Ten Ways to Stay Fit Without Leaving Your Office Cubicle

deskDoes your work keep you chained to your desk most of the day? Is it hard to find the time or energy to exercise before or after work, or on your lunch hour? I spoke to Stephanie Mansour, CEO of Step It Up With Steph and creator of the Cubicle Crunch to learn about a series of stretches and exercises that you can do at your desk to get in shape.

Here are the top 10 exercises:

1. Stress buster

Relieve stress and take deeper breaths by stretching your shoulders and chest — this will help improve posture and open up the muscles in the chest. Sitting up tall, clasp your hands behind your back and gently pull arms away from your back. Stretch the front of your body in your chest.

2. Ab strengthener

Feeling flabby in your midsection? Act like you are zipping a tight pair of pants and engage your lower ab muscles. You can pulse (squeeze, release, repeat) 10 times, a few times throughout the day.

3. Upper arm and shoulder strength

Get a leaner upper body by doing push-ups while seated at your desk. Engage your ab muscles and place your hands shoulder-width apart on your desk. Bend your elbows, leaning forward toward your desk, then press away. Repeat 10 times.

4. Quad toner

Tone your quads while sitting down by pointing one leg forward and squeezing your thigh. Slowly lift your straight leg up to hip height, then tap it back down. Repeat 10 times per leg.

5. Glute stretch

Stretch your glutes and relieve low back pain by crossing one ankle over your knee and leaning forward. Feel a stretch in your glute, hold for 20 seconds then switch sides.

6. Hamstring stretch

Stretch your hamstrings to also relieve low back pain by standing up and leaning forward, letting your head and arms dangle in front of you. You can open your feet as wide as your hips and even bend your knees to make this more comfortable.

7. Neck tension

Relieve neck tension by dropping your right ear down toward your right shoulder and feel a stretch in the left side of your neck. Hold for five deep breaths, then repeat on the left side.

8. Mobility improver

While sitting in your chair, gently twist to one side, looking over your shoulder, and take a few deep breaths. This will help with digestion and also help regain mobility in your spine.

9. Wrist strengthener

You can reduce carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis by stretching your wrists. Press your hand and arm away from your body, then turn your fingers down. Use your other hand to gently pull your fingers down away from your wrist. Feel a stretch underneath your wrist, hold for 10 seconds, and repeat on other side.

10. Butt and thigh tightener

On your way to the bathroom or water cooler, lunge your way there instead of walking! Step your right foot forward, a few feet in front of your left foot, and slowly bend down. Keep your right knee directly over your ankle, and bend your left knee. Then step forward with your left foot, and repeat until you’re at your destination.


LinkedIn “Netiquette” Are You Asking for Too Much Too Soon?

linkedinI was recently interviewed by my hometown newspaper, the New York Post, about the do’s and don’ts of LinkedIn etiquette. One of the biggest problems I see with people’s approach to using LinkedIn for job search is that many have unrealistic expectations for the online relationship and ask for too much too soon.

Something strange seems to happen to some people when they network online. It’s as if some people think that none of the common rules for building relationships exist. Could you imagine ever saying any of the following things over the phone or in person to someone you don’t know?

  1. I’ve seen you walking down this block in the neighborhood before. Want to meet for coffee?
  2. Someone told me we used to work for the same company that employs 20,000 people. Want to chat sometime?
  3. I found your number in the phone book. Maybe we have something in common.
  4. I heard through the grapevine that you work for a company where I would really like to work. Can you tell me more about what it’s like to work there?
  5. I found you in the 1997 student alumni directory. I’m a graduate of the class of 1980. Would you like to compare notes?
  6. I know I’ve never actually met you before and you have no idea who I am. But someone suggested I say “since you are someone I know and trust, I would like to add you to my network.” Does that work for you? (Hint: that’s verbatim from a LinkedIn template that people seem to use whether they know you or not).
  7. You looked like someone I should know so I followed you home, made note of your address and then did a search to find your phone number. Would love to meet formally sometime.
  8. I found your name and number written on a cocktail napkin at a local restaurant and I decided to call you. I figured, “what do I have to lose?”

