Should You Accept the Job Offer? Some Things to Consider

close up of human hand

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

You’ve been thinking about this job since you met the recruiter at the career fair and you finally got the offer. Your natural instinct is to say yes, to maybe even scream it from the rooftops, but I caution you not to. At least not unless you’ve done your homework.

What do I mean? I have found that very few people are strategic when it comes to their job search. Whether they accept a new career or not can be based on how long they’ve been searching, the number of bills (and student loans) looming, or simply because it was offered. Given that, if you applied for a new career for any of the following reasons, you should definitely hit pause when you receive that offer.

My friend works here and he really likes it. You and your friends are unique individuals. Just because you have friends in common and even have similar tastes, doesn’t mean you have the same mission in life or that you’ll thrive in similar environments. Working in a cubical crunching numbers when you are uniquely designed to travel and speak to large audiences would eventually crush your spirit.

It’s a popular company. A great reputation is admirable, however, popularity is not synonymous with success, and vice versa. A small company, or even a start-up might be the place where you can shine. (In fact, you might be the person with the vision for the start up.)

They are offering more money than I could have ever imagined. Money should never be your #1 deciding factor. Most people would rather make less and be happy than be rich and miserable. Such was the case with Scott Harrison. After hitting rock bottom, he established Charity Water, a foundation that has brought clean water to nations all over the world, and he has never felt more fulfilled.

Before you make your decision about the job offer, remove the rose-colored glasses, take a step back and consider the following.

Can this opportunity be a stepping-stone to your long-term career goal(s)? Is there advancement within the company that is in line with your ultimate career goal? Will it add something else to your skill set to open doors for future jobs? If not, you might stagnate your career.

Can you commit for at least a year? Take any strong doubts you have seriously. Ask questions to ease your concerns. Should they become real issues on the job, your desperation to jump ship could lead you into another poor job choice. Three months later you’ll find yourself repeating that cycle and, eventually, employers will be afraid to give you a shot because of your job-hopping.

Have you received multiple offers? As a new grad, I felt like I had to take the first offer I received, but my mentor helped me see I was wrong. We are currently in a job-seekers paradise for entry-level roles. It’s always good to have a couple of choices to consider. Think about advancement, training, environment, retention, compensation, perks, etc. to determine which option is best for you.

Is the company pressuring you to commit? If you’ve been in the interview process for several weeks, you should know if it’s the right choice for you, but if it has only been a day or two, ask yourself why they are insisting you decide not by the end of the week, not tomorrow, right now. (My Spidey senses are tingling.) Understand ‘pressure’ does not mean a quick offer. The job market is fierce and we recruiters are getting candidates through the process as fast as possible so we can make the offer, but we also want you to take time to think about it. Up to a week is more than fair in my opinion, although I will certainly welcome your acceptance earlier.

Is compensation worthy of what you bring to the table? Notice I said compensation, not salary. This includes benefits, perks, bonuses, time-off, etc. If not, and you plan to keep looking, don’t waste your time or the company’s. If you are still in school there is plenty of time before you walk across that stage this spring to land what’s best for you. If you are already in the workforce, it will be tough for you to interview while working traditional hours so why not continue your search and allow someone who’s a better fit to step into that role?

It’s your career, so choose wisely. If you’ve gone through this list, and you feel good about your answers, call that recruiter and say, “I accept!”.

Happy hunting!

Resume Woes? Here Are 7 Tips to Get You Started

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

I’ve never gone into great detail regarding resumes but, given those recruiters come across at career fairs and in applications, I thought it would be appropriate to address the basics. Everyone has heard the basics, yet many people still struggle with creating a resume that will catch a Hiring Manager’s eye.

The first time I put together a resume I was already in college. I’d had jobs in high school but they only required an application. Believe it or not a resume was a new concept for me and to say I wasn’t very skilled in this area would be a massive understatement.

