When to Share Professional Job References

When to Share Professional Job References 

When to Share Professional Job References

Personal and Professional References, and how and when to present them at the right time.


Should you provide references on your resume?

References should be furnished only upon request. Check with your contacts, find out which ones to use as references, and what they will say about you. Instead of supplying references on your resume, use this space to add other important skills, work experience and to highlight your accomplishments.


Professional References

Include the following information when you provide a professional reference: reference’s name, job title, company, address, phone number and (if acceptable to your reference) an e-mail address. Including a reference’s job title can help promote your image if the person’s title or position is similar to the job or industry you are pursuing.

Employers are interested in feedback about you from someone in a related field or in a position of responsibility who can judge your work experience, professionalism and reliability. For example, if you are seeking a sales executive position, provide three professional references from a respected sales manager, a business owner, and your direct supervisor.

These references build credibility for you as a professional and show you have contacts in the sales field. More than likely, you will be asked in what capacity you know the references, such as a former employer, co-worker, or business associate. 


Personal References

When listing personal references, include your reference’s name, job title, address (ask references if they prefer you to use their business or personal address) and phone number. If the personal reference is a co-worker, it can be beneficial to point this out.


Ask Permission to Use References

Prior to providing a reference list, ask each of your references for permission to use them as a reference. It’s also to your benefit to let them know the types of positions you will be applying for and what skills are needed in those positions. Then ask them to discuss what they believe to be your best talents, traits, or skills when speaking with prospective employers that contact them.


Who are your best references?

The most important references are generally your superiors. If possible, include at least two previous employers as references. In contacting previous supervisors, potential employers are looking for information about the contribution you made to that firm. Subordinates and peers should emphasize your ability to be a team player.

Clients should highlight your customer service skills and interpersonal communication skills. Most employers require at least three references. It would be good to provide four or five references. For example, include two previous supervisors, a subordinate, a peer or volunteer coordinator, and a client). If you have not had work experience, use professors as references.


What reference information should you provide?

Include all the information that a potential employer might wish to know. Include how long you have known this person, the best time to call, and their relationship to you (personal or professional). Some references prefer to be called at work, so give a work address and phone number unless they specifically wish to be contacted at home.


Where should you include these references?

Your references should not be part of your resume. Attach them as a separate sheet behind your resume, but only if employers ask. 


Common questions that employers ask references

  • What is your relationship to the applicant?
  • How long have you known them?
  • Would you hire them again?
  • Was he or she usually punctual, or ever late to work? 
  • Describe how he or she works with other people.
  • Tell me about his or her job performance.


  • Is there anything else you could tell me that might give me a better feel for this person?

Do You Know What Your References Are Going to Say About You?

It’s best to talk to your references before you send their names to a prospective employer. They will be more prepared to give an appropriate appraisal of your character if you have made them aware that they will be receiving a call from an employer. It’s also a good idea to furnish the references with a job description and specific background information that may be helpful for them to mention to the prospective employer.

Another option is to furnish the employer with a letter of recommendation. Some employers skip formal reference checking if they have a letter of recommendation in hand. If you are asked to provide reference letters, and if the references do not oppose, you can write the letters yourself and have the reference sign it. This way you have full control over what is said. Ensure that reference letters are current, accurate and written on the reference’s letterhead.


Thank Your References

As a common courtesy, you should send your references a letter of thanks for taking time out of their busy schedules to help you. Also keep them posted on how things are progressing with your job search.

List and Prep your Business Contacts

Most people don’t realize how many people they can use as references. It could be current or past co-workers, bosses or supervisors, clients, sales reps, business owners, or other professionals you regularly deal with.

You would be surprised to know who will gladly say nice things about you in a reference call, and you might also be surprised to know who might not want to give a reference or give a negative one. The way to tell which will be the better reference to use, is to talk to your references in advance and find out what they will say about you.

When you call your reference contact, ask if they prefer to be contacted on their mobile phone, by personal or company e-mail. Make sure you get approval from your reference prior to them being contacted.

When you talk to your reference, outline a game plan of what you’re trying to achieve and what you expect from them. It’s important to emphasize confidentiality during these discussions. You might want to discuss how you met, and how long you’ve know each other, since these questions might come up. If the reference is close enough to you, you may also want to share the position you’re applying for, and who will be calling them for the reference.

Do the Same for Personal Contacts

Employers check personal references to get a feeling for your character. Again, you can outline the same game plan when you contact them. Ask the same questions, like how long you have known each other, how you know them, and what they are expected to say about you.

Keep In Touch With Your References

It’s a good idea to always keep in touch with your references, and update them periodically. You never know who your references can put you in touch with. These extended networks could mean a job lead or interview. Send them a quick e-mail or give them a phone call to give them your updated information.


Tough Interview Questions and How to Overcome Them

Tough Interview Questions and How to Overcome Them

Tough Interview Questions and How to Overcome Them

Chances are you’ll be presented with tough interview questions. How you answer them might determine whether or not you get the job. Here’s a guide to help you overcome them.  

