Negotiation / Legal Stuff Archives

“How can I convince an employer to hire me who believes it would be too risky?”

Published on October 15th, 2013 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I’ve applied for a consulting job in one of the “Big 4” accounting firms. After three rounds of interviews, I was advised by their HR team that they can’t proceed because they are now providing auditing services to my current employer, and they fear it could damage the relationship.

I replied saying my current role has nothing to do with the auditing practice, and furthermore the position I’ve applied for is in consulting, which is a different service line than auditing.

How can I make them change their minds?

Randy
Irvine, California

Answer: Dear Randy, Your question is a new one to me, and for this reason I hope my answer will be especially interesting to blog visitors. Here’s my best:  

1. First thought: What exactly do they see as “risky?” Knowing how to “navigate or negotiate” at work requires that you do all you can to understand the motivation of the person or persons you seek to motivate to do (or not do) something. From what you have written, I cannot tell what you believe is the reason your prospective employer views hiring you to be “risky.” Is it that your prospective employer fears a potential conflict of interest? Is it that your prospective employer fears a potential problem that you might accidentally share confidential information about your present employer? Is it that your prospective employer fears that, if they hire you, your present employer will see it as “employee poaching,” and thus might lose your present employer as a client? What you say about it is that “they fear it could damage the relationship.” That is key, but you don’t seem to be focusing on that.

If you want to successfully address a problem, then Rule #1 is this: You need to understand that problem. I suggest you ask your prospective employer’s Hiring Manager or Recruiter “What exactly is seen as the ‘risk’ in hiring me?” That surely would be step number one.   

2. If your prospective employer’s concern is over a potential “conflict of interest” – that is, that they are competing with their own client, or acting against their client’s interests – then (a) full disclosure and (b) express waiver, are the two ways to address that concern. Some might believe that your hoped-for prospective employer is acting against the interests of its own auditing client if it hires you, and that would be improper. The way to address that would be to (a) disclose that concern to your present employer, and (b) ask them to say, in effect, “We understand that concern, but if there is any conflict of interest in your being hired by our auditing firm, we hereby waive it.”

You might say, “But Al, it is risky to my continued employment and possible future here to tell my present employer that I am looking elsewhere.” My response would be “Yes, but there are risks in everything you do; that said, I am a  pretty strong believer that open, honest communication is almost always a rather low-risk activity, and it is a risk you may need to take.” I would, of course, highly recommend that you first ask your prospective employer to confirm that it will definitely hire you if the potential conflict of interest is waived, because it would be imprudent, and almost reckless, to tell your present employer you would like to leave if your prospective employer is not definite that it will hire you if and when you do become available.

3. If your prospective employer’s concern is that your present employer might believe you might take or unknowingly divulge confidential information if you were hired, you might best address that perceived risk by offering to voluntarily sign and honor a strict confidentiality agreement.  It would not be unreasonable for an employer to be concerned that one of its employees is going to go to work for its auditors, and in his or her new job might share information or intentions that the auditing firm has no right to know. Examples of these might be if your present employer had plans to replace the auditing firm, or negotiate a lower auditing fee. If it is that concern of your prospective employer – that your present employer might fear accidental or intentional transfer of confidential matters, it would be best addressed by you proactively offering to sign and deliver to your present employer a broad and strict confidentiality agreement.

4. I believe it is most likely that the real “risk” they are concerned about is “relational risk,” that is, that your present employer fears upsetting its auditing client by taking one of its employees, and on that basis it may lose your present employer as a valued client. No services firm wants to lose a client, especially if it a significant client. This concern – if it is the real reason your prospective employer hesitates to hire you – is truly understandable, and may be difficult to allay. Everyone wants more business, and no one wants to lose any business; business conditions are difficult enough already. And, too, that is what they mentioned: “damage the relationship.”

I would offer this thought: consider just for a moment advising your Manager that, (a) for purely personal reasons that are not a criticism of your present employer, (b) you are considering seeking a new job, and (c) would like his or her “blessing” in your doing so, and (d) in doing so, you will do all you can to assist in any transition. Besides being an employee advocate, I  am also an employer, and I sure would prefer to hear that then “I am leaving today” or “I am leaving next week.” If your Manager sees your approach – which includes assisting in any transition –as a positive, professional and helpful way to announce an intention to leave, he or she just might “bless” your leaving.

