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There are many deeply personal reasons to change your employment situation. However, from a purely strategic point of view, there are four good reasons to change jobs within the same (or similar) industry three times during your first ten years of employment:

Reason #1: Changing jobs gives you a broader base of experience: After about three years, you’ve learned most of what you’re going to know about how to do your job. Therefore, over a ten year period, you gain more experience from “three times 90 percent” than “one times 100 percent.”

Reason #2: A more varied background creates a greater demand for your skills: Depth of experience means you’re more valuable to a larger number of employers. You’re not only familiar with your current company’s product, service, procedures, quality programs, inventory system, and so forth; you bring with you the expertise you’ve gained from your prior employment with other companies.

Reason #3: A job change results in an accelerated promotion cycle: Each time you make a change, you bump up a notch on the promotion ladder. You jump, for example, from project engineer to senior project engineer; or national sales manager to vice president of sales and marketing.

Reason #4: More responsibility leads to greater earning power: A promotion is usually accompanied by a salary increase. And since you’re being promoted faster, your salary grows at a quicker pace, sort of like compounding the interest you’d earn on a certificate of deposit.

Many people view a job change as a way of promoting themselves to a better position. And in most cases, I would agree. However, you should always be sure your new job offers you the means to satisfy your values. While there’s no denying the strategic virtues of selective job changing for the purpose of career leverage, you want to make sure the path you take will lead you where you really want to go.

For instance, there’s no reason to change jobs for more money if it’ll make you unhappy to the point of distraction. In fact, I’ve found that money usually has no influence on a career decision unless it materially affects your lifestyle or self-identity.

To me, the “best” job is one in which your values are being satisfied most effectively. If career growth and advancement are your primary goals, and they’re represented by how much you earn, then the job that pays the most money is the “better” job.

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The best approach to putting the deal together is to decide whether you want the job before an offer is extended. This allows you to clarify whether the job suits your needs. Unless you’re motivated solely by money, it’s doubtful a few extra dollars will turn a bad job into a good one.

The term “bottom line” refers to the amount of compensation you feel is absolutely necessary to accept the job offer. If, for example, you really want $76,000 but would think about $75,000 or settle for $74,000, then you haven’t established your bottom line. The bottom line is one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and helps avoid an unpredictable bargaining session.

I recommend against “negotiating” an offer in the classic sense, where the company makes a proposal, you counter it, they counter your counter, and so on. While this type of back-and-forth format may be customary for negotiating a residential real estate deal, job offers should be handled in a more straightforward manner.

Here’s how: Determine your bottom line in advance, and wait for the offer. If the company offers you more than your bottom line, great. If they offer you less, then you have the option of turning the offer down or revealing to them your bottom line as a condition of acceptance. At that point, they can raise the ante or walk away. And once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.

By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, you’ll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether you’re representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.

If you feel the need to justify your salary request, you can itemize any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and so forth.

Often, there are considerations aside from money that need to be satisfied before an offer can be accepted. Factors such as the new position title, review periods, work schedule, vacation allotment, and promotion opportunities are important, and should be looked at carefully.

You can use the this approach to quantify each consideration or “point” you need to satisfy as a condition for acceptance. Once you and the company settle on each point, you won’t need to go back later to negotiate “one more thing.” Knowing your bottom line puts you in a better position to get what you want, since you’ve established a set of quantifiable conditions needed for acceptance.

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sick

To get the most mileage out of your resume, you’ll want to emphasize certain aspects of your background. By doing so, you’ll present your qualifications in the most favorable light, and help give the employer a better understanding of your potential value to his or her organization. To build a stronger case for your candidacy, try highlighting the following areas of interest:
Professional achievements of particular interest. For example, if you’re in sales, the first thing a hiring manager will want to know is your sales volume, and how you ranks with your peers. If you’ve won awards, reached goals or made your company money, let the employer know.

Educational accomplishments. List your degree(s) and/or relevant course work, thesis or dissertation, or specialized training. Be sure to mention any special honors, scholarships, or awards you may have received, such as Dean’s List, Cum Laude, or Phi Beta Kappa.

Additional areas of competency. These might include  computer software fluency, dollar amount of monthly raw materials purchased, or specialized training.

Professional designations that carry weight in your field. If you’re licensed or certified in your chosen profession or belong to a trade organization, by all means let the reader know.

Success indicators. You should definitely include anything in your past that might distinguish you as a leader or achiever. Or, if you worked full time to put yourself through school, you should consider that experience a success indicator, and mention it on your resume.

Related experience. Anything that would be relevant to your prospective employer’s needs. For example, if your occupation requires overseas travel or communication, list your knowledge of foreign languages. If you worked as a co-op student in college, especially in the industry you’re currently in, let the reader know.

Military history. If you served in the armed forces, describe your length of service, branch of service, rank, special training, medals, and discharge and/or reserve status. Employers generally react favorably to military service experience.

Security clearances. Some industries require a clearance when it comes to getting hired or being promoted. If you’re targeting an industry such as aerospace or defense, give your current and/or highest clearable status, and whether you’ve been specially checked by an investigative agency.

