Monthly Archives: November 2015

5 Rules to Remember at Your Office Holiday Party

Posted: November 20, 2015 at 9:36 pm

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Enjoying in a red wine at Christmas office party.

Holiday parties are a great way for companies to thank their employees for a year of hard work. I’ve always appreciated the gesture, and the opportunity to spend time with colleagues away from the pressures of the office. Of course, there are a million ways for an office party to go off the rails. A manager has a few too many drinks. A supervisor cracks an off-color joke. An executive gets hands-y. Nobody wants to be THAT GUY, or THAT GIRL. You want to be the smart, sugar coated cookie who shakes all the right hands, says all of the right things, and leaves before things get ugly. So without further ado, here are five rules to remember at your office holiday party!

Dress appropriately. This one should really be a no-brainer, but I have been to one too many parties where common sense has clearly left the building. Don’t be a dunce. You know if your company is keeping it casual, or expecting you to clean up a little bit for the big bash. Keep it classy and professional whether you’re a lady or gent. Err on the side of conservative, and save the sequins and ugly Christmas sweaters for friends.

Keep the conversation light. Everybody at the party is there to have a good time. Stay away from topics that can stress people out. Nobody wants to discuss the fact that the company missed third quarter revenue expectations, or the admin who got fired without severance pay three days ago. Also, this is not the time to hit up your boss for a raise or a bonus. First of all, it’s just bad form.  Bosses are people too, and they’re entitled to enjoy themselves as much as everybody else in attendance. And more to the point, your fate was likely sealed weeks before you arrived at this shindig. Let it go, and go drown your sorrows in the raw bar. Ooooh…shrimp.

Lay off the booze. There might be an open bar there, but that doesn’t signal an alcohol fueled free for all. Have one or two drinks, max. Drink lots of water, eat plenty of food, and – of course – don’t drive if you’ve been drinking. Call a cab!

Keep your hands to yourself. If you’re single, repeat after us. These are your co-workers. They are not your friends. There is nobody at this party who wants to go out on a date with you. Go home by yourself. Get in bed by yourself. You will thanks us for this later. And actually, you can chant this mantra if you’re spoken for as well. Especially if you’re spoken for!

Say thank you! That party didn’t make itself. Taking your annual bash for granted is really, really lame. On the way out, find the person or people responsible, thank them for a great night, and then make a clean and sober exit.


How To Ask for A Year-End Raise or Bonus.

Posted: November 13, 2015 at 7:27 pm

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stackofmoneywithbowIt’s the most wonderful time of the year! That’s because the holiday season can inspire a boss who is normally a Grinch to loosen his purse strings for a year end bonus or raise. Of course, it’s not good form to simply show up with your hand out. Instead, be thoughtful about the company’s performance over the past year – and how you contributed. Remember that time is of the essence! If your company is hammering out budgets for the upcoming year, you want to get that request in before they close the books. So without further ado, here’s a brief guide to your year-end negotiations.

  1. Decide whether to negotiate a bonus or a raise. It’s possible you’ll land both, but the odds of success are higher if you pick and stay in one lane. Bonuses are the way to go if you had a standout year at your company in terms of performance or sales. They’re a bit easier for a company to swallow over a raise because it’s typically perceived as a one time, fixed expense. However, a raise is certainly warranted if the scope of your responsibilities has significantly increased over the past year. If that’s the situation, get ready to make your case!
  2. Keep your argument simple. I deserve this raise (or bonus) because of the following major contributions. All of these contributions should be results oriented, and market oriented. Advocate for yourself based on your work, and be prepared with data to back any claims that the salary at your company is below market value.
  3. Prepare for pushback. Most companies aren’t prepared to shell out extra bucks just because you asked. If you encounter resistance, ask for details regarding why they are unable or unwilling to provide additional compensation. At least, you can then continue to advocate on your behalf. Maybe your employer can’t afford a bonus or raise, but they might willing to provide additional vacation time or tuition reimbursement.
  4. Timing may not be everything, but it’s pretty darn important. Don’t spring a request for more money on your boss over drinks at the company’s holiday party. As a matter of fact, eliminate the element of surprise altogether. Schedule a day and time when you have your boss’ full attention, and preferably when he or she is likely to be in a good mood. That might be over coffee on a Tuesday morning on a day that’s free of other meetings. It’s probably not at 5:00PM on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
  5. Be persistent, and follow up. Push for a verbal agreement for more money during your first conversation, and request a next step so you have a reason to follow up. If you’re dealing with a larger company, you may want to set a specific deadline for HR notification. Then keep following up to make sure your raise or bonus is approved. Every week that your raise or bonus is delayed is another dollar out of your pocket.

How to Answer: Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Posted: November 6, 2015 at 5:44 pm

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Businessman Consulting Glowing Crystal Ball

Almost twenty years ago, I dressed up in my very best Banana Republic to embark on my first round of post-collegiate job interviews. There was a seemingly endless barrage of questions. On more than one occasion, somebody in the HR department asked, Where do you see yourself five years from now? It took quite a bit of composure to refrain from laughing out loud. After four years of running wild at school, I was at that moment cooling my heels at my parents’ house.  How about not at my parents’ house, lady. I would like to NOT be living at my parent’s house five years from now. While it was tempting to let that answer fly after a long day of interviews, I delivered a concise answer that I had prepared weeks prior.

“I am passionate about the agency world. I hope to learn and gain enough experience at an ad agency like yours to have secured a more senior position in Account Management.”

It was the right answer. I received several offers, and happily accepted a job that propelled me out of my parents’ basement and into the city. Right now, you’re probably shrugging your shoulders. Who cares? Why am I telling a story from ye’ olde job hunting times? That’s because this question is still one of the most commonly asked interview questions. So here are a few tips to help craft your own response when this question rears it’s charming head.

You and your company are ONE. Soul mates. You want to have beautiful corporate babies together. Okay, we’re getting carried away. However, you must be prepared to discuss how the company’s mission resonates with you personally and aligns with your future professional goals. That may sound lofty, but all you need to do is take a look at the company’s mission statement before heading into your interview. Take your cues directly from that mission statement to deliver an answer that the recruiter will be eager to hear.

Convey realistic ambitions. Everybody has professional dreams and aspirations. You might view this company as a springboard to greatness! However, this is not the time to inform a recruiter that you envision yourself as the company’s next CEO in five year’s time. Stick to talking points around “growing your career” which will likely find a receptive audience.

Demonstrate an interest in learning. You may not know exactly where you want to be in five years, but think about what areas of your career that you would like to develop. If that’s an area in which a potential employer can benefit your career, then that’s the perfect breeding ground for an answer. Incorporating that information into your response may help a company strongly envision you as future member of their team.