This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Learn from the mistakes of others. Here's "18 Deadly Interview Mistakes Job Seekers Make," adapted from Drs. Caryl and Ron Krannich's 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Arrive late for the interview. Indicate you are late because the directions you were given were not good. Look disheveled and inappropriately dressed. Slouch in your seat. Don't maintain good eye-contact with the interviewer. Do your company research at the interview by asking, "What do you guys do here?" Don't make a connection between your skills and the needs of the employer. Brag about how great you are, but neglect to cite evidence of your accomplishments. Respond in an unfocused, disorganized, and rambling manner.
10. Remain low-key and display no enthusiasm for the job. 11. Answer most questions with simple "yes" and "no" answers. 12. Appear desperate for a job--any job. 13. Call the interviewer by his or her first name, or use the wrong name. 14. Give memorized responses, forgetting parts in the process. 15. Badmouth your current or former employer. 16. Ask "How am I doing? Are you going to hire me?" 17. Blurt out, "I need to make at least $35,000. I hope this job pays at least that much," near the beginning of the interview. How to Prepare for a Job Interview Make a good impression at your interview by doing a little homework beforehand. Research the Company and the Position The more you know about the company and the job you are applying for, the better you will appear in the
interview. An interviewer will be impressed by your interest and motivation, and you will be able to explain what you can do for the company. Find out as much key information as you can about the company, its products and its customers. If possible, talk to people who work at the company. There may be other sources of information on the Web, especially if the company is publicly traded. Search for the following: • • • • • • • • Office locations Products and services Customers Competitors Philosophy History Recent news Financial info, including salary and stock
Prepare for the Actual Interview • Practice your answers to Common Questions. Likewise, prepare a list of questions to ask the employer. Most interviews follow this pattern: First, you answer questions about your experience and qualifications, then you ask questions about the job. Rehearse your interview with a friend. You should be able to convey all pertinent information about yourself in 15 minutes. Tape yourself to check your diction, speed, and body language. Prepare your interview materials before you leave. Bring several copies of your resume, a list of references, and, if appropriate, any work samples. Make sure they are all up-to-date. Dress professionally and comfortably. You will be judged in some respects by what you wear. When in doubt, dress conservatively. For women: o o o o o o o A straight-forward business suit is best. Wear sensible pumps. Be moderate with make-up and perfume. Wear simple jewelry. Hair and fingernails should be well-groomed. A clean, ironed shirt and conservative tie are a must. A simple jacket or business suit is a good idea as well.
• • •
o o o o •
Shoes should be polished. Face should be clean-shaven; facial hair should be neatly trimmed. Hair and fingernails should be well-groomed. Use cologne or after-shave sparingly.
Bring pen and notepad to jot down any information you may need to remember (but don't take notes during the interview
Job Interview Types There are different types of job interviews you may participate in during the hiring process. Here are the major ones and tips on how to handle them. Stress Interview Stress interviews are a deliberate attempt to see how you handle yourself. The interviewer may be sarcastic or argumentative, or may keep you waiting. Expect this to happen and, when it does, don't take it personally. Calmly answer each question as it comes. Ask for clarification if you need it and never rush into an answer. The interviewer may also lapse into silence at some point during the questioning. Recognize this as an attempt to unnerve you. Sit silently until the interviewer resumes the questions. If a minute goes by, ask if he or she needs clarification of your last comments. One-On-One Interview In a one-on-one interview, it has been established that you have the skills and education necessary for the position. The interviewer wants to see if you will fit in with the company, and how your skills will complement the rest of the department. Your goal in a one-on-one interview is to establish rapport with the interviewer and show him or her that your qualifications will benefit the company. Screening Interview A screening interview is meant to weed out unqualified candidates. Providing facts about your skills is more important than establishing rapport. Interviewers will work from an outline of points they want to cover, looking for inconsistencies in your resume and challenging your qualifications. Provide answers to their questions, and never volunteer any additional information. That information could work against you. One type of screening interview is the telephone interview. Lunch Interview The same rules apply in lunch interviews as in those held at the office. The setting may be more casual, but remember it is a business lunch and you are being watched carefully. Use the lunch interview to develop common ground with your interviewer. Follow his or her lead in both selection of food and in etiquette. Committee Interview Committee interviews are a common practice. You will face several members of the company who have a say in whether you are hired. When answering questions from several people, speak directly to the person asking the question; it is not necessary to answer to the group. In some committee interviews, you may be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. The committee will outline a situation and ask you to formulate a plan that deals with the problem. You don't have to come up with the ultimate solution. The interviewers are looking for how you apply your knowledge and skills to a real-life situation. Group Interview
