Posts Tagged ‘executive jobs’

Where Will the Jobs Be?

The landscape of the global labor force is changing.

By Julie Norwell

Even before the novel coronavirus outbreak, the global labor force was changing. Developments in robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are at the forefront of changes in the workplace and herald a future of automation that will make work drastically different. Technologies can already do tasks that we once believed only humans could do, and this trend will only continue.

Analysts from such august institutions as McKinsey, Brookings and MIT anticipate that the disruption in the labor force stemming from technology will be of a similar magnitude as the shift from the agrarian economic model to the model ushered in by the Machine Age. Some speculate that it might even be greater.

Where will the jobs be?
Where will the jobs be?

Although such dramatic prognostications are fodder for alarmists who warn that robots are killing jobs, you shouldn’t panic. Yes, some jobs will be fully automated in the future. Most, however, are likely to change rather than disappear entirely, and many new jobs that we can’t even imagine today will emerge.

Jobs in Transition

Global Management Consulting firm, McKinsey, has undertaken an ongoing effort to study the future of work. McKinsey’s analysts studied 2,000 work activities across 800 occupations.

They found that, the majority (60%) of all occupations have at least 30% of activities that could be automated, and that almost every occupation has at least some automation potential. However, given current technologies, less than 5% of all occupations can be automated entirely. In other words, more occupations will change than will be automated away.

That doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about. In a related report McKinsey estimates that 75 million to 375 million people globally may need to switch occupations by 2030.

Not surprisingly, the jobs that will be lost to automation involve physical activities in very predictable environments, such as in manufacturing, food service and hospitality, as well as the collection and processing of data, such as in certain financial work and back office transactions.

The jobs of the future will require technical skills, math, statistics, and logical thinking. Comfort with data will be essential. We will likely see “hybrid jobs” – that is, jobs that combine different disciplines in ways that we haven’t seen before. But they will also increasingly involve humans working side-by-side with machines, using skills that machines cannot match, especially those that rely on social interactions, such as managing people, applying expertise, or research and writing skills. 

The more “human-centric” a job is, the more likely it is to resist absorption by automation. Such jobs are likely to involve four basic competencies – sometimes called the “Four C’s:” creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.

In some ways, older professionals are well situated for such jobs because they have been in the workforce longer than younger professionals. They have more experience and have acquired valuable interpersonal skills and expertise that will serve them well as the work landscape changes. But in the Digital Age no one can afford to rest on his laurels.

Workers must constantly focus on upping their game

In a 2017 Deloitte report, analysts anticipate that the half-life of skill sets will decrease to five years in the future of work. For example, technical skills that are in high demand today will become less sought after as more workers become skilled in those areas. Meanwhile, the demand for expertise in other areas will grow. Above all, workers must constantly focus on upping their game and making their own opportunities.

Factors in Job Growth

Demographics, climate change and global economic forces will all be determining factors in job creation by 2030, too. Our aging society is catalyzing the growth of jobs in the healthcare industry, for example, and climate challenges and rising energy demands will spur jobs promoting energy efficiency.

Investment in technology and infrastructure by government and business will beget jobs in technology, construction and construction-related sectors.

Historically, developing technology has created more jobs than it has destroyed. McKinsey found, for example, that since the advent of personal computers 3.5 million jobs have been lost versus 19.2 million jobs created – a net gain of 15.8 million jobs. Looking ahead, McKinsey forecasts that new jobs will result from growth in current occupations and the creation of new types of occupations that may not have existed before. If history repeats itself, job growth (i.e. jobs gained) could more than offset jobs lost to automation.

Categories with the highest percentage of job growth
Specifically, McKinsey reports, “the categories with the highest percentage of job growth net of automation include:
  • healthcare providers;
  • professionals such as engineers, scientists, accountants, and analysts; IT professionals and other technology specialists; managers and executives, whose work cannot easily be replaced by machines;
  • educators…;
  • and ‘creatives,’ a small but growing category of artists, performers, and entertainers who will be in demand as rising incomes create more demand for leisure and recreation.”

Tours of Duty

To smooth the transition to the future of work, it will be incumbent on government and businesses to implement policy changes to train and retrain people to accommodate the demand of new and different workforce skills, to retool healthcare and income support systems to promote more fluidity in the labor market, and to help displaced workers find employment.

Tours of Duty

By all appearances, these institutions have a long way to go. Andy Wyckoff, director of the Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation at the OECD, writes that governments are lagging behind the need to adapt policymaking to the fast pace of technological developments – and the gap is widening. Businesses aren’t doing much better.

According to a Deloitte survey, employees give their learning and training departments a low -8 net promoter score, complaining of outdated learning management systems and legacy content. The smart worker, therefore, will shoulder the responsibility to continually learn new midcareer skills and adapt to changes in the employment market.

LinkedIn co-founder, Reid Hoffman, views careers today as “tours of duty,” whereby workers stay at a given company just a few years.

He believes the time has come for a new employer-employee compact that acknowledges the probable impermanence of the relationship yet seeks to build trust and investment by way of an alliance that offers both parties value.

In other words, companies should try to attract and retain talent by offering employees real skills, new relationships or the opportunity to enhance their personal brand.

As an employee, if a company isn’t offering you these things, you might do well to look elsewhere because, as long-term job security slips away in the future of work, learning and development opportunities will be the hallmark of a good job and your ticket to a better career.

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Job Seeking During the Coronavirus Crisis

Put your worries to work so you’re ready when we get to the other side of it

By Julie Norwell

Reading the news is depressing stuff these days. In addition to the tragic loss of life that now seems inevitable, the coronavirus health crisis has turned into a full-blown economic crisis that promises to rival every economic crisis in the post-war era.

Bank of America “officially declared” in mid-March that the U.S. economy has fallen into a recession – and that was even before the U.S. Labor Department reported unemployment claims had surged to 3.3 million, up from 281,000 the week prior. In the week ending March 28 initial claims leapt to 6.6 million – an all-time high.

Experts expect these numbers to worsen yet over the coming months.

Video Interviewing

A sobering analysis by management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, estimates that up to one-third of U.S. jobs could be vulnerable. The most affected industries – hospitality, food service, and retail – account for 42% of vulnerable jobs. With Americans retreating to their homes, consumer spending – which comprises two-thirds of the U.S. economy – has narrowed to grocery, hand sanitizer and toilet paper purchases.

The Economic Recovery Will Happen

McKinsey’s analysis find that lockdowns disproportionally affect low-income workers. But unemployment is likely to spread across most industries and income levels until businesses see the economic rebound that invariably follows an economic crisis.

When will that happen?

At this point, it’s anybody’s guess. It depends entirely on the economic policy and the public health responses to the crisis.