The interviewer has a vested interest in protecting their company. Don’t lose sight of why he or she asks the questions he asks. He or she will ask you questions to identify discrepancies in your employment history, red flags, or limitations in your skills or abilities to do the job. Let’s say, for example, you took time off of work to open a business or took maternity leave to raise a child. That gap in employment on your resume might raise a red flag.  

Do you have a good reason for it? Do you know how to answer these types of questions? Questions such as these are difficult to answer for most people, and many candidates respond by rambling on. Know how to respond to these critical questions.

There are three steps involved in answering typical interview questions:


1) Understand what the interviewer wants to find out. He or she might have an agenda for the interview. They might be wondering if you are dependable, able to adapt, or a team player.


2) Don’t give too much information. Saying less is actually better. Only answer questions you are asked. Present the answer in a way that is to your “best” advantage.


3) Take your time and respond to questions asked. If you know what they are looking for, you can respond by selling the skills and accomplishments that are relevant to the employee’s concerns.

Here are some tough questions:

  • Why are you looking for a new position?
  • Your education does not match with the requirements of the position. Why did you apply for the position?
  • What are your compensation expectations?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • Why were you fired from your last job?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • There appears to be a gap in employment from X date to Y date, is there a reason for that?
  • Your background doesn’t exactly match the job description, why did you apply for this job?

Having answers to these questions is going to be important. You don’t want to come across in the interview as ill prepared, or hesitate to find answers to these questions.

It’s important to know that some employers are more likely to hire someone who presents him or herself well, rather than a candidate with extensive credentials. The safest way to answer questions is to emphasize your strongest personal strengths, backing them up with examples that demonstrate your value to the company.


The Best Way to Answer Common Interview Questions

The Best Way to Answer Interview Questions

The Best Way to Answer Common Interview Questions

The famous “Tell me about yourself” question

This is something you should practice and perfect. It’s the basic introduction of who you are and what you are looking for in a job. It will form the basis of your introductory message when networking, and your opening statement in telephone contacts with employers.

Here are some pointers on how to keep the messaging on-target and focused.


  • Don’t give your life story.
  • Give a very brief overview which includes education, previous job titles, responsibilities and achievements. Target your response to the audience or contact with whom you are speaking, and the position for which you are applying.


What did you most enjoy about your last job?

  • “I was able to set goals and find effective ways to achieve them, using limited resources.”
  • “I was able to use my analytical skills to implement corrective methods at a critical stage of the project.”
  • “I developed a new approach to process improvement which became a standard for the company.”


How would your colleagues or supervisor describe you?

  • “I have been described as a dependable and trust-worthy worker.”
  • “I was able to take on a task through from inception to completion with excellent results.”
  • “I have a knack for finding useful demographic information about our customers’ buying habits.”

What can you offer us that other people cannot?

  • “I have a track record of identifying little-known investments that produce a great yield.”
  • “I am familiar with legal loopholes and parameters that affect client’s finances.”
  • “I am a certified professional with many years of experience finding unique ways to solve financial problems.”
  • “I require very little supervision and produce great results.”


What about this job attracts you?

  • “I am able to use my knowledge in market research to develop strategies that will give your company an advantage in the marketplace.”
  • “I share the same values as your company, and strongly believe in your corporate mission and vision.”
  • “I am comfortable in a small business environment as in a large one.”




How long do you see yourself with us?

  • “I see myself here as long as I am making a valuable contribution to the company.”
  • “I see myself here for the long run providing expertise, guidance and leadership to take the company top the next level.


How would you describe an ideal working environment?

  • “An environment that proactively looks at solving problems in a team approach”.

“A marketing support team that can assist the outside sales force with customer and product information that will help them close more business and lend help to customers when needed on a timely basis.”


Research the Company before Your Interview

Research The Company Before Your Interview

Research The Company Before Your Interview

One thing you must do before a job interview is learn about the company and position. Here are some ideas to help you get started on this research.

  • Gather information from the web. Search the company’s website and look through the web pages to find product information, newsworthy articles, case studies and company related information.
  • Search online for forums about the company, and what people are saying about the company.  
  • Contact the organization’s public relations or marketing department and ask for the most recent annual report and other company literature.
  • Read current periodicals and trade journals to learn about the latest trends in the industry. These can be found at your local library, bookstore or industry websites.
For job descriptions, you can try looking in these publications:
  • The Complete Guide for Occupational Exploration
  • The Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • Call or visit the human resources department and ask for a copy of their job descriptions. If you can’t get it, you might ask competitors for similar job descriptions.
  • The Dictionary of Occupational Titles
Important things to find out:
  • What is their market share (if available), and how do they rank in the industry?
  • Know what salary range is typical for this type of position. Learn about the company’s competitors.
  • Familiarize yourself with the employer’s organizational structure. Read the company mission statement.
  • Who are their clients or customers?
  • Know the full names of the executive officers, including the president, CEO, COO, and CFO.
  • Familiarize yourself with the company’s products, services and brand names.
  • Find out the locations of all operations, branches and divisions. In most cases, this could be found on the company website.

