Pitch for flexibility after you get an offer

By Roni F. Noland (Source: Globe Newspaper)
Q I am beginning my job search after being home with two young children for 2 1/2 years. I'd like to negotiate a flexible schedule -- preferably a reduced workweek of four days. My past life is in high tech sales, and I hope to get another position in account management within high tech. How do I ask for it and at what point in the process?
A Here are several strategies to maximize success in finding flexible employment. First, aggressively pursue any part-time positions you hear about.

Then, research "family friendly" companies. You can identify them by reading the results of polls conducted in magazines such as "Working Mother," and by talking with friends and colleagues. You may have more success negotiating a flexible schedule in one of these companies than in more tradition-bound organizations.

Contact former supervisors and people who know your work. Tell them you are seeking a job with a four-day workweek. As they already know the quality of your work, they may be more willing to hire you for a part-time arrangement.

You may even have to start out working full-time; build up "equity" with that company; and then negotiate a more flexible schedule.

If you do end up applying for a full-time position, ask for a flexible work arrangement as late in the process as possible. The reason I'm suggesting you delay this difficult conversation is to give the employer the chance to become excited about hiring you. After the employer is committed to hiring you, he or she would rather acquiesce to your demands than to resume the job search.
Delaying the conversation until after the job offer also gives you the opportunity to understand the job and how you can get the work done well, even with a reduced schedule.

After you have been offered the job, schedule a meeting with your hiring manager to negotiate terms . Go to the meeting with a detailed plan for getting the work done in the hours you are willing to work. Discuss the possibility of telecommuting. Develop a plan for being reachable when you are not in the office.

Be prepared to compromise . Be willing to balance your needs for flexibility with the employer's need for productivity. You may want to assure your boss that you would pitch in and work extra hours when on deadline or in a crisis -- but conversely, there may be times when you will need even greater flexibility in your schedule.
If you want to get ahead, keep focus on yourself

Q I work as support for inside sales. Recently another person received a promotion to inside territory representative. This person has only been working for the company for three months. She graduated in June with a bachelor's degree in marketing, and this is her first job out of college. Now the other territory reps have to train this person as she doesn't understand pricing or even know how to write up a sales order. The company never posted the position, even though other people with years of service would have wanted the job. It was bestowed upon her. It is obvious that skill and experience don't lead to high paying jobs at this company. Trustworthiness is highly valued. How was this decision rationalized? Many of us have a bad taste in our mouths at this point.
A Are you experiencing the bad taste because you feel this young female's promotion was unfair and undeserved --or because you were not promoted? Only time and her performance will tell whether her promotion was a wise decision.
Promotions and hires are often not transparent or straightforward. It is true that some people are hired, promoted, or even fired, for reasons that appear to be political or personal, rather than for job performance. Don't waste time wondering why this recent college graduate was promoted into the position, and you weren't. It makes sense for you to tame your resentment, especially if this former colleague now has supervisory responsibility over you. Give this colleague the chance either to do a good job, or to prove that she was not qualified. .

In the meantime, focus on your performance, and your career ladder. If you are interested in being promoted to inside territory rep, look at the required qualifications . Do you have them? If you think there is a good match between your credentials and the job, then perhaps there are other reasons that you were not promoted.

Bob Murphy, managing partner at Human Resource Partners, Inc., with whom I consulted, suggests that you schedule a conversation with your supervisor and/or human resources to try to address any obstacles to your professional advancement.

If you lack the knowledge or experience necessary to be an inside territory rep, figure out how to bolster your qualifications. On the job, you may be able to take advantage of company-sponsored training, or volunteer for an additional assignment. Or, you may need to enroll for schooling on your own. The position may require a marketing degree, which you may not have but which the new inside territory rep has earned.

Make sure management and human resources know that you are interested in being considered for a promotion. "Have a good open conversation asking about future openings and the requirements that a candidate must possess," suggests Murphy. Work hard; cultivate strong relationships with your supervisor, and also, perhaps with a manager or two in another department.

You mention that this position was never posted. Was this promotion handled differently from others in your company? If an employer has a candidate in mind, the employer may treat the promotion as a reorganization. Then, he or she can bypass the normal hiring procedures -- of posting the position and screening interested and qualified internal candidates, then outside applicants. That may have happened in this case .

The bottom line for you is to be able to approach your manager, armed with the skills and experience that are needed for you to be considered seriously for a promotion.
It's good to have a card, but know your needs
Q My questions are: 1) What are the best contents for a personal business card? (I am not currently employed.) My current business card has my name, full address, cell and home phone numbers, and e-mail address. I've heard that full address isn't appropriate. 2) If you have an important certification (e.g. CPA), should you put that after your name? 3) Telephone numbers are expressed as "c" for cellphone. I've seen "m" (mobile) used. Is "c" or "m" more appropriate for my cellphone? I should say that it's my personal cellphone.
A First, let me tell you how pleased I am to hear that you are designing a personal business card. Many job seekers overlook this step in their job campaign. A business card is a marketing tool every job seeker needs. How much classier to exchange business cards at a networking function than to scrounge around for a pen and piece of paper on which to write your contact information.

Think about how you would like to be contacted, and use this information as your guide. There are no clear-cut answers for what to include on a personal business card. Do you prefer to be contacted via e-mail? If so, put your e-mail address first, or in a larger font than your telephone number(s).

Do you want potential employers and network contacts to call you on your cellphone, or would you rather reserve your cellphone for personal calls? The advantage of including your cellphone number is, of course, your availability via cellphone. The disadvantage is that you may be answering an employment-related call while you are distracted.

The bottom line is for you to think about how to balance your availability with your preparedness. If you include more than one telephone number, you can simply write cell or home next to the number. Those two four-letter words are short enough to be written out in full.

Your home address on a business card is not necessary because it is irrelevant. Potential employers will not contact you via regular mail or show up on your doorstep.

Include certifications and degrees after your name if they are relevant for the jobs. For example, a certified financial planner would want to include the "CFP" designation after his or her name.

Hand out your cards at networking and social events, even when meeting someone casually at a party or, on a plane. The more people who know you are looking for a job, the more people who may become part of your job search network.



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Pitch for flexibility after you get an offer
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