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!

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10 Mistakes During The Interview That Can Cost You The Offer

Congratulations on your interview! Here’s your opportunity to show the company why you’d be the best person for the job, so take it seriously. Many of the mistakes from the phone interview still apply when interviewing in person, but here are a few more to keep in mind.

  1. Postponing The Interview—Of course things come up but I have found it’s very rare that someone Image by Stuart Milesgenuinely wants to reschedule after postponing. If you are interested, keep the appointment. If a true emergency arises state what it is. The term “family emergency”, while perhaps factual, sends the recruiter a red flag. People use this term when they leave messages on voice mails in the middle of the night because they don’t know how to admit they are no longer interested, something better came up or they never planned to come to the interview in the first place. Few emergencies are so private they can’t be mentioned, so be honest. Call during business hours, explain your situation and reschedule with the recruiter immediately.
  2. Three’s A Crowd—Or, in this case, two. There is no reason for anyone to attend your interview with you. If you have car trouble and need to be dropped off your ride should wait down the street, then give him a call after the interview for a pick up.
  3. Late Arrival—If possible do a practice run the day before the interview. It’s difficult to guess how long the drive might be in rush hour traffic if you’ve never timed the route. Who knows, you might have to park in the back of the lot, trek to the building or take an elevator to the 23rd floor, all of which add time to the total commute. If it is unavoidable call the recruiter to tell her you are on the way.
  4. Extremely Early Arrival— Many people live by the 15 minute rule–if you arrive 15 minutes early you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re already late. Great rule of thumb. On the flip side, there is such a thing as too early. The interviewer more than likely has his day mapped out and has other tasks planned right up until your scheduled time. If you arrive 30 or 45 minutes early you could be throwing a monkey wrench into his day. Instead of going inside, sit in your car and kill some time or go down the street to a coffee shop. Just don’t spill anything on your suit! Which brings me to my next point.
  5. Dress/Appearance — Of course most hiring managers will expect to see you in a suit unless you were told otherwise by the person who set up your appointment. Your shoes should be polished, your clothing should fit well – not too big or too small, too low-cut or too high—and you should select a color that is neutral. Think black or navy. Clothing is the first thing to come to mind, but this category includes cleanliness, hair, nails, piercings and visible tattoos as well. If you look as if you rolled out of bed and threw on the first thing your eyes landed on in your closet you are stating, ‘This is the best I am willing to do’. Definitely not a candidate recruiters want to vouch for. I’ve even had a few candidates refuse to take off their coat during the winter months. That is odd behavior that is sure to raise an eyebrow.
  6. Preparation – Come to the interview with a few copies of your resume in a portfolio in case you interview with a panel or team. Or if the company is having printer issues. This can go a long way when you’re up against candidates who arrive empty-handed.
  7. Condescending Attitude – Every company expects you to bring something to the table but you must also be a team player who is teachable. You might be chock full of information, but you don’t know everything, especially if you are entering a new industry. Be willing to add to your arsenal by listening to what others have to contribute. Also remember you should never discount anyone you meet. The receptionist could be the owner’s mother for all you know, or the owner herself. Respect everyone. No one is beneath you, and if you feel the job is, think twice before you apply.
  8. General Answers/Skipping A Question—Recruiters are seeking specific examples so we can determine how you actually handled a situation vs. how you would theoretically handle it. Anyone can claim the customer is always right, but back that claim up with an example. If you get stumped it is better to ask for a moment to think of an answer than to ask to come back to the question. Check out this post for some tips on how to prepare: No Job Offer-Part 2: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-q.
  9. Over The Top—There’s enthusiasm and then there’s inappropriate. Building rapport is a must, and I
    free clip art.net

    free clip art.net

    laugh frequently during interviews, but be careful not to come across as too familiar or unprofessional. Years ago a candidate made derogatory remarks about his ex-wife in a joking fashion and told an inappropriate story that he found funny. I doubted our customers would and had to move on to other applicants. You are not at the bar and you haven’t been hired as a comedian. Know how to read the interviewer. If they aren’t smiling or laughing with you you’re sinking fast.

  10. No Questions —No matter how much research you’ve done you don’t know everything about a company. Think about what is important to you: benefits, tuition reimbursement, advancement, relocation, responsibilities, etc. and ask. Even if you repeat yourself throughout the interview process, each person you encounter will answer you based on his experiences. Anticipate questions (see No Job Offer-Part 3: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-C) and write them down. If I had a dollar for every  interviewee who said, “I had a lot of questions at home. I just can’t remember them now,” I could take a pretty decent vacation.

There it is—mistakes to avoid at all levels of the application process. Hopefully these tips will help you sail through the interviews and land your dream job in no time.

Come back soon for more interviewing and job advice!

10 Phone Interview Mistakes That Can Cost You A Face-To-Face Interview

The recruiter called after reviewing your application, but don’t relax just yet. Whether she sets up a specific appointment or catches you on the fly, you still need to shine if you want to secure a face-to-face interview. To make it a reality, here are a few things to keep in mind.

 

  1. Language—This refers not only your word choices (profanity is never acceptable) but also how you speak. The recruiter is
    Image by Ambro

    Image by Ambro

    not your friend, so don’t speak to him like he’s your buddy at the bar. On the other hand, don’t be so uptight that you come across as someone who won’t fit in with the company culture. Use proper English and leave out slang and overused phrases (you know, this and that, like, etc.).

