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Hey, It’s November . . . It’s Time to Gather “Value Proven” Letters

Published on October 1st, 2015 by Alan L. Sklover

“Heroes must see to their own fame.
No one else will.”

– Gore Vidal

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES: Each and every day, many thousands of people seek new jobs. Some get them, many don’t. Each and every day, thousands of people are contacted by recruiters to fill open positions. Some are successful when interviewed; many are not. What makes the difference? Often, it’s a bit of self-promotion.

It is during the interview process – those critical “give and take” discussions – that your potential value to your prospective boss and to the prospective employer is assessed. “What and how much can he or she do for us?” is the 800-pound question in the mind of interviewers.

In recent years it has become increasingly common in the interview process for job candidates to present what I call “Value Proven” letters – “mini-testimonials of value” – to their interviewers. They are brief notes, letters and memos from clients, customers and colleagues attesting to their sense that you are a significant contributor of value. Value Proven Letters are a part of the necessary “self-promotion” that can enhance the “value assessment” aspect of the interview process.

By the way, Value Proven Letters can also be used “internally,” that is, to support a request to your present employer for a raise, promotion or assignment to a different division.

Imagine that you are one of three candidates being interviewed to fill an open position as Nuclear Power Engineer for a large power plant builder.

Imagine, also, that, in your second interview with your prospective manager, you presented her with three letters, one each from (a) a former Nuclear Power Plant Construction Manager, (b) an industrial vendor whose cooperation is critical to large-scale construction, and (c) a former Nuclear Safety Inspector who is tops in his field, all attesting to their view that you are a very significant contributor to success.

Could they help your chances of getting hired? You bet. Worth the time and effort to assemble some “Value Proven” letters? Without question. Do competitive times call for competitive efforts? Of course.

LESSON TO LEARN: No matter how smart you think you are. No matter how hard you work. No matter how loyal an employee you are. No matter what you have done in the past. If you don’t “toot your horn” no one will know you have one.

You never know when a great opportunity is going to be offered to you. And you never know when, unexpectedly, you will need to develop career opportunities. So, think ahead, and get ready for whatever comes your way.

There are several different things you can do to elevate your chance of landing a new and better job. One of those ways is to assemble some really effective “Value Proven Letters.”

We define “Job Security” as confidence that (ii) your present job will end only on your timing, and (iii) if not, within a reasonable period of time (iv) you will have a new and appropriate job. These sure can help.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Upon completion of a large client project, upon the retirement of a manager, and even the departure of a subordinate from your company, you might consider seeking a “Value Proven” letter to assist you when the right time comes upon you. Here are some tips:
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“Hey it’s October . . . It’s Time to Re-THINK Your Resume”

Published on October 1st, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

“The only person you are destined to become
is the person you decide to be.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

ACTUAL “CASE HISTORIES: Okay, just imagine this: It is a Thursday afternoon in late January, and you get a call from a good friend. As she has mentioned to you, she has been working with an executive recruiter on a job search. She mentions to you that the recruiter called her today, and asked her if she knew anyone with just the type and level of experience that you have. The job opening is with a very young, growing and exciting firm, and he has just been handed an urgent assignment from them seeking someone just like you.

Sure enough, the employer that the recruiter mentioned is your absolute, number one, monster “dream employer.” Your friend says, excitedly, “This could be your lifetime break . . . it could be fantastic for you . . . can you send over your resume today? You freeze.

You have no idea where your resume is on your computer. You can’t remember when you last updated it. It makes no mention of anything you have done, learned, accomplished or joined for the past year or two, and there sure is a lot of new stuff to mention. Even if you find your resume, it is focused on a different type of job, working for a different type of employer, doing different work, than you have interest in now. And, too, the resume-writing service you used two years ago has closed its doors.

Right job. Right time. Wrong resume. Bad news.

LESSON TO LEARN: No matter who you are, what you do, and for whom you work, you just never, ever know when and how someone important – even your “dream employer” – is going to ask you to submit your resume. Chances are, like most other opportunities in life, it will knock on your door when you least expect it to, and when you are least prepared.