A group interview is usually designed to uncover the leadership potential of prospective managers and employees who will be dealing with the public. The front-runner candidates are gathered together in an informal, discussion-type interview. A subject is introduced and the interviewer will start off the discussion. The goal of the group interview is to see how you interact with others and how you use your knowledge and reasoning powers to win others over. If you do well in the group interview, you can expect to be asked back for a more extensive interview. Telephone Interview Telephone interviews are merely screening interviews meant to eliminate poorly qualified candidates so that only a few are left for personal interviews. You might be called out of the blue, or a telephone call to check on your resume might turn into an interview. Your mission is to be invited for a personal face-to-face interview. Some tips for telephone interviews: Anticipate the dialogue: Write a general script with answers to questions you might be asked. Focus on skills, experiences, and accomplishments. Practice until you are comfortable. Then replace the script with cue cards that you keep by the telephone. Keep your notes handy: Have any key information, including your resume, notes about the company, and any cue cards you have prepared, next to the phone. You will sound prepared if you don't have to search for information. Make sure you also have a notepad and pen so you can jot down notes and any questions you would like to ask at the end of the interview. Be prepared to think on your feet: If you are asked to participate in a role-playing situation, give short but concise answers. Accept any criticism with tact and grace. Avoid salary issues: If you are asked how much money you would expect, try to avoid the issue by using a delaying statement or give a broad range with a $15,000 spread. At this point, you do not know how much the job is worth. Push for a face-to-face meeting: Sell yourself by closing with something like: "I am very interested in exploring the possibility of working in your company. I would appreciate an opportunity to meet with you in person so we can both better evaluate each other. I am free either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. Which would be better for you?” Try to reschedule surprise interviews: You will not be your best with a surprise interview. If you were called unexpectedly, try to set an appointment to call back by saying something like: "I have a scheduling conflict at this time. Can I call you back tomorrow after work, say 6 PM?"
Making a Good Impression on Job Interviews Here's what you should keep in mind the day of the interview and immediately afterward. Before the Interview • • • Be on time. Being on time (or early) is usually interpreted by the interviewer as evidence of your commitment, dependability, and professionalism. Be positive and try to make others feel comfortable. Show openness by leaning into a greeting with a firm handshake and smile. Don't make negative comments about current or former employers. Relax. Think of the interview as a conversation, not an interrogation. And remember, the interviewer is just as nervous about making a good impression on you.
During the Interview • • • Show self-confidence. Make eye contact with the interviewer and answer his questions in a clear voice. Work to establish a rapport with the interviewer. Remember to listen. Communication is a two-way street. If you are talking too much, you will probably miss cues concerning what the interviewer feels is important. Reflect before answering a difficult question. If you are unsure how to answer a question, you might reply with another question. For example, if the interviewer asks you what salary you expect, try answering by saying "That is a good question. What are you planning to pay your best candidate?" When it is your turn, ask the questions you have prepared in advance. These should cover any information about the company and job position you could not find in your own research. Do not ask questions that raise red flags. Ask, "Is relocation a requirement?", and the interviewer may assume that you do not want to relocate at all. Too many questions about vacation may cause the interviewer to think you are more interested in taking time off than helping the company. Make sure the interviewer understands why you are asking these questions. Show you want the job. Display your initiative by talking about what functions you could perform that would benefit the organization, and by giving specific details of how you have helped past employers. You might also ask about specific details of the job position, such as functions, responsibilities, who you would work with, and who you would report to. Avoid negative body language. An interviewer wants to see how well you react under pressure. Avoid these signs of nervousness and tension: o o o o o o o o o Frequently touching your mouth Faking a cough to think about the answer to a question Gnawing on your lip Tight or forced smiles Swinging your foot or leg Folding or crossing your arms Slouching Avoiding eye contact Picking at invisible bits of lint
After the Interview • End the interview with a handshake and thank the interviewer for his or her time. Reiterate your interest in the position and your qualifications. Ask if you can telephone in a few days to check on the status of your application. If they offer to contact you, politely ask when you should expect the call. Send a "Thanks for the Interview" note. After the interview, send a brief thank-you note. Try to time it so it arrives before the hiring decision will be made. It will serve as a reminder to the
interviewer concerning your appropriateness for the position, so feel free to mention any topics discussed during your interview. If the job contact was made through the Internet or e-mail, send an e-mail thank-you note immediately after the interview, then mail a second letter by post timed to arrive the week before the hiring decision will be made. • Follow up with a phone call if you are not contacted within a week of when the interviewer indicated you would be.