  2. Complaints—Yes, we have all had some unpleasant situations occur at work. We’ve all had to deal with customers or even co-workers who are impossible–uh, I mean challenging. Regardless, it is not a good idea to complain about them, and especially not during an interview. If discussing a difficult situation is unavoidable choose your words wisely as you explain—words like ‘challenging’.
  3. Excuses—Rather than blaming the fact that you didn’t meet a goal or complete a task on someone else, choose a situation that tripped you up in the past and share what steps you took to be successful later on. At the end of the day you are accountable for your performance.
  4. Deception, aka Lying — Once you are caught in a lie, whether it’s in regard to your education, experience or job history, there is not much you can do to convince a recruiter you can be truthful, and you effectively eliminate your chances to get into that organization. I have had candidates lie about their education on their application, confess when I explain we verify the information, then ask in the same breath if they can apply for other opportunities in the company. My answer is always polite, yet firm.
  5. Criminal History – While most companies don’t automatically reject individuals who might have an indiscretion in their past, you should be prepared to discuss it in a professional manner. The recruiter will ask for details about the incident, if it went to court, how you pled, did you serve time, what you did to rehabilitate yourself and if you are currently on probation. He might also ask how old you were when the incident occurred. We’ve all been young and dumb, and age really can affect the company’s decision to move forward.
  6. Distractions – You might be distracted or there could just be way too much background noise in your home. Find a quiet area where you can hear the recruiter and she can hear you. Do not do anything but answer questions and take notes. Once I had a scheduled phone interview with a candidate who felt it was perfectly appropriate to cook (I heard the microwave beep in the background), drink and eat a meal during the hour-long interview. When I asked her about it, after a startled pause, she told me she had to take medication at a specific time to which I suggested she might have chosen a different time for the interview. She became defensive and asked, rather unpleasantly, if I wanted to reschedule. “No,” I said, “why don’t we just finish now.” And finish we did.
  7. Lack of Preparation – Scheduled phone screens can be open-book tests. Take advantage of this and prepare the same way you would for an in-person interview. Use a cheat sheet. If the recruiter catches you off-guard ask if you can set a time—preferably later that day—and explain you’d like to give her your undivided attention. This is a reasonable request and it will allow you time to familiarize yourself with the company and prepare your answers. Know the dates of your employment and reasons for leaving past jobs because job history can be a hindrance to moving forward. Remember, what you say should match what you listed on the application (see #4).
  8. Babbling – You have to know when to rein it in. Answer the questions, be personable, but don’t continue to say the same thing over and over, and don’t get off on tangents. If the recruiter is frustrated she’s also imagining how frustrated customers and colleagues will be.
  9. Improper Questions — The phone interview is not the place to ask about pay. We understand you want to know the compensation is feasible, but most applications have a place for you to list your desired salary. If the recruiter contacts you, more than likely what he has to offer falls in the range you listed. Asking gives us the impression you aren’t truly seeking a career but just the highest bidder and, in spite of what we say, you won’t be a good match for the opportunity.
  10. Long Term Goals — No matter what experience you bring to the table recruiters want a win-win. You should too. That is,
    Free Clip-Art.Net

    Free Clip-Art.Net

    your goals are in line with the company’s and vice versa. If you would like to spend your days on archaeological digs, don’t apply for a Dental Hygienist opening. Even if you made it through the interview process, you will make your co-workers, customers and yourself miserable. If you need something “just for now” choose a job that will help you land a spot on the dig. Companies that hire for careers pour a lot of money into training and expect you to stick around.

 

Keep these tips in mind during your phone interviews this week and hopefully you will be invited for a face-to-face interview. Join me next time for the list of things during the interview that can cost you an offer.

Make it a great week!

 

 

QUICK TIPS: Interviewing

Image by Stuart Miles

With graduation just a few weeks behind us recruiters are often swamped with interviews this time of year. Let’s say you’re scheduled for one of these interviews but have decided the position is not the right one for you. What should you do?

A. Nothing. You’re not interested in the position and you won’t be applying for it in the future.

B. Send the recruiter a polite email explaining you have decided to pursue other opportunities.

C. Go anyway. It’s not professional to cancel after the fact.

B is the best way to go. An email is fine, but a phone call is more professional (and not a voicemail left in the middle of the night). This isn’t so much about the job as it is your character. You never know if the company might offer another position that is of interest to you. In fact, the recruiter might actually keep you in mind and reach out to you later on.

A might seem like a good idea, but I caution you to never burn bridges. Guess where recruiters go when they leave a company? often to other recruiting roles. If you canceled on the recruiter when she worked at Victory Logistics there’s no reason for her to believe you’ll be reliable at Procter & Gamble.

C could be a waste of your time and the hiring manager’s. Call the person who set up the interview to let him know you’d like to cancel and give an honest reason. You might have a misunderstanding about the opportunity that he can clear up—and, frankly, it’s less cowardly. This is called professional courtesy. After that, if he asks you to come in anyway, consider it. No one can have a thorough idea of a job even if they go through the entire interview process, but you will at least learn more. Hopefully an observation or shadow will be part of the process to provide you with even more insight. You might even change your mind.

For more interviewing tips check out the following posts:

Didn’t Get the Job? It’s Not You: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-9

Post Grad And No Job? Relax: http://wp.me/p2Yxve-25