Reneging on an Offer

You survived the interview process, the company made you an offer and you accepted.  Now you hear from another company interested in hiring you and you want to drop the first offer and take the second one.  What is a job seeker to do?

Consider the impact.  Your word is your reputation and the manifestation of your integrity.  The first company has notified their other candidates that they were not selected and they are busy planning for your first day.  After telling them how excited you were about this opportunity, can you really call them and say you changed your mind?

The world is very flat these days.  You do not know where you might cross paths with that hiring manager or recruiter again but your reputation would precede you.  They would certainly not rush to take your word in the future.

Reneging on an offer also sends a message that you don’t really know what you want.

Before reneging on an offer, be sure you fully consider all the implications.  If you do renege let the first company know as soon as possible and be completely professional about it.  Do your best to maintain the positive relationship.  Be sure offer two is truly the offer you can’t refuse before taking the hit to your reputation.

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When Not to Negotiate Salary

Candidates often assume that they should always attempt to negotiate salary but that is often not the case.  Here are examples of times you should definitely not attempt to negotiate salary with your new employer.

You’ve Already Said “Yes”

After a long job search and multiple rounds of interviews, the call comes with an offer.  It is a great opportunity at a company you admire and respect.  In your excitement you immediately say yes.    While you are excited you begin to doubt yourself.  Should you have asked for me?  How high would they have gone?  What about all those expenses you weren’t considering?  Once you accept the offer presented, it is game over.  You forfeited your opportunity to negotiate when you accepted on the spot.  Do not damage the relationship by trying to go back to the well after you have already accepted.

Their “Best Offer” is on the Table

The new team really wants you on board and they know your expectations are at the top of their range.  Often they will push hard for internal approval first for the highest salary they can get.  They truly don’t want to scare you away with a low ball offer.  They are trying to offer the very best they can.  When they tell you, “we really want you on our team and have put our best offer together,” pay attention.  They have done the best they can.  There is nothing to be gained by pushing for more.  If they are being that direct, they are sending you a clear message.  If you want the job, that is what they can pay you.  Don’t push harder.  It can cause bad feelings.  It is still ok to think about it for 24 hours but this is not the time to negotiate.

Research Supports the Offer

Sometimes they really are offering you the appropriate salary, based on industry, experience, geography, etc.  Do your research in advance to know what to expect.  If you are presented a great offer, say thank you!  Resist the urge to negotiate for the sake of negotiating.

While it is important for candidates to be fairly paid, always keep the big picture in mind.  Don’t walk away from an awesome career opportunity for the sake of a couple thousand dollars.  Know what your floor is in order to live comfortably and find the best fit in role and company.  In the long run, you will be more successful in a job you love.

Don’t Say “Yes” Immediately

Looking for a job is hard work.  It takes a lot of time.  Between informational interviews, networking events, resume updates, customized cover letter and then multiple rounds of interviews, you have invested a significant amount of time and energy.  It is understandable that the excitement peaks when the call comes with an offer.

It is great to be excited but do not accept immediately.  Thank the caller for the offer.  Let them know you are very interested (if you are) and ask for at least 24 hours to review the details.  This is a significant next step in your career and you want to make an informed decision.

First of all, accepting immediately eliminates any option of negotiation.  You may or may not want to negotiate but review all the details before rushing to yes.  Once you close that door, you can’t open it again.  Use the time to identify any outstanding questions and be sure to get answers before you accept the offer.  If you need time off for an upcoming family wedding or some other pre-planned event, this is the time to get that on the table.

Be sure to follow-up within the time you agreed upon with the recruiter.  Hiring managers will respect the fact that you are taking this seriously and are making an informed decision.

Can I Lie or Stretch the Truth?

Often very strong, talented candidates have a skeleton in their closets and they worry this will haunt their job search.  Maybe they were arrested for DUI, made a regrettable mistake while in college or any of a number of things in life that we wish we could do over.

It is only natural to wish to hide these incidents from a future employer but that could cause significantly more harm than good.  In this day and age, background checks are a routine aspect of most hiring processes.  It is highly likely that someone will run a background check.  If you stated on your application that you have never been arrested and then it shows up on the background report that you were arrested, you are done.  You have proven to the company that you are not a person of integrity and most likely you will not be hired.

If you had disclosed the arrest and it showed up on the report, they would realize that you own your mistakes and that you tell the truth even when it is uncomfortable to do so.  I have seen repeated instances where the incident is not the problem in a job search but the lack of honesty.  Employers are looking to hire honest employees with integrity so be sure to be completely honest in your applications.  If you are unsure what a background report would show, it is worth paying to have a report run yourself to ensure that you are addressing all possible issues and concerns.

Indeed, honesty is the best policy.