But it’s never too early to start preparing for a job search. Whether hiring picks up in the third quarter of this year or sometime in 2021, you should put your worries to work now so that you can hit the ground running when we emerge on the other side of the coronavirus crisis.

This Economic Crisis Is Different

The rapidly worsening doom and gloom news is head-spinning. Events are moving so fast that in the last two weeks of March Goldman Sachs revised its economic forecast of the second quarter three times; first, to a contraction of 5%, then to 24%, then to a jaw-dropping 34%. That’s 3.5 times bigger than any decline in history. Goldman Sachs’ lead economist, Jan Hatzius, says that unemployment will hit 15% by the second half of the year.

Still, this economic crisis is different from other economic crises.

Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, which was the result of complex structural problems in the U.S. economy, the current crisis is the result of an exogenous shock to the economy – that is, an unpredicted event that comes from outside the economic system.

In theory, an exogenous shock to an otherwise healthy economy can absorb the shock and rebound in a classic V-shaped growth curve. That is a big difference from the slow, 10-year recovery after the 2008 crisis.

A quick rebound is exactly what Goldman Sachs forecasts. It sees GDP surging 19% in the third quarter. Likewise, Morgan Stanley forecasts growth of 21% after a sharp contraction of 38% in the second quarter.

To be clear, there is no consensus on what the recovery will look like.

Morgan and Goldman expect a more drawn out recovery than initially anticipated, and some experts foresee a full-on U-shaped recovery. Unfortunately, an L-shaped recovery isn’t out of the question.

There is no consensus on what the recovery will look lik

But economic relief efforts are underway. In the first week of April Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeted that community banks have already processed over $875 million in loans of the $349 billion small business Paycheck Protection Program, and big banks will be following suit soon. Treasury officials also plan to ask Congress to commit an additional $200 billion to the program.

Experts do agree that the recovery very much depends on the policy response to the crisis. McKinsey has modeled out various economic scenarios based on the aggressivity of the government’s economic policy and public health responses to the coronavirus crisis. To avoid a grim outcome, it strongly urges quick and bold leadership.

Don’t Let Someone Eat Your Lunch

What’s the bottom line: Should you postpone your job search?

The answer is no. Here are three reasons why:

Don’t Let Someone Eat Your Lunch

1. No one can guess the bottom of this market and it won’t get easier to wait. Back in 2008 many would-be job seekers waited for the market to recover, which took a long time. If current estimates hold, a rebound in the third and fourth quarters would be 3-6 months from now. A typical job search also takes 3-6 months, so starting the process now is the right time to research the job you want and make yourself the best candidate possible for that job so that you’re ready to go when hiring picks up.

2. Hiring managers are always working back channels to place people in open positions, both in good times and in bad. It’s called the “unpublished job market.” If you aren’t job seeking, you won’t know about those opportunities, and hiring managers won’t know about your candidacy.  

Imagine showing up for an interview with your top company choice only to be told that the spot you were gunning for was filled two weeks ago. Don’t let someone who acted more quickly than you eat your lunch!

A much better strategy is to throw your hat into the ring now and politely tell the hiring manager: “I understand that your hiring circumstances may be uncertain at the moment, but please keep me in mind when things improve.” Your candor and consideration will be appreciated.

3. Don’t forget that a crisis is the best time to show your mettle to hiring managers. Anyone can be a leader when times are good, but a crisis is precisely when companies need strong leaders. If you have something special to offer, let people know. You will be in high demand.

Put Your Worries to Work While You Have the Time

Whether you are employed or not, you are probably spending your days at home like most Americans. Since you have more time on your hands than usual, take a break from watching Tiger King on Netflix to reflect on what your skills are. Do some research to figure out how they may be transferrable to another industry or another type of position. Lastly, cogitate on how you can present these skills to a hiring manager in a language that he’ll understand: dollars and cents.

Put Your Worries to Work

Don’t be shy to reach out for professional help. This kind of exercise is a specialty for executive coaching firms like The Barrett Group. If they can help you demonstrate that you can change a company’s bottom line, create new income, or save time and money, you will get hired. In that case, the investment in a coach will have been well worth it.

Quarantining is an ideal time to ramp up your networking. Because everyone is home, they are reaching out to people they don’t regularly communicate with. Exploit this opportunity and make video calls do double duty for you – make it social but with the potential for a future professional payoff. (If you’re nervous, keep it casual by positioning your kids or your dog in the background.)  

Be sure to take the time, also, to review skills that might be missing from your resume and upskill. Read more: In the Digital Age, Upskilling Is Hot!

Lastly, don’t forget that there are many companies that ARE hiring now. Companies from industries spanning technology to online retail to home delivery are hiring to meet increased demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. LinkedIn maintains a regularly updated list of companies hiring right now. And the Wall Street Journal is tracking a long list of companies that are both shedding and adding workers and worker benefits.

Many of the positions in demand now are temporary, but consider being a hero in the short-term. In addition to acquiring a few new skills, some contacts, and making a little more income, you will make a difference. What better way to put your worries to work?

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In The Digital Age, Upskilling Is Hot!

Like it or not, the digital age is the source of a tsunami of change in our lives.

By Julie Norwell

Rapid technological changes are shaping everything from the way we hail a cab to the way we order takeout food. We are forced to adapt to new ways of doing the most basic tasks. It’s no wonder, then, that you may be feeling similar pressure in your work life.

Your calendar is updated by others remotely, your files are stored in the cloud and editable by someone in a different city – or country, and a modern meeting is held by video conferencing technology in a “zoom room” or over a smart phone. Even the staid one-page, paper resume has been replaced by the LinkedIn profile.

In The Digital Age, Upskilling Is Hot!
In The Digital Age, Upskilling Is Hot!

In an effort to keep up with the competition, companies must respond to the never-ending need to upgrade systems, digital platforms, and applications. Naturally, companies value most the employees who can keep up with all these changes. It is incumbent upon you, therefore, to continually develop yourself, to learn new skills – especially digital skills – and to be flexible about learning new modes and patterns of work.

In the digital age, having excellent skills is a more valuable currency than an impressive resume, but the requisite skills are a moving target.

According to a report by the RAND corporation, technology skills have to be updated every three years in order to have continued relevance. 

So “upskilling” is crucial for anyone who hopes to position him or herself for a better opportunity at a new company or advancement within the current one.  But what skills are the most important ones to have? And what is the best way to acquire them?

What Is Upskilling and How Do I Do It?

