Confessions of A Job Seeker
" What's the starting salary?" I had no clue. How was I going to go for a job interview and have no idea how much to ask! That was the situation I was in many years ago when I relocated. I was in the dark to how I was going to negotiate my salary.
The Story Begins
The good thing was that I started thinking about my salary way before I was ready to apply for my job(I needed to secure my state licensure, and it was a long process because I am a Foreign Graduate). That worked to my advantage.
Lesson 1: Think Ahead
Be many steps ahead of the game, so you have the time to research and prepare. If you are thinking about changing jobs, about to finish with college or relocate to another city you need to think about your salary. It's time to find out what the salary range is commensurate to what you have to offer.
Okay, since I knew I had my work cut out for me, I started to strategize on how to gain the knowledge for my salary range based on my experience( skills and all those things you put in your resume). However, I had a big problem, I didn't know a single soul who could help me or so I thought. How was I going to know what my salary would be if I knew no one? (I just relocated and I'm a Foreign Grad, hence my lack of connections)
Lesson 2: There Is Always Someone To Help
You may think that there's no one to help you because you are all alone but that's not entirely true. It will take some work, but there's always someone to help. Keep searching.
I knew I had to find out from people in my field what the going salary rate was( I didn't want to rely on internet research alone - I even checked the US Department of Labor for information, but I wanted real people information if you know what I mean). How was I to meet people within my field when I knew no one (remember I just relocated).
Remember I stated earlier that there are people who can help you if you can look for them. On my way to the gym one day, I noticed a small Physical Therapy Clinic. I didn't think anything of it for a long time. However, one day as a Physical therapist (PT) myself I thought it would be cool to get to know the PT ( good old networking).
I introduced myself to the owner, a kind gentleman.
Lesson 3: Network, network, network.
Learn to connect with the people you meet. My mentor told me that I must always connect with one person in any gathering I go( especially business gatherings). In my case, I connected with the first Physical Therapist I met.
I began to think of how I could capitalize on this new connection I had made. I was new in town, and I needed to step into this world of Paid Physical Therapist. I wanted to know more of what I should expect for my salary
No, I didn't ask him to give me a job, neither did I immediately ask for a salary range. I believed that establishing a relationship was the way to go. Therefore, I asked him if I could shadow him so I could keep myself busy in my field.
Lesson 4: Ask
If you never ask, you won't receive.
Fortunately for me, he agreed. While shadowing him, I made sure that I was fully engaged. I asked questions, made observations and suggestions. I wanted him to know that I was no dimwit! Even though I wanted to know more about my salary (future salary), I didn't focus on that initially.
Lesson 5: Be engaged.
Wherever you find yourself and with whomever you interact with, be engaged. Being introverted is no excuse for lack of engagement. Your silence may kill you( not literally but you know what I mean). Disliking someone or some office is not an excuse either. You engage to demonstrate your value.
And the story goes on
After shadowing him for a few weeks, I thought to myself that I needed to expand my Physical therapy network. I began to look for other settings where I could shadow other Physical Therapists.
Lesson 6: Continue seeking other opportunities.
I figured If I could shadow with one person, why not more. Don't stop at minor breakthroughs, instead build on them.
Long story short I was able to connect with other Physical Therapists in other settings.
One thing I made sure to do was to establish good workplace relationships with them. I not only demonstrated that I knew my stuff, but I also tried to be a good (Pseudo) co-worker. I made myself useful by doing other tasks that I could do.
Lesson 7: Be a good co-worker.
Seriously, there's a lot of stress people face, don't add yours to their plate. Don't be grumpy, opinionated and difficult. People won't always do things the way you like so don't be paranoid about how or what other people do if it doesn't affect your work. Seriously leave your pet peeves at home if you can. Allow other people to be themselves like you want them to allow you to be yourself. Be the kind of worker you want others to be.
Fast Forward a few Months
It was time to interview for my new job( Yay, finally after months, I got my state license.) What did I need for this job apart from what I brought to the table? People who could vouch for me (otherwise called references )and the one thing I was looking for - knowledge of what to my salary range was.
So I asked.
Lesson 8: Ask and Keep Asking.
I know this is a repeat of (4), but I can not overemphasize its importance. You have to ask for what you need or what you want. People are not supernatural hence they can't read minds. No one knows what you need if you don't speak up, so please ask! Ask for that promotion, ask for that job, ask to lead the project, ask for a different schedule. What is the worst thing to happen if you ask? Your request is denied. You've got nothing to lose and all to gain because you may just get a yes!
So, yes I asked for a salary range for someone with my experience, skill and all that. Everyone I asked for information from answered me.
Finally, I had in my hand what I needed. I had real people giving me the least salary to settle for.
I went for my interview all prepped up.
I looked good, and I felt confident. I had practiced my posture, my smile, and even my handshake. I had researched the organization and as much as I could on the Manager.
I had gone over how I was going to negotiate my salary.
Lesson 9: Prepare ahead of time.
I wanted to make sure they(hiring manager) knew that I was their best choice. Your brand is what tells people what you stand for and how you are the best choice them or their business. Are you providing your clients with the experiences that is consistent with your brand? In my 90 minute branding intensive program, I go into details on how to build you personal brand.
My personal brand was important so they could know that I was the real deal. Read more about personal branding
Haa! Thank God for all the work I had put in. Who said getting a job was easy.
Lesson 10: Put into action all you have practiced.
What will be the use if, after all the work and connections you have, you don't act or ask?
Salary negotiation time.
"How much would you like to earn?"
"What are you offering?" bam! ( it felt good saying that). I had made up my mind not to be the first to make an offer. That was my preference then because I was still kinda anxious about asking for my worth.
At the end they came up with an offer, I countered their offer. We went back and forth for a bit till I got what I wanted.
All is well that ends well.
What will your story be? Will you be searching for your first job, a new job or a promotion soon? Have you thought about what your salary will be or how you should negotiate for your salary?
Negotiation is a must for you. It's your right to be paid for what you bring to the table. There are many myths out there that will hold you back from negotiating if you believe them. Linda Babcock and Julia Bear (2017, July 03) wrote about 10 Myths About Negotiating Your First Salary in the Harvard Business Review.
The disadvantage of not asking may have ripple effects on your earnings throughout your career. In this article by Kathleen Elkins, CNBC 's 71% of employees are missing out on a simple way to earn more money, she writes that to boost your earning potential, you must ask. Don't lose out on a lifetime of earnings because you are too scared to ask!
If you have a promotion in your view, then you have the opportunity to negotiate the salary for your new position. According to Maggie Zhang in an article she wrote for the Business Insider How To Successfully Negotiate Your Next Promotion, she states the importance of doing your research and using facts to back up your negotiations.
If you already have a job your co-workers and your boss observe you, unconsciously they take in how you conduct your business at work. They are forming an impression about you every single day. What do they see? Someone deserving of a promotion and it's associated salary? Will they be willing to offer you what you ask for based on how confident you were during your job interview?
It takes a whole lot to succeed in your career. Your career is your responsibility and so are your earnings. You only go as far as you allow. Hence, it is imperative you put yourself at an advantage by demonstrating confidence always. You must own your presence at all times.
The answer to the earlier question lies squarely at your feet. Get help if you need to. Don't waste time. Time is money. There are lots of resources out there. For some, you need a little push and for others, you need more. So get help the help you need and get it now.