Posts Tagged ‘compensation’

How to Interview for a Role You’re Underqualified For

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

So, you applied for a job even though you didn’t quite meet the requirements, and your fabulous cover letter and resume landed you an interview. Nice job!

At first, you feel pretty awesome—it’s nice to know that someone recognizes your potential! And then it dawns on you: There will be an interview. Meaning, you’ll also need to interview for a role that’s slightly out of reach.

Thankfully, just like there are tricks for phone interviews and panel interviews, there are ways to prepare for—and shine in—a reach interview. Here’s your two-step plan.


Step 1: Know (and Nail) The Basics
Secret Weapon: Find an Inside Source

Even if you’re a little light on experience, your application can squeak by to the interview round if it has “something special.” But the interview is the time to “put up or shut up.” Yes, there was something in your letter that told the hiring manager not to rule you out, but in order to be ruled in, you’ll need to demonstrate that you could perform the tasks required of someone in this role.

How can you prove you’re up to the challenge?

Well, you’ll need the scoop on what anyone in the position would know—and you’ll need it from an insider. So, you’ll want to find someone who’s established in the field who is willing to answer three to four questions over email or hop on the phone for 15 minutes. Don’t look for just any acquaintance: If you can’t find a close confidant, search LinkedIn for second-degree connections of your most trusted contacts and inquire about an introduction.

As with any informational interview, you’ll want to do prep work in advance to narrow in on the gaps in your knowledge. Is there industry jargon you don’t quite understand? Perhaps a landmark study quoted in every article you read, but you’re not sure why it’s so important? And then, your third question should always be something along the lines of: “What would anyone interviewing for this role need to know?”; “Are there any givens that everyone should know?”; or “What am I missing?”

Worst-case scenario, if you don’t know (or can’t find) anyone, try industry message boards or even Googling the answers to your questions. (But still make it a priority to build your network ASAP.)

In a reach interview, you can compensate for being lighter on skills or experience by seeming totally immersed in the company and industry. For example, even if you’ve never used the exact software the company uses to track its emails, you’ll seem capable if you’ve heard of it, and—if along with discussing a recent newsletter (which any candidate could do)—you also discuss how it reflects the shifts in communication recently advocated by a major thought leader in the sector. A little extra research can make all the difference in looking clued in and ready to go, rather than out of your league.

Step 2: Make the Leap From Transferable to Additive Skills
Secret Weapon: Come With Actionable Out-of-the-Box Ideas

Transferable skills are a critical discussion point in reach interviews. They’re the backbone of how you’ll frame your experience for the interviewer. Transferable skills turn “zero years of formal marketing experience” into “three years in sales and two more in client relations, which inform a unique perspective on marketing.”

But sometimes—especially in reach interviews—transferable skills are not enough. Even if you can discuss them in a way that sufficiently compensates for the experience you’re lacking, that only gets you into the “could do the job” category. To advance to the “would be incredible in the role” category, you need to make the leap from transferable skills to additive skills.

An additive skill is something unique that you bring to the table—in addition to everything that’s expected. Think about it: If you’re slightly underqualified, there’s a reason why. If you spent the first two years of your career in a different sector, you bring experience from that industry. If you’re younger than everyone else applying for the role, odds are you submitted an extraordinary cover letter or have impressive networking contacts.

You have something that evens out your lack of experience or technical skills, and the interview is your chance to demonstrate how significant it would be. For example, I once interviewed for a position that would require building a program, and without prompting, I discussed impressive, relevant personal contacts I could tap. I emphasized something extra and individual to me. The other candidates — the ones with more classic experience — might not have thought to do this.

Yes, interviewing for a role that’s a bit out of reach is daunting. But we use the terms “stretch” and “reach” for a reason, because if you extend yourself and put in a little extra effort, you just may find the opportunity in your grasp.

Original from the Muse

Salary Negotiations: The Lie of Leverage and the Pursuit of Gain

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

A pay hike or a salary increase is something every professional eagerly looks forward to.

