patient, stubborn, and confident, and don’t accept the first offer on the table. For more salary negotiation tips, explore the resources available at LiveCareer; our platform includes thousands of professionally created resume examples and cover letter samples that you can use to create your own standout job application.