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Ten Quick Resume Tweaks That Will Improve Your Executive Job Search

When I’m working with my six- and seven-figure executive clients, I often notice certain resume hiccups that detract from their main message of value when communicating with hiring authorities. By making some easy and subtle yet powerful changes, executive search candidates can frequently accelerate their interactions with decision makers and expedite their searches.

Here are my top 10 suggestions.

1. Fix that email address. Nothing will date you faster than an email address that is associated with a company that peaked before the 21st century. Rather than using your prehistoric AOL or Yahoo address, create a Gmail account for your job search activities. Consider it part of the normal technology evolution process. You parted with your rotary phone, fax machine and Blackberry. You can let go of this, too.

2. List your cell phone rather than your home phone. This is another dinosaur. Even if you still have a home phone, isn’t your cell phone the best way to reach you? You want to be available to recruiters and hiring managers quickly; it makes sense to give them the fastest way to contact you.

3. Eliminate subjective words and descriptions of personal attributes from your resume summary. These words do little to position your value to an employer. Nix words like “seasoned” or “veteran” (translation: old), “high energy” (translation: you sound insecure) and “accomplished” (you’d better be; you’re a senior executive). Replace these with a synopsis of career highlights where you helped the companies you supported make money, save money, save time, grow the business or keep the business. Showcase tangible skills (e.g., turned around three companies, led 12 acquisitions, took $6 million of expenses out of the business, etc.) to validate your worth to an employer.

4. Step out of the 90s and update your resume format. Perhaps the last time you updated your resume, there were few design options. But Microsoft Word has come a long way. Use charts, graphics and color to convey your impact, just like you do in your executive role when you create reports to influence senior management, the board, investors, customers, etc. Decision makers respond well to these visual cues, too.

5. Get rid of scholarships and honors you earned as an undergraduate. You’ve been running a multimillion-dollar P&L and achieving incremental growth for your company for years. Is that President’s Scholarship or summa cum laude distinction from 1988 really still relevant?

6. Stop getting caught up in semantics. Sometimes my executive clients feel uncomfortable taking credit for accomplishments that they directed but didn’t carry out on their own. As a result, they fail to list some of their most outstanding accomplishments. Hiring managers understand that, in many cases, you had a team behind you to execute on a strategy, but if you feel clarification is necessary, try using language that shows your instrumental role in an initiative, such as, “Created the business transformation strategy that the team executed to reduce costs by $3 million,” or, “Hired the C-level talent necessary to optimize the sales process and realize $5 million in new business in less than nine months.”

7. De-bloat your resume. No one is interested in that third page. Three pages don’t translate into “accomplished.” Instead, they signal, “can’t articulate what’s most important,” “can’t let the past go,” “insecure that recent accomplishments won’t measure up”, or “too old (or expensive) to have a place here.” Dedicate most of your precious resume real estate to showcasing your last 10-15 years of employment; truncate earlier experiences to one or two accomplishments or simply a list of the early companies/positions to show career progression.

8. Get your LinkedIn on. Perhaps you were too busy in your last role to jump on the LinkedIn bandwagon, or maybe you thought having a presence there wasn’t necessary. If you are in a job search, having a LinkedIn profile is imperative. Don’t create a profile that merely lists the companies you worked for and your job titles. Make it rich with specific information about your key accomplishments, build out the skills section to make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to find you, and link to media mentions or examples of your success where appropriate. Additionally, be sure to engage there. Monitor your feed, make new connections, join groups and comment or share other people’s content to deepen relationships and build rapport with important influencers within your professional community.

9. Make sure the picture is recent. I’ve looked at people’s LinkedIn pictures before a formal meeting with them and then barely recognized the person who showed up for the meeting. Don’t make that mistake. Using a picture that is more than 10 years old or no longer looks like you is deceptive and can potentially damage the relationship you are trying to create before it has even started. A little bit of makeup (and yes, even a touch of Photoshop) are fine, but a picture of you taken before the Clinton administration is probably not.

10. Update your software. If you created your resume on an older version of Microsoft Word (anything before 2003), you risk the chance of sending your document to a decision maker and having it show up on their screen with compromised formatting. Get an updated version of Microsoft Word and then convert your final resume to a PDF to ensure formatting displays consistently from computer to computer.

Spend some time in the coming weeks making these subtle tweaks to your messaging, and watch the interest in your candidacy improve.

This post was originally posted at Forbes.

