Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not Your Average Networking Post

Written based on the expertise of Cindy Hosea, Associate Director of Graduate Accounting Program and Information Systems Graduate Program – Kelley Graduate Career Services.

Cindy Hosea
Jane* conducted her job search like just about most other college students. She applied to jobs that fell within her scope, showed up for career fairs, and went to nearly every company-hosted event on campus. Which is why she was left confused and discouraged when she was approaching graduation without a job or even the prospect of an offer.

When she approached her career coach, it wasn’t hard to figure out what had happened. Jane had been showing up to the right events, but she hadn’t been engaged. Fortunately, she made another right choice in showing up to career services. Her coach explained that companies weren’t hiring her because they didn’t know her – there was no one advocating on her behalf. The session that happened in Cindy’s office that afternoon was a breakthrough, both for Jane’s immediate job search and the rest of her professional career. Their plan of action first set out to tackle the self-limiting thoughts that were holding Jane back from networking from the start.

Hurdle #1: Networking feels so awkward. I hate pretending to be friends with people to get what I need.
If this is your mentality, you should feel awkward! No one enjoys being used. Unfortunately, it’s often the case that the urgency of getting a job often can get in the way of building a relationship. Relationships take time, and although you may not feel like that’s something you have much of at the moment, successful networking is going to take commitment and a change of attitude.

Hurdle #2: Why would they want to talk to me?
This isn’t as much about them as it is about you. When you strip everything else away, this is actually your pride getting in the way. It can be hard to put yourself out there and risk rejection, but so many people are just excited to help! Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would feel if someone wanted to learn about you – pretty good feeling, right?

Hurdle #3: I don’t know what questions to ask.
Nothing that can’t be taken care of with a little planning. Making an agenda for your conversation takes a little work, but that’s the least you can do. It can be as simple as:
"Do you mind if we start with a few questions about your career, in general, and then more specifically to projects you are currently working on? My goal for the call is to learn ___."  
From there, just go with the flow. Have a list of open-ended questions prepared ahead of time, but be open and flexible to how the conversation progresses. If your conversation partner says something interesting, it’s okay to deviate from the list and ask a follow-up question.

Jane’s story has a happy ending. She developed relationships with several people Cindy put her in touch with, and she ended up with not one but three offers before graduation. Once the alumni got to know her, they knew Jane would represent them well and they would look good for bringing in such great talent, once again proving networking isn’t as one-sided as you might have believed. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of getting out of your own way to help both of you out.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't Sell Yourself Short: 5 Things to Do Before Signing on the Dotted Line

Written based on the expertise of Kendell Brown, Associate Director of Alumni Relations – Kelley Graduate Career Services.

You’ve had your eye out for this job for months, endured multiple rounds of interviews, and waited weeks in agonizing silence to hear your fate. The day has finally come where the silence has broken and the offer is yours!

After going through this long and arduous process, the temptation to sign on the dotted line and make it official is attractive. But this is 2017. You owe it to yourself to take a long hard look at the deal in front of you and open up discussions for negotiations. According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, nearly half of workers accept the first offer given to them. Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University asserts that by not negotiating, employees are costing themselves anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million over a lifetime.

With so much at stake, why is half the population so hesitant to even bring up the conversation? The most obvious reason that comes to mind is the fear that the offer will be rescinded. The probability of an offer being taken back is extremely low, especially if the discussion is done in a respectful manner. Negotiations are an extremely normal part of business, and there’s no reason to feel bad to engage in one. That being said, we do have a few words of advice for when the time comes.

1. Identify your values.
As strange as it may sound, your values are at the heart of every piece you will negotiate. Asking for a higher starting salary isn’t so that you can stockpile your cash, but so that you’re able to do what’s important to you. Whether it’s a trip to a foreign location, a bigger house for your family, or the ability to be able to leave at 5 pm every night, what’s most important to you will be displayed through your asks.

2. Be specific in your requests.
By being specific in what you ask for, you give the company something to react to. Ask for more than you’re willing to settle for, and work in a bit of wiggle room for when they counter. On that note, don’t make outrageous suggestions. (i.e. asking for a $200,000 salary when the offer says $150,000.)

3. Have evidence to support your demands.
Asking for more money “just because” isn’t a very effective way to get more money. Hiring managers are bound to have much more empathy if you’ve gone through and added up rent, student loan payments, and the cost of living in a city like San Francisco. And if you have other offers with more alluring benefits, don’t be afraid to bring that up, too. They want to know!

4. Ask for everything at once.
The hiring process is drawn out as-is. Don’t lengthen it by piling on request after request. Chances are, your HR contact isn’t the one who has the authority to approve the changes, so project a put together image by making all of your requests at one time.

5. Be prepared to accept; It’s not a game.
Simple as that: be professional, and don’t waste anyone’s time if you know that no matter what agreement you come to, you don’t want the job. Go in with the mindset that you’ll accept if your “bottom line” is met. 

While negotiating can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Come in with a game plan but know that if you’re asking your employer to be flexible, you should expect the same of yourself. Most importantly, come armed with the courage to let your voice be heard – the employer isn’t the only one in a position of power.