How to Negotiate a $109M Severance Package

moneyThere’s been a lot of press about Yahoo COO Henrique de Castro getting fired by CEO Marissa Mayer after just one year in the job. Much of the press revolves around his $109M severance package because people are dumbfounded by how anyone could receive so much money for failing.

But let’s examine the circumstances under which de Castro accepted the position. Mayer snagged him from Google where he had a great gig working for the #1 company on the Fortune Best Companies to Work For list. He was given an opportunity to walk into Yahoo, a company whose revenues have been declining consistently for years, due to competition from Google and Facebook. His charge was to orchestrate a major turnaround for the company, no small feat.

No executive takes on such a role without meticulously negotiating a comprehensive severance package. His severance benefits, including equity awards, were laid out in his employment letter. I’m assuming de Castro knew he was taking an enormous risk teaming with Yahoo and the only way Mayer was going to be able to convince him to come on board was by offering him a huge “insurance policy.” 

So what does all this mean for you? If you are in the midst of a negotiation for a new job, it may be important to negotiate your severance package on the way in, because it can be difficult, if not impossible, to negotiate it on the way out. While it might seem awkward to negotiate your exit when you’ve just gotten your foot in the door, it’s a prudent and frequently expected point to negotiate, particularly if part of the new role requires a turnaround effort. As long as you can prove to the prospective employer that what you are negotiating for is fair and reasonable, you should be able to make some headway in the negotiation process.

Since negotiating severance may feel like a difficult conversation, here are a few tips.

  1. Begin the conversation by displaying your excitement about the offer and reiterate why you think you are a great fit and what value you can bring to the role.
  2. Explain that you expect to have a long and fruitful career with the company.
  3. Discuss the reality of the risks associated with the role if there are any in terms that are fair and reasonable. For example, you might say, “Given the fact that this is a volatile market, I think it would be prudent to discuss the severance package, should market conditions impact company performance.” If you are being brought in to manage a turnaround, you might say, “Given the fact that the firm is facing significant challenges, some that may be outside their control due to the economy, I believe it is reasonable to discuss what happens if the original goals are not met.” If you are negotiating with a start up, you might say, “Since I am leaving an established Fortune 1,000 company for this start-up, there is inherently more risk and I would like to discuss the opportunity for severance if the company does not take off.”

While I can’t guarantee you will leave the negotiation table with a package as lucrative as de Castro’s, you will certainly be taking better ownership of what happens to you financially if your new job doesn’t work out the way you had planned.

Top 4 Most In-Demand Skills in Finance, Healthcare, Legal Services & Human Resources

The Execu-Search Group, an executive search firm based in Manhattan, recently surveyed 195 of their clients to uncover their hiring plans for 2014 and the in-demand skills they believed would play a part in their decision. Below are the survey findings on their top four in-demand skills across 5 business areas.Hiring Outlook Cover_Download

Accounting & Finance 

  • Technical Accounting
  • Corporate Reporting
  • Financial Planning/Analysis
  • Hedge Fund Accounting

Financial Services

  • Operational Risk
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Advanced Excel
  • Modeling


  • Managed Care
  • Informatics/Health Information Management
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • Operations

Human Resources

  • Experience in Benefits, Compensation, and Immigration
  • Relevant Industry Background
  • Knowledge of ADP or similar HRIS Systems
  • Knowledge of Personnel Administration Systems

Legal Services

  • Contract Review/Negotiation
  • Drafting Corporate Documents/Corporate Governance
  • Document Review
  • Legal Research/Writing

The survey also revealed that significant hiring is expected across all of these sectors for both permanent and contract positions. Click on the link to learn more about 2014 hiring projections or download the full 2014 hiring outlook whitepaper here.


Career Solvers Resume Specialty Certifications

imageIf you are looking for a resume writer that specializes in your industry or job function, Career Solvers may be the perfect fit. In addition to four resume writing credentials, Career Solvers holds six specialty resume writing credentials in the following areas:

  1. Sales & Business Development
  2. Financial Service
  3. Information Technology
  4. Public Relations & Marketing
  5. Human Resources & Training
  6. Healthcare & Medical

These specialty credentials were awarded after preparing dozens of resumes in each of these fields and presenting an extensive portfolio to an international review committee.

Want to learn more? Check out our resume samples or contact us directly for a free, no obligation review of your resume.

Seeking Unqualified Lazy Slackers

word cloudOut of every 100 resumes I review, approximately 95 of them start off with a reference to the personal attributes that candidate believes they possess. The logic here is that these descriptive words will verify the person’s abilities and make them a more desirable candidate in the hiring manager’s eyes. I actually believe that using these words makes the candidate far less desirable. Below is a list of some of the most commonly used descriptive words on a resume.