The manner in which you find information about a company will vary. The important thing is how you will use it and make the most of it for a great first impression in the interview.

















Company Structure

Find out what the structure and scope of the company, and identify whether it is small, medium, or large. Is it a division of a larger company or owned by a parent or foreign company? Does it own other companies? Who are its strategic allies? Is it a local, national, or international company? Also discover whether the company has divisions and what they are. It is also useful to know at what stage of growth the company is in. Have they recently grown or laid-off employees? At what rate? Using the web, media, and personal sources, uncover as much as you can about the internal workings of the company.


Know the Customer

Moreover, it is useful to know how the company makes its money. Who are its clients or customers, and how many of them are there? Is it a family-owned business, or a start-up company funded by venture capital firms? Getting your hands on a shareholders report could be very helpful. This way you can determine what the company’s earnings or losses are. Compiling this information will enable you to assess the financial stability of the company.


Study the Market

You also must familiarize yourself with the company’s market. What products do they sell, and who are their target customers? If they provide a service, to who is it rendered? What is the nature of the products or services? These are the kinds of things you should be discussing when you sit down for an interview. In addition, it is also useful to know who the company’s competitors are.


Employee Relations

Interviewing current or former employees will give you some insight as to how the company operates and how employees are treated. Are company earnings shared by employees? What are the salary ranges for various positions?

Is there a benefits package offered by the company? Additionally, you should discover whether employees receive training or mentoring, how many hours a week the employees tend to work, and how long employees tend to stay at the company. Finally, you might check to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. This can be obtained through the local better business bureau and your state labor office.

Research the Company

I cannot overemphasize the importance of doing your homework on the company or organization you are interviewing with. You should have a list of questions, and be ready to ask them at the appropriate time. You might also want to check the rating of the company on various job boards. Typically a company has a rating from 1 to 5 stars.

1 being the lowest, and 5 being the highest. If you consistently see a number of 1 or 2 star ratings from past employees, this should cause for alarm, and you should definitely bring this up In the interview.

Researching answers to interview questions is also important, and this will help you prepare for your interview. Doing this will increase your chances of getting a job offer, or an invitation to a second or third interview, whichever may be the case.

Here are some questions you can ask about the position and company which should give you a better handle on direction of the company with regards to this position and expectation for the role. 


Questions regarding the position:

  • Is this a replacement position or a newly formed position?
  • How many people would I be working with? 
  • What are the hours for the position?
  • How soon do you anticipate a decision being made?
  • When do you hope to have the position filled?
  • Who will be your direct report?
  • How will your performance be measured?
  • What opportunities are available for future advancement?
  • What are the responsibilities and duties involved in the job?
  • What type of benefits package is offered, and are they fully company paid or is some of the cost

shared by the employee?

  • Are you capable of performing the job?
  • Do you have the relevant work experience?
  • Do the organizations goals and culture match your requirements?
  • Will the job challenge you?
  • Can you see future progression in line with your career aspirations?
  • Will the role motivate you?


Questions regarding the company:


  • What is the company culture like?
  • What are some basic goals and objectives of the company?
  • Is the company growing or planning to open new offices, locations, or facilities?
  • Is the department growing? Will there be new growth opportunities in the future?
  • What products and services does the company sell?
  • Is the company growing or downsizing?

How does the company perform relative to its competitors?


Legal and Illegal Pre-employment Questions – What you need to know

Legal and Illegal Pre-Employment Questions – What you Need to Know

Legal and Illegal Pre Employment Questions

Pre-employment questions can cover a number of areas of your career and personal life. It’s important to distinguish between legitimate questions and those that might be illegal and hurtful to your chances of getting the job. This is especially true if you have disabilities. You want to make sure that you are not discriminated against, so pay close attention to the questions and only answer the ones that are legal and give you the best shot at the job. 


Illegal Questions:


  • What is your corrected vision?
  • When did you lose your eyesight?
  • How did you lose your eyesight?
  • Please complete the following medical history as part of the application process.
  • Have you had any recent or past illness or operations? If yes, list and give dates.
  • What was the date of your last physical exam?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Do you see a psychiatrist for stress or any mental problems?
  • Are you an alcoholic?
  • Have you ever or do you currently take recreational drugs?
  • Are you married, single, or divorced? If married, this can only be asked for insurance purposed.
  • How often do you drink alcoholic beverages?
  • How often were you sick or take off for sick days?
  • Do you use a wheelchair, and will we have to make any accommodations for the wheelchair?
  • What is your sexual orientation? Gay or Straight?
  • Do you have any kids, and do you plan on having any soon?
  • What are your political affiliations?
  • What is your religion or church? Will you require any time off for religious purposes?
  • What is your nationality or race, and what is your skin color?
  • How old are you? This can however be asked to determine if you are old enough to legally work. For example: “Are you over the age of 18”.
  • Are you a U.S. Citizen?
  • Do you require visa sponsorship?
  • What is your union affiliation?
  • Are you collecting social security benefits?
  • How heavy are you?
  • What is you military discharge status?
  • Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or currently having any financial troubles?
  • Have you even had a speeding ticket, or arrested for driving under the influence?

