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Running Away Money

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Margaret Heffernan. Margaret is incredibly impressive, with a career that includes running five companies in the United States and the United Kingdom, being a college professor, authoring five books, and giving multiple TED Talks. Originally from Texas, Margaret has lived all over, including in the U.K.

Margaret’s career is so impressive that it was hard to narrow down the questions to a list that would fit into one podcast episode. As you can imagine, the interview was wonderful. The insights Margaret shared haven’t left my mind since we spoke.

Margaret describes herself as someone that has always done work that she’s loved. At times, she was paid well, and other times she made very little. But, she was always happy in her work. I asked her how she was able to organize her career this way.

She made two important points that I want to share with you. When a job wasn’t the right fit, she didn’t hesitate to walk away – even if she had only been there for a short period of time. This reminds me of the way a company would quickly fire someone if they weren’t the right fit. But, as employees, we stick around out of some kind of artificial loyalty.

When Margaret worked in an environment where it was clear that succeeding would be an uphill battle, she looked for another job that was a better fit. This would happen in situations where perhaps the staff didn’t treat everyone fairly. Rather than take it personally, she moved on and looked for a better situation. This must have been a tough decision at times, given how important equality is. But, I think we can all agree that it’s easier to succeed in an environment that supports you and your talent.

The second tip Margaret he was gold, quite literally. She said she was always careful to keep enough, “running away money on hand.” I can’t tell you how happy this phrase makes me. Running away money is often referred to as an emergency fund. It is typically six to twelve months of salary (or living expenses) saved up. Most people place this money in a savings account for safe keeping.

Having a financial safety net gives you choices. It allows you to walk away if you really need to. It allows you to control your own destiny, not your company. Very often, when we upgrade our house, our cars, and our lifestyles, we are simply chaining ourselves to the very company we hate.

And as Margaret noted, just having the running away money doesn’t mean you actually need to run away. It often gives you a boost of confidence to be yourself at work. You know you’ll be okay, even if everything else falls apart. That added confidence alone makes things at work go better, and it keeps you from running away at all.

You can listen to my entire interview with Margaret Heffernan here.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

SXSW 2018 Recap: My First Year Experience

I recently had the opportunity to attend South by Southwest in Austin, Texas for the first time. If you’ve never been, SXSW is a giant festival in downtown Austin that draws in thousands of people. Founded in 1987, SXSW has boasted an economic impact to Austin of over $300 M in past years.

Since it started, SXSW has grown in both size and scope. It is now a combination of a number of festivals in one, including music, film, comedy, interactive, health and more. My main focus was on the “more” part. I attended a number of sessions on topics related to today’s workplace trends.

The workplace sessions were structured in one of two ways. Either a single speaker would give a lecture on one topic, or a panel of three to five experts would weigh in on a particular issue. Topics ranged from negotiation to sexism to diversity to new employer perks to faith in the workplace to the gender pay gap to neurodiversity. This was a lot of ground to cover in a short amount of time!

As you can imagine, the speakers were both incredibly talented and informative. In fact, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a number of them for my podcast.

So many important ideas were shared in these workplace sessions. Some companies are now offering creative benefits, including paying back your student loans after you finish college. It’s no longer unusual to start your career over from scratch midway through, and more programs than ever are available to help make the process possible. Organizations are increasing their focus on diversity and inclusion, using both their existing teams and new technology to make it happen.

But, the point that I really took away from my SXSW experience has to do with networking. You can listen to all of the lectures presented, but nothing compares to what you can learn from other people. And, SXSW is the perfect place to meet or reconnect with those people.

I met up with a number of old colleagues during my visit. I met a number of new people, from various industries and from around the world. And, I met a number of great people from career websites LinkedIn and Indeed.

These conversations provided an incredible amount of value – more than I could have gained in any classroom. They led to new connections, new ideas, new podcast episodes, and new opportunities.

The experience reminded me just how important networking is to your overall career. It’s not only important to meet new people, but it’s important to stay in touch. It’s important to reconnect. It’s important to help one another. Networking is very often what your next job is made from.

I look forward to attending SXSW again next year. But, my focus on networking will increase. After all, where else in the world can you connect with so many creative and talented people in one place?

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

Using Transparency to Build a Diverse Workforce

Diversity is one of the most important issues companies are focused on today. LinkedIn recently found that over half of companies say they are very or extremely focused on diversity. This is good news, especially when you consider this. The World Economic Forum recently estimated that it will take 217 years for women to reach complete equality in pay and employment opportunities.

It should be noted that one of the key tools we have available today that was not available years ago is the internet. The transparency now available, especially as it relates to employment, is a gold mine for job seekers. Sites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Indeed.com provide important data points, including how much workers are paid and how employees rate their workplaces.

To further the mission of diversity, Indeed.com recently announced a partnership with three other websites that focus on inclusiveness in the workplace. This partnership with Fairygodboss.com, InHerSight.com, and Comparably.com will help to provide additional information to job seekers.

The information will show up on the Indeed “Company Pages.” It will allow job seekers to better evaluate the diversity and inclusiveness of an organization. Today’s Company Pages include ratings for work/life balance, compensation/benefits, job security/advancement, management, and culture. In the future, there will also be scores from InHerSight, Comparably, and Fairygodboss that will rank the companies from one to five stars and as a number from one to 100.

