Tuesday, March 29, 2011

3 Tips For Getting a Raise in 2011

By Laura C. Browne

You may be reluctant to talk about raises this year because of the difficult economic situation. You may just be grateful you have a job. Even so, you should make sure your company knows how valuable you are so you can be first in line to get a raise when your company’s profits begin to increase.

If you’re like most women, asking for a raise is uncomfortable. It’s not easy to discuss money, however, here are some practical tips that can help you get started now:

1) Build a business case with reasons you should get a raise

Before you ask your boss for a raise, you need answer one very important question “What do you do at work that deserves a raise?” Sure you work hard but companies are looking for results that positively affect the bottom line. Let’s ask the question a different way. “What do you do that makes or saves money for the company?” Once you clearly understand that, it will be easier for you to build a business case for your raise.

Think about this in terms of “increased” and “reduced.” Have you increased profits, customer satisfaction or numbers of orders for your company’s products? Have you reduced expenses, customer complaints, product development time, or customer response time?

No matter what part of the company you work in, you can make a difference. For example, if you’re in accounting, you might have worked on a new system that helps customers quickly resolve billing issues so invoices get paid faster.

After you realize how your job affects the bottom line, you should start sending Results Updates to your boss to help him or her understand your value. Results Updates should consist of a few bullet points about your accomplishments and how they help the company. I recommend sending them to your boss every week or two. You can use these to remind your boss when you ask for a raise.

2) Clearly and calmly ask for a raise

You should ask for a raise in a calm and professional way just like you would ask for resources on a project. If raises have been frozen, let your boss know you realize it’s still a difficult economic situation for the company and you’re positioning yourself for an increase when raise dollars are available.

Start the meeting by thanking your boss and maintain a positive attitude throughout the discussion. Be confident in your message but add a smile to keep the meeting friendly. Review information that shows your value and clearly ask for a raise.

Then stop talking. See what your manager has to say. Even if they agree you deserve a raise, they won’t be able to say yes on the spot. No matter what the answer is, be prepared to respond in a non-emotional and positive way. If the answer is no, ask for more information by using open-ended questions such as, “Can you help me to understand what the issue is?” “What would have to change for me to get a raise?”

3) Work with your boss

You should view your boss as an ally. It’s very likely your boss would like to pay you more to keep you motivated and loyal. Unfortunately funds are limited and your boss may need to negotiate with their managers and Human Resources.

How can you help your boss negotiate for you? Ask your boss what they think would be most helpful. Do they want reports, customer comments or a brief list of accomplishments? Let your boss know how much you appreciate their help and willingness to support your raise request with others.

Keep in mind that whether you get a raise or not may simply be a financial decision based on profits. Don’t take it personally.

It’s not easy to have a raise discussion, but you can prepare and practice so you’ll be ready when you talk to your boss. So don’t wait, start now to emphasize your value to the company and begin to open the dialogue about raises so you can get the raise you deserve.

Laura C. Browne has more than 20 years experience as a corporate trainer and manager and is passionate about giving women the guidance and communication skills necessary to overcome and be successful despite workplace and gender-specific challenges. For almost ten years, women from Fortune 1000 companies have turned to Laura for career guidance and training. Laura is the author of Raise Rules for Women: How To Make More Money At Work and Why Can’t You Communicate Like Me? How Smart Women Get Results At Work (both titles available on Amazon Kindle).

Become a member of the Fresh Start Community of women today: www.wehelpwomen.com.

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Every Newly Single Woman Should Know

By Renée A. Hanson

If you've recently become a single parent due to divorce or the death of a spouse, here’s what you should know from a financial standpoint:

1. Your best first action may be inaction.

Emotions—such as shock, anger, sadness, denial or grief—can affect your ability to make decisions that are consistent with your best long-term interests. Give yourself six months to a year to work through your feelings before you begin making major financial decisions.

If you've inherited a large sum of money, such as a life insurance policy death benefit, talk with your financial professional about the best place to deposit those dollars over the short term to give yourself time to process your new situation.

2. You need to take steps to help ensure your short-term financial stability.

Although you may feel overwhelmed by the demands upon your time, it’s important that you take care of the financial basics to maintain a good credit rating:

  • Close joint banking accounts and credit cards and, when appropriate, open new ones in your name.
  • Stay up to date on your bills. If you aren’t already signed up for electronic payments, now may be a good time to start. By investing a few minutes upfront to get started, you’ll save yourself time and money over time.
  • Update your beneficiary designations and contact information on your financial and legal documents.
  • Continue to regularly contribute to your savings program. If money is tight, it’s easy to sacrifice your long-term goals, such as building up cash reserves or saving for retirement, for the short-term benefits of your child or children (i.e. a week at summer camp). However, as a single parent, your financial security is fundamental for your family’s financial stability. So, you need to pay yourself first.

3. If you’re financially strapped, look for opportunities to live on less.

This includes reducing or consolidating your number of service subscriptions. For example, the cost of the following services can add up quickly and may be redundant:

  • Television recording services
  • Movie, magazine and newspaper subscriptions
  • Home phones and cell phones with data packages

4. Consult a financial professional.

He or she can help you establish a financial strategy to help meet your needs.

