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CFO Compensation Packages – What’s a CFO Worth?

The market for senior level finance talent is hot. This is especially true for small to middle market companies ($20mm to $100mm in annual revenue) across a range of industries to include technology, products, software, etc. I’m often asked by CFOs what their market value is, and how compensation packages vary with regards to base salary, bonus, equity, incentives, etc. Unfortunately, there is no short answer, and it depends on many variables. For non-financial service companies in this revenue range, we see salaries from $250k – $500k, bonuses from 25-50%+, and equity from 0-2% or more.

If you are exploring the market, negotiating an offer, or lobbying for a raise at your current job, here are some factors to consider:

  1. Size of Company — the size of the company can have a big impact on the compensation level for a CFO. $20-$50mm companies generally price CFOs in the NYC/Boston areas between $250k and $400k base salary. $50mm-$100mm companies will see that range increase by 10-20%. Bonuses can vary, but a 25%-50% bonus range is standard, with some compensation packages exceeding 50% bonus. As the revenue of the company increases, and finance team size grows, so does the cash compensation component for most CFOs.
  2. Stage of Company — where the company is in its life cycle plays a large role in the variability of equity compensation for CFOs. Earlier stage companies obviously have more ability to bring in CFOs with the lure of equity vs. a more established business. A CFO joining a hot startup company early on can sometimes get 1-2% of the total equity. An established company would typically fall into the .25%-.75% equity range. Turnaround and company sale situations are special circumstances, and the increased element of risk often demands a higher equity incentive.
  3. CFO Duties — what type of CFO you are can have a large impact on the structure of a compensation package. For simplification purposes, we’ll look at “outward facing CFOs”, those hired with a mandate to do things like fundraising, dealing with company Board of Directors, possible transactions, IPO, etc.; and “inward facing CFOs”, those hired for more general management of broad accounting and finance operations at the company. Outward facing CFOs are often able to negotiate more lucrative equity grants. Back end cash bonuses are also common for a successful fund raise, sale, etc. If a client retains us to find a CFO who will assist in outward facing activities, we are generally able to negotiate a change of control clause for a liquidity event, larger equity grants, or cash payouts based on predefined objectives related to their hire (i.e. payouts triggered by specific dollar value capital raise, sale of company, etc.). Inward facing CFOs aren’t likely to get a change of control clause, unless they were a founding member of the company. Compensation for internally facing CFOs is often determined by their years of experience and size of the company. Also noteworthy is that the modern CFO in a company below $100mm in revenue can often play a dual role of COO. If non-finance duties are included in a CFO job, base salary tends to increase slightly, say 5-15%.
  4. Contract vs. “At-Will” — if there is a contract, CFOs should carefully consider the terms, and the consideration given. Separation terms, severance agreements, and executive perks are all negotiable. An experienced attorney should review your employment contract. An attorney can also provide good bench marking advice on the contract’s relative fairness.

With the labor market tight, there is generally more inflationary pressure than not on compensation packages for CFOs. As a result, total compensation for CFOs doesn’t tend to vary too greatly among peer level CFOs.

 

Why You Should Use Retained Search

Retained SearchThe market is hot! Demand for management to executive level leadership continues to rise. Winning the war for talent is getting harder and harder. One of the best tools companies have at their disposal to fill key positions is engaging a retained search firm. A retained search firm is one that engages exclusively with a client company to fill one or more searches, where the company pays portions of the recruiting fee up front. Retained search is more expensive than contingency search, but offers many advantages over it. Some reasons to hire a retained search firm include:

  1. You are making a critical hire – retained search is often the best solution if you are making a key hire. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the hire is an “executive” level. If you are looking for a key person, hiring a retained search firm will give you the best access to the highest quality candidate pool.
  2. You’ve looked using other resources – we are approached all the time by companies that have been looking for a new hire through job postings, internal recruiters, external contingency firms, employee referrals, etc., and come up with nothing. If a search is dragging on unsuccessfully, a retained search firm may be the “fresh coat of paint” the search needs. When a prospect is contacted by a retained search firm, it sends the message that the company is serious about hiring. A retained firm will identify a specific pool of candidates, and go out into the market with a compelling and consistent message.
  3. You need a great person quickly – retained search firms often have subject matter experts with years of experience in a specific discipline. They’ll know your market, competitors, and job function requirements inside and out. When you want to hire the best possible person in the shortest amount of time, retained search is the best place to start.
  4. Cost benefit analysis – with most retained search firms charging 30% or more of first year total compensation (base plus bonus), it may sound like an expensive way to go. However, we routinely see clients that let critical openings go unfilled for months on end. When you add up the cost of contractors, loss of productivity and time, etc., a retained search firm can actually save you money! Getting a top notch candidate quickly avoids problems piling up, and can also begin to add to the company bottom line!
  5. You need confidentiality – if you are replacing a current employee, retained search is the way to go. A retained search firm can discretely target a small, highly qualified candidate pool for a confidential replacement. They can help “tell the story” from a 3rd party perspective about why the person is being replaced, and allay fears or concerns for potential candidates.
By |January 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why Going to a Startup Isn’t Risky

Startups!My firm does a lot of work in the startup space. Right now there is a lot of investment capital flowing into startups. That means there is A LOT of job demand at startups. I occasionally have a candidate push back on the idea of going to work at a startup because it is “too risky”. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth! Hear are a few reasons why going to a startup isn’t risky:

  1. Are You In Demand? – If you have a skill set that is in demand, like accounting, IT, programming, sales, etc., there will always be other jobs for you. In big metro markets that have a broad industry base, there are just some careers that are going to stay in high demand for the foreseeable future. If you are lucky enough to have a career in one of these fields, you can always take a gamble on a startup, and then go back to corporate America if the move doesn’t work out.
  2. Big Companies ARE NOT Safe – Ask someone who was a top performer at Lehman Brothers pre-2009 how “safe” they were because they were a top performer at a big company. The conventional wisdom that you are safer at a big company just isn’t true anymore. Large companies are often more short term focused than startups, looking closely at quarterly performance and minor fluctuations in the stock price. Big companies routinely slash big chunks from their workforce to save money. At a startup, each hire is much more “mission critical” to the success and growth of the company. Growing startups often have a vision of where they want to be several years out, and they realize that retaining good employees and hiring more are key ingredients to their success. Moreover, as job demand among startups in places like New York City has increased, startups and big companies alike are all fighting for the same talent. The result is that salaries, benefits and perks at startups are now much more in line, if not better than, big companies! Our startup clients pay aggressive market rates, and their benefits are often top notch. It’s not uncommon to see startups have liberal vacation policies, 100% coverage for medical, catered lunches, gym memberships, and work from home policies. I even have one company that pays for employee vacations!
  3. Startups Get You a Pass – Because startups are perceived as inherently more risky, and their life cycles can be shorter (lose funding, get acquired, etc.), if you have short employment stints with a few startups, you won’t necessarily be labeled a “job hopper”. In fact, I have many contacts who go from startup to startup, staying only for a year or two at each, because they like to do the “set up” work associated with implementing an accounting system, setting up an initial budget, or helping a company secure funding, etc. These people have become serial startup junkies because they like the early stage dirty work, and companies are more than happy to hire them for their specific knowledge and expertise.
  4. Startups Might Just Be More Fun – Study after study about employee satisfaction ranks startups as some of the most satisfying places to work. While not all aspects of a startup are fun and games, they do offer a great opportunity for people who want to have a visible impact on their employer. They are also great places for people who want to broaden their skills and responsibilities. Unlike big companies that have very defined and limited job parameters, startups offer the ability to “wear many hats” and get involved with a lot more. This cuts both ways — some days you might shovel the sidewalks, and other days you might be making a key strategic decision for the company. Many startup employees I know love the idea of working in a casual office setting with a bunch of motivated people working towards a common goal.

