Succeed in a competitive Job Market
Evaluate and Negotiate Job Offers
Enjoy and Survive your New Job
Information about the Current Job Market
- Today's employment market, especially at the professional level, is extremely competitive in Kansas City and the Midwest at large, even though we are experiencing a low unemployment rate. A trend is for members of the traditional workforce to supplement their work experience with additional education. College graduates with lower salary expectations and "retooled" veterans are vying for existing vacancies.
- Strong fields continue to be healthcare & nursing, engineering disciplines, computer science/data processing, accounting, and customer service and commission sales. Tighter fields include business administration, human services, education, and government. The fact is, however, that ample opportunities exist across the board for those job seekers who are best prepared, realistic, and most motivated to pursue success aggressively.
- The rules and tools of the job search have become more sophisticated in recent years. Success depends upon a thorough, energetic, logical, and highly professional approach. Volume and quality of employer outreach are equally important keys to achieving the career position you seek. The basic tools for the job search include: professional resumes, impacting letters, telephone selling methods, networking, strong interview skills, and account management techniques.
- The best approach in the search for a satisfying job is to initially focus upon and pursue a fairly specific type of position. This will get you moving among the hiring authorities of the world and telling your story in a convincing manner. You can always elect to change directions based upon what you find. You will succeed quicker due to your job seeking and self-marketing expertise.
- Simultaneously, stay open to learning about each and every opportunity you come across. Learn enough to determine whether a job is interesting and appropriate. You should be aware that a large proportion of professional positions, regardless of title, level, department, or organization, share amazingly common features in terms of daily activities, responsibilities, and demands. You have no real decision to make until someone extends you a formal offer of employment.
- Start your search now and devote time/energy as though you are being paid for it. The simple fact is that every day saved before that first paycheck is money in the pocket.
- Be realistic about what specific roles exist within industry. Jobs seldom are as glamorous or well paying as most people hope. You may want to consider what are essentially springboard jobs that open the door to a number of satisfying futures.
- Is it true that it's not what you know, but who you know that matters most in getting a good job? No!!! "What you know" does not imply a body of facts or specific techniques. It refers to a deep and abiding comprehension that the world needs enthusiastic, dependable, quality-minded people with the desire to learn and contribute to a team effort. If you know that you are one of these people, you have the confidence to reach out to hiring authorities to alert them of your availability.
William Jewell College Career Services' mission is to help students develop the attitudes, confidence, skills, and strategies necessary for career success and to build and maintain quality relationships with employers and graduate schools.
How to evaluate, handle, and negotiate
- Competitive Job Market The job market is highly competitive and offers of employment should be evaluated carefully--Career Services professionals are available to help.
- Waiting for the Perfect Offer? Do not risk putting all your eggs in one basket for the "perfect" company or offer. Continue to network, respond to ads, and contact target companies directly until an offer is made. It's much easier to declare your unavailability in a quick phone call than to establish your candidacy for interesting and appropriate openings in the first place.
- When is an Offer Official? A verbal offer and acceptance is generally considered "official." Sometimes, however, a written letter or contract is required or a drug test, health screen, or background investigation must be passed satisfactorily before it is valid.
- Need More Time to Decide? If you need more time to make a decision, the phrase "I'm pleased and excited about this career opportunity, when do you need my definite 'yes'," creates a positive impression and can buy time.
- How Long Will Company's Wait? Most firms will not wait more than 1-2 weeks for a response, especially if they are short-staffed. In these instances, it is not unusual to be asked for a response within 24 hours.
- Negotiating Start Date It is typical for an employer to allow for a 2-week notice to your present employer, and you can often negotiate your start date unless you must enter with a training class.
- Negotiating Salary Negotiating a salary figure can be tricky and is not always advisable, especially with established firms with well-defined salary administration policies and practices. When an offer appears to be unreasonable in some way, build a logical case, establish a counter-offer, pre-determine an acceptable fall-back position, and prepare to meet somewhere in the middle. The most respected employers have been known to withdraw offers when negotiation is attempted, thus proceed with caution. A reasonable salary range for a specific position should be clearly researched beforehand.