I’d mentioned to a friend that I needed a job and he wanted to help me out. He asked me to give him a resume and he’d pass it on. Not having a clue about how to develop a resume I fashioned what I thought was appropriate, including descriptions from the only two jobs I’d ever had. In spite of the fact that there was enough space left over to write a novel, I handed it over the next day. (Hey, I made sandwiches and I ran the cash register. I couldn’t create experience I didn’t have, right?) From the look on his face, I could tell my efforts had fallen short. Way short. Although he tried to hide it, he couldn’t have looked more baffled if I’d handed him a list of my two jobs written on the back of an old receipt. In crayon.

The feeling that came over me gave the emotion ‘mortified’ new meaning. I slunk away muttering something about being late to class knowing my sorry excuse for a resume was headed for the nearest garbage can.

Now, as a recruiter, in spite of much more help available than I had, I still see far too many applicants who also get an ‘F’ for their efforts. So, here are the basics for putting together a resume you can be proud of.

 

One size does not fit all. If you are interested in more than one field you need to have multiple resumes. Sorry, there is no way around it, but you can accomplish this with a few tweaks to your objective and adding or removing the jobs that aren’t relevant.

With the internet at your fingertips there is no reason for a poorly formatted resume. A simple Google search will yield endless pages of websites, many containing templates, that make this task easy. The simplest order for headers is as follows:

  • Top: Name, address, proper contact information, including email and phone (cell, not home for immediate replies)
  • Education: Name of University and degree (year is not necessary) or anticipated graduation date
  • Work Experience: Some like to list Relevant Work Experience, then Other Work Experience
    • This should include the company, location and start and end dates for each job listed. Underneath, list your job title and bullet point the most relevant and/or transferable job duties. (See example below.)
  • Organizations
  • Awards and Accomplishments

No need to list your coursework. As a fellow recruiter pointed out, if you earned your accounting degree we know you took the 300 level accounting course. This wasted space should be used to showcase other accomplishments. (The relevant ones, of course.)

Appropriate formatting

This means using the best font (never Comic Sans or anything too casual), bolded and larger for headings or titles.

Don’t expect recruiters to draw conclusions

If you list a job, even if responsibilities should be obvious, include a short description and any notable accomplishments.

Mack’s Diner                           Detroit                              2018-present

Server

  • Ensures customers have an enjoyable dining experience
  • Trains new servers
  • Consistently averages ticket sales of $30 per guest
  • Conceptualized and implemented promotional materials to increase average number of guests

Don’t omit relevant experience

Many candidates skip experience that I’d love to see, like a salesperson at a local retail store who reached sales goals, in favor of something they think sounds better, like Administrative Assistant at a Fortune 500 company. Every recruiter is different, but most of my recruiter friends would agree job duties trump the fancy company.

Light experience doesn’t have to look like light experience

This does not mean you should bullet point every single task. I’ve seen resumes describing a 3 month internship that were more than a page long. Share the important highlights and save something to talk about in the interview.

Utilize a creative format and appropriate font size to utilize space the right way, but don’t resort to random quotes, irrelevant graphics or other fillers. They only make sense to you.

Your resume should reflect your level of experience

Oftentimes, people with a decade worth of experience opt for the same format as someone fresh out of college.

If you are experienced, recruiters should be able to tell with just a glance. Think Summary vs. Objective and functional vs. traditional.

On the other hand, a new college grad using this format could get overlooked because a recruiter might assume you are seeking mid to upper level opportunities. The same goes for an applicant with an Executive Summary applying for an internship.

Your resume should be appropriate for the job you are seeking

I once received a resume that looked more like an advertisement. It was 3 pages long, the first two dedicated to videos created, classes taken and, for some reason, loads of exclamation points. (Yikes!) There was no mention of actual jobs held until the final page. All of this for an internship.

While I applaud the candidate’s creativity, and it might have been a huge hit at a marketing firm, it wasn’t the right approach for my sales internship. This candidate’s language was also too casual and too familiar.

While all of this might seem obvious, resumes that come across recruiters’ desks daily don’t lie. Many people struggle in this area. Don’t be of them. Use these tips to make sure yours is the best reflection of you.