If either (i) you raise this thought simultaneously with your Manager and the Managing Partner (or equivalent) of your firm, or (ii) if you ask your Manager if you might present this same thought to the Managing Partner (or equivalent) of your firm, the “blessing” or “buy-in” of the firm’s Managing Partner might easily enable you to (iii) ask, “Would you be all right with me seeking a new position with our firm’s Auditor?” In this thoughtful way, you just might end up with a second, higher-level “blessing” or “buy-in” for your leaving and joining your prospective employer, and you can then present this “risk-freedom” to your prospective employer.

Who knows? The Managing Partner of your present employer might just be happy to see one of his folks working for the firm’s auditors. He or she might just make a helpful phone call to the auditors suggesting they hire you.    

A second approach would be to suggest to the Hiring Manager or Recruiter that they approach your present employer and advise them that you have asked them to “take the temperature” of your present employer regarding its view of them taking you in as an employee. While this takes some anxiety off you, it is a less respected approach, and while done not that uncommonly, it is not the personal and proactive way I suggest.

5. Artful and sophisticated “navigation” is the best way to turn “perception of risk” into “perception of value.” As those who read my blog regularly know well, “negotiation (or navigation) is a matter of motivating another person to do something they were not inclined to do.” What my suggestion to you represents is a “navigation” of your circumstances to change the “perception of risk” to a “perception of value” in the minds of your prospective hirers. Sure, there are risks in the process, but there is also a potential for great reward. And, truth be told, I think it is your best way forward over the hurdle you face in achieving your goal.

Randy, I hope this proves helpful. Even if you decided not to follow all of my suggestions, I hope you might take value from at least some of what I have expressed.

My Best,
Al Sklover

P.S.: Don’t forget: we offer Model Letters, Memos, Checklists and Form Agreements for almost every workplace issue, concern and problem. They show you “What to Say, How to Say It.™” Want to see our Entire List? Just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

P.P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

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New Job 3: Confirming Basic Terms of New Job Offer
New Job 5: Model Response to Receiving a New Job Offer
New Job 7: Checklist of New Job Items to Consider Requesting/Negotiating
New Job 13: Six Important Elements to Request Be In Your Expected Job Offer
New Job 15: Model Request for Sign-On Bonus
New Job 16: Two Model Memos to Protect Your Book Of Business ("B.O.B.")
Job Issues 5: Model Response to Request That You Sign a Non-Compete

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© 2013 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

“Should a young professional who likes his job change jobs for 50% more pay?”

Published on November 19th, 2011 by Alan L Sklover

Question: Hi, Alan. I’m a young professional, having graduated with a BS about 3.5 years ago. I’m fortunate that my degree, skill set, and experience provide me with plenty of job opportunities in a declining economy.

I’ve been with my current employer for almost 2 years now. I haven’t had a review or raise. I’m currently being paid less than the average wage for my position. From what I can tell, I’m far above average compared to others with comparable experience level. After 1 year, I brought the review up with my boss, who said that “we should be doing that.” I haven’t heard anything since.

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting many job offers with salaries at about 50% higher than what I’m making now. One hiring manager said to me, “You’re grossly underpaid and I can fix that.”  However, I haven’t accepted any offers because I really like working for my current employer. I’m also worried that I may not like a new job as much.

What should I do? Am I crazy? Should I just leave now?

Dave
Irving, California

                                                                            
Answer: Dear Dave: Superb questions, both for their relevance to younger employees, and for their universality with all employees.         

1. First, you are not crazy (at least not from what I can tell), just “torn” in different directions. Each day each of us is faced with choices, some of which we do not even know are before us. You are now faced with an agonizing choice about your employment relations, and your career. There are many different and competing considerations to think about, to weigh, to consider, and to choose among. It can make you feel, well, even crazy. The important thing is to focus on the various considerations of importance to you, one by one, and to make a reasoned decision after weighing them. There’s also a lot at stake here, which only increases the anxiety, concern and, at times, confusion any person would feel.

2. Second, I congratulate you for what you are really doing: Examining Your “Employment Values.” Whether or not you know it, Dave, you are engaging in the most important part of workplace navigating: examining your “Employment Values,” that is, saying to yourself, “What parts of a job are most important to me?” Is it money above all? Being happy and fulfilled in your function? Having freedom to try new things? Intellectual curiosity? Opportunity to become a partner? Like – or hate – international travel? A good and happy career and life is comprised of a balance of these, and other things. I have written a newsletter on this very topic entitled “Your Employment Values – Why Take (or Stay In) This Job?” To read it, just [click here].  

3. Third, don’t leave your present job without at least trying to improve your present situation with a “Triggers of Value” approach. Please do not leave your present – and valuable – employment relation until you are confident it is lower in your overall interests than is another job. I strongly suggest you use what I call a “Triggers of Value” approach. This is essentially how it works:  “Boss, is there anything in the world I could do to justify a 30% raise and promotion? Perhaps increase revenues 10%? Lower costs 20%? Bill an extra 100 hours a year? Bring in a great new client?”