The internet still remains an unlikely place to land your next job. But, the data available will help you to decide whether or not you want to accept a job offer from a particular company.

Salary data will also help you to know what is considered fair pay in your industry. In corporate roles, employers setup pay bands. It can be surprising to know that for one job, the pay band can sometimes vary as much as $40,000 or more. That means that one person doing the job may make $65,000, and another person doing the same job may make over $100,000. In theory, this range allows companies to compensate employees based upon experience. In reality, how much you make is often tied to how skilled you are at negotiation.

Using the data available online will help you to ensure you’re getting a fair deal. It will allow you to verify that your future employer is a healthy place to work. And, it will give you a view into your employer’s values and priorities.

This sort of valuable feedback is often not something you can typically find out during a job interview.

Long story short, we still have a long way to go on issues related to diversity and pay equality for all people, including women and men from all backgrounds. But, this level of increased transparency will help you to be your own advocate. Perhaps together, we can shorten the time it will take to reach complete equality in the workplace.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

When to Ask Your Boss for More Money

Who wouldn’t like to make more money? If you’ve read my column before, you probably know that I’m an advocate of changing companies every three to five years (for many industries). On top of gaining extra experience, switching has the potential to bump up your pay considerably. But, there are often times when you need a raise at your current employer.

So, where do you start? If you want the best chance of landing a raise of more than two or three percent, do it at a time when your role has evolved quite a bit. This would be the case if your work has grown into a new area, has expanded significantly in scope, or has added management responsibilities. For example, if you were hired as an individual contributor and are now managing a team of seven, the scope of your job has changed.

It’s easier to ask for more money if your job has changed significantly because you aren’t asking for more money for your existing job. That may sound silly, especially if you’re doing more than your peers. You may be smarter, saving more money, or getting more done. But, it’s hard for a manager to justify paying you much more for any of these things.

When your job has changed, you’re essentially asking for a fair amount of money for a new job. While you’re making the case, it may also be a good time to request a new title and an updated job description. This way, you are officially taking your current position to the next level.

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to make a case for more, you’ll want to find the perfect time. It may be during your annual performance evaluation. Or, you may want to lobby for more money at another time, in hopes that your manager won’t be restricted by a certain pool of money.

Whenever you decide to do it, plan ahead. Request a meeting in advance, so your boss won’t be caught off guard. Prepare your case in such a way that your manager can easily advocate for you. In other words, don’t make it hard for your boss to give you more money. Do as much of the work for them as you can.

Consider preparing a presentation that shows how your job has changed. Highlight your accomplishments. Include any numeric results you can show, including how much you beat your goals, and how much revenue you saved the company. You put this much work into everything else you do at work. Why wouldn’t you take the time to put it into your own presentation?

Remember this. Your boss may say no. It may be out of their control. Be careful not to come across in a way that may jeopardize your current job. And, if your company isn’t willing to value you, be ready to begin looking for another one that will.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

Starting a Digital Marketing Career

Digital marketing is a hot field. It has been hot for more than ten years. I rarely share much about how to move into the field of digital marketing. However, I get many questions about it because a large part of my career was spent as a digital marketer.

When I first started, there were no specific courses you could take. Digital marketing is a career path that attracts entrepreneurial minded people. Advertising on the internet changes quickly, so those working in the field must constantly grow their skillset. These quick changes require marketers to be self-learners.

My background in computer engineering helped open the door to the digital world because I had experience building websites.

Initially, I became an affiliate marketer. Affiliate marketers help to sell products online for other companies, and then receive a percentage of the sales they generate. I built websites and created digital marketing campaigns to sell a number of products and services, including shoes for the website Zappos.com.

You need experience in digital marketing to become a digital marketer. It’s hard to land a job that requires experience when you have none. Affiliate marketing is relatively easy to break into. It gave me the experience I needed to get going. That led me to a full-time digital marketing position which led to more experience and more work opportunities.

But, things have changed quite a bit since I started. One notable difference is that early on, many digital marketers were generalists. There were fewer total professionals in the field, so each person needed to have a broad skillset that covered many areas. Now, there are more professionals, so many have more specialized roles. For example, one digital marketer may focus solely on placing and optimizing Facebook ads. In the past, this person would have known some Facebook, and a bit about every other social media website. Each person now has a more in depth knowledge of a smaller number of topics.

There are also more courses for digital marketing. Colleges offer them. Websites have them. There are meetup groups about digital marketing. The digital marketing community has grown.

If you are interested in switching into digital marketing, start by thinking like an entrepreneur. Look for free resources to get you going before you pile money into courses. If you prefer to take a formal class, check out www.edx.org. This site offers free online courses from schools like Harvard and MIT.

Look for a way to get experience, even if it means volunteering your time. In the early days of Facebook, I volunteered to setup and administer a Facebook fan page for a non-profit. It greatly increased my understanding of the site, and it gave me real experience that I could put on my resume.

Digital marketers are self-starters. When you’re making the switch, whatever you do, don’t wait for someone else to show you the way. Make your own path.

Angela Copeland, a career coach and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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