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Matt's Editorials: Sailing is a Metaphor for Life

Money is important

When it comes to deciding if someone is a fit for a particular position, industry experience and candidates current locations are often the first criteria that employers consider when weeding out applicants. After these first two issues appear to be satisfactory, the next point of focus is your recent work history. What have you done in the last ten years that is applicable to the job in question?

Much of this kind of information can be quickly gleaned from a resume and is often followed up by a telephone interview. Whether the call is from a contingency or retained recruiter, or even from a corporate recruiter, the last point on the check list is usually money. Let’s be honest, money is important.

I will pretty much believe anything anyone tells me, if they tell it to me with conviction. But the issue with money is that folks who do the hiring have a hard time believing that anyone will work for less than they were recently earning or historically earning. As a candidate you need to be aware that the higher your earnings have been with respect to the current job, the more difficult your sales pitch is.

If you live extremely close to the job in question, that certainly gives you a leg up on other candidates, but since most of our expenses in life are fixed, I don’t think this issue is given as much weight as it should. A shorter commute doesn’t do much to lower college tuition for your children.

The goal for any job seeker is to get the person handling the hiring process to tell you up front what the salary range is for the job. Information is power. Without knowing what you are selling into, it is very hard if not impossible to develop a proper sales pitch. Saying you will work for food or even equity when these are not items on the table makes you appear desperate or worse. You should also be aware that no one can make you come to work. So, it is not possible to draw up an agreement that you will stay no matter what, since it is not in any way enforceable.

In the many discussions I have had with hiring authorities over the years I have always been able to wring a salary range out of them. After saying they will pay compensation appropriate to your experience, or market or any of the other vague words that mean absolutely nothing, if you keep asking the question they will finally give in and tell you. It is an appropriate question and one they should answer. Everyone is looking for a bargain. But, in my humble opinion employers are the ones who should really go first, not candidates.

Any job has a market value and you may or may not want to bid on it. I think that is your decision. If you know what you are getting yourself into, I don’t have a problem with your being considered. Just as past performance in an investment is no guarantee of future returns, historical pay patterns are no guarantee that you will earn as much in your next job, or that you feel you need to earn at that level. Again, the issue is how hard a sales pitch you need to do.

What are the reasons you are considering taking a cut in pay? First, if you aren’t working, you aren’t taking a cut in pay. Being unemployed you don’t have a salary. Second, you may be at a different point in your life. Hard for me to judge your salary requirements, that’s why I always ask. If you are truthful and have given it serious thought, who am I to argue with you?

Be prepared for the question. When you answer it, don’t hedge your bets. Be clear and be convincing. As they say about the lottery, you can’t win unless you’re in it.

Regards, Matt

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