Using LinkedIn – Add LinkedIn Connections

In my last post we covered how to create a strong LinkedIn profile (click here to see that post). I’ll now look at several ways to add LinkedIn connections. If you are already a regular LinkedIn user, you may know some of this information. That said, LinkedIn becomes exponentially more powerful as you add LinkedIn connections, so it’s not a bad idea to periodically use these methods to expand your network. LinkedIn is pretty user-friendly, so many of these methods are easy to figure out. If you have trouble, visit LinkedIn’s help page for great video tutorials, walkthroughs, and Q&A. Here are some of the main tools to add LinkedIn connections:

1) “Connect” and “Add Connections” Buttons — when you visit someone’s LinkedIn profile and you are not connected, the “Connect” button allows you to send them a request to become first degree contacts. The “Add Connections” button can be found on your own LinkedIn home page and it allows you to enter an email address which sends an invitation to that person to connect with you. FYI – LinkedIn frowns on blindly sending connection requests to people whom you don’t know. More on how to handle LinkedIn and connection etiquette later…

2) Sync Contacts — you can also import contacts from major email services like Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. If you click the “Add Connections” button on your home page, you’ll be able to enter your email type, username and password, and bulk import your contact database and send invitations to those people. It’s a quick and easy way to add a lot of connections very quickly.

3) “People You May Know” — on your LinkedIn home page, over on the right hand side you’ll see a section called People You May Know. This section is often overlooked by a lot of LinkedIn users, but it’s a handy way to add LinkedIn connections. The LinkedIn software finds a list of people who it assumes you may know based on shared connections, groups, interests, etc. Again, LinkedIn discourages people from blindly trying to connect with people. I often find people in here that I’ve lost touch with over time, have recently joined LinkedIn, old classmates, etc.

4) Introductions — as you peruse LinkedIn, if you come across a 2nd degree connection whom you’d like to connect with, you can send an introduction request to a contact person you share in common. You just have to click the “Get Introduced” button, pick the shared contact whom you’d like to make the introduction, and craft a message to both parties explaining the purpose of the connection request. We will cover more on how to craft LinkedIn messages in a future post.

5) Groups — groups are a huge part of LinkedIn. In short, they are closed communities that are focused around a specific area. Groups are a great way to add LinkedIn connections. It’s generally recommended that you join lots of groups that cover your professional area of interest, and participate actively in discussions in the group. You’ll be engaging with people in your space and be able to add many connections as a result.

6) Inmails — inmails are LinkedIn’s version of email within their platform. Inmails are an upgraded feature which you can purchase if you have a free account, or are given in small blocks to users with paid accounts. If you plan to network a lot on LinkedIn, a paid account is definitely worth looking into! Inmails allow the user to send a message to another LinkedIn user to whom they don’t have contact information. We will cover how to craft high quality inmail messages in a future post.

One last note on how to add LinkedIn connections — there are a couple of schools of thought on who you should add to your connections. One school of thought advocates “ADD EVERYBODY! THE MORE THE MERRIER!” Another approach is to only add people for whom you have some type of current/prior relationship. I suggest something in between. As you are building your network and have, say, less than 500 contacts you can add people pretty liberally. The more first degree contacts you have, the easier it is to get to second and third degree contacts you’ll want to meet. As your network grows to 500-1000+, you can become a lot more selective about who you add. If your network becomes too large, it can become difficult to manage and the quality of the contacts you have can be a bit diluted. Of course, it’s up to you and in the end and I’d ultimately recommend doing what works for you!

By |January 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Using LinkedIn – Make a Great LinkedIn Profile

256px-Linkedin_svg_2If you are not already on LinkedIn, you should be. LinkedIn is hands down the #1 online application for managing professional contacts, and career / business related networking. It’s an invaluable tool whether you are actively looking for a job, or already have a great one.

In order to leverage LinkedIn effectively, it is essential to make a great LinkedIn profile. A great LinkedIn profile is one that thoroughly covers your education, skills, and work experience. In other words, it will look an awful lot like your resume. Here is a link to my public LinkedIn profile

The main things you want to include in your profile are: 1) Education and Degree(s) earned, 2) detailed work history with dates of employment and information about your job, 3) “buzzwords” specific to your work experience and skills. Nice to include information includes volunteer experience, interests, a professional picture, and “advice for contacting me” information. Over time, it’s also great to display personal recommendations written by other LinkedIn members (more on that later).