A scene in “The Intern,” a 2015 film about a retired professional, bored with retirement, who elects to return to the workforce, shows Robert DeNiro’s character, Ben Whittaker, reading the instructions to digitally apply for a job posting to an e-commerce startup company. “I have no idea what you just read,” said Whittaker’s friend in the scene. “It’s like a different language!” Undeterred, Whittaker applies for, and lands, a job at the startup and begins his re-education in the world of modern technology.

Upskilling should be a constant endeavor

These days the experience of those characters may be common to people of all ages who aren’t actively updating their skillset. A 2016 report by the World Economic Forum forecast that within five years over one-third of skills that are considered important in the workforce will have changed. Therefore, acquiring new skills and knowledge that make you marketable in your career – upskilling, in today’s parlance – should be a constant endeavor for everyone.

But what skills you should learn depend entirely on the needs of your employer and, of course, on you.

Would you like to advance in the field you’re already in or pursue a different career altogether? Many company leaders now see a yawning gap between the technical needs of their company and the technical abilities of today’s workforce.

Research firm Gartner reports that “…talent has now been recognized globally as the single biggest issue standing in the way of CIOs achieving their objectives.” Increasingly, companies are recognizing the value of training their workers in new skills and offering them valuable professional development. If you are offered such an opportunity, jump on it!

If not, you should be exploring ways to develop yourself on your own.

Consulting with a professional career coach, like the ones available at The Barrett Group, is a great first step for getting a fresh perspective on what you might do to boost your career. Other good resources include finding a mentor, joining an industry association, or taking a course at a local university where you can interact with an experienced educator. Speaking to other people who know the industry is a great way to find out what skills are in hot demand.

Once you figure out what skills are important for your career goals, there are endless ways to learn them – and they aren’t necessarily costly or time consuming. Read books, subscribe to technical magazines, or take an online course, of which there are many excellent, free ones, like Coursera or MIT’s OpenCourseWare. It may seem obvious, but do an online search for “How to learn [fill in the blank].” You’ll doubtless get a page or more of good links to blogs, webinars or podcasts to dig into.

The value of online tutorials
Don’t underestimate the value of online tutorials or YouTube videos.

Although they aren’t usually professionally edited and may lack clarity and thoroughness, they are easily accessible and free. What’s more, they often incorporate links, user comments and interactive demonstrations that are incredibly informative.

Finally, set yourself a tech goal, like creating a website or starting a blog. There is nothing better than experiential learning for mastering technical skills. Working on a project is more compelling than reading a book and the task focuses your attention on the practical application of the skills you are learning.

You might also consider joining a tech-related club and volunteering for a technical project. It will give you valuable experience and, perhaps, the opportunity to work with people with more technical know-how than you, who can act as useful resources. Doing this will have the added benefit of broadening your network and possibly opening doors in your career.

Seasoned Professionals Have an Edge

A report by the World Economic Forum on the future of jobs identifies the technology drivers of change that have already impacted industries – mobile internet, cloud technology and Big Data – and those that we can expect by 2020 – artificial intelligence, advanced robotics and autonomous transport. Nearly every industry and every organizational role will eventually require the use of sophisticated technology, but there are huge talent gaps.

There are huge talent gaps in the use of sophisticated technologies

According to the RAND Corporation, two different types of skills are in short supply: digital skills and digital navigation skills. The former are the technical skills required to use digital technologies. The latter is a wider and less tangible set of skills that is less about knowing technological skills than knowing how to find and prioritize information and assess its quality and reliability. It means taking responsibility for figuring out what you need to know and where to find that knowledge.

The good news is that hard, digital skills are defined and relatively easy to learn in a class or a book. Meanwhile, digital navigation skills require experience, judgement and time to acquire, which gives the seasoned professional an advantage in the employment market. The key here is to be able to apply technology within the context of a specific profession.

This means, for example, a doctor knowing how to use health IT tools to better diagnose a patient’s malady, or an auditor knowing how to use data analytics and visualization software to evaluate copious amounts of information on a spreadsheet at the click of a button. Still, it’s an ongoing process because the knowledge base is constantly changing and one must continue to adapt to new technologies and ways of doing things.

In the face of such radical change in the job environment, staying competitive means adapting. But successful people understand that learning is a lifelong pursuit. If you invest in ongoing skills development, you will do your job more effectively, increase your salary bargaining power, and give yourself confidence to set increasingly challenging goals. You will set yourself apart from the crowd and the results will speak for themselves.

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Your Career Will Outlive This Crisis

A Letter From Our CEO

Your Career Will Outlive This Crisis
Your Career Will Outlive This Crisis

Dear friends,

We hope this finds you well, as are we.  The Barrett Group has been active in the career management market for 30 years and has weathered all manner of crises, including 2008.

Yes, the US and the world are in the grip of a health crisis. Once governments recognize what needs to be done and commit publicly to doing it, people will adjust.  Fortunately, with the measures rapidly being adopted in the US and Europe this is finally starting to happen, though it will certainly get worse before it gets better. 

Where China has adopted strict lock-downs, the incidence of new cases has already dwindled. 

There is hope that “shelter in place” and similar measures being adopted elsewhere can slow the rate of spread and allow health services to expand their capacity and source the equipment and supplies they will need as the crisis peaks.

Medically, most people even if they become infected are not at risk of anything worse than a severe flu, if that, but please take all necessary precautions.  Extensive testing for example in Iceland shows that many who are infected never become symptomatic… though they may still be infectious for a period of time.

As one door closes, others will open
Industries will be impacted differently. 

The cruise ship, airline, amusement park, and concert businesses are already suffering.  Consumer goods companies, particularly makers of hand sanitizer, face masks, toilet paper and the like are thriving.  The health care industries once they adjust will probably do well, too. 

On-line shopping is booming as you can see from Amazon’s stock development.  Microsoft and others have leapt into the remote-learning market as schools have closed. 

Government stimulus and support is also making its way through the regulatory process and green shoots are showing on the world’s stock markets.  Many other industries will not be significantly impacted in the medium term.  

So, as one door closes, others will open.

At the Barrett Group we are modestly ahead of the curve as far as virtual working is concerned, and it seems that the world is moving our way.  This may be the most significant impact of all in the long term as more and more companies recognize that there are in fact significant advantages to telecommuting.

Interviews are conducted by telephone and videoconference

Already, most initial employment interviews are conducted by telephone and videoconference. 

By the way, we can help you set up a complimentary videoconference account of your own, if you wish, to help you capitalize on this trend.

Our discussions with major employers indicate that most expect to weather this crisis and continue recruiting major talent, as their organizational strategies are long term and not particularly affected by the whim of the market.

So, in a nutshell, as long as you are willing to do the work required, this health crisis should not significantly impact your career change campaign in our opinion. 

Most of our clients land through the unpublished market anyway and we know how to help you make the connections required to be successful there.

