Had an interesting discussion at the employment workshop and thought I would share it here. The workshop is a regular event that my church puts on about once a month. It’s a 10 hour class running over a Friday evening and most of the day Saturday. It’s geared around helping people with their job seeking strategies and improving their skills. Topics include writing a resume, interviewing skills, and managing your career. The people in the workshop are a mix of people out of work, people new in their careers, people changing careers, and people employed but wanting something different. So there’s a good mix and a lot of different viewpoints. I participated in the managing your career section and talked about negotiating salary. The format was a presentation and discussion and we ended up discussing a number of things. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and hopefully will do better next time.
One participant asked “if I ask for more money up front, won’t the employer just go to the next person and I won’t get the job?” This led to an excellent discussion and another blog post.
There are two factors driving that question: fear and lack of knowledge. First the fear. The question came from someone who I got the impression was not working. I know from personal experience that when you lose your job, its very difficult to stay confident in your abilities. There’s a lot of worry and anxiety that comes when you are out of work. Men derive a great deal of self-esteem from their job and their ability to be a provider. When that goes away, feelings of doubt, anxiety, worry, frustration, and depression take over. So its very easy to be fearful that if you don’t accept the job offer as presented, that it will go the next person. Maintaining self-confidence during a job hunt became a theme of the workshop. Here’s a short article from Huffington Post that has some good ideas for keeping confident.
Due to my experiences with being the interviewer and hiring people, I was able to help clarify some things and help with the second part. We discussed how the process works and that when an employer offers a job, they have made a decision that you are the candidate they want to hire. They don’t narrow down to three people and then take whoever will work for the lowest amount. They select one person from the pool of applicants that they think will be the best fit and they make an offer to that candidate. Only if they are unable to get that person do they move to the next candidate. So we emphasized that when you get a job offer, that employer wants you! An employer also has a salary range they are willing to pay and of course they start at the low end. They want to get you with the lowest possible salary while making you happy and productive. If the range is between $100,000 and $115,000, guess what your opening offer will be. Probably closer to $100,000 than $115,000. It becomes your job to get them to the high end of the range.
Plus, it’s actually very difficult to find good employees, especially in IT. I’ve done a lot of interviewing and hiring and I’m always amazed at the stupidity that I’m presented with in interviews. I’ve had a lot of people put things on their resume that they have no clue how to do and then can’t answer questions about it. We had a joke after a round of interviews that anytime anyone uttered a word about a different technology, the whole team needed to put it on our resume. So when the network guy walked in the room and said he had trouble with the Cisco switch over the weekend, we all needed to put Cisco on our resumes because we heard about it. Unbelievable to me when that happens. I make sure I can go into great detail about everything on my resume and tell exactly what I know and what I don’t. Sometimes I spend more time telling the interviewer what I don’t know than what I do. But the point is that it really is difficult to find good people, so when you get an offer, that company really wants you and it’s perfectly acceptable to negotiate a little.
Overall, the workshop experience was great. I hope I helped a little. I enjoy helping others and get a lot of satisfaction out of doing things like that. Here’s to hoping that everyone in the class will get great jobs and be wildly successful.