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Want More Than the Average 2.9% Salary Increase in 2018? Here’s How

According to the 2017/2018 Mercer US Compensation Planning Survey, the average salary increase budget is expected to be 2.9% in 2018, remaining flat from 2017. So how can you be perceived as a top performer in 2018? Here are some tips.

Document your accomplishments regularly throughout the year
Keep track of all the projects you manage. Upon completion of each assignment, write a note to yourself detailing your contribution and how your efforts helped the company make money, save money, save time, grow the business, or retain customers. Quantify your accomplishments with dollars, percentages, and other appropriate metrics. Actively seek out opportunities to improve efficiencies and profits regardless of the task at hand. By showing and quantifying your specific value add, you build a better business case to support the requested salary increase.

Become hard to replace
Create opportunities to diversify your experience by offering to learn how to perform tasks that support your main role and make you more efficient at what you do. An alternative strategy is to become a subject matter expert in one specific aspect of the job so you are seen as the “go-to-guy” for a particular type of information. No want wants to lose the “go-to-guy” because then they have to do it themselves.

Take on tasks that no one else wants to do
This does not mean taking on grunt work. It might just mean mastering a new technology that no one else feels comfortable with or taking on an assignment that is outside of the traditional scope of the job. Employees who demonstrate this level of flexibility tend to get more flexibility from their bosses on other issues, including compensation.

Accept high profile assignments close to review time
Since it is easier for people to remember what has happened most recently, why not take on an important assignment to coincide with an upcoming review? The project is bound to become a focal point of the performance review discussion and the boss can quickly remember and document the achievements relevant to the project.

Your success negotiating a salary increase or promotion hinges on your ability to discuss the increase in terms of what is fair and reasonable. By including some of these ideas into your career management strategy, you can keep the conversation focused on measurable achievements and build a compelling business case for the requested pay raise.

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Tell a Story Interviewers Can’t Forget

During an executive job search, several tools and strategies can be used to weave together a compelling story of your value to an employer. Resumes, interviews and networking meetings should be rich with memorable information about you and the problems you have solved for organizations. Your story should be so good that the interviewer can’t wait to repeat it to the next person in the hiring chain. Here are some tips for making that happen.

  1. Create an exciting resume that the reader just can’t put down. Don’t just write about job tasks, and don’t just list statistics. Build a story around your accomplishments that succinctly communicates the impact you had on an initiative or an organization as a whole.
  2. Tell your story with pictures. Try adding some charts or graphs to your resume to create a visual representation of your impact. For example, if you increased sales 500 percent over a 5-year period, create a bar graph to show the year-over-year growth.
  3. Showcase samples of your work. Bring examples of the types of reports, business communications, or design work you do to the interview. Consider including links to Web sites, photographs, videos, or project prototypes to your portfolio when appropriate.
  4. Answer interview questions using the Challenge-Action-Result story format. Employers are interested in learning about your past successes because they feel that past successes are a good indicator of future success. By describing the challenges you faced, the actions you took to address those challenges and the corresponding results for the organization, you are more likely to create interest and excitement about your candidacy.
  5. Ask questions that invite the interviewer to tell her story. In order to build a strong rapport with the hiring authority, you need to share information. Asking the interviewer also to share information helps deepen this relationship. Ask what issues the department is struggling with and what types of strategies it has tried in the past to address these issues. Asking questions shows your interest and concern for the company’s problems and also positions you as the right person to address them.
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Navigating Tough Interview Questions About Executive Compensation

Remember when you were a kid playing Monopoly and you got to the point in the game where you needed to trade property or offer money in order to make a monopoly? You had to decide what you needed to do to stay in the game, and then you had to work cooperatively with the other players to make it happen. Well, when you negotiate your compensation and benefits package with a potential employer, the process is very similar. First, you need to establish trust and credibility and establish rapport to convince the other party that they are making the right decision. Next, you have to consider your priorities and decide what you really want and what you are willing to give up. Finally, you must create a situation where both parties feel satisfied when the deal is sealed.

I’ve posted multiple times about salary negotiation strategies including what to negotiate for and how to communicate your salary goals, but I wanted to post about what you can actually say to a potential employer when you are navigating the salary conversation. Here are some of the top situations my executive clients find themselves in and recommendations for getting the most out of the conversation.

You are on a first interview with a company. The interviewer asks “What type of a salary are you looking for?”