 

First Job: Salary Negotiation

Image from smartcanucks.ca

Image from smartcanucks.ca

Like many of you, when I graduated from college I cast a wide net, searching for career opportunities in several cities. The first offer I received was from a radio station in a little town–which meant little pay. Not to mention, it was in the middle of nowhere. So the search continued, this time closer to home, with hopes of a better offer.

I don’t remember at what point salary came up when I accepted my first job, but it was about $5000 more than the offer I’d declined, so I seized it like a hungry dog on a pork chop.  I got lucky–well, blessed. I’d been praying about this job in particular, and knew it was the opportunity for me.

During the interview process, I had no idea when to ask about pay or what would be fair. Back then, we didn’t have the internet at our fingertips and sites like Glassdoor as a resource. The rule was, never bring money up in the first interview. Now, having spoken to several recruiters, I’ve discovered we all have different opinions. I go over pay during my first phone call, but I still feel it is in poor taste to ask about salary at a career fair.

Interviewing in itself is nerve-racking, but salary negotiation can also unleash a swarm of butterflies in the guts of even seasoned employees. The idea, according to What Color is Your Parachute (a must-read),  is to let the employer bring up salary first.

A Starting Point

Many companies that hire for entry-level positions have a set salary, regardless of experience. This  gives you the opportunity to make an impact, prove your worth, and benefit from promotions, perks and salary increases.

This is what I discovered. During my tenure my responsibilities have grown to include managing the hiring process for 50 branches and 2 airports. Some of my perks include a company car and an expense account, and I have earned more than 6 weeks of vacation. With each promotion my starting pay became a distant memory.

The Total Package

That being said, don’t feel like you’ve lost out if initially there is no room for negotiation. Remember to consider not just the dollar amount, but the total compensation package.

  • Advancement opportunities
  • Travel
  • Paid time off
  • A work-from-home option
  • Health benefits (medical, dental, optical) and the cost per pay period
  • Company car (now or upon promotion)
  • Retirement (401k, 503c, 403b, profit-sharing, stock options, pension)

There are other things to take into account but, most important, can that company take you where you want to go in the time you want to get there, assuming that timeframe is reasonable?  Unless you are the owner or the child of the owner, you probably won’t become CEO in two years.

Negotiating Tips

Here are a few tips from The Doyle Report on about.com that can guide you through the salary conversation. If the company has a firm starting point, it never hurts to ask. In fact, it can demonstrate your initiative and confidence to the recruiter. As my grandmother says, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”.

Good luck, and make it a great day!

Thoughts: Dream Jobs

Food for thought…

Sincerely, Loewe

Lately, there is one question that I like to ask people: if money is not a factor but you have to work, what would you do?

Having been in school for several years already, there is a lot of talk surrounding future careers and work within my circle of friends. The talk is very one directional- if you’ve been studying accounting for the past four years, you’ll probably be an auditor after graduation. All of our answers and our final destinations follow a logical timeline.

But I wonder what we would actually be doing if we don’t have to worry about making “a living”. Putting aside what is “realistic”, isn’t the answer to this question your true dream job?

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Networking: Use It or Lose It

 

How many times have you found a business card in your purse or on your dresser only to wonder who the person is, where you met him and what you discussed? That’s not a connection, that’s scrap paper. Or a book mark.

Don’t be a collector! Make good use of those contacts by building relationships right away. First, think quality, not quantity. There is no rule that says you have to ask for a business card from everyone you

Image by Imagerymajestic

Image by Imagerymajestic

encounter. You could meet quite a few people in a week—or even in a day (think conferences)—and you can’t be expected to remember all the details of the conversations you have. Instead, make notes on the back of business cards to jog your memory later. For instance, if you met a web designer, you might note:

Met at lunch on 1st day of conference, builds websites. Introduce to Tim.

(Tim is your friend who needs a web page for his new business.)

A couple of times a week, or daily if you have a fistful of business cards, take time to contact your new acquaintances in one of the following ways.

