A discussion with Business Chicks by Michelle Rennex

One of the first things you’re taught when you start working full time is to not discuss your salary with your colleagues.

This is because a lot of employers encourage the concept of pay secrecy, the limiting of salary knowledge across employees, as it supposedly creates less animosity between colleagues over pay differences.

According to Clare Phelan, Director of Pursuit Consulting, pay secrecy can mean less conflict. “This is because everyone at the same level assumes they are being paid a fair salary commensurate with the group,” she explains. “When no salary information is shared, the company remains in control of the dialogue.”

But the reality is that not discussing salary with your colleagues further enables pay discrimination across workers, particularly between men and women. “Women are more likely to accept a salary decision when there’s a lack of information,” Clare continued. “With secrecy, bargaining power and the ability to right a wrong around discrimination are lowered.”

Beyond this, research shows that men are more inclined to negotiate over women when there is “no explicit statement that wages are negotiable”. This lack of information in combination with pay secrecy can result in both unconscious and conscious biases regarding salary across staff. An understanding of what your colleagues earn can help you determine whether you are earning a fair wage, and can give you an idea of how much room you have during salary negotiations.

According to David Burkus, former business school professor and best-selling author, keeping salaries secret leads to information asymmetry. “This is a situation where, in a negotiation, one party has loads more information than the other,” he explained. “In hiring or promotion or annual raise discussions, an employer can use that secrecy to save a lot of money.”

Throughout Barack Obama’s presidency, he worked towards addressing the gender pay gap and advocated for more pay transparency in the workplace. During a speech to Congress in 2014, the former President stated that “pay secrecy fosters discrimination and we should not tolerate it”.

Unfortunately in 2019 the gender pay gap continues to be an issue, and is partly attributed to this lack of information and the common practice of pay secrecy. While salary transparency can create uncomfortable conversations for employers, the distrust secrecy generates can be even more damaging to the business.

David Burkus highlights that “when people don’t know how their pay compares to their peers, they’re more likely to feel underpaid.” This is supported by the 2018 Robert Half Salary Guide stating that 37% of Australians don’t believe they are being paid a fair salary with 98% of them saying they’d take a new job with a higher salary as a result. This common feeling of being underpaid and undervalued can lead to low staff morale, poor employee satisfaction, and ultimately, a higher staff turnover rate.

While pay transparency can be helpful in ensuring a fair and equal workplace, Clare Phelan believes that analysing how your company decided on your salary figure is more important. “Understanding how the company determines your salary and any increase, is more important than knowing your colleagues salary,” she concluded.

Clare Phelan is a Premium member and the director of Pursuit Consulting, a recruitment and human resources company specialising in recruitment, career coaching and talent strategy. If you’d like the chance to be featured in similar articles, become a Premium member today and tell us your story!

Last week, a client I was coaching displayed an amazing example of resilience that I wanted to share with you. Unfortunately, he was told his role was redundant. He was, of course, disappointed and shaken. How he chose to address this situation and the impact on himself and his family was inspiring.

The day after receiving this news, Tom Keenan took decisive action. He organised a letterbox drop in his local area selling his gardening expertise. He landed jobs immediately. Then, as a united front, he and his wife set up a side hustle: creating and selling cotton face masks. His wife would manage the design and production, and he would handle the packaging and marketing. Both initiatives are already bringing in an income, while he applies for new senior-level roles.

I commented to him that I was inspired by the way he was addressing this unnerving, sudden employment situation. He said, “My wife and I really want to model to our kids that, whatever the situation, we need to remain engaged. How we move forward might look different in the short term, but there are always ways.”

I felt chills when he said that. I could visualise his children learning this valuable life lesson from their parents. I know how powerful this example will be when they, too, face obstacles in their future.

This made me rethink our current global Covid-19 experience. What do we want our kids and our students to remember about how we tackled these uncertain times? What do we wish to model, so that those who look up to us can use our responses as a resource when future uncertainties inevitably strike?

I was coaching Tom who was on an outplacement program via Choice Career Services.

It is sooo overwhelming. I have felt my coachees despair as they rattle off the huge numbers that are applying for the same roles.

This is the time to quieten the mind to all the market noise. Its time to get really clear on your Unique Value Proposition (UVP)

Your UVP should be the core of your Career Strategy.

It is what sets you apart from your competitors and what attracts hiring managers to make you the offer.