Common Job Interview Questions By rehearsing interview questions, you'll become more familiar with your own qualifications and will be well prepared to demonstrate how you can benefit an employer. Some examples: • "Tell me about yourself.” Make a short, organized statement of your education and professional achievements and professional goals. Then, briefly describe your qualifications for the job and the contributions you could make to the organization. "Why do you want to work here?" or "What about our company interests you?” Few questions are more important than these, so it is important to answer them clearly and with enthusiasm. Show the interviewer your interest in the company. Share what you learned about the job, the company and the industry through your own research. Talk about how your professional skills will benefit the company. Unless you work in sales, your answer should never be simply: "money." The interviewer will wonder if you really care about the job. "Why did you leave your last job?" The interviewer may want to know if you had any problems on your last job. If you did not have any problems, simply give a reason, such as: relocated away from job; company went out of business; laid off; temporary job; no possibility of advancement; wanted a job better suited to your skills. If you did have problems, be honest. Show that you can accept responsibility and learn from your mistakes. You should explain any problems you had (or still have) with an employer, but don't describe that employer in negative terms. Demonstrate that it was a learning experience that will not affect your future work. • "What are your best skills?" If you have sufficiently researched the organization, you should be able to imagine what skills the company values. List them, then give examples where you have demonstrated these skills. "What is your major weakness?" Be positive; turn a weakness into a strength. For example, you might say: "I often worry too much over my work. Sometimes I work late to make sure the job is done well." "Do you prefer to work by yourself or with others?" The ideal answer is one of flexibility. However, be honest. Give examples describing how you have worked in both situations. "What are your career goals?" or "What are your future plans?" The interviewer wants to know if your plans and the company's goals are compatible. Let him know that you are ambitious enough to plan ahead. Talk about your desire to learn more and
improve your performance, and be specific as possible about how you will meet the goals you have set for yourself. • "What are your hobbies?" and "Do you play any sports?" The interviewer may be looking for evidence of your job skills outside of your professional experience. For example, hobbies such as chess or bridge demonstrate analytical skills. Reading, music, and painting are creative hobbies. Individual sports show determination and stamina, while group sport activities may indicate you are comfortable working as part of a team. Also, the interviewer might simply be curious as to whether you have a life outside of work. Employees who have creative or athletic outlets for their stress are often healthier, happier and more productive. • "What salary are You probably don't want to answer this one directly. Instead, interviewer by saying something like: "I don't know. What are candidate?" Let the employer make you expecting?" deflect the question back to the you planning on paying the best the first offer.
However, it is still important to know what the current salary range is for the profession. Find salary surveys at the library or on the Internet, and check the classifieds to see what comparable jobs in your area are paying. This information can help you negotiate compensation once the employer makes an offer. • "What have I forgotten to ask?" Use this as a chance to summarize your good characteristics and attributes and how they may be used to benefit the organization. Convince the interviewer that you understand the job requirements and that you can succeed.
Here are some other job interview questions you might want to rehearse. Your Qualifications • • • • • • • • • What can you do for us that someone else can't do? What qualifications do you have that relate to the position? What new skills or capabilities have you developed recently? Give me an example from a previous job where you've shown initiative. What have been your greatest accomplishments recently? What is important to you in a job? What motivates you in your work? What have you been doing since your last job? What qualities do you find important in a coworker?
Your Career Goals • What would you like to being doing five years from now?
• • • • • • • •
How will you judge yourself successful? How will you achieve success? What type of position are you interested in? How will this job fit in your career plans? What do you expect from this job? Do you have a location preference? Can you travel? What hours can you work? When could you start?
