Questions and Answers with Career Expert Louise Kursmark
Please note: On a somewhat infrequent basis, Quintessential Careers asks noted career experts five questions related to their expertise and publishes the interview in the current issue of QuintZine, our career e-newsletter. Those interviews are archived here for your convenience.
Louise Kursmark is an author, speaker, and president of Best Impression Career Services, Inc.
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||We’ve left the heady days of signing bonuses and are in the midst of an employer’s market for job-seeking. What techniques can you offer for successful salary negotiation at a time when the employer seems to be in control?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Understand your value and know what is competitive in the marketplace. Without this information, you are basing your salary negotiations on what you “think you deserve” or how much you want to earn based on your last position. Throughout the interview process, focus on communicating the value you offer. If you can convince an employer that you bring more benefit than cost, you’ll make the hiring decision a no-brainer. And once an employer has decided to “buy” (hire) you, you gain an advantage in the negotiating process. So don’t discuss salary too early, avoid being the first to mention a number, and constantly bring the discussion back to whether you’re the right person for the job based on “fit” and the benefits the company will gain from hiring you.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Without giving away all your “trade secrets,” can you give our readers a little taste of how you coach clients in the art of salary negotiation?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||For successful negotiating, it is absolutely essential that job seekers learn the “salary dance” — how to redirect questions about salary, how to not answer without giving offense, and how to avoid making salary a focal point of early interviews. They must also do their homework, as noted in the previous question. And they must become comfortable and confident in their answers — which will come only through practice. Just as importantly, they must know when they should reveal salary information — to whom, in what circumstances, and how to do so most effectively. And finally, they should think about non-salary compensation, benefits, and perks that are important to them and use these as further negotiating tools.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Opinions differ on the extent to which the economy is recovering, and the employment picture seems to change from day to day. From your observations and experience, just how tough is the job market today? How can job-seekers achieve success and stand out from the crowd in such a competitive market?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:|| There’s no question today’s job market is tough when compared to just a few years ago. More people are unemployed, and they’re taking longer to find jobs. But in the big picture, it could certainly be worse! There are jobs to be found, and even in this challenging economy the average length of unemployment is just under 20 weeks — that means most people are finding jobs in less than five months, which is a reasonable period of time given the multi-step hiring process used by most employers. To beat the odds and the averages, job-seekers should:
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the best way to uncover job leads — or do you advise multiple methods? What’s the best combination of methods and what percentage of a job-seeker’s time should be spent on each?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||As a job-seeker, you should throw a lot of lines in the water — you never know which one will catch the fish! Multiple methods is definitely the way to go. Be careful to spend no more than 10 percent to 15 percent of your time on “mass” methods such as responses to Internet postings and newspaper ads. At least 50 percent of your time should be spent in vigorous networking activity — a recent survey by the New York Times revealed that 64 percent of people find jobs through networking! Combine networking with research, and you’ll create a powerful program that will put you in contact with people and companies that are a great match for what you have to offer. Don’t neglect professional associations, recruiters, and college career centers (for alumni as well as new grads), and never assume that someone you know won’t be able to help you. Your next job could come from the most unlikely source.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the biggest mistake job-seekers make that your advice could correct or prevent?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||From my perspective, the biggest mistake is neglecting networking because you don’t understand how to do it effectively or “don’t like asking friends for a job.” Networking is a powerful tool to achieve ongoing business and personal goals as well as essential for a successful job search. Learn to incorporate a networking approach into all of your activities, and you’ll enrich your life and ease your job search. You might even learn to love it.|
Louise Kursmark, president of Best Impression Career Services, Inc., provides resume-writing and career assistance to professional and executive clients worldwide. She is professionally certified as a resume writer (MRW, CPRW), interview trainer (CEIP), and job-search coach (JCTC) and has earned six national awards for excellence in resume writing. She is the author of nine published and several forthcoming books on career topics such as resumes, cover letters, and career planning and is a frequent speaker and presenter to both industry and community groups. After graduating from Bay Path College in Longmeadow, MA, she spent her early career in public relations before launching her own career-services firm in 1982. A native New Englander, she has lived in the Cincinnati area since 1995.
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