Of course you wouldn’t say any of these things! So why do people think this approach will work online? If you are using LinkedIn or other social media tools to connect with others, create authentic relationships and recognize that the affinity will grow over time. Even on Twitter where there are generally no gatekeepers for connecting with others, it’s still advisable to follow the person for awhile and create a supportive and non-threatening dialogue before bringing the relationship face to face.

I am a fairly open connector on LinkedIn as well as other social media platforms. But I have to know a little bit about you and why you want to connect before I accept. Isn’t that just common sense?

For anyone interested in connecting via LinkedIn, you can find me here. Just be sure to tell me how you found me and why you think we should connect.

Spring Cleaning for Your Job Search

tulipsSpring is here and it’s time for some Spring cleaning. That goes for your career strategy as well.  Have you given any thought to trimming your bloated, outdated resume or banking some of your new networking contacts to help advance your job prospects  this season? Here are 7 easy steps you can take right now to get your career on course and ensure you are prepared for future opportunities.

  1. Ditch toxic people. You know the ones I’m talking about. They are the people who say no one is hiring, you’re too old to find a new job, you make too much money, you’d be crazy to change careers…the list goes on and on. These people rarely add any real value to your career goals. Find people who can support you or hire a professional to help you chart your career course.
  2. Put your resume on a diet. Has the waistline of your resume expanded to 3+ pages? Are you still dedicating a half page to detailing information about your client base in 1999? Is you resume packed with information about company courses you completed back in the eighties? Remove this unnecessary poundage from your resume and create a sleeker, more streamlined message of value. If you like to diet alone, here’s a resume guide to help you. And if you need someone to help you whittle your resume down to a respectable size, let me know.
  3. Give your LinkedIn profile a makeover. How old is the picture on your profile? Does it need to be updated? Is the information current? Does the headline show only your current job title or does it convey more about your message of value and expertise? Have you paid attention to the skills section and have you created a customized URL to improve your chances of being found? If you are totally baffled by LinkedIn and social media in general, we should talk. A resume is no longer enough and you will need a strong online identity to compete for the best opportunities in 2014.
  4. Make new friends. Has your network gone stale? Do people in your professional community know what you are up to and do you communicate with them regularly? Now might be a good time to catch up by phone, grab coffee, or exchange an email to touch base.
  5. Practice interviewing. If a great opportunity became available tomorrow, would you be ready to pitch yourself to a hiring manager? If not, here’s a free app for interview prep that can help.
  6. Benchmark your salary. Do you know what you are worth? Have you been in the same job or same company for a long time and has your salary become less competitive? Check out sites like Payscale and Glassdoor to do a quick audit.
  7. Do something for someone else. Help someone with a personal or professional project, volunteer in your community, recommend a colleague on LinkedIn, or make an important introduction for someone. The more you give, the more you get. Start giving now and you’ll be getting back by the end of the season or maybe even sooner.

Ten Ways to Make Sure You Don’t Get Hired

Here are ten ways I see job seekers sabotaging their job search. Are you guilty of any of these mistakes?