Your Work Experience • • • • • • What have you learned from your past jobs? What were your biggest responsibilities? What specific skills acquired or used in previous jobs relate to this position? How does your previous experience relate to this position? What did you like most/least about your last job? Whom may we contact for references?
Your Education • • • • How do you think your education has prepared you for this position? What were your favorite classes/activities at school? Why did you choose your major? Do you plan to continue your education?
An exhaustive list of interviewer questions (organized by type) is available at Mississippi State University's Cooperative Education Program. Illegal Job Interview Questions Various federal, state, and local laws regulate the questions a prospective employer can ask you. An employer's questions--on the job application, in the interview, or during the testing process--must be related to the job for which you are applying. For the employer, the focus must be: "What do I need to know to decide whether or not this person can perform the functions of this job?" Options for Answering an Illegal Question You are free to answer the question. If you choose to do so, realize that you are giving information that is not job-related. You could harm your candidacy by giving the "wrong" answer. You can refuse to answer the question. By selecting this option, you'll be within your rights, but you're also running the risk of coming off as uncooperative or confrontational--hardly the words an employer would use to describe the
"ideal" candidate. Your third option is to examine the intent behind the question and respond with an answer as it might apply to the job. For instance, if the interviewer asks, "Are you a U.S. citizen?" or "What country are you from?," you've been asked an illegal question. Instead of answering the question directly, you could respond, "I am authorized to work in the United States." Or, if your interviewer asks, "Who is going to take care of your children when you have to travel?" you might answer, "I can meet the travel and work schedule that this job requires." ILLEGAL QUESTIONS AND THEIR LEGAL COUNTERPARTS Subject Illegal Questions Legal Questions National Origin/ Citizenship Are Where
you were to
a you/your work
U.S. parents in the
citizen? born? United States?
What is your "native tongue?" Are you authorized
What languages do you read, speak or write fluently? (This question is okay, as long as this ability is relevant to the performance of the job.) Age How When did old you are graduate from you? college?
What is your birthday? Are you over the age of 18? Marital/ Family Status What's Who Do How you many do plan to kids to
marital live have do relocate a
status? with? family? you if When? have? necessary?
What are your child care arrangements? Would you be willing
Travel is an important part of the job. Would you be willing to travel as needed by the job (This question is okay, as long ALL applicants for the job are asked it.) This job requires overtime occasionally. Would you be able and willing to work overtime as necessary? (Again, this question okay as long as ALL applicants for the job are asked it.) Affiliations To what clubs or social organizations do you belong?
Do you belong to any professional or trade groups or other organizations that you consider relevant to your ability to perform this job? Personal How tall are you?
How much do you weigh? Are you able to lift a 50-pound weight and carry it 100 yards, as that is part of the job? (Questions about height and weight are not acceptable unless minimum standards are essential to the safe performance of the job.) Disabilities Do Please you complete have the any following medical disabilities? history.
Have you had any recent or past illnesses or operations? If yes, list and give dates. What How's was the your date of your family's last physical health? exam?
When did you lose your eyesight? Are you able to perform the essential functions of this job with or without reasonable accommodations? (This question is okay if the interviewer thoroughly described the job.) NOTE: As part of the hiring process, after a job offer has been made you will be required to undergo a medical exam. Exam results must be kept strictly confidential, except medical/safety personnel may be informed if emergency medical treatment is required, and supervisors may be informed about necessary job accommodations, based on the exam results. Arrest Record Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever been convicted of _____? (The crime should be reasonably related to the performance of the job in question. Military If you've been in the military, were you honorably discharged? In what branch of the Armed Forces What type of training or education did you receive in the military?
