Ten Signs You’re Shooting Too Low In Your Job Search

 

Dear Liz,

 

I’ve been job-hunting since October. Maybe I was naive thinking my job search would be quick and easy. I’ve been in the insurance industry for over twenty years.

 

I’ve been an agent, an office manager and held almost every insurance job there is.

 

I’ve only had one in-person job interview so far. I’ve applied for numerous jobs but in the other cases I either got a phone interview or no interview.

 

They keep telling me I’m overqualified for the jobs I’m applying for. If I’m overqualified doesn’t that make me the perfect candidate, because I can obviously do the job?

 

I thought if I took my target position down a level or two from the last few jobs I’ve held, I would get hired much faster. I’m applying for jobs I performed fifteen years ago and I thought that would do the trick but it’s not working.

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I’m sick of job hunting. I would accept anything. I still have my savings and retirement accounts because I’ve been living frugally since October, but I’m tired of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible. What am I doing wrong?

 

 

Dear Harlan,

 

It sounds like you’re shooting too low in your job search, and that is almost always a show-stopper. Employers don’t want to hire people who could perform the job with one hand tied behind their back.

 

Here are some of the reasons why not:

 

  1. They are afraid you’ll quit for a better job the minute you have the opportunity to do so.

 

  1. They are afraid that even if you say “I’ll take this job, a lower-level role that pays less than I’ve earned since 2004 — no problem!” you won’t be happy. You’ll be antsy. They don’t need that.

 

  1. They want to hire someone they can train their own way.

 

  1. They get spooked by any candidate who seems to know more about the field than they do.

 

There could be an age-discrimination aspect depending on your age, but the key is that you are shooting too low and recruiters can tell that you’re doing so. They don’t want to hire somebody for whom this job is not a natural step along your career path.

 

How can we blame them for that? It’s fear that is making you shoot low in your job search and even though everyone can relate to that fear, the remedy for the fear is not to take any job you can get but to stop and think about what you do best and what you really want to do.

 

You have to do some reflection to figure out where your sweet spot lies — at the intersection of the things you do well, the things you love to do and the needs in the talent marketplace.

 

Your fearful mindset (“I still have my savings, but I’m sick of job-hunting and I want to be employed as fast as possible!”) is killing your job search.

 

People can read energy very well.

 

Fearful energy is not appealing in a senior-level candidate or any candidate. Your need to get hired fast is what’s artificially depressing your job-search altitude and keeping you from having the conversations you should be having with hiring managers in pain.

 

You have breathing room. You have your savings and retirement accounts. Take time to stop and figure out your next step. Give up the idea of getting any job at all. Employers want to hire somebody who is dying to do the job they’re hiring for — not somebody who’s merely willing to do the job because it represents a break from job-hunting.

 

Here are ten signs you’re shooting too low in your job search:

 

  1. Recruiters view your LinkedIn profile and say “Wow! You have lot of heavy-duty experience. Are you sure you’re interested in this much lower-level job?” They are skeptical. Do you think your hiring manager will be any less skeptical? Don’t use your precious mojo trying to talk anybody into interviewing you!

 

  1. When you show up for an interview or get on a call for a phone interview, the interviewer’s voice indicates surprise or puzzlement. They can’t match the person on the phone (you) with the job opening they’re ready to interview you for.

 

  1. Whenever you get a “no thanks” notice, it gushes about your vast experience and skills and closes with “….but we need someone with a background closer to the job spec.”

 

  1. Recruiters always express surprise that you’re willing to work for the salary number you give them. The gap between your expected salary target and your actual salary target is almost always a red flag for recruiters — whether you are asking for more or less money than the position pays.

 

  1. When you tell recruiters you’d be more than delighted to take a step down in your career they sound less than excited to hear it. Naturally they wonder “Why can’t this candidate get a job at their level?”

 

  1. On your job interviews, you answer every question with a precise, expert opinion on the spot. The interviewer is taken aback — maybe even intimidated. Most companies don’t hire people who intimidate their interviewers.

 

  1. You’ve heard at least one hiring manager say “Heck,you could do my job!” and they’re right.

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25 cities adding (and losing) the most jobs in 2017

 

Here is a look at the five cities adding and losing the most jobs in 2017.