Since there is an annual rhythm to the hiring process, and there is a peak in that annual hiring season each year from mid-January to mid-April, the odds are that the scenario described above will, sooner or later, happen to you in that timeframe. Even if it does not happen in that timeframe, by re-thinking your resume at least once a year, you’ll be ready just in case it arises at any other time.

Because the peak hiring season takes place between mid-January to mid-April, the best time to begin “re-thinking” your resume each year is in the month of October, which gives you at least three months to (a) re-THINK your resume, (b) do, learn or join new things, and (c) re-DO your resume.

Re-thinking what your resume should include or exclude, project or suggest, takes more than an hour to do. It requires thought, review, analysis and creativity. It is a process that takes time and effort, and like anything else important in your life, it requires both care in planning and care in execution.

Start now, and when the proverbial knock comes on your door, you’ll be entirely ready to answer it. Many of my most successful clients do this each and every autumn.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are ten thoughts and ideas to assist you in re-THINKING your resume, and then in re-DOING it, too, to maximize your chances of getting your “dream job” and working for your “dream employer.”  Read the rest of this blog post »

Here it is, September . . . Time to Put Together This Year’s “Achievement Scorecard”

Published on October 1st, 2014 by Alan L Sklover

“It is not enough to aim. You must hit.”
– Italian Proverb

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: “This year, I absolutely must get what I’m due,” Delia told me, with a strong emphasis on the word “must.” “For the last three years, my bonus was less than half of what I should have received. And elevation to Partner better happen soon, too.” It didn’t take Delia long to tell me the point of her coming in; it was just the first minute or two of her initial consultation. She had come to us for help in getting ready to make a demand – in fact, an angry, non-negotiable demand – to her firm’s Managing Director who oversaw her work.

For five years, Delia had been Vice President at a middle-market investment bank that specialized in “TMT,” industry shorthand for technology, media and telecom. Though she’d located, initiated and nurtured several significant and successful investment banking deals for her firm, which had brought the firm several million dollars in fees, she was concerned that this year, like every other year before it, she wouldn’t receive what she was due: the bonus and the promotion she deserved. She even kept muttering something about “a big lawsuit,” which I ignored for the moment.

After talking Delia down from her angry perch, it didn’t take too long to figure out what her problem was, and what the best solution to her problem would be.

The problem was that Delia had the strange idea and the unreasonable expectation that her good work, her achievements, and her successes were all certainly known, and taken into account, by her firm’s Managing Directors. She operated on the strange and mistaken notion that “they all must have known” what she did each year. Even stranger, she didn’t consider that anyone might, for example, take credit for her achievements, or even try to steal from her the rewards and recognition that should follow her achievements. All she knew was “I’ve been cheated.” She had an awfully difficult time accepting the fact that she was contributing to the problem.

The solution we suggested was to create an “achievement scorecard,” a list of the significant achievements over the first eight months of the year, and the expected achievements for the remaining months of the year, and to make sure the “decision makers” knew of them prior to their annual deliberations regarding bonuses and promotions. Fortunately, Delia came to us in September, just the right time in the yearly annual cycle of business to create an “achievement scorecard.” Just as snow shovels go on sale in November, “achievement scorecards” should be created in August, for presentation to bosses in September and October.

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Hey, It’s August . . . We Call This “Protect Your ‘Rolodex’ Month”

Published on August 9th, 2006 by Alan L. Sklover

Seven Ways to Ensure Your Contact Info is Never Lost

“As a general rule, the most successful [person] in life
Is the [person] who has the best information.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

ACTUAL CASE HISTORIES: For over three decades, I have assisted employees in the navigation and negotiation of their issues and opportunities at work. In that time a great deal of my time has been devoted to advising clients on matters related to job termination and severance.

In each and every severance agreement I can remember, there have been two provisions that each say, one way or the other, “All contact information that you have on your computer and in your office – whether it is regarding customers, clients, colleagues, vendors – belongs to the Company, and you must not take it with you.” These provisions are titled “Company Property” and “Confidentiality and Proprietary Information,” or titles of similar wording.

