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Secrets of Power Salary Negotiating
Inside Secrets From a Master Negotiator
By Roger Dawson, Jodi Brandon
Career PressCopyright © 2006 Roger Dawson
All rights reserved.
Preparing the Resume
Things to Exclude From Your Resume
If you haven't applied for a job for a long while, you may not be aware that anything that could be considered discriminatory is a no-no in today's politically correct world. Employers are not allowed to ask your age, sex, marital status, religion, height, weight, or whether you smoke, and you're not to offer that information. The person who reviews your resume will immediately exclude you if you do. For one thing it shows that you're hopelessly out of touch, and for another it smells of an attorney trolling for a discrimination lawsuit.
How to Increase Your Chances of Getting Your Resume Read
The key issue is to make it relevant to the job for which you're applying. It's better to send 10 resumes that are tailored to the job than 100 resumes broadsided in the hope that one of them will attract attention. Remember that the HR director may be reviewing 50 or 60 resumes a day—perhaps more if the company accepts e-mail resumes. They are looking for ways to eliminate applicants at that stage. Lack of relevant background will get you kicked out. If you have tailored your resume to the job opening, the initial response may well be, "This could be just the person we're looking for. Let's get this one in for an interview."
The Optimum Length of a Good Resume
Consider the way that editors train their journalists to write stories: an attention-grabbing headline to make the reader want to read it, and a concise and interesting first paragraph that clearly states what the story is about. From then on, the story grows and expands with detail. You don't have to read it all to understand what it's about, but if the article continues to hold the reader's interest, they will read it to the end. Use the same formula when you're writing your resume. Your resume should scream, "I can solve your problems for you!" Use an attention-grabbing headline that is directly relevant to the job opening. Include a well-written description of your experience, starting with your most recent position and work back in time.
Don't let anyone tell you that a long resume is a mistake. A long resume is only a mistake if it's boring. If it continues to grab the interviewer's attention, it can be several pages long. A long resume is fine as long as the employer can pick it up and quickly see what he or she needs to know about the applicant. Long resumes are a big mistake when the employer tries to get to the crux of the applicants qualifications, but can't.
Some people write resumes with such gravitas that they think the employer will be so excited to get their resume that they will clear their desk to concentrate on reading it, and then call a hiring committee meeting to consider it. A more realistic approach would be to think of an employer groaning as he or she plows through a stack of 200 resumes. Your first challenge is to have your resume grab his or her attention.
Following Up After Sending the Resume
Should you call the employer after sending the resume? Only if you want to get hired! Call three days after sending the resume. Don't call to ask if they got it. That's lame, and if they have a stack of 200 resumes on their desk they probably won't know anyway. Remember that the purpose of your call is to get to the next level, which is the first interview. They're not going to hire you from a phone call, so don't even try to get hired. Focus on getting the interview. Use the lively "I can solve your problem" approach: "If you need someone to open up that territory in Alaska, I'm the perfect person for you. That's exactly what I did for my last company, and sales were 320 percent over budget. When can we get together? Would Wednesday or Thursday be better for you?" If you can't get an interview with this call, tell them that you'll call again in three days—and be sure that you do it.
Should You Include a Picture With Your Resume?
Use good judgment on this. If you think it will help, include a picture. If you have any reason to think it would be a negative, leave it out. Be sure that the picture is businesslike. No cheesecake. No vacation shots or jumping-out-ofa-plane shots.
Once they have interviewed you, the rules change. Include your picture on everything so they can recall you better. It's very easy to insert a small picture under your signature in a computer-generated letter.
Mistakes in Resume Preparation
1. The number one mistake is that your resume doesn't directly address the employer's needs, because you have submitted the same resume that you've sent to 200 other employers. What's so hard about customizing your resume to the job opening when you're doing it on a computer?
2. The second mistake is that the resume is confusing to read because it's loaded with technical jargon. Don't ask someone with a master's degree to review it; ask your friend who flunked out of high school. If he or she can figure out what job you're applying for, you're on the right track.