Legal Questions:


  • Are you able to perform the essential functions of the job?
  • As part of the company’s hiring process, after a job offer has been made, you will be required to undergo a medical exam. The results will remain confidential and will only be used if emergency medical treatment is necessary or to assist in the determination of a job accommodation.
  • As part of the company’s hiring process, after a job offer has been made, will you be able to provide information so that we can conduct a background check?
  • Will you need any accommodation to participate in the recruiting process?
  • How well can you handle stress?
  • What was your attendance record at your last employer?
  • What are your job skills, educational background, and prior work experiences?
  • Have you ever been convicted of a felony? This can only be asked if the position requires security clearance.
  • Why is there a gap in your employment history?
  • How many children do you have? This can only be asked for insurance purposes only.
  • Are you legally authorized to work in the United States for any employer without visa sponsorship?
  • Do you have a disability that would prevent you from performing the essential functions of the job with or with an accommodation?
  • Do you wish to participate in a company 401K retirement plan or stock options?


Now that you know what is permissible and what is discriminatory, consider how you might prepare for a situation in which the illegal questions come up. Your action depends on what makes you feel comfortable. There are three paths you can take for this type of questioning.  

1.) You could forfeit your rights and answer the question, in the hopes that it will deepen your connection with the employer rather than incite bias. There might be times when you discover that your interviewer goes to the same church or has family from a country similar to yours. You might not hesitate to disclose this information about yourself in these cases.  

2.) Alternatively, you could discreetly refuse to answer the question. For example, you might avoid answering the question directly but address the concern. If asked whether you plan to have children, you might reply: “I try to balance my work and my personal life. I can assure you that I will be focused and committed to my responsibilities here, and my personal life will not interfere with my performance.” If you elect not to answer the question but you wish to secure the position, take steps to put the interviewer at ease.

3.) You might, after hearing some of the questions, have no desire to work for a company that probes into areas of your personal life. If you decide on the spot that you do not want the job, you can go so far as to excuse yourself from the interview and even file a complaint or lawsuit. If you decide to pursue formal recourse, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Their website is, or you can call them at: 1-800-669-4000.


How Interviewing with Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search

How Interviewing with Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search

How Interviewing with Recruiters Can Help Your Job Search

A Job-Seekers Guide to Interviewing with Recruiters

You’ve probably heard of “headhunters”, “recruiters”, and “search firms” by now. If you are new to the job market or a veteran looking to make a move to a new organization, you should know the distinctions between these types of firms. Typically, they are third-party organizations that help individuals find temporary and direct hire jobs. Here’s how it’s broken down:

  • Contract Recruiters: Typically, an employer will hire recruiters from a contract staffing firm to represent them in the recruiting and employment function. The recruiters have an arrangement with the organization to “place” contract workers at the customer site for a period of time, sometimes ranging from as short as a few weeks to longer periods, in some cases a year or more. This might be important information for someone applying for a contract position at a company.


  • Employment Agencies: Employment agencies work with companies that seek to hire professionals. The employment agencies submit resumes of qualified candidates to the companies, which interview the candidates and ultimately pay a fee to the employment agency if a selected candidate is “placed.” In most cases, the placement fee is paid by the company (client) working with the employment agency. In very rare cases, the candidate pays a fee to the employment agency to be placed at an organization. If you come across a job listing that does not include the phrase “fee paid”, be sure to ask who pays the fee before signing any papers. The types of positions that you might see a candidate paying a fee to an agency is retail sales, customer service representative, or a laborer position. These specific types of agencies can be found throughout the country.
  • Resume Referral Firms: A resume referral firm collects information on job seekers and forwards it to prospective employers. This information can be contained in resumes or on paper or electronic data forms. The employer, job seeker, or both might pay fees. You must give the firm written permission to pass your resume on to employers. Your permission should include a statement that expressly states to whom and for what purpose the information can be used.
  • Contingent Search Firms: A search firm contracts with employers to find and screen qualified applicants to fill a specific position. Contingent Search firm representatives will disclose to the candidate which employer they represent in the interview qualifying process. The fees for these firms are paid by the employer. The fee charged is either a flat fee equivalent to 20% to 30% of the candidate’s first year salary, or an hourly fee paid to the search firm to locate a qualified candidate. 






Questions to Ask a Recruiter


Here’s where you need to be a wise consumer. While third-party recruiters exist to help you in your job search, read all materials carefully before signing anything.  

