Negotiate your next job with confidence

Fun fact: I have ten years of experience working with companies on their compensation. Take it from me, that is deep experience. I’ve seen the gamut in terms of how companies handle recruiting and the offer process. I’ve also seen the gamut on negotiations, and how different tactics land.

So, today I’m boiling it down – here are five tips for negotiating your next job with confidence.

Know who and what you’re dealing with

If you’re applying to a well-established, medium size company or bigger, chances are they have a system. This includes intelligence on what the market pays for your position, and probably an established guideline for salary, bonus opportunity, other incentives, vacation, allowances, etc.

Typically these systems come with a fair amount of internal pressure to stay within bounds – to manage costs, free up management and maintain internal equity.

This doesn’t mean you can’t ask for the moon (more on that below), just know that the company has a system and that getting around it or getting creative is generally pretty rare. This does mean that your mission is to get the best offer you can, working within their system.

If you’re joining a small company or start up, different rules may apply and creativity possibly encouraged. If you’re serious about the job and growing with the company, definitely go after equity.

Nail your ask – the sooner the better

If you’ve ever had a call from a recruiter, you know that they’re keen to find out what you’re making now. Two reasons: to gauge your suitability for their position, and to test whether you’ll fit within the company’s compensation system.

Don’t be shy about not answering that question if you don’t want to. You can say you’d prefer to put it off until later, or, you can tell them what you would like to be making – in other words, what you would move for.

Knowing the number you would move for is important. Recognizing a lot of factors go into making a career move, compensation looms large. So before you enter your first conversation with a recruiter or potential manager, take a few minutes to consider the salary, incentive, pension, benefits, vacation and other terms you would like (the aspiration) and what you would settle for (and still sleep at night). I created a quick cheat sheet to help you get clear on this ahead of time – you can grab it HERE.

Know where you stand

First, if you’re in a negotiation, they want you. Recruiting is a costly process – it takes time and most companies want roles filled yesterday. So if a company tells you they’d like to move forward with an offer, then you can be confident that they are invested in making it work with you, within reason (and within their system).

This is why I encourage you to ask for what you want. Do your homework, know your worth, and don’t be shy about coming in with all of your asks.

Negotiate with grace

First, manners. When you get an offer, say thank you. You are negotiating with another human and the relationship matters. That human is motivated to end their search with you. And they can unlock what’s possible within their system if they want to.

A lot of companies will talk through the details of the offer with you, then put it in writing. This can save them time by only getting senior management sign-off once, versus multiple times. Caution: this approach can make you feel like receiving the offer in writing is the final step. It doesn’t have to be.

So, know that the first conversation is an opportunity for you to negotiate, but not the only opportunity.

When an offer is presented, don’t agree to any aspect of it in real time. Even if you feel like Santa just flew by and left you a Victorian dollhouse full of period furnishings (or, you know, insert your childhood dream here) – take a breath, say an honest thank you and that you’d like to sleep on it. Preferably several sleeps.

If you’re still not sure you can buy yourself more time. Maybe you would benefit from meeting a few more people in the company – a peer or the head of the department. Leave it open until you’re ready to close it.

Look at the whole picture

Money is important and so is your life. When negotiating, consider the non monetary terms too – work location (commute time), hours, flexibility, seasonality, vacation, perks, leadership, opportunity, learning and development, colleagues, social, company culture. You won’t be able to negotiate on all of these, but you may on some.

Final word

There is no one size fits all for negotiating your next job, but here’s one tip that stands no matter what: be true to yourself. Career moves are a big deal, many of us will only make a handful or two in our lives. So make sure it’s the right role, know what you want, and go after it.

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If you didn’t already grab it, I made a super simple cheat sheet for nailing your ask so you are clear on what you want ahead of time – you can get it HERE.

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Was this useful? There’s always more coming! Subscribe for a weekly roundup of career strategy and inspiration – HERE . And if you’re on Instagram, I would love to see you – HERE. 💜

Change your work narrative: how to reclaim your power when you’re in a slump

A little while ago I posted some advice on getting through a rough patch at work. Let’s be realistic: everyone goes through this. As a person who spends a lot of time in the peaks and valleys, I am an expert on this. Yes, generally I love my work and career, but I’ve had times when I struggled with showing up, bringing my A game (or any game at all) and keeping myself on track with my bigger goals.

Here are five steps I wish I’d taken sooner to end the self-pity on several occasions. Also, while wine with friends is not a solution, it is fun and encouraged.

Show up as you

Wear your favourite outfit. Welcome an authentic conversation with your colleagues (in lieu of brooding silence). Say your idea out loud (in lieu of over-editing yourself into nothingness). Channel a version of yourself that feels more complete: Sunday coffee shop you, or playing with your two-year-old you, or just finished dance class you. Just, you. Whole Self, people. Throw caution to the wind.

