5 Ways to Become a Strategic Hire

The best candidate doesn’t always get the job. In fact, rarely does the top candidate win the position – instead, they are beat out by someone else. A strategic hire. A better interviewer. A more likable person. A friend of the hiring manager. And so on. Companies have to hire in their own best interests and sometimes that means making a strategic decision over “qualifications.”

What Does Strategic Hiring Mean?

By definition, making a “strategic hire” means that the company chooses the candidate that has the ability to elevate the company in a significant way. For example: for a sales position, it may mean that they choose the candidate with the most direct, long-term relationships with a customer they have been trying to close. For a publicity position, it could be hiring the person with the most “social clout” instead of the person who has secured the most reviews. In a research and development position, it could be choosing the candidate with the most patents instead of the one who knows the technology.

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Practical Tactical Thursday – Negotiate Your Employment Offer

There are several times throughout your career that you will need to negotiate an offer – an offer of employment, a counter offer to your resignation, or a promotion offer. The one thing that all of these situations have in common is that Human Resources is holding back on you.

Employment Offer: How to Ask for More

Employment offers in government and academic jobs, usually have a strictly stated pay range and there is not much negotiating room during the offer process. However, for just about every other sector, you absolutely should NOT accept the first offer HR throws your way. Instead, negotiate my friend!

  1. Remember that HR is looking out for the good of the company first. So they will absolutely try and get every employee at the lowest investment – that just makes good business sense. If you provided them a range during the interview process that you would accept, they will probably put your offer at the low-end of that range.
  2. Do not pass on the offer without asking for more. This happens all of the time and is usually delivered via email (stop that people). “I’m sorry, I’m not going to be able to accept that offer – it will not meet my salary requirements to pay my bills or cover the commute.” I think you get the drift here – and the stories I’ve gotten have been hilarious. Anyway, these people threw in the towel before exploring what else could be available to them. And I have been able to secure almost every single one – but I had to counter-offer them (aka – my own original offer). That’s awkward and not nearly as efficient as simply asking for what you want.
  3. You should always ask for more, but how you do it will greatly impact your reputation at the company. For example, I offered a position to “John” for an entry-level position with a very decent base salary plus commission. He had zero experience and did not even have a desired starting salary. Following me? Well, he came back asking for more money and did it aggressively – basically said that he could get a better offer elsewhere and that he would refuse to take the offer and would rather find a new job. So… when the hiring manager asked me how the offer conversation went, I parlayed the information along (greatly toned down), and let him know that he wanted $10k more on his base salary before he would even consider the position. Can you guess what the hiring manager’s response was? He told me to rescind the offer and that he would no longer be considered a candidate. John’s pushiness came across as greedy and not excited to join our team. Not the impression you want to precede you before you start a new position.

There is not a one-size-fit all for counter offers, but based on the many successful (and unsuccessful) offers that I have been a part of, here is a good script for you to use when you have been offered a new position. Oh, and be sure to do this at least over the phone (not on email!).

Script for Negotiation

Recruiter (Bob): “Hi Jill, we are so excited to be able to extend you an offer of employment here at ABC.

Your starting base salary will be $30k with an annual bonus and partially paid benefits.”

Jill (YOU): “Bob – that’s fantastic news. I have enjoyed getting to know everyone and more about the company during the interview process and am very excited to join the ABC team. Can you tell me more about the benefits?”

Recruiter: “Sure we offer….”

Jill (YOU): “Sounds like an interesting package. I would like to take some to consider the offer as a whole. Can I get back to you within 24 hours?”

Note: Ok – so the recruiter will then do one of two things. If they say no, then run very far away from the company. If they are not willing to let you have some time to work the numbers and make a huge life decision, then there is a problem. Run far, far away and be thankful that you found out before it was too late. If they yes, then proceed.

Jill (YOU): “Thank you – I appreciate you allowing me the opportunity to fully evaluate the numbers and the package and ensure that I am making a great decision.”

Note: You have two options – you review the offer and come back the next day asking for more, or you can nudge the envelope a little here. Personally, I think it is easier to do that during this first call as you are already talking about numbers and do not have to initiate another call, but it’s a personal decision.