If the answer is “Yes, if you bring in $1 million in more revenues,” then, if you think that is reasonably achievable, it is for you to say, “OK, then, can we agree on that, and may I send you an email to memorialize it?” If this works, you have done yourself a great piece of positive and productive negotiating.

If the answer is “No,” then you have just been told that “Nothing in the world will result in your getting the raise and promotion you would like.” At least then you would know where you stand.

The answer you receive should not be the sole determinant of your decision, but rather one of the many driving factors, based on your “Employment Values.” For example, if your boss says “No, but I will give you 25% of the company stock,” or “How about lifetime job security?” you just might be the happiest rooster in the barn, and on that basis decide to stay “on the farm.” 

Please read my newsletter article entitled “For a Raise or Promotion, Use ‘Triggers of Value’” to help you more in this approach. You can do so by simply [clicking here.]

If you’d like to obtain a Model Letter to be adapted to your facts and the “Triggers of Value” approach, entitled “Model Letter for Requesting Raise or Promotion,” simply [click here.]

4. Fourth, before you decide to leave, (a) do your due diligence homework, (b) remember your “Employment Values,” and (c) confirm in writing (that is, make an email record) of what you are promised. But, hey, don’t forget: there are two sides to every bridge. No matter how disappointed you may possibly be in your “Triggers of Value” approach, as you acknowledge, the other job may bring you even less happiness. Before agreeing to make a move, do your homework, and focus, again, on “Employment Values.” If the other job pays you 50% more, who wants it if it requires you to work 365 days a year, 15 hours a day. Don’t be afraid to “inter – view” even after the “interview.” And, too, confirm the “deal” in an email to make sure no one “forgets” what was promised. (Please excuse my concern for such “forgetfulness.”)    

5. This “mindful” approach to your employment relations will give you the best chance of overall success in all you do. These paths forward constitute a “mindful” approach to navigating and negotiating to career success, at every stage in your life. You are to be commended for starting with it at such a relatively young age; many people in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s still have not learned to take advantage of it. With your “mindful” manner, I have every confidence in your career success, no matter where you work. Oh, sure, you’ll hit “bumps in the road,” but you are definitely headed in a good direction, and have sound footing.

Dave, thanks for writing in. Feel free, of course, to view our free YouTube videos on these and related topics. Now – go get ‘em.

Best,
Al Sklover

Received a Job Offer? Be Wise: Use Our Model Letter Confirming Basic Points of a Job Offer. To Get a Copy, Just [click here.]

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

Repairing the World,
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™

© 2011 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

Which Labor Law – State or Federal – Applies?

Published on April 18th, 2008 by Alan L Sklover

Question: I work in a city agency which claims it is regulated by the Federal Labor Laws, and not regulated by the CA State Labor Laws…Does this make sense? I am confused by that…

“Wondering” in Walnut Creek, CA

Answer: It may surprise you, but it’s far from easy to explain which labor laws – city, state or federal – apply to your issue. Sometimes a federal law is considered to displace, or preempt, a local or state one. (That is called the “doctrine of preemption.”) Sometimes a federal law applies, but a state law gives added protection, as is the case in minimum wage laws: California law demands a higher minimum wage than does the federal law. Sometimes state laws provide that state law does not apply to public employees of its cities and towns, and the federal law applies because the state law does not. Like I said, it can be confusing. A better answer can be obtained from your California authorities: contact the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency at (916) 327-9064, located at 801 K Street, Ste. 2101, Sacramento, California 95184.

Best, Al Sklover

Help Us Stand Up for Employees! To keep the “lights on” takes a lot. Join others who have expressed their support. Consider a $5 contribution to our site by PayPal. Just [click here.]

P.S.: If you would like to speak with me directly about this or other workplace-related subjects, I am available for 30-minute, 60-minute, or 120-minute telephone consultations. (Even 5-minute “Just One Question” calls). Just [click here.] Evenings and weekends can be accommodated.

Hey, It’s January: Time to Prepare Your 2005 Yearly “QVP™ Plan” [Second of Two Parts]

Published on January 31st, 2005 by Alan L Sklover

In our last issue, we presented this Actual Case History, and these Lessons to Learn. With this issue, we complete ” What You Should Do to Complete Your Own 2005 Yearly QVP Plan.”