The good news is that LinkedIn has made creating or updating your profile very, very easy. When logged in to your profile, there is a wizard that will show you what sections are incomplete. You’ll note that on my profile, under each of my jobs held, I’ve included details about my specific work experience and accomplishments. Not as much information as you might find on my professional resume, but enough to give someone potentially interested in my background a pretty good idea of what I’ve done.

When you make a great LinkedIn profile, you’ll start to have a much more positive experience on LinkedIn. For one thing, the solicitations you receive for jobs or business partnership will generally be much more targeted and high quality. For example, we recently did a search for a great client that required extensive knowledge of specific accounting rule (ASC 605). When we plugged this variable into our LinkedIn search, we came up with a very small number of prospects, all of whom returned our emails about the search because we were sending them highly targeted messages. Secondly, when you use LinkedIn for networking purposes and you reach out to someone, you are far more likely to get a response when you have a professional and detailed profile that shows who you are.

In our next series on LinkedIn, we will discuss how to develop a powerful network. Stay tuned!

By |January 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Resume Formatting

Resume formatting can make the difference between you getting an interview, or not. In today’s digital world resume formatting is vitally important to your job search efforts. Different computer systems, software versions, email programs, etc., can all cause your resume to look very awkward on the receivers end. Many companies now use resume parsing software programs that analyze resumes in bulk and score applicant matches based on computer algorithms. If a resume has too much formatting, it will be difficult or impossible to read sometimes by the intended recipient.

It is therefore vitally important that you keep your resume formatting to a bare minimum. You want your resume to look good, but you need it to be readable. Here are some basics on resume formatting:

  1. Use a common and recent version of a word processing program when writing your resume (MS Word for example).
  2. Don’t use tables and nested tables to separate different sections of your resume. When being scanned or reformatted in other programs, these tables can wreak havoc on the ability to parse information out of your resume.
  3. Use a standard and common font like Times New Roman, Arial, Courier, etc. Don’t make the font size smaller than 10pt, or larger than 12pt for the content of your resume.
  4. Be consistent with the use of bold and italic type. For example, if you choose to write your current job title in bold type, make sure ALL prior job titles are formatted the same way.
  5. Avoid pictures, graphics, or avatars. I don’t see this often, but it’s worth mentioning that graphics don’t belong on your resume.

Check out my earlier post for some other tips on how to put together a great resume here

 

By |January 18th, 2016|resume, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Answering Interview Questions

A common piece of critical feedback I get from clients is that candidates are too vague when answering interview questions. People don’t give enough information, or just don’t directly answer the question asked.  I was recently asked by someone how they can avoid this common interview pitfall. My advice:

  1. Be Prepared – this should be obvious, but you need to go into an interview thoroughly prepared. This includes being able to talk in detail about your experience, about anything on your resume, to answer common interview questions, and answer/ask questions about the potential employer. Read through your own resume carefully before an interview. You’d be surprised how often I’ve heard about candidate’s who can’t answer questions about things on their own resume! Do your homework before the interview!
  2. LISTEN To The Questions – not listening to questions is a pretty common mistake during interviews. Often times, people are excited and/or nervous and they fail to really listen to the question because their mind is racing. Listen carefully to the interviewer and ask for clarification if a question is unclear. Very specific questions require very specific answers. Conversely, broad “tell me about your background” questions require more broad answers with less detail.
  3. Give Examples – whenever possible, it is best to answer questions with specific examples. For example, if asked, “how strong are you with technology?”, you would want to give an answer that demonstrates specific technical expertise. You might respond, “I’m very comfortable with technology. In fact, at my current job, I played a lead role in selecting and implementing a new ERP system which involved talking to several vendors, mapping out the system requirements with consultants, testing the new platform and training staff .” By giving someone a clear and specific example of work that required a strong degree of proficiency in the subject matter, you are sending the message that you know what you’re talking about.
  4. Watch Body Language – If you think that you are off track when answering a question because the interviewer is yawning, rolling their eyes, looking at their watch, etc., stop yourself! It’s perfectly fine to say, “is that the information you were looking for?”, or, “am I off track? Can I be more specific?”. It’s far better to allow the interviewer to steer you back in the right direction than just plow through an answer.
By |January 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sell Yourself