Many professionals, however, wait to renegotiate their salary with their existing employer until after they have received an offer from another employer, using it as leverage. This is generally not the best idea, as many people who accept a counteroffer and stay at their current company inevitably leave within a matter of months. This stems from a number of factors:

  1. By even contemplating another offer, you have shown disloyalty and the company will treat you accordingly going forward.
  2. If your company knows you are entertaining other offers, they will likely build their plans for the department and organization without you. They will utilize the time they bought by giving you a raise to find your replacement.
  3. You will likely find yourself at the end of the line when it comes to future pay increases and/or promotions, which will encourage you to leave on your own.

The fact is that employers do not want to lose experienced, talented, and loyal employees to rival firms and thus it is not generally necessary to obtain that sort of leverage. A salary negotiation discussion can commence with either a direct conversation with your boss or with the human resources department, depending on your company’s structure. Here are a few tips to take your salary negotiation forward:

  1. Be clear about what why you think you deserve the increase. HR managers are used to salary increase requests coming in from employees at all levels. They will not necessarily be inclined to give an increase unless it is justified (and having problems paying your mortgage will, unfortunately, not be sufficient; neither will complaints about other workers making more than you, for whatever reason). It is important, therefore, to provide concrete examples of your achievements, typically, though not always, through a direct employee evaluation.
  2. Be aware of your own worth and do your best to invest in its increase. Build your skill set via training, education, and certification, acquiring skills that may be transferable to other jobs in the future. This will not only help you become more indispensable to your current team but also to your company as a whole and may provide you the background to transition into a new department or into a manager role in the future (bringing with it an increase in salary).
  3. When entering negotiations, do not start off by giving a specific number or percentage. Employers will often ask for this information upfront but it’s generally best to avoid the temptation to provide it. Instead, begin by showing what you have done in the past year and what you plan to do in the coming months and years for the company and ask the employer what he or she believes those past and future achievements are worth. This will get the negotiations started and by then bringing in industry figures, past salary history, etc., you will be in a firm position from which to negotiate the best possible increase. Be polite but firm. This isn’t Oliver Twist asking “Please, sir, may I have some more?”; you deserve it.

Negotiating Salary

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Salary negotiation skills must be an essential component of every professional’s career toolbox if they are going to achieve new levels of earning power. Negotiating salary, however, is never an easy task, especially when a professional is highly motivated, if not desperate, to take the job, or any job. Salary negotiations can be quite intimidating unless they are conducted in a prudent and productive manner. Even though you might deserve a better salary, it is extremely important to convey this fact in an appropriate way to a potential employer.

One of the most important aspects of salary negotiation is knowing what you might expect from a potential employer and understanding what you are wiling to accept. If the employer lists a number or a range on a job ad, go with that. If there is a recruiter involved in the process, ask the recruiter. You should also determine, in advance, the lowest level of compensation you will accept, beneath which you will be ready to walk away from the table. This ensures that you will be prepared for any offers that may come and that you will not accept, even verbally, any offer you may later regret.

Do not rush into negotiating salary during the interview process; rather, be patient and wait until the job has been offered to you. In case you are required to provide compensation expectations in advance, you must be vague and offer a salary range suitable to the job or industry, indicating that the compensation package is dependent on the specifications of the job. Never pinpoint your ideal compensation while there are other candidates still in the candidate pool. Wait for the potential employer to provide you with a starting number from which you can then begin negotiating your salary.

You must be well-informed about the fair market value of your skills and expertise and also of the position that you are seeking. Research what the company’s competitors are paying for the same job. Even though you will probably not tell a potential employer what their competitors are paying, you can always use the information to determine how far you can go during negotiations.

You should also cite examples from your past achievements to use as leverage in the process. Emphasize to the hiring manager what you can bring to the team, the ideas that you already have for making improvements, and the successes that define your background up until today.

It is extremely important that as a candidate you understand the financial position of the company as well as the budget for the position that you are seeking. If the company is financially stable, expanding, or is having difficulty filling the role for some reason, you can always negotiate for a hike in the offered compensation; however, if the company does not have much flexibility or you are already aware that the department is making cutbacks elsewhere, it is always best to be reasonable and not attempt to drive the compensation above where you believe the employer is willing to go.