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.