Sell YourselfI find that a lot of candidates underestimate the importance of selling yourself in a job interview. It is especially important to sell yourself during the first interview. The interview process is analogous to the process of making a major purchase. The job seeker is the “product” and the hiring company is the “buyer”. As the “product”, it is vitally important to sell yourself and give the “buyer” cause to want to hire you. The “what’s in it for me” part of the interview process is important, but it is irrelevant if the employer is not strongly interested in hiring you. This post will cover a few methods and approaches to effectively sell yourself in the interview process.

  1. Sell Yourself by Preparing— adequate preparation in the first key in how to sell yourself to a potential employer. A strong resume that targets the employer (click here to read my post on resume writing) is a good start. You’ll also want to do adequate research on the company when you land an interview. This could include thoroughly going through their website, LinkedIn company page, online profiles of the people with whom you’ll meet, etc.
  2. Sell Yourself by Looking the Part — this includes all things that go into making a good first impression. Studies show that first impressions DO matter, so don’t start off on the wrong foot. First, I always recommend formal business attire. Conservative style suits for men, simple neck ties, and shined shoes. Get a hair cut if you need one, and shave/trim facial hair. For women, similar business attire is suggested. Avoid too much perfume, jewelry, etc. It’s pretty difficult to be overdressed, but being under dressed can be a disaster. That being said, times are changing, so depending on your specific field of expertise, or hiring company, it may be appropriate to dress more casually. Second, make sure you arrive to the interview on time. Map directions out in advance and budget extra time for traffic, delays, etc. If you arrive very early, review your notes and resume one last time before going in for the interview. I recommend that candidates arrive no earlier than 10 minutes before the interview. Too early can interrupt the schedule of the interviewer, so be considerate of their schedule too.
  3. Sell Yourself by SELLING YOURSELF — to separate yourself from the competition, you need to highlight your skills, experience, and what value you will bring to the employer. This can be done in several ways. First, when you answer questions, make sure to reference specific examples of what you’ve done, specific results you’ve achieved, and accomplishments that highlight your value. For example, saving the company money, surpassing sales goals, finding more efficient ways of doing things, etc. Second, ask intelligent questions about the job and company. Demonstrate that you’ve done your due diligence and ask about specific facets of the job and company. Finally, don’t be afraid to “flip the question”. By this I mean to find ways to turn some questions into positive reasons to hire you. For example, if asked the classic “what’s your biggest weakness?” question, prepare an answer you can spin in a positive light. You might say, “my biggest weakness had been people management because I have not had experience doing this until recently… however, for the last 6 months I’ve been supervising a new hire and this person is excelling at what they do and I’ve been recognized by my department head as a strong mentor and manager for this person.” Finally, as the interview comes to an end, I suggest to job seekers that they tell the interviewer that they are very interested in the job and eager to keep the process going. Enthusiasm goes a long way in interviews and companies like to hire people who demonstrate genuine interest in the job and company.

Remember, to sell yourself early on in the interview process does not mean that the process is all about the employer. The job seeker also has to be convinced that the opportunity is a good one and that the company is solid. However, the employer has to want to employee you before any of this matters.

By |January 18th, 2016|interview, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Counter Offer

Counter OfferI spoke with a contact yesterday who accepted a counter offer. Luckily for me, it was not a deal I was involved in. Unlucky for the candidate, he had no idea about the potential consequences and hazards of accepting a counter offer. Put bluntly, accepting a counter offer is a bad idea.

A counter offer is the equivalent of a band-aid on a gaping wound. At best, it is a short-term fix for the employer which buys them some time before the inevitable happens… that the person accepting the counter offer will leave. That’s right, the VAST majority of employees who accept a counter offer leave within six months. Employers know this, but a counter offer is often cheaper and easier than quickly replacing a good employee.