“Before we discuss salary I’d like to learn about the position and share with you how I can add value to your organization.” Identifying a salary too early in the process often works against candidates, because many use only past salary as a benchmark rather than uncovering what the market will bear. If pressed for salary information, you can ask the interviewer what the range is for the position, and if this is revealed, you can suggest this range is consistent with your expectation (even if it’s not perfect; there will be room for further negotiation later). If they are not willing to offer the range, give them a salary range based on your knowledge of the market, not your past salary alone. Here are six tips for uncovering salary information.

The HR manager informs you that the salary for the position you are being interviewed for is $150,000. The HR manager knows that your previous salary was $25,000 more. She expresses concern over your level of interest in the position.

“Salary is not the most important issue for me. From what you’ve told me so far, the position sounds like an excellent fit for me. I’m much more interested in the quality of the job than the base compensation.”

A hiring manager insists on knowing your past salary despite your attempts to table the conversation.

“My compensation can range from $180,000 to $230,000, depending on bonus. By giving a range, you leave the discussion open.”

You have two competing offers. You’d like to work for this company, but the other position offers a higher salary.

“I want to be totally transparent. I have a very generous offer from another company, but I’d prefer to work here. However I just can’t ignore the differences in the packages. If you could put together a similar package I would be very interested in your offer.

A hiring manager offers you a starting salary of $170,000. Your research indicates that salaries for similar positions have a salary range between $170,000 & $230,000.

“I’m very excited to receive an offer, and I really want to be part of your team. I’m a bit disappointed in the salary. My research indicates that $170,000 is a more typical salary for someone new to this type of position. Given my seven years of experience, I consider myself someone closer to the mid-point of the salary range. Is there room to negotiate?”

You are offered a position with a start-up with a starting salary of $200,000. You previously earned $250,000 with a Fortune 500, but you’re very interested in being part of a new venture.

“I appreciate the offer and can’t wait to get started. Given the fact that my experience with a larger firm will certainly add significant value to this venture, can we discuss stock options as part of this package?”

An offer has been extended to you, but there is a three month waiting period for benefits coverage. You’ve been told this is standard company policy.

You – “So if I understand you correctly, no one ever receives medical coverage before three months.”

Negotiator – “Except in very rare circumstances”

Once they admit an exception has been made, you may be able to negotiate the same for yourself. Or you may be able to negotiate that they pick up your COBRA payments for the three-month period.

You’ve been asked to sign a one year non-compete agreement and you think six-months would be more reasonable.

You – “The non-compete agreement will probably keep me from working for a year, so I’m sure you’ll agree to a one year severance package.”

Negotiator – “We can’t offer you a one year severance package.”

You – “Then why don’t we make the non-compete for 6 months?”

By showing why this is fair,  you may be able to negotiate a better arrangement for yourself with more security should you end up leaving the role.

Everyone can learn to negotiate effectively for what they need and want. Companies are willing to negotiate what is fair and reasonable. Prove that the compensation package you are seeking is consistent with the value you will bring to the company, and you will create a win-win for yourself and the employer.



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Career Solvers Nominated for Three Toast of the Resume Industry Awards

I am pleased to announce that Career Solvers was recently nominated for three TORI (Toast of the Resume Industry) Awards by Career Directors Intoriternational. Career Solvers has been nominated for this award over 30 times since 2006 and won 11 awards for Best Executive Resume, Best Technology Resume, Best Sales & Marketing Resume, Best International Resume, Best Creative Resume, and Best Cover Letter.

The competition draws hundreds of entries from resume writers from all over the world, and it is an honor to be a nominee this year in the categories of Best Finance Resume, Best Technology Resume, and Best Healthcare Resume.

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New Job? Four Ways to Improve Your Salary Offer

After guiding thousands of clients through the salary negotiation process, I’ve noticed that when most people begin to negotiate a job offer, they focus on the base compensation and ways to improve it. While you may be able to improve the initial offer, you may not be successful getting to your “magic number” without being a bit more creative in how you approach the salary conversation. Compensation is made up of two types: fixed and variable.

Fixed compensation is the range of salaries the company has determined they can pay for a certain job. For large companies, in particular, these ranges are very structured and it can be difficult to negotiate outside of the salary range. Variable compensation represents other forms of financial rewards that companies can employ with more flexibility. The pool of variable compensation dollars can be leveraged to entice new recruits to the organization and engage the existing workforce.

By thinking more strategically about your approach to compensation and thinking creatively, you can craft a negotiation strategy that leaves less money on the table and more in your pocket. Below are four items to consider negotiating to improve the offer.