Get boundaries

Hellish deadlines or not, you are a free person. So show up on time, get in, get it done, and get out again. Even if you’re working late, for goodness sake, take a break! Healthy people have boundaries. They’re good for you and, believe it or not, they’re good for your colleagues and company. No one has a breakdown which means everyone wins.

Finish something

Even if it’s little, make it your mission to complete something. This simple act will get something off your list and will give you some sense of control and accomplishment. That energy will do wonders for your mood and will probably kickstart more productivity too. Pick the thing on your list that least offends you, and do it now.

Take stock

When you can, take a second and get clear on what’s happening. Consider a few common reasons why you’re down on work:

  1. it’s work related (what you’re actually doing day to day),
  2. it’s people related (boss, colleagues, lack thereof),
  3. it’s path related (this role isn’t leading you where you want to go), or
  4. it’s not work at all (demands outside of work are making feel work impossible)

Even if you can’t solve for it today (and quite often you can’t), at least you know where your challenge lies. You would be amazed how many of us think the problem is one thing, when two minutes of focused, critical thought reveals that it is something else.

De-victimize yourself

Listen, you’re an adult. You got yourself this job for reasons that made sense at the time. And if every one of those reasons no longer applies, then you’re going to decide to hunt for a new job pretty soon. If any of those reasons remains valid, then good for you! You are the main character here – and if there are things that need to change, you’re about to start doing that. Getting intentional about turning this negative energy around gets you into your power and moving past a slump faster. Cue me raising a foam finger in the air for you because you got this.

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That’s it, five things to get you into your power and out of a work slump. What do you think – have you used these or others? Let me know with a comment or find more inspiration and tips (and pictures of my two cute toddlers) over here.

 

Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

This month the thirteenth fell on a Friday. I have a soft spot for those because I got engaged on Friday the thirteenth in September 2013.

Recently I was researching what older people regret. What can I say, this is just the kind of stuff I google on the reg. The answer? Worrying.

I can relate to worriers. I come from a strong line of worrier women (ahem, also warrior women, shout outs ladies!). And often the worries come from a good place – of love and concern and wanting the best outcome for everyone.

Five years ago I was a little worried. I was ready to move forward with my life in a bunch of ways and I wanted all the things at once – to get married, to kill it at work, to be my fittest self, to buy a home, to start a family. Sometimes I worried that none of it was going to happen.

The problem with worries is that they’re just imaginary negative thoughts about the future AKA the unknown. Um. Could anything be more useless?

The last five years have unfolded in ways I never could have predicted, full of ups and downs and blessings and challenges. They’ve been surprising, hilarious, painful, transformative and miraculous.

Newsflash: the worries were wasted energy. All worry is wasted energy!

Back to the old folks. The article specifically said these worriers (/warriors) wished they had thought more short term. Which made me pause.

Because in yoga we’re always saying “be in the present moment”.

I realized that if we just pull those future worries back in time, and if we think short term enough then we land in the present moment. 

Worries don’t make sense in the present moment. They’re for the future.

What does make sense in the present moment? Taking actions to align with desired outcomes. 

Worrying is bad for us. Let’s stop.

That’s what our elders are telling us. Let’s listen.

That thing that drives us

This is the third post in the Career Cornerstones for a Lit-Up Life series. In case you missed them, here’s the first (VALUES), and here’s the second (TOOLS).

I have this friend. She’s a total connector. She loves showing up for her people, helping them out by connecting them with each other, supporting their growth, sticking up for them, finding a doctor when one of them has an intoxicated fall and requires forehead stitches in the middle of the night in a foreign country.

I have another friend. He is hilarious. All he wants to do is create and perform funny, quirky, nerdy content. He did this for years for mostly no money – all through high school, then for the first fifteen years of adulthood – creating. making people laugh. creating. making people laugh. Until one day, he got a big break. And now he’s still doing it, only he’s got a company behind him that’s funding it – allowing him to spread his content far and wide.

These friends, they’ve got PURPOSE. Hers is connecting and lifting people up. His is making the world laugh.

Your purpose is what drives you to action. It’s the impact you want to have when you’re feeling your most confident. It’s the dream you have for your career when you’re totally in the flow. It’s the third career cornerstone for a lit-up life and the best news of all is…

YOU DEFINITELY HAVE ONE.

Or maybe you have a few.

Here are three easy things you can do to tap into your purpose:

Think beyond the confines of your current job. You might find ways to exercise your purpose there (in fact I guarantee that you do), but it’s not where your purpose lives. And chances are it’s not allowing you to fully live your purpose.

Ask someone who knows you. Choose a perceptive friend or family member who’s seen you work and live your life and ask them for the themes they’ve noticed.

