Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Job recruiter reveals secrets to the interview process

It's happening more and more. People are finding jobs. That's the good news. 
What's got experts concerned is the unusual phenomenon that appears to be emerging along with the recovery.
"As people who have been looking for work a long time start to get back into the work force, many of them are so happy just to get a job that they sometimes accept a lower salary than they have to," said Bill Humbert, author of "RecruiterGuy's Guide to Finding a Job," (www.recruiterguy.com). "Some employers feel that they can probably get away with a lowball offer, and many job hunters will grab it just so they can have a job. The truth is there are ways to get the job and still get what you want."
Humbert is not a career coach. He's worked as a professional recruiter since 1981. The Washington Post, Geico Insurance and Digital Broadband Communications are just a few of the companies that have relied on the experience he's garnered over the years. Having read more than 400,000 resumes, interviewed more than 13,000 candidates over the phone and in person, and worked with more than 3,000 hiring managers, he knows how companies think when it comes to hiring new applicants.

The following is Humbert's advice when it comes to job interviews:

1. Do not fall for the salary requirements trick.
Humbert said many employee applications feature a question asking candidates what their salary requirements might be. Don't answer. Humbert said it is typically a company's first screen and it can be used against you. "I've seen people agonize over what to reveal because they are afraid of pricing themselves out of a good job," Humbert said. "My advice is to simply put 'open' in that spot. If your qualifications are on target, they'll call you. If in the interview you're asked what you made at your last job, reply by asking about the range for the one you are applying. You'd be surprised what managers or human resource representatives will tell you."

2. Do not be chatty.
Another trip-up created by employers is to ask about salary history. Don't feel pressured. It is perfectly OK to write "willing to discuss at appropriate time during interview process," and leave those numbers blank, said Humbert. "Writing down those numbers pigeonholes you," Humber said. "It reduces your negotiation power."

3. Leave salary negotiations out of it.
That's right, said Humbert. Do not discuss salary in the interviews but rather negotiate when you'll give up this kind of information. "When they ask you for that figure, tell them you don't know what you'd require until you have a clear picture of the job requirements and potential for advancement over the next five years," said Humbert. "After you have that information and you're asked again for that number, respond by asking to go through what I call your impacts -- areas of the job that directly impact the company's bottom line. This discussion will allow you to demonstrate what you bring to the table. At the end of that (chat), simply tell them that you are very interested in the position and that you'd seriously consider any offer they'd like to make."

4. Always be networking.
So you've got a job offer. Until you accept it, it's not a done deal. Humbert advises applicants to keep networking and looking for jobs. "It may give you valuable market-worth data about the position you've been offered," Humbert said. "It may also be a safety net in case something goes awry between the time you receive an offer and the time you accept it."

5. Look for wiggle room.
Once an offer has been given you have a right to ask for a clarification and whether there is any flexibility in the offer. Perhaps you gave up hours to get more money or gave up money for better hours. Asking if there's any flexibility in the offer creates an opportunity to discuss a better deal. If it does open a discussion, do not expect a large boost in pay base, said Humbert. This is the time to ask for an extra week of paid vacation, a signing bonus or other such perks.
"Keep in mind that salary negotiation is more art than science so these tips may not always apply," Humbert said. "Many hourly workers don't have as much flexibility on pay, and some companies have policies that would require you to adjust the script a little to fit those situations."
Biggest thing: Don't give them any salary range and don't think you have to accept the first offer.
"Remember, they are interviewing you because they need to fill the position. It's important to the company to have someone in that job and, while they are considering you, they aren't doing you a favor," Humbert said. "They need what you have to offer, so you should get the best offer out of them that is possible."

We gain power in our refusal to accept less than we deserve -- Amber Hollibaugh

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