  1. Inflate their qualifications or lie on their resume. While a resume is not a legal document, it should be an accurate representation of your experience and achievements. I advocate for showing your employment history in the best possible light, buy lying is never wise.
  2. Forget to proofread their resume. One of the easiest ways to show an employer you don’t pay much attention to details is to submit a resume with a typo. Check, double-check, and triple check your document. Use spell check and ask a few different people to proof the resume before sending it to employers.
  3. Send the same generic cover letter to every employer. The cover letter is the perfect opportunity to make a connection with the employer and explain how you can help solve their problems. Don’t go vanilla here. Tailor your cover letter to the employer and position you are applying to.
  4. Neglect to research the company before the interview. With so much information on the Internet there is no excuse for not knowing about the company you are interviewing with. Use Vault, Glassdoor, WetFeet, Jigsaw, and LinkedIn to unearth important information about the companies and people you are interviewing with and don’t forget to take advantage of the research resources available at many public libraries.
  5. Ask everyone they know for a job. Unless you want your friends and colleagues to stop returning your calls, don’t just ask everyone you know for a job. Instead ask for information about a company, a person, an industry, etc. Let your contacts know you value their knowledge and insights. Through these exploratory conversations they may be able to point you in the direction of a possible job opportunity even if they can’t help you land that job directly.
  6. Neglect to send a thank you letter following an interview. It’s not just a courtesy. It is an opportunity to make a second impression on the person you just interviewed with and remain top of mind. Send the thank you letter within 24 hours of the interview. A few paragraphs with a thank you and a recap of why you are the perfect match for the job can help keep you on the hiring manager’s short list.
  7. Fail to leverage their network. Some people feel that reaching out to their network for contacts means asking for favors. It doesn’t. See #5.
  8. Snub social media. Imagine being able to go into the offices of everyone you know and look through their Roledex (remember them). That’s what social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to do.
  9. Complain. It’s easy to blame the company or the economy for your job search frustrations. But it won’t get you a job any faster. Find a few close confidents you can vent to and don’t spread your frustration to others. Keep a journal to help you chronicle your search journey and help get your feelings out.
  10. Give up. This is perhaps the scariest one of all. And there are a lot of people out there that have given up. Unemployment benefits won’t last forever. At some point you will have to get back in the game. If you have dropped out of the race for several months, getting back in is much harder. Keep at it. Plan job search activities every day. You will be scheduling meetings with friends and colleagues, doing Internet research, building your online network, working on your resume, practicing your elevator pitch, etc. There is a lot to do. Job search is a full-time job. Now’s not the time to take a vacation.

Interview Tips for Men: What’s in Your Wallet?

walletMy male clients often ask me questions about appropriate interview dress. Most know to wear a suit and tie and polish their shoes. But I recently read a great post by Ann Lindsay of Style of Success, an image consulting firm specializing in men, titled What Does Your Wallet Say About You? If you think about it, your wallet is a huge part of your interview attire.You may need to pull it out during the interview so you can give out your business card or accept cards from others. So what does your wallet say about you?

According to Lindsay, the wallet is often the weak link in a man’s professional interview attire. A worn, overstuffed wallet says:

  1. I’m not organized.
  2. Details don’t matter.
  3. I don’t care that the lines of my clothing are being distorted.
  4. I put myself last.

Yikes! Certainly not the impression you want to convey during an interview. You can read the full post here for advice on how to select a great wallet and keep it neat and organized. And if you are interested in working on your interview attire, check out our partnership with Lindsay via Career Solvers’ image consulting services.

Yes, You Should Send a Thank You Letter

Thank you letters are an excellent self-marketing tool and a critical component of your job search strategy. The time spent crafting a targeted thank you letter after an interview will be well spent and can contribute to a more credible and efficient search. Here’s why.

A thank you letter creates an opportunity to reconnect with employers.

Chances are you are one of many candidates being interviewed for an open position. Writing a follow up letter allows you to build a relationship with the interviewer and develop rapport. By expressing your gratitude for the interview and recapping the highlights of the meeting, you revisit the reasons you believe there is an appropriate fit between you and the organization.

Following up keeps your candidacy “top of mind”.

Often candidates make the mistake of putting too much control in the interviewer’s hands. They believe that if they are the best candidate, the interviewer will remember them and keep them in the loop regarding the selection process. But this is often not the case. It’s critical that candidates remind prospective employers of their interest in a position and the thank you letter is the perfect vehicle for communicating this.

Written correspondence allows you to sell your strengths again.

While part of the reason for the thank you letter is to express gratitude for the meeting, the document serves a much more strategic purpose. It provides an opportunity for the candidate to repackage their skills and accomplishments into another format and market their value added to the employer.

The document enables you to address points you neglected to discuss during the interview.

Many candidates report that after they leave the interview they think of all the other things they could have said during the meeting. Rather than labeling this a liability, turn it into an asset by discussing these points in the thank you letter and remind the reader of your ability to produce similar results for their organization.

A letter helps develop rapport and increases employer’s comfort level with your candidacy.