Pay more attention to your thoughts. There is an incredible amount of information available to all of us that we cannot see and generally cannot explain. You can call it your intuition, your higher self, universal intelligence, spirit, source, guides, gods, whatever. Maybe this resonates with you and, and maybe you’re like “that’s weird”. Both reactions are fine.

But if you’re still reading, let me tell you this: our culture doesn’t really talk about this, and that’s a shame, because the simple act of paying attention to your thoughts is the fastest route to more authenticity, abundance and joy.

I challenge you to start looking at the thoughts and ideas that pop into your head as having meaning. As in, think of your thoughts as a conversation between your conscious mind (which is receiving these thoughts) and the source, AKA wherever they came from. Research suggests we have 50,000+ thoughts PER DAY. That is a lot of opportunity for profound messages and insights. Like, for example, learning to recognize your purpose.

Oh, and chew on this: It’s highly likely that your real purpose is smack-dab in the centre of your biggest fear. Living a lit-up life is not for weenies, you guys.

Stay tuned for the final career cornerstone next week. If you’re enjoying this series, I would love to know! Get in touch directly or leave a comment here or over on IG (link below). X

What 2-year-olds teach us about tools

This is the second post in the series Career Cornerstones for a Lit-Up Life. If you missed the first cornerstone (VALUES), read it here

Lately my two-year-old has been acquiring new skills with alarming speed. This week alone she mastered such critical life skills as climbing in and out of the tub, putting on pants, plugging in a nightlight, dragging a toy shopping cart up and down stairs (v. dangerous, not a life skill), climbing every public play structure within 1km of our home and putting a full garbage bag in the giant bin outside (not asking questions, going with it).

But more amazing than any of the skills she’s developing is the attitude a person needs to learn that much that quickly. It’s an attitude of being in the moment, embracing the process, unencumbered by expectations and unconcerned with what others might think. It’s the ultimate winning belief system and we’re all born with it.

So where does it go?

Over in the corporate world we looove talking about our toolkits – what’s in there and what we want to put in there next. The general practice is to equate “tools” with “skills”. We identify skills gaps and then gather said skills – think courses like coding-for-beginners and speaking-with-confidence. But often after we’ve checked off the skill we needed, we’re still experiencing our work – satisfaction, motivation, all of it – in exactly the same way as before.

This is because skills only comprise some of our work tools. If our values are the “WHY” of what we do, our tools are the “HOW”. And that includes the skills, traits, habits and beliefs that we work with every single day.

The toolkit analogy reminds me of those plastic toy sets where it’s the whole construction site – workers, truck, road signs, crane, and tool boxes complete with tiny colourful tools. Everything in its little place.

Skills alone are basically inanimate objects like the tiny colourful plastic tools. It’s our mindset and beliefs that bring them to life, cause them to play, and allow them to shine.

The “it factor” behind my toddler’s outrageous development is not her gross motor skills or her cognition or even her inquisitiveness, it’s her sheer tenacity. This little creature believes in herself 100% and that enables her success.

We could learn a thing or two from that.

Next time someone asks you about your toolkit or career development goals, think beyond new skills and take stock of your beliefs. What new ways of thinking could bring your existing skills to life?

 

 

 

This is my why

I want to say hi, if you’re new here. If you’re wondering “what is this all about?” I’m going to explain.

I am an extrovert – an intuitive and empathic one (qualities often associated with introverts), but still an extrovert. Which means I get energy from extroverting: externalizing my thoughts and ideas.

Even after “testing” as an extrovert multiple times, I’ve only started to identify as one more recently. I was raised in a family of intense introverts. Lovely, quiet, complex, low profile, introverts. I have memories of being a small child and being told it was quiet time (legit request by the way, children don’t really read the room well). But all I wanted was to share my thoughts – desperately! – and all my mother wanted was to clean the house in silence.

Silence?? Noooo!!

I’ve made total peace with silence now, by the way 🙂

From an early age I was really creative. Music, visual arts, fashion, design. I loved all of it. In high school I picked up a guitar, taught myself how to play it, and started writing music. I remember making a myspace page one day (remember myspace?) and putting up four or five original songs I had recorded. I didn’t tell anyone, didn’t connect with anyone, just went there sometimes to listen, for myself.

I thought “these songs are great “. But I didn’t dare go further.

On a volunteer trip in Spain shortly after graduating from my first stint at business school, there was a music night and I played one of my songs. They were blown away and loved it, and some people came up to me after and wanted to know whose song it was so they could find out more about the band. I did not say “thanks, it’s my song”. I told them the name I had given my myspace page… and then wondered nervously if they would check it out.

This is what not working with the universe looks like, by the way.

What was happening was that I didn’t have the awareness yet to know that I’d been imprinted at a young age with values – stay under the radar, other people aren’t safe – that didn’t really work for who I am.

