Career Briefs: Avoid Costly Mistakes

In this issue: Landmark ruling on noncompetes, Interview mistakes to avoid, making LinkedIn work for you, big changes in pay trends, Google's move away from trademark culture and more...

Dear Reader:

The answer will always be “no” if you don’t ask the question. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want!

I have a friend who recently took her son to an Atlanta Braves game. He made a sign asking for what he wanted - a trade with Braves’ center fielder Michael Harris II. Harris spotted the sign and took the young fan up on his offer - a pair of warm-up batting gloves for a homemade beaded necklace. Harris wore the necklace for the entirety of the series (and is still wearing them!!).

This is a powerful reminder that if you don't ask, you'll never know what could happen. It's natural to hesitate when reaching out to someone you admire or want to reconnect with. An executive client of mine recently asked, is it proactive or cringe-worthy?

My take is simple: "If you don't ask, you'll never know." So go ahead and reach out to that recruiter or former colleague. The worst that can happen is they don't respond or say they're too busy. But the best-case scenario? You could open doors to new opportunities and connections. Remember, if you don't ask, you don't get. Take a chance and see what happens.

Rooting for you,

Federal Trade Commission Bans Noncompetes

In a groundbreaking ruling issued just yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has officially prohibited companies from enforcing non-compete agreements on their employees. This landmark decision marks a significant shift in the legal landscape, aiming to protect workers' rights and foster a more competitive and fair business environment.

This ruling is a significant victory for employees. I have discussed how I strongly oppose non-competes, which I believe are detrimental to business.

The following outline provides a high-level overview of the FTC’s proposed final rule:

  • The final rule bans new noncompetes with all workers, including senior executives after the effective date.

    • Specifically, the final rule provides that it is an unfair method of competition—and therefore a violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act—for employers to enter into noncompetes with workers after the effective date.

  • For existing noncompetes, the final rule adopts a different approach for senior executives than for other workers. For senior executives, existing noncompetes can remain in force. Existing noncompetes with workers other than senior executives are not enforceable after the effective date of the final rule.

    • Fewer than 1% of workers are estimated to be senior executives under the final rule.

    • Specifically, the final rule defines the term “senior executive” to refer to workers earning more than $151,164 annually who are in a “policy-making position.”

Note: The FTC does not have jurisdiction over nonprofit entities and may shield nonprofit hospitals. (source)

I look forward to watching how this ruling unfolds and learning more about its impacts.

Make LinkedIn Work for You

LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful tool for executives who are searching for a new job. It stands out as the leading social network for job search and career development. However, its effectiveness relies solely on its users. By optimizing your LinkedIn profile for personal SEO, you can enhance its effectiveness even further. In this article by Executive Career Brand, you will learn how to actively engage with the networking activities and features on LinkedIn. By combining this with a well-optimized profile, you can attract the right people and significantly increase your chances of finding a job that is a perfect fit for you.

The Role of the Agency Recruiter

In my most recent edition of Curated Career Conversations, I interviewed recruiter Ben Sheffield about the significance of agency recruiters. Ben provides valuable insights into the dynamics of the recruiter-candidate relationship and offers advice on how job seekers can effectively utilize this connection to achieve success in their job search.

The key takeaway for job seekers is to remember that agency recruiters are working to fill certain positions and will keep you in mind. They are not working for you as the job seeker, and they'll only reach out to you if they have an opportunity or need that is a match.

Layoff Survival Guide

Career Coach Gina Riley recently published an article on Forbes Coaches Council outlining twelve strategies to assist individuals who have lost their jobs. Whether you're uncertain about your future or looking to plan ahead, this guide offers ideas to help you confidently navigate your next career move.

Here are some key points from a few of the twelve ideas discussed in the article:

  1. Continuously learn and network

  2. Prioritize your mental well-being

  3. Negotiate your severance package

  4. Spend time preparing for interviews

  5. Utilize networking and job search strategies recommended by experts

I am honored to have my Career Conversation with Paul Levy featured in this article. In our discussion, Paul and I emphasize the significance of taking time before signing the severance agreement.

I encourage you to read the full article on Forbes for more details on these strategies and others.

During the 2024 proxy season, public companies are submitting their proxy statements to the SEC for annual shareholder meetings. This analysis by Harvard Law’s Forum on Corporate Governance examines the proxy statements of 163 Equilar 500 companies, providing early insights into executive compensation and Pay Versus Performance disclosures.