You can develop a powerful Unique Value Proposition by asking yourself these questions?

1. What are your skills/expertise that always praised? What have employers thanked you for?

2. What are some examples of how you have helped your company move forward? What initiatives have you developed that another area/company could benefit from?

3. Identify and articulate your strengths. They are often the things that come easily to you and make you feel energised.

4. What adjectives have your past employers used to describe you?

Tie the above answers to your target position/company.

This is your Unique Value Proposition. It should be apparent on your resume in your Professional Summary, LinkedIn Profile, with your networks & at Interview.

You might be sipping a Mai Tai in Hawaii or skiing in Colorado, but your LinkedIn Profile is open for business.

The information you share on this platform speaks to your credibility, value and appeal. A great, full bodied LinkedIn profile has the potential to open up many job prospects, business opportunities, speaking possibilities and connect you with excellent communities of like-minded souls. A poor profile can slam doors shut before you’ve even peered in.

In 2019, our online presence precedes us. Even when you are not actively looking for a job, recruiters and employers are continually searching for great talent via keyword searches on LinkedIn. What impression are you providing?

Do you want someone's first impression of you to be an incomplete, ill-considered LinkedIn profile? One that doesn’t include an engaging, professional photo or that lists your current job as one you left 12 months earlier?

I know creating a well formed LinkedIn profile can feel like a drag. If you don’t like self-promotion, you may feel apprehensive and wonder, “Is this really necessary?” But, a little effort and consideration can deliver life changing results. A great profile will work for you 24/7 and every day of the year.

If you’re a startup looking for funding, this is crucial. Funders often investigate a business on LinkedIn first. A half-baked profile with no reference to the enterprise seeking financial support is a serious red flag.

Now and into the future, employers, recruiters, and investors will first ‘meet’ you online. Regardless of your whereabouts, whether you are working, sipping cocktails, or fast asleep, that initial impression ought to be considered, thorough and professional. Without this, a second connection is unlikely. Update your LinkedIn Profile and allow visitors a sneak peek into your story, and the value you add to the business community.

When completing your LinkedIn profile, think about it from the point of view of the person you most wish to connect with and impress. What will recruiters, employers, investors and other businesses want to know about you? What will spark their curiosity to further this initial encounter?

Do you need help with your LinkedIn profile? Want to grab and hold the attention of specific people or companies? Could you benefit from job search strategies and uncovering and activating your key strengths? Book your career coaching session with us today.

10 Job Searching Strategies.

The holidays can be a very quiet time of the year for finding job opportunities. You don’t have to let the holidays slow you down, however. Here are 10 job search strategies that will keep your options open. And who knows? Follow through with these strategies and you might find some new job opportunities that you never knew existed.

1.Maximise The Benefits of LinkedIn
First, make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date AND that it’s highly searchable. Google loves Linkedin. If you’ve ever Googled someone, almost invariably their LinkedIn profile shows up near the top of the search return list.
Next, tap into your LinkedIn network, or if you have lots of good contacts in your phone or computer contacts folder, use that as a way of reminding yourself who you could connect with. The saying "your network is your net worth" is particularly relevant when it comes to finding out about unadvertised job opportunities. Let your networks know what sort of opportunity you’re looking for and reaffirm the key value you can add. Keep yourself at the top of their mind and they are more likely to share with their network.

2. Treat Yourself…Go To A Function
Attend an industry networking or industry Christmas function. Introduce yourself to other experts and ask them what they are working on. Make sure you get their card and/or contact details and then connect with them on LinkedIn.

3. Think About Your Past Performance
Reflect on your 360-degree feedback reports and your performance reviews, and/or general company feedback. What is one of the softer skills you could improve on? For example, were you lacking executive presence? If so, find out what the key elements of executive presence are. http://www.businessinsider.com.au/the-7-traits-of-executive-presence-2013-9?r=US&IR=T
Could you get some career/executive coaching? What about connecting with someone that has this skill in spades and asking them if you could have an informal mentor relationship/coffee with them once a month? Model some of their methods that work with your style. Refine and develop, but still keep the essence of ‘You’, because you are unique and amazing!

4. Pick Up Some New Technical Skills
Think of one or two technical skills you could improve or learn. There might be short, online courses, or free tutorials on YouTube. Buy lunch or dinner for someone you know who has that skill and ask for some tips/training. You could even go shadow someone for a day to see how they do things in their particular work environment.
Whatever new skill you do learn, make sure you celebrate! Get excited and pat yourself on the back for adding another needed skill to your repertoire.

