Tag Archives: job interview

Negotiating salary and perks at a new job

Negotiating is the art of getting what you want while giving away what you want less. 

A good recruiter can help you negotiate. He can find out all the details before the offer is given to you and get important problems fixed. He can give away the things you care less about. He can negotiate for you before the final offer is put on the table. A good recruiter can put pressure on a company that you will never see. If you have a recruiter, be blunt and honest with him. Don’t lie and say I need $80,000 when you are hoping for $60,000. Tell the recruiter the truth. Then accept or reject an offer based on its merits, not on your greed for more.

Shaking Hands, Handshake, Skyline, City, Hands, Welcome

If you don’t have a recruiter, you have to do exactly the same thing, only directly with someone at the company. 

  • Find out all the details 
  • Talk about details before a final offer is on the table
  • Give away the things you care about less for the things you want the most
  • Pressure. Let them know your priorities and what will make you walk away
  • Be blunt and honest
  • Tell them what you really want
  • Accept or reject an offer on its merits, not greed

Every one of those points is about communication. Negotiating a salary is about communicating. Go at it with the desire to understand and inform and you will come out ahead. If you go in with a desire to pillage, you will lose.

Something to do today
Get the book, How To Win Friends And Influence People. It may be the best practical book on communicating that was ever written. If you’re feeling a bit short on time, get it as an audiobook to listen to on your commute.

Use raising technology and new techniques to get a great job

Fingerprint locks are used by tons of people on a daily basis, whether on computers or phones. People use them more often than the number or word locks because of convenience. They even have fingerprint locks for doors, and eventually I can see new locks like these being used more often than the everyday lock and key. The world changes a lot around us, and with that there are new ideas and new ways of life. 

Your job search should be like the world, always changing, always improving.

Every year thousands of people get great new jobs with massive pay raises because they have learned something new and exciting. I know average programmers who are earning $120,000 per year. They learned the latest technology and tools and have been riding the gravy train for 3 or 4 years. Accountants that can implement brand new systems are still worth their weight in gold. 

Adding a fingerprint lock helps sell thousands of new electronics to geeks like me. New technology, techniques, and skills can sell CEO’s and managers on your value.

What can you learn today? 

Something to do today

The greatest lunch topic you can talk about with your boss is, “What is the emerging world changing technology, technique or skill in our field?” Try it today.

How to be persistent with your job hunt

Kids can be a practically irresistible force. I have 10 children. Usually I can resist them. Not always. Sometimes they have to admit defeat, but with kids they don’t admit defeat till they have exhausted every avenue towards success. Here’s how they win.

  1. Be totally, irresistibly, and eternally committed to a world changing idea
  2. Jump up and down with enthusiasm
  3. “No” means not now
  4. “Not now” means try again in 5 minutes
  5. Laugh, smile and tickle your dad
  6. Run around and get all the other kids excited out of their minds
  7. Ask dad for help to figure out how to do it
  8. Cry if dad is not listening
  9. See if you can turn it into a school project
  10. Ask mom to talk to dad about it
  11. Bring a partially completed task to dad to be fixed
  12. Change your plans and try again in an hour
  13. A small explosion in the yard will get dad’s attention
  14. Make it a game

Kids win because they are too excited to accept defeat. They are willing to try every possible way around an obstacle. When I am the obstacle and they are really really determined, they know they can win.

Is there a job you really really want? Why not job hunt like a kid?

Something to do today

Take a pen and paper and translate each of those 14 things into something you can use for job hunting or working for a promotion in real life.

How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation

How to engage the hiring manager in a conversation

The heroes in Men In Black have to stop a giant cockroach from leaving the earth. If it leaves, the earth will be destroyed. They are able to engage it in a conversation, sort of. They find out what is interesting enough to get the cockroach to come down and interact with (try to kill) them. 

Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you.” If you can engage the manager or their assistant in a conversation you will multiply your chances of getting an interview or a job. Here is how you do it:

First, make sure you want the job and that you are a decent fit. The Men In Black were the guys in charge of saving the earth. They were motivated and had the tools, they just had to figure out how to do it. If you are qualified to become a computer technician, audit manager or director of international sales, engage the hiring manager in a conversation. If you are not qualified for the job, just send him a resume through Indeed or ZipRecruiter. That way it only takes you 10 seconds to send it and the computer will automatically delete it for them. Conversation only works if you really want the job and really are qualified.

Now, write down the titles the hiring manager may have. Then call up the company and ask for that person. You may get through to him or you may get routed to someone else. If you get routed to someone else ask, “Are you helping (title) find the person for (job name)?” Push your way through until you get to someone who actually is helping him find a new employee. It doesn’t matter if it is them, the HR department or a receptionist. It has to be someone directly involved with the hiring process for that particular job.

When you get to the right person, say, “You are looking for a (job name). What has been the hardest thing for you to find in the right person?” Then wait. Engage them in a discussion of what they are having a hard time finding in a new hire. Make sure and ask, “Is there anything else you have a hard time finding?” Ask that last question again and again. Probe their answers. Find out what the problem is that they have to solve. 

Another good question is, “For the (job name), what is causing you to throw away most of the resumes that you get?” Then probe that too. Add, “Is there anything else?” Listen. Ask more questions. Find out what can disqualify you.

Be helpful. If you find out you are the wrong person, offer to tell someone else who is qualified about the job. If you are the right person say, “I really fit that job, what is your email address so that I can send you my resume directly?” You have a 50-50 chance of getting their direct email address, and that will get your resume right on top of the pile. If you really are qualified, that is a great place to be. And you get there by engaging them in a conversation. 

Don’t forget to specifically change your resume and cover letter to match their needs. Then call up an hour later and ask, “Did you get my resume? What more do you need to know?” You may just end up having a phone interview right then and there.

That is how you get a hiring manager to talk to you.

Something to do today

Make a list of a few jobs that you really want and are qualified for that you have not already interviewed for. Whether or not your resume has been sent in, call them up and try this out. Change your resume after your conversation and highlight things you didn’t know were so important. You just may get that job.

Demand attention from the hiring manager

A giant cockroach steals the hero’s gun and swallows it, So the hero taunts the cockroach until it eats him. A few minutes later the cockroach explodes and our hero is standing there holding the huge gun the monster ate a few minutes before. Men In Black was a lot of fun. In that case the only way to save the world was to survive in the stomach of a giant bug.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2.png

There has to be at least 5 great job hunting analogies there. Create your own, then read mine. I bet mine is different.

The giant bug wants nothing more than to get into its spaceship and get away. Of course the earth will be destroyed if it gets away, but that is not the bug’s problem. The two puny humans must do everything they can to keep it from leaving. They taunt it, harass it, insult it, and step on small earthly cockroaches (relatives and friends) to get it to delay its departure. They figure out what the bug can’t ignore and get it to come back and deal with them.

Hiring managers are like giant cockroaches. They just want to hide in their offices and get away from you. You are a waste of their time unless you tell them something that proves they need you. They would rather have their receptionist shred your resume than take the time to talk to you. Take three lessons from the way the Men In Black fought the giant bug:

  1. You have to find the right words
  2. You have to engage them in conversation
  3. A relative or friend may be able to get them to talk to you

Over the next three articles I will show you how to do each of these things. The giant cockroach, the hiring manager, will give you all the hints you need. I’ll show you what those hints are.

Something to do today

What do you need to do to get a hiring manager to need to talk to you?

Everyone judges a book by it’s cover

A woman teaching my daughters held up a copy of a magazine with scantily dressed women on the cover. She asked, “What do you expect to find inside?” The answer was, “Pictures and articles about sexy dressing and attracting men.” 

She handed the magazine to a girl and said, “Open it and read from any page.” Inside those covers was a religious magazine. The teacher made the comment, “If you dress on the outside like the women on the cover of this magazine, no one will bother to find out that inside you are a woman of character. They won’t even consider it a possibility.”