A good strategy is to recap a part of the conversation where you and the interviewer shared similar views on a job-related topic. The thank you letter can also be a forum for demonstrating your consultative problem solving skills. By addressing current issues the employer is facing and proposing solutions, you are contributing to the company’s success even before you are on board.

Thank you letters continue to be an important component of a successful job search campaign. But the focus has shifted from a simple courtesy and show of appreciation to a targeted self-marketing tool. By creating letters that validate your candidacy, build rapport, and remind the reader of your value added, you can significantly influence potential employers and increase your chances for subsequent interviews.

Is it Time to Clean Out Your Resume Closet?

photo (12)One of the reasons why it is so difficult for people to write their own resume is that there is often so much emotional baggage attached to our careers and it is hard to let go of the things we experienced in each of our jobs. Writing a good resume forces you to make choices about what should and should not be listed in the document and the exercise is similar to cleaning out a closet of cherished items that no longer have a place in your life. If you were going through the clothes and accessories in your closet you would probably ask yourself these questions:

1. Does this still fit?
2. Does this date me?
3. Is this item consistent with current trends?
4. Will I make the right impression with this outfit?
5. Can I pull this look off at my age?
6. Does this outfit make me look like everyone else?
7. Does this look match my industry/professional level?

When was the last time you “cleaned out” your resume? Try asking yourself these same questions to determine what to keep and what to cut. If the information is not relevant to your current job target, let if go. Need some resume “styling” tips? Check out our Pinterest page.

Following Sochi Olympics is Like Watching a Bad Interview Unfold

sochi 2I’ve been hooked on the #SochiProblems hashtag on Twitter where journalists and athletes are tweeting about mishaps related to the Olympics including the malfunctions during the opening ceremony’s light show, unfinished buildings, trashed hotel rooms, unusual bathroom layouts, stray dogs, potholes, and crumbling sidewalks.

Ok, we’re all human and we all make mistakes. But in some situations you are going to be judged more harshly than others. If a toilet seat in a hotel room bathroom is put on backwards under normal circumstances, you might have a chuckle and that would be the end of it. But when you are at an event as special as the Olympics being hosted in a a city that has had years to prepare for the event, you may become more frustrated by such a mishap.  And even if the hotel has provided excellent accommodations to every other guest in that hotel, the person who had that experience will always associate that hotel with poor accommodations.

Job search is a situation where your actions are under a microscope. Errors that might be passed over in your day to day work are scrutinized much more diligently when hiring managers are reviewing applicants. When you start the job search process, an employer doesn’t know you and they don’t trust you yet. They don’t know if you are competent to do the job so each of your interactions with them either builds that trust or destroys it. Here are a few errors that job seekers often make and are frequently judged by.

Resume typos…It’s very rare that I receive an email without a typo. And I see typos on websites and blogs all the time. And it doesn’t really color my opinion of that person. But in job search, typos on the resume make a red flag go up for many hiring managers. The concern is that if the applicant wasn’t detail-oriented enough to catch the typos in their resume, they may make other, more costly errors for the company.

Fashion Faux-pas…Everyone has showed up at work at some point in time in some outfit that was far from flattering, too casual, inconsistent with the company’s corporate culture, or even offensive. In most cases the fashion faux-pas becomes fodder for the water cooler for a day or two and then just goes away. But on an interview, the candidate quickly turns into “the applicant in the fishnet stockings” or “the guy with the really bad tie” and again a judgement is passed. The concern is that based on the applicant’s dress they won’t fit in with the company’s culture or perhaps lack sound judgement in other areas.

Arriving late to the interview… Just about everyone has been late to work at one time or another. And unless it becomes a chronic issue, it is generally accepted and not a big deal. But on an interview, arriving late can signal to a hiring manager that you are not reliable or dependable or that you don’t manage your time well.

Electronic whoops…We’ve all been in situations where someone’s cell phone rings during a presentation or important meeting. And maybe it’s a bit embarrassing but it’s quickly forgotten. However, if your phone rings during an interview, the interviewer notices and may pass a judgement about you or even your consideration of others.

