Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Job Hunting on the Phone!

Now it comes to a very squeezed point in time for me as I come to the end of a contract myself and really want to get into a permanent position. I am on the phone, a lot. You will need to use this apparatus, and consider e-mail a poor second fiddle.


So there are two dilemas in my and many other's situation : one: short time to get a job;  and two :what positions are likely to be permanent in this on going and even escalating financial crisis. ( An expression now more frightening that what it was chosen to replace :  recession)

Getting a job in a short space of time means being very focused actually on the few very best opportunities you have or are just advertised, and being more flexible - in fact really open minded.
Second to this, and only in that position, you must really consider a "wait out the storm" job while you continue your search.

Good Opportunities now , today in the finance catastrophe? 'You serious?

The best opportunity can be created by a particular counter resessionary industry or niche: for example I applying full out to the oil industry, especially to companies in drilling because there will be more off shore prospecting the the next 18 months than at any time in history. Companies are doubling turn over this year into 2012.

So they are actually one area quite desperate for folk. Other areas could be to do with new legislation in your country, such as environmental ( eg demand for public suppliers to be ISO14000 certified- get into consultancies who do this or go on a course!)

This is good then, that I have some industry experience and that people in permanent jobs are getting too scared to "job shop" - in fact when the recession turns you may find that you compete with MORE candidates of a higher calibre and get ignored if you are reaching a little high for the position. Now is the time to strike into something which stretched you a bit. So a growth industry or niche has fewer qualified candidates but many more "rubbish" applications from people wanting to maintain their welfare/social benefits by making applications. 

You have to stand out, so firstly you have to get your name known.

Postioning Yourself with the Initial Enquiry Telephone Call

When at a firm there is a contact number and name who will be the direct manager or departmental one over the  porpsective employee, then you have to phone them. Firstly use a work line or hide your mobile number so that if it is an answer phone you can drop the line : do not leave answer phone messages- you want to get them direct, on the spot.

Having said this, above all be super polite: say you are really interested in the position and do they have a couple of minutes now to discuss it with you? If not suggest a better time, and then you can choose by the tone of their voice if you leave your name or not, or ask them to call you back. It is best to cut it short and try later.

You want to prepare for this- write down questions in large, clear text to read from : one with some opening yes/no questions: "will this be a probably permanent position?" for example. Then pick some of the wished qwualificvations and ask which are actually most important for this position because this is often actually not clear: it could be IT seals the deal, or perhaps a pleasant outlook on life!! If they are going to call you back, then keep those questions rolled up in your pocket at all times !

 Ask then most importantly, when they want someone to start- this is your first positioning strategy , your USP over most any employed person and marks you out as not just a  "job shopper" . When they ask you what you are doing, say that you have been in this type of job or have relevant skills and that in principle  you can start tommorrow because you are available.

Do not necessarily ask about pay. Employers in non union / tariff countries can pick and choose now and abuse people a bit. Pay level will go to the wire, and you should take it then, holding your ground for an offer which will actually loose you money over time. Ideally you should have an offer for a competing job, but that is maybe unrealistic in todays economic climate!! Alternatively a  local, low "on-cost" job to go to by the time you get to offer stage, gained by the  boost you have just had from the interview round ! 

Be prepared to say "No" to a low offer which will for example, put so much transport or relocation expenses your way that you will go into the red!  But DO NOT SAY NO right away when you are offered it. Always say you need time to think about it. For a job which involved relocation, this should be over a weekend or a week so you can discuss it with your "significant others" and look at the lease market in the new area. If it is a low offer, hold them off as long as you can and then say they will have to help you out with transport or relocation.

Also as blogged before: if it is an agency then go direct and say the wage you are offered is lower than discussed face to face: it can be the agency are skimming too much of your out-charge !! Also the client wants a solution from the agency and has a big lever over them to take a lower fee on top if they use them alone. This is why it is important to swap business cards with the actual employer or note down name, department etc so you can reach them through the central board.

In the time you hold them off, find out what the going rate is for this job. Also ask again what training is actually going to happen and how soon into the job? If they say they train, but are vague about the course date then be suspicuous for a low paid job, especially in sales and market research where training involves a period of someone looking over your shoulder on the job, rather than real lectures and exercises.

If however, it is a going rate or very good offer then DO NOT LOOK A GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH unless it is in a place with the highest lease and property prices out. Say in the phone that you accept in principle, just pending the documents coming.

For a job  you are unsure about, ask for a full contract to be sent. This can be vital to show if in fact when they speak about overtime, if it is paid or not, and if there is some underhand ways of paying you less or taking money for uniforms, materials etc. In many countries this is your right, or within 2 weeks- so they may as well draw one up. It is a good stalling tactic with a job less than ideal for you.

What Can you Negotiate?

Having stalled them off over a weekend and up to a week, you can then start to feel out if you can play a little hard ball or just get some compromise out of them. FOr a job where you will loose seriously out financially for no other reason than taking that job, you can say outright it is too low and then suggest a figure nearer your goal, and then hold in reserve that this is based on a 37.5 hour week only, over time expected.

What is realistic to negotiate with jobs you have to relocate for is that they cover that relocation fee, at least for yourself if you move first without the family. If this is not on the cards, then you have to ask if they promise on a personal basis, to get  you lower-than-market average price on accomodation through someone at work. This is a diffuclt situation, as you really want to avoid going into debt for a new job in the shakey economy we have, whereas you want to keep on working. One stalling tactic then is to accept the job pending suitable accomodation as a foot note to your letter of acceptance. An additional strategy now you should employee is to postpone the start date up to 6 weeks so that you can find affordable accomodation.  In the USA most people have very little if any job security, so if  you do not find somewhere you can afford, you loose nothing in accpepting a job and then just turning round and saying - actually I can't afford to live here, what shall we do?

Is stalling not dangerous?

You need time to absorb and gather new information: This is actually the real reason to stall off from an immediate "YES YES YES!" - you have time to reflect and find out what people around you think

You may find there is another solution: for example you may have a relative with a room in the area: someone may already drive to that company or industrial estate from your home town; you may want to work a four day week to keep one day to look for a better job. You may find you can take an express service to beyond the location and commute back counter the rush hour traffic by bus or in a little cheap car you leave at the station each night. You may find there is a motel who do long term rates cheaper than the lease market, or that you can take it on that "out of a suitcase" basis for a few months just in order to get the experience and keep on lookign for work.

Remember all  your costs are taken from post tax pay, so you need to earn 30% more to pay for them! I

If they say "well I need an answer today" on a crumby offer, then use the tactic above- say yes verbally, send me a contract and I can start now in 2 - 3 weeks time.
Hard Ball

The tactic of accepting an offer verbally and going back on it is hard ball, and one way play: are they going to sue you? They may well black list you with the agency you went through though, so make sure you talk it out with the agency first. Maybe they can help raise the offer or appreciate you need more income.

Anyway, with an offer in hand you can now put a lot of pressure on other applications in the pipeline just behind this: then there is some SPIN SELLING in that suddenly there is a risk they lose you, so over other equllay qualified candidates 'it is now or never" for you.

Hard ball is also to fib: say you have had a better offer!

Wait out the Storm

In terms of a waiting job, it has to be local to where you live or somewhere cheap to live if you are YFS because it is inevitable that you will not be expecting as much pay as your target career path!

You shouldn't prostitute  yourself with more debt and commitment to expensive leases on second appartments and weekly commuting for a waiting job: you may have to give notice time and be locked out from a target job !

Take a "Trainee" Step Stone Job

Alternatively you can look at the job market and companies you find attractive and then see what extra little competances you could gain in a waiting job. I have done just this- using the new MS version of an  ERP system and moving from biochem into mechanical purchasing in a lower paid job to get forward to permanent opportunities with higher pay than I would expect here otherwise ( oil industry is the only show in town worth speaking about actually!!)

So it may well be the latest software or the biggest/ most common ERP you lack experience on which will make you stand out when you go for a target job and company.