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Are you Prepared to Answer Questions About Salary?

June 16th, 2017

As you apply for a new position, you’ll probably be asked to supply a resume that documents your previous job titles, and you may be asked to furnish references who can speak candidly about your character. Your prospective employers can use these details– plus any information they find online—to assess your readiness for the role. But most employers don’t want to stop there; they’d like assurance that you can do the job, but they also want to know how much your services will cost. And to make that assessment, prospective employers may ask some challenging questions. Will you be ready to answer? Keep these tips in mind.

Your previous salaries are (usually) your business and your business alone.

Prospective employers do not have a right to your salary history. If you’re asked what you earned at your last job, you’re under no obligation to answer honestly, or at all. Many job seekers don’t recognize this, and when faced with a firm question from a panel of serious-looking hiring managers, they feel pressured to respond. As a result, they’re often presented with an offer that’s equal to or just above whatever they were making in previous roles, and over the long term, this can seriously limit their earning potential and financial growth. Think about it: if you make a negotiating mistake while landing your very first job, this mistake could haunt you for life…but fortunately, it doesn’t have to. Past jobs are in the past, and unless your salary history is publicly available online, it’s nobody’s business but your own.

Answer by providing your preferred range.

Instead of answering with: “I made $52,000 per year, plus benefits,” you can say “My salary was in the fifties.” Even better, you can say: “I’m looking for a salary between $60,000 and $65,000 per year.” It’s what you want and what you’re willing to negotiate for that matters. Be sure the lowest end of your range still falls within the amount you can accept. And keep in mind that an offer at the lowest end of your preferred range sends a message about how much your work is valued and how much this company can afford. Either could indicate a red flag, so keep your eyes open.

Salary history and public employment.

If you work or previously worked in a government role, your salary history may be made public, so recognize this before you attempt to negotiate for an offer that’s vastly above your past earnings. Keep your expectations reasonable, and be ready to provide a clear list of all the reasons why you’re worth what you’re asking for.

For more on how to set the opening stage for your salary negotiation, contact the job search and career management experts at Merritt.

Questions to Ask During Your Interview

October 28th, 2016

As a nervous, hopeful candidate stepping into your scheduled interview, you might think you’re here to answer questions, not ask them. You might imagine that you’re in the interrogation seat, and your employers are the ones who have something to gain by learning as much about you as possible. But that’s only half true. Your interviewers need to gather the facts so they can make a smart hiring decision, but you also have a decision to make. To find out if this job is right for you, turn the tables during your session and make sure you get some answers to these key questions.

Where can I go from here?

You want this job, but of course you don’t plan to settle into this position and keep it until you retire. You have long term career plans that will eventually take you beyond this role, and ideally, you want to work for a company that can help you reach your destination. Can this organization provide opportunities, exposure, training, and room for a promotion—or several? Will your managers coach you and support your plans, or will they work to keep you in your chair? Now is a great time to find out.

How would you describe this company’s culture?

Culture matters, and the atmosphere and energy in this office can influence your job satisfaction, your health, and of course your career growth. Don’t lead the interviewer as you ask; just encourage him or her to speak from the heart and describe this workplace in their own words. Read between the lines as they answer, and know what you’re looking for. What kind of culture will best help you thrive and contribute?

What kinds of qualities will I need to demonstrate in order to succeed here?

Will this job require excessive travel, social interaction, solitude, public speaking, repetition, or constant disruption? What kinds of traits will help you accomplish your daily tasks and form strong relationships with your coworkers and clients? Will your competitive edge help you, or will a more collaborative attitude serve you well as you work to find a place for yourself here?

What will I need to accomplish right away?

Starting on day one, what kinds of problems will you be solving and what kinds of challenges will stand in your way? Will you have a clear set of goals for your first day, week, or six months? If you don’t, that’s okay; you’ll just have to set your goals on your own.

For more on how to make the most of your interview and land the job that’s right for you, reach out to the professional staffing team at Merritt.

Looking for Accounting Talent?

November 13th, 2015

You have a vacancy on your accounting team and you need to staff the position before your remaining team members become overburdened. Or maybe you’ve never needed an in-house accountant before, but now you do, and you want to find someone who can help your growing company make smart financial decisions. In either case, an established, reputable staffing firm can help. And in the meantime, there are several winning moves that you can make on your own. Keep these tips in mind.

Sourcing matters.

As you look for places to publish your post and cast your net, your decisions can have long-term consequences for the success of your accounting department. Don’t just post your position anywhere. Do some research first, and recognize that large national websites will attract one kind of candidate, while small, local, industry-specific sites will attract another. Think about the kinds of students or job-seeking professionals who frequent your chosen outlet. Are these the ones you want?

Don’t engage in adverse selection.

Hiring managers often make a damaging mistake: They set up barriers to entry, like thorns around a forbidden castle. They create a tedious application process, they treat candidates rudely, they conduct harsh, off-putting interviews, and they let candidates sit in the dark for weeks before providing updates. They often believe they’re “weeding out” losers and the uncommitted, but they’re actually doing the opposite. Talented candidates are in demand; they don’t have to put up with nonsense. After the tenth round of adversarial interviews, only the most desperate applicants will still be waiting in line.