How to Successfully Find a Job in 2017

Gone are the days of waiting for the fat employment section in the Sunday paper each week but no one really misses those days.  That was not an efficient way to find a job.  What is frustrating as a Career Advisor is to see students not properly leveraging the outstanding tools available to help them find their next career step in 2017.

Job seekers who are stuck behind their computers submitting online applications are not likely to be successful.  Their application is a needle in the haystack.  Submitting an online application and then trying to find an insider contact is also not a recipe for success.  People will quickly realize that you are only using them to advance your application.

You must follow the process to conduct a success search.

Develop Your Target List – Think about what you want to do.  What skills and experience qualify you for this position?  In what industry do you hope to work?  Where in the world do you hope to work?  What functional role are you seeking?  What do you need in terms of company culture and values?  Start drafting a list of companies for whom you would love to work.

Informational Interviews – Leverage your various alumni, family and friends and former colleagues’ networks to identify contacts who work in your target companies.  Set up informational interviews to learn more about the company and your area of interest.  What is the hiring process like?  How does the company support their employees?  What does the person like about working there?  What would they change if they could?  You will likely learn things you like and things you don’t.

Continually Refine the List – Based on what you learn in your informational interviews, continue to refine your target list.  Some companies or types of roles will fall off the list and you will learn about new companies to explore further.  Continue to build and refine your list as you continue to conduct informational interviews.

Build Networks within Your Target Companies Throughout this process you are building relationships with people who work in your target companies.  Keep detailed records of your contacts.  Be sure to thank them for spending time with you and helping you learn.

Identify Opportunities – Once you have your target companies updated and your network in place, you are ready to start exploring opportunities.  When you see an opportunity at a target company, reach out to your contact to see what insight they can share.  Ask if they would be willing to pass your resume and cover letter to the hiring manager.  Maybe they can submit it in their employee referral program.  Having an internal advocate moves your resume to the short pile instead of the mountain that arrives blindly online.  This is a huge advantage.  Your internal advocate can also share additional insight and perspective to help you prepare for the interview.

If you think you can shorten your process by applying to online applications all day, you will be seriously disappointed.  Invest the time in researching, learning and building your network and you will significantly increase your success.

Are You Sabotaging Your Job Search?

You would expect job seekers to be doing everything possible to put their best foot forward in their job searches; however that is often not the case.  Here are things job seekers are doing that frustrate and annoy hiring managers and result in the candidate not getting an offer.  Job seekers need to differentiate themselves from the many others seeking the same positions.

With large number of applications received online, hiring managers are looking for easy reasons to whittle down the number of resumes they want to seriously review.  Many candidates are making basic errors to sabotage their own job search efforts.  How can you avoid a quick trip to the “no pile”?

Don’t Follow Directions —If you can’t follow the directions in the hiring process, what makes an employer believe you will be able to follow directions on the job?  If it asks you to attach a resume, do it.  If it asks for references, provide them.  Demonstrate that you are prepared and capable of following directions.

Make Errors – Hiring managers have little patience when you attach the wrong cover letter indicating your interest in a different job at a different organization.  They are not impressed with your lack of attention to detail.  Blatant typos or grammatical errors also demonstrate poor attention to detail and land that letter and resume in the reject pile immediately.  Do not send me your resume or cover letter in edit mode so hiring managers can see the changes you made.  What takes the cake is when the error is I in the sentence claiming your attention to detail.

Don’t Show Your Lack of Effort —Form letters are easy to spot.  If you are not interested enough in the job to customize a letter, most hiring managers are not interested in you either.  Don’t assume you know what the job responsibilities are based on the title.  Read the job description and refer to the job accurately in your cover letter.  Go online and check the website.  Demonstrate that you took some initiative and learned something about us.  Try to find the hiring manager on the website if it is not mentioned in the posting.  Show some initiative rather than sending yet another letter to Dear Hiring Manager.

Don’t Cause Me Extra Work to Consider You —Many applicants don’t bother with a cover letter if it doesn’t indicate that it is required.  They often feel their resume is all that is needed and that their experience speaks for itself.  Guess again.  Don’t make the hiring manager try to understand how your experience relates to what they are looking for.  Don’t expect them to figure out what it is you really want to do next and why.  Write a customized cover letter to address what the hiring manager is looking for and how your experience fits their needs.

It is NOT All About You – Don’t make the hiring manager count the “I”’s instead of reading the content of your cover letter.  First of all, it is not a good example of strong business writing to start nearly every sentence with I.  More importantly, it is not all about you.  The hiring manager has a business need to fill.  Your letter should demonstrate how you can help them address that need.  It shouldn’t be a summary of your resume or a dissertation on what you really want or need.

