Career Calling

August 26, 2015

Calming Your Nerves at a Job Interview

 

I was helping a client prepare for an interview recently. Her biggest worry was that she gets so nervous during interviews that she has problems engaging  employers. Sometimes her nerves are so bad that they hurt her ability to understand and answer questions. This client has great experience and education. None of that helped her.

I asked what she was thinking about that made her so nervous. She said, “I just want the job so badly, and I’m afraid that they won’t hire me.” At that point, I showed her a different way to play the interview game. Start with your strengths. If you know what makes you a valuable employee, you will have something positive to tell the employer, a way to sell what the employer needs. Most importantly, I practiced interviewing with my client so she understood that she has power in the interview process. She now knows how to ask questions, negotiate salary, and turn down a bad offer.

Interviewing for a new job, especially one that you want, will always bring some feelings of nervousness and anxiety. The challenge is to control them. The best way to do that is to know your strengths and demonstrate how they will help a prospective employer. You feel better during interviews, and you’ll be more likely to get the offer.

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December 15, 2014

Negotiating Salary or a Raise

 

Here’s another sign of a changing – improving – job market: The experts are talking about how negotiate a starting salary or a raise. Much of the advice is good. However, I think any kind of negotiation with an employer can be broken down to two basic questions:

 

  1. What do you want?

 

  1. Why should your employer give it to you?

 

Too often we as employees are resentful of co-workers who work less and make more money. Or we tell ourselves that we are working that we deserve better pay because we are working so hard. These points may be true, but they won’t help you get a raise or better starting salary. Focus on two people: the person who can give you a raise and yourself.

 

First, know what you want. Here it is important to know how other employees are paid and how similar companies pay people in similar positions. If you don’t have this information, you can do research using online salary websites. The problems with these sites is that they make broad estimates. Salaries vary from region to region and company to company.

 

Establish a clear goal for negotiation and a salary range. If your currently making $50,000 and want a $3,000 raise, give yourself and your boss room to work. I’d recommend asking for a raise between $2,500 and $4,000. This range will let you negotiate up or you might get what you want with any kind of dickering. If you ask for $3,000, expect your employer to offer less.

 

While you think about what you want, you also need to put yourself in the employer’s place: Why do you deserve a raise? Think about what you have done over the last year. How have you contributed to the company? How have you made a difference? Make a list of your achievements, quantifying them if possible. Know you worth and be ready to help you employer understand why you deserve better pay. Keep your tone professional at all times. Focus on what you are doing for the company and what you expect in return.

 

Some employers are still very hesitant to give raises. They might offer a much lower number than you want or say they can give no raise at all. Just a few years ago, your options would have been limited. Now, the good news is that the job market has changed and hiring is up. If your current employer won’t give you the salary you want, it’s time to look for a new job with better pay or better working conditions. Know your value and find an employer who is smart enough to pay a fair wage and value your skill.

July 30, 2014

Balancing Multiple Job Offers

 

One of my clients just called with good news. He received a job offer two days ago and another one today. Better still, he interviewed for a third time with a potential employer who will probably make him an offer tomorrow. What should he do?

Take the time to make the best deal. He’s already gotten both of the companies that have made offers to wait until Friday to let him make a decision. He’s asked the company making a lower offer to raise it. And he’s informed the company that has not made an offer that he has two other potential employers waiting for him to make a decision.

This is the ideal situation, and it doesn’t happen often. Be sure that you are communicating clearly and honestly with your prospective employers. If you’re going to use multiple offers to ask for more money, know that there is a risk that an employer will retract its offer. However, if that employer really wants you, they will pay more or find some other way to compensate you.

When you’re in a position like this, be calm and strategic. Make the deal that works best for you.

March 30, 2012

Negotiating with a Salary Range

I often learn from my clients, and one of my teachers has given me a new way to think about how to present a potential employer with a salary range.  My client, we’ll call her Mary, did not really want this job.  When the employer pressed her for a salary requirement, she responded with this range, “Something between $60,000 and $95,000,” which is a huge range.  I normally recommend a $10,000 range. 

What was Mary thinking?  First, she didn’t want to price herself out of the market.  Second, she wanted the employer to know that she thinks she could be worth nearly $100,000.  These numbers are not made up.  Mary is attending a leading MBA program where new grads commonly earn $100K on graduating.  She also did research and learned that the employer commonly hires employees from major consulting companies, which means they must pay decent salaries.  She gave a range that kept her in the game and is know negotiating after receiving an offer.  She probably won’t take the job, but if she does, it will be on her terms.

Do I recommend a $30,000 salary range.  In most cases, I do not.  In this case, it worked because Mary thought through her strategy and options.  That’s the first step in good career management.