Jill (YOU): “Bob, $30k seems a little bit low for the position and my experience. I have been interviewing for positions that have come with a slightly higher base salary. Is there any room for negotiation here? I had been hoping for the offer to be at $37 – $40k.” THEN STOP TALKING

Note: If you are quiet, the recruiter will pick up the conversation from there. You have asked for what you wanted, and now it is up to them to seek out the details. They should not say “no” immediately – usually they should check back with the hiring manager or will have the ability to go up on the spot. If they push back with a “that’s not going to happen,” then I would ask for them to circle back with the hiring manager or know that the base salary is not open for negotiation… but other things may be, so ask.

What’s Up for Negotiation?

Literally, almost everything. I have seen people negotiate the amount the company pays towards their benefit premiums, stock award, annual bonus percentage or target, incentive program, office space, telecommute options, and so on. Your base salary is not the only thing that can be altered during the offer, but it is the best time to get the best deal.


Bridge Jobs – Create Your Own Destiny

When I was on my own path of exploring where I wanted my career to go and what my ultimate path was going to be, I was working in a high-paying, high-stress, 50%+ travel, high-powered position. Yes, everything was high. It was the crowning jewel of my career up until that point and I had worked incredibly hard throughout the years to be in that high position with all of the benefits that comes along with it.

But when I started my soul searching, I could never make any real headway. I would plan my creative time around my “real job” demands, leaving very late nights and sometimes weekends, to buckle down and focus on creating what’s next, for me.

It needed to bridge the gap from where I was, to where I knew I was going – with a stable safety net along the way.

So I quit – but I needed real income and the stability of a traditional job to tide me over until “it” was ready. The only way I was able to do this was through finding a bridge job. For me, I was very strategic in my job hunt to be sure that I landed a job that met these needs:

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Hire a Coach or Chat with Your Friends?

The other night a new acquaintance asked me what I did for a living, and continued to wonder why anyone would need a coach if they had supportive friends like she did. For those of us whose lives have been touched, guided or changed by a coach, that question is jaw-dropping. And then I realized, not everyone has yet had the privilege to work with a coach so the distinction is quite vast… Here is how the rest of our conversation went.

What’s the Difference between a Coach and Your Friends?

Having supportive friends is absolutely paramount to success of any kind, but they are your friends. They have your best interests at heart, they want you to succeed, and will most likely not be willing to openly or eagerly share bad news with you. For me, the most significant value a coach brings to the table is that they are an “innocent third party bystander.” Their independence from knowing you intimately, your unique situation, all of the politics and drama, allows them to help you find the best results FOR YOU – without navigating through the superfluous BS or expectations. They are there for YOU to succeed, and only you – they are completely independent.

And your coach’s independence allows you to share things – questions, concerns, doubts, and successes, in a way that is completely different than what most share openly and easily with their friends. There is zero judgment when you work with a coach, and sharing all of your hidden concerns or what if’s feels welcoming versus being scary or worse, a burden. A coach asks questions that you may not have ever considered before and provides the safe environment for you to explore the answers – instead of responding with a “knee-jerk” or canned response.

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interviewing with a recruiter

Practical Tactical Thursday – Recruiter Silence

It must be an epidemic. At least five different people have asked me this week,

“What should I do – I haven’t heard back from the recruiter for the job I interviewed with (enter time-frame) ago?”

Ahh, yes. The Suddenly Silent Recruiter following what you thought of, as a stellar interview. One BIG thing to keep in mind, regardless:  If it has been any longer than two weeks (being generous there), without the recruiter at least touching base (and they didn’t let you know ahead of time that there would a significant delay in the process), it’s pretty safe to say that you have not been chosen for that job.

But what does their silence really mean? A lot, to be honest. And most likely, one of these three things.

1. You are not their top candidate. Companies tend to find two candidates that they could “live with” in any given position. There is usually a stand-out, or the preferred top candidate and then a “we can do with that” person. Both are high performers and fully qualified for the job, but one candidate tends to be better “liked” or “fit more within the culture,” and thereby becomes the desired candidate. But the most important thing for the recruiter is to fill the position, while keeping a back-up securely in place… in case the top candidate rejects the offer. You may not be hearing back from the recruiter because they are waiting to hear an acceptance or rejection from another candidate.

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