Here are some general questions you may want to ask:

  • How many job openings are there for someone in my field? If you have the opportunity, inquire about the positions being filled or the number of openings related to your field. These are important questions because, in some instances, recruiters may not really have the type or number of openings they advertise. They may be more interested in adding your name to their candidate pool as a means of attracting more employers or clients to their services. Or they may be collecting resumes for future job opportunities.
  • How is this information being used? A third-party recruiter is legally allowed (with your permission of course) to share your resume with the contract employer for positions that you are actually seeking. The recruiter must tell you, in clear terms, that your materials and information will not be shared outside the organization or used for any purpose other than with the company they represent at the time they interview you. The third-party recruiter cannot sell your information to anyone else. You may choose to authorize the recruiter to share your data elsewhere, but your authorization should be given to the recruiter in writing.
  • Are candidates treated equally and fairly? If you are qualified for the job opportunity (after an interview screening of course), the third-party recruiter must pass your information to employers without regard to your race, color, national origin, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

Who pays the placement services fee? Before you agree to anything or sign a contract, ask the recruiter who will pay the fee. He/she will normally tell you upfront who the fee is paid by, but you must ask anyway to be clear.


Interview Preparation – What you need to know before the interview

Interview Preparation – What you Need to Know Before a Job Interview

Interview Preparation What you Need to Know Before the Interview

I can’t emphasize enough how important interview preparation is, and the benefit you can get out of it if done properly. Please prepare in advance. The better prepared you are, the less anxious you will be, and the greater your chances for success.

  • Find someone to role play the interview with you. This person should be someone with whom you feel comfortable and with whom you can discuss your weaknesses freely. This person should be objective and knowledgeable, perhaps a business associate.
  • Use a mirror or video camera when you role play to see what kind of image you project. This helps you see yourself in the eyes of the interviewer.
  • Assess your interviewing skills. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Work on correcting your weaknesses, such as speaking rapidly, talking too loudly or softly, and nervous habits such as quivering hands or inappropriate facial expressions.
  • Learn the questions that are commonly asked and prepare answers to them. Practice giving brief but thorough answers.
  • Decide what questions you would like to ask, and practice politely interjecting them at different points in the interview.
  • Evaluate your skills, abilities, and education as they relate to the type of job you are seeking, and see where you need to focus more effort on your strengths.
  • Practice tailoring your answers to show how you meet the company’s needs, and why you are a better candidate then the others that are in the running.
  • Assess your overall appearance. Find out what clothing is appropriate for your industry. Although some industries such as fashion and advertising are more stylish, acceptable attire for most industries is conservative dress.
  • Have several sets of appropriate clothing available since you might have several interviews over a few days. Always keep it professional.
  • Your clothes should be clean and pressed, and your shoes polished as well.
  • Make sure your hair is neat, your nails clean, and that you are generally well groomed.
  • Research the company. The more you know about the company and the job you are applying for, the better you will do in the interview. Get as much information as you can before the interview.
  • Have extra copies of your resume available to take to the interview. The interviewer may ask you for extra copies.

Extra emphasis should be made on Interview Preparation. Make sure you bring along the same version of your resume that you originally sent to the contact at the company. You can also refer to your resume to complete applications that ask for job history information (e.g., dates of employment, names of former employers and their telephone numbers, job responsibilities, and accomplishments).


How to Negotiate the Best Job Offer

How to Negotiate the Best Job Offer

How to Negotiate The Best Job Offer

When it comes to money, put yourself in the best position to negotiate a compensation plan that works for you.


Negotiating Terms

When there is a job offer on the table, it’s time to negotiate a compensation package. The company is investing time and resources in securing you as the candidate of choice. They have made this investment because they think you will be an important part of their team.

The employer is willing to make this investment in you because they think you have the potential to become a great employee, or an employee that will be able to deliver on what you have promised during the interview process. The negotiation game is very tricky, so you need to go in knowing what questions to ask in order to put yourself in a good position during the discussion. Consider these guidelines for more effective negotiations.


Find out what you are worth. It’s almost a guarantee that the representative negotiating the terms of employment on the company’s behalf knows the market value for your skills and experience. When negotiations begin, you should also know how much your work is worth. Using a few sources including the internet, do research on the salary and compensation ranges for comparable jobs in your geographic area. When researching these sources, take into account the cost of living differences between cities, especially if you are considering a position out of state.  


Set a clear goal and objective. Many people who negotiate salaries really don’t have a game plan or even know how to execute it, and as a result most people are not getting what they are really worth. Those who set clear and aggressive goals achieve more favorable results than those who aim low or do not set goals at all. If you want $50,000 a year, shoot for $60,000 to $70,000 and you’ll be in a stronger negotiating position.  