Fear can be paralyzing.  But you need not be a victim.  Take advantage of this crisis to take stock of your situation.  Perhaps it is time for you to take action.  If so, please consult us.  Thirty years of guiding executives toward a better work / life / compensation balance has made us the experts.  We can help.

In the meantime, please do everything you can to stay healthy and protect the health of those around you.

Sincerely,

Peter Irish
CEO, The Barrett Group

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The High Road Approach

A hiring manager, 3rd party recruiter or HR professional encounters many difficult assignments. Other than letting an employee go, the most difficult among these assignments is informing an interviewee that they were not selected for the job opportunity.

The most common responses they hate to hear are often the most common questions an interviewee wants to ask:

  • Why was I not selected?
  • What did I do wrong in the interview?
  • Do you have any advice for me to do better?
  • What was the exact reason why you chose a different applicant?

These questions are often left unanswered for many reasons, but typically due to the legal department’s risk mitigation policies related to sensitive topics such as discrimination.

Stand Out By Taking The High Road

  • Why was I not selected?
  • What did I do wrong in the interview?
  • Do you have any advice for me to do better?
  • What was the exact reason why you chose a different applicant?

Understanding this dilemma, The Barrett Group created an innovative methodology for helping clients navigate this exact situation. We call this “The High Road Approach.”

Consider these two crucial reasons this method has helped our clients toward success:

  1. The High Road Approach Establishes A Path For Future Opportunities. Many clients who take the high road approach end up being selected for the position if the employer’s first choice washes out during the offer negotiation or probationary stage of onboarding. From time to time the employer is so impressed by your sophistication and political savvy that they change their mind and offer the position to you anyway.
  2. The High Road Approach Expands Your Sphere of Influence. Our clients often receive referrals for totally different opportunities either within the same company or a job located in the interviewer’s sphere of influence. These referrals are to jobs in both the unpublished and published job markets.

How To Implement The High Road Approach

The approach to use is simple and quite profound, considering it is the road least traveled. By using this methodology, you can develop a networking relationship with the decision maker. Upon establishing this relationship, your connection may eventually volunteer the answers to the questions you wanted to ask.

The approach begins with a simple letter sent by email or traditional mail:

Hi Name of person in the hiring process assigned to deliver the news>,

Although I am disappointed for not being selected for the opportunity, congratulations on filling the position!

In the interest of staying connected, I will send you a LinkedIn invite. I have learned that amazing opportunities can come from networking relationships, contacts shared and from professional associations.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like assistance with anything or just to stay in touch.

I will circle back around to you in a few weeks to see how you are doing.

Respectfully,

Your first and last name
(xxx) xxx-xxxx

An additional High Road Approach goes a step further.

Find out who got the job and take them to lunch. You have more in common than you realize- you obviously wanted the same position. Turn the disappointment of not getting the job into a networking opportunity.

“I can think of at least five clients who ended up landing a job because they scheduled this lunch,” noted Waffles Pi NatuschVice President of Client Services and Client Concierge at The Barrett Group.

When you find yourselves in a position of not getting the job of your choice, make the most of it. Take the High Road Approach and you may be surprised where that new road takes you.

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Do You Deserve More Money?

Here are 4 tips to get the compensation you want

By Julie Norwell

Compensation is a fundamental component of employment, but it’s one of the most difficult topics for workers to discuss with their employers. No surprise, perhaps, given that discussing money is traditionally a conversational taboo, along with politics and religion. Nevertheless, if you want to get paid what you deserve, developing a comfort level with this topic and having a good strategy will go a long way towards preparing yourself to ask for – and get – the compensation you want.

Enlisting the help of a career coach is a great way to get started. Their clientele gives them hands-on insight into what works and what doesn’t. A coach can suggest best practices and real practice to help you become more at ease with the process.

As for strategy, it’s important to keep in mind that, when it comes to negotiating money, there are two specific times to do it: during the hiring period and after you’re already employed. Each time calls for a different approach, and it pays (literally!) to learn the following tactics.

Lay the Groundwork During the Application Process

The first step to set yourself up well to negotiate money during the application process is to make the hiring manager believe that you are the perfect fit for the job. That means you omit everything from your resume that is outside the scope of the job description. Scratch all keywords that are unrelated to the company, the industry, and the role that the company needs you to do. Scratch even achievements that you are very proud of if they aren’t related to the job description, and leave only core competencies and skills. This will help ATS software identify you as a highly skilled person, flag you as being worth more money, and secure you more interviews.

How to Talk Money During the Interview Process

When you reach the interview process, pursue the same tactic as above through verbal articulation. Jot down in advance all of your successes that directly relate to the job posting, and discuss only those during your interview. Give examples of what you have done that relates to what the company wants you to do. Don’t bother to bring up anything else, even if you’re proud of it. Why? Discussing your experience beyond the job description might make the hiring manager think that you will negotiate any offer they might extend, which will result in a lowball initial offer.

You should absolutely negotiate, of course, and you want to ensure that the starting point is as high as possible before you do. Surprisingly, about half of all job applicants do NOT negotiate salary during the hiring process. Of those who do, most focus only on base pay, instead of considering the entire compensation package. People who don’t negotiate at all, or who don’t negotiate the compensation package as a whole, during the hiring process inevitably leave money on the table.

In general, if you’re asked what salary you want, try to duck giving a direct answer. Let the hiring manager name the first number. If pressed, offer a range, along with a disclaimer that you will consider a salary offer only in the context of a full compensation package, as well as the people you will work with and report to, and any other pertinent details. You don’t want to trap yourself into the low end of a range, and this disclaimer will give you greater freedom to negotiate.

Start Preparing to Ask for a Raise the Moment You’re Hired

The best way to get a pay raise after you’re employed, says Dan Resendes, chief consulting officer of The Barrett Group, is to accept a job offer with a request that you get your first evaluation in six months instead of in one year. You’ll look ambitious, and it enables you to ask for a raise twice in one year.

“Eighty percent of my clients get a 6-month evaluation when they ask for it,” says Resendes.

Next, ask your manager right away what her goals and objectives are. Find out what the performance indicators are and tell your manager that you plan to give her the best performance possible. In return you, you will ask to be compensated as well as possible. If this makes you feel apprehensive, remember that bosses are impressed by ambition, and asking for money demonstrates your interest in staying at the company.

Don’t wait until your evaluation to follow up and find out how you are doing against the goals you were given. Be proactive and have regular conversations once or twice per quarter to make sure that you’re on track and that the objectives haven’t changed, lest you fall victim to an evolving mission.

