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Thoughts on Salary Research, Age Bias, Fielding Job Offers and More

Posted by Patra Frame

Cleared job search is not something most people enjoy. The process is fraught with difficulties on both sides. Too many job seekers also rely on what worked for them in the past. They barely update their resume and then blast it out while doing all their job search online. I see them in LinkedIn groups asking general questions, in resume reviews at Cleared Job Fairs, and as a speaker at career events. Here are a few of the most common issues – and ways to address them.

Desired Pay

Sure, you want a big pay jump with your next job. Or perhaps to change career focus without having to take a step backwards on pay. Do you actually know what the job you seek pays?

When you want to know about current pay levels and trends, talk to people who are hiring for those roles. This is a part of your preparation for the job search. Reach out to those hiring managers in your network for a short phone conversation or coffee meeting and include questions about current pay levels in your discussion. If you do not know any, then ask your connections for introductions to such people.

There is general information online. Smarter employers are including the salary range in their job announcements.

You still need real advice that fits your background and where you’re seeking work. The same job pays very differently based on many factors. For example: where it is located within the metro area – pay in center city is usually higher than in suburbs. What is the focus of the company – is this job core to its work or not? Are they a prime or sub on the contract? What is the size of the company? How easy or hard is it to hire people that match the job requirements in the specific locale?

Marketing Yourself

A resume is critical but not the only tool for marketing yourself. Your resume needs to be specifically written to show the achievements you have which support the job you seek. Of course that means you have already decided what job you want and researched such jobs and potential employers.

You may also find a one-page summary of your experience with a title of the job you seek as a headline is really useful to your networking efforts.

Check yourself out via a search engine to see what others will find in searching on your name(s.) Whether you share a name with someone in trouble or have some stuff you need to clean up yourself, learn what is out there. Correct as needed.

Look at your social media presence carefully. You can learn a lot about companies, jobs, and job search on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook without being very active on the platforms yourself.

A well written LinkedIn profile, however, can be very useful. Many recruiters and hiring managers look for and at applicants on LinkedIn. And you can, if you wish, put all those extras about your early experiences, volunteer work, projects, and such on LI so you can trim your resume to two pages. If you have a profile, remember to include it with your contact info on your resume.  You also can join groups in your field on LinkedIn to keep track of current issues, hiring employers, and such. It’s best not to reference your security clearance on LI as some will immediately discount you from consideration.

Talk to people you know about your search. Ask for information or assistance to improve the range of employers you target, to learn more about each, to enhance your resume, and so on. Build or rebuild connections with past peers at work, good bosses, other people in your field, and people in your target employers.

Consider a job search business card. This card will have the job you seek instead of the job you have on the front along with your contact information. The back side has short highlights about you that will show why you are a great candidate. Use these in networking, at events, and in the interview process to remind everyone what a great catch you are for the jobs you seek.

Age Bias

The workforce is aging but not every company or hiring manager has caught up with that fact. Age discrimination exists. Recently, I got a very upset response to one of my videos from a man who wanted ‘no platitudes’. You can see the actual video at Job Search and Age Discrimination

He was ready to challenge an HR person to a physical fitness showdown and assured me he would win.

Here is some of my response – useful if you are in your 40s on up. Study after study on hiring sources shows that employee referrals – which you get from your networking efforts incidentally – are the #1 source of new hires at companies. Going through HR is not the right approach, unless you are in HR. You want someone you know to introduce you to someone who can hire you – the HR side will catch up. Age discrimination starts early. It  combines with the narrowing of the number of positions for experienced technical and managerial applicants to make searches in the last half of your career more time-consuming. Hiring managers fear such applicants are too expensive, too set in their ways, and yes too old, illegal though that is if they are over 40. Your efforts need to be to find the companies where experience is valued, and those people who actually have open positions requiring your experience and expertise.

Think of your current/last role – how many people your age or older did you hire? How open was your company to such hires?

These realities mean your focus on the right employers and the networking side of job search are critical. It may not be the way you have been making an effort. Or it may be that you have not marketed yourself as well as you need to in terms of your resume or social media or targeting.

Multiple Job Offers

If you’re in demand, you may be juggling several employers’ hiring processes at once.

Ideally, you made a career decision matrix at the beginning of your job search. This should guide your decisions among job offers. Never waste time or energy on jobs which are not really what you want. No amount of money compensates for a bad fit. And you do not want to be going through another job search in a short time because you thought you could ‘make it work’ when you knew it wasn’t right.

Whether a company is speedy or slow in its hiring (which is something you should learn early on, so ask), most expect quick decisions once an offer is made. Some will push for it when they call or say they want to know in a day or two.

Always ask for the offer in writing. You need that to assess that the offer is what you understood it to be and whether there are any caveats or changes in it. If the offer is right and the job is right, accept it and move forward.

If the job is a good match but you are talking to another employer about one that you think is even better:

  • Say you need a few days to discuss with your family. Often a week is acceptable but some employers will push for 48 hours.
  • Consider beginning negotiations on the existing offer if you have any aspects you want to change. While pay is the most common, job scope and vacation are also commonly issues that trigger negotiations.

Meanwhile, call the hiring manager of the other job you are most interested in. Do this only when you feel the interview process has gone well, you have talked to several people, and you think they are likely to make an offer.

  • Reinforce your interest
  • Ask if they are still interested and, if so, how soon are you likely to know if they will make an offer
  • If you know the hiring manager is likely to be receptive (another part of your advance research on target employers), say that you have another offer but would prefer to work with them.

Once you know where you stand, accept one offer and tell the other.

Patra FramePatra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 30, 2019 12:45 pm

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