Set a minimum acceptance price. You should know your own financial obligations and responsibilities prior to accepting a position. If you know that you cannot take anything under $55,000, it makes no sense to accept the position. You should be able to decline an offer if it doesn’t meet your financial needs. You should also take into consideration other factors of the offer, like any alternative options prior to accepting the offered position. If you are currently making $45,000 a year and there are no other offers on the table, settling at the same amount or just a slightly higher amount might not be a bad idea.


Strike a fair balance. Obtaining a compensation package that both you and the employer consider fair is particularly important since you are entering into an ongoing working relationship. If three months into your new job you discover that you are making 25% less than your counterparts, your enthusiasm for your new job can quickly diminish. On the other hand, if your employer feels like you bullied him into a costlier package than the company authorized him to offer, he or she could easily become resentful toward you.

Are you worth more than most people because you have more experience or because you have a long track record of attracting large clients or managing large projects? You must be able to make a strong business case for why your self-serving version of fairness is appropriate. Perhaps the rationale for your standard of fairness has little to do with you personally, and everything to do with asking for the market value of your work. Maybe you are asking for a salary that is commensurate with others performing the same role in the company or in the industry. It is helpful for you to identify what your employer considers fair, because you and your potential employer might be far off on a potential salary number. Remember: If your negotiating counterpart makes concessions, they need to be able to justify their concessions to their boss.


Identify all your interests. Both you and your employer probably have concerns or aspirations that are not strictly monetary. You might want to negotiate one or more flex days per week, for example, or have the ability to work from home a few times a month if you have to pick up or drop your children from school.

When you walk into the negotiation, prioritize your interests and identify areas where you are willing to trade one thing of value for something else. Is the salary more important than stock options? Is a health club membership more important than a likely promotion in six to twelve months?

Negotiating terms of the deal are very important. Discovering what your employer’s interests are will benefit you. Maybe the employer has some budgetary constraints and cannot go to the number you initially asked for.

It’s good to know if the negotiator has full decision-making capability or if they are representing someone else who makes the compensation decisions. It’s likely that the potential employer may be able to offset a concession on your part by paying for your education, association fees, stock options, membership fees, or if the negotiation goes well, maybe a signing bonus. Remember to be creative and keep all of your options open.


Be competitive but allow room for negotiation. It’s possible that the negotiator will be aggressive, brisk or stubborn, but keep your cool and stick to your game plan. If you encounter a negotiator who wants to play hardball, respond strategically. Don’t allow yourself to get baited. Remember your goals, and why your requests are fair. Only volunteer information that will strengthen your position. If your counterpart makes a concession, it is important that you also appear cooperative. You might need to make a concession as well.


Negotiation is an important part of the communication process. It’s composed of research and strategy.

In the research stage, gather as much information as you can about your skills, and the company’s values and needs. In the strategy stage, use your enthusiasm as a major negotiating technique. When you show energy and a positive attitude, it’s hard for any employer to be disinterested in you.


Negotiating Your Compensation Package

Rule #1 in salary negotiations: Do not discuss your specific compensation package with the employer until you have been offered the job, and one in which you should seriously consider.

During salary negotiations, you are not only talking about your monetary salary, but your entire compensation package. This includes vacation time, personal sick leave, health insurance, tuition reimbursement, and 401K.

Your base salary and performance-based raises are probably the most negotiable parts of your compensation package. Many companies allow you to select from a number of benefit options based on a total monetary cost.

In other words, the company will spend a certain amount of money on each employee for benefits, and employees have some flexibility when choosing benefit options that are best suited for them. For example, employees with children might consider child-care reimbursement benefits, while other employees interested in going back to school might choose tuition reimbursement. Before you begin negotiating your compensation, decide which benefits are most important to you. When you are dealing with a compensation package, consider all the benefits the company has to offer, not just the salary.

Salary Negotiations

As with any other part of the job search process, the key to salary negotiations is preparation. It is very important for you to do your research before you begin. In order to determine the salary you are willing to accept, investigate the salary range that someone with your skills and experience can expect to receive.


How do you find salary information?


  • The internet – You can easily spend hours searching, but be advised that you’ll likely come up with a few good sources that require you to pay a fee for the service.


  • The local library – Your local library should have a number of references to use to find out the salary ranges for the occupation you are considering. The reference librarian can provide assistance in locating salary information resources.




  • Occupational Outlook Handbook – This handbook is published by the Department of Labor and provides profiles for a variety of occupations. It gives insight on a wide range of general careers, hiring trends, jobs outlook, job requirements and expected salaries.


  • Job search centers – These can be found in schools, libraries, community centers, or as part of federal, state, or local government programs. Such centers frequently keep salary information..


  • Your past experience – Think about your past salary. Your previous salary is a starting point for salary negotiation if the positions you are applying for do not dramatically differ from your former position.


  • Professional associations – These associations conduct salary surveys both nationally and regionally. They provide salary and compensation information received from their membership.


  • Your network – Talk to colleagues in your professional network about salary ranges and benefits.
  • – This is also a good source for salary comparison in your market and geography. This should be a good benchmark you can work from.


