I Learned the Secret to Interviewing and Got 5 Times More Job Offers

In my most recent post on Medium (click here), I discuss the top secret to interviewing:  “Act like you are interviewing them,” which requires doing the following five things:

  1. Own the introduction
  2. Ask questions during the interviewmake it dialogue versus a one-way discussion (i.e. don’t make it where the interviewer is the question-asker and you are the question-answerer)
  3. Form a connection with your interviewer
  4. Exude confidence
  5. Ask good questions at the end of the interview

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I Read Non-Fiction for a Year – 3 Books Changed My Life

A year ago, I committed to reading non-fiction — for the entire year.

I’ve always been an avid reader, but I primarily read fiction because it provided a great escape from work or any source of stress in my life.

But, last year my husband and I decided to quit our jobs to explore the world (more about that here), and I decided that it was critical that I find a way to keep learning. So, I read non-fiction for the year.

The three non-fiction books below were life-changing. Specifically, they taught me how to:

  • Be more self-compassionate
  • Simplify my life
  • Have a better relationship with money

(And I added another book to the bottom of the list—a favorite of all time. It’s a page-turning true story that’s so entertaining that it seems like fiction.)

 

Top 3 Life Changing Books 

1) How I Learned to Be More Self-Compassionate

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

This book was so powerful that I plan to read it once a year. It gave me the courage to write a book, one of the hardest things I have ever done, and the strength to be more compassionate towards myself when I feel like I’ve failed. 

Dweck’s life-changing concept is the growth mindset, which involves adopting the perspective that you are always developing; your abilities are not fixed. 

With a growth mindset, no setback is a failure — you’re just learning and developing your skills. And, you can learn your way to personal success and fulfillment, in all areas of your life.

2) How I Learned to Simplify – and Organize – my Life

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

As someone with mild hoarding tendencies, this book was life-changing. I always wanted to live a more simplistic life — to be less encumbered by “stuff,” but I had a really hard time giving things away. (Like the dress I wore on a date with my husband ten years ago or the coffee mug a friend gave me that I’ve never used, but it looks really cool.) 

Kondo provides solid advice on how to clean out your home — and how to simplify your life. The basic principle is simple: only keep things that “spark joy.” 

After applying her methods, I successfully gave away fifteen large garbage bags full of “joyless stuff” to Goodwill. And we are living happier, less-crowded, more simple lives as a result.

3) How I Cultivated a Better Relationship with Money

The Soul of Money: Reclaiming the Wealth of Our Inner Resources by Lynne Twist

If you asked me about my relationship with money, the answer would be: “It’s complicated.” But it’s less complicated after reading this book. 

Before reading this book, I saw money as a source of stress, guilt and scarcity (i.e. never enough!). But, this book enabled me to see money as a source of good in my life. 

I realized that money can be a powerful way to express my values — and to do good in the world. For example, I now make a conscious effort to buy more sustainably produced goods. And, I recommitted to giving 10% of my entire savings each year to non-profits whose missions I support.

 

A Fascinating True Story

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

Okay, my reading wasn’t all serious. This was just a really entertaining true story — a non-fiction book that reads so much like fiction that I stayed up until 4am two nights in a row to finish it. It’s one of those rare books where I felt sad to finish because I knew that it would be a long time before I found another true story that was this good.

What non-fiction books have you read that have changed your life?  Share in the comments.

For more non-fiction book recommendations, check out my reading list: http://heatherhund.com/reading-list/

How to Negotiate.  And Make Half a Million Dollars.

People who don’t negotiate miss out on $500k or more over their lifetime.

I initially doubted this, so I ran the numbers. And — it really is true. If you were offered $50k and negotiated to $55k, you would make $504,607 more over 50 years, assuming a 2.5% annual salary increase. If you negotiated from $50k to $60k, that increases to over one million dollars. One million dollars!

That’s enough to buy a nice house.  Or a small island.  Or to pay for private college – for two kids.

When I got my first job out of college, I was so grateful that someone hired me that I couldn’t imagine negotiating.  So, I didn’t even try.  I was afraid what the company might think if I tried to negotiate.  Would I come across as ungrateful, confrontational or entitled?  What if they rescinded my job offer?

According to research, I’m not alone.  These fears are so common that only 37% of people say that they consistently negotiate salary.  Women are four times less likely to negotiate than men – and when we do negotiate, we ask for less and receive 30% less than men.

Yet, employers expect candidates to negotiate.  By not negotiating, you leave money on the table that employer expected to pay you.  After all, the company made you an offer you because they really want you!  If the company is afraid they might lose you, you’ll often be amazed what they will offer.

I recently interviewed hiring managers, and many said that they viewed negotiating candidates even more favorably.  Think about it:  negotiation will likely be a skill you will use in your job – to influence others and to get work done.  So, by negotiating your job offer, you are showing them your ability to succeed at the company, too.

Negotiation is misunderstood.  When people view negotiation as scary, it’s often because they perceive it to be done in conflict.  But, there are ways to negotiate that are objective, fact-based and collaborative.  Below are the three best ways to negotiate – in a more agreeable way.

3 Best Ways to Negotiate

1)  Use other offers

Regardless of whether or not you are going to take a job, negotiate your offer.  Why?  Because you can use this offer to negotiate other offers.

I used this approach in a prior job search.  I negotiated each offer that I received, even when I knew I would not take the job.  When I finally got my dream job, the company played hardball.  I was told “The max we can pay is X.  Final offer.”  Because I had data, I was able to confidently say, “I really want to work with you, but I received three other offers at a 20% higher salary.” Two days later, they came back and matched my other offers – with an offer they originally said was impossible.