Asking Questions During a Job Interview At most interviews, you will be invited to ask questions of your interviewer. This is an important opportunity for you to learn more about the employer, and for the interviewer to further evaluate you as a job candidate. It requires some advance preparation on your part. Here are some guidelines for asking questions: • Prepare five good questions. Understanding that you may not have time to ask them all. Ask
questions concerning the job, the company, and the industry or profession. [ EXAMPLES ] Your questions should indicate your interest in these subjects and that you have read and thought about them. For example, you might start, "I read in Business Week that ... I wonder if that factor is going to have an impact on your business." • Don't ask questions that raise warning flags. For example, asking "Would I really have to work weekends?" implies that you are not available for weekend assignments. If you are available, rephrase your question. Also, avoid initiating questions about compensation (pay, vacations, etc.) or tuition reimbursements. You might seem more interested in paychecks or time-off than the actual job. [ EXAMPLES ] Don't ask questions about only one topic. People who ask about only one topic are often perceived as one dimensional and not good candidates. Clarify. It's OK to ask a question to clarify something the interviewer said. Just make sure you are listening. Asking someone to clarify a specific point makes sense. Asking someone re-explain an entire subject gives the impression that you have problems listening or comprehending. For example, you can preface a clarifying question by saying: "You mentioned that at ABC Company does (blank) . . .Can you tell me how that works in practice?"
STAYING MOTIVATED IN YOUR JOB SEARCH Sticking to the plan while staying flexible is the key to survival. by Barbra Lewis Name this "Seeking hardworking person willing to invest blood, sweat and tears into writing, typing, Like it or not, this is a "job" most of us will have several times in our careers--looking for work. reading, revising, editing, printing, calling, researching and presenting while alone and unsupervised. No expenses covered. No benefits. No vacation. Hours: Indefinite. Start Date: Immediately. End Date: ? Salary: $0." Like it or not, this is a "job" most of us will have several times in our careers--looking for work. Facing a job search can be bleak, especially if it's suddenly thrust upon you after being laid off or fired. To find a great job while keeping your head above water, personally and financially, is no easy feat. The only way to do it is to stay motivated, and here are a few guidelines: • Treat your job search as a full-time job. Although you do not have to search from 9-5 every day, you will only get out of it what you put in. Have a plan. Research companies, go on informational interviews, network, analyze your skills. Stay healthy. A job search can be stressful. Don't let it affect your physical health. Eat well, exercise and practice relaxation and stress management techniques. If you have a spiritual life, put energy into that. Reconnect. Although it may be uncomfortable to have so much free time, use it to get in touch with your creative side. Start writing that book you've been thinking about. Finish those household projects that you have put off. Talk more with your children and family. You may find that the job:
time you spend not worrying about a job will be the time when you make realizations about yourself that will lead to a better job in the end. • Volunteer. Take a few hours each week to volunteer at your favorite church or charity. Not only will it give you something to feel good about, as well as remind you of what you do have, but you never know what contacts you might make. Create a "to-do" list for the week. Carolyn Couch, of the Career Services Department of Wake Forest University, "This list could include the networking calls you will make that week, the web sites you will review, the time you will spend at the public library doing research... Once you have completed the items on your list you can relax and be less likely to worry about what you should be doing, knowing that you are working toward your goal on a regular basis." Form a support network. Rely on your friends and family to encourage you and provide you with networking contacts. "As long as you fulfill your responsibilities for your career change and don't expect others to do things for you that you should be doing for yourself, there's nothing wrong with seeking support and feedback from others along the way," says Dr. David Helfand, career counselor and author of "Career Change." Find a part-time job. There is nothing wrong with waiting tables or signing on with a temp agency. "Getting out of the house, working around other people, and being productive will help lift depression," says Couch. "It also may lead to a permanent job, as you will increase your network and show potential supervisors your work ethic and skills on the job."
The Pep Talk It's inevitable that at some point in this process, you will feel run down and need a good pep talk. Remember that this period of unemployment likely has a deeper meaning in your life, which you cannot yet see. "Most of the unemployed people with whom I have worked later say that being unemployed was a positive thing for them," says Couch. "In many cases, it gave them a chance to reassess what they really wanted and needed out of life, to make positive changes, and made them much more resilient in the face of other crises." There are always jobs. If your job search method isn't finding them, change it. Remember that rejection does not make you an unworthy worker or a bad person. It just didn't work out for that particular job. Finally, remember not to give up! There is a good job out there for you--in fact, there are many. Keep your head up, and you'll find them!
