Monthly Archives: April 2015

Negotiating Your Starting Salary

Posted: April 25, 2015 at 2:46 am

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Worried about money

Negotiating a starting salary can be a fraught issue for job seekers, particularly given the current state of the economy. Many of us feel hesitant about asking for more money when we’d be grateful just to be able to pay the bills. A tough job market can also exacerbate common concerns such as being perceived as “greedy”, or unlikable. However, it’s critical not to let fear dictate your salary negotiations. That’s because your starting salary will serve as a base for all future negotiations. If you underestimate your worth now, it may have a negative – and permanent – impact on your future earnings.

So where to begin?

  1. Do your research. When returning to a prospective employer with a request for more money, you must be prepared to back up the number with actual data. Obviously, the internet is a great place to do some initial market research. Salary and Glassdoor are two online resources that provide insight into the average pay of a wide variety of jobs and professions. However, we strongly recommend that you go the extra mile by reaching out to your network of professional contacts. They may be able to provide a much more detailed and reliable picture of potential compensation packages.
  2. Show them the money! Let the company know exactly how you plan to contribute to the bottom line. If you have a proven history of driving revenue, then cite those past examples. No company wants to shell out more money without knowing that they’re going to see it back and then some.
  3. Assess how much leverage you have. Negotiating a starting salary is nothing at all like playing a poker game. Forget bluffing, skip the poker face, and get real about your prospects. If you’re sitting pretty in a well paying job (or on a counter offer), that gives you significant leverage because you can walk if you don’t like their number. If you’ve been sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring for months, then the reality is that there’s just less wiggle room.
  4. Silence is golden. Ask for what you want, and then zip your lips. Mustering up the courage to negotiate can be a difficult, nerve racking task. You might be tempted to soften your ask so the company “likes” you more. This isn’t a popularity contest. They like you plenty. The company probably interviewed several other people besides you for this position, but they picked YOU. So give them time to formulate a response, and have a little faith.
  5. Feeling perky? It’s possible the company can’t fork out more cash for your salary. However, there may be other benefits available that significantly sweeten the deal for you. Maybe that’s summer Fridays, or an extra week of vacation time. You’ll never know unless you ask!

Remember to keep in mind that money isn’t necessarily everything. Your decision to accept an offer might be impacted by the type of work you’re doing, and where you’re doing it. Maybe the length of your commute , or the ability to work from home are critical factors. Or…maybe you do just want the money. And if that’s what you want, best of luck to you. We hope that you go get it!

Four Alternatives to a Traditional Resume

Posted: April 18, 2015 at 2:28 am

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Every job seeker has experienced what it’s like to submit resume after resume only to be greeted by silence. When weeks turn into months, the failure to receive a response can leave even the most intrepid souls feeling dispirited and hopeless. Instead of falling into a downward spiral, consider that it might be time to take a less traditional approach with your resume.  These four resume alternatives may have a significant impact on the number of interview requests that you receive.

  1. Ditch the resume in favor of a proposal. This first tactic is certainly the most drastic, and that’s because it requires getting rid of your resume altogether. In it’s place, you should send a proposal that solves a problem the company is currently facing in the market. There’s no getting around the fact that this particular approach involves some risk, and quite a bit of time and effort. However, one study claimed that sixty percent of their job seekers secured an interview within two weeks of submitting a proposal instead of a resume. While there are never any guarantees, those are pretty good odds if you ask us.
  2. Emphasize relevance, not chronology. Traditional resumes typically break out work history in chronological order. However, that may not be the best way to tell your story. Don’t bury all of your relevant work experience in an effort to conform to an old set of rules. Draw out all of the skill sets and accomplishments that make you a contender, and put them front and center.  It’s still worthwhile to include the rest of your work history, but push it further down on the page where the real estate is less valuable.
  3. Show ‘em you got skill-z. Sometimes, employers just need to know that you’ve got the goods. Plumbers, truck drivers, secretaries, nurses, and dental hygienists are just a few examples of jobs where the same tasks need to be performed with expertise on a daily basis. Job seekers in these fields should place a full list of their skills at the beginning of the resume followed by a work history.
  4. Get graphic. It might be smart to incorporate graphics into your resume. Infographics are valuable because they can highlight your most marketable skills to a recruiter at a glance. However, make sure your design doesn’t jeopardize the ability of search engines to read your resume. We featured some fantastic resume builders in this blog post.

