So, you believe that you are job-search ready.

But, have you considered the financial cost of this job change to you and your family?

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How prepared are you to discuss compensation or the cost of benefits for the new position or a promotion at your current company?

As you job search or interview for a new position, this thorny but not unexpected question interview question arises. A question that not everyone knows how to answer or has prepared for properly.
Answer it incorrectly, and you may receive an offer that you may be unable to accept. Or you may later recognize that you may have sabotaged an actual pay rise by compromising in the wrong area.

And, you may be left with the new reality of having to pay for items, tools, or transportation that your current company is paying for or subsidizing. At one interview during my powerlifting days, one manager gushed about the free gym in the building and excitedly took me to show off. The gym was well turned out and extra clean, but I was left to wonder inwardly:
1) Where were the real weights?
2) Would the two guys at the front desk be willing to dangle on either side of the straight bar so I could do my four-hundred-pound plus squats for reps?  
3) And who was going to spot me, maybe the guy doing bicep curls with the ten-pound dumbbells?
4) It was clear that this free gym could not be my gym, so there were no savings. But I digress….

Among the key areas to do comparative costs comparisons are the Bonus and Commission structure, and when they are paid, Profit-sharing distributions, paid time off (vacation days, sick days, and holidays), Insurance (medical, dental, disability, and life), Tuition Assistance, Childcare Assistance, Employee assistance programs that offer legal advice, gym memberships, retirement plans or career or health-related counseling and other services.

Many candidates make the mistake of accepting an offer because it is a pay rise, a perceived gym benefit, or the simple fact that the request exceeds their current base salary when the benefit-cost details a slightly smaller base from a company with excellent benefits may mean a larger take-home salary.

Do you truly know if your total compensation from the new position would satisfy, match, or exceed expectations before starting your job search? And, do you know what the benefit-cost details are before you accept an offer at the new company or a promotion at your current company?

Handling Gaps in your Work History

How prepared are you to respond to questions regarding a Gap in your work history? Being laid off or fired is infuriating, especially if you are dumped by an organization that you were thinking of leaving anyway.

Maybe the timing is terrible, but consider yourself rescued and liberated, PLUS you get to keep your “I am not a quitter badge”!

Is there is a plus side? Yes indeed!

You are being forced to reconsider your career options and proactively restructure the next phase of your career. If you got a decent severance package – HURRAH! You are being paid while you make this career upgrade.

Here are some recommendations for processing and handling the work gap in the initial phone call with a recruiter or hiring manager:

1)   Develop a concise non-emotional explanation for the gap. Was there a company-wide layoff, did your department fold, was there a personal health issue, or did you move to a new city?

2)   Do not fudge the truth. Do not change a full-time tenure at the company to a contract or temp role. Lying about your employment can be damaging. The wise among us realize that being dumped can be a good thing. So, evaluate what you have gained from working at the company that set you free.  

3)   One of the funnier moments in my coaching history is a candidate explaining that she was fired, but not really.

In response to my quizzical: Say What? She said that she was the only one laid off in her division, so she felt she was fired. Too much info…. Was the severance reasonable? I asked, she said yes. I suggested that we will call it a “dissociation.” It is incredible what language can do to improve one’s view of things!

4)   Explain what you were doing during gaps between jobs. Think hard. Did you volunteer, take classes to upgrade your skills, travel, or use the time to take care of a relative. Did you attend webinars take online courses etc.? In short, were you productive?

5)   Unless you are good at disassociation, try to subdue your maverick go-it-alone approach. Consider engaging a professional to help you sophisticate your resume and prepare for this and other tricky interview questions.

6)   Invest in yourself and your career, and above all, do not wait until you are at the interview itself to craft a response to what you have been doing the last three or six months. Above all, do not slime the people at your previous employer; they can be excellent sources for referrals.

Being laid off or fired can be a shock.

For some people, being laid off or fired leaves them feeling angry, ashamed, or resentful. For others, the response could be, “Well, that was interesting. Time to move on. NEXT!”

But remember how quickly you bounce back and begin to represent yourself and your expertise as valuable to another company is always going to be your choice. 

A fast recovery depends on how quickly you accept that while you have had done interesting work, it is time to move on to better things. So, give yourself space to work through your feelings. Don’t let this setback diminish your pride in your otherwise successful career.

Put your redundancy package in perspective. Does it allow you to survive in the near future, or are you stranded? When your career game is interrupted, middle inning, it helps to remember that the sun is shining elsewhere, it is not raining everywhere, and you should remember to let that sink in.

Here are some other survival tips:

1.  Although a quick bounce-back might be a struggle, you will need to project a positive image to persuade your friends and potential employers that you are still in one piece. Focus on the highlights and achievements in your career. That helps to minimize the emotional fallout.

2. A layoff might free you up to explore a new career path or reassess your strengths, values, or where your career interests truly lie. Layoffs affect everyone in the department. Those who remain with the company quite often feel like they have just won the booby prize.

3.  Focus on your achievements in your former role. Use short and factual explanations. Too much detail can sound defensive rather than accepting of the situation.

4.  Laid off due to a merger, restructure, or downsizing? Use a broad brushstroke: Use all-encompassing language. “Unfortunately, I was laid off along with other colleagues.”

6.  Management change or a shift in direction: My skills and expertise are no longer aligned with the projects or the new manager’s priorities.

7.  Fired for performance reasons? Briefly explain the circumstances and what the experience has taught you. Then move on to what makes you a good match for the current position.

8.  Try to stay steady? Avoid responding to a deluge of jobs in a desperate attempt to get any new job. Instead, update your resume and shift your focus towards what you can offer.

Finally, accelerate your networking. The more active you are in your professional communities, the easier it will be to ask for and get help.

Thanks

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