 

Social Media

Send an email asking if it’s okay to connect via social media. You can also ask this question when you first meet. Since most people are seeking to expand their network it is doubtful anyone would decline. Depending on the circumstance, determine if the best site is Linkedin, Twitter or, if it was a really personal connection, Facebook. Just a couple of weeks ago I invited several recruiters I’d met at career fairs out for dinner. We’d already connected on Linkedin but after our evening out some of us also became friends on Facebook.

Look them up on Linkedin as soon as you can. Don’t wait too long or you might forget significant details. Once you are accepted, transfer the note from the back of the business card to the note under the Relationship tab along with any other important details. Hopefully it won’t be long before you speak again but, just in case, this step will be a big help.

Do not use the generic invitation: I’d like to add you to my network. Not only is that a yawn of a message, you miss an opportunity to restate who you are. Not to mention, many people refuse to accept anyone who won’t take 30 seconds to write a professional note. This means you will need to use your computer rather than your mobile device to reach out. Identify where you met and, possibly, what you discussed, along with the reason you want to add them to your network. A student might send me a message that says:

“Thanks for speaking to our Professional Development class this week. I was the guy in ROTC who spoke to you after class. I’d really like to go into the sales field and I’m interested in the Management Trainee program you mentioned. Is it okay to keep in touch?”

 

Support Your New Connection

Set up a time for a cup of coffee or lunch in the coming weeks. I would suggest coffee (or smoothies for non-coffee drinkers) because a half hour meeting is much easier to agree to than an hour. If that meeting lasts longer, great. Something’s clicking. Use this time to discover other ways you might be able to be useful.

Check out their blog or Youtube channel, then follow and make comments on posts. Help them reach a larger audience by sharing their blog with your network: Pinterest, Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, etc. For bloggers and vloggers an increase in hits is reason to celebrate!

Introduce them to others in your network that might be an asset using email, social media or a good old-fashioned phone call.

Terry, I want to introduce you to Gail. You mentioned the need for an event planner and she has been in that business for 10 years. I hope she can help you out.”

If you were invited to another event, try to attend. Afterward, reciprocate if you can. Extend an invitation to your organization where you discovered there was a common interest. This is what I did with the people I mentioned in the first post in this series who I invited to my writing group.

Perhaps you met the facilitator or presenter at a workshop. Write a recommendation. No matter how skilled someone is in their profession, encouragement is always welcome. Make sure you have someone proofread it then send it via Linkedin.

 

Offer to Help With a Problem

Send an article you think might be of interest based on your conversation, not random topics you find appealing.

“Sarah, I remembered we talked about investments at the luncheon last week and I came across this article that I think might answer the question you had about making a budget. Hope you find it helpful!”

Did you meet a business owner or salesperson? Send a referral. Remember the web designer from earlier? Put her in touch with your buddy Tim. On a personal note, recruiters always love it when we receive potential candidates. This could even be the message you send.

“I enjoyed our conversation after your presentation at the Sales Center. I applied for the Account Representative position as you recommended and I also referred a friend of mine. I look forward to hearing from you.”

Image by Stuart Miles

Image by Stuart Miles

 

Thank You

Finally, remember everyone appreciates a Thank You note. I write one after every speaking engagement which tends to lead to more opportunities.

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak to your class. I always welcome the chance to share tips with students to make the transition from college to the workplace easier. I hope they found the information I shared beneficial.”

Decide which of these suggestions you’d like to implement first then allow your new connection to reciprocate or respond. You don’t want to be a stalker. If you reach out too much, too soon you might come across as desperate or annoying rather than engaging. After a reasonable amount of time, perhaps at 60 days and again at 6 months, choose another way to reach out to keep the connection strong.

Developing a lasting connection takes time, but can be well worth the effort for everyone involved.

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Networking: The Conversation

This is the time of year when many colleges are hosting events that will provide an opportunity to network, including career fairs, panel discussions or actual networking events. For those who are not in school, many cities have network-after-work events, workshops or conferences you might attend. Here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you make the most of these opportunities.