2)  Use data from other companies

If you don’t have other offers, or if you are employed already and trying to negotiate during a promotion or a year-end review, use data!  Try to find salaries for comparable positions to yours – and use this data. A great source for salary data is Glassdoor.com, which includes thousands of companies and salaries for specific roles.

Another good way is to get salary information is through headhunters and recruiters trying to fill open jobs.  Take their calls, and ask for the role’s compensation package, including salary, bonus and stock options.

(I always recommend taking recruiter calls for open jobs, even if you are happily employed.  Use these calls to get salary information 1) to see if you are being paid fairly and 2) to use when you try to negotiate internally, during a promotion period or annual review.)

3)  Use personal reasons

I was chatting with someone the other day who received an offer and wasn’t sure if he could make ends meet financially if he took the job.  His wife was currently unemployed, and they were expecting a baby.  “But, I can’t tell them these things,” he said.

Why not?  Of course you can – and should.  Recruiters are human – they understand if you need more money to support your family.  So, if there are personal reasons you seek a higher salary, tell the recruiter.

What do to when companies won’t negotiate salary

While it’s ideal to always negotiate your base salary (since annual salary increases are based on this), sometimes companies are legitimately unable to increase it.  But, this doesn’t mean that all negotiation is off the table.

Get creative!  Other things you can negotiate include:  job title, bonus, stock options, vacation days, or working from home.  Of course, don’t try to negotiate all of these things.  Instead, think about what is most important to you, and focus your negotiation efforts accordingly.

Don’t stop negotiating

A common perspective is that once you’ve negotiated your job offer and taken the job, you’re done negotiating.  But, by stopping here, you are leaving more on the table.

While it is easiest to negotiate before you take a job, look for opportunities to continue to negotiate in your job – like during promotions, annual reviews or role changes.  And use the tactics discussed above to continue to ensure that you are paid well.

Have you ever negotiated successfully?  How did you do it?  Please share in the comments.

 

5 Reasons You Should Quit Your Job (Without Another One)

Sunset after hiking to the top of a mountain in Joshua Tree, California

Should you quit your job without another one lined up?

This is such a common question – and even thinking about it can generate some serious fear.

I was in this situation five years ago.  I had just gotten married and wanted to spend more time with my husband and friends (versus traveling for work 4 days every week).  So, I quit my job and took six months off.

And I was terrified.  I worried about never finding another job - or at least one I liked.  I was scared when I started job searching that people would grill me on the employment gap in my resume – and that employers wouldn’t hire me because I took time off.

And guess what?

Most people didn’t even ask about it.  And the ones that did thought that it was awesome – and I eventually ended up in a dream job.

What I realized is that employers are organizations composed of humans – people just like you and me, people with friends, family and interests outside of work.  And they appreciate taking time to enjoy life just as much as I do.

If you were interviewing someone and they told you that they took time off to enjoy life – to bike down the South American coast or to spend time with their kids during their summer break – what would you think?

Arches National Park
On our Utah roadtrip, we hiked to this lookout point in Arches National Park and watched the sunset.

Probably that it was pretty awesome that they did something meaningful in their personal life.

Two years later, my husband and I both quit our jobs to travel and spend time with friends and family before starting our own family.  And in that year, we spent a ski season in Taos, NM, road tripped through Utah’s National Parks, Iceland and Namibia – experiences that I will cherish forever.  And we got to spend significant quality time with both of our families.

One big question that can came up for us was: how do we financially support our time off?  And we planned ways to travel on the cheap and generate a bit of income.  We rented our place out while we were gone, which helped cover expenses.  And we rented a ski house in Taos – monthly rent is much cheaper than hotel nights.  AirBnB provided some great options for inexpensive travel, as did staying in motels, which saved money and really solidified the road trip experience.

Five Reasons You Should Quit Your Job 

  1. Life experiences

    Are there things you really want to do in life?  Life is short, and doing the things that you aspire to do when you're young and healthy is an experience you can never replicate.  Get out there and pursue what you’ve always dreamed of doing.  Maybe take a painting class in Italy.  Or bike through Southeast Asia.  Or learn Portuguese.  The perfect time is now.

  1. Travel

    Have you dreamed of watching penguins in Antarctica?  Or seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland?  There is so much beauty and wonder in the world – and there’s no better time than now to see it.  If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could purchase an around-the-world ticket and experience several places.

  1. Focus on finding your next dream job 

    Have you ever heard the saying:  Job searching is a full time job.  It’s a truism because, well, it can be true, especially when looking for your dream job. By taking time off, you can explore your passions, figure out what you really want to do, take a class at General Assembly, meet new people, grow your network, and have fun learning about yourself.

  1. Time with family and friends

    Your people won’t be around forever.  So, maximize your time with them while you can, especially if they live far away.  Life is about relationships – and your friends and family are most important of all.

  1. Because you are burned out  

    I wasn’t planning to quit my job after I got married, but I realized that I was burned out and needed some personal time.  Once I quit, I got to spend time with my new husband, volunteer with a local non-profit, go to mid-day yoga classes and have weeknight dinners with friends.  And get a puppy.

How to Get a Job After a Break

So, how do you answer the “Talk about the gap in your resume …?” question when you’ve taken time off?

It’s all about how you spin it.  People love personal stories and interesting experiences – so, tell them about yours!  Tell them about how you realized that it was a life dream to attend culinary school in France.  Or how you realized that your daughter would never be five again, and you just had to spend this precious time with her before she started first grade.

What happens if interviewers don’t understand your time off?  Well, the question to you is: do you really want to work for them anyways?  Do you really want to work for someone who doesn’t value life outside of work?

Most people – and definitely the ones you want to work for – will love that you took time off to pursue something awesome in your life.  And you will know that you did something amazing for yourself and your life that you will never be able to do again.