Principles for Negotiating: The Ten Commandments of Employment Negotiations HOW-TO GUIDE: NEGOTIATING OFFERS • • 10 Commandments of Negotiations Discussing Your Current Salary
Taking into consideration those things that make employment negotiations unique, together with generally applicable negotiating principles, I have developed a set of basic principles which I refer to as The Ten Commandments of Employment Negotiations. These principles, along with what I refer to as the Eleventh
Commandment, apply in every employment negotiation. Commandment 1: Be Prepared Preparation is critical when negotiating the terms of your employment. The more information you have, the more successful you will be. This is so important that I have devoted a full chapter in my book to preparing for employment negotiations. This is the first commandment because it is the most important single thing you can do to ensure that you get the best deal possible. Commandment 2: Recognize That Employment Negotiations Are Unique Employment negotiations are different from other types of negotiations. They are not a one-shot deal like buying a house or a car. When the employment negotiations are over, you will have to work with your former "adversary" on a daily basis; more important, your career success may depend on the person with whom you have just finished negotiating. Therefore, even though you want to negotiate the best possible deal, you need to proceed in a way that doesn't tarnish your image. By the same token, your future boss will want you to feel good about joining the company. Once an employer has decided that you are the person for the job, the primary concern will not be to negotiate the least expensive compensation package the company can get away with. Rather, the main focus will be on getting you to accept the job. As a result, employment negotiations are unusual in that both sides share that same basic goal. Commandment 3: Understand Your Needs and Those of Your Prospective Employer Any employment negotiation is going to involve trade-offs. To be successful in this type of negotiation, you need to examine your own priorities. What is it that you want? Are comfortable with a low salary and a large equity stake? Do you feel confident that you can meet the requisite criteria to earn a bonus? Are you able to handle dramatic swings in income from year to year? How important is job security to you? Understanding your needs will also help you determine what type of company you want to work for. (For example, a family-owned company might offer a larger salary than start-up company, but the same start-up company will offer stock or stock options that a family-owned company typically will not.) Regardless of the type of company you are considering, an employer may not be able to give you exactly what you want. There are numerous institutional constraints on how much a company can pay for a given position or what kinds of benefits it can offer. Understanding what you want and what a company can do within its own organizational and budgetary constraints will enable you to determine what trade-offs are possible in order to maximize what you get. This knowledge will also enable you to walk away from a job when a company cannot offer the type of compensation package that suits your needs. Commandment 4: Understand the Dynamics of the Particular Negotiations Sometimes you will have skills or experience for which there is a great demand. You may be the only qualified candidate to have made it through the interview process, and the company would like to hire someone quickly. Similarly, if you have been able to defer discussing compensation until the company has determined you are the best candidate for the job, your bargaining position will be greatly strengthened. These are enviable positions to be in. On the other hand, you may in fact be one of several candidates the company is considering, any one of whom it would be happy to hire. Under those circumstances, compensation may be the key factor in determining who gets the job. Sizing up the situation and understanding the relative position of each of the parties to the negotiations will help you determine when to press your advantage and when to back off. Commandment 5: Never Lie, but Use the Truth to Your Advantage
Honesty is important. If you lie during the negotiations, sooner or later you are likely to be caught. Once you are caught lying, you lose all credibility. Even if you don't lose the job, you will be placed at a tremendous disadvantage, and your future credibility on the job will be undermined. On the other hand, total candor will not be rewarded. You are not required to answer a specific question directly unless the answer helps your position. You can determine what you want to say and how you want to say it. One element of preparation is to understand those areas which may be problematic so you can rehearse how you will handle them when they come up. Commandment 6: Understand the Role That Fairness Plays in the Process The guiding principle for most employers in determining what they will agree to is fairness. Within the constraints of their budget and organization structure, employers will usually agree to anything that is fair and reasonable in order to hire someone they want. Appeals to fairness are the most powerful weapon available in employment negotiations. Sometimes such an appeal may even convince an employer of the need to adjust its salary structure or increase the amount of money budgeted for a position. You should be able to justify every request in terms of fairness. If the cost of living is higher where you're going, it is only fair to have your salary increased sufficiently to compensate. If comparable executives in similar companies are given one percent of the company's stock, you should be treated no differently. Your prospective employer will want you to accept its offer and to feel that you