1. Sign-on bonus. A sign-on bonus is a one-time compensation incentive given to a candidate to improve the quality of a job offer without impacting the salary range. Generally, a sign-on bonus is given to a candidate who is giving up something; perhaps leaving a current employer and foregoing their merit increase, bonus, or vacation time. But candidates who are in transition can also try to negotiate a sign-on bonus and may attempt to do so as a way to improve an offer when the employer cannot offer a higher base salary.

2. Spot rewards. Spot rewards represent money given to an employee for achieving a specific goal or project milestone. They are used as a way to motivate and engage employees and provide monetary recognition in real-time of the event, rather than waiting until the employee’s annual review. But candidates may be able to negotiate a spot reward based on certain goals they believe they can achieve relatively quickly for an employer.

By the time you are negotiating your compensation package with the employer, you often have a good idea of what their main challenges are. If you can create a roadmap for addressing those challenges with a firm completion time, you may be able to secure a spot reward. Examples of situations that might warrant a spot reward include increasing sales, decreasing costs, revamping a product, or improving a process or system. If you can prove that you can make an impact early on, the employer may be willing to negotiate a spot reward contingent to your completion of the effort.

3. Termination benefits. It may seem odd to be negotiating for what you would be entitled to on the way out when you are still trying to secure a place in the organization. But due to the new reality of work and the fact that people aren’t staying at companies as long as they used to, negotiating these benefits up front makes perfect sense. Benefits that you can negotiate include additional severance or outplacement services in the event your job is eliminated due to a business reason. You can let the employer know that you expect to have a long and fruitful career with them, but given the volatility of the industry, economic factors, your experience going through your last transition, etc., you would like to explore options for negotiating your termination benefits up front.

4. Additional vacation time. If you had long-term tenure with your previous employer, it’s possible that the amount of vacation time the new employer offers will fall short compared to what you are accustomed to. Negotiating additional paid vacation time may be a consolation to you when you can’t improve the salary. And if having the additional time is what’s most important to you, you can also try to negotiate additional unpaid time to help support the work/life balance that you may value.

At the point where you are negotiating your compensation package, you have leverage. The employer has decided they want you to fill the role, and they want you to be happy with the offer. Salary negotiation is a very collaborative process. You may not be able to negotiate for everything you ask for, but by being open to exploring different options, you are more likely to reach your compensation goals.

This post was first published on Forbes.

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How to Avoid Five Job Seeker Frustrations

A large part of my role as a career strategist is to help people in search be accountable and manage the inherent frustrations that are part of every search. Here are the five most common frustrations I see and advice for moving past them.

Applying to an online job posting.

The Challenge: Some of the systems that companies use to track applicants are so unwieldy that I’ve often compared the experience to that of the character from Greek mythology, Sisyphus, who was punished in Hades by having repeatedly to roll a huge stone up a hill only to have it roll down again as soon as he had brought it to the summit. The upload process for many of these applicant systems is exceptionally cumbersome, requiring significant time copying and pasting information that is already in the applicant’s resume. To make matters worse, the number of applicants who get their job through a job posting is abysmal, particularly for senior executives.

The Solution: Circumvent the job boards. If you see a position of interest, use your network and tools like LinkedIn to see if you can find a connection into the company. Even if you are still asked to post online, you will have explored multiple entry points into the company and potentially increase the likelihood of finding someone who will be willing to speak to you.

Waiting to hear back from a networking contact.

The Challenge: Frequently my clients tell me that they reached out to a solid contact for an introduction and all they hear are crickets. They often start doubting themselves, thinking maybe the relationship wasn’t as strong as they thought it was or maybe their request has offended their contact and that is the reason he/she is not responding.

The Solution: Usually when you don’t hear back from a networking contact, it has nothing to do with you. People are busy, and while we would like to think we are top of mind with them, we aren’t. If the first outreach was by phone, try email, text, or social media. If you make a second phone call, try reaching out during a different time of day to see if it’s easier to catch them. Try to create a follow up plan that is persistent, but doesn’t make you a pest. Don’t leave dozens of voicemail messages or send too many emails. You’d be surprised how many people eventually respond and profusely apologize for their tardiness. If there are others in your professional or personal circle who know the same person, consider asking them about the contact’s whereabouts. Maybe they will know if the person is extremely busy or out of town.

