Monthly Archives: October 2013

Talking Money?

value for moneyWhy is money such an awkward subject to discuss when it’s something we all have in common and we all need?

In fact most people are not keen to discuss their salaries with other people including friends, colleagues and sometimes even their own family.  It’s such a sensitive subject.  Money can often be a catalyst for stress in relationships and for individuals, usually because there’s never enough of it!  Some organisations will even add a confidentiality clause to their employment contracts making it a sackable offence to discuss or disclose salaries with colleagues.

So, when it comes to the interview process, let’s face it, nothing can be more awkward than discussing salary. 

How should you handle the subject of money?

The first thing to remember when applying for any job is to research the salary first. Some organisations will be upfront on the annual salary in their adverts, or may give you a range. However, many organisations will leave it blank or just ‘competitive’. So the first rule is to do your research.  There are plenty of salary surveys available on the internet and the National Careers Service is a good source of job information. You should always have a good idea about what you are worth and what the job market is paying.

Secondly, never ask about the salary at an interview.  The interview process is primarily about getting more information about the job itself and for the employer to find out what skills and experience you have to offer.  The interview is not about how much money you want.  If you start asking about money before you know the employer really wants you, they will think you’re only interested in the money and not the job.  It will give a very poor impression.

 If an employer asks you about your current salary or your salary expectations try to deflect it by explaining to the employer your primary interest is to find out more about the role.  Explain you are looking for a “competitive salary” or “market rate”.

Remember, the minute you start talking actual salary figures, you are entering a negotiation situation.  It’s not until you are being offered the job and you know they want you, that you are in a position to start bargaining.

Just like with any purchase, you cannot negotiate the best price until you have made it clear you actually want to buy something. 

The first rule of any salary negotiation is to always say thank you and to avoid going straight in with a figure.  This is a big decision and it is important to take your time to reflect on it.  You may want to discuss it with your family or partner so be clear on what the offer is and find out if there is any flexibility on it.

Remember, the minute you mention a salary you cannot negotiate upwards.  If you go in too low, you could appear too cheap, go in too high and you could appear greedy and price yourself out of the market. Don’t sell yourself short either!

However, salary is not always about a monthly pay cheque.  Sometimes organisations can offer more in the way of benefits such as gym membership, a company car, healthcare, extra holiday, flexitime, performance related bonuses etc. 

Salary negotiations should be a win-win situation.

The employer needs to feel they are getting the best person for the job at a salary fitting with their organisation and other employees.  You also want to feel you are being paid a fair salary for job. 

Recruiting staff is a very costly and time consuming process so if an employer finds a great candidate they are not going to turn them away and start all over again because of a minor difference in salary expectations.

Bridging the Skills Gap

volunteeringWhen you are looking for work how do you ensure you still retain your current skills and experience? How is it possible to keep your motivation levels up, continue to network and look for work opportunities and still manage to keep focussed and active?

For many people who are out of work, this can be extremely difficult.   For example if you were previously working in a role using computer packages such as Word and Excel, it can be surprising how quickly these systems can change.  In a relatively short time things change and you may find yourself struggling to catch up.

When you are working, you are continually learning, adapting and changing to the environment, people, processes and information around you.  When you stop working, you may find yourself out of step with the day to day changes you took for granted in the workplace.

Even the social interaction of having your colleagues and team mates around you can be a big step change.  Not only can you end up missing the buzz of the office or the team you were part of, but you become detached from the exchange of information and sharing knowledge and experiences.

When you stop work, you lose access to ongoing training, personal development and feedback from colleagues, clients and customers alike and eventually this can lead to a lack of confidence. So, how do you get it back?  

Volunteering is the perfect solution!

Whilst you may initially be thinking “I want a paid job, I need the money, I can’t afford to work for free!” it is an invaluable way to keep your skills, experience and knowledge up to date.  It will return to you the routine and social interaction you were missing and without doubt will give you enormous satisfaction knowing your efforts are making a real difference.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to put something back.  Whether it’s helping an individual, a charitable organisation, a community group or perhaps an overseas, not for profit organisation.  You’re not only keeping your skills and experience up to date, but you are adding to them all the time.  You are gaining new experiences, interacting with new contacts and learning new skills.

You can add your volunteering work to your C.V as well to show how keen you are to keep working, and it will demonstrate your values and motivation levels to any potential employer.  Some voluntary organisations have such great links within the community and the commercial world, that many people often end up finding paid employment in the longer term.  It can also be a brilliant way of helping you to facilitate a change in career without the pressure of being paid employment.  It gives you a chance to try something new and realise your potential.

On a more personal note, volunteering is extremely rewarding and could give you access to new contacts, organisations and networks you may never have had access to before.  It can be a great way to find full or part time paid employment either in the UK or overseas.

Finally, if you are already working, volunteering can still be a fantastic opportunity for you to extend your skills and experience and put something back in your spare time.

Here are a number of websites and contacts for voluntary organisations you might find of interest:

http://www.hillingdonconnected.org.uk/volunteer-centre                                   

http://www.do-it.org.uk

http://www.volunteering.org.uk                                                                               

http://timebank.org.uk

http://timebank.org.uk                                                                                              

http://ivo.org

http://www.yoursquaremile.co.uk                                                                            

http://greaterlondonvolunteering.org.uk