have been treated fairly. Understanding the importance of fairness as a negotiating principle can make the difference between success and failure. Commandment 7: Use Uncertainty to Your Advantage If an employer is not certain what it will take to recruit you , its initial offer is likely to be close to its best offer. If you have divulged too much information, it will likely not offer you as much as it might have otherwise. By not disclosing exactly what your compensation package is or exactly what it would take to get you to leave your current job, you will force a potential employer to give you its best offer. Commandment 8: Be Creative You may not be able to get everything you want, but you want to be sure to get everything you can. Focus on the value of the total package. Look for different ways to achieve your objectives. Be willing to make trade-offs to increase the total value of the deal. Limit your "requirements." When you lock yourself into a position, you limit your ability to be creative. If you are creative, you can package what you want in ways that are acceptable to the company. You will also be able to find creative "trades" that allow you to withdraw requests that might be problematic to the company in return for improvements in areas where the company has more flexibility. In the end, however, you still must get the company to agree to those elements of the deal that are critical to you. If you are not able to do so, or if have to give up too much to get what you need, perhaps this is the wrong job for you. However, before you insist on any particular term in your employment package, be sure that it is really essential. By insisting on a particular term you may be giving up something of greater value; you may even be giving up your chance to get the job altogether. Commandment 9: Focus on Your Goals, Not on Winning Too often in negotiations winning becomes more important than the actual goals that are achieved. This tendency is particularly problematic in employment negotiations. Not only is it important to focus on achieving your goals; it is also important not to make your future boss feel like a loser in the negotiations. Remember, that this person will control you future career. You will have gained little by negotiating a good deal if you alienate your future boss in the process.
Commandment 10: Know When to Quit Bargaining There comes a point in every negotiation when you have achieved everything that you could gave reasonably expected to achieve. At that point you should thank the person you are dealing with and accept the offer. If you don't recognize when to stop negotiating, you run the risk of having the company decide that it made a mistake by offering you the job in the first place. Most companies will want to treat you fairly and make you happy, but few companies want to hire a prima donna. Being perceived as greedy or unreasonable may cause the deal to fall apart. Even if it does not, you will have done immeasurable harm to your career with your new employer. Commandment 11: Never Forget That Employment Is an Ongoing Relationship This is the most important commandment and cannot be overemphasized. Employment negotiations are the starting point for your career with the company. They set the tone for your employment relationship. Get too little and you are disadvantaged throughout your career; push too hard and you can sour the relationship before it even begins. How you handle the initial negotiations can have an impact, for better or worse, on how successful your tenure with a company will be. Following the Ten Commandments of Employment Negotiations and employing the negotiating strategies described in my book will enable you to effectively negotiate the terms of your new employment. Once you have done so, you will be able to start your new job confident that you have achieved the best possible result. If you do your job well, there will be opportunities to negotiate further improvements as time goes on.
Making the Most of Your Compensation: Discussing Your Current Salary HOW-TO GUIDE: NEGOTIATING OFFERS • • 10 Commandments of Negotiations Discussing Your Current Salary
At some point during the negotiations you will certainly be asked and be expected to answer questions about your salary. When these questions come up, you need to have well-thought-out responses. You should be comfortable enough with what you are going to say so that there is no hesitation. You can then move quickly to another subject without drawing undue attention to the issue. The key to this is preparation. The following key points of negotiation will prepare you to discuss your salary with prospective employers and not disadvantage yourself in the negotiations. Try to avoid discussing your current compensation for as long as possible. A good example of what can happen when salary is discussed improperly can be explained through the experience of a business acquaintance of mine whom I will call Rick. Rick had been contacted by a recruiter looking for a chief operating officer for a small manufacturing company. The recruiter described the company as one that had been poorly managed by its prior owner, but that had tremendous potential. The investors were looking for an entrepreneur who could bring the company's cost structure into line, market their product aggressively, and prepare the company to go public in a few years. The recruiter wanted Rick to understand that the salary might be a little low, but that he would be given a significant equity position. If the company was successful, his stock would more than compensate him for any loss of salary. After some further discussion about the company, the recruiter asked