Additionally, before you reach out to your contacts, make sure your “ask” isn’t too big. Many job seekers tell their contacts that they are in a search and say, “If you hear of someone who’s hiring, let me know.” This is generally too much to ask. Most will not know of someone who’s hiring, which makes it easy for them to say no or not respond to you at all. Instead, start your conversation by bluntly stating, “I have no reason to believe you know of anyone who is hiring, but would you be open to spending a few minutes with me so I can learn more about…(a company, an industry, a job function, etc.)” This type of “ask” often leads to a meeting and introductions to other people who may be closer to an actual job lead. People like sharing information. They also like talking about themselves. It’s a low-risk interaction and many are happy to have this type of conversation.

Asking for a LinkedIn recommendation and not getting one.

The Challenge: LinkedIn recommendations can be a great way to build your brand online and demonstrate your value through the lens of people who have worked with you. But my clients often report asking for a recommendation and waiting a long time to hear back. This makes the situation awkward, because the person has agreed to do them a favor and the requestor doesn’t want to appear impatient or entitled by following up.

The Solution: If you want a LinkedIn recommendation from someone in your network, offer to write it for them. This allows you to tailor the recommendation to the skills you want to highlight and it helps expedite the process. Most people are perfectly happy to have you write the recommendation, and once it’s done, they are likely to make only minor edits or approve it quickly.
Another strategy is to write a recommendation for someone without being solicited for one. When the relationship is such that a reciprocal recommendation would be appropriate, you may very well get one without even asking.

Waiting to hear back after a final interview.

The Challenge: You have a final interview that you think went very well. The hiring manager suggests that they will make a decision quickly. And then nothing happens. You spend days in self-flagellation, picking apart every moment of the interview, trying to figure out what went wrong.

The Solution: Understand a delayed response often has nothing to do with your interview performance. Even when a hiring manager wants to make a decision quickly, he/she often can’t because there are others that have to be consulted or an approval process that has to be followed. In some cases, they have offered the job to someone else and while that person goes through their decision or negotiation process, you are kept in the dark. They don’t want you to know they are considering someone else and want you to be excited if they later present you with an offer.
You can try to gain some control over the situation by specifically asking when they plan to make a decision. If they say they will decide shortly, ask them if you should following up in one week or two. By asking a question with a forced choice, you may be more likely to set expectations.

Being asked about past salary regardless of its relationship to the job you are interviewing for.

The Challenge: Your most recent salary is not a competitive benchmark for your next salary. All a salary represents is what someone was willing to pay you to do a specific job at some point in time. It doesn’t account for changes in industry, market demand, geography, or economic factors. Yet many hiring managers continue to ask this question. Identifying this information could put you at a disadvantage, but not disclosing could damage the relationship you are trying to build with the hiring manager.

The Solution: Let the hiring manager know that while you are happy to share that information, your past salary may not represent your expectation for the job you are interviewing for. Let them know you would like to learn more about the position and ask if they would be willing to share the salary range. Do some research before your interview on salary sites such as or Talk to industry recruiters who may be able to disclose salary ranges for certain types of roles or seek out information from professional associations that may conduct industry salary surveys. If the hiring manager asks you to identify a salary range, let him/her know what your expectation is based on your research. In this scenario, your past salary becomes irrelevant, because you have identified a new benchmark and reset the expectations.

Job search can be frustrating at times. Work on managing the situations you can control and letting go of those you can’t. This will help you build confidence, patience, and maybe even a greater sense of humor throughout your journey!

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Spring Clean Your Job Search

springSpring 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 2017.
  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.
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Five Ways to Sink a Job Offer


After discussing the salary negotiation process with more than a thousand clients, I’ve found that many of them made mistakes in the past that we corrected during our coaching sessions so they could have better outcomes.

Some negotiate too aggressively, damaging the relationship with the hiring manager; others negotiate for too many things or for too many rounds, giving the perception that their expectations are unrealistic; and still others don’t negotiate at all, leaving the hiring manager to wonder if the person will be effective negotiating with colleagues and clients when this is a necessary part of the job.

Here are the five most common negotiation mistakes I see job seekers make and suggestions for negotiating more effectively.

1. Offer an ultimatum.

Negotiating a job offer is a collaborative process. The person you are negotiating with may very well be your future boss. When candidates negotiate in a very aggressive way, saying they can only accept a job offer if certain conditions are met, they reduce the chances of finding common ground with the employer.

