I had a business lunch with an associate yesterday, and it gave me an idea for this week’s post. This guy is smart, social, mega-networked, and just plain awesome. So why is he unemployed? Well, when he finishes his MBA program this year, he’ll have a degree, but no prospects. It’s one of the ugly realities of our current economy.
I wanted to talk with him about his job search and how he can distinguish himself from the pack. Despite all his wonderful qualities, most employers will pass on him simply due to a lack of experience in today’s tough market. Rather than focusing on finding the right opportunity with the right company, he has been applying for any postings he can find—likely resulting in several generic cover letters and resumes sent everyone’s way (with no indication that they care about or understand our business). In this market under these conditions with his background, it is an entirely reasonable response…but not enough if he wants to do more than just survive.
What Is Your “Self” Worth?
One thing we talked about at lunch was the fact that he needs an “offer letter” to show potential employers during his search. His resume and cover letters will help him get meetings, but unless there is a firm offer in hand, companies aren’t going to take it further than that. He said that most companies want someone for six months or a year—with many types of jobs also requiring some form of security clearance before they can even consider you. In other words, it’s not as simple as getting six months’ salary saved up and then quitting your job.
In general, I think the best strategy with any job change is to always aim higher–but this situation requires something different: make yourself more valuable by increasing your income.
Now Here’s Where I Tell You What I Told My Friend: Aron Govil
The key to increasing your income understands the market and knowing how much companies are willing to pay. For any given position, there’s a “market price” that the company will try to meet or beat by bidding for quality candidates on sites like a monster.
This is part of how we work at our agency—we never accept an offer on someone unless it meets or exceeds what we think they’re worth (and yes, that means turning down some clients). It also requires us to know exactly what the job pays so that we can always propose more than their starting point—not just here in Denver where I am, but anywhere else in which one of the consultants resides. If you’re going to put a number on it, then you need to be sure that you know what’s behind door #2.
In general, the best way to do this is simply to ask around. When I’m working with one of my recruiters or consultants and they tell me an offer is coming in, I’ll often joke “make sure there are plenty of zeros involved.” It sounds crude and unromantic (and it’s not), but the reality is that we’re just having fun with numbers at that point. You can also research salary levels online for almost any type of role—I use payscale.com —but sites like Glassdoor contain all sorts of other information as well. If someone has worked similar projects or done similar jobs, then Glassdoor will have a lot of info on what they’ve made. You can always get a standard salary range from sites like Salary, but you’ll never know for sure unless you can pinpoint your market value with your own research.
One Final Note:
If I was in my friend’s shoes and wanted to land a new job quickly (and especially if I had an MBA program hanging over my head), I’d probably try to take anything that opened up at this point—even if the pay wasn’t great or the type of work wasn’t my cup of tea. But make no mistake: It is far better to be working in a tough job market than it is to be unemployed and looking every day (or worse, unemployed and not looking).
Conclusion By Aron Govil:
The key to increasing your income understands the market and knowing how much companies are willing to pay.
Wise words from a friend that have helped him find employment during a difficult time! Although people might be quick to say that recent graduates don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to salaries, if you look around then you’ll see that there are some gems.