Don’t Act Desperate –While it can be very frustrating to be unemployed for a long time and that you are worried about making your next rent payment, that isn’t a reason for them to hire you.  Acting desperate makes them think you just want any job and that you’ll leave as soon as the job market improves.  While managers may respect your personal issues, they are not going to influence their decision and really have no part in the interview discussion.

Don’t Skip Your Homework —Information is available at your fingertips via the internet.  There is absolutely no excuse for not doing your research.  Learn about the company or organization.  Know what they do and who their customers are.  See what you can learn about the department you will be interviewing with and you can also learn about the person interviewing you.  Don’t come in and waste the hiring manager’s time by asking what the company does.

Don’t Ignore the Hiring Manager —If they go through the mountain of applications and identify a few for phone screens, you should be flattered and then step your preparations into high gear.  Don’t ignore a request.  Don’t wait more than 24 hours to respond.  Demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm by being responsive.  Your lack of response will be interpreted as a lack of interst.

Don’t Forget to say Thank You —This is the easiest way to stand out from the competition.  Say thank you to everyone who interviews you.  Send a quick email thank you and follow it up with a handwritten thank you note.  Personalize each note to reference something specific you discussed.  This is a great opportunity to reaffirm your interest.

An Interview Invitation Doesn’t Mean You Got the Job –Hiring managers do not interview just one person.  Don’t assume that when you are invited to interview that you have the job.  Leave the cocky attitude at the door.  It has no place in an interview.

Don’t Forget to Network —If you claim to be so passionate about this organization or this role, who have you talked to who works there or in a similar organization?  Who have you talked to in order to learn more about this role?  Demonstrate your interest by showing initiative.

Absolutely Don’t Blow Them Off —If you have an interview scheduled, either in person or by phone, you are expected to keep it.  If for ANY reason you are not able to do so, you should call with as much advance notice as possible to notify the interviewer and ask for an opportunity to reschedule.  If you are not available for the scheduled appointment and they don’t hear from you at all until three days later, you have convinced them that you do not have the customer service skills or common courtesy to work in their department.

While it seems obvious that these are things to avoid in your job search, many job seekers are regularly sabotaging their own search efforts.  Pay attention to the details to ensure success in your search.

Unfortunately people desperate for a job think that sending more resumes to online postings increases their chances of getting a job.  It doesn’t make a difference and they are being careless in the process which hurts them further.  They need to demonstrate attention to detail and they need to network like crazy.  Your behavior throughout the process is an indication of how you are likely to behave and perform on the job.  Be sure you are putting your best foot forward.

Are You Stuck in a Job Search Rut?

You have decided it is time to look for another job.  You may be unhappy or frustrated in your current situation or maybe you need a challenge and an opportunity to learn and grow.  Many would think that making the decision is the hard part but I see many people decide they need to change jobs and then they get stuck and make no progress.  Why does this happen?  What can they do about it?

Attitude – If you consider the process of looking for a job, yet another chore to add to your to do, it will be.  When perceived as one more thing to do, it is easy to procrastinate.  Instead, see this as an opportunity to invest in your future.  Take the time to research industries, companies and roles that may be a fit for you.  Do informational interviews with alumni and other contacts.  Use all this input to clarify your targets and build a list.  When you approach the task with an attitude of investing in yourself, each step of the journey feels like progress towards your goal.  Don’t just complain about your current situation or your inability to find a new job quickly.  Do something about it.  Set targets and hold yourself accountable.

Perfectionism –   Yes, you certainly want your resume and Linked In profile to have no errors but if you are waiting for it to be perfect you will never get your search started.  Each position may require edits to your resume to best tailor it to that specific role.  Don’t immobilize your search by waiting for your materials to be perfect.  Get feedback and a careful review and then get moving.  You can always tweak it as you go along based on the feedback you receive.  Don’t derail your search by waiting for perfection.

No Heavy Lifting – You want a new job but you don’t want to invest the time in research and networking.  What you get out of the search will be a direct correlation to what you put in.  Sitting behind the computer screen and submitting online applications will not a road to success.  Research shows that more than 75% of all jobs are filled through networking.  Get off the couch and start networking.  Build a target list to focus your networking efforts.  Know where you want to go and do something every week to move you closer to your goal.

Too Stressed – I often hear job seekers explain that they are too stressed in their current job to invest time and energy in a search.  Doing the same thing over and over is not going to change the result.  You will continue to be stressed if you stay in that job.  Set realistic goals and do something every week to move your search forward – build a target list, research top companies identify alums in your top companies, schedule a networking meeting each week.  Small steps on a consistent basis will move you forward and will change the situation you are in.  Once you feel you are doing something to begin the process of change, you feel more control which often helps reduce your stress even before you achieve your goal of a new job.

Get out of your rut and begin the journey to the next step in your career.