Monthly Archives: July 2011

How to get a pay rise

 

 

 

 

 

Nobody likes asking for a pay rise.  We hope that our efforts will be recognised and rewarded accordingly, but sadly that’s not always what happens.  Managers may be busy focussing on budgets and targets and sometimes it takes for you to stand up and ask, instead of waiting for extra cash to appear in your pay packet.

 

Factors to consider before you ask for a raise include:

–          Market information.  Consult a specialist recruiter in your field and find out what the market norms are for you position.    Keep the whole package in mind.  You may find that you are paid at the lower end of the scale for your position in the market, but that you have a fabulous pension scheme or car allowance which compensates.

–          Pay scales. Find out if there are restrictions in terms of pay scale.  You may find that you are already at the top of that scale and your manager is restricted as to how much they can pay you, in which case you need to find out what you would have to do to achieve a promotion and go up to the next grade.

–          Your cash value.  Work out how much money you have saved/earned the company in the last 12 months and ask for an increase based on your cash value to the company.

–          The management’s point of view.  See it from the other side.  How valuable are you as an employee?  How easy would you be to replace?  What precedents would it set for other employees?

 
How to approach the subject of a pay rise with your manager:

–          Find out when the next salary reviews are due.  If it’s in the next few weeks you may be better off waiting until they occur and then making your case.  If it’s not for another six months then request a discussion with your manager.

–          Ask for a face-to-face meeting.  An email or letter will not suffice.  You need to discuss the issue rationally, calmly and give both your manager and yourself the opportunity to ask questions.

–          Take with you to the meeting a list of achievements and reasons why you deserve a pay rise.

–          Also take with you evidence of your market worth.  Take along testimonials from recruiters and salary surveys stating what your skills would be worth elsewhere.

 

What to do if your pay rise request is declined:

–          It may be that your manager is restricted by current budgets.  Ask when the next pay reviews will be and ask if you specifically will be considered for an increase in salary.

–          Negotiate other benefits.  There may be no more money in the salary pot, but you may be able to negotiate a higher contribution to your pension, flexible working hours, or extra training opportunities.

–          Ask for extra work and responsibility, and have achievements linked to an increase in pay.

 

It may be tempting to threaten to resign in the hope that your employer will try to keep you with the offer of a higher salary.  This is a dangerous game to play (particularly if you don’t have an offer of a job elsewhere!)   Remember that you are in your career for the long haul and you want to burn as few bridges as possible.  If you give your employer every opportunity to help you increase your salary and there is still no possibility of a raise or increased benefits, then perhaps it’s time to start looking around for a new position elsewhere.

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Who should you be following?

Followtwitter

If you work in PR and you’re on Twitter, there’s a good chance that the people you follow are a mixture of colleagues, acquaintances and recommendations. How do you go about finding the really influential players in the industry, and which are the accounts with the most interesting tweets?  Here’s our short guide to who’s who.

PR People: This Peer Index list compiled by Andrew Bruce Smith is a good place to start.  Based on the PR Week Social Media Power Players list, originally published in February 2011, it is a comprehensive guide to those PR folk with a strong social media presence. Another list from Andrew is those listed in the PR Week Power Book.

Agencies:  Jon Priestly has listed the top UK PR agencies

Journalists: Stephen Davies has a great list of over 300 journalists which is worth checking out.

Jobs: For jobs in PR there are a number of Twitter accounts worth following including @UnicornJobs@PRJobsLondon, @vox-popPRcareers and @UKYoungPR.

Industry news: To catch up on the latest PR news @therealprmoment, @communicatemag, @Gorkana, @PRWeekUKNews, @Holmesreport, @esPResso_prnews and the PR Daily. 

Industry bodies: @CIPR, @PRCA_UK and for industry news on cultural diversity @Ignite_UKPR.

And of course, you should all follow me

 

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Five Tricky Interview Questions

Interviews
Do you dread that part of the job interview when you get a question that you just don’t know how to answer? Never fear, here’s a run down of five common interview questions and how to approach them.

 

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Oooof.  I really dislike this question.  I think it’s a bit lazy, but a lot of interviewers ask it.  They are looking to see how self critical you can be and whether you can give a balanced view.  The strength side of things tends not to be too difficult, particularly if you have a job description or advert to work from.   If they have asked for someone with a good eye for detail in the advert, it is a good idea to pick that out as a strength and give an example.  So you could say something like “I am a stickler for detail.  In my current role my colleagues always ask me to proof read their work as I am anal about typos and grammar.”  The weaknesses element of this question is more difficult.  The most common answer I have heard is “It can take me a while to get things done, because I’m such a perfectionist.”  Yawn.  I guarantee every recruiter has heard interviewees say that a million times.  The basis of the answer is sound – pick something negative and turn it into a positive – but the answer itself is rather dull.  So instead, pick something you know you are weaker on but that you are aware of and do something about.  For example, you could say “I am terribly impatient and get annoyed when other members of the team don’t deliver in time, but I have learned over the years that everyone’s working style is different so I try to be more laid back about it now and offer to help the others so that we meet the deadlines.”

 

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Here, the recruiter is looking to see if you are flighty and if you are really committed to staying in this industry.   Recently I interviewed some graduates for an entry level PR position.  When asked this question one of the interviewees replied “Oh, I’d love to be teaching in a primary school.”  They didn’t get the job.   Declaring that your real passions lie elsewhere is not the best technique for interviews.  Instead, you should make it clear that you would like to be in the industry you are interviewing for, and that hopefully you will have progressed into a more senior position.  You are then reinforcing your commitment to the job and making it clear that you have ambitions to build on your skills and experience.

 

Why should we hire you?

How good are you at selling yourself?  That’s what this question really means.  This is your opportunity to give a comprehensive picture of why you are better than the other ten candidates they are interviewing.    You need to find a balance between confidence and arrogance.   Saying “I’m the best” is arrogant.  Saying “I’m the best at my current firm and have handled some really difficult and demanding clients in the last twelve months so I think I could bring some useful skills and experience to your team” is confidence.  Justify your reasons with examples of your past experience. 

 

Why are there gaps on your CV?

If you have been out of the job market at some point, it is likely it will be picked up on in interview.  The rule of thumb here is, be honest.  You may have taken time out to have children, for example.   Tell the interviewer that and that you now have excellent childcare arrangements and are committed to going back to work.    In the last year, many people have suffered job losses and redundancies due to poor economic conditions.   Redundancy doesn’t have the stigma it had ten years ago, so tell the interviewer you were one of several job losses in your firm and that although you were upset to lose your job, you realise your bosses had difficult decisions to make.  If at all possible, tell the recruiter how you have kept your hand in, even when you’ve not been working.  You may have continued to write a relevant blog, or kept abreast of your sector’s media coverage.   Make sure you make it very clear that you are committed to a long-term relationship with your next firm and that your break from employment was for genuinely good reasons.

 

Do you have any questions?

I have lost count of the amount of people who nothing to say at this point in an interview.  Make sure you do your research before you go.  Investigate the company website, check out their media coverage, ask people who have worked there before what the firm is like.  Compile a list of questions to ask – and take it with you to the interview.   At the end, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions you can pull out your list and refer to it.  If all your questions have been answered in the course of the interview you can say “well, as you can see I did come with a big list of questions for you, but you have answered them all already, thank you!”  It demonstrates that you have done your homework.   

 

 

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