A counter offer generally consists of two things. First, a counter offer will include promises. The employee might be offered a promotion in six months, a bigger office, or told about “exciting changes” that are coming. Second, they might be offered money. Sometimes, it may seem like a lot more money. The candidate I referenced above was given a 20% base salary increase to stay! Big promises and more money sound good… right? If you get a counter offer, it’s important to remember that talk is cheap. The promises made are almost always empty ones. It’s easy to tell an employee things that they want to hear and never deliver. Especially since employers know that the employee is likely to leave anyway. As for money, while a 20% raise may sound great, it’s only done because it is far cheaper for the employer to offer short-term cash to avoid long-term headaches associated with replacing the employee. Moreover, since the employer knows that person will likely leave within six months, the employer never has to pay out in full. They may give you a 20% salary raise today, but only pay a small amount of that to you before you end up leaving, or get fired! The cost of replacing a good employee is high. A recruiter like myself charges anywhere from 25-33% of a new hire’s first year pay. The cost in time and effort training a new hire is also expensive. When you add up all these costs, what seems like a generous counter offer is actually chump change!

A counter offer can almost never remedy the reasons the employee was looking for a job in the first place. Most job seekers who leave an employer do so because of limited opportunity, a desire for more growth, to work in a new field or industry. A counter offer can do little or nothing to address any of these causes. Thus, most people who take them come to realize this within weeks or months of accepting a counter offer and end up leaving.

The potential fallout from a counter offer is similar to that of a personal relationship. When you accept a counter offer, your loyalty is obviously questioned. You’ll never be considered part of the “inner circle” again. Companies have long memories for this sort of thing, and when it is time for a raise, a promotion, etc., you will be looked at differently. If the company needs to reduce the workforce, it’s very likely your name will be on that list after accepting counter offer. The minute after you take a counter offer, it’s safe to assume the employer is already planning on how to replace you. They know from experience that you won’t stay, but if you accept the counter offer it affords them time to find a replacement in a more cost effective way.

You should rule out a counter offer before you ever look externally. If you get to the point at your current employer where you want to leave, try to address the reasons internally first. If you ask for a promotion, more responsibility, a change in duties, salary, etc., in a constructive way and are told “no”, then you can be pretty confident in your decision to leave. That way, when you give notice you’ll see the counter offer for what it is… a band-aid on a gaping wound.

By |January 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Negotiate a Job Offer

handshake_1Ah… that magic moment when it’s time talk turkey and negotiate a job offer. Many job seekers are nervous, clueless, or both about how to negotiate a job offer. In order to negotiate the best possible deal, here are some tips:

  1. Don’t Discuss Salary Expectations Up Front – in initial interviews, if asked about what you are expecting to make say nothing specific! Don’t give a range, a big number, a little number, etc. Simply say, “I’m currently earning X, and for me this move is more about the opportunity. I’d assume that if you make me an offer it would be competitive.” At the end of the interview process, the onus is on the employer to make an offer. The general rule of how to negotiate is that he who speaks first loses. By telling them what you want, you are essentially negotiating against yourself.
  2. Assume The Initial Offer Is Negotiable – it’s very likely that there is room to negotiate the initial offer. Before doing this, you should carefully compare all aspects of the offer to your current compensation. You should also do research on the job market at your level and within your field. To negotiate properly, you need to consider factors like commuting costs, employee benefits, etc. Try to determine how the offer compares to your current compensation, and the overall market for your skills and experience before attempting to negotiate.
  3. Negotiate For More? – if you are very excited about going to work for the new employer, and the offer is strong as-is, just accept it! However, if the offer is weak compared to your current compensation, or weak compared to a well researched market analysis, don’t be afraid to negotiate and ask for more. At this point, you probably have some idea as to what it will take for you to accept the job. If the offer is significantly below your expectations, you may want to be more aggressive in how you negotiate. Conversely, if the offer is pretty solid, you may still ask for more, but be careful of how hard you push for more.
  4. EVERYTHING is negotiable! Keep in mind that you can negotiate more than just your salary . Bonus, vacation time, stock options, etc. are all potentially negotiable. Let’s say you ask for a higher salary and the employer says “no”. You might go back and negotiate an extra week of vacation. Alternatively, you may ask them to grant you an early performance review whereby you’ll have a chance to prove yourself at the job for 3-6 months and then get a compensation increase if they are satisfied with your performance.
By |January 18th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How To Evaluate a Job Offer