In the last article I wrote that perception really is everything. How you are perceived is always critical, especially to yourself. Over time your character is altered by all the little things you do. At first you act to give an impression, but eventually you act from the bone deep character you have developed while impressing others. 

Benjamin Franklin was brought up short one day when he realized he had developed a less than brilliant character. He was a smart, hard working man, and becoming successful. He had noticed that some people would cross the street to the other side when they saw him coming. He realized he had a poor reputation in many things. In his autobiography he describes his plan to improve his character. The simple device he used thrust him forward to prominence in the fields of writing, science, diplomacy and politics. 

As Benjamin Franklin started working on his character he wrote, “I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.” He found that if he pretended to have a virtue long enough, he developed it as a part of his character.

I strongly recommend reading and re-reading Benjamin Franklin’s short autobiography.

Become the person you would admire.

Something to do today

What’s on your cover?

Their perception will change your career

There are 10 extremely ripped bodybuilders making $1,000,000 a year teaching others to exercise. Each year a hundred men and women get PhD’s in exercise physiology and they will only become high school gym teachers. The guys making the big money work hard every day on how the world sees them. Perception really is everything in their world.

Actors and Actresses? They have personal trainers, chefs and makeup artists who make more than most business executives. They won’t leave their house without 2 hours of working on how you and I will perceive them. Perception is everything to them.

Glasses, Reading Glasses, Spectacles, Eye Wear, Reading

In every job there are people who, “Don’t care what others think.” They are rarely the best paid person in the shop. The ones who do care about “what others think” either succeed wonderfully or alienate others beyond belief. The ones who succeed make sure their bosses know what they have accomplished and what their team did. The ones who fail tried to grab all the credit for everyone’s work, not just their own. They fail because the perception becomes that they are conniving, scheming and untrustworthy.

Who do you respect? Did they earn that honor? If you respect a computer programmer because he “never sold out”, hasn’t he sold that perception? A musician who is famous for “never going commercial” cultivated that precise image. They all care for their image as carefully as Hulk Hogan of pro-wrestling fame. A great salesman who never counts his commissions carefully implants that perception in his customers. That is what he sells: perception of himself as only interested in the customer’s success.

Figure out how you want to be perceived. Be that person. Prove to your boss that you are that person with weekly reports that show it. That same proof can be applied to your resume. Show what you have caused to happen in the past and you’ll get the chance to do more in your next job. Perception will be reality. 

Something to do today

Ask a coworker or an ex-coworker how they perceive you. How do you want people to perceive you? What can you do to attain that new image? 

Everyone wants a better bargain

Desert, Drought, Landscape, Sand, Tree, Nature

Buzzards circle overhead. Struggling across the desert mile after mile, a hiring manager finally can walk no further. He starts to crawl. A candidate drives up in a jeep with 100 gallons of water. He offers the hiring manager a ride to a hotel and all the water he can drink if he’ll split the cost of gas. The hiring manager says, “I’ll only pay you for the water. You are going that direction anyway.” The candidate shakes his head and drives off.

Everyone wants a bargain. It is just a fact of life that candidates want more money and hiring managers want to pay less. Your lifestyle is affected if you earn less. Thus is the lifestyle of the hiring manager. Managers are evaluated based on overhead. Even if they are rewarded on output, they want to cut overhead. It is their nature.

There is no magic chart that tells what you should be paid as an employee. I know one programmer who got a 40% raise when he finally realized he was worth more. He went to his manager and said, “Everyone else on my team is earning $50,000 per year. I’m better than most. Why am I earning so little?” What bothers me the most is that the manager and the employee felt good about the raise. How about a bonus to make up for the previous years? 

Even if you are the only person in the country who can save his company, the owner is going to look for a bargain. They just do. In the same vein, you will want a raise immediately after finishing training the company pays for. For some reason, a man dying of thirst still wants a bargain on a bottle of water. That’s why you have to be worth 10 times as much to be paid 2 or 3 times as much. 