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Like most people, Darren (a senior actuary for a reinsurance company) went from year to year, never proactively planning for his career success or job security. He always worked hard, and each year hoped for a raise and a promotion, and a decent bonus. He never planned or practiced requests for raises, bonuses, or promotions, and never took the steps necessary to increase his chances of achieving them. You might say he was much more the “hitchhiker” than the “driver” with his employer. That is, like most people, Darren simply “did his best . . . and hoped for the best.”

And the results were, simply, predictable. Though Darren worked hard, and put in long hours, he never achieved the positions and compensation he thought he deserved. He became sort of “invisible” at work — there, but not noticed. And when times got tough, and a list was drawn up of those who were to be “RIF’ed,” that is, downsized, his name was on the list. It didn’t have to be that way. And it doesn’t have to be that way for you, either.

These days, you can’t simply wait to be discovered, appreciated or rewarded. It just doesn’t happen that way.

LESSONS TO LEARN: Ben Franklin said it best: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Though it may not seem plausible, you can create a plan, each year, to develop greater job security and career success. Yes, each year you can put together a rational and reasonable plan that will – without doubt – increase your chances of doing better at work. We have a “method,” a sensible way to make sense of achieving greater career success and job security. It’s easy to learn, easy to remember, and easy to make happen. It’s the only method for doing so that exists, and IT WORKS. It’s called The QVP™ Method.

You should take this opportunity to learn our QVP™ Method, and put it into practice. Each January you start a new year, and you have a new opportunity to make that the first year that you’ll do better for yourself – and your family – than you did before.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Our QVP™ Method has seven steps that, both separately and together, help you move forward and upward on the job. Consider buying our “Seven Steps to Job Security” Guide (204 pages), or our “Job Security DVD – What Top Executives Know” (viewing time 1 hour) at our self-help website – www.NegotiatingAtWork.com – if you’d like to learn about our powerful method. Even if you’re a novice, and are only beginning to think of how you can help yourself, there are things to do. They’re QVP’s Seven Steps:

As a reminder, in the last issue we reviewed Steps 1, 2 and 3 of our QVP Method. You can review that issue in its entirety by clicking our “Archives” button, below. As a reminder, steps 1, 2 and 3 are:

1. Develop One New Aspect of “UNIQUE HUMAN CAPITAL,” that is, a special skill, relation, knowledge or other important attribute. These days, “If you’re not distinct, you’ll be extinct.” Said differently, “Be different, or be downsized.” It’s time to decide: “What special new Unique Human Capital will I develop in 2005, to make me more valuable, attractive and a “keeper?”

Read the rest of this blog post »

Hey, It’s January: Time to Prepare Your Yearly “QVPTM Plan” [Part One of Two]

Published on January 31st, 2005 by Alan L Sklover

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Like most people, Darren (a senior actuary for a reinsurance company) went from year to year, never proactively planning for his career success or job security. He always worked hard, and each year hoped for a raise and a promotion, and a decent bonus. He never planned or practiced requests for raises, bonuses, or promotions, and never took the steps necessary to increase his chances of achieving them. You might say he was much more the “hitchhiker” than the “driver” with his employer. That is, like most people, Darren simply “did his best . . . and hoped for the best.”

And the results were, simply, predictable. Though Darren worked hard, and put in long hours, he never achieved the positions and compensation he thought he deserved. He became sort of “invisible” at work, there, but not noticed. And when times got tough, and a list was drawn up of those who were to be “RIF’ed,” that is, downsized, his name was on the list. It didn’t have to be that way. And it doesn’t have to be that way for you, either.

These days, you can’t simply wait to be discovered, appreciated or rewarded. It just doesn’t happen that way.

LESSONS TO LEARN: Ben Franklin said it best: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Though it may not seem plausible, you can create a plan, each year, to develop greater job security and career success, each year. Yes, each year you can put together a rational and reasonable plan that will – without doubt – increase your chances of doing better at work. We have a “method,” a sensible way to make sense of achieving greater career success and job security. It’s easy to learn, easy to remember, and easy to make happen. It’s the only method for doing so that exists, and IT WORKS. It’s called The QVPTM Method.

You should take this opportunity to learn our QVPTM Method, and put it into practice. Each January you start a new year, and you have a new opportunity to make that the first year that you’ll do better for yourself – and your family – than you did before.

Read the rest of this blog post »


Alan L. Sklover

Alan L. Sklover

Employment Attorney
and Career Strategist
for over 35 years

Job Security and Career Success now depend on knowing how to navigate and negotiate to gain the most for your skills, time and efforts. Learn the trade secrets and 'uncommon common sense' of Attorney Alan L. Sklover, the leading authority on "Negotiating for Yourself at Work™".

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