- Rescinded Offers Just for the record, employers have retracted firm offers between the time of the agreement and the start date for reasons including: a financial turnabout, management turnover, personality conflicts, or the results of pre-employment test procedures. This really happens. Stay alert, maintain confidence, and keep your options open!
- Weighing Alternatives If evaluating two or more offers, it's best to have pre-determined which of the potential offers is most attractive. When the call is close, use of an objective decision-making tool can be very helpful. The "Ben Franklin" approach is also useful. Tally the pluses and minuses of each opportunity on either side of a piece of paper. One should emerge as the clear choice. If you are still stumped, toss a coin, choosing one side as one job and the other as the competitor. Catch the coin, unseen, and hold in front of you for three minutes. When you turn to reveal the choice of fate, your honest feelings about the result should guide your decision. Many successful people will testify that to follow your heart is almost always the right choice.
- Declining an Offer You have every right to turn down an offer of employment. However, feelings can be bruised by a turn down and anger is possible, as time and money are invested during the "courtship" process. Be truthful, yet tactful. Don't burn your bridges behind you—you may be interested in joining the company at a later time. You should immediately inform these employers of your commitment to another firm. The best bet is to inform them of an existing offer before acceptance, and give them an opportunity to make a counter-offer. To neglect to notify them of your acceptance or to continue to circulate your resume is extremely bad form.
- Reneging on an Agreement When an offer is accepted, it is considered a firm commitment. Reneging on an employment agreement before starting work, and definitely after starting, can have long- term negative impact on your career. In almost every case, if you've assessed an offer thoroughly and accepted a job, you should be committed to a minimum of one year of sustained effort for your new employer. "Job-hopping" is ultimately likely to backfire.
- Leaving Employment Please, for your own reputation, and those from William Jewell that come after you, give a minimum of two weeks notice when you elect to change employers. This stands for even the small part-time employer. Good, ethical habits are critical and will serve you well in life. Confusions, embarrassment, busy schedule, fear . . . none are good excuses.
Starting Out & Enhancing Promotability
- Nobody knows exactly how to do a new job on his or her first day. Companies generally expect there to be a learning period, yet are eager that it be a short as possible. They pay for productivity. Keep a journal on key people and their functions. Relationships with co-workers are often just as important as accomplishing specific tasks.
- Follow the example of well-respected employees with regard to attire, behaviors, language, habits, etc. Learn the "big picture". Actively study your job and department; know company products, policies, and philosophies. Learn these, even on your own time.
- Stick to work hours and schedules recommended by your supervisor. Paying your dues frequently requires putting in extra hours. The 40-hour workweek for salaried professionals is virtually extinct. You will be expected to work until the job is done.
- Arriving early and staying late can demonstrate your commitment to the organization. However, test whether new supervisors and colleagues perceive this positively or negatively. It is possible that you are resented for establishing a new level of expectation that exceeds others' comfort level.
- Do not be a clock-watcher, with one foot out of the door as five o'clock approaches. Be sure extra time yields productivity, or it may be perceived that you cannot complete your work in the established time frames.
- Be an active and quality listener. Be honest about time and attention spans.
- Stay pleasant, yet formal in your interactions with colleagues and clients. Do not assume a familiar style with co-workers until you are truly familiar.
- Strive for consistency in your work, behavior, and production. Take care of yourself, respect your limits, and build a support system.
- Document your accomplishments weekly, even if not asked to do so formally. Educate your boss; ask for planning and goal-setting time. You must know your supervisor's expectations. S/he evaluates your performance. Learn what is important to your supervisor
- Avoid complainers and guilt by association. Use positive words, tones, and "we" language. Leave your private life where it belongs, at home.
- Seek a mentor who is well liked and respected by peers, management, and customers and whose work is highly valued.
- Eagerly take every opportunity for additional training, formal or informal, though not at the expense or detriment of current responsibilities.
- Personal calls, tardiness, absenteeism, gossip. Don't do it!