realities-of-an-offer-300x169The realities of an offer are important to consider when negotiating compensation. In an blog post from February this year, I discussed what a “good” job offer is in this competitive market. In short, a 5-10% bump in total compensation would be considered a strong offer. A link to that article is here.

In this post, I wanted to look at some realities of an offer and why a 5-10% increase is the market norm. The offer stage can be a highly emotional part of the search process. It’s important to remember that on both sides of the negotiation, this is a business decision. Money is important, and negotiating is part of the process, but remember these realities of an offer when approaching the negotiating table:

Friends sort of lie – do not listen to friends or colleagues about their salary. Friends provide some of some of the most unreliable data available. First, people have egos and they tend to fudge the numbers. Second, even if your friend is completely honest about a huge job offer they got, one example does not represent the market as a whole.
You aren’t underpaid – most job seekers I talk to feel they are underpaid. In reality, very few people are underpaid. If you are a top performer with good skills, you are much more likely to be on the upper end of the pay scale for your experience and skills. The economic law of supply and demand sets a pretty standard pay scale for a given skill, years of experience, credentials, etc.
Titles don’t matter – don’t get hung up on titles. I was quoted in a Fortune magazine article the other day about this (link to Fortune article here). In short, titles aren’t universally defined. One firm’s Director is another’s Manager. The responsibilities of the job, how you will develop professionally, and what you are being paid is all that really matters.
Evaluate money last – I always talk about job search motivations at length with a candidate – well before we look at an actual opportunity. Money is important, but it should almost never be a primary motivating factor when changing jobs. A reasonable offer that accomplishes many of the career goals and objectives you were seeking is a great job offer. Even if you receive a lateral offer, why would you not take a job that offered more responsibility, more growth, learning opportunities, etc.?

By |November 18th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Job Search Mistakes

  1. Having Only One Resume – There are no one-size-fits-all resumes. If you use a single resume for your job search, you are making a big mistake! Resumes are usually glanced over very quickly to pick those candidates selected for interviews. It is critically important for you to target your resume to the specific company/job. A bit of minor tweaking can often make the difference between getting the interview, or not. Refer to my earlier post on how to target your resume here.
  2. Applying Online – this is a classic job search mistake to avoid. The main reason is because it is what everybody else is doing! It is very easy to get lost in flood of applicants who apply indiscriminately online. Second, many recruiters hold the belief that top-notch candidates don’t apply online. Top candidates are either sought out, or come in through other methods. Finally, applying online may hurt your chances of getting an interview or proper consideration at a company. You are far better off being evaluated as an employee referral, represented by a recruiter, or recommended by someone known to the company.
  3. Not Being Selective – whether you are actively or passively job searching, BE SELECTIVE. I generally advise people to take initial interviews liberally. Meeting the people and company face to face is the best way to see if there might be a fit. After an initial interview, I suggest people get much more selective. Don’t get deep into the interview process, or take things to the offer stage, if you can’t see yourself working at the company. You’ll not only be wasting your time, but you could leave a negative impression with the people who feel like you wasted theirs.
  4. Not Networking – this is the ultimate job search mistake. Study after study shows that the best jobs, and the best chances of landing your next job lies in networking. Friends, classmates, recruiters, alumni organizations, professional organizations, and former coworkers are just some of the categories of contacts you should tap into when considering a job change. Many people don’t do this because it involves more effort, but it is absolutely worth it!

David Staiti is the founder and Managing Partner of Virtus Recruiting, LLC. He has almost two decades of executive search and recruiting experience. He’s published numerous articles on job search and career management topics for The Wall Street Journal, CareerBuilder, and Forbes.com