Rather than giving an ultimatum, explain why your request is fair and reasonable. For example, if you are negotiating for a larger car mileage allowance, say something like, “In order for me to offer exceptional customer service, I will need to visit clients at a minimum of two times per month. Given the number of clients I will be responsible for, I believe it is fair and reasonable to request a larger car mileage allowance.”

2. Say you have a competing job offer when you don’t.

When you actually have another offer, a negotiation strategy is to hedge that offer against the other to see if you can speed up the decision process or improve the quality of the second offer. However, if you say you have another offer but don’t, this could backfire as the employer might respond that they can’t make (or change) their offer and wish you the best of luck in the other job.

If you are interviewing for another role and think you might be close to an offer, an alternative is to say, “I want to be totally transparent with you. I am expecting an offer from another company, but I am much more interested in this role. If there is a way to expedite the interview process and I was to receive an offer, I feel confident this would be the job I would select.”

3. Negotiate yourself out of a job.

While the negotiation process may require some back and forth, you want to make sure you are negotiating for what is important and not just for the sake of negotiating. Over-negotiating, or going back to the table too many times, may give the impression that you are not flexible or a team player, and the employer might decide you are not the right fit.

To avoid over-negotiating, create a list of pros and cons following the presentation of the job offer and be prepared to discuss alternative concessions if your original negotiation points are not granted. This will help you avoid too much back and forth and show that you are negotiating in good faith.

4. Fudge salary information.

While your previous salary should not be the basis for an employer’s offer, tread lightly here. Some employers request to see your W2 or a pay stub to confirm your previous salary and failure to be transparent about this could cost you the job. Bottom line: Don’t lie.

5. Fail to prep your references.

Even though your references might be prepared to say great things about you, they might not be saying the things that will resonate with the hiring manager. For example, if you’ve done a combination of print and digital advertising sales roles and you are going for a role with a heavy digital focus, you want to make sure your references are touting your digital skills and not focusing on your successes in the print world. Prep your references following the stage in the interview process when the employer lets you know they will be checking references. Explain to your references the value you sold to the employer, so they can reiterate these points in their discussion with the hiring manager.

The salary negotiation process is not only important for ensuring the best compensation package. A collaborative process helps get the relationship between employee and employer off to a good start. Eliminate aggressive and combative behavior and replace with harmonious ones to start the business partnership off on the right foot.

This article was originally published on Forbes Coaches Council.

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Five Signs You’re Ready to Work With an Executive Resume Writer

Employing a resume writer to help position you for your next role can be a positive experience — if you’re prepared to work collaboratively and have realistic expectations. Below are five signs you’re in the right place to begin a resume project with a professional resume writer.

resume1. You have time to be part of the process.
Resume writing is a very collaborative process. Expect to spend time being interviewed by the writer or completing some sort of questionnaire so the writer can gather the appropriate information. It isn’t enough to forward a copy of your old resume and expect them to glean the best information from it. If you are extremely busy, under an enormous amount of stress or just not interested in working collaboratively, this might not be the best time to embark on an overhaul of your resume with a professional resume writer.

2. You’ve spent time thinking about the value you can bring to an employer.
The writer’s job is to best represent you and advertise the benefits you can bring to an organization. But she can only write from the information you supply. A good writer will ask targeted questions to unearth the key information she needs to write a strong resume. You must be willing to be introspective about your past experience. You need to start thinking less about your job tasks and more about what makes you good at what you do. If you wait until the day you discuss what you have accomplished with your writer, you are sure to omit key information or forget something that could help the writer do a better job.

3. You don’t expect your writer to embellish your skills.
If you have an expectation that the writer is there to embellish your experience or suggest you have competencies you don’t, forget about it. An ethical writer will only create a true representation of your skills. We don’t make up stuff.

4. You are ready to let go of outdated information and early-career experience listed on your resume.
If you are so attached to the great work you did on a Y2K project in 1999 or your stellar GPA in 1982, you will struggle with one of the real benefits of working with a writer: the ability to look at all of your accomplishments objectively and showcase the ones that have the most relevance in the current market. Approach the process with an open mind and let the writer help you make decisions about the content – what to keep and what to toss.

5. You don’t expect your resume to look just like the sample on the Web site.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great idea to review sample resumes to get an idea of a writer’s style. But don’t expect your resume to look like the one on the sample page. That resume represents someone else’s experience. Your resume must represent you and you alone. Your resume won’t stand out if it’s the same as every other drive-thru hamburger stand. Imagine the resume-writing process as a salad bar that mixes and matches the best choices for each individual.