  1. highly qualified
  2. hard worker
  3. team player
  4. problem solver
  5. flexible
  6. people person
  7. self-starter

Now let’s consider the opposite meanings of these words:

  1. unqualified
  2. lazy
  3. loner
  4. problem maker
  5. inflexible
  6. people hater
  7. slug

Before you include a descriptive word on your resume, consider its opposite. In practically every case, it will be a word you never want to use to describe yourself. What this means is that all the words expressing personal attributes that you are using on your resume are a given and to assume the opposite is somewhat comical. Hiring managers don’t need to hear that you are qualified or a team player. They need to see it.

Instead of claiming to be a hard worker, show an example of a situation where you did what needed to be done in order to get a project done on time. Rather than saying you are a problem solver, describe a time when you approached a problem in a different manner and achieved outstanding results. Instead of saying you are a people person, illustrate an example of how you built relationships with clients or mentored staff.

Carry this logic over to your LinkedIn profile and try to avoid these top 10 overused buzzwords on LinkedIn. As you will see, the opposites of these words are pretty silly as well.

Need more help writing your own resume? Review our resume samples or download our resume tips ebook.


New Year’s 7-Day Career Cleanse Program

cleanseSo the new year is here and everyone is trying to stick to their resolutions to eat better, exercise more, save money, etc. But what about your career? 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 in 2014? 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 Spring or maybe even sooner.

How to Use Facebook Graph Search to Source Job Leads

Many people use Facebook to keep up with friends and family, but few realize Facebook’s potential as a networking and general job search tool.

With over one billion users, Facebook offers a repository of information on people that is much greater than LinkedIn’s 200 million user base. Users can use Graph Search to source potential contacts or decision makers and connect directly via Facebook without having an intermediary connection. To use graph search, navigate to your home page and select browse from the left side bar window.

Facebook Browse

Next, enter in the keywords that represent the parameters of your search. The information you see on each person will vary, depending on the amount of information they have agreed to share publicly via their privacy settings. From this page, you can send a message or a friend request.

Marketing Manager Google

You can also search to see which friends on Facebook worked for a target company or which friends of friends have a connection to a company. If you know someone who knows someone at your target company, you can potentially turn a cold call into a warm lead.


FB friends of friends

Facebook can be an excellent job search tool to complement your existing LinkedIn strategy. The people you friend on Facebook may represent a very different audience than the ones you connect with on LinkedIn, and this gives you additional opportunities to strengthen your network and open new doors in your job search.


12 Days of Christmas Networking

Despite popular belief, the holiday season is a great time to continue your job search efforts to accelerate potential activity in December and the New Year. Here are 12 networking tips for the holiday season.

  1. Attend holiday parties. Many professional associations host holiday parties. This is a great way to meet others in your field that may be able to make meaningful introductions for you.
  2. Throw your own party. Have an intimate dinner party or a bigger bash at your home or nearby restaurant. This is a great way to practice your pitch, and reconnect with people who may be able to assist you in your search.
  3. Ask for informational interviews. The last two weeks of December are traditionally slow for most businesses. You may find that some of the decision makers you need to get in front of  are in the office during those last two weeks and it may be a lot easier to get in front of them during this time of year.
  4. Keep looking. Many job seekers take a break during the holiday season, assuming no one is hiring. But many companies do hire in December to make good use of their current hiring budgets or shore up talent in the new year. When other job seekers lay low during December, you may have a better chance to be found.
  5. Volunteer. Tis the season…volunteer to do something meaningful in your personal or professional communities during December. Doing so can increase your visibility and jump start some conversations with people who may be able to help you in the New Year.
  6. Do a favor for someone. Maybe you can watch your friend’s children while she does her Christmas shopping, or assist a friend who needs help with a computer problem or home improvement project. Your goodwill will not be forgotten and is likely to be reciprocated with help for your in the future.
  7. Take a vacation. What better way to meet new decision makers? It doesn’t need to be extravagant…just find new people to have conversations with. Let them know what you do and ask for their suggestions for expanding your brand’s reach in a very informational, non-threatening way. You may just pick up a lead or two.
  8. Reconnect with friends of “Christmas Past”. Check out LinkedIn and Facebook and search for old friends. What better time to reconnect than the holiday season? Get over the fact that it’s been awhile since you last spoke and take the first step. You may be pleasantly surprised by the response you get.
  9. Endorse or recommend colleagues you respect who do good work. If you have just reconnected with someone, the next step might be to endorse or recommend them on LinkedIn, like their Facebook status, or +1 their Google posts. These simple displays of acknowledgement go a long way towards building solid relationships.
  10. Send holiday cards. Holiday cards provide a natural “touch point” or opportunity to reconnect with friends, family, and colleagues. Reach out to your network now with some “best wishes” and holiday cheer and you will have a natural entrée into a job-related conversation in the New Year.
  11. Schedule a lunch or coffee with a colleague or friend. Your contacts may have more time to give during this season and schedules may be more flexible. Take advantage of the lull and get back in touch with people who can serve as advocates in the new year.
  12. Join a professional association. Professional associations offer excellent opportunities for beefing up your skills and building your network of contacts. Plus, many offer end-of-year membership discounts as an incentive for joining.