What about other salary and benefit information? Wait for the employer to introduce these subjects. Some companies will not talk about pay until they have decided to hire you. In order to know if their offer is reasonable, you need to find out what a rough estimate is of what the job should pay.

Try talking to family, friends, or acquaintances who were recently hired in similar jobs. You can look at help-wanted ads in newspapers, internet career websites and even do looks-ups on search engines and the list of sources mentioned above. At the time of the offer, you must understand exactly what benefits are offered, what they cover, what deductibles (if any) apply, and whether there are any co-pays for office visits, emergency visits and prescription drugs.

It’s important to learn the organization’s policy regarding overtime. Depending on the job duties, you might or might not be exempt from laws requiring the employer to compensate you for overtime. Find out how many hours you will be expected to work each week and whether you will receive overtime pay or compensatory time off for working more than the specified number of hours in a week.

Take into account that your starting salary is just that, a starting compensation. Your salary should be reviewed on a regular basis. Depending on the role or position you are in, it may be reviewed quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

How much can you expect to earn after one, two, three or more years? It is hard for employers to gauge pay increases like commissions and bonuses over a period of time, because they have to consider many factors like the state of the economy, years of service, and most importantly your performance. If you do not expect to get commissions or bonuses, a general rule of thumb is that if you are entitled to a pay increase. Typical salary and general compensation raises range from 5% to 10% annual. This range is pretty common, but it could go higher based on your contribution and value to the company.


How to Handle Salary Requests

How to Handle Salary Requests

How to Handle Salary Requests

What is your salary requirement, or compensation expectation? A commonly asked question by interviewers. Here’s a good way to handle those requests. 

Most job seekers don’t know how to respond when an employer requests a salary history to be submitted with a resume. Nobody wants to price themselves out of a job, but by the same token you do not want to give the employer the opportunity to offer you less than the going rate for the position. Your response to a request for a salary history is best handled in your cover letter. The question should be addressed at the end of the letter, after you’ve highlighted your skills, background, accomplishments, experience and interest in the position. 

What are your salary requirements?

Once an employer has determined that a candidate is the right fit for the company, the next step is determining the financial feasibility for both parties. Interviewers might ask how much money the candidate makes in their current position. This is a straightforward question and should be answered without hesitation.


Tip: It’s best to let the employer know that you will consider the entire compensation package, including benefits, healthcare, 401K, tuition reimbursement, etc. Also, make sure that the employer is aware you will consider cost of living indexes (if relocation is involved), commuting time, and other factors such as quality of life.


The Salary Game: What Are You Worth?
As you prepare yourself to go into the second interview, chances are you will probably be discussing salary. Most people seeking a job get uncomfortable when it comes to talking about money. The bottom line is most people want to make sure they get a fair salary. 

There are many cases where people start working without ever knowing what they will be paid because they feel a job is better than not having one. Often people fear discussing a salary because they are afraid the employer will withdraw the offer of employment. Knowing ahead of time what the compensation arrangements are eliminates problems later.

The employer will likely try to offer you a lower salary to start and promise to increase your pay based on your performance, or based on the company’s profit. If an employer asks you about your salary, the safest way to respond is to tell them it is “negotiable.” The first step in negotiating salaries is to do some research. Check the list of sources we mentioned earlier of where to find salary information, so you can research how much other companies are paying for the same position that you will be doing.

Remember to keep your cool during the interview process. You should be willing to negotiate, but don’t be overly confident while discussing money, because it may backfire on you and you may potentially lose the position.

These steps are important in negotiating your salary. Being too demanding in these negotiations may put you in a weaker position for getting the salary you want. Employers are willing to discuss salary if they believe you are the right candidate who is worth the investment for the company.















  • Respond to the question positively without giving any specific amount. “My salary is in the low 40’s.”
  • Mention your desired salary. If you are responding to this question in an application, you can state “competitive” or “open.” You can also state that the salary is negotiable depending on the position, or give a $2,000 to $5,000 range. Caution: Give a range only if you know the market value for the position and for someone with similar skills and background.
  • Know your salary requirements ahead of time. Know what you hope to make. These numbers shouldn’t be mentioned in your response to the salary history question. You should, however, give this some thought for when you get to the negotiating phase.
  • Be prepared to respond to a request for previous salaries in an interview. It can be handled by responding without stating specific amounts.




  • Include your salary history on your resume. What’s important is what you did in your job, rather than what you were paid.

Lie about your previous pay rate. Employers can easily verify your salary history through reference checks.

You are at the final phase of the interviewing process, and it’s imperative to gather information prior to your meetings. In order to accurately assess your position, you need to understand your strengths, accomplishments, and available resources. The information that you gather will give you bargaining strength.


Important factors to help you capitalize on salary negotiations:


Know the industry:

  • Do research on what the demand is for the industry in which you are employed.
  • Understand the status of the economy and how it affects the industry you are competing in. 
  • Review and determine the current unemployment rate and the long-term employment outlook. 