Track Your Successes

One unique stratagem that coaches at The Barrett Group counsel their clients to do is to buy a “dream book” when they start a new job. A dream book is a notebook in which you write down all your successes and the ways that you deserve gold stars for meeting your goals. Update the notebook each week. By the end of 10 months, it will be full of contributions you’ve made to the company that can inform the conversations you have with your boss about your performance and bolster your rationale for a pay raise request.

The most effective way to use the dream book is to invite your boss to coffee about a month before your evaluation takes place, the better to have her undivided attention. Tell her that you’ve been tracking your work performance since you were hired and present her with a report that will give her complete, accurate information of your contributions to the company that she can review at her leisure as she considers your upcoming raise.

Offering your boss such written evidence has three benefits:

  1. It supports your argument for deserving more money,
  2. It takes the onus off her to think of reasons, herself, why you deserve a raise when there may be other competing demands on her time, and
  3. It helps her defend to higher ups in the company her decision to give you more money if the need arises.

When you proactively target company goals, track your results, and regularly communicate your efforts and overall ambition to your boss, you strip away all the risks generally associated with asking for a pay raise. You make the best case possible that you deserve a raise. Most people are reactionary with their careers, but those who manage their careers in this way end up more successful, more satisfied, and better compensated.

General Dos & Don’ts

In addition to these four tactics, here are some general Dos and Don’ts to keep in mind as you plan your next raise request:

  • DO ask! You’re more likely to get a raise if you ask for it than if you don’t ask for it. Plus, you’ve got nothing to lose; people don’t get fired for asking for more money.
  • DO consider bonuses, benefits, perks, and other elements of the full compensation package in your negotiations, not just base pay.
  • DO your homework. Know what you’re worth, what you’ve done and what you need to do to set yourself up for success. Make sure that your work priorities are aligned with the company’s, and solicit feedback regularly from your boss.
  • DO your best to appear confident during all your conversations about money.
  • DO take stretch assignments that allow you to interact with people outside your silo. If your boss doesn’t treat you right, these additional contacts will enhance your leverage to secure a better situation.
  • DON’T talk aboutyour personal financial needs when negotiating your pay. Your rent hike isn’t your boss’s problem. Negotiations should always be performance-based conversations.
  • DON’T negotiate money through email! Men especially make this mistake, observes Resendes. If you are communicating via email, you can be sure that you’re up against a team of people whose best interests are hiring you at the lowest possible compensation you’ll accept. Instead pick up the phone so you can speak to one – and only one – person and hear his reactions to your comments.
  • DON’T negotiate pay before you have an offer in writing. Big mistake! If you don’t know what’s in the entire compensation package, you don’t have the full picture. The base salary may be low because of a big bonus, corporate housing, stock options, or any number of other reasons. Wait until you know all the details of an offer before you begin negotiating.
  • DON’T challenge your boss or get defensive if you don’t get the raise you want. Let it sit for a week and then, when you’re calm, circle back to ask what you could have done differently to get the raise you asked for. Use the experience as an opportunity for self-growth.
  • DON’T forget that if you don’t get paid what you deserve, you can always go elsewhere. It’s a jobseeker’s market, so take advantage!

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Leveraging The “It” Factor

And other intangible advantages you should use in an executive job search

by Julie Norwell

You’ve revamped your LinkedIn profile, added new skills and credentials to your value proposition, and practiced interviewing. You’ve re-written your resume for every job opportunity, crafted your cover letters with the care of someone wooing a new love interest, and sent follow-up messages to every hiring manager you’ve met. You’ve even lost weight and refreshed your wardrobe.

If you are STILL getting no promotions or compelling new job opportunities, you need to look beyond the standard checklist of job search activities. You need to leverage the intangible advantages employed by the most successful executives. Sure, skills and experience are essential in an executive job search, but it’s your ability to garner and harness these important, subtle, and sometimes elusive, qualities that will really set you apart from your competition.

One of the most important of these is executive presence.

Executive Presence

The “It” Factor

There is only so high that people can advance in their careers with skills and experience alone. At some point their prospects will level off if they don’t possess a characteristic known as “executive presence.”

Although executive presence has been studied enough to have earned its own acronym (EP), it remains difficult to describe and even harder to obtain. It’s the certain je ne sais quoi that demarcates managers from executives. It’s a manner of looking and behaving the part of an executive that includes a combination of things like a firm handshake, good eye contact, dignified comportment, and appropriate dress. Someone with executive presence also exudes an ease of being, a sense of self-worth, and confidence that is neither arrogant nor pretentious. In short, it’s the “It” factor.

Someone With Executive Presence

You know it when you see it. You also know it when it’s lacking. A senior executive of a New York City-based startup related his impression of a candidate who lacked executive presence during an interview:

I interviewed a guy with 30 years of experience for a position. He comes into the company, which is famous for being a startup, wearing an ill-fitting, strangely colored suit. Someone with executive presence would have understood, at a minimum, that wearing jeans and a sports jacket to an interview at a startup is appropriate. He also exhibited little confidence in himself, carried himself poorly, and lacked authority when he spoke. With 30 years of experience, this guy should have been at the executive level. But it was clear to me he was not an executive – he was a 30-year manager.

Develop Your Executive Presence

Executive presence comes naturally to some people. But it can also be cultivated through planning and preparation. The first step is understanding specifically what you need to do to boost your leadership potential.

In a study done by the Center of Talent Innovation, the pillars of executive presence are defined as gravitas, communication, and appearance, with gravitas being the core characteristic. It includes such behaviors as acting decisively, exuding confidence, and demonstrating emotional intelligence. Indeed, mastering emotional intelligence will put you halfway or more to cultivating your executive presence. (Read Emotional Intelligence May Be More Valuable than Skills in the Job Search for more information.)

Executive Career Coach

If you’re unsure of how to get started, engaging an executive career coach, such as those at The Barrett Group, is an excellent way to get help in targeting how you can up your game and perform at your best. Because they have their ear to the ground in the job market, they are best situated to help you play to your strengths, whatever those are, and exploit them to the best of your ability to yield better opportunities and higher compensation in your job search.

International Experience Differentiates You

Is international experience relevant in your job search? If the job involves interacting with other countries and traveling, then, yes, it’s relevant. But even if you’re seeking a US-based job, having international experience allows hiring managers to tick off the “preferred” box. It shows a little extra value about you.

If you’ve lived outside your own country, it implies that you’re a risk taker and even that you are a higher performing applicant. In addition, people who work in an international environment, where business and cultural customs are different, demonstrate a greater adaptability in carrying out their jobs than their local peers.  

A recent article in CEO Magazine details several other reasons why international experience is important for executives, not least of which is that, in our increasingly globalized, technology-driven world, leaders with overseas experience will be crucial to driving future innovation and expansion.

