Thanks to the recession, today’s job market is crowded. If an open position at a company would once attract 100 resumes, local employers report, today it will attract 500.
The search can be long and grueling. A local career transition firm recently received an email from a manufacturing manager who finally landed a job after a 17-month search. He had looked at 173,000 job listings, sent 374 resumes and made 70 site visits. Although his desire was to stay in Indianapolis, he was relocating to a large city in another state for the new job.
Here are tips to help you in your job search:
Be prepared for your salary to get a “haircut.” With more job seekers than available jobs, companies appear to be using the imbalance to adjust their salary bands downward.
Rutgers University researchers first surveyed a representative sample of unemployed Americans in August and recently checked back with them to monitor their luck in going back to work. Since August, only one in five of the group who had been out of work for six months or longer had found a job. Of that group, only 10 percent had landed a new position with a salary on par with their previous job. The rest had accepted lower pay and fewer benefits.
Handle the question of salary expectations strategically. In a job listing, employers often ask for your salary expectations or history. You do not want to rule yourself out of a chance at an interview by listing a salary that is too high; conversely, you do not want to short-change yourself if you should land the job by listing a salary that is too low.
Handle the question with a variation of this response: “My most recent base salary was $XX. However, as I understand this opportunity, there is significant growth potential in this position. As my primary interest at this stage of my career is working for a growing company, the matter of salary is negotiable.”
What if you are offered the job and the HR person asks, “What kind of salary are you looking for?” Again, you don’t want to rule yourself out by being too high or shortchange yourself by being too low. Prepare for that moment by researching on www.salary.com what the midpoint of the salary range is for that kind of job in the area where the company is located.
Let’s say you made $68,500 at your last job and, according to www.salary.com, the midpoint of the salary for jobs like the new one in Indianapolis is $78,000. You might say, “My last salary was $68,500, and had I stayed in that position I would be making $75,000 now. I was hoping for a salary of $72,000 to $75,000.” This ensures that the company’s starting point for negotiations will be at your last salary or higher, meaning you will make more money in your new job.
Play good offense if your age might be an issue in a job interview. If you are 50 or over, you want to disabuse the potential employer quickly of the idea that you might work a few years in the new job and then retire. Research the company thoroughly so you can speak knowledgably about the company’s success. Emphasize the future in answers, such as “I see the company is on a growth pattern of X percent a year and I want to work for a growing firm and grow in my skills and contributions to that success.”
Be prepared to move. You like Indianapolis because it’s a good place to raise children, say, or your elderly parents live here. That’s fine — but your best shot at a job might lie elsewhere.
Investigate getting into a new job via a staffing organization. With companies reduced to lean employee rolls, they are filling some of the gaps with temp employees from companies such as Kelly Services, Inc., and Adecco. As the economy picks up steam, companies will make some of those jobs full-time again. If you are already doing great work as a temp in a position, you will be first in line for consideration.
Chuck Williams is dean of the College of Business at Butler University. Marvin Recht, an executive-in-residence at the COB, contributed to this article. For more information on the College and its “real life, real business” approach to business education, visit www.ButlerRealBusiness.com or e-mail Chuck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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