One caveat before you proceed with a resume that breaks with tradition. The point of breaking “the rules” is to paint yourself as a candidate in the best possible light. Don’t get too wacky in a bid to gain attention. Present yourself professionally, and use your knowledge of industry standards to determine whether these four alternatives to a traditional resume are in fact appropriate – and relevant – to your job search.

If you’d like more advice, tips and research to aid you in your job search, visit MyJobHelper.


Writing an Interview Thank You Note

Posted: April 10, 2015 at 8:30 pm

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thankyounote390There’s no better feeling than walking out of a job interview knowing that you nailed it. Go ahead! Take a victory lap past the coffee shop, and indulge in an overpriced frappuccino. Then wipe the whip off your lip, and write a thank you note ASAP before the hiring manager hands your dream job to somebody else.

While writing a thank you note may seem like a formality, it’s critical to sealing the deal. In an online survey, hiring managers overwhelmingly indicated that their decision to hire was impacted by whether a candidate sent a thank you note. They felt strongly that the failure to send a thank you note demonstrated both a lack of follow-through and a sincere interest in the job.

That’s obviously not the impression you want to leave with an employer after slaving away on a resume, and sweating through an interview. Instead, treat the thank you note as an extension of your interview. Reiterate why you’re the best person for the job, and make your enthusiasm for the position abundantly clear.

Here are a few other helpful thank you note guidelines:

  • Keep it brief, no longer than three paragraphs.
  • Send it quickly, ideally within twenty-four hours.
  • Make it personal. Reference specific points of discussion during your interview.
  • Thank everybody that you met individually with a separate letter.

One common point of confusion surrounds whether to send a thank you note via snail mail or email. While email is standard these days, traditional corporations might be the exception to the rule. Keep your audience in mind, and use your judgement. However, we’d like to point out that there is absolutely NO confusion surrounding the use of phone calls and text messages for the purpose of expressing your gratitude – don’t do it. While these modes of communication might be convenient for you, they’re perceived as both inappropriate and sloppy.

If you have a case of writer’s block, that’s certainly understandable. Interviewing is exhausting! Get started using any of the thank you note templates provided here, here, here and here. And remember that you can always come back to MyJobHelper for guidance on resumes, job searches, and interview advice.

Resume Cliches to Avoid

Posted: April 3, 2015 at 2:28 am

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Every job applicant wants their resume to convey that they’re a results driven, go-getter with extensive experience. Right? Of course, that’s how all professionals would like to be perceived. However, spelling out those qualities too literally on your resume can backfire. That’s because a resume filled with cliches, corporate buzzwords and jargon can prompt a hiring manager to toss your job application aside. You might be surprised at some of the phrases that have recruiters rolling their eyes.

Online surveys have indicated that the following phrases are amongst the top resume cliches to avoid:

  • Best of breed
  • Go-getter
  • Think outside of the box
  • Synergy
  • Go-to person
  • Results-driven
  • Team player
  • Hard worker
  • Strategic thinker
  • Detail-oriented
  • Extensive experience
  • Results-oriented
  • Dynamic
  • Proven track record

Aside from appearing boastful, generic language just doesn’t convey enough information about your actual skills and accomplishments. Back your claims up with measurable, tangible examples of your work. Spell out which strategies you developed, revenue streams you created, profits that you increased, projects that you delivered, and the teams that you managed. It’s no small task, but to the victor go the spoils! Oh…was that a cliche? Excuse us while we work on a rewrite.

Don’t forget to visit MyJobHelper for more job search advice, resume building tips and career guidance.