  1. Know your audience. You might ask an employer a different question than a fellow student.Photo by Ambro
  2. Be tactful and professional. Last year at a holiday event I was having a conversation with a couple of people when a business owner, bent on getting a client, interrupted us, ignored me (which is not easy when I’m nearly 6’ tall) and launched into her spiel. Several minutes later she finally looked at me and said something by way greeting. (Can’t remember what, I was making a mental note to mention her in this blog.)
  3. Listen more than you talk and ask follow up questions. When you do speak try to weave in some things that will make you memorable. Perhaps your sister attended the same college as the person you’re speaking with. Maybe he’s a Raven’s fan—tough to find in Bengals’ country—and so are you. You might realize someone’s last name sounds familiar and discover her dad was your softball coach in high school.
  4. Share a little bit about yourself. This is a good place to use some of the components of your elevator pitch (what is unique about you, what you can contribute to an organization, what you know about the company) or to answer some of the questions you’ve memorized (see below). You might also talk about hobbies and non-work-related interests. Think dinner party/get together, not just professional events. I received some great advice about being published from a friend of my sister’s at a get-together, and afterward added that person as a Linkedin connection.
  5. Start with small talk. This might include weather, information about speakers scheduled for that evening, the event itself, sports (unless you are or you encounter a fanatic), news items, latest movies. This will help break the ice before you ask more in-depth questions, but avoid controversial topics if possible.
  6. Move into open-ended questions. These are questions that require more than a yes or no answer. When you walk away you want to have useful information. If you’ll be seeking work soon, make sure you know if their organization is hiring. If you need clients you should know if they have need of your services.

QUESTIONS

When you approach someone, shake their hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself. Below are some questions you might ask or might be asked of you at a college networking event such as a reception with potential employers. 

College Event

  • What made you choose _____ University? When will you graduate?
  • What’s your major? Why did you choose that?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about your major?
  • If someone were to describe your school in one sentence what would he say?
  • How did you end up in this area (city)?
  • What organizations are you involved with on campus?
  • What was the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your organization? (e.g. sorority, fraternity, sports team or club, etc.)
  • What were you involved in while in college?
  • Do you have any hobbies or involvement outside of work?
  • Is your organization open to partnering with student groups for service projects?

The conversation might be a little bit different at a professional networking event, but these questions can also be asked of potential employers who are visiting your university.

Image by AmbroProfessional/Work Event

  • Where did you go to college?
  • How long have you been with your organization?
  • What attracted you to your organization?
  • What advice would you give me if I want to be successful in your line of work?
  • What do you love/enjoy most about what you do?
  • What separates your company from the competition?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • What do you see as the coming trends in your profession/area of expertise?
  • If someone were to describe your business/company in one sentence what would he say?
  • What would make someone the ideal employee for your company or organization?

Other Events

  • What do you do for a living?
  • How did you hear about this event?
  • Did you get a chance to go to (insert name of local event) this past weekend?
  • What made you decide to attend tonight?
  • Did you catch the game last week?

Here is an example of a conversation that might take place between a student and a potential employer after the initial greeting or introduction:

Student: Thanks for coming tonight. (Reads name tag. Sounding enthused because she did a little homework before the event.) Oh, you’re with the World Helpers Foundation. I just read an article about your record-breaking year.

Employer: Yes. We’re really excited about that, especially with the economic challenges.

Student: I’ve always enjoyed philanthropy and fund-raising. In fact, I’m the President of my sorority and we recently exceeded our goal for cancer awareness by 40%.

Employer: That’s wonderful. How did you do that?

Student: I felt like we’ve underutilized social media in the past. This year we made sure we put the word out about our event early through Facebook and Twitter, then on our webpage we highlighted cancer survivors that were close to our members.

Employer: What a great idea!

Student: Thank you. What’s your role at WHF?

Employer: I’m the Senior Director of Partner Relationships. In a nutshell, I’m responsible for relationships and recruitment.

