My younger brother recently signed a job offer with a top engineering management company in the area. He studied earned an undergraduate degree in engineering and worked at several other consulting firms as an intern prior to joining this company. He has an extremely strong work ethic and also happens to be a stellar student. His one weakness was experience in negotiating the offer for himself; this is where I stepped in.
Finding the Right Opportunity
I recently read that there are currently over a million software-related technical positions in this country that are currently unfilled. Yet we still have an unemployment rate of 7.9%. What this means is that certain industries have an influx of overqualified workers for certain jobs while others remain unfilled.
If I can throw my 2 cents in here, it’s that if you are overqualified and not getting enough interviews, consider switching your career and taking some online programming classes. There are tons of opportunities in Networking, Database Administration, IT Security and of course Programming/Development across the country.
To find these type of opportunities, here are a few sites to check out:
Determining Your Salary
Using websites like glassdoor.com can help you figure out what you’re worth in the market. Usually years of experience and your level of expertise play a big deal in determining your market value. In technical degrees, primarily in IT related work, advanced degrees do not really factor into salaries.
I always operated that when working for the same company, I assumed a 5% increase every year; however, once I left for another firm, I assumed a 15% increase. In IT, people move around a lot so these numbers are not extremely accurate.
Productively Using LinkedIn
One of the amazing things about LinkedIn is that you can register for tech groups that specialize in your field. For instance, I happen to work as a database developer and have primarily worked using Oracle (database company). I am currently signed up for an Oracle group, a SQL (Structured Query Language) group, and a DBA (Database Administrator) group.
Many head hunters use LinkedIn to find good fits for job openings. It’s very important to specify your strengths and skill sets on your page because headhunters are looking for key words when identifying potential fits.
Also, it’s important to get recommendations from previous coworkers and endorsements for your skill sets.
Tips for Phone Interviews
Once recruiters are contacting you via email, you should specify a time to speak to them on the phone. Phone interviews should be brief with recruiters. You describe your experience as clearly and concisely as possible and let them know your interest in the position.
NEVER discuss money with a recruiter or anyone over the phone. It’s pointless at that phase in the process and you gain nothing by telling them what you want. You always want to discuss the finances with the hiring manager and leave all middle men out.
Tips for In-Person Interviews
These interviews are much longer and require much more discussions. A few important lessons I have picked up.
- Be prepared to story tell experiences where you worked hard, faced hard tasks, and demonstrate patience.
- Smile. Interviewers are not there to intimidate you. You’re there because they need you.
- Be prepared with a salary number in case hiring manager asks.
- Prepare for any potential technical questions they may ask.
- Try to think critically but It’s OK to say you don’t know something. Just discuss how you work hard and learn quickly.
Negotiating a Job Offer
I have about 5 years work experience as a software engineer and over that time frame have worked at 3 Fortune 500 companies as well as one start-up. Over this time frame, I have negotiated for 4 full time positions and also worked on 2 side businesses where I needed to negotiate rates for my work. Needless to say, I have gained a lot of experience in monetary negotiations.
The Rule of Thumb goes that once you’re at the “Offer” phase in the interview process, the company wants you and is trying to acquire you for reasonable value! What this means is that they are always going to offer you a bad initial offer, and you are responsible for negotiating any increase you desire in your overall compensation. There are definitely a few ways to increase your odds of getting more money in your offer, however, simply asking for more will usually not get you where you want to be.
Countering With Other Offers
Usually, once you have a written offer from a firm, they will give you a deadline upon which your offer expires. Usually, you want to accumulate as many job offers in a given time period so that you can review your options. Some companies may offer you higher 401(k) match rates, while others may offer more days of vacation.
The goal of this process is to come back to the company you really want to work for, and counter their offer with every additional benefit you were offered elsewhere. Once a company is extending you an offer, it indicates that they want you and are willing to provide the additional benefits you’re requesting. That’s why it’s crucial to apply to many places to secure the best offer possible.
Signing the Dotted Line
When you’ve finally finished the negotiating process, you can ask for your start date and then sign the paperwork once you get your offer letter. The next step is basically to go to work on time and be ready for a day of HR annoying paperwork.
I advised my brother to do a lot of these things and he successfully got himself a very good job offer starting this July. He also was able to negotiate for an extra 10 days of vacation annually, and a $500 healthy living stipend.