 

2017 may stand out for many events and developments, and among them is the exceptional year turned in by the labor market. For one, U.S. unemployment dropped to 4.1% in October, the lowest since December 2000.

Barring a massive exodus of workers from the labor force, falling unemployment almost always reflects increased hiring, which in turn bodes well for the economy. But while national conditions are favorable, trends vary substantially across the country, and not all local economies have been doing as well.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed monthly metro area employment figures in 2017 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From January through October, employment — the number of Americans currently employed — rose by 1.2%. Employment rose faster over that period in 187 of the nation’s 388 metro areas. It declined in 78 metro areas.

Most of the cities adding the most jobs in 2017 reported uninterrupted employment increases over the course of the year, but this was not always the case. Both Yuma, Arizona and Corvallis, Oregon reported among the largest employment increases this year, yet had some fairly dramatic employment fluctuations. In Yuma, for example, seasonally adjusted employment levels dropped for four consecutive months in the summer before rising again in September and October.

More: Best- and worst-run states in America: Which one is top rated?

More: These are the 5 worst cities for Black Americans

Similarly, while the trend in most cities losing the most jobs was one of steady decline, in several job changes were somewhat erratic. Employment in the St. Joseph metro area, on the border of Montana and Kansas, for example, surged in July before dropping in October.

 

 

25 cities adding the most jobs in 2017

 

 

 

1. Bellingham, WA Employment change: 5,609 (+5.5%) Jan. 2017 employment: 102,069 Oct. 2017 employment: 107,678 Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.5% Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+16.9% employment chg.)  

 

25 cities adding the most jobs in 2017

 

Cities adding the most jobs

25. Janesville-Beloit, Wisc.

Employment change: 2,826 (+3.5%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 80,978

Oct. 2017 employment: 83,804

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.4%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+11.5% employment chg.)

24. Corvallis, Ore.

Employment change: 1,627 (+3.6%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 45,537

Oct. 2017 employment: 47,164

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.3% (lowest 25%)

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+8.3% employment chg.)

23. Yuma, Ariz.

Employment change: 2,883 (+3.6%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 79,504

Oct. 2017 employment: 82,387

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 17.4% (highest 10%)

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+4.5% employment chg.)

22. Johnson City, Tenn.

Employment change: 3,147 (+3.7%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 84,679

Oct. 2017 employment: 87,826

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.6%

Strongest sector: Government (+11.1% employment chg.)

21. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

Employment change: 9,377 (+3.8%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 249,982

Oct. 2017 employment: 259,359

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.5%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+8.2% employment chg.)

20. Eugene, Ore.

Employment change: 6,475 (+3.8%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 172,152

Oct. 2017 employment: 178,627

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.6%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+13.7% employment chg.)

19. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.

Employment change: 46,621 (+3.8%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 1,230,028

Oct. 2017 employment: 1,276,649

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.2%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+19.4% employment chg.)

18. Bremerton-Silverdale, Wash.

Employment change: 4,366 (+3.9%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 111,618

Oct. 2017 employment: 115,984

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.6%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+7.1% employment chg.)

17. Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.

Employment change: 6,466 (+4.1%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 158,952

Oct. 2017 employment: 165,418

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.4%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+9.1% employment chg.)

16. Auburn-Opelika, Ala.

Employment change: 2,938 (+4.2%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 70,002

Oct. 2017 employment: 72,940

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.1% (lowest 25%)

Strongest sector: Government (+10.9% employment chg.)

15. Bend-Redmond, Ore.

Employment change: 3,684 (+4.2%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 87,205

Oct. 2017 employment: 90,889

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.2%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+22.8% employment chg.)

 

14. Morristown, TN Employment change: 2,043 (+4.2%) Jan. 2017 employment: 48,359 Oct. 2017 employment: 50,402 Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.6% Strongest sector: Education and health services (+14.5% employment chg.)  (Photo: Home4tnindustry / Wikimedia Commons)

 

14. Morristown, Tenn.

Employment change: 2,043 (+4.2%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 48,359

Oct. 2017 employment: 50,402

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 3.6%

Strongest sector: Education and health services (+14.5% employment chg.)