5. Tweak That Resume
Now is a really good time to ask a trusted friend or colleague for a second opinion on your resume. Ask them what the first page tells them about you. Edit accordingly if it's not the message you are trying to convey.

6. Help Someone Else
Put your hand up to help an NFP(not for profit) that would benefit from your expertise. Take on a piece of work that will still allow you freedom/time to search for work. You could even head down to one of Melbourne’s many co-working spaces (Hub or Village) and offer up your expertise to help startup businesses one morning a week. You’d be utilising and reaffirming your skills and getting some warm fuzzy feelings for contributing to the community. It’s been widely noted that contribution and meaning are big propellers of happiness…

7. Positive And Negative Don’t Mix
Surround yourself with positive people. The people around you impact how you see yourself. It’s important that you are around people that are uplifting, honest and caring.
It also helps to read and watch inspiring and motivating books and movies. Who knows, you might even learn something new!

8. Fit Body, Fit Mind
Stay physically active. Exercise (plus eating right, getting enough sleep and drinking plenty of water) is really important to keep your energy levels (both physical and emotional) up. Job hunting can be really tough. So keep up with the golf, tennis, cricket, group running, yoga or whatever it is you do, but get that blood pumping through your veins and sending oxygen to your brain. Reset the body after (or even during) a difficult day.
In fact, you also need to reset your mind when things haven’t been going so well. Physical exercise helps, but mediation, breathing exercises or other mind-calming (but not mind-numbing) activities can really help. Ending the day by writing down three things that you are thankful or grateful for can help you go to sleep with a more positive attitude than stewing about everything that is going wrong.

9. Let Those Emotions Out
Our society has a tendency to just tell people to “suck it up” when things don’t go the way we want. That’s not always a healthy approach though. Bottling up our emotions usually just means they intensify and often get expressed, without us meaning to, in ways that are bad for us or for the people around us.
Acknowledge your emotions and talk to a friend about your disappointments or the anger that you feel from being overlooked for a role. Be proud of putting yourself out there; it takes courage, and it takes resilience to move forward. Think about what you have gained from the experience, for example: interview practice, finding out industry information, getting a chance to express yourself, etc. The benefits are what you make of them.

10. Find The Best Companies
Read up and talk to others to find out what companies are leading the way. Talk to your recruiter about companies you would like to work for and ask them to act as your ambassador to get you in front of key decision-makers for a coffee or catch-up to discuss opportunities. Then make sure you ask those decision makers to recommend two other people you could meet with.
Talk to your network to find people you can ask about what it is like to work for these “best” companies. You want to make sure that wherever you end up working, it’s for a place where you can feel welcome, as well as being challenged to grow.

11. And One More For Good Measure…
Take some time to reflect on what motivates you. What gets you out of bed in the morning? Make sure that what motivates you is aligned to the opportunities you are applying for. If there is a really big mismatch between the two, you should probably rethink your approach. Why would you want a life of misery trying to be a square peg in a round hole!

So, if you are job hunting and the holidays have got you worried because all the potential bosses are going away for some rest and relaxation, don’t despair. Whip your LinkedIn profile into shape, talk to lots of people in your networks, reflect on how well you’ve done in the past and if you need to learn new skills do a course or get someone to mentor you. Stay physically and mentally healthy by helping others, exercising regularly and surrounding yourself with positive people.

If you are job hunting over the Christmas period or you’ve had to do that in the past, what other things would you add to this list? What are some important strategies that you might utilise? Please share your ideas in the comments section so others can benefit from your experience.

Contact Clare Phelan at Pursuit Consulting at clare@pursuitconsulting.com.au.
We look forward to working with companies and people that are looking to THRIVE! If you would like to engage in Career Coaching, Career Transitions workshops, LinkedIn Profiling/branding coaching please get in touch ON 0407 803 095

Recently, I have had quite a few executive level candidates returning from overseas posts who have asked me how desirable several big organisations are as a place to work. They were curious about my opinion, as they had heard mixed, yet mainly negative reports from their friends and networks. Of the six or so organisations they have been curious about, I would only ever consider working for two, the other four having reputations as being non-flexible, soul-destroying, horrible places to spend my valuable time and energy. Their "brand" as a good employer has been damaged over time. Having a poor employer brand can make it very difficult to attract, hire and retain the type and caliber of employees needed in today's fast changing environment. My recent experience with those executive level candidates just demonstrates why you should care deeply about your employer brand.

