A Career College and Job-Search Advice Column
Dr. Randall Hansen a nationally recognized career expert is the Career Doctor. Discover more about Dr. Hansen read about the purpose of this column and find previous issues of this column at the home of The Career Doctor.
If you have any college career or job-related questions or comments that Dr. Hansen could provide valuable assistance with please feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dr. Hansen writes this column on a biweekly basis.
Note: Readers can find other columns from this year in Current Year Archives of The Career Doctor Q&A.
In This Issue (12/31/04):
- Getting the salary increase you deserve
- Choosing between two career paths
- Contemplating dramatic career change
- Making the case for workplace flexibility
|Q:||Robert writes: It’s a new year and I want to start earning what I feel I deserve. How can I get the salary increase and/or promotion that I feel that I deserve from my employer?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: The new year is a great time for setting your agenda for the year ahead — whether it’s something personal like getting more exercise or quitting smoking or career-related such as finding a new job or obtaining a raise. Even though you can do these things at any time the beginning of a year is always a time to take stock and make plans.
The good news is that most salary surveys I have seen in recent months show the first sizeable increase in raises in years. Whether employers are sensing the economy turning around or whether they see the writing on the wall that workers are looking to change jobs most studies show they expect to hand out much higher raises than in the past few years.
So you need a plan. It will be easier if you have a scheduled meeting planned with your supervisor but if you don’t you’ll want to request one. In the time leading up to the meeting you should document every accomplishment since your last promotion/raise. You want to document how your actions have impacted the department office company. Whenever possible quantify those accomplishments. Please note that accomplishments do NOT have to be cost-savings or sales; you could have written computer scripts that made the company Website function more efficiently created a staffing system that led to lower turnover or you could have logged some number of customer service issues/complaints. Accomplishments are simply the outcomes of your job — and ideally show how you go beyond your job description to help your employer.
One final thing to do before the meeting is to get a sense of what people with your experience and training make in similar positions within your company and in other companies. Many professional organizations conduct annual salary surveys and there are also several online salary sources. (Find the sources in this section of Quintessential Careers: Salary Negotiation and Job Offer Tools and Resources.
At the meeting you can either discuss your accomplishments with your list in front of you or present it to your supervisor so that he/she has something to help document why you should get the raise you request. Make a logical case for your raise; do not discuss how much you need it because your kids are heading to college or need braces’
And finally be prepared to not get the raise you think you deserve. If that happens you’ll need to take time to decide whether or not you need to switch employers to get the raise you deserve — which is the more likely scenario.
Finally read my article Getting the Raise You Deserve published on Quintessential Careers.
|Q:|| Hazel writes: I have only just started thinking about my future and my future as an income earner (as I now find myself single and without a penny saved!). My question is what do you think are good industries (or careers) to be involved in for the future?’
I am currently employed as a personal assistant for a high profile CEO and am also working on the company’s Computer Based Training (CBT) courses as the technical consultant.
I have posed the question above because I’m fretting right now about which direction I should be heading whether the job I’m in already is a good one with good possibilities for earning in the future.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: You have a tough choice ahead of you. On one hand you have the excitement and perks of working with a CEO — seeing the inner workings of the boardroom firsthand — and on the other a more stable but certainly less high-profile position in corporate training. If you are soon facing a choice you should sit down and weigh the pros and cons of each career path.
For the personal assistant position as long as the CEO appreciates your work — and as long as he/she stays a CEO — you should have good job security and perks. But if he/she is nearing retirement age your future is a bit more hazy unless your boss is open to helping you find a similar position before he/she retires.
For the corporate training position you have a more stable career path’ and actually have more chances for advancement. Corporate training is a big industry — and only growing as more employers are spending the money on advancing the education and training of their workers. Whether its computer-based or Web-based corporate training will continue to play a major role in the future.
But you need to conduct further research and self-reflection. You need to decide what path gives you the most of whatever you seek — money stability satisfaction etc.
|Q:|| Anonymous writes: I have been a legal secretary for 10 years. At first I used this job to pay for school where I majored in fashion design. Since then I have been married with children and did not complete my major. I’ve been in business for myself for three years since then and basically gave it up because of a lack of interest. I’m in the beginning stages of outlining a game plan to change careers and am look toward my creative side.
How do I begin the research for a lucrative job that involves my experience as a legal secretary with a creative flair in fashion/entertainment? I also have interests in computer animation for major films.
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Well a new year is a time to make radical changes — and you are certainly in that category!
I am going to offer you the best advice I can give you but I honestly feel that you could really benefit from several sessions with a career coach. I think you have a lot of issues that need to be resolved and focused to help you move forward. For example can’t you use your creative side in your job as a legal secretary — or if you moved to some other position within the firm? What if you moved to a legal office that practiced entertainment law?
A career change this drastic is going to take time planning and organization. I am guessing that your experience as a legal secretary is going to come in handy as you move forward with this career change.
You obviously have a great collection of skills and interests. I think you need to start here. Make an inventory of all your skills. Circle the ones that you most want to use in the future.
From those skills start researching career paths that will best fit you. Get as much information as you can including the types of training or education you need. Conduct informational interviews with people working in those careers. Find volunteering opportunities that allow you to practice some of these skills and build experience.
You can find much more advice in this section of Quintessential Careers: Job & Career Resources for Career Changers.
And for help finding a career coach check out the Quintessential Careers Directory of Life and Career Coaches.
|Q:||Melanie writes: I am currently employed full-time in an office but would like to change to part-time (and work from home). How do I come up with a written proposal to present to the president of the company for this? Do you have any samples of what such a proposal would look like? Can you help?|
|A:|| The Career Doctor responds: Workplace flexibility is probably one of the biggest issues facing employers today. More and more employees are seeking some form of flexibility — compressed workweeks different work hours flextime job-sharing telework etc. And more employers are at least exploring options in response to this increased demand from workers.
There are all sorts of issues tied to workplace flexibility however and many employers — while wanting to do the right thing — are struggling with issues of equity productivity and management.
The good news is telework is on the increase. According to the 2004 American Interactive Consumer Survey conducted by The Dieringer Research Group the number of employed Americans who performed any kind of work from home with a frequency range from as little as 1 day a year to full-time grew from 41.3 million in 2003 to 44.4 million in 2004 a 7.5% growth rate.
But your task is made all the harder because you are seeking two changes in your status. And the move to part-time is made tougher by issues of how salary and benefits will be handled.
Your goal is to develop a detailed plan that will show the company how and why your move to part-time telework will be beneficial for all parties — how it will make you a more productive worker and the specific benefits to the company.
You should conduct research into how other companies handle these issues. There are also a number of online resources that can help you.
Read more in this article published on Quintessential Careers: Making Your Case for Telecommuting: How to Convince the Boss.