Friday, March 26, 2010

Show me the Money! Job offers in the Credit Crunch

...or the importance of getting a good deal before you accept the job offer

I haev ignored this three times in the last ten years and it is well worth your effort in NOT accepting a low offer despite your circumstances. Look the gift horse in the mouth! Make an informed decision and play some poker!

I cannot stress enough, I will not say too many times and I dare not shout too low that you must get what you need from a first (or second ) job before you accept the offer. Usually this boils down to money, and YOU MUST be happy with the balance between training, projects and salary, because that is all you are going to get while in the job.

Work experience per se is meanginless if you accept a "marketing assistant" job blindly or the nice tasks are only 10% of the time and maybe telesales, database admin, photocopying etc are 90% of the actual job. I wasted a crucial year in such a job! I managed to play catch up with a heck of a lot of hard work in my next job though. It is in fact much better to be paid virtually nothing on a 2 month work experience project where you actually conduct quality marketing tasks than the department GOFER for 12 months.

You need to avoid this by negotiating before you start. Negotiating is always a subtle play of information, and probing for a little bit more and then using it as a little bit more lever, while giving only a little bit out which gives a poorer lever to the other side. This is how you win, you subtlely win tip the balance in your favour while accepting some sort of concession compromise: a few prawns fall but you put them in check-mate.

But firstly, back to green-backs: Companies will palm you off with " we can't afford" or " we have current wage frameworks". This is rubbish, they want to screw you especially in a recession. " If you want people to work harder, pay them less" ...this is true in bum jobs or non graduate jobs......but how effective this stressed, undervalued work period is for both parties is quesitonable. The cost between a market going rate ( admittedly low -I know in the credit crunch hangover period) and a lower offer boils down to a few hundred pounds per month, maybe £70 quid per week for you as a graduate. Can't afford? they could save this by using a better travel agent for business flights, or missing one useless client dinner a month.

Facts are bosses like to screw you over and say they got you cheap, it makes them look good.

So what is on the table to get your information war going in your favour
1) salary
2) training
3) projects and defined responsibilities
4) relocation expenses
5) a 50 to 80% job so you get time to look for something better
6) promotion prospects and turn over in the firm/sector
7) external prospects when you have a year experience
8) the company brand name for your CV ( or client brand names !)
9) start date
7) legnth of trial period
8) Legnth or termination period
9) possible contract engagement only

How can you bargain? Well your only chip is to withdraw your offer of labour. If you are on benefits, this is high risk - you can get them stopped for refusing a job. But given the job is high risk and has financial implications ( expense of rented property). But it is still a poker game and you can't show your hand too soon

How do you bet this chip then, play this card?

Well first of all, you should from outset know what the "wage framework" would be for this position, and know that you as an MSc Marketer have five years of uni to offer and a very good marketing masters under you belt. This should NOT be turned back on to your expectation: some jobs have been 18K outside london for a while. Play dumb, say you have only started looking for work and have expectations to work hard and get on over money: what would they suggest as for me in this job? Don't push too hard, but do revisit the wage BEFORE you bother to go to final interview. Also don't go to employers who dont refund expenses and prefably choose those who book everything for you: if they do this, then put on a bloody good show as they will look after you as an employee!

Now when you get a disappointing offer in an interview, you need to not look too disappointed. It is more likely you will get this on the phone, same here , move quickly on from the money to the responsibilities. Now between this and the eventual decision you must buy time and get concrete DECISIONS not just information, but agreements on tasks, training and projects you will get. You need this in writing to refer to if y our job starts going down the pan soon in.

The important thing with a low offer and poorly defined work responsibilities is to stall in an assertive, positive looking way. Comms mus tbe very positive but not fully committed.

The pieces then come in the list come to play: low pay versus excellent experience or low pay because it is a crap job a graduate in medieval history could do. What tasks, repsonsibilities are up for grabs? Remember you have an MSc, they have not made their minds quite up, so help point them away from the photocopier and mail list towards the high valuie customer satisfaction survey, the social media PR campaign, monitoring competitors, the effective review of the marketing budget and so on....What training courses are internal, who will be your mentor, what courses do they offer externally, will they support your time and materials in doing the CIM courses?

The next thing is of course relocation expenses. These were , a while ago, tax deductable for employers but funnily enough NOT employee personal tax. Employers will put new senior managers up in penthouse suites with hired 4x4 executive wheels! But they will try it on with you as a new graduate in need of work experience. Don't let them if the salary stinks. If it just an average salary, negotiate even a lower salary for the first six months relocation on the back that they find you afirst a hotel and then pay rented accomodation. I have not done this on one notable occiasion and really got stung for the outlay when the job didn't work out ( they put a directors daughter in my job) As a graduate you will have enough debts.

So now you have the balance of information: if the job now sounds poorly paid, poorly trained, low level tasks without relocation, then you may as well ask for say 20k and tell the m you have an offer at that level: never tell them where ( esp recruitment consultants, they are desperate for leads and to close deals! )

Now given the pay is low, but there is relocation and training, you need to find out more about career prospects. Suggest a day's visit to meet the team and finalise the contract. This is a positive thing for the employer. Ask other employees how often people leave - is there a turn over- ask why the job is vacant from your prospective coworkers . Ask how your coworkers started out in the firm. Ask what they studied.

One thing too, what type of cars are in the car park? This is a very clear indication of salary prospects later. Audis, beamers, volvos, 4x4s good...., old fords and citroens very bad...a subsidised canteen is nothing much really as a benefit but a gymn, studio , pool? .

Now you have enough information to make a decision: take it only with more pay, reject it outright, ask for silly money as above or there is another option: shape something new based upon your own needs: a more focused project 3 days a week or for just three months on say expenses only as a work trial. Or a 60% position covering only relevant, higher value marketing tasks. Or they pay for your CIM proffessional development and two triaing courses of your choice within industry average cost of courses.

In negotiating you need to push them to the wire: stall as long as you possibly can if the wage is low: get as much information out of them while remaining positive, but non committal verbally amnd on paper. Then if you have managed say two weeks stalling for a job where there are lots of questiona and a final visit to meet the team, then you can pull your card out and say the offer is not attractive enough and thank you but no thanks

Then you can let them do the talking and you should not let them bully you, just repeat the pay is very low, you have a better offer, or you have interviews for better paid jobs.

If you have been looking for a job or working temp for a long time, up to 8 months say, and you feel forced into accepting a job, then a final end game is to stall and ask for a later starting date. Use the time and security of something to do anyway to look hard for other jobs. The fall-back and interview-offer experience will be good. When you get a better offer you will only have a months termination, which may be even before your start date or you can turn up to work with an offer, see what tasks and training you will actually get and then demand them or you will just call it all off.

Once again you could ask for a 60% position focusing on the real marketing tasks and thus avoiding being given rubbish to do. You could probably expand it to 100% if it goes well or at least have two days a week to look for other work.

No comments:

Post a Comment