Student: That sounds interesting. What do you like best about your career?

Employer: Working with people toward a worthy cause. It’s challenging but I get to be creative and I like seeing the results of all my hard work.

Student: I feel the same way when I’m planning events. What kind of advice would you give me that would help me to eventually get into a role like yours?

Employer: Well, you’ve already got a great start! You have to be comfortable talking to people and leading teams and it seems like you’ve done that fairly well with your fraternity.

Student: Thanks! Do you ever have any entry-level opportunities or might you be able to recommend some other organizations?

Employer: As a matter of fact, we usually have some opportunities at WHF.

Student: Well, I would definitely be interested. Would it be okay for me to keep in touch with you?

Employer: Absolutely. (Hands over business card)

Student: (Shakes hand and thanks the employer before moving on.)

Well done! After all your hard work, you don’t want to lose contact with the great people you’ve met so come back next time for tips on how to strengthen your new relationship.

See you next time!

Why December Is A Great Month For Your Career Search

The following was originally posted last December but bears repeating. Here are the best reasons to keep up your career search–even in December.

I get it. It’s not that you don’t want to look for a new career mid-December, it’s just no one is hiring. Everyone knows that, right?

Free clip-art.net

Free clip-art.net

Wrong!

I had this very conversation with someone last week. Not only did I tell the person she was mistaken (As a recruiter I thought that would carry some weight. I was mistaken.), I asked, “Have you even looked?”.

Crickets.

Turns out she was basing this logic on her experience with employment agencies in the past.

Here’s the deal. Yes, some companies wait until the beginning of a new year when a new budget becomes available before they take on the expense of adding personnel. But not all companies. If that were true there wouldn’t have been any public career fairs in your city in the past couple of months. Or weeks. Plus, do you really think we recruiters get to put our feet up on the desk for the entire month of December? Come on. We want to be busy. Busy hiring people.

So, in an attempt to take the momentum out of the ‘nobody’s hiring’ rumor, here are a few really good reasons to look for a new career right now.

Make a statement

Looking now could tell recruiters something about you. You don’t follow the crowd. You’re ready to dive in—right now. You plan ahead—why put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and all that. These are great qualities to bring to the table at any company and gives an idea about your work ethic. Just make sure when you get in front of the interviewer you back those qualities up with good examples.

One in a million fifty

Because so many people believe the “no jobs ‘til January myth”, competition is usually very low. This means your application is automatically closer to the top of the pile. You still have to bring the goods of course, but at least the hiring manager won’t have to wade through hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other folks’ information to get to yours.

Recruiters have more time on their hands

When sorting through tons of applications reviewing can become scanning for the sake of efficiency. But when your resume or application is one in a handful it will naturally receive more of a perusal.

After 14 years of recruiting and observing trends it seems as if everyone’s New Year’s resolution is to find a new job. The number of applications we receive increases dramatically come January 2nd. But you, oh wise one, are smarter than that. Your odds of getting the job are way higher when you’re only being compared to a fraction of those in the New Year frenzy. You just might catch the eye of the recruiter (who would have otherwise passed over your resume quickly in January) and land an interview.

It Could Be Good for Your Health

Health benefits, that is. In most companies, the date on which you are eligible for benefits or perks is tied to your hire date. That means if you can start before the end of the month your benefits could kick in up to a month early.

One Step Ahead

 Ahhh… That is the sound of relief. Relief because, not only did you get the job, you’re already well into your training. And your friends who made that, “First thing on Monday, I’m looking for a job” vow are sweating it out without you. When you hang out after work next month you can relax and offer them words of wisdom. Or comfort. You choose. But, for you, the pressure is off.

Some of you are still not convinced. I know what you’re thinking. You really don’t have the time to begin a career search now. You’re doing your holiday shopping and the holiday party circuit and making New Year’s plans… Recruiters might not be busy but you are.

Trust me. Start now and you’ll thank me next month. Cruise on over to those jobs sites and start putting in your applications. Today. Happy searching!