Expert Recruiter Tips for Your Next Job Search (Part 2)

how to max your compensation and benefits
By Kris Williams

As I mentioned in the first post in this two-part series, searching for a job requires time and effort. Eventually, all that work comes to fruition when you pass the initial screening by the recruiter, move on to have great interviews with the hiring manager, and find out that you’re one of the top candidates for the position.

As someone who has screened tens of thousands of applications, let me remind you to take a moment to congratulate yourself on making it this far! It’s an accomplishment that you should keep in mind as you continue through the final stages of the process.

Select the right professional references

During my recent presentation to the Association for Women In Science (AWIS), I reminded the 50 people in the room how important it is to pick the right references—not only who they are as a person, but why you’ve selected them as someone who can talk to your skills, abilities, and strengths.

Just as you want to showcase your personal brand during an interview, you want your references to highlight why you’re a great next hire for this organization. Before you submit the names and contact information for your references, ask yourself:

  • Will this person respond to a request for a reference? If you’re not sure, find another reference. (No response is a response, and it doesn’t work in your favor.)
  • What will this person say about me?
    Even if you think you know the answer, you should ask your references what feedback they would provide about your performance. You need to be certain this person will speak positively on your behalf. If you have any doubts, they’re not going to serve as a good reference for you.

Let your references know as much as possible about the job for which you’re applying, why you want it, what excites you about the new organization, and how your previous experience aligns with the position. Provide your references with the information they need so they can sell your strengths when they get the call.

Take a strategic approach when you talk money

Eventually, if all goes well, you’ll have the opportunity to discuss and negotiate regarding compensation for the position. Talking about money makes a lot of people nervous, but don’t let that deter you. There’s no value in taking a job if you resent the pay every day, so take this step seriously.

First things first: when you reach the salary negotiation stage, the organization already thinks you’re great, and at this point you’re working out the amount you’re worth. This is the time for you and the organization to discuss and compare your compensation requirements against the budget available for the position. As you enter into discussions, keep these things in mind:

  • Know the market value for the position. Check salary sites and have a good idea of the median salary for the position in that geographic location. Use the information to identify a reasonable salary range based on current data. For example you may determine the range is $60-68,000. If the employer offers you $65,000, and you counter with $68,000, be prepared to discuss how you are worth the additional $3,000.
  • Keep other benefits in mind. There may not be additional budget available for salary negotiations, but some organizations can provide transportation benefits, more paid time off or a flexible schedule. Those remunerations can be just as valuable as a higher income and might be easier for an employer to offer.
  • Recognize when it’s time to stop. You don’t want to go overboard when talking about compensation. For the employer, it’s not all about the money. While negotiating, they also want proof that you’re invested for the long term and aren’t job hopping to get the highest salary possible. When it comes to salaries and what an employer can offer, some large organizations have very little wiggle room. In the case of state or federal employers, you may not be able to negotiate at all. Be aware of those possible constraints and plan your strategy accordingly.
  • Remain gracious. When you speak with the recruiter, hiring manager, or anyone else during the negotiation process, always express how excited you are about the position.

Searching for a job requires writing resumes that meet job requirements, building connections with recruiters, and showcasing your personal brand. When you get to the final stages of your job search, don’t rush it! Pick the right references, and ask for a little time to review the offer. Just as recruiters appreciate when candidates submit well-crafted resumes and applications, hiring managers appreciate when candidates take the time to make the right decision. Employers want to be sure the person is as excited about joining the team as they are about extending an employment offer.

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