A good number of my clients have said to me, “My digital contact list is something I have been putting together for decades . . . in fact, most of the contact information on my office computer is my own, assembled by me long before I came to this job.” My response has always been: “Well, you may now have a big problem getting it back.”

Any employee who places his or her own contact information on the employer’s computer, on the employer’s cell phone, and even in the employer’s desk in their office for that matter, may have a very big problem, because they can instantly and without notice lose access to their computers, their phones and their offices. And even if they have access, copying or removing that contact information in the context of resignation, layoff or termination is near impossible, and even if somehow accomplished, quite risky.

Gone “without a trace” may be the names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and other contact information of some, or even all, of the most important people in your work life and career. Could be hundreds or even thousands of names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and even if such important data as their birthdays, their spouse’s names, or what college their kids have attended.

That information is extremely valuable and, in some instances, truly priceless. Once gone, it could take years to reassemble. Losing your contact information could mean years and years of setback to your daily job success and career advancement, surely not something to take lightly.

Over the years, I have come to the unalterable conclusion that it is primarily to withhold contact information from departing employees that (i) many employers often do not give prior notice of termination, (ii) many employers shut off access to computers before they give notice of termination, and (iii) almost every employer puts language in their severance agreements, that I’ve noted above, stipulating that all information on their equipment is theirs, and ask you to acknowledge that as a condition to receiving severance.

Might I be wrong? I highly doubt it, because information is so valuable to businesses, and if an employer can lay claim to owning it exclusively, doing so can only be to the benefit of the company. In the hands of a former employee, it could mean the possible loss of customers, vendors, revenues, employees . . . and a whole lot of potential future business.

LESSON TO LEARN: Business contact information is extraordinarily valuable to job and career. Like all things that are valuable, business contact information (a) should not be left in places you may lose access to, (b) should not be trusted to the hands of people who may not later return it to you, even when it is provably your property, and (c) should not be placed in circumstances where others may lay claim to its ownership. It’s like leaving a pile of cash in the ATM machine – the next six customers may claim it is theirs – and you have no good way to prove it’s yours.

Wise people take necessary precautions. When it comes to your business contact information, you most certainly do so whenever and wherever you can.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Here are eight ways to ensure your very valuable business contact information – or any part of it – is not needlessly lost:
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Hey, It’s July – Time to Re-Assess Your Unique Human Capital

Published on July 10th, 2006 by Alan L Sklover

There’s No Substitute for an Annual July “U.H.C. Checkup.”

ACTUAL CASE HISTORY: Darnell had been a federal prosecutor in Atlanta for 12 years. In that time, he’d worked on many high-profile prosecutions as both an investigator and a trial attorney, and had developed a well-deserved reputation for tenacity and professionalism. He enjoyed his work, and his results showed it: he’d won almost all of his trials. He was respected by everyone on his team of prosecutors, and by opposing defense counsel, as well. Over time, he’d also developed friendships with reporters seeking “background” material. Recently, Darnell started considering taking a position in the private sector.

Darnell’s wife, a marketing executive at Coca Cola, had used our services to assist her in negotiating a new job offer. Darnell had found our QVP Method™ to be an especially insightful way of negotiating at work. His expectation for his initial consultation with us was simply to talk in a general way about his own future negotiations. Though he hadn’t even started looking for a job, he thought it would be wise to spend an hour or two considering how he might negotiate when the time came. After talking with Darnell for a few minutes, we concluded he had a more pressing concern: focusing on, assessing, and developing his “Unique Human Capital.”

Early in his consultation, we asked Darnell, “If you were the hiring director at a law firm or corporation in Atlanta, would you hire yourself? Darnell’s response was classic: “Of course,” because he’d graduated from a prestigious college, and a highly-regarded law school, and had been an “AUSA” (shorthand for Assistant United States Attorney), all of which he believed qualified him – even entitled him – to a well-paid job in the legal profession. Years ago he would have been right. Years ago, an outstanding resume meant you were entitled to a good job and secure career. But years ago the world was different, and getting and keeping a good job wasn’t difficult, like it is today. Today you are considered to be – please excuse the expression – a “human resource.” You are hired not for your past accomplishments (that is, your resume), but by your perceived future value (that is, your expected “return on investment”).

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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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