How Do I Find Out What My Employer Brand Is?

Ask your external recruiters (i.e. your preferred supplier panel and some credible recruiters that are not on the panel, etc.) to participate in a round table discussion to hear what they think of your employer brand. The stories this group tells will be a strong indicator of the common themes out there in the job market as they are likely to be the people rehashing these stories at each of their candidate interviews. The information that you receive from this meeting is the reality/perception that your brand is purveying.

Ask for honesty and transparency in the feedback they provide. If there are areas for concern probe to find out more on why they think this. Are there real life examples or is it simply what they heard from one person and they have then relayed this information countless times since.

Most importantly, don’t shoot the messenger. Even if their opinions of your employer brand are completely untrue it is their perception and their reality and hence a strong reality in the marketplace. This valuable feedback is a gift that you must take on board. Don't let a misplaced ego unhinge your ability to move forward in improving your employer brand.

Use What You Have Learned -

Knowledge is power. If the information that you have received is not positive you now have an opportunity and choices to make about how to achieve positive change. Maybe some positive changes have already been made, but you need to SHOUT out about them so the marketplace and potential job candidates realise things have changed.

Start by deliberately sharing the positive real time stories of your brand. Use all the channels available to you, e.g. social media, word of mouth, advertising, etc. Be transparent about areas that your business is working on and the organisation’s vision for the future. We are all human and one thing most people appreciate is a company with self-awareness. Share your positive stories with enthusiasm and pride and own up to the areas that you are working on. Most people have a soft spot for people who know things aren't perfect, have openly admitted it and are working hard to improve things.

Get Your Allies To Be Your Ambassadors And Spread The Word

Share positive stories with your external recruiters. They are your ambassadors in the marketplace even if you don’t want them to be.

Appoint employer brand ambassadors internally – include internal recruiters, some line managers from different divisions, some rising stars and at least one executive. Meet once a month and update your employer brand storyboard with new, relevant and powerful real-time stories that will engage the marketplace. Ask your ambassadors to retell those stories internally. Hopefully, the staff will gravitate to one of the stories and tell these stories with pride at BBQs with friends!

Ask your ambassadors to tell these stories at career fairs, networking events, podcasts or via blogs, etc. Hopefully, your internal recruiters will relay at least one story in their first interviews with potential candidates and also to the external recruiters when briefing them on new roles. This approach will not only get the positive and engaging stories out there, it allows your brand to show a consistent front which also builds credibility and trust.

Make sure your C Suite people and executives from different functions are presenting at various industry body breakfasts and events to capture the attention of potential employees now and in the future. Before presenting, your C Suite ambassador can ask the employer brand ambassador team for the latest storyboard toolkit of positive and engaging stories and insert a relevant one into their presentation for a more memorable experience. This will also raise the profile of the executive and the company.

In summary, WHEN should a company do the discovery session or health check about our Employer Brand ? NOW of course! Like any important health check get in early so if there are problems you can address them immediately to stop further damage occurring to your brand. Then set up a MONTHLY ambassador meeting/workshop to keep your Employer Brand in check and THRIVING.

Why bother with a health check? A company should undertake an employer brand health check to determine whether there is negative sentiment about your company that is damaging the potential flow of top candidates to your organisation. It is important to understand what stories/common themes are in the marketplace being heard by those potential candidates. If there is negative sentiment, the sooner you know about it, the sooner you can do something about it.

Great companies undertake periodic health checks to make sure their employer brand is attractive to potential job candidates. If you take charge and accountability for your brand’s reputation in the marketplace the right candidates will be knocking on your doors keen to add value at your company.

If you have enjoyed this article please click the follow button at the top of the blog.

If you don’t think you will get total honesty or value facilitating the Discovery process in-house Pursuit Consulting can work with you to anonymously survey your external recruiters or facilitate a Discovery session.

If you would like some assistance with the "HOW" and/or want to work with a recruitment/HR company that cares about your Employer Brand then please contact Clare Phelan at Pursuit Consulting at clare@pursuitconsulting.com.au.

Follow Pursuit Consulting on Linkedin and feel free to check out our website to find out more about how we can help you at www.wordpress-269347-1455691.cloudwaysapps.com We look forward to working with companies that care about their Employer Brand and want to THRIVE.