When you apply for a job, you are a lot like the host country for the Olympics. Everything you do is obvious. Everything you do gets noticed. And little errors in your job search strategy can quickly turn into detrimental ones. The people working on anything related to the Olympics should have checked and double checked their work…because it’s the Olympics and people all over the world are watching. Job seekers need to check and recheck all the little details that go into an effective job search…because it’s your career. Both are really big things that you don’t want to screw up.


How to Network at Social Events When You Aren’t Social

networkingLike it or not, most professionals initially get their jobs by leveraging their network of contacts, and those contacts can be elusive if you never socialize. Just for the record, I’m not talking about landing your next gig through your brother or girlfriend. I’m talking about finding your next job through your brother’s friend’s neighbor’s boss’ wife’s childhood buddy who’s just been named vice president. Otherwise known as six-degrees-of-separation networking.

Having conversations with people and building relationships through in-person (and online) social gatherings is a critical part of any professional’s career strategy, but it’s also important to do it in a way that is manageable and comfortable for you (not to mention successful). Here are a few suggestions

Arrive Early

If you’re one of the first people to show up at an event, it is more likely to feel like an intimate dinner party than a huge “meet and greet market.” You can have a few memorable conversations before the event becomes crowded and walking up to strangers becomes a lot less challenging when there are only a few in your field of vision.

Also, if there is a speaker at the event, showing up early makes it easy to meet them personally and even ask a question or two. Ironically, the speaker may well be the most important person you meet at the event and by showing up early you can potentially have his or her undivided attention before the end of the event, when everyone else wants to chat with the speaker.

Just be sure you’re respectful of the speaker’s prep time when he or she is concentrating on the logistics of their presentation, such as setting up a PowerPoint or sound-testing the mike or video equipment.

Go With a Buddy

Another great solution is to bring along your wingman or wingwoman – a friend or colleague who would be willing to go to the event with you. If he or she is the social type, you can let them make the introductions, and then you quickly become part of conversations that you didn’t initiate yourself.

Or the two of you can develop a strategy where you each have conversations with a certain number of people independently and then regroup to share the knowledge and contacts you’ve acquired. This halves the requirement that you talk to people, while doubling your networking efforts.

Have a Drink – But Watch Your Alcohol Barometer

If it’s a social networking event, alcohol will probably be served. Having a drink may reduce your inhibitions and make you more comfortable with the overall process.

Obviously there’s a line between relaxed and approachable and lampshade on your head, so be sure not to cross it. Nurse a beer, order a wine spritzer, or switch to soda after one or two drinks. Just holding a drink in your hand automatically makes you social; you don’t need to be throwing them back. Stay conscious about your level of drinking, and don’t consume more than one alcoholic drink an hour.

 Work the Front Desk

 If you find making small talk difficult, consider volunteering to handle the on-site registration or check-in for the event. Every attendee will have to pass by before entering the event, and the conversations may flow more freely as a result, since attendees generally have to supply their names as part of the registration process.

Also, by working the front desk you will be privy to the list of attendees and probably even other valuable information such as their job title, the company they work for, and their email address, although this may be highly confidential data, so be very discreet in how you use it.

This starting point can provide great insights, however, because you can plot a few strategic conversations using this knowledge, or you can leverage the information to do some online sleuthing later or connect with specific attendees via LinkedIn. Be cautious though and let enough time elapse that it isn’t obvious where you got their information and don’t mention the check-in desk connection or your quarry  may put it together.

Become the Organizer

Being an event organizer often requires a great deal of behind-the-scenes work, but it puts your name out there front and center with attendees. If you’ve had phone conversations or email exchanges with these people prior to the event, they may already feel like they know you and may actively seek you out during the event to talk.

The same holds true for the presenter at the event, which could yield dividends down the road. As the point-person for the presenter, you will get to know him or her prior to the event and he/she will be relying on you for important information related to the venue, attendees, logistics, and equipment. You will become a valuable resource for the presenter and he/she will be grateful for the information you provide. Being helpful makes you memorable and it increases the likelihood that this person would reciprocate and help you, should you reach out with a question or request for advice or an introduction in the future.