I am an extrovert. I’m wired for sharing. Under the radar is not my optimal position.

Fast forward a few more years – I’m deep into my corporate career and craving some form of creativity so much that I decide to start writing a blog. But once again, I don’t tell anyone, don’t connect, because that doesn’t feel safe. I love creating, and the pure creation is a huge charge for me, but then tiny lights of feedback would happen –

One reader who also happens to be an accomplished writer herself commented: “You write so beautifully. Loved this.” when I wrote about loss. And when I wrote my it-still-makes-my-cry-when-I-read-it account of FL’s birth, a reader commented that she “found it incredibly real and inspiring and teared up the 3 times I’ve read it this morning. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂”.

Seeing that what I had to share had an impact gave me so much joy. This is the currency of an extrovert – giving something imperfect to the world and in return knowing that it meant something to someone.

So I feel called to be in the world at a higher volume. And quite frankly, I’m just going to do it. For many people, finding their voice isn’t a struggle. They’re like, “hi internet, hi social media, this is cool” or whatever, and keep moving forward.

For me, it was scary, unsafe, insane to even consider putting something so personal, so authentic, so flawed and true, into the world. And then claim it as mine.

And yet it feels so right.

Over the next few weeks I’m sharing a series on Career Cornerstones for a Lit-Up Life. Number one is simple but if you don’t don’t nail it, things just won’t feel right. Examine, unpack, challenge and define what matters most to you. In other words, get to know your values.

This is me doing that. What about you?

Courage, my love.

Ever since I had my chakras opened, I’ve been keenly aware of a presence in my hundred year old home… So ya, that’s happening. And I’m thinking about how the same space transforms over time, depending on the energy contained in it.

For some reason this got me thinking about Kensington Market in Toronto, and this vintage shop there Courage, my love that I used to visit in high school. To me at that time the whole neighbourhood felt like freedom, escape and grown up sophistication, with racks of old leather jackets, incense, and an enticing level of grit you didn’t get in suburbia.

I remember going to look at the beads in Courage, always with no or very little money, imagining in detail the beautiful things I would buy if I had more to spend. Raised with not a lot of extas, I was always good at saving my money and getting fun out of imagining instead.

Years later I learned about a whole other side of the market when I married a second generation Canadian whose father has made his living there for some 50 years. He came from Portugal in the sixties as a teenager, barely conversant in English, and started working in a fruit and vegetable shop. The market was a hub for immigrants at that time, many financially poor but rich in spirit, hustling hard, raising livestock in tiny urban yards, engaged in a total metamorphosis, breaking away from the old back-home ways to create a new future.

Same neighbourhood, different time. And a whole different kind of grit.

This week, something shifted. It could be all the time I spent making funny noises with two tiny people. It could be Jen Sincero’s badass audiobooks. It could be the fact that I’m finally making room for some creativity in my life. Or dare I say the chakra opening?

Before, I had been thinking about fear a lot. I’ve been thinking of fear as this omnipresent obstacle that we need to power through. As in, feel the fear and do it anyway. In this narrative though, the key word is fear. It’s something to overcome – hold your breath – and endure.

And seemingly out of nowhere yesterday, the shift came: Courage. Courage is the ticket through the fear. Courage is the positive, courage is the hope, courage is the power position. Fear is no match for courage.

This is the new narrative. Having courage, feeling courage, living courage. Courage to face the unknown, do the undone. Even befriend the ghost.

A new kind of grit again.

Now go forth and be courageous.

Breathe. Shift. Breathe. Repeat.

Breaking away from black and white thinking

A lot happened this week.

I was low on sleep (I have two babies with colds). Completely exhausted, I cried and bore witness to my own despair, declaring “you are such a disappointment” to my partner’s face. He hugged me.

It felt really good to say it, even though it’s not the truth. I took two things away from my experience seeing a therapist for my postpartum anxiety over the winter. One was about my tendency to think in black and white and how harmful that can be.

He’s not a disappointment. More like, I’m sometimes disappointed by things he does and doesn’t do. Just like I’m sometimes disappointed by things I do and don’t do.

Because, you know, we’re humans.

Safely externalizing those black and white thoughts can reveal how ludicrous they are…  and take their power away.

Life is better in the grey. It’s more muted, less dramatic. Subtle, some might say boring. But the stuff our subconscious brains perceive and label as horrific suddenly becomes consumable, digestible, manageable, overcome-able.

True to form, my rock bottom was followed by a climb to new heights: it’s like I let go of the negativity, literally released the anvil, and immediately became incredibly positive about LIFE.

I am letting go of the black and white thinking and embracing the beautiful grey BEYOND.

Today, I am making the conscious choice to take up the special space in the world that I am made for. By following my intuition and uncovering more of my authentic self as I go.

What black and white thoughts can you let go of today? What can you do to move you closer to authenticity?