13. Olympia-Tumwater, Wash.

Employment change: 5,548 (+4.4%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 125,170

Oct. 2017 employment: 130,718

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 4.7%

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+18.8% employment chg.)

12. Longview, Wash.

Employment change: 1,885 (+4.5%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 41,617

Oct. 2017 employment: 43,502

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 5.6% (highest 25%)

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+6.5% employment chg.)

11. Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.

Employment change: 43,392 (+4.6%)

Jan. 2017 employment: 949,989

Oct. 2017 employment: 993,381

Unemployment, Oct. 2017: 2.4% (lowest 10%)

Strongest sector: Mining, logging, and construction (+7.2% employment chg.)

 

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How to pay for school when you make a career change

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A bad day at work can make anyone dream about switching jobs. But if those scattered thoughts form into a plan to change careers, you might need to dust off your book bag and head back to school.

 

Hitting the books in your 30s, 40s or 50s requires money at an age when retirement savings and mortgage payments may be top of mind. You can get financial aid as an adult learner, but to keep your spending in check, you’ll have to think strategically.

 

Make sure your investment is worth it

 

Before you jump back into caffeine-fueled study sessions, research salary and employment trends in your chosen field — especially if you want to make more money. That’s a realistic goal: Half of adults surveyed who successfully changed careers after age 45 said their income increased, according to a 2015 American Institute for Economic Research report.

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook can help you find in-demand occupations and their average earnings. Physical therapist assistants, for instance, need an associate’s degree, and demand for them is projected to grow 41% by 2024. The median pay in 2015 was $55,170.

 

Once you’ve settled on an occupation, consider getting your credentials through a part-time program at a community college or state university.

 

“If the program you’re in makes it impossible to keep your current job full time,

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Counter Job Offer

 

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Counter offers are part of the package of recruitment.

However, how can you counter the counter offer?

Here are my 5 steps to doing that:

1) Uncover your candidate’s motivators:

Every candidate will have their own specific reasons for looking to change jobs (lack of career progression/ challenge/ support from management/ compensation etc) and your first priority should be to discover AND qualify exactly why they are looking to leave their current employer.

Remember, don’t take their reasons for face value! Qualify their reasons by discussing them in more detail and asking probing questions to dig deeper into why they really feel that way. Keep notes and document this important information as you can use it in the future to remind the candidate of their original motivations.

This is an important step as not only does it give you more control in a counter offer situation, it also gives your more insight into the candidate and what really makes them tick.

What if the candidate is primarily motivated by money?

That’s ok! At least you now know so you’ll be extra alert to the heightened risk of a counter offer situation.

I’ve successfully placed dozens candidates whose main motivator is money – sometimes it can make it make the candidate easier to close as the motivation is black and white. Again, dig deeper and find out the specifics about their compensation requirements and the shortfall at their current employer. This information can be used to your advantage during the offer process.

 

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Planning your Career

Limited skills and/knowledge can put your career in a corner.

Are you putting all of your eggs in one nest—no back up—all of your valuables in one location or category? Certainly not; it’s far too risky to put all your eggs in one basket. And yet, you’d be surprised how many people (manage their careers) with a limited skills approach. Many invest their talents in a narrow field of interest and never reach out to learn a new skill.

You could argue this approach with some jobs at certain times in our history. But times have changed, and so have business strategies. While it’s still true that a solid career is built on a knowledge foundation of position-specific expertise, it’s become increasingly important to maintain a balanced portfolio. Be more than a subject-matter expert in one category and add new tools to your tool-box.

business man writing business strategy

When employers look for talent, they typically focus on people with the proficiency to perform certain tasks very well. But what they really want—especially in today’s hyper-competitive business- market—is an adaptable growing source of knowledge, whose broad-based set of skills crosses over into a variety of disciplines.

Want an example of how things really are?

Listen in on any meeting in which star performers are present. You’re likely to hear a functional business manager having a dialog with their technical colleague on the latest technology; or an engineer reviewing a budget and discussing profit and loss with a controller; or a CFO pondering the benefits of a product marketing opportunity.