Know the company:

  • Is the company profitable or going through difficult financial times? 
  • What is its position in the business cycle (startup, developing, constant, turnaround)?
  • Is the company in a downturn, growing, merging or about to be acquired by another company, an industry leader, or struggling to maintain employees.


Know where you stand: 

  • Your technical capabilities, expertise and unique selling features. 
  • Your resources, including networking contacts. 
  • The caliber of your competition and the availability of other candidates in the market.


Know the hiring manager:

  • Is this an urgent position that the company needs to fill? 
  • Understand the entire decision-making process, influencers and hiring budget.

Is the manager you are interviewing with able to extend an offer, or do they need to go higher up?


Handling Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Handling Frequently Asked Interview Questions 

Handling Frequently Asked Interview Questions

Here is a list of commonly asked interview questions that you might get from your interviewer:


  • What are your expectations for this position?
  • Where do you want to be in five or ten years?
  • What attracted you to this position?
  • What attracted you to our company?
  • What are your short and long term professional goals?
  • Why are you looking to leave your current job?
  • What makes you the best candidate for the job?


Be considerate and strike a delicate balance when responding to these kinds of questions:

  1. It’s not appropriate to mention personal or family topics, keep it professional.
  1. Don’t go off on a tangent about how you want to start your own business or run for office.


Typical responses to “what makes you the best candidate for the job” could be:

“I would like to let you know that I am the best candidate for the job.”

“I’ll make a significant advance in the organization within a short time.”


Answers to other popular questions:

  • Would you rather work with information or with people? Ideally, both. But the response should be tailored toward the job description and the relevant strengths in those areas.
  • What qualities do you feel a successful manager should have? Here is where your mention a few of the successful projects and resources you have managed. This will come in handy.
  • How would you describe your ideal job? Your description of your ideal job should sound like the job you’re interviewing for.
  • How much training do you think you’ll need to become a productive employee? Remember, the question is asking how productive you will be. Respond that you can be productive immediately. Answer with confidence, and make it clear that you have the ability to make an impact immediately.
  • Why isn’t your GPA higher? Don’t make excuses. Turn a negative into a positive by mentioning that you were involved in extracurricular activities, volunteering, which made you a well-rounded person.


Yes or No questions:

  • Are you a goal-oriented person?
  • Are you a team player?
  • Are you willing to go the extra mile and work overtime?
  • Do you handle pressure and stress well?
  • Do you handle conflict well?

Never respond with just Yes or No:

  • Always elaborate, and be prepared to give specific examples.
  • Your examples should be current. Avoid using anything from high school or before that.


Questions that require knowledge of the company:

  • Do you enjoy doing market research? Ask in what context they are asking this question.


  • How did you find out about us? Be honest about this question. A friend that works at the company, you heard good things about the management, they promote from within, etc.


  • Do you have any plans to further your education? This will depend on the position, and if it requires an advanced degree In the future or additional training.


  • Why do you want to work in this industry? If this position is in a new industry, you will need to do some research on the industry and what attracted you to it. This could be part of your response. Example: It’s a high-growth industry that is consistently hiring for people like you.
  • What do you know about our company? Give them a few details about their company that you researched online or through reliable sources. An example might be…….they have 20% market share, They are a leader in a specific industry, and they have low employee turn-over.


Thought-provoking questions:

  • Have you set goals for your career? Yes, specify specific goals related to the position.


  • What motivates you? Mention your top 2 or 3 professional motivations.


  • What were your favorite classes? Why? Limit it to 2 or 3. Don’t mention too many classes.


  • Who were your favorite professors? Why? Mention only 1 or 2 at most.
  • What did you like most about your school? You can elaborate on this one, but don’t go overboard.


These types of questions require:

  • Thoughtful responses
  • Responses that are not self-serving


  • Responses that are specific to the job


  • Responses that tell the interviewer how you handle stressful situations

Money questions:

  • How important is money to you? They want to know if you will accept a position on money alone.


  • What are your salary expectations to accept a new position? Start with a range, but ask what their range is for the position.
  • Will you accept a counter offer if your current employer offers you more money? This is important because it tells the interviewer if you are serious or not about the position or just trying to get an offer so you can take it back to your current employer for more money.


Answering money questions:

  • Find a balance. Money’s important, but you should also consider things like total compensation packages with benefits, extra perks and bonuses.
  • Remember, job satisfaction in the total package is also important.
  • Don’t bring up student loans. The employer will base your pay on your worth to the company, not what your needs are.
  • If at all possible, try to delay salary negotiations. We will talk more in depth about this in a later chapter. Don’t give specifics until after an offer is made.


Asking for the job:

Make sure you ask about the next step in the process. Before the interview is over, remember to ask for the job. If you don’t ask for these details, they likely won’t be volunteered.