If you have the opportunity to get international experience, and it’s not a hardship, get it and have it in the bank because you might find yourself looking for a job in the future where it will be important or useful.

Network, Network, Network!

It should be repeated often and vigorously to utilize your professional network (Read Hone Your Networking Skills…and Slip in the Backdoor to Land Your Next Job for more information). Networking is the biggest factor in finding a job for all types of people, and successful executives will tell you that most jobs, or even every job, they ever got was thanks to their network of relationships.

The most important thing to remember about networking, however, is not to wait until you are looking to switch jobs to build those relationships. You should build them when you don’t need them. How? You do it by always going out of your way to help others – that is, you pay it forward. Make it part of your business strategy to help others and extend yourself for others in whatever way you can whenever you are in a position to do so. If you do, when the times comes that you need help in a job search, you will find that people in your network will be willing to help you right back.

Address Issues of Culture Head On

Executive positions are very competitive, so small advantages will make a difference. Some advantages are easy to manage, such as dressing the part for an interview, for example. But job seekers need to know what that means at each different company. In today’s casual workplace, fitting in could mean a full suit, or it could mean jeans and a t-shirt (as the anecdote above demonstrated). If you have piercings, tattoos, or an unusual hairdo, try to tone things down if the environment calls for it. How you dress for an interview is a slight “tell” on how well you did your homework on a company.

If you have cultural differences, give special consideration to how to handle them in your job search. Someone with a thick foreign accent, for example, might need to practice speaking slowly and enunciating well. Orthodox Jewish applicants who need to leave before sundown every Friday should volunteer specific assurances on how this personal requirement will not affect their ability to get their work done.

Companies aren’t allowed to discriminate against applicants, of course. And, at the same time, you need to be yourself. But it shows a level of good judgement if you address these differences head on, which interviewers will appreciate. And it shows a clarity of mind that comes from preparation and forethought.

Mastering this and other intangible advantages will showcase your personal brand, which may well tip the scales in your favor in your job search.

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Emotional Intelligence May Be More Valuable Than Skills In The Job Search

by Julie Norwell

Knowing how to read clients and colleagues, and understanding what underlying thoughts and emotions are influencing their actions and decisions, have long been useful skills in business.

These and related competencies, including staying calm under pressure, an ability to manage social relationships, being aware of your emotions and knowing how to channel them productively, comprise the rapidly spreading concept of Emotional Intelligence (abbreviated as either EI or EQ). These characteristics are recognized not only as important components of good business practices, but also a critical skillset in the modern workplace.

Emotional Intelligence
Hiring managers have taken note.

A Careerbuilder survey of more than 2600 U.S. hiring managers showed that a whopping 71% of employers value emotional intelligence in employees over IQ, and 34% of them admitted to placing greater emphasis on EQ when hiring and promoting employees. Nearly 60% of them said they’d pass on a candidate with a high IQ but a low EQ.

That survey was published in 2011, but the buzz about emotional intelligence has only grown. Many businesses now study EQ and design programs to educate the masses about its important contributions to organizations and how to harness its benefits. The World Economic Forum even ranked emotional intelligence as one of the top 10 skills in 2020 in the The Future of Jobs report – a skill that didn’t even make the top 10 list for 2015.

It’s clear that when it comes to employment and job seeking, emotional intelligence is now critical to have – perhaps even more so than skills and experience.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is, as it sounds, the intersection of emotions and intelligence. It’s the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and the emotions of others, manage the emotions so that they don’t control your own behavior, and use the information in a way that is productive and beneficial to relationships and circumstances.

For example, a manager with high EQ might recognize a worker’s struggle to make a standing 8:30am meeting because the drop-off time of his child’s school conflicts with it. She changes the meeting time to accommodate the worker. The manager has sacrificed little with the schedule change, but has gained enormous appreciation on the part of the worker and even, perhaps, other witnesses, by the gesture.

The theory of emotional intelligence has evolved in different ways since its introduction in the 1980s. Peter Salovey, currently President of Yale University, and John Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of New Hampshire, were early pioneers of the theory, publishing a foundational research article in 1989. Daniel Goleman then popularized the concept with the release of his 1995 best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than IQ.

Goleman identified five core competencies:

  1. Self-Awareness – Your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and their effect on those around you.
  2. Self-Regulation – Your ability to manage your emotions and direct your behavior optimally given the situation.
  3. Motivation – Your ability to channel emotions towards clear goals and work towards them, maintaining focused attention and a positive attitude.
  4. Empathy – Your ability to perceive, accurately identify, and understand the emotions of others.
  5. Social Skills – Your ability to manage relationships with people around you to the betterment of all parties.

EQ Goes Mainstream

Over the last twenty years, many experts have tweaked the concept of EQ for professional, academic, and social applications and run with it.

Travis Bradberry, author of best-selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and co-founder of TalentSmart, a leading provider of emotional intelligence training for businesses, calls emotional intelligence the “missing link” that explains why “people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time.” He also claims that “emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.” TalentSmart boasts clients among 75% of the Fortune 500 companies.

The Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute was created at Google in 2007 when a team of leading experts in mindfulness, neuroscience and emotional intelligence developed an internal course for Google employees. It soon became an incredibly popular training program and now serves companies, nonprofits and government organizations worldwide.

And the RULER program, developed at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, has been sweeping the nation’s schools using an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into classrooms.

Global management and consulting firm, McKinsey, has spotted the trend, estimating that, between 2016 and 2030, demand for social and emotional skills will grow across all industries by 26% in the U.S.

Benefits of EQ for Job Seekers

Yes, you still need certain skills and experience to get your foot in the door for many opportunities. But having high emotional intelligence will give you leverage over your competitors. Why? Because hiring managers know that people with high EQ make good decisions, handle change well, respond well to feedback, and are able to effectively solve problems. They stay calm under pressure, support their co-workers, and cultivate relationships that help to create productive work environments.

Hiring managers also know that people with high EQ are more likely to tough out a difficult situation, and direct reports of managers with high EQ are less likely to leave a company –  400% less likely according to one source!

Show Me the Money

Once employed, people with high emotional intelligence continue to be rewarded. The Careerbuilder survey showed that a full three-quarters of employers said they’d be more likely to promote someone with high emotional intelligence over someone with a high IQ.

And, in case you’re wondering, that eventually translates into money. According to a 2017 time-lagged study of emotional intelligence and salary, college students identified as having emotional intelligence turned out to enjoy significantly higher salaries 10 to 12 years later, mainly because EQ helped them acquire the social capital necessary to be successful in their careers.