 Create a Strong Online Presence

 If a list of attendees is published and circulated prior to the event, attendees might decide to research others beforehand. By having a strong online presence on LinkedIn and other online identity sites like Google+, ZoomInfo, and BrandYourself, you make it easy for people to find you and become familiar with your background. These profiles can include your phone number and email for quick access if you are comfortable sharing this information.

Building online profiles gives you the opportunity to take control of your online presence and create a searchable branded bio to position your experience in the most keyword-rich way. This is a much better strategy than having someone Google you only to find a random assortment of facts including where you work, your running time in a previous marathon, and a comment you made on a somewhat controversial blog back in the Jurassic era.

After an attendee reviews your online presence, they may want to get to know you better, and some might chose to connect with you and begin a dialogue prior to the event. This is a great way to break the ice, and then when you meet the person at the live event, you may already feel like you know them to some extent.

Focus on Listening Instead of Talking

Many people think you have to be “a big talker” or “smooth” or “funny” to be an effective networker. But the more important networking skill is being a good listener, and people who are somewhat introverted or believe they are less social often excel at listening. Remember to ask “curiosity-based questions” of the person you are talking to, rather than focusing the spotlight on yourself.

You can ask them about their job, how they broke into their field, or what they like about the company they work for. By doing this, you will be gaining valuable insights and information about this person and they will thoroughly enjoy the conversation because they are talking about themselves. Not-too-secret-secret: Most people think you are a great networker when you let them do most of the talking!

Have a Few Meaningful Conversations Rather Than Several Unmemorable Ones

Many people go to social events and try to talk to as many people as possible. They may return home with a stack of business cards, but have little memory of the people they met – or the most important conversations – because the conversations were not long enough or engaging enough to be memorable.

A better strategy is to have a few meaningful conversations with just a handful of people. Building a deeper, more authentic relationship from the get-go yields better results down the line. You might ask an attendee if they’ve participated in other events the organization has hosted and learn more about what the association has to offer and who the key members are.

Or you might ask someone how long they’ve been in the business – or how they started out – and be treated to a rich overview of their work history and contacts.

Be sure to exchange business cards and jot a few notes down about the person before leaving the event and then follow up with a LinkedIn invite to remain top of mind with your new contact and keep the momentum going.

Treat Others the Way You Would Like to Be Treated

 Many people don’t like networking because they have had experiences with others at social events that were at best uncomfortable, and at worst, creepy. There are certainly bad networkers and people who ask for too much too soon or bore you into stupefaction.

You can’t meet someone for the first time at 6 p.m. and ask to be introduced to a key contact at 6:15 p.m. You have to build the relationship over time and earn trust respectfully. Nonetheless, some people do this, turning others off, and networking gets a bad rap.

You definitely don’t have to be (and shouldn’t be) that guy or gal. Treat others the way you would like to be treated and be 100% authentic and helpful. Think of ways you might be able to support or assist the other person, and the relationship will eventually blossom. People remember those that have assisted them over the course of a lifetime, and are more likely to reciprocate if they can possibly do so.

The next time you have the opportunity to go to a social event; whether it be a professional association meeting, a class reunion, a holiday party, a wedding, or a baseball game, try a few of these strategies and see what works well for you. You may end up making a new friend, meeting the person who will become your spouse, or starting a dialogue with someone who will be able to transform your career someday down the line.

Whatever the outcome, it’s worth the preparation to make the process a productive and successful one!


How Women Can Negotiate a Salary That Isn’t Half What Their Male Predecessor Earned

photo (12)Recent reports regarding GM CEO Mary Barra’s salary suggested she was earning half what her male predecessor, Dan Akerson earned. And while the latest reports note that GM has clarified that when Barra’s total compensation of base pay, short-term, and long-term compensation is disclosed later this year, the numbers will represent more equitable pay between the two, the incident has brought the issue of unequal pay for women to the forefront again.

There are several issues that can impact pay for women, including a higher percentage of females leaving the workforce temporarily to raise children or a larger number accepting part-time jobs, but there is also research to suggest that the way women approach the salary negotiation process may be at play as well.