Citizenship or right to work. This should be mentioned if your industry requires it. Dual citizenship should also be mentioned, especially if you think you may be working in a foreign country.

In a competitive market, employers are always on the lookout for traits that distinguish one candidate from another. Not long ago, I worked with an engineering manager  who mentioned the fact that he was a three-time national power speed boat champion on his resume. It came as no surprise that several employers warmed up to his resume immediately, and wanted to interview him.

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Compensation will be a key factor in your decision whether to accept a new position. However, few people take the time to really understand their economic choices, mostly because there are so many hidden factors, such as cost of living, benefits, and so forth. To help you put your choices into perspective, use the following guide to evaluate your prospective compensation package with what you’re currently earning.

Position Compensation Guide
Directions: Compare the economics of the old and new job.

Current Job

New Job

Element to Consider

$ $  Base salary
$ $  Bonus, commissions
$ $  Additional perks
$ $  Profit sharing potential
$ $  Value of stock or equity
$ $  Pension
$ $  401(k) contribution
$ $  Reimbursed expenses
$ $  Cost of living differences
$ $  Moving expenses
$ $  Travel expenses
$ $  Insurance premiums
$ $  Property taxes
$ $  State, local taxes
$ $  Sales taxes
$ $  Other expenses (specify)
$                     $                        $              Difference (+/-)

Regardless of where compensation ranks on your list of priorities, it’s a good idea to know what you may be getting into when faced with a career decision.

 

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Let’s assume your employment interview went well, and there’s sincere and mutual interest on both sides. You now need to decide two things: first, whether the new position is right for you; and if so, what sort of offer you’d be willing to accept. To help in the decision-making process, take the following test as a way to compare the two positions.

Position Comparison Guide
Directions: Compare the new job with what you already have.

Old job

New job

  Element under consideration
  Position title
  Supervisory responsibility
  Project authority
  Decision-making autonomy
  Freedom to implement ideas
  Ability to affect change
  Promotion potential
  Challenge of tasks
  Ability to meet expectations
  Access to professional development
  Professional growth potential
  Company/industry growth
  Company/industry stability
  Starting salary, benefits, perks
  Future compensation
  Commuting distance
  Travel requirements
  Work environment
  Rapport with co-workers
  Rapport with management
  Comfort with corporate culture
  Other considerations (specify)
  Total score: New job vs. old job

 

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Your resume can be arranged in one of two basic formats: summary or chronological.

  • The summary (or functional) resume distills your total work experience into major areas of expertise, and focuses the reader’s attention on your accumulated skills.
  • The chronological resume presents your skills and accomplishments within the framework of your past employers. (Actually, it should be called a reverse chronological resume, since your last job should always appear first.)

Although the information you furnish the reader may essentially be the same, there’s a big difference in the way the two resumes are constructed, and the type of impact each will have. My experience has shown that the chronological resume brings the best results, since it’s the most explicit description of the quality and application of your skills within a specific time frame.

The summary resume, on the other hand, works well if you’ve changed jobs or careers often, and wish to downplay your work history and highlight your level of expertise. If a prospective hiring manager is specifically interested in a steady, progressively advancing employment history (as most are), then the summary resume will very likely work against you, since the format will seem confusing, and might arouse suspicions as to your potential for longevity.

However, if the employer’s main concern is your technical or problem-solving ability, the summary resume will serve your needs just fine. Either way, you should always follow the guidelines mentioned earlier regarding content and appearance.

Crafting Your Resume “Objective”
Most employers find that a carefully worded statement of purpose will help them quickly evaluate your suitability for a given position. An objective statement can be particularly useful as a quick-screen device when viewed by the manager responsible for staffing several different types of positions. (“Let’s see; programmers in this pile, plant managers in that pile…”)

While a stated objective gives you the advantage of targeting your employment goals, it can also work against you. A hiring manager lacking in imagination or who’s hard pressed for time will often overlook a resume with an objective that doesn’t conform to the exact specifications of a position opening. That means that if your objective reads “Vice President position with a progressive, growth-oriented company,” you may limit your options and not be considered for the job of regional manager for a struggling company in a mature market—a job you may enjoy and be well suited to.

If you’re pretty sure of the exact position you want in the field or industry you’re interested in, then state it in your objective. Otherwise, broaden your objective or leave it off the resume.

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Reality Check: Given the choice of two candidates of equal ability, hiring managers will always prefer to interview the one with the most artfully constructed and attractive resume. For that reason, candidates with superb qualifications are often overlooked. And companies end up hiring from a more shallow pool of talent; a pool made up of those candidates whose experience is represented by powerfully written, visually appealing resumes.

Of course, many of the best candidates also have the best resumes; and sometimes, highly qualified candidates manage to surface through word-of-mouth referral. In fact, the referral method is the one I use to present talented people to my client companies.

But unless you can afford to rely on your “reputation,” or on the recommendation of a barracuda recruiter, you’ll need more than the right qualifications to get the job you want—you’ll need a dynamite resume.

In today’s competitive employment market, your resume has to stand out in order to get the attention of the decision maker and create a strong impression. And later on, when you meet the prospective employer face to face, a strong resume will act as a valuable tool during the interviewing process.