3. The third error is that it has spelling or grammatical errors. Every HR director I interviewed told me that they're surprised that they constantly get resumes with blatant grammatical errors and obvious spelling mistakes. How hard is it to use a spell and grammar checker? They conclude that some applicants don't even read their own resumes or cover letters before they send them off. If the resume is too dull for the applicant to read, how does he or she expect the employer to be thrilled?
Tailor Your Style to the Job Opening
If you're applying for a job as a sales manager at a used car superstore, you wouldn't use the same writing style as someone applying for a job as operations manager at a nuclear power plant. The sales manager might want to start with a blaring headline such as, "You want to move 200 cars a day?! I'm the one you need!" The operations manager approach would be much more low key—for example, "Experienced, qualified, calm as a rock under pressure."
If you're experienced in your profession or occupation you'll know the approach that will best please the employer.
Don't Forget to Include ...
There are some important elements that you might forget to include, but could be critical in landing you that interview.
* Computer competency. Just about any job requires knowledge of computers and computer software these days, to say nothing of Blackberries and MP3s, so be sure to tout the equipment you can use and the software with which you're comfortable. Of course, if you're certified by one of the software manufacturers, such as MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer), CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate), CNE (Novell Certified NetWare Engineer), or CAN (Novell Certified NetWare Administrator), you'll want to feature these valuable credentials.
* Charitable work. Volunteerism is big these days, so be sure to mention the Habitat for Humanity that you've helped build, the soup kitchens at which you've served, the golf tournaments you've run, and the money you've collected for charity.
* Foreign languages. The global village is here, and it's hard to think of a company that doesn't have some business overseas, so let employers know if you speak any foreign languages. Knowledge of Japanese or Mandarin could be a job cincher.
A Surefire Way to Get an Interview
Here is a great idea when you are having trouble getting the employer to grant you a first interview. My old friend Tim Rush taught me this one. It has four stages to it, and I'll be surprised if you get to stage four without getting an interview even with the most recalcitrant HR director.
* Stage One: Type up a brief introduction letter that says, "In a very big way I think I can do a terrific job for you." Take it down to Kinko's or your local print shop and have them blow it up into a 2-foot by 3-foot poster. Wrap it up and mail it to the HR director.
* Stage Two: Get an old shoe and mail it to them with a big card enclosed that says, "Now that I've got my foot in the door, I'd like an opportunity to tell you what I can do for you." One warning here. Don't do this if the recipient is Arab, Persian or Thai. Showing the bottom of your foot to these people can be very insulting. In that case, skip Stage Two and go to Stage Three.
* Stage Three: Buy a hammer at the 99-cent store and put it in a box with a big card that says, "I'd like to drive home the point that I'm the perfect person for the job."
* Stage Four: Buy a small gardening spade and box it up with a note that says, "Why don't you dig my resume out from that big stack on your desk and give me a call?"
If that doesn't work, send a note that says, "I've been trying to get my foot in your door for two weeks now. At least I managed to get my shoe in the door. Now will you let me hobble in for an interview and give me my shoe back?" If the HR director has any sense of humor at all, he or she will admire your creativity and grant you the interview long before you get to this stage.
Key Points to Consider:
* The purpose of a resume is to get you a face-to-face interview. Nothing more.
* Leave out any information that could be discriminatory. Employers are not allowed to ask your age, sex, marital status, religion, height, weight, or whether you smoke (and you're not to offer that information).
* Make your resume directly relevant to the job being offered.
* A long resume is okay as long as the important information is upfront. Model your opening after a good, attention-grabbing headline in a newspaper, and then expand on the story later in the resume.
* Imagine that the reader is reviewing a stack of 200 resumes. What in your resume makes him or her pick up the phone and call you in for an interview?
* Follow up with a phone call within three days.
* Use the "I can solve your problem" approach.
* Triple-check your spelling and grammar. With today's computer software, there is no excuse for errors.