In other words, as organizations flatten, more is expected from each individual contributor. Which means that versatility is not only fashionable, it’s become a key ingredient in modern-day career progression.

Now, no one is suggesting you spread yourself so thin as to master nothing at all. If you want to reach top-percentile status in today’s complicated job market, you’ll need an (expanded arsenal of skills) to compete. To round out your resume, look for areas of weakness and try to develop them into strengths. Know your competition and review other on-line resumes in your career path and make yourself aware of what others are bringing to the job market.

By gaining knowledge in areas that were formerly considered the domain of “somebody else,” you’ll increase your overall market value. The more knowledge and abilities in your tool-box you can offer the greater the chance to compete for a desired opportunity.

Limited skills and/knowledge can put your career in a corner.

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Employers expect to hire more college graduates from the class of 2014 than from the class of 2013, shows an update to the National Association of Colleges and Employers job outlook survey out Wednesday.

Employers plan to hire 8.6% more graduates this year than from the class of 2013. Though NACE says that rate of increase is about the same as in past years.

“Even though it’s positive, we consider it somewhat flat,” says Andrea Koncz, employment information officer for NACE. “It’s not going gangbusters or anything.”

So what’s the recipe for job success? Bachelor’s degrees are most in demand. And business, engineering and accounting majors — you are a hot commodity. Nearly 70% of the employers who responded to the survey are hiring business majors. That’s the most of any major.

Petroleum engineering majors have the highest average starting salary, according to another survey from NACE out earlier this month. The average starting salary for petroleum engineering majors from the class of 2014 is $95,300, up 1.9% from the class of 2013’s average starting salary.

Health sciences and education students — sorry. You’re at the bottom of the list. Fewer  than 5% of employers want to hire you. Keep in mind though: The data reflect the types of companies that responded to the survey. The majority of respondents represent industries including finance, insurance and real estate, Koncz says.

But the average starting salary for health sciences gained the most ground this year. Students with that degree are expected to make an average of $51,541, up 3.7% from $49,713 last year.

Fall recruiting for the class of 2015 looks even more promising.

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Would you dump your life savings—every single dollar—into a single stock? Probably not; it’s far too risky to put all your eggs in one investment basket.

And yet, you’d be surprised how many people manage their careers with a single-stock mindset. They toil away, year after year, investing their talents in a narrow field of interest.

Until recently, this approach made a lot of sense. Conventional wisdom dictates that if you do one thing really well, you’ll never be out of a job.

But times have changed, and so have strategies. While it’s still true that a solid career is built on a foundation of position-specific expertise, it’s become increasingly important to maintain a balanced portfolio.

When employers look for talent, they typically settle for people with the proficiency to perform certain tasks. But what they really want—especially in today’s hyper-competitive market—is an adaptable breed of cat, whose broad-based set of skills crosses over into a variety of disciplines.

Want proof? Poke your head into any meeting room in which star performers are present. You’re likely to hear a sales manager exploring the potential of XML technology; or an engineer debating the virtues of a strategic alliance; or a CFO pondering the benefits of a co-branding opportunity.

In other words, as organizations flatten, more is expected from each individual contributor. Which means that versatility is not only fashionable, it’s become a key ingredient in modern-day career progression.

Now, I’m not suggesting you spread yourself so thin as to master nothing at all. But in order to reach top-percentile status in today’s rugged job market, you’ll need an expanded arsenal of skills to deploy.

To round out your resume, look for areas of weakness (or “blind spots”), and try to develop them into strengths. For example, if you’re a design engineer and you want to improve your company’s product or advance its market position, here are some issues to consider:

By gaining knowledge in areas that were formerly considered the domain of “somebody else,” you’ll increase your overall market value. The more you can offer a multiple spectrum of knowledge—rather than a single color of skill—the less likely you’ll be to paint yourself into a corner.

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There are many deeply personal reasons to change your employment situation. However, from a purely strategic point of view, there are four good reasons to change jobs within the same (or similar) industry three times during your first ten years of employment:

Reason #1: Changing jobs gives you a broader base of experience: After about three years, you’ve learned most of what you’re going to know about how to do your job. Therefore, over a ten year period, you gain more experience from “three times 90 percent” than “one times 100 percent.”