Look for thought leaders.

At networking events and industry gatherings, ask for recommendations. If you hear the same name multiple times, track this person down. Look them up online and find out more about them. Sometimes it’s better to pursue passive candidates than wait for active seekers to come to you. If you discover a talented, local, ambitious potential employee somewhere within your professional community, reach out. You have nothing to lose.

Don’t miss opportunities.

Are local universities in your area sponsoring job fairs or career days? Find out and get involved. Have you visited veteran job placement offices in your area? Are you connected with university career placement services? Does your company have a prominent profile in the community? The candidate search is mutual; recognize that your best candidates are searching for you just as you search for them. Raise your profile and they’ll be more likely to see you.

Get help.

Again, your best and most efficient resource will be professional staffing and recruiting experts that can help you source, target, and pursue the accounting talent you need. Call the team at Merritt and arrange a consultation today.

Avoid Burnout on your Team

October 9th, 2015

Your employees work hard for your company. They give their absolute best, one hundred percent of the time, which challenges you to dig deep and give your best in return. Usually, this leads to an upward spiral; you draw inspiration from them and set a high bar for yourself, and they follow your example and do the same. Your customers reap the benefits, and your company grows and grows. But while your orders flow in and you observe this cycle of success, keep one important thing in mind: everything comes at a cost, and every employee has limits. Keep the cycle going by protecting your employees from burnout.

Pay attention.

Watch out for signs of stress. Ironically, the hardest working employees may also work hard to hide the signs of burnout and overload. A cheerful smile and a little extra makeup go a long way, but don’t be fooled. Keep an eye on the loaded plates of each individual employee, and before you assign new tasks, think about the projects they’re already dealing with. If you need to redistribute workloads, don’t wait for your employees to tell you so directly; they probably won’t.

Encourage the use of sick time.

Never encourage your employees to come to the office when they’re sick. This includes both physical and mental health issues, and when they feel anything from a cold to a case of generalized exhaustion, don’t just let them leave, send them home. Even subtle gestures and word choices can inadvertently encourage a culture of “heroism”, which can spread germs, low morale, and disengagement throughout the office.

Recognize different personalities and work styles.

Sometimes a case of burnout can be held at bay with fun activities that help your teams relax, socialize and de-stress. But think carefully. A mandatory weekend retreat in the mountains, a non-optional mini-golf tournament, or expecting every employee to show up at five for a sponsored happy hour at a local bar can actually make the problem worse, not better. Respect the needs of employees who recharge their batteries in their own way. Instead of group fun, consider surprising your teams by letting them leave early on a Friday. Tailor your program to your people and your specific culture.

Listen and respond.

In the meantime, keep your door and your ears open. Some employees may hide their stress, but others will let you know what they need. And when they do, you’ll be wise to listen. If they need better resources or extended deadlines, take action immediately and let them know they can count on you to help them do their jobs.

For more on how to work hard for your employees so they can keep working hard for you, reach out to the Westchester County staffing experts at Merritt.

 

What Does your Online Reputation Say to Candidates?

September 11th, 2015

When talented potential candidates research your organization online, what do they find? And how do these findings influence their decision to choose your company over the competition? As you launch your next candidate search, keep in mind that the selection process moves in two directions, and your best candidates will be scrutinizing you just as carefully as you scrutinize them. Keep these considerations in mind as you move forward.

Put yourself in your candidate’s shoes.

Place yourself in the position of your candidate and run your company’s name through a search engine like Google. Review the items that appear at the top of the list and try to interpret these items the way your ideal candidate might. Do these articles, blogs, social media sites and reviews make your company look interesting, hip, successful, and ethical? Do they make the company seem financially stable? Based on your first impression of the information you find, would you want to work here? Why or why not?

Know where top candidates are looking as they search for information.

Keep in mind that most savvy candidates don’t stop after a quick Google search. Sites like Glassdoor and Salary.com can provide more information about your company culture, what it’s like to work here, how former employees would describe the experience, and of course, how your salary offers line up with others in the marketplace. Keep in mind that your candidate will be seeking out unbiased sources of information that are not sponsored by the company, and your glossy brochure or slick website can’t compete with an unbiased source that provides conflicting information.

Flood the airwaves.

If you don’t like what you find, take action. Establish a social media presence for your organization if you don’t have one already, and make an effort to encourage positive information that can change your message and your reputation for the better. While you’re at it, get ready to defend or explain some of the details that are circulating in the world if your candidate decides to ask about them during the interview process. For example, if your candidate asks you for more information about a recent bankruptcy hearing, an ethical scandal, or a pending merger, don’t be caught off guard. Have your answer ready.

Be proactive.

Before your online reputation becomes a concern, make sure plenty of positive information is published an available. Encourage your current employees to praise the company on social media if they’re happy here. Offer incentives for positive Tweets and posts. You may even consider providing hiring bonuses and rewards for those who actively promote the company to potential employees among their social media connections.

For more on how to attract talented candidates and keep your reputation strong, contact the experienced staffing team at Merritt Staffing.

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