Emotional Intelligence Can Be Developed

Emotional intelligence comes naturally to some people, but, as with music, sports or languages, anyone can learn it with instruction and practice. If you want to boost your EQ, you can peruse the abundance of literature available or take an assessment test. You can also start with the following steps:

  1. Become self-aware. Learn to identify your emotions as they happen. When you can label your emotions objectively, you can learn how to manage them so that you respond to them productively instead of reacting to them. Figure out your strengths and your weaknesses and learn how to maximize your effectiveness within these parameters.
  2. Stop and think. You may not be able to stop from feeling an emotion, but you can manage your response to it. Pause before you speak or write back to someone in a moment of anger or frustration. In the face of criticism, warranted or not, ask yourself how you might learn from the situation.
  3. Train your attention. Life is full of many distractions, but learning to focus on a goal or a purpose leads to calmness and clarity of mind. You can’t stop negative experiences or life stressors from occurring, but you can choose how you react to them. Daily journaling is one excellent way to process your frustrations and put things into perspective.
  4. Talk less and listen more. The more you understand the perspective of others, the more empathetic you’re likelier to be. You don’t have to agree with the perspective of others, but your effort to see how they see things will result in deeper and better relationships.
  5. Manage your relationships. Offer feedback, extend praise, and make apologies. Observe your surroundings and relationships and make concessions or accommodations to others, knowing that they your active efforts will result in better relationships and a more productive workplace.

It’s important to continue to practice these steps to maintain a high level of emotional intelligence. But the effort will pay off because people with high EQs have an edge – in business and in all aspects of life.

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When Hiring Managers Go Silent… Getting Ghosted!

by Julie Norwell

You wrap up an engaging interview at a company and come away feeling that this position would be a great fit for you. You have the impression that the hiring manager feels the same way about you. He walks you to the door, you shake hands, say goodbye…and you never hear from him again. Ever. Not only does he not call, he doesn’t respond to your follow-up calls or emails. You’ve been ghosted!

When Hiring Managers Go Silent… Getting Ghosted!
When Hiring Managers Go Silent… Getting Ghosted!

If this has happened to you, you’re not alone. Companies have been ghosting applicants for years, and it happens across many different industries. A recent survey by Recruiting Daily Advisor found that among applicants that have gotten ghosted, 23% were seeking jobs at business, finance and legal companies, and 22% were job seeking at advertising, marketing, PR and media companies. Many other industries also make the list, including healthcare, retail & hospitality, and tech.

Ghosting is a term that got its start in the world of dating when one person suddenly quits returning the phone calls, emails or texts of the other with no explanation because, you know, it’s too awkward to tell someone that you’re just not that into them anymore. Instead you just pretend that they don’t exist until they quit trying to contact you.

In the business world, the reasons behind getting ghosted are usually not so petty, but it’s equally painful – perhaps more so because, your ego notwithstanding, there are mouths to feed and bills to pay. How long should you hang in there waiting for signs of life?

Job Application Black Hole

Some people experience ghosting at the application stage

Some people experience ghosting at the application stage. They send a resume to company after company with no response. There are several reasons for this:

First, maybe you’re not qualified for the job. According to Dan Resendes, Chief Consulting Officer at The Barrett Group, the biggest mistake job candidates make is submitting an application that doesn’t have 100% of the “must have” job qualifications. It demonstrates two strikes against you: 1) You aren’t qualified, and 2) you didn’t follow instructions. In this case, applying is a waste of time.

If you are 100% qualified and your application still gets no traction, your resume might be to blame. Your resume should reflect ALL the job qualifications, and not just in the body of the resume, but also in the headline.

Most hiring managers handle huge numbers of resumes and only read the top few lines of each one. If you’re applying to a position requiring “international sales experience” and your resume headline reads “sales experience,” you won’t get a response – even if your international experience is highlighted later.

At the same time, you should omit all skills outside the scope of the job requirements. Many people include a laundry list of common core competencies in their resumes, but this sometimes works against you. Hiring managers might think you’re over-qualified, would become bored, or might ask for too much money. It’s counter-intuitive, but if the requirement is for 20 years of managerial experience and you have 25 years of experience, write only that you have 20 years of experience.

Lastly, if you’re applying as a stranger to a job posting, keep in mind that sometimes the job opportunities don’t actually exist. Companies often already have a #1 candidate in mind, perhaps through a referral or an internal promotion, but company policy requires that the job be posted publicly. If this seems unfair, don’t get mad; get a friend on the inside who can propel your candidacy.

How NOT to Get Ghosted

First and foremost is to avoid getting ghosted in the first place. How? By developing social ties and good communication.

Get on the Inside Track.

You should never apply as a total stranger to a company before exhausting all avenues to find a social connection. If you’re looking at $80K+ positions, you can be sure that the people who land these positions are not strangers to the company – they will have been recommended for the role. Find a friend to recommend you and you will have personal reputations and political clout to support you.

If that is easier said than done, don’t fret. Many successful professionals don’t know how to leverage networking to their advantage when they’re new to the job market. They’ve been on the giving, not the receiving, side of networking and may be out of practice with the slow, inconsistent process of building and expending social capital. But no one with 10-20 years of work experience, who has impacted people’s lives through hirings, promotions, and business deals, should have go into a job market cold. Always leverage your social capital first by asking your contacts how you might best proceed for a job.

Know Where You Stand.

When you’re in the screening process ask your counterpart (with a twinkle in your eye): “Do you think I’m a good fit for this opportunity?” Often, she will be honest and say, “Yes,” and tell you next steps. If the answer is “No,” it gives you the opportunity to offer more information about whatever reservations she might have.

As a general rule, the last item of discussion should always be a mutual agreement on next steps so you know the timeline for follow up communication. If they say, “We’ll get back to you by Monday,” and you don’t hear from them, wait one day and check in on Wednesday. If you haven’t nailed down a timeline, wait one week before reaching out to check in.

How to Handle Getting Ghosted at the Interview Stage

If you do get ghosted, there are several things you should keep in mind:

Be Patient and Courteous.

If you get no response to your check-in email, wait one week and call. If you get voice mail, leave your name, phone number and a short message saying, simply, that you’re checking in. Nothing more. DO NOT reference any other attempts to check in or offer reprobation about the lack of communication, lest it sound critical. Remember, this is the ONE person who can open a door for you. When all else fails, try to reach out to someone else at the company, preferably one with a social connection to you, who can advise you on how to proceed.

It’s (Usually) Not Personal.

Don’t take it personally. The most common reasons applicants are ghosted by companies is simply bureaucracy or inefficiencies in the hiring process. Candidate selection processes are often handled by lower-tiered people who are overwhelmed or inexperienced. Sometimes decision-makers aren’t available for interviews during the given timeline. Confidential corporate changes might be underway that hiring managers are prohibited from communicating to applicants. Or maybe the hiring manager just got hit by a bus. In other words, it’s them, not you.