Renée A. Hanson, CFP®, CEP®, CDFA™, CFS, is a private wealth advisor with Hanson, Ayala & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Her passion is in helping women achieve their dreams and financial goals, regardless of life’s many obstacles. Renée is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, IL, MI, MN, MT, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, WI. Please visit: www.reneehanson.com to learn more.

Become a member of the Fresh Start Community of women today: www.wehelpwomen.com.

Using Social Media in Your Job Search

By Dolores Seright, CPC

“It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” You’ve heard it a hundred times, and it is still very true and very important in your job search. Networking using social media can help you in your job search. Imagine multiplying the people in your network 10 times, 100 times or more. The Internet and social media have made this possible, and today’s savvy women are learning to use such tools to their advantage.

Today’s employers expect you to have a presence on social media websites, and increasing numbers of employers are using them to recruit and to advertise for employees. Most employers also check social media websites to learn more about you before extending a job offer.

Which Websites Should I Use?

  • Facebook: www.facebook.com has grown from simply being a website where people can build a network of friends and family to share information and pictures. With more than 500 million members, it is now used by companies to promote products and connect on a more personal level with their client base. Facebook can be used to connect people with common interests. It is a great place to make friends to support you in your job search and introduce you to other people who may know about job openings in your field.
  • BranchOut: www.branchout.com is a career networking application on Facebook that just launched recently. It allows access to career data for your friends and their friends and gives you opportunity to make important connections within many companies.
  • LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com is a website for professional networking with more than 90 million members. You can use LinkedIn to publish your professional profile, post your resume, invite people to recommend you and establish a network of professional contacts. LinkedIn is widely used by recruiters to find qualified people and is an excellent way to connect and exchange information about employment opportunities.
  • Twitter: www.twitter.com is a website used to share information in 140 characters or less. Many people are not aware that many companies are now using Twitter to post job openings. You can join Twitter and “follow” companies you are interested in to hear about employment opportunities very quickly.
  • YouTube: www.youtube.com is a website that can be used to post your video resume or watch recruiting videos about companies you are interested in.
  • Glassdoor: www.glassdoor.com is a source for inside information about companies posted by current and former employees. You can join and ask questions about companies and get helpful info about job openings and more from people who know the answers.

How Do I Use Social Media Effectively?

  • Have a Strategy For Each Website
  • Decide which social media website will be the best platform for you to use.
  • Determine your specific goals for each site.
  • Develop a plan to connect with the right people to help you in your search.
  • Make a commitment to spend a specific amount of time daily using social media.
  • Develop a winning resume that highlights your skills and accomplishments.
  • Tell all your friends and connections you are job searching if you are unemployed.
  • Be sure you have the correct privacy settings for each website if you are currently employed and considering a change in careers or employers.
  • Research potential companies and look for connections within your network.
  • Ask for introductions to employees of prospective employers in your field.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Due to the economy, many people are in the same situation.
  • Join groups in your field of interest on Facebook and LinkedIn. Write “posts” to showcase your expertise and gain credibility. People will remember you and help you.
  • “Like” companies on Facebook you want to work for to stay current on what is happening with the company. You may hear about expansions or opportunities more quickly.
  • Communicate with people so they get to know you.

It may seem overwhelming if you are new to social media, so just get started and learn one step at a time. Be consistent and committed in your journey to new skills and a successful job search, and share your success!

Dolores Seright, CPC, is a certified professional coach and her passion is teaching people the skills they need to pursue their passion, become an expert in their field and excel in their business. Her experience as a regional business director for a corporation combined with her experience as a business owner gives her a unique ability to understand the challenges you face and work with you to achieve higher levels of success. Dolores also volunteers as a career coach at Fresh Start in Phoenix and facilitates workshops on job searching in today’s marketplace. Learn more about Dolores at www.passporttoyourdreams.com and connect with her at www.facebook.com/phoenix.coach.

Become a member of the Fresh Start Community of women today: www.wehelpwomen.com.

Are You a Woman In Transition?

What does it mean to be “in transition”? It may not mean what you think. First off, we’re all "women in transition" at some point in our lives.

For instance, when you look back on your life so far, do you see a series of chapters? When the writing in one chapter seemed to come to an end, the page turned and Chapter 3 began?

And when you look forward, do you see your career, family and financial needs staying the same for the rest of your life? Do you see the same chapter going on forever? Probably not. As women, we are always looking to better ourselves and to build a better future for our families. We grow as people. We build our careers. We make financial decisions and plans to secure a future for ourselves and for our loved ones. Families grow and expand. And as time goes by, our needs and goals change.

Every journey is different, but it is certain that every woman's story includes a series of chapters. And just like a good book, every journey includes transitions.

But easing from one life stage to the next isn’t always easy.

Having personal, financial and career goals is important, but what’s more important is having the resources needed to fulfill such goals.

Where do you turn when you’re jumping back into the workforce after an extended absence? Where do you gain the knowledge needed to make important financial decisions after suddenly becoming a single parent? Where do you get the support and resources you need to move forward with confidence?

We all have goals that we need help reaching. Let us help you reach them.

Take our free, confidential life assessment at www.wehelpwomen.com/assessment.