Truth in Advertising
The best way to prepare a dynamite resume is not to change the facts, just make them more presentable. This can be accomplished in two ways: [1] by strengthening the content of your resume; and [2] by enhancing its appearance.

Although there’s no federal regulatory agency like the FDA or FCC to act as a watchdog, I consider it to be ethical common sense to honestly and clearly document your credentials. In other words, don’t make exaggerated claims about your past.

Remember, your resume is written for the employer, not for you. Its main purpose, once in the hands of the reader, is to answer the following questions: How do you present yourself to others? What have you done in the past? And what are you likely to accomplish in the future?

In addition to providing a factual representation of your background, your resume serves as an advertisement. The more effective your 30-second commercial, the more the customer—the employer—will want to buy the expertise you’re selling.

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Once a new job has been accepted, you need to consider is the timing of your resignation. Since two weeks’ notice is considered the norm, make sure your resignation properly coincides with your start date at the new company.

Try to avoid an extended start date. Even if your new job begins in 10 weeks, don’t give 10 weeks’ notice; wait eight weeks and then give two weeks’ notice. This way, you’ll protect yourself from disaster, in the unlikely event your new company announces a hiring freeze a month before you come on board. By staying at your old job for only two weeks after you’ve announced your resignation, you won’t be subjected to the envy, scorn, or feelings of professional impotence that may result from your new role as a lame-duck employee.

Some companies will make your exit plans for you. I know a candidate whose employer had the security guard escort him out of the building the moment he announced his intention to go to work for a direct competitor. Fortunately, he was still given two weeks’ pay.

Your resignation should be handled in person, preferably on a Friday afternoon. Ask your direct supervisor if you can speak with him privately in his office. When you announce your intention to resign, you should also hand your supervisor a letter which states your last date of employment with the company. Let him know that you’ve enjoyed working with him, but that an opportunity came along that you couldn’t pass up, and that your decision to leave was made carefully, and doesn’t reflect any negative feelings you have toward the company or the staff.

You should also add that your decision is final, and that you would prefer not to be made a counteroffer, since you wouldn’t want your refusal to accept more money to appear as a personal affront. Let your supervisor know that you appreciate all the company’s done for you; and that you’ll do everything in your power to make your departure as smooth and painless as possible.

Finally, ask if there’s anything you can do during the transition period over the next two weeks, such as help train your successor, tie up loose ends, or delegate tasks.

Keep your resignation letter short, simple, and to the point. There’s no need to go into detail about your new job, or what led to your decision to leave. If these issues are important to your old employer, he’ll schedule an exit interview for you, at which time you can hash out your differences ad infinitum. Be sure to provide a carbon copy or photocopy of your resignation letter for your company’s personnel file. This way, the circumstances surrounding your resignation will be well documented for future reference.

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Imagine a co-worker who trashes his cubicle, plays practical jokes on his replacement and slinks off with the copier on his last day of work. Is this a person you’d recommend to a prospective employer? Or expect your company to rehire? Or want to work with again? Probably not.

We can only hope that the reported antics surrounding the Clintons’ White House exodus are untrue, because bad behavior—from a chief executive, no less—degrades the employment experience for the rest of us.

When faced with leaving a job, it’s best to exercise decorum, whether the move is voluntary or forced. To make the best of an awkward situation, here are some tips to remember:

  • Keep your mouth shut. Leaving a job (like ending a personal relationship) is strictly a private matter; and waving your dirty laundry serves no purpose.
  • Stay cool. Even in the context of a “confidential” exit interview, there’s nothing to gain from scorching the Earth.
  • Keep your distance. Soliciting support (or fomenting dissent) from your co-workers might create the impression of a conspiracy or coup d’etat—and unwittingly implicate innocent people.
  • Burn bridges at your own peril. The company you left yesterday may need your services tomorrow. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.

Sure, it’s easy to be gracious when everything’s rosy. But it takes an extra dose of character to act like an adult when the going gets tough. If you’re ever caught in a sudden employment shift, try to maintain your composure and consider the consequences of your actions.

Workplace trends like flexible schedules and casual Fridays may come and go—but good manners are forever.

Otherwise, Shakespeare wouldn’t have written, “A person is remembered for his entrances and exits.”

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diversity

Employers prefer crisp-looking resumes that get to the point. By using the example on this page as a template, you’ll improve both the style and the substance your resume.

Layout  
Add interest and clarity by using bullets, indents and varying font styles (such as bold and italic letters). Avoid using unconventional fonts or adding photos or graphics.

Length  
The general rule is: one page for early-career (entry level to 5-10 years); two pages for mid-career candidates.

Job Data  
Provide the reader with relevant detail about your past and present employers, such as product information, size and physical location.

Measurables  
Quantify your job duties, reporting relationships and achievements with actual numbers.

Job and Education Dates
Make sure the dates are clear and without gaps. If you’re a mid- to late-career candidate, you can save space by lumping early-career jobs together.

Degree Credentials
Please be accurate—and honest. Misrepresenting your degree is unethical, and could result in consequences that are embarrassing—or worse.

 

Create a resume today using our resume builder

 

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