Don’t Give Up.

Resendes tells a story of a client who came to The Barrett Group for career coaching six months after being ghosted by a company. Although he felt like he was a perfect fit during the interviews, he got no response to inquiries about his applicant status. He grew discouraged and gave up. His career coach convinced him he had little to lose in following up again, so he called the company and was greeted with a surprising exclamation: “Thank God you’ve called! We wanted to hire you but misplaced our hiring files and didn’t know how to reach you!” The client swore that the coaching fee was the best money he’d ever spent because he would not have called the company again on his own. The takeaway: If you are running short of options, you have no reason to stop following up.

Reverse Ghosting

Keep to the moral high ground and hope that companies will learn their lesson about ghosting!

If schadenfreude is your thing, you’ll be interested to learn that ghosting now cuts both ways. The incidence of job applicants blowing off scheduled interviews or even accepting jobs only to fail to show up for work without notice or further contact is on the rise. The trend has been reported not only by professional social network, LinkedIn and many news organizations, but also by the Fed.  

Undoubtedly, the tight labor market makes it easier for job applicants to give companies a taste of their own medicine, but resist the temptation to do so.

Even if a better opportunity surfaces, it never pays to burn bridges. Keep to the moral high ground and hope that companies will learn their lesson about ghosting!

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Trends in Employee Benefits and Perks: How Important Are They to Your Overall Compensation Package?

by Julie Norwell

Employee benefits and perks have come a long way since the advent of company cars and casual Fridays. A review of emerging benefits and perks in today’s business world yields such novelties as “pet leave” for new pet owners, nap pods for sleeping breaks, and beer on tap. These kinds of offerings are certainly a testament to what appeals to millennial workers, who comprise an increasingly large share of the labor force. But it’s not just millennials who are driving this demand.

Trends in Employee Benefits and Perks
Trends in Employee Benefits and Perks

The volume and diversity of benefits and perks now available to workers at companies bespeaks the growing value that employees place on them in the workplace – a value that sometimes rivals hard cash. According to a 2015 survey by company review website, Glassdoor, nearly 80% of employees would prefer new or additional job benefits to a pay raise. They also play a significant role in the job search process. Three in five people report that benefits and perks are among their top considerations in accepting a new job.

In an employment market as tight as the current one, employers need to pay attention because those who don’t risk squandering an opportunity to attract the best talent.

Family and Flexibility

In 2015 Netflix made headlines by offering unlimited parental leave – to both moms and dads –in the first year after the birth or adoption of a baby. That offer was in addition to its unlimited time-off policy for vacation and sick leave.

Netflix is an outlier when it comes to such generous benefits, but many companies are, nevertheless, trending towards more family friendly and flexible leave offerings. According to the 2019 Employee Benefits Report of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), which surveys employers annually about their employee benefits offerings, more than one in three U.S. employers offer paid maternity leave, up from 21% in 2015, and many of them offer more leave than the federal and state mandates. In the same time frame, the number of companies offering paternity leave (30%) has almost doubled. Nursing moms will be happy to learn that this year more than half of U.S. employers report offering lactation rooms, compared to just 35% in 2015.

Employers are ever more responsive to the high demand for flexibility in work schedules and remote working, with nearly 60% offering flextime during core business hours and almost 70% offering occasional telecommuting, up from 56% in 2015. In fact, more than one-quarter of respondents allow their employees to telecommute full-time.  

Fastest Growing Benefits and Perks

The greatest increase in benefits were concentrated in health-related and wellness categories, with 20% of employers indicating they had increased offerings in those areas. Given the prominent role many employers play in providing health insurance to employees, they have a great incentive in keeping healthcare costs down and increasingly ply their workforce with wellness tips and information. About one-third have consistently offered an onsite fitness center, fitness classes, or memberships to fitness centers for the last several years. And just as many are offering a health insurance premium discount for participating in a wellness program, up from 17% two years ago. Nearly 40% offer company-organized fitness challenges.

Other notable changes in benefits and perks offered this year include the rise in onsite stress management programs, company-paid snacks, employee referral bonuses, and the number of employers who allow pets at work. And the number of companies offering standing desks have jumped from just 25% in 2015 to a whopping 60% this year.

Employers seem increasingly willing to invest in their employee. Over half of employers offer tuition assistance, and the ratio of companies offering student loan repayment, while still small, has doubled since 2015. In addition to professional development opportunities, which most companies have offered for years, an increasing number of employers are offering formal mentoring programs. And executive or leadership coaching, which didn’t even make the list five years ago, is now offered by four out of ten employers.

Benefits Then and Now

Not surprisingly, the most commonly offered employee benefits are health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, retirement benefits, and paid leave for vacation and illness. The roots of these old standbys date to the 1940s, when companies were precluded by the Stabilization Act of 1942 from raising wages (in an effort by the U.S. government to prevent wartime inflation). Unable to compete with high wages for workers, companies began offering health insurance and other non-income benefits as part of their overall compensation package.

Today, nearly all companies offer these basic benefits in some capacity to their employees and have continued to add more. Over the 20th century the composition of benefits in employers’ total compensation costs has continued a steady rise, comprising about 30% in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Benefits now and then

What’s really interesting, however, is how much the variety and volume of benefits and perks have exploded in recent years. Twenty years ago, the SHRM tracked 60 employee benefits. In this year’s annual report, by contrast, that number has ballooned to 350 – and it’s likely to continue growing, according to SHRM.

Why? One reason is that benefits enhance a company’s appeal to workers without necessarily driving up fixed costs, as higher wages and salaries do. Another reason is that in our increasingly stressful world, workers are putting greater value on things beyond money. After all, how do you put a price tag on a flexible schedule, an in-house mentoring program, or the freedom to bring your dog to the office?

Get the Compensation You Want

The growing importance of benefits and perks to workers notwithstanding, the negotiation of any new job, naturally, starts with salary. The first step in the process is to know what you’re worth. There are many online tools to estimate the salaries of particular roles in particular industries. Some are even able to calculate personal factors that could influence the estimate one way or the other. The second step is to do your research. Know what companies are paying for similar jobs in different industries, and how things may vary based on geography.

When a job offer comes and it times to discuss compensation, don’t be afraid to negotiate. And if you’re like many workers in the job market today, you won’t limit yourself to discussing money.

The benefits and perks offered by a company shape its culture and values, which may translate into greater job satisfaction. Smart employers who don’t leverage these to get you in the door will lose out on attracting top talent.

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