* Tailor your style of writing to the job opening.
* Be creative in your attempts to get a face-to-face interview!CHAPTER 2
Gathering Information About the Company
Using the Internet to Find Job Openings
The Wall Street Journal has an excellent site intended for college graduates (www.college.wsj.com). Do a keyword search for "chemist," for example, and you get 29 job openings around the country. You get specific employers and locations and you can click through to apply for the job online.
The granddaddy of job search Websites is Monster (www.Monster.com). If you enter "chemist" at that site, you find 987 job openings.
If sticking your head in the federal government trough appeals to you, try jobsearch.usajobs.opm.gov/index.asp, which has 81 openings for chemists. If you want to find out what a federal job pays, find out the grade and the step and go to www.opm.gov. Click on "General Schedule and Locality Pay Tables." It's written in government-speak, but you should be able to figure it out.
The federal government offers a massive Website from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Getting information from this site can be thought of as taking a sip of water from a fire hose, but it's all in there somewhere. You're paying for it—or at least you will be when you find a job and start paying taxes, so you might as well use it.
Learning More About the Company
Learning more used to be hard work, but with the Internet it's easy:
* Thoroughly read the company's Website. Find it by going to Google (www.google.com) and type in the company name. Be sure to read the press release section so that you're up on current events at the company. It makes you appear so informed to be able to say, "Didn't you open a new assembly plant in Bangladesh last month?"
* Look the company up at the Standard and Poor's Website (www.standardandpoors.com). This is a McGraw-Hill company that researches companies and sells the information to subscribers, but it gives a lot of free information about companies on its Website.
* Use Hoovers (www.txihoovers.com) to research the company. This is a Dunn and Bradstreet company that sells information to subscribers, but it also offers a lot of free information on its Website.
Key Points to Consider:
* Use the Internet to learn everything you can about the company.
* If you're graduating from college, check out www.college.wsj.com. It's the Wall Street Journal job-opening site for college graduates.
* Monster (www.monster.com). is the biggest job search site.
* If working for the federal government appeals to you, go to www.usajobs.gov. (You can find Federal pay grades at www.opm.gov.)
* Research a company by going through Google (www.google.com). Put in the company name and hit "I feel lucky." Be sure to research the press release section for current company news.
* Go to Standard and Poor's (www.standardandpoors.com) to check what it has to say about a company. It's a portal for an expensive subscription service, but you can learn a lot about a company without charge.
* Dunn and Bradsheet's opinion of a company can be found at www.hoovers.com. Again, it's a portal site, but you can learn a lot without paying.CHAPTER 3
Preparing for the Interview
As is the case with anything else, the more prepared you are for the interview, the more relaxed you will be, and the better you will do. Preparation is the key. I remember when I did my first (and last) parachute jump, I was absolutely terrified when I showed up at the jump zone in the morning, but after a few hours of having them show me the equipment and jumping off higher and higher platforms, I had enough confidence to get on the plane—I was still terrified, but at least I had my fear under control.
Contrast that with a time when I went scuba diving in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. I went with a group from a cruise ship, who were nearly all first-timers. By law, they had to take a short class to qualify them to dive. When we arrived at the dive shop, their classroom was full, so our instructor said, "Never mind, I'll teach you on the way down to the beach." He loaded us onto an open-sided bus and, as it roared around the curves to the beach, he stood in front of us holding up the equipment and yelling instructions to us. It was totally inadequate. As you can imagine, the dive was a nightmare. Most of the would-be-divers panicked before they got their shoulders underwater and only a handful of us completed the dive, even though we were only in shallow water. Preparation is the key to overcoming fear and building self-confidence.
It's a good idea to go on a few interviews for jobs that you don't care about, just to develop some confidence. This will help you get a feel for how it goes and what to expect.
Excerpted from Secrets of Power Salary Negotiating by Roger Dawson, Jodi Brandon. Copyright © 2006 Roger Dawson. Excerpted by permission of Career Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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