How to Look for a New Job on LinkedIn Without Everyone Knowing

If you are currently employed, you may be concerned about using LinkedIn for your job search, since your activity could tip off certain people about your search who you would prefer to keep in the dark. But with a few minor adjustments, you can leverage LinkedIn’s robust network and data to create a stealth networking strategy and keep your intentions private. The key is to adjust your privacy settings, so certain information about your activity is not displayed on your public feed. Here are some tips for managing your LinkedIn presence when you are trying to conduct a search under the radar.

Updating your profile. You may want to update your profile or add new skills or recommendations to attract recruiters and hiring managers, but not necessarily draw attention from co-workers or your boss. Before updating your profile, adjust your privacy settings by hovering over your image on the far right of the top toolbar present on any page and clicking on the privacy and settings option.

Profile 1Next, click on the setting that says “turn on/off activity broadcasts and un-check the box and save your changes. You can now post any changes to the profile without alerting your network.

Looking at other people’s profiles. You may want to view the profiles of other people in your field for competitive intelligence or ideas for your own LinkedIn profile. You may want to check out the profile of someone you are meeting for an upcoming interview or networking meeting, but you don’t necessarily want them to know you were lurking on their profile. To view a profile without that person knowing, again go to your privacy settings, click the option that says “select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile” and change the setting to anonymous.

Profile privacyJoining groups. You may want to join groups on LinkedIn, but not want your employer to be able to see this activity, especially if these are groups related to your job search. You can go into your privacy settings, click on the link on the left for groups, companies and applications and select the option to the right that says “turn on/off notifications when joining groups. Un-check the box and save your changes.

Managing Connections. While part of LinkedIn’s beauty is the ability to easily track who is connected to who, you might not want your network to be able to see your connections if you are making new connections that could be considered suspect by your employer. You can temporarily hide your connections by navigating to the privacy settings page and under the profile section, clicking on the “select who can see your connections” tab and changing it to “only you.”

By making these quick fixes, you can search more confidently while not worrying about the wrong people finding out about your search.

Creative Resumes That Boldly Go Where No Resume Has Gone Before

candy resumeA great resume is a marketing tool and not a laundry list of everything you have done over your career. A strong presentation engages the reader, is on brand, and is different from any of the other resumes in the pile. I’ve been impressed with some of the creative resumes I have seen emerge over the past year. For professionals, particularly those whose jobs focus on creativity and innovation, a unique resume is an excellent introduction to that candidate’s value proposition. A creative resume is not about the images, colors, fonts, and design; a great creative resume ties the brand attributes of the candidate to the messaging on the resume. Here are three resumes that hit the mark for originality, creativity, and branding.

Marketing Professional

Web Product Manager

Game Designer

Interested in a creative resume design? Check out our resume samples to view our creative resumes as well as our more traditional styles or contact us for more information.

Average Pay Increase for 2014 Projected at 2.9 Percent

According to a recent compensation study by Mercer, the average projected merit increase for 2014 will be 2.9 percent, which is slightly higher than last year.


As organizations look for enhanced ways to pay for performance, they are segmenting their workforce by high-performing as well as high-potential employees. The survey suggests that companies are rewarding these groups with significantly larger increases than those in the lower-performing categories.

Mercer 2

The Mercer research also suggests that organizations are studying the key drivers of employee engagement and targeting certain groups, such as high-potentials or those with critical skills, with enhanced reward programs. They are investing in a variety of practices to strengthen employee engagement and help improve work-life balance overall for employees. According to Mercer’s survey, some of the more prevalent practices include sponsored conferences, professional development events, additional non-monetary recognition awards, and enriched job sharing/flexible hours.

As a job seeker, understanding the rewards system of an employer can help make you a better negotiator when you land your next job and are ready to talk about compensation and benefits. These survey results suggest that companies are embracing a pay for performance culture and reserving the highest merit increases for the best performers while more carefully scrutinizing the work of average or below average performers. Job seekers have an opportunity to prove their value to a company in a business environment that is already hyper-sensitive to the costs associated with poor performers. Job seekers may find that in this economy, employers are more open to negotiate flex-time, telecommuting, job sharing and other non-traditional work arrangements in their continuous efforts to cut costs. And job seekers may be surprised to find increasing levels of employee engagement through inexpensive but intrinsically valuable rewards programs and career development options.

There are plenty of ways to “sweeten the pot” when negotiating for your next position. Think strategically about how to prove your value and create a “win-win” negotiation that leverages monetary and non-monetary rewards to carve out the best possible package for yourself.