Rick what his salary was. He responded that his base salary was $100,000. Rick's response to the recruiter's question was reflexive. It was the response most people make when they are asked about their salary. It was also the wrong response. The best response is to avoid divulging salary at such an early stage in the process. This may be difficult to do; however, it is not impossible. Consider the impact of what Rick told the recruiter. A candidate's current salary is the single most important factor and employer will use in determining what to offer. As a rule, if a new job doesn't involve a promotion or a relocation to a higher-cost area, an employer will offer a 10 to 15 percent increase over the employee's current salary. Even when a promotion or relocation is involved, an employer will use current salary as the starting point in deciding what to offer. From the situation described to him Rick could expect to be offered a base salary at or slightly below his current salary level, plus a substantial grant of stock or stock options to compensate for the company's inability to increase his salary. Unfortunately for Rick, his salary disclosure enabled the company to offer him the same salary and enough equity, in light of his salary, to make it worthwhile to change jobs. That is exactly what happened. Discuss your total compensation, not just salary. How can you make the most of your current salary without lying? The simplest way is to consider the value of your total compensation. When providing salary information, include not only base salary and bonuses but also benefits such as car allowance, reimbursement for club dues, expense accounts, deferred compensation, stock and stock options, pension benefits, 401(k) plans, company-paid insurance, and so on. If possible, avoid being too precise, at least during the preliminary discussions. How should Rick have responded? Instead of stating that his base salary was $100,000, he could have countered with something like this: RECRUITER: What is your current salary, Rick? RICK: Last year I made approximately $150,000, including my bonus and other perks. Such a response takes into account not only Rick's $100,000 salary but his bonus of $25,000 and approximately $25,000 worth of stock options, perks and other benefits. By describing his compensation in this way, Rick is communicating that he takes the fact that he will earn a bonus for granted and considers it to be part of his basic compensation package. Even better, he could have responded that his current compensation is between $150,000 and $175,000, depending on his bonus. Alternatively he could have simply stated that his salary was in the low six figures. Finally, Rick could have tried to deflect the question by asking what the company has budgeted for the position. When describing your compensation, take into account raises and bonuses. If you are asked specifically about salary and can't avoid the subject, be sure to describe your salary in its most favorable light. Because your bonus may vary from year to year, it can provide you with a certain amount of flexibility (without being dishonest) in the way you describe you compensation. Moreover, the inherent variability of bonuses allows you additional opportunities to create uncertainty with a prospective employer. For example, if the bonus you earned last year was much larger than what you anticipate receiving this year, be sure that you state your compensation in terms of what you earned last year. If, on the other hand, you expect that this year's bonus will be larger than last year's, discuss what you expect to earn this year. Thus you could say that you are earning $50,000 in base salary and expect to receive a $15,000 bonus this year. If the last time you received a large bonus was several years ago, when you were given $25,000 because of
your extraordinary work on a particular deal, you can talk about earning bonuses of between $10,000 and $25,000. Even better, you could describe your bonus as "up to $25,000." You could also talk about the bonus program in general, describing your bonus potential, which is the maximum possible bonus you could earn. Be aware, however, that eventually someone will probably ask about the bonuses you have actually received. Never lie. When responding to questions about your compensation, bear in mind the fifth commandment of employment negotiations: "Never lie, but use the truth to your advantage." Not only is it wrong to lie about your salary; it is a tactical error as well. Your salary can easily be confirmed by your current employer. In fact, you may be asked to provide a copy of your last W-2 form after you are hired. On the other hand, as Rick learned the hard way, complete candor will work to your disadvantage. Focus on market data if your salary is below the market rate. A problem you may encounter if you have been with the same employer for a lengthy period of time is that your salary has not kept up with the market. If your current salary is used in setting the salary at a new job, you will continue to be paid less than you are worth. Under these circumstances it is critical to concentrate the discussion on the market rate for the position, and delay discussing your specific salary for as long as possible. Having information as to what other companies are paying for similar positions will help you highlight the value of the job, as opposed to your current salary. When the time comes to disclose your salary, not only should you make it clear that you know you are being underpaid, but you should also explain the reason without being defensive about it. For example, you might state, "Companies are paying between $50,000 and $75,000 for graphic designers. Although I have been earning only $35,000 at Cheapo Graphics Company while I have been mastering CAD technology, now that I am fully proficient I expect to be paid the going rate." Whatever the reason for your below-market salary, be prepared to explain why you have been willing to accept it and to demonstrate what other companies are paying for people with your skills.
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