The mechanics of the negotiation are the same for men and women, but the strategies often vary between the two sexes. Personality, style, and gender are all contributing factors that influence the outcome of the conversation. Here are four differences I have observed between male and female negotiation styles (and what you can do to level the playing field):

1.) Relationships vs. Outcomes
Women tend to value relationships over outcomes and are willing to compromise in an effort to keep the relationship intact. Some can be people pleasers who generally do not like conflict and confrontation, and many women associate salary negotiation with conflict. In a study by Babcock, Gelfund, Small, and Stayn, “Propensity to Initiate Negotiations,” men and women participated in an internet survey to identify if they believed it was appropriate to negotiate in various work-related fictitious situations. As a group, women were less likely than men to choose negotiation as an option, even though they recognized that negotiation was appropriate.

Men tend to leverage relationships to achieve their goals. They ask for a particular salary with less compromise and are concerned with outcomes. They worry less about how their negotiations affect the relationship. Their straight-forward approach can work well, especially for short-term financial gain.

Recommendation: Women can be successful negotiators by positioning their needs as part of a collaborative process. By listening to a potential employer’s needs and recommending outcomes that
benefit both parties, women and men can get what they want for themselves and preserve the relationship at the same time.

2.) Needs vs. Wants
Many women may make decisions about salary based on what they feel they need rather than what the market will bear. They use past salary as their benchmark and may rationalize that a similar or slightly higher salary is what they should ask for. Since employers tend to reward people no more than they require, women are at risk for receiving less competitive packages than their male counterparts.

Men are more likely to ask for what they want. Cultural norms may be at play here, since historically it has been acceptable for men to be assertive in the business world, while women who are tend to be viewed as aggressive or difficult to work with. In a study by Small, Babcock, and Gelfund, “Why Don’t Women Ask,” participants were asked to play a game and offered $3 as compensation. If participants asked for more, they would receive $10. Almost nine times as many males asked for more money, suggesting that men ask for what they want more frequently than women.

Recommendation: Women can improve their negotiation skills by knowing their market value. Sites such as Salary.com, Payscale.com, and Glassdoor help job seekers define a potential range of salaries for a particular job. By doing your research and presenting the business case for your requested salary, you improve your bargaining power and diffuse potential cultural biases.

3.) External vs. Internal Centers of Influence
Women may be more likely to assume that hard work alone will be recognized and rewarded with a promotion and/or increased monetary compensation. They often wait for external factors and group consensus to determine their opportunities for advancement.

Men more frequently take matters into their own hands and believe they influence their opportunities and promotions. They are less inclined to stay in dead-end jobs and more likely to ask for a raise when they feel the situation warrants one. In the “Propensity to Initiate Negotiations” survey, researchers found that women were 45 percent less likely to see the importance of asking for what they want.

Recommendation: Women can increase their opportunities for promotion by taking a proactive approach to their career development that includes reporting accomplishments regularly, taking on high-profile assignments, and developing influential networking relationships within the organization.

4.) Low vs. High Goal Setting
Women may set more modest goals than men and they generally make concessions earlier in the negotiation process. As a result, women typically have lower salaries than men in similar positions.

A study by Riley, Babcock, and McGinn, “Gender as a Situational Phenomenon in Negotiation,” revealed that men typically set goals for negotiation conversations that are 15 percent higher than women. By going into the negotiation process with higher goals, men can often receive better initial offers and additional leverage in the negotiation process. In subsequent negotiations, employers often assume that applicants with better compensation records are more capable than those who have been paid less.

Recommendation: Women should adopt a negotiation style that meets their individual needs, but both should incorporate ambitious targets into their negotiation strategy. When you negotiate your compensation package you are not just negotiating your starting salary, but you are directly impacting every salary increase you receive from that point forward.

While most job-seekers are intensely interested in how to negotiate the best package, few realize the importance of creating their own style and developing a set of best practices for their negotiations. Whether you are a man or a woman, these strategies can help you achieve the optimal total compensation package when you land your next promotion or new job.