Median CEO Compensation (Equilar 500)

Backlash over Diversity Initiatives Met with Change to Executive Pay Structure

Starbucks has decided to no longer link executive pay to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) goals. This change was approved by 92% of investors at the annual meeting, reversing a previous policy. Instead, executive bonuses will now be based on equality, social, and governance (ESG) goals. The company still has diversity goals but refers to them as "talent" in its incentive program. This decision comes after a lawsuit against Starbucks over its diversity policies was dismissed. It is believed that more companies will follow suit due to backlash against diversity initiatives.

Concerns Over Shopify’s New Pay Raise System

Shopify has implemented a new employee ranking system that encourages competition for pay raises. Employees are assigned numerical scores based on their skill levels, and only those who show improvement are eligible for raises. However, this approach has raised concerns among employees about its impact on teamwork and collaboration.

Spoiler Alert: According to Inc. your company may also have a similar policy, it’s just not as transparent.

Google Moves Away from Trademark Culture

As this video states, Google has always been known for its laid-back office culture, where employees have the freedom to openly discuss topics that are usually considered taboo in a traditional workplace. Google’s CEO recently announced a stark change in the workplace culture, saying, “This is a business…”

Do you think Google's shift towards a more traditional corporate culture will make it less attractive to top tech talent who value a unique work environment?

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The Rise of White Collar Gig Roles

The Economic Times recently published survey results from March 2024, revealing that hiring in Q1 experienced a 4% decline compared to 2023. However, notable growth areas were in the education, telecom, and energy sectors, while the automotive and shipping industries faced challenges. Interestingly, senior management hiring saw a 6% increase.

One particularly noteworthy finding from the study was the remarkable 184% year-on-year growth in white-collar gig roles, particularly in IT, content, and consulting. This surge indicates a growing preference among professionals for flexible, project-based work arrangements.

Common Interview Mistakes to Avoid

As someone who used to work as a recruiter, I have now focused my expertise on supporting job seekers. I do a lot of one-on-one executive interview coaching. Throughout my coaching experience, I have noticed a consistent pattern of clients making costly errors. These mistakes have the potential to hinder a candidate's success, but fortunately, they can be easily avoided. In this article, I will identify five common mistakes and provide valuable tips on how to steer clear of them.

Is Garden Leave Negotiable?

With the banning of non-compete agreements, you will likely see more companies use garden leave to protect their intellectual property. Garden leave refers to a paid leave of absence granted to an employee who is leaving the company. Although the employee remains technically employed and receives compensation, they are generally not permitted to report to work (unless the agreement states that the employee must consult).

Thomson Reuters Practical Law has released the 2024 update to “Garden Leave Provisions in Employment Agreements,” co-authored by Peter A. Steinmeyer and Lauri F. Rasnick, Members of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Chicago and New York offices, respectively. The Note discusses garden leave provisions in employment agreements as an alternative or a companion to traditional employee non-compete agreements.

When it comes to resigning and facing Garden Leave, Alan L. Sklover, from the SkloverWorkingWisdom blog, advises not to assume that you can't negotiate the duration. Employees are finding success in negotiating by identifying areas of leverage and approaching decision-makers with respect. Don't hesitate to give it a try, as there is little to lose and much to gain.

April 2024 Labor Market Update

Hiring Lab provided a detailed summary of the latest hiring report from Indeed Wage Tracker. Wage growth in the US slowed to an annual pace of 3.1% in March, the same as the pre-pandemic average in 2019. While wage growth has slowed across most sectors compared to a year ago, almost half of the sectors still have higher wage growth than in 2019. Childcare is one of the sectors with the fastest-growing wages, even as pandemic-related funding expires. The Indeed Wage Tracker shows that nationwide wage growth has cooled significantly since 2022 and is now growing at the same pace as before the pandemic. In March, national wage growth was 3.1% year-over-year, down from 3.3% in February and a peak of 9.3% in January 2022.

Save the Date: Upcoming LinkedIn Live

Scotty John, a well-respected tech recruiter on LinkedIn, will join me for a live session to answer common job seekers’ questions about the recruitment process. We'll discuss how to stand out as an applicant, what recruiters look for in resumes, and the changing tech hiring landscape. Scotty also has finance/treasury and healthcare recruitment expertise and is passionate about remote and hybrid work options. The session will be conducted over audio; you can email me any questions for Scotty in advance. RSVP to the event here.

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