Something To Do Today

Where have you been out-bargained in your job search? What can you change about you, to be a better bargain?

Will you do anything we ask? – the interview question

waist deep in water

Will you really do “whatever it takes” ??

“Will you do whatever it takes to get the job done?” is a common interview question.

In “The Firm” a new lawyer finds the perfect job: great pay, wonderful benefits and  a really high flying lifestyle.  Then he finds out he is a part of the mafia and can’t get out unless he is the guest of honor at his own funeral.

Let’s get realistic.  Even in high flying corporate scandals no one is murdered.  If you feel you have to blow the whistle you can go to newspaper reporters and the police.  You will be safe physically.  Your only real worries are social and financial.  The company’s risk is to its very existence.  It can be destroyed just by bad press.  Also, legal action can take away any profit the company has had for years.

There is no reason to suspect that your employer wants you to do something illegal.  It is much more likely he wants you to work late.

Go ahead and be enthusiastic when they ask the question, “Will you do whatever it takes?”  The proper answer is to give examples of how you have gone the extra mile in previous jobs.  Tell when you worked late to finish projects or help a teammate.  Carrying a pager is a great example of doing “whatever it takes.”  Mention the inconvenient business trips.  The support you had from your family when you had to work late or travel is a valuable story.

I hate to go back to it, but, don’t mention when you did something borderline illegal.  Don’t assume they want you to do something immoral.  If they ask you to do something that is wrong, ask them to clarify.  Ask for examples.  If you are sure they are asking you to do something illegal, immoral, or fattening, refuse the second interview or the job offer. You can even bring it up with the CEO or the SEC.

Some people have been burned by a previous bad employer.  You may have been hired by a place with dubious morals. You are out now, or in the process of getting out.  Assume the best of the companies you are visiting.  Give examples of how hard you are willing to work to succeed. Focus on what you can do for the company.

Something To Do Today

Assume the best.  Ask for examples.

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything. (J. W. von Goethe)

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Tomorrow:     Where else are you interviewing?

Later:              Why don’t they give you an answer, Yes or No?

The company’s reputation

Which Reference Is Knifing You In The Back?

ninja with a knife

Which reference is killing you?

Trust enthusiasm. Fear okay.

If something always goes wrong in your job interviews after the point where references are checked, you probably want to rethink your references.

References – phantom friends

Some of your references may be knifing you in the back.  They are your phantom friends. You thought they would give good references.  They were always friendly.  Still, they may have thought you were a poor worker.  They might just be unable to compliment anyone.

Trust enthusiasm, fear “okay”

You can’t trust a reference to tell you directly, “I’m going to say bad things.”  If you ask someone to be your reference and they say, “I’d love to.  You were a great worker.  I will brag about how well you did.  You were wonderful”, they are probably a good reference.  If they only say, “Okay”, be careful.

Interrogate okay

Ask Mr. Okay, “Will you say that if it was up to you, you would rehire me?”    If you get any hedging, don’t use this reference. For instance, “I’ll tell them I would rehire you under the right circumstances,” is hedging.  “Jim, you know I don’t have the authority to rehire you,” is also hedging.  “Of course! I’d rehire you and give you a raise.  I really wish you were still here,” is the positive reference you are looking for.

If you are concerned that someone might be a phantom friend, drop them from the reference list.  Find someone else.  That’s the safest bet.

Have someone else check your references

You can always have someone check out your references for you.  They will call up and say, “I’m checking Jane Doe’s references. Would you recommend her for the same job she had?”  They also have to ask, “Would you rehire her?”

Your references are one of your strongest job search weapons.  Make sure they really are good references.  It will make a huge difference.

Something To Do Today

Go back over that list of potential references you gave yesterday.  Make sure none of them are phantom friends.

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Next:               You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd

Later:               Resume magic

Imperfect and highly paid

The most common interview questions