Reason #2: A more varied background creates a greater demand for your skills: Depth of experience means you’re more valuable to a larger number of employers. You’re not only familiar with your current company’s product, service, procedures, quality programs, inventory system, and so forth; you bring with you the expertise you’ve gained from your prior employment with other companies.

Reason #3: A job change results in an accelerated promotion cycle: Each time you make a change, you bump up a notch on the promotion ladder. You jump, for example, from project engineer to senior project engineer; or national sales manager to vice president of sales and marketing.

Reason #4: More responsibility leads to greater earning power: A promotion is usually accompanied by a salary increase. And since you’re being promoted faster, your salary grows at a quicker pace, sort of like compounding the interest you’d earn on a certificate of deposit.

Many people view a job change as a way of promoting themselves to a better position. And in most cases, I would agree. However, you should always be sure your new job offers you the means to satisfy your values. While there’s no denying the strategic virtues of selective job changing for the purpose of career leverage, you want to make sure the path you take will lead you where you really want to go.

For instance, there’s no reason to change jobs for more money if it’ll make you unhappy to the point of distraction. In fact, I’ve found that money usually has no influence on a career decision unless it materially affects your lifestyle or self-identity.

To me, the “best” job is one in which your values are being satisfied most effectively. If career growth and advancement are your primary goals, and they’re represented by how much you earn, then the job that pays the most money is the “better” job.

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The best approach to putting the deal together is to decide whether you want the job before an offer is extended. This allows you to clarify whether the job suits your needs. Unless you’re motivated solely by money, it’s doubtful a few extra dollars will turn a bad job into a good one.

The term “bottom line” refers to the amount of compensation you feel is absolutely necessary to accept the job offer. If, for example, you really want $76,000 but would think about $75,000 or settle for $74,000, then you haven’t established your bottom line. The bottom line is one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and helps avoid an unpredictable bargaining session.

I recommend against “negotiating” an offer in the classic sense, where the company makes a proposal, you counter it, they counter your counter, and so on. While this type of back-and-forth format may be customary for negotiating a residential real estate deal, job offers should be handled in a more straightforward manner.

Here’s how: Determine your bottom line in advance, and wait for the offer. If the company offers you more than your bottom line, great. If they offer you less, then you have the option of turning the offer down or revealing to them your bottom line as a condition of acceptance. At that point, they can raise the ante or walk away. And once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.

By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, you’ll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether you’re representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.

If you feel the need to justify your salary request, you can itemize any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and so forth.

Often, there are considerations aside from money that need to be satisfied before an offer can be accepted. Factors such as the new position title, review periods, work schedule, vacation allotment, and promotion opportunities are important, and should be looked at carefully.

You can use the this approach to quantify each consideration or “point” you need to satisfy as a condition for acceptance. Once you and the company settle on each point, you won’t need to go back later to negotiate “one more thing.” Knowing your bottom line puts you in a better position to get what you want, since you’ve established a set of quantifiable conditions needed for acceptance.

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Compensation will be a key factor in your decision whether to accept a new position. However, few people take the time to really understand their economic choices, mostly because there are so many hidden factors, such as cost of living, benefits, and so forth. To help you put your choices into perspective, use the following guide to evaluate your prospective compensation package with what you’re currently earning.

Position Compensation Guide
Directions: Compare the economics of the old and new job.

Current Job

New Job

Element to Consider

$ $  Base salary
$ $  Bonus, commissions
$ $  Additional perks
$ $  Profit sharing potential
$ $  Value of stock or equity
$ $  Pension
$ $  401(k) contribution
$ $  Reimbursed expenses
$ $  Cost of living differences
$ $  Moving expenses
$ $  Travel expenses
$ $  Insurance premiums
$ $  Property taxes
$ $  State, local taxes
$ $  Sales taxes
$ $  Other expenses (specify)
$                     $                        $              Difference (+/-)

Regardless of where compensation ranks on your list of priorities, it’s a good idea to know what you may be getting into when faced with a career decision.

 

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