Wouldn’t it be great if you only needed one interview to get the job of your dreams and the employer offered a salary that was pushing the top end of your target range? Maybe, but if I were you, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one! That said, what can and should you do to land interviews that genuinely have the potential to lead to a desirable job offer–and then negotiate the best offer you can?
A successful job search involves multiple steps and plenty of preparation, including the necessity to regroup along the way if/when you encounter an unexpected obstacle, such as:
Some of the problems you encounter in your job search might be employer-caused and largely beyond your control. For example, the company might have set highly unreasonable requirements for the salary it’s expecting to offer or it might stipulate an advanced degree the job doesn’t really require because it wants to trim the number of candidates it has to interview.
In the ideal world mentioned above, you’d only need one: the one that leads to your desired job offer. However, most of the time, you’ll be striving to line up multiple interviews with more than one employer. Assuming you’ve done your homework thoroughly, you should be able to eliminate some of the waste-of-time interviews before you invest time in pursuing them.
How do you do that? For one thing, you don’t take the initial job posting or other information at face value. You dig. What useful intelligence on the company and/or the job can you come up with in a realistic amount of time?
Then you use the information you compile to determine whether or not to pursue a particular job opportunity. If the answer is “yes,” identify your strongest selling-points for that job and that company to present yourself as a desirable candidate and to prepare for the interview.
Sometimes a job offer disappoints you because it’s below the salary you were expecting or it lacks other benefits you assumed were included. (Note the word “assumed.” It should raise a big red flag.) Maybe you didn’t research possible salary ranges or other relevant data, so you were taken by surprise when the offer came in. That’s your “bad.”
Other times, it’s the company that’s off-kilter–offering something that’s clearly out of line with what it expects from you, just because it figures it can get away with that tactic. This is, unfortunately, not as uncommon as you might like to think.
You probably won’t go far in negotiating salary or other benefits if your expectations are sky-high or your qualifications aren’t as stellar as they need to be to. However, if you have a realistic, fact-based target, you also don’t need to automatically cave in or walk away from an offer without trying to negotiate it.
As a current “Ask the Headhunter” blog post (“Negotiate Even the Worst Job Offers“) makes clear, there are reasons and ways to negotiate even a terrible